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Through the Red Door Blog

In the early days of the Church, when the front door of the parish was painted red it was said to signify sanctuary – that the ground beyond these doors was holy, and anyone who entered through them was safe from harm.

In the lives of many recovering people, it is through these same red doors that sanctuary is found on a daily basis. Initially that sanctuary may not have started in the rooms with high vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, but in the basements and back rooms of churches where 12-step meetings are held.

This blog was created for recovering people to share the experiences they found walking through those doors of safety, refuge and peace.

To submit a entry to the blog, please click here for the details or contact us at info@episcopalrecovery.org.

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  • 01/22/2020 7:19 PM | Anonymous

    I knew I was an alcoholic pretty early, I think. I started young and I loved alcohol from the first taste. It was very hard to drink without eventually blacking out. I knew I couldn’t drink like other people, though I could pretend pretty well in public because I got quiet once I was drunk. I usually drank at home, though, and I drank a heck of a lot. The upside of this was that I never got myself a bad reputation as a sloppy, reckless drunk. The problem with this was that, once I went into recovery, many people in my life looked at me like I was a melodramatic teenager.

    “Oh please,” they said. “You don’t even know what a real alcoholic looks like. Just have a damned glass of wine already.” Or “Don’t you think you’re going a little overboard with this stuff? It’s not like you lost your job or anything. I think you’re just being a little oversensitive.” Best yet was the eye roll coupled with, “You don’t go to those meetings do you?”

    Well, those meetings were the only place where I was truly understood and believed. People like me sat in those basements with cups of coffee passing out coins and putting dollar bills in a basket. They shared stories like mine. I could share my story and people would know that alcohol is poison to me and that I have a disease just like they do. They told me time and time again not to drink and to stick to my program. I felt heard.

    I was drinking myself into oblivion when I first stopped. I had visited a psychiatrist and told him that I was drinking a liter and a half a night and had consumed about 25 drinks at a party the night before- I didn’t think anything of it. I mean, this is what people do, isn’t it? Well he did think something of it. I was diagnosed with Alcohol Dependence and sent to AA.

    I have bipolar disorder which was part of what I was numbing with my alcohol use. After I quit the first time, I later relapsed and attempted suicide... two separate times while impaired. Some people in my life still aren’t convinced that drinking is deadly for me. Eye rolls and sighs. “Just have a drink already.”

    I have wondered if I make these folks uncomfortable on some level. Part of me feels badly about that, but part of me knows I can’t take responsibility for their feelings if that’s what’s going on. I don’t stand on a table and preach about the dangers of alcohol. I don’t lecture anyone. I don’t ask anyone else to not drink. I just quietly ask for a Diet Coke with lime and carry on with my life.

    If I’m going to keep this up, I need these rooms and I need my fellow alcoholics. We understand each other. I know that I’m never going to be seen as a drama queen for walking through those doors. I’ll be welcomed with open arms.

  • 01/15/2020 8:58 PM | Anonymous

    “Serenity”, in a word.  We came into the Program angry, beaten down, having alienated family, friends and employers. We were ashamed of our conduct. We’d probably tried several times to quit by ourselves all resulting in failure. Maybe our early weeks of sobriety didn’t impress anyone. They all made it clear they were just awaiting your failure, your fall backwards into those usual alcoholic and drug nightmares. Even in recovery, depression can be a wet blanket over our comfort level.

    There is sort of a surprise in the Steps. The Steps aim for us to “let go,” to ease up, to remember that there is a joy in successfully walking the Steps. We learn that Step Eleven takes us someplace we may not have known was present the reliance on a Higher Power and his Will for us we cease traveling alone, wired to our own resources. Now we have a steady companion who will respond to our calls to identify his Will for us. It may be hard to see it. It may take us on a path we least expected. We may not like the direction you perceive as God’s Will.

    We came to the Program admitting there was a being more powerful than our own humanness. As we worked the Steps, perhaps the role of our Higher Power slipped from our attention as we undertook our inventories, amends and all the rest. 

