M(3), 1/2/2017: Ego vs. Addiction


Housekeeping:  if I take time to reply to comments, I’ll never get this post written.  But I’ll do so as soon as I hit publish!  Overall I’d like to say a big thank you to all who commented, and I am thinking long and hard about all suggestions.  As I mentioned yesterday, circumstances are such that no resolution can be reached for a few weeks.  In the meantime, I am going to tinker about with different formats and see if I can’t come up with a way to transmit all the wonderful wisdom without the remotest possibility of breaking anonymity.

Having said that, today’s meeting was an actual first, at least I think it was… we did not have enough chairs in the meeting room to house the attendees present!  A great way to start an otherwise cold and dreary Monday, I’ll tell you that much.

As it is the first Monday of not only the month, but the year, we reach chapter one of the book Alcoholics Anonymous (“The Big Book”), “Bill’s Story.”  Bill is Bill Wilson, the co-founder of the original 12-step program of recovery.  And his story is a compelling one:  from one of the lowest bottom drunks that exists, to co-founding a program that is in existence and thriving 80 plus years later.

As compelling a story as Bill’s is, I am often challenged when I read it to find a part relatable to my journey of recovery.  Today, however, proved to be an exception, as a theme stood out for me in a way that hasn’t any of the past time I’ve read it.  And the theme is ego.  Bill truly believed that his self-will could conquer any challenge, win any war.  And for a long time, it did.  Remember, Bill lived through World War One, the roaring 20’s and the Great Depression, and his creativity, persistence and gumption got his to the top of a lot of heaps.  But ultimately he found his self-will was no match for his addiction to alcohol.  When he finally surrendered to that notion, miraculous things happened to him, and for a lot of alcoholics who followed in his footsteps.

So what’s relatable about that?  For me, it is a reminder of how insidious the ego can be.  How many of us have gotten sober a few days, weeks, month, or even years, then decided that “we’ve got this?”  Or we appreciate the value of humility for a while, especially when newly sober, but over time forget the value of staying humble?

For those of us who cultivate our spiritual lives, the ego is especially dangerous, for how easy it is to let those simple spiritual practices fall by the wayside as life gets too chaotic?  By the time we are in real need of a spiritual connection, we realize we’ve actually been disconnected.

For me, today’s meeting is a reminder to stay right-sized, and keep my ego in check.  Here is some other great stuff I heard today:

  • The story is an important reminder of what the alcoholic bottom feels like.  Who doesn’t vividly recall the horrific feelings of the morning following a particularly nasty drunk?  Or the hopelessness of the broken promise that we won’t drink today?
  • The 12 steps of the program are clearly explained as Bill tells his story of recovery.  If you read nothing else in the Big Book but Bill’s story, you will have a basic understanding of the 12 steps of recovery.
  • Reading the transformation of Bill’s life and attitude is a reminder of how different a life of sobriety can be from a life of active addiction.  You can almost feel the remarkable difference in his perspective and how it positively impacts his world, and the worlds of those around him.
  • Unconditional surrender is another theme of the story.  For a long time Bill believed he could beat this problem by his own means, but when he understood the concept of unconditional surrender, and applied it to his own life, miraculous things happened for him, and for countless others.
  • Addiction to alcohol can make the most logical and intelligent people strangely insane.  They can be incredible in every other area of their lives, and yet their logic completely escapes them when it comes to moderating alcohol.
  • Overcoming the hurdle of a higher power when one does not believe such a thing exists is covered wonderfully in this story.  Bill himself struggled with the notion of turning his will over, until he was convinced he could create a God of his understanding.  This concept got many an alcoholic over the hump of believing in a traditional God.

Hope everyone is enjoying the new year!

Today’s Miracle:

Writing two posts in two days.  It’s been a loooong time since I’ve done that.  And if I’m really on my game, another post talking about the WOTY is coming tomorrow!

Posted on January 2, 2017, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Looking forward to reading about your WOTY and hopefully enjoying more than one blog entry per week in the future. Not a bad way to spend your time until the “right” job comes along?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Every single point you made there is relevant to me.
    I had such strong self will that I should be able to control alcohol, and such self loathing that I couldn’t.

    I had to just concede it was a futile battle to continue putting all my energy and soul into drinking. Sweet surrender.

    You have encouraged me to get out the big book and do some reading!


    Liked by 2 people

  3. Self will – or as I remember it in my drinking days prior to AA – Self-Reliance. I was convinced that it was because I was weak or stupid or not dedicated or not focused etc. etc. that I couldn’t get the booze under control and then get my drinking under control and keep it that way. Feeling like that meant that I never wanted to ever admit to someone how bad the problem was that would be the final straw. Finally when I did say “I have a problem with drinking” and was offered help I soon found that I wasn’t alone or unique or special or different… the thing I feared, being normal, was actually a help then… I was just a normal alcoholic.

    Like you that is the bit of Bill’s story I resonate with that self-will that borders on manic arrogance now I look back at it

    Liked by 2 people

    • Happy New Year, Graham! Thanks for the comment. What blew my mind was how long it took me to relate to that… for years I focused on the “externals” of the story, and how I did not quite have those experiences. But once I focused on the self-reliance bit, the light bulb clicked on!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Catching up your past two posts…your writing is stronger than ever. I never wrapped my head around anonymity and definitely wrote about meetings, thought tentatively and as respectfully as possible. I enjoy reading about meetings on your blog because it reminds me what they were like and how I connected to other people through what they shared, which was often in response to a passage or principle discussed in the first half of the meeting. I’ve read sober memoirs where writers trash the people in the meetings and that feels awful and decidedly different from your lovely recaps of the principles of recovery. It’s still tricky because actual people are involved, and a room full of people will never agree on everything. Anonymity may be a gray area, but I’ve always felt your intention and message are spot on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the kind words, and the validation on the meeting posts. Too many people enjoy them for me to give them up entirely, though I will do my level best to remove any and all personal notes. It’s a sticky wicket, as my Mother would say. Then again, I never understood that expression, so maybe she wouldn’t say it. I just like to throw it in whenever possible because the nostalgia of it tickles me pink!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, great reminder for me to read this again!
    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. amazing, thank you for being so honest!

    Liked by 2 people

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