M(3), 10/13: The Id, Ego, Superego, and Then There’s the Alcoholic Ego


Today’s meeting was special for a few reasons.  First, we got to celebrate a friend’s one year “soberversary.”  Coffee cake was made this morning, and eaten in its entirety by the end of the meeting.

Second, we had two newcomers to the meeting.  One seemed to have a bit of time under his belt, the other brand-spanking-new to the Fellowship.  Always fun to get some fresh perspectives.

Third, a regular attendee who almost never shares raised his hand.  It’s interesting to hear from someone who’s usually quiet.

Finally, the meeting was interesting to me because my main takeaway from the reading was markedly different from that of the rest of the group.  We read from the book Living Sober, one of the final chapters entitled “Trying the Twelve Steps.”  The chapter gives a brief history of the group Alcoholics Anonymous, the serendipity of the meeting of its two founders, and the basic principles under which it operates.

What stood out to me about the reading was the synchronicity that led to Bill W. and Dr. Bob meeting, but my focus on that section of the chapter had much to do with a television program (programme for my Canadian and European readers, hee hee) I watched yesterday.  On the show CBS Sunday Morning there was a segment on coincidences.  If you know me and/or have read this blog for any length of time, you know any topic involving coincidences will be one I find fascinating.  Here is the segment if you feel like checking it out:

I watched that segment and felt sad for the scientists, because they are missing a magical part of life with their perspective.  So when I read this morning how such an unlikely grouping of people brought such miraculous and long-lasting results to alcoholics the world-wide, I was reminded again that there are no coincidences, just God moments that may or may not be recognized by the people experiencing them.

The rest of the relatively large group (15 in all) focused on the section of the chapter that talked about one of the cornerstones of our 12-step program:  it is in getting out of our self-absorption, and in getting into service work, specifically helping another alcoholic, that we are most assured of maintaining our sobriety.  In other words:  it’s not all about me.  Or, as a much more eloquent attendee put it:  it is in the transcendence of self, in getting out of the pronoun “I’ and into the pronoun “We,” that we start our recovery from alcoholism.

So what does all of this mean to the non-alcoholic, or even the recovering alcoholic who does not participate in a 12-step program?  It’s incredibly simple:  get out of your own head, and go help somebody, anybody.  Go help your child with his homework.  Go take your Grandmother to her hair salon.  Take some chicken soup to your sick neighbor.  You get the point.

It is truly the most fundamental tenet of this 12-step program:  helping another alcoholic helps you stay sober.  The gift that keeps on giving!

There was a great discussion about what is meant by the label “egotistical.”  A lot of us, myself included, initially took ourselves out of any discussion involving the expression egotistical… if anything, we rationalized, we did not think enough of ourselves due to our crippling lack of self-confidence.  But in this case, “egotistical” is not a pejorative term, as in one who has an overinflated sense of self; rather, it is used to describe one who is focused too much on oneself.  Not necessarily thinking bad or good, just thinking too much about our own wants, needs, desires, how things are affecting us, how we are perceived.  Like the old joke… “Now, enough about me, what do YOU think about me?”

So it follows naturally that helping another person, alcoholic or not, forces the self-centered individual out of his or her own head.  And that service not only helps another, it boomerangs right back, and helps the individual doing the helping.

The last person who shared summed up my feelings on this subject the best:  “Getting out of my own head was the hardest part of this program I had to learn, and the first character defect that comes back, even in sobriety.”  Oh boy, could I relate to that!  Putting down the drink or drug does not take away our flawed humanity.  On the other hand, choosing recovery does give us a set of skills to first recognize our flaws, then correct the mistakes that we as human beings are prone to make.

All of that, and praise galore for my super quick and easy coffee cake.  Who could ask for anything more out of a Monday morning?

Today’s Miracle:

Alright, this may be predicting a miracle, but I’m going to put it out there anyway:  I’m hosting a dinner for 18 this Friday for my son’s 12th birthday.  He requested fried chicken a la a special Philly restaurant (Federal Donuts for local readers), and I have been hard at work perfecting the recipe.  I think I got it last night, and so… the miracle is… I will be working on gathering everything I need for this party starting today (actually, technically speaking, last night).  To the über-organized of the world, this may seem like a day in the life, but the procrastinators will totally get it.  By this time next week I should have some fun pictures to share!


Posted on October 13, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Thanks so much for sharing. Very good and helpful discussion for me. There is a certain paradox in all of this. The “getting out of myself” usually involved taking myself somewhere else to be of service. So, it is really more about turning myself to thinking aobut and being engaged with the world outside of myself as opposed to an internal discussion.


  2. Did you not save any coffee cake for your blog readers?? 😉


  3. “Putting down the drink or drug does not take away our flawed humanity. On the other hand, choosing recovery does give us a set of skills to first recognize our flaws, then correct the mistakes that we as human beings are prone to make.” I think this is one of the best descriptions of recovery I have read, Josie. More and more these days I am seeing that this is not a drinking problem per se, but a problem of being human and seeking that coping mechanism in something outside of ourselves. For us, it’s booze. And it works in reverse – removing the bottle is just the beginning.

    And as for passing it on, carrying the message, helping others in all possible ways – absolutely it takes us out of us. My self-pity likes to survive, so it doesn’t like when I extend myself to get out of it. But it works. When I (reluctantly) talk to someone else or help someone else, I (reluctantly) get out of self…and things calm down. I don’t have the chatter as much. And that brings me serenity.

    A thinking problem, not a drinking problem 😉

    Wonderful post, Josie – as usual!



  4. This natural shift from worrying what everyone else thinks of me (fact is, they’re not!) to being genuinely interested more in others has to be one of the biggest gifts of sobriety. I love how you give the examples of what this can look like, ie helping your kids with homework. It doesn’t have to be anything particularly time consuming or involved…just reaching out of my own head to the immediate world around me is where the really good stuff is. Such as in this post 🙂


    • I’ve had this drummed into my head (the world is not as fascinated by me as I think they are) many times, from many unlikely sources, and I am only just now (and very slowly) coming around to grasping it. It is insanity how misguided I was, thinking that everyone else is judging me, having opinions of me, making decisions based on the way I might feel about it… you get the picture. It’s actually a great relief, to me anyway, to just remind myself now and again those simple words (the fact is, they’re not thinking of you!)

      Thanks, Kristen!


  5. At five months sober I still feel like the sober new girl (does that feeling ever lessen?!) but I’m finding my own way along a sober path, with the MASSIVE support and help from the amazing sober blogging community. But when I read your wonderful posts I find myself considering AA meetings more seriously. Just saying. x


  6. Reblogged this on club east: indianapolis and commented:
    Josie at the miracleisaroundthecorner has become such a “go to” source for me. Take some time, read the whole thing, and take in this splendid challenge from a dear friend:
    “It is truly the most fundamental tenet of this 12-step program: helping another alcoholic helps you stay sober. The gift that keeps on giving!”


  1. Pingback: repost: the id, ego, superego, and then there’s the alcoholic ego | club east: indianapolis

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