    We may forget that by working “to improve” our “conscious contact,” the door opens our lives to true serenity. That door accepts life’s bumps and grind but at the same time rids us of over-reaching, of merely descending into a morass of self-pit if we meet these intrusions without assistance.  That door calls us to look to our Higher Power to seek guidance “His will for us” together with the power to carry it out.

    And, we know that sometimes that Will for us” is difficult to discern. Sometimes it takes more meditation than we’d like steady meditation. Quiet listening is needed. Meditation takes us away from ourselves. We rid ourselves of self-management. We ask only for his Will to solve a problem. That saves a lot of mental energy and avoids our reaching for the substance that seemingly provided a solution, a temporary solution that at the same time continued our addiction.

    At my best, when encountering one of these problems and I turn to my Higher Power for assistance, I do find His Way. Sometimes it takes time. We have to be patient. It’s not always what I alone wanted. It’s something that we haven’t done for years and years and look where that failure got us. I need to get outside myself and at least for a period come to believe that it isn’t all about me. I’m not the general contractor. Sometimes it’s a partial answer, one we have to work with and grow with His support.

    Sometimes we forget that our Higher Power is always available if we but seek Him. That’s why the Eleventh Step is there. We are to “continue to seek” to remind us. It reminds us to forget the old ways of “me, me, me” and move to a higher plane of sobriety.

    The Program is not a “one-trick-pony.” Certainly we need to work the Steps to free us of addiction’s grasp. But don’t forget the Program also gives us a tool to continue living an addiction-free and serene life through meditation, seeking ”His Will for us and the Power to carry it out.”      

    Jim A/Covington, KY

  • 01/08/2020 9:41 PM | Anonymous

    When I was in elementary school, we used to spend part of the summer at a house in the country owned by my grandmother and aunt. It had a wide porch for playing house, and a huge tree with a rope swing. The best part of that time, though, was swimming in the brook. It was clear and cold and generations of kids had piled up rocks to make a dam for a swimming hole. It was heaven on a hot day.

    There was one problem with the brook, though. We crossed the corner of a pasture in order to get there, and the pasture was inhabited by a bull. We had long debates about how to get by him. Run fast, creep slowly, wait until it was really hot and hope he was asleep, or go early in the morning. It never occurred to us to just stay on the other side of the fence.

    I dealt with my addiction the way we dealt with the bull. Only drink on weekends, drink the first drink really slowly, alternate with water or soda, wait until just before bed... it never occurred to me to just not drink.

    Now I use the fellowship and the steps to get me past the bull. A good fence is strong, with closely spaced posts and rails between them. If I only get to one or two meetings a week, the posts are too far apart and my addiction starts looking at me over the fence. If I don’t pray regularly, talk to my sponsor and other alcoholics and addicts, and pass along what I’ve learned, the rails aren’t strong enough to keep the bull away from me.

    Sometimes the bull is sleeping at the other end of the pasture, but if he’s riled up, I want a strong fence between us. Sometimes my addiction feels dormant, but I know that on any given day the stresses of life can upset my balance and make me vulnerable. When that happens, I don’t want to be standing alone in the field. I want to have the steps, the fellowship and my higher power between me and the danger.

  • 01/01/2020 9:50 PM | Anonymous

    At my Wednesday 7 AM meeting last week a person said, “The answer to your prayers is not going to come through your head…pay attention to the people you encounter and listen to what they talk about.”

    Wow. I’ve been sober in AA for a long time—decades--and I’ve never heard that bit of wisdom put just that way before. (That observation could very easily set me off on a tangent about why I believe going to meetings is as important today as it was when I was just beginning my sober life…but that will be a different blogpost.)

