A couple newcomers to our fellowship brought this topic for discussion. Those early days and months can be confusing. I felt there was so much to learn and then one had to figure out how to bring this life-changing knowledge into his or her daily life. Progress appeared to be slow. Sometimes it seemed I should take notes when I observed some making notes in a journal – maybe keeping a journal wasn’t a bad idea.
Some said that the early days were tough for we may have still felt guilty, ashamed, broken in spirit, deeply remorseful, in fact, maybe genuine appropriate feelings. The answer to this was always, “don’t dwell on the past.” Some didn’t arrive at our rooms easily – it may have been court-ordered or prompted by a non-negotiable ultimatum from an employer or family member.
What I learned, and this was just my reaction, is that the Program’s map of the journey to sobriety and serenity was a path of some length, with twists and turns, failures here and there, and constant attention to the Program ‘s teachings. I heard at one early meeting that as we worked the Steps, we in essence would be changing our social mores and practices, probably dropping personal relationships with some friends, even reevaluating one’s life values.
But of course, sometimes there is a feeling of disbelief that you found yourself at an AA meeting at all:
“I’m not as bad as some of these folks here – still have my job, wife and kids, no DUI, auto accidents. My goodness, all I need to learn is a few ways to drink normally, just one or maybe two at a party.”
And, as I continued my attendance, I found much relief: Everyone said that we needed to “let go and let God,” “easy does it," “keep it simple,” and a whole raft of other seemingly over-simplifications of my feelings and frustrations in these early days. One thought that meant a lot was the idea that the Program sought to remove that feeling of concentration solely on myself – I was not the most important person in life, they said saving my inflated ego was not life’s number one priority.
Then they starting discussing the importance of a spirit-based life. Take prayer for example: the Big Book talks about our seeking God’s will for us and the courage to follow that will – removing our ego as the author of God’s Will, rather – “Thy Will, not mine.” Then they said the group can serve as our “Higher Power.” Talk about confusion!
The successful ones made one thing absolutely clear. Never give up. Keep at it. Go to a lot of meetings, not one or two a week – 90 in 90 –and not just lead meetings but mostly discussion meetings where you can learn as did Bill and Dr. Bob that the purpose of these meetings is for one alcoholic to talk to another alcoholic and to learn from other alcoholics how they successfully found sobriety and serenity.
Yes, go to meetings, especially when you don’t want to go. Call your sponsor, read the Big Book, reach out to others especially newcomers, for you are going through the same thicket of ideas... and remember the Big Book’s promise: “Sobriety and serenity will always materialize if we but work for it”
Jim A., Covington, Kentucky