Step Twelve charges us with the responsibility of “carrying the message to the alcoholic who still suffers.” It is easier to do so sometimes, but not so easy other times. When the alcoholic is a friend or relative or spouse, or when someone simply seeks us out and inquires, usually, but not always, we can have a positive constructive conversation passing along our experiences with the disease and our recovery.
But sometimes we are carrying the message in a hospital lock-down psyche ward or a jail-like facility for repeat DUI offenders, any compulsory confinement. It appears that when the person is being held against his or her will, they’re not interested in much of anything, especially comments causing them to look at their own addiction; they may be only hoping to find ways to game the system. They may simply have overdosed and need to be locked-up for a few days for a medical evaluation. It may not be their first encounter with a lock-down ward—or, they are attending the weekly meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous you are chairing merely to gain favorable reports for their parole officer.
You find that “yes,” you are carrying the message—perhaps very effectively. But the reality is that your meeting attendees will probably continue their addictive behavior. After all, what should we expect? Most of us didn’t show any interest in the Program until we were good and ready and had fallen to the depths of our spiritual well-being.
Of course, the state of our egos drives our reactions to this “stone-wall.” We may wish for a more positive reaction. There may be a messianic aspect to our work—we may feel as we enter the rooms that we will “save” them from themselves and deserve credit somewhere for doing so.
Stop this self-pity! … this “self-aggrandizement”. Step Twelve calls on us to “carry the message,” not to save their souls or their lives. Look at us—our ego rears its cunning, baffling and powerful head once again maybe where and when we don’t expect it. It’s our addiction in a different costume. Your job is to open the door. If they don’t want to enter, that’s their decision. Who are we anyway to assume the power or seek to think we might wave a wand over the addict releasing him from his malady? This is the stuff that really caused us so much of a problem.We couldn’t do it for ourselves. We’d tried and failed. Do we believe we now can wave that wand over someone else, someone else who may not want to have anything to do with us or anything else to achieve that “desire to stop drinking?”
But, look… never give up! You are a product of a miracle. Your higher power carried you through the early dark days. Maintain contact with your higher power as you embark on Twelve Step work like this. But don’t give up … “carry the message.” Who knows, you may even see one of these souls at your next meeting.
Jim A., Covington, Kentucky