    I try to have a daily spiritual practice of reading the day’s page in one 12-Step book or another and then writing/reflecting on it. Today’s reading was about how meditation can open the doors to God’s solution…

    So here are two messages—the answer to prayers comes through other people and the answer to prayers comes through meditation. I notice that ruminating, list-making, and brainstorming are not included. How are attending to others and attending to meditation alike—and how are they different from worrying? They are alike in what they both are not: attention to others and meditation are not trying to figure things out. They are both from the heart and not from the head.

    I have no problem at all with head stuff. I love discussion. I love reading opinion columns, 19th century novels and post-modern literature. I have never liked any of the AA slogans that suggest that intelligence, intellect and education are in any way a handicap in recovery. “Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth” and “Keep it simple, stupid,” are, to my way of thinking, abusive and denigrating. There is nothing wrong with pondering the meaning of life and searching for answers to life’s deep questions.

    But I also know that recovery does not include denial. We are not to shut off one part of our selves in order to enhance another part. Recovery means integration. Recovery means reconciling body, mind and spirit. Intellect and emotion are the obverse and reverse of the same coin and the coin is the individual. What paying attention to others and paying attention to meditation have in common is that they are acts of love, generosity, and respect.

    The best way I know how to meditate is to count my breaths. Just to notice my breathing in and breathing out. Maybe consciously extending the exhale a little bit. Not making a big deal out of posture, distraction, time of day, number of minutes, mantra. Just breathing in and out and noticing our own breath (our spirit) keeping us alive and connecting us to something outside ourselves.

    Basil Pennington, the great teacher of Centering Prayer, said in one of his recordings, “Pray as you can and not as you can’t.” We beseech, we praise, we honor, we implore, we listen, we meditate—we pray as we can.

    As we learn to listen—to other people—to God’s quiet voice—to our own breathing—we recover. One day at a time.

    Happy New Year.

  • 12/25/2019 7:21 PM | Anonymous

    Merry Christmas!

    Hopefully, you woke up sober, grateful and fully present on this special morning. Recovery, be it from alcohol, drugs, codependency, pornography, gambling or any other soul-stealing addiction, robs us of our ability to be fully present on days like today, Personally, once I became sober and then began my recovery journey, my experience around holidays changed for the better.

    You may be blessed to spend time with family today, gathering with the people you love to open gifts. One of my greatest joys was to watch my children open their gifts on Christmas morning. It was so amazing to see the wonder and awe in their eyes as they awoke to find what Santa had delivered while they slept. Then the joy as they unwrapped gifts. Oh, the faith of children!

    I wonder if it is possible to transfer the promises of recovery into our Christmas experience? Most 12 Step Programs have some version of the Promises of Recovery. These twelve promises appeared in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous on pages 83 and 84, describing the result of working the program of AA. Is it possible that the promises, as they are being fulfilled in each of us, are worth unwrapping this Christmas morning?

    Tradition and scripture tell us that hundreds of years ago wise men from the East brought gifts to the Christ child to celebrate his arrival. The fulfillment of a promise. Their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh are often referred to symbolically in our faith tradition, each one representing an aspect of the work and personhood of Jesus. There seems to be a natural association with these gifts and the gifts we receive as we recover.

    The Gift of Surrender - Gold is most often symbolic of kingship or associated with a ruler. In recovery, we accept that there is a Higher Power and it is not us. The act of surrender initially brings relief from the pressure so many of us in recovery feel to be perfect, to control everything and manage our image. As we deepen our recovery, surrender becomes a daily if not moment by moment gift of partnership - the most valuable weapon in our battle against our shadow self.

    Just as gold is expensive and valuable, our ability to daily surrender to our Higher Power becomes an indispensable asset which releases the power to transform our lives. Surrender ensures our path to freedom from our addiction, lays the groundwork for our happiness, puts our past in a proper perspective, and serenity becomes a present reality. What an amazing gift!

