To say that I struggled with Step One is an understatement.
I fought stubbornly hard for way too long to stay out of the rooms of AA because I was so convinced that it wasn't for me. For starters:
"I don't belong there."
"You would drink too if..."
"I don't need your help."
"I don't have a problem."
"Good for you, but it won't work for me."
At the time, I would have given anything to not need your meetings and your Steps and a sponsor and the principles and for heaven's sake, stop trying to push that Big Book on me. I don't need it.
Go away. Leave me alone.
Even as my family sat by watching me become someone they didn't recognize, I denied that I had a problem with alcohol. Somehow, it had fooled me to believe that I just need to slow down. To exercise. To talk to a therapist. To drink green tea. Maybe light more candles.
Anything, but to surrender to the fact that I needed help.
Anything, but to have to admit defeat; that alcohol had kicked my ass; that my life was in chaos.
Anything, but to have to admit that "Hi, I'm Maria and I'm an alcoholic."
Anything, but that.
Oh, gawd, anything but that! Puh-lease!!
It’s amazing to me now that I was more willing to fight for my ego and to stay in my disease than to fight for my own life. My life was obviously upside down, but some sick chatter in my head was working overtime to convince me that things weren’t as bad as apparently, everyone else saw they were. And, they were bad. Really bad.
Eventually, I tried it your way. Kind of. I wasn’t quite ready to do things completely your way. I still had a little bit of fight left in me and this time, I was going to win!
I went to meetings just like you told me, but for a very long time, that was about as much as I could muster up the energy for. My denial that I had a problem kept me in the background. It kept me with one foot in and one foot out the door of AA. I had no intention of getting a sponsor or working your silly Steps. No way.
I’ll come to your meetings, give a fake sobriety date (yes, I did that), smile pretty and try to blend in and hope I’m not called on to share. Remember, I don’t need your help. I just wanted to make the chaotic, spin cycle, whirlwind of my life to stop long enough so I could put alcohol down for a while, and get back to my regularly scheduled, happy life. Maybe, AA would even teach me how to drink like a lady.
But, I'd figure this out on my own.
I'll show you. I don't need your help.
You can probably guess how that went.
Stringing together any kind of sobriety was nearly impossible. But, what was wrong? I was going to meetings just like you suggested. You told me to go to meetings and to “keep coming back”. But, my half-assed way of working the program wasn’t working. I wasn’t working.
You see, anyone can come and sit their butt in a chair and go through the motions of attending meetings. You might even be able to talk the talk a bit, but until you surrender, to your innermost self, that you have a problem, then you’re just taking up space.
At some point, I was exhausted. I was so tired of playing the game of trying to pretend that I knew what I was doing. I was exhausted from the lies. From the shame. From the guilt. From the loneliness. From alcohol.
The exhaustion was too much. Too much work to play the game; to constantly run from my own lies; to hide from my own life.
I had finally hit a rock bottom and I wanted help. Whatever you wanted me to do, I was willing.
Sign me up. I surrender.
Maybe your way would be easier than mine. “Willing to go to any lengths” had to be a softer, easier way to live than how I was living.
I “wanted what you had” in the worst way, because I certainly, didn’t want what I had anymore.
There was nowhere for me to turn, but into the arms of AA. Into the arms of beautiful, sober women who wanted sobriety for me, as much as I did. Into the arms of people who were willing to take me, good and bad, and not judge me for my past. For my addiction. For my alcoholism. For my disease. In fact, not only were they not judging me, but they understood me and sincerely wanted to help.
All they asked in return was for me to be “honest, open and willing”. That was all.
Today, I was reminded in a meeting about just how far our egos are willing to fight to keep the status quo. When my friend, David said “how crazy is it that people would rather die than work these steps?" It did sound crazy. But that’s where alcohol will take me; right back to believing that I can “do it on my own”.
One.Day.At.A.Time. Just one day. That’s all I can promise. That’s all I have to give.
A daily reprieve from alcohol, contingent on my spiritual health. That's what I am blessed with. Upon awakening, I ask God to keep me sober for one more day and in the evening, I thank him for one more day of sobriety.
But, why were so many people willing to help me?
Simple answer: Because when they were helping me, I, in turn, was helping them stay sober. That’s how this program works. One alcoholic helping another.
It’s January, which both curious and sometimes hopelessly lost people to the rooms of AA. If you’re new, stick around. Believe us when we say that we really want you to “keep coming back!”. Believe us when we say that we want to help.
Believe that we believe in you. Believe that you don't ever have to drink again. Ever.
Happy New Year!