M(3), 10/6: Life Beyond Compare
Is it Monday again already? Small(ish) meeting today, only 10 attendees, but a delightful newcomer (to my meeting, not to the Fellowship) that I will talk about in a bit. As it is the first Monday of the month, today’s reading was selected from the book Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book), entitled “The Housewife Who Drank at Home.”
Often I say that stories in the Big Book are relatable to me in terms of the feelings behind the nuts and bolts of the story, rather than the story itself. Most of the personal stories were written by men over 50 years ago, so day-to-day life experience is not something I would typically share with the authors of most of the stories. With the exception of this one. So much of the story parallels mine, it would be difficult to list it all: an alcoholic who drank by herself, at home, who knew she had a problem but tried to distract herself with various interests in the hopes the problem would go away, who did not understand the concept of a middle ground. Relatability was not an issue for me with this story.
The standout point, for me, came right at the beginning:
At one time, the admission that I was and am an alcoholic meant shame, defeat, and failure to me. But in the light of the new understanding that I have found in A.A., I have been able to interpret that defeat, and that failure, and that shame, as seeds of victory. Because it was only through feeling defeat and feeling failure, the inability to cope with my life and with alcohol, that I was able to surrender and accept the fact that I had this disease, and that I had to learn to live again without alcohol. -pg. 296, Alcoholics Anonymous
Even when I knew, deep down knew, that drinking (and other substances) was a very serious problem, I still did not want to accept the label alcoholic. When I first attended 12-step meetings, I would be outraged by the people who identified themselves as “grateful, recovering alcoholics.” I mean, get serious, why in the world would you be grateful to be an alcoholic?!?
As it turns out, it makes all the sense in the world. Had I not suffered from this disease, I would have had no reason to join this group of individuals who figured out how to live life without chemical aid. Had I not joined this happy, joyous and free group, I would not have met the people who taught me a whole new set of skills, skills that enable me to not only live life sober, but also to be a significantly improved version of myself… a better mother, wife, family member and friend. And had I not learned these skills, I would not have used them to build a life beyond my wildest dreams.
So, yes, I am a grateful, recovering alcoholic, and I’m damned proud of it!
Other parts of the story that stood out for the group was the idea of the all or nothing approach to everything that we alcoholics seem to embrace. People with 30 days to 30 years in the meeting this morning had this personality trait in common. Also in common: the amazement that we all felt that we kept our lives together the way we did in active addiction. The story talks of how the author would take all the cleaning supplies out, but they would sit for hours as she distracted herself with drink, only to rush around right before anyone was to come home and make it appear as though chores had been accomplished. Several in the group this morning, myself included. could relate.
A final thought from one of the attendees: coming into the Fellowship to figure out how to stop drinking, but leaving with so much more: a feeling of community, the spirit of true understanding, and real camaraderie. His gratitude list is never complete without including “finding the rooms of our 12-step program!”
A final thought from me: I had a mini-God moment that I’d like to share. This past weekend, my husband was reading an article online that had to do with asking your 12-year old self what she thinks of how you turned out (hopefully that makes sense, it was entirely confusing to create that sentence). This is the exact kind of exercise that could get my eyeballs stuck in the back of my head from rolling them so hard, but we proceeded to have a conversation, which ended with his suggestion that I write about it. I dismissed that thought entirely out of hand, and life proceeded.
Fast forward to this morning’s meeting. I mentioned there was a newcomer today. She was from a town about 30 minutes away, and, through the course of her sharing, I gather she has close to 40 years of sobriety under her belt. Needless to say, she was an absolute font of wisdom, and I am so grateful to have gotten to listen to her share. In the midst of speaking, she offered this: if she had had the foresight at a young age to write down what she would have liked her life to be, even her greatest fantasies would have paled in comparison to the life she had the opportunity to live as a result of making the 12 steps a part of her life.
And I thought to myself: that’s why I didn’t want to write about what I said, because I was to meet the woman who would sum it up so much more perfectly than I!
After a weekend of enjoying my 15-year wedding anniversary (which was Thursday, so not sure why I needed to celebrate it for 4 days straight), getting up and getting back on track with diet and exercise counts as 2 miracles!
Posted on October 6, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step, 12 step program, AA, Addiction, Alcohol, Alcoholic Anonymous, Alcoholism, Big Book, fellowship, Meeting, Mental Health, Miracle, Monday, Recovery, self-development, Sobriety, Substance Abuse, Support Groups, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.