    The Gift of Gratitude - Frankincense was used as a perfume in Jesus time. As I am around people in recovery I find myself grateful for them and the role they play in my life. Just as the Magi brought a beautiful aromatic perfume to the Christ child, the lives of those of us in recovery become increasingly pleasing and attractive to the people who, perhaps, once could not stand to see us.

    As we lose the desire to be self-seeking, we become less inclined to experience self-pity, we begin to love others from a place of mutual respect and dignity, and our attitude on life begins to brighten. We suddenly look around us and realize our fears of being alone have been replaced with a community of people who love and accept us for who we are - character defects and all.

    The Gift of Purpose - Finally, myrrh is often seen to symbolize suffering and many believe it to be a foreshadowing of Jesus death. The ultimate promise of recovery is that our old way of life, ruled so often by chaos, lies, and self-inflicted wounds will begin to painfully die off. It will be replaced with a new life rooted in sanity, common sense, gratitude, and an appreciation that our Higher power is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Jesus himself doubled down on this concept so beautifully in the Message translation from Matthew 16: 24-26.

    Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You re not in the driver s seat; I am. Don t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?”

    This Christmas may you be reminded that the greatest gift we could give ourselves and our loved ones is our restored, recovered life. May we look back at our past and realize what it cost us. However, may we also realize what our recovery has provided - we have regained what makes us most alive, our souls.

    I would unwrap that gift each morning.

    Wouldn t you?

    Shane M.
    Conway, Arkansas

    The Message (MSG)
    Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • 12/18/2019 8:27 PM | Anonymous

    Sometimes, we needed several trips to rehab centers. There we were told what we would have to do to develop an effective program to rid ourselves of our addictive habits and their consequences ... and during our final conferences each time we left rehab we solemnly promised to “really try this time.”

    But “trying” is the WRONG promise. “Trying” doesn’t cut it. We’ve proved that following other rehab discharges. It’s not an “all-in” commitment. We’re holding back and reserving an option to “go back out,” to escape to the old ways. When “we try,” we did things like this:

    I feel good. “One won’t hurt. I know what to do.”

    I’ll try by dropping martinis, and switch to scotch and water. But soon, water dropped as part of that recipe.

    Didn’t work, so I’ll try some wine, but wine just made me sick. Anyway, “sip sip sip,” hardly what I was looking for.

    Still looking to try something, anything, we might remember our old stand-by. “Beer! That’s it. Everyone drinks a lot of beer. I can’t get as out of control as I did with gin or scotch.”

    I even sought my Higher Power’s Grace at Communion, asking humbly and with head bowed ... “Please teach me drink normally, just one or two, just a normal drinking regimen.”

    So much for “trying.” Trying only left us in the old similar deplorable position - out of options, at that crossroads of seeking help and surrendering, OR continuing on that downward slide to our inevitable destruction. I finally was serious about the program and saw this as an issue and simply sought help (i.e., ‘I surrendered’). But I couldn’t shout from the roof-tops that “this time I really meant it!” Been there, done that, double-crossing folks that actually believed that I was going to “try.”

    So this time, before I came out of my rehab program, I spent a goodly amount of planning time looking at the local “where and when” - searching for meetings convenient as to time and place. I stuck with discussion meetings (and still do) - all the better to learn to speak up about issues I was to encounter. I quickly narrowed the search as I found a meeting at noon, five days a week, a block and a half from my office and attended, and because they told me to do so - “90 in 90.” I found a sponsor right away and kept busy between meetings by reading and studying the Big Book. I studied and worked the Steps. It wasn’t too long before my sponsor asked if I would be interested in helping to lead a meeting at a Court-ordered lock-down rehab program for persons with several police citations for driving while intoxicated. That was just what I was looking for. I also sought a non-AA counselor who helped me talk through some related issues - very helpful and I highly recommend this specific commitment.

    I’m now in my 20th year - by not “trying” but “doing” the Program which with my ever-loving gratitude, provided a way to deal with an addiction enabling me to deal with life without seeking my drug of choice, a serene happy life.

