Twelve hours sober and three days before I walked into my first AA meeting I was in an orientation meeting with Dean, a counselor for an outpatient treatment program. I had to decide if I should commit most of my remaining meager funds to enroll in the program. I was skeptical because if I spent the money on treatment, what would I drink on?
At the outset Dean said something I'll never forget -- something that I've repeated hundreds of times since. He told me that I have a disease called alcoholism and that it was not my fault that I have it. Just like having cancer would not be my fault. But he also said that now that I know I have this disease, it is my responsibility to treat it, and if I fail to treat it my life would become more painful than I could possible imagine.
Had Dean said to me that I was somehow to blame for my alcoholism, that I had it because I lacked the willpower to put down the bottle, I would have been right out the door. My fragile little ego just could not have stood the thought that it was my fault.
I need to let myself off the hook with my ego too. This small, separated part of me was formed while I was still a little kid by well-meaning but ignorant and fearful parents, teachers and others who filled me with false ideas about what's important in life. I was scared to death that I couldn't measure up, but I just couldn't let anyone see my fear so my life became a lie that drinking made bearable.
It's absolutely true that all the pain I experience in my life today is of my own making. I make decisions based on self (ego) that put me in a position to be hurt. As long as I remain in bondage of self I will continue to experience pain even if my motives are good. It's the only way the universe has to tell me I'm on the wrong path, that I'm holding on to tightly -- that I'm heading away from the light.
Like my alcoholism, it's really not my fault that I have a frightened ego. But now that I now I have it, I am responsible to treat it -- to reduce it's illusionary power over my decisions and actions. I treat my ego by trying to the best of my ability to practice the spiritual principles contained in the 12 step. The steps give me a way out of ego and the corresponding pain it brings to me and others