Exactly one week before I walked into my first AA meeting, I lay on a soft leather couch in a therapist's office whining about my life. I had just read -- skimmed actually (it was impossible to read anything of substance when I was drunk)-- a book that detailed midlife crises in a number of men about my age. In total denial about my real problem -- alcoholism, I concluded that this was what was wrong with me -- I was having a midlife crisis. This was the reason I had no energy or enthusiasm for much of anything, why my life was so mechanical and boring and why I could not seem to get it together to find a new job even though I was quickly running out of money. I wasn't so much there for therapy, but to confirm my own diagnosis.
After the therapist listened patiently to my sob story, she said something that shocked me. She said "I don't think I can help you Jeff, you are certainly welcome to come here once a week and pay me $80 to listen to you talk about your life, but I don't think I can help you." I swallowed hard, first because she didn't buy the midlife crisis theory, but mostly because deep down inside I knew I had no where else to go. When I asked her why she couldn't help, she hit me with the truth, right between the eyes. "You have the emotional maturity of a thirteen year old, you don't have an ounce of humility in your whole body, and your thinking is so cloudy from your drinking that your couldn't hope to get any clarity on your life." I was still reeling from her comments when she looked me deep in the eyes and said "you're in trouble aren't you Jeff?" The voice of my ego screamed that I shouldn't admit to anything. I paused for a long moment and looked at my feet. What actually came out of my mouth was a whisper -- "maybe."
It turns out that little "maybe" was just enough of an admission of powerlessness and un-manageability to make space for my higher power to begin to work actively in my life. I have profound gratitude to that therapist who had the integrity to tell me the truth rather than string me along as a patient. And for the grace I received in somehow being ready for the truth when I heard it.
A few 24 hours later I can still act like King Baby on some days and true humility often feels out of reach, but my thinking has, in large part, cleared up and I make mostly responsible choices in my life today.