    So, the key point of all this is: Don’t tell your rehab counselor or your family or your employer you will “try” this time. For sobriety’s sake - JUST DO IT!

    Jim A./ Covington Kentucky

  • 12/12/2019 6:44 PM | Anonymous

    Feast of St. Nicholas, St. Mark’s 12 step Eucharist, December 4, 2019

    If you have been at this 12 step Eucharist previously on the first Wednesday in December, you have heard a homily about St. Nikolas.  I apologize right now because you are going to hear about him now for the third time. I am powerless when it comes to St. Nikolas.  He has just been a too important figure in my life. You might say that in December, I replace my addiction to alcohol for an addiction for St. Nikolas. 

    Very little is known of the life of Nicholas, bishop of Myra who lived in Asia Minor around 342. He is the patron of seafarers, sailors and more especially of children. As a bearer of gifts to children, his name was brought to America by the Dutch colonists in New York where he popularly became known as Santa Claus.

    The feast day of St. Nicholas has been celebrated in our family as a major holiday since my sobriety. We have a big family meal together. My husband dresses up as Bishop Nicholas with a beard, a miter, and crozier and long red stole and comes to visit our grandchildren after dinner. He speaks Greek to the children and the adults. Speaking Greek is my husband’s favorite pastime, and of course you know that Nikolas was Greek. Nike the Greek! Then our grandchildren go into the bedrooms and leave their shoes outside the doors and Bishop Nicholas leaves chocolate coins and presents in their shoes. I won’t bore you with our pictures of this family event, but they are stunning.

    Why am I sharing with you our family story? For the last several years on this feast day, I sit and watch this pageant and am filled with so much gratitude, for my sobriety date is close to the feast day of St. Nicholas. Each year I know that if someone had not led me to a recovery program, I would not be alive tonight.  I would not be witnessing this wonderful blessing of seeing my children and grandchildren giggle with glee as they try to respond to a beautiful old man with a fake beard speaking Greek to them and secretly giving them candy in their shoes. For me it is a yearly reminder to keep working these 12 steps so I can be around for another feast day of St. Nicholas.

    This is just a suggestion. Look at the calendar of saints. Find one close to your sobriety date. Learn about that saint. Observe that saint’s day in your home, in your life. You may just consider that saint as your patron saint. This is just one more way to remember how our lives have been transformed by our sobriety. Spend that saint’s day giving thanks for those before you who loved you before you were born with a love that only comes from the love of the God of our understanding. St. Nikolas reminds us that God uses every possible tool to keep us clean and sober.  Give Thanks and Enjoy.

    Joanna joannaseibert.com

  • 12/05/2019 10:27 PM | Anonymous

    Thanksgiving Day, 2019

    Today is Thanksgiving, a good day for me to express gratitude for the blessings of recovery. A couple of weeks ago, at the last minute, I was asked to speak on a Wednesday night in my home group; it’d been a couple of years since I’d told my story in that room. In my head, I had reviewed the high points and contours of what I wanted to say. Then, during the opening business, I got nervous, wondering “how am I going to get this thing started?” I said a quick prayer for guidance.

    When the chair introduced me, she simply said, “telling his story tonight is our Paul.” It was one of those God moments, and everything fell into place. Because, if I was “our Paul” to them, then they surely were “my people” to me. We belonged together. And in those few seconds, my story that night became a story about connectivity.

    When I was active, having a connection was the name of the game. Eventually, it was the only thing that mattered. Any generosity of heart or sense of sharing that may have been present in the early days had vanished. I was leading a selfish life in almost complete isolation. Even if I managed to have a connection, I wasn’t connected…to anything or anyone. Through the grace of God, that was then, and this is now.

    Today is Thanksgiving, and one of my companions in recovery died this morning. Paul was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia about a year ago. The chemotherapy that flooded his body knocked his immune system for a loop, making it impossible for him to be around a lot of people. When his health allowed, his sponsor arranged for a small group of us to bring a meeting to him.

