M(3), 6/1/15: DENIAL (Don’t Even Know I Am Lying)
Another Monday, another Monday morning meeting. The magic number of 12 attendees today made it a lively group with lots of discussion, which is miraculous given the dreary weather conditions in my corner of the universe. As it is the first Monday of the month, we read a personal story from the “Big Book” (Alcoholics Anonymous) entitled “Student of Life.”
Quick sidebar, one I’m sure I’ve mentioned on this blog before, the other fact a new one. The author of this story, Jane D., is local to my area, and several in my meeting this morning have had the pleasure of meeting her. The story is extra-special to us for that reason. Second fact, given to me this morning by an attendee who knows her: Jane wanted to title the story S.O.L., for the regular reason people use that acronym (shit out of luck), but of course was denied that title. She settled on Student of Life, figuring it had the same letters!
The focus of our discussion following the story was denial, as the author stays stuck in addiction for a good number of years because she focused on all the things that “never” happened to her: she never lost a job, a spouse or any material possessions as a result of her drinking, so she concluded that she must not have a problem with alcohol.
Most of us in the room, more than likely anyone at all who has chosen recovery, can relate to the notion of comparing ourselves to people “worse off” than us, then feeling better about our own choices. The very first meeting I ever attended (years before I got sober) scared the absolute crap out of me. It wasn’t that I felt superior or judgmental, just that I did not belong there. As time went on and my list of “I Never’s” became shorter (coincidentally, as that list was dwindling, my list of reasons that included me in a 12-step meeting was growing longer), I would stubbornly cling to the reasons I didn’t belong: “See how bad off that person is, I’m not that bad! How am I supposed to learn anything from someone who is so much worse off than I am?”
Cautionary tale was not a concept of which I could grab hold back then. Not surprisingly, hanging on to this mindset had me on the relapse merry-go-round for quite some time. Fortunately, the gift of desperation had me at the spot I needed to be to recover: focusing only on what I needed to do, one day at a time, to stay sober.
The first gentleman to share described how denial of his disease slowly but surely stole interest in any activity outside of drinking. Once a high school wrestling champion, he found that once he started drinking he lost the desire to continue with the sport, due to its interference with his new hobby. Although he tried many different treatment centers and programs, he finds the support and true understanding in our 12-step fellowship to be the only “medicine” that works for him.
Another person related to the author’s relationship with alcohol. He recalls, just as the author had, how that first drink had a transformative effect on his personality: all his anxieties went away practically from the first sip of a drink. He also related to the author’s description of someone’s addiction “bottom.” In the story, the author worries that she had not yet hit her bottom, because she had not lost anything significant in her life. A recovering alcoholic told her: “You reach your bottom when you stop digging.” My friend relates to this: he had not lost a whole lot either, but he simply made the decision to put down the shovel, and in the almost 30 years since, has never felt the need to pick it back up.
Another regular at the meeting said his denial was so deep that he drank for almost a whole year after identifying himself as an alcoholic. Why? Because he figured that’s what alcoholics do, they drink… so he drank some more! Only after he experienced the magic of one alcoholic talking to him in a way that he understood was he able to choose sobriety, and he is another who has not regretted this decision for more than a quarter of a century!
Another friend focused on the magic of service, she believes getting out of your own head and into helping another to be the most important part of the 12-step program. In the early days she was taught to do whatever could help the meetings she attended: make coffee, greet newcomers, put out the books for people to read. Nowadays, having been through the steps more times than she can count, service in the form of helping the newcomer is what keeps her sober and at peace.
Here’s hoping all of you reading are at peace, and enjoying your Monday!
After a week and weekend of on-the-go activity, a day of (relative) peace and low activity is a miracle I am consciously enjoying!
Posted on June 1, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Addictions, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Big Book, Denial, fellowship, Meeting, miracles, Sobriety, Support Groups, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.