    We were a small and relatively consistent group. As we gathered around our friend whose own sense of joy in his recovery was undimmed, despite unimaginable trails, things began to change. We came to know each other in profound ways.

    Guys in those meetings took risks in their shares. I trusted them enough to step up my game, too. I didn’t think that I had many judgments or barriers, but how wrong I was! By learning to see others more clearly and allow myself to be seen more fully, I found myself connected in a new way, part of a band of brothers who knew and trusted each other.

    I saw Paul about a week before he died. I thanked him for his generosity of spirit in sharing so much of his suffering and hope with us, showing me how to become more comfortable in my own skin and connected more deeply to those around me. It was our last conversation.

    Today is Thanksgiving, and among the flurry of text messages after Paul’s death, one of our number wrote “Thanks to all of you, for showing me how to love, succeed, fail and suffer with other people, all the while being a part of.”

    Today is Thanksgiving, and I am more grateful than I can say for Paul, and for being a part of this group of faithful friends with whom God has connected me.

    Paul J.

  • 11/27/2019 9:21 PM | Anonymous

    “If you’re looking for a miracle now Buddy, you better be one All alone, on your own.” Kris Kirstofferson.

    How often have we heard that phrase “If you want to see a miracle, be one.” I had no idea what it meant when I first heard it. When I listened, really listened to the words of Kirstofferson’s song “Let the walls come down” and then it made sense. “Let the walls come down, Let the love come through, when it all comes down, It’s up to me and you.”

    I remember complaining about an AA member who visited our group regularly and told his story. I made the comment that I was tired of listening to him talk about his feelings. The person to whom I complained got to the point: “Seamus, he is more free in jail than you are walking the streets.” I was the one locked up within myself.

    Despite all the therapy I’d been through, there was still that wall, that distance that protected me from others. Then, bit by bit the walls came tumbling down. They had to. I was dying of loneliness and aloneness even in a crowd.

    I could talk a good talk about being powerless over alcohol, over people, places and things. I admitted I needed a H.P. and I found one. I worked the steps but something was missing. The message had not been transmitted from my head to my heart. There was a wall there that was porous and feelings were beginning to eek through and I was uncomfortable.

    The issues of being an Adult Child of an Alcoholic -- Don’t think, Don’t talk, Don’t feel, Don’t trust -- were deeply imbedded in me. Don’t think about what’s going on inside the house; don’t talk about what you see or hear (family secrets); don’t feel (and you won’t hurt); don’t trust (anyone but yourself).

    I was about three in the program when I first read a book on ACOA issues. I read the signs and identified with nineteen of the twenty signs. Yes, I was not only an alcoholic, I was an ACOA. In my situation, a parent who did not drink – a hardworking, church going, alcohol hating person who had a great sense of humor.

    “Let the walls come down. Let the Love come through.” To be the miracle I had to do the work I told and taught others to do. I feigned emotion and got away with it but I was the one who got hurt by the pretending.

    When dawn broke this morning, I felt grateful for another good night of peaceful sleep. I felt grateful for another day of wonderment and awe. I pulled back the curtains and looked out into what I now call “God’s art gallery”  and watched God’s handiwork in motion. I took a handful of nuts and spread them along the fence for my sentient brother- a squirrel - who has taken to visit in the early morning and late afternoon. 

    “Let the love come through.” This was not always easy. Love was, I thought at one time, a rather fickle emotion. Then I came to understand it as a decision, a commitment to love myself – warts and all; love other people, places, and things. Love opened my heart to forgiving self and others as I revisited the steps and discovered what I missed the first couple of times. Love was the spiritual awakening that assisted my seeing the world through a kaleidoscope, an awe inspiring view of colors; a world that was no longer black and white.

    “Don’t leave till the miracle happens” an old guy once said. Then I heard another say “Don’t leave after the miracle happens.” Today, the miracle happens each morning, afternoon, evening and night as I keep the walls level with the ground, keep my heart and mind open to new insights, increase my hope and trust in self, others and my Higher Power. The miracle is that I did not do this on my own. The miracle for me is that I responded to my Higher Power prodding me into the light and love I had always sought but could not find on my own. My H.P. gave me the wisdom to respond and I am grateful to have done so.

    “And you can’t free nobody else if you can’t be true to yourself. If you’re looking for a miracle now buddy, you better be one, all alone, on your own.” Kristofferson wrote a wonderful song. It could have been great if he had realized we are not alone when we respond to the call,“Let the walls come down, Let the Love come through.”

    Whatever we hold on to, that’s what we’ve got - only that much. Maezumi Roshi

  • 11/20/2019 9:43 PM | Anonymous

    At first, this anonymous stuff carries a negative connotation, sorta’ “I’m so ashamed of myself.” Some of us see ourselves as bad persons and we have to hide our efforts to clean up our act and accept that we are addicted to substances that have come close to ruining our lives. So, we may wish to claim secrecy (anonymity) as we struggle down our path of recovery. For the brand-new person, this anonymity may be just what is needed - period of quiet reflection, and meditation if you will, to understand and accept the essence of the Program, to replace those “people, places and things” that contributed to our addiction and whose continued allegiance by the addict will only serve as threats to our sobriety and perhaps to our new found serenity. It’s also a good time to quietly take the first steps toward searching and strengthening our relations with our Higher Power.

    The addict is undergoing a real restructuring of his or her life - habits, friends, ways of thinking, one’s value structure, our spiritual lives - it’s all under our microscope. We are fundamentally changing the proposition that we are the most important people in the room. We have to learn that “it’s not all about me” and this doesn’t come about by the wave of a hand. It takes practice - conversations with our sponsor, our home group, our families. It takes work on our relationships we have harmed.

    But all this ignores something that is frequently present at our moments of surrender. Many already knew of our malady. They may have been embarrassed by it. Some may have guessed an addiction of some kind was causing our aberrant behavior and it’s generally true that those folks will be happy that you have seen your problem and are stepping up to do something about it. They are thankful.

    In fact, in today’s social scene, it is not surprising that a conversation might go like this: Friend says, “Notice you aren’t drinking, how come?” You say, “Well, frankly, it was becoming a problem.” Friend, after reflective pauses, “Really? Good for you! What have you done to deal with it?” You then might provide a very brief summary of the steps of your program. But, your friend interrupts, and says, “Say, I have a sister who seems to have a problem” You, “Well it is a major problem today , ‘specially when it gets all tied-up with drugs.” More contemplative pauses from Friend, who then says, “Could we talk over lunch about all this?

    There! See how you can find yourself in the middle of “carrying the message?” And, frankly, with advice from one’s sponsor, it’s possible an early arriver to the Program can have that conversation.

    So, “Anonymous”? ... Yes, but there may be exceptions in some situations.

    There is another reason our founders insisted on anonymity. Somehow some knew of the failed efforts of a group in the middle of the nineteenth century who had made good progress developing a program that was providing an effective regimen for the addict. Known as the Washingtonians, after some degree of success, the members decided to publicize their successes and ride the public speakers’ circuit preaching the gospel of recovery by following Washington‘s methodology.

    Many returned to their addiction and the organization failed.

    Why? There probably were several reasons but the AA Old Timers saw the collapse as a return to the ego, a glorification by the speakers of themselves: “Look what I have done, look at me, I tell you to follow me and, you will succeed!” This ego thing always is raising its head of importance.

    Our surrender process cuts to the heart of our addiction. We always tried to cure our addiction ourselves, uninterested in any outside assistance. We learned we couldn’t solve the problem to please someone else. Our whole outlook was dominated by ego’s bloat ... ME FIRST!”

    So, we have found that with the “Anonymous” approach, we have a chance for success.

    Jim A./Covington, Kentucky

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