My alcoholism did not begin when I snuck my first drink at the age of 13. It began much earlier. When other kids were beginning to develop a healthy sense of self, I was beginning to develop fears and insecurities and feelings of separation, of not fitting in. Bill said that bottles were only a symbol for us. I drank at those fears and insecurities for 30 years.

I constantly compared myself to everyone else in my world. I was always either better than or worse than. Since no one was ever my equal I was alone. All alone. As I got older alcohol and drugs made living with this separation easier to bear.

I rejoined life through the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. The laughter and the love we share is very attractive, but for me the most important feature is that we are all equal and being equal. there is no need for competition. It doesn't matter if I drive a new BMW or live under the bridge, I am equal in the eyes of God and in the AA fellowship. Everyone has earned his or her seat and there's no one seat that's better or worse than other.

Feeling "apart of" in AA is a good start, but I must go farther if I want to continue to grow and change. I must take my program to the "street." I need to expand that feeling of equality to include everyone else on the planet. I'm not there yet. That's why I gotta keep coming back.

Becoming Teachable

The fears and insecurities I developed as a kid -- the very roots of my alcoholism -- shut me off from the source of true learning. I needed you to think I had all the answers. I was too scared to admit that I did not know. Asking for help was out of the question. I played this game for so long that I became convinced that I did have all the answers -- about how life worked, about God, about what was wrong with you and what you should do to fix it.

Slowly, slowly I’m learning to admit I have very few answers, but many questions. I am also learning that all the answers are inside of me, but I must be willing to look for them. The actions I take in AA help me “uncover, discover, and discard” all those old ideas that block me from the answers, the truth about life. I am learning that to understand, I must be willing to let go of what I think I know. I’ve barely made a start.

I certainly haven’t learned any truths by trying to figure things out in my head. It’s by doing what was suggested when I first came into the rooms. Sometimes I hear the truth at a meeting. I may have heard the same words 100 times before, but this time there was a “click.” Sometimes I hear the truth when I am talking with another alcoholic. The words that come out of my mouth are truths I didn’t even know I knew. I learn each time I am willing to walk through a painful situation. It sure helps to see others in our program that have walked through the same thing before me.

To be teachable means to be willing to be a life long learner. I demonstrate my willingness to learn by continuing to do what is suggested.

My Home Group

My home group is like the lifeboat Bill describes in the Big Book. We row together through dangerous waters, away from the sinking ship of our lives. On good days I take my turn at rowing but on some days it’s all I can do is hang onto the side while the other members row me to safety. We are like a family. Even through we don’t always see eye to eye, in our hearts we are there for each other. We need each other to survive.

My home group is the only place I don’t need to struggle to be special, because the other members know the truth about me. They know my drinking history and the wreckage I caused. They know if not for God’s grace, I’d still be sitting on my filthy easy chair at 10:00 am drinking cheap red wine, smoking pot and watching re-runs of lame TV programs. At most meeting of my home group I can relax and just be me, warts and all. As my mind relaxes, it opens to a Presence that fills the room.

My home group gives me an opportunity to be of service. It doesn’t matter if I’m washing coffee cups, keeping track of the 7th Tradition or setting up the meeting room. As long as I contributing to the group I am connected, feeling a part of, not apart from. I am no longer separate and alone, but inside the circle of One, the One who has all power.

Real Feel Good

The way I see it, I have to feel better sober than I did when I was drinking or I will drink again. I have to replace the false and temporary "feel good" that I got from the bottle with real and permanent "feel good." If the real feel good feels better than the temporary I would have no reason to drink again. So where does real feel good come from anyways?

I'm learning that it doesn't come from more money, property or prestige. And it doesn't come from being loved. I've had my share of all those things at one time or another and it feels good for a while, but the feelings don't last. I'm learning that it doesn't come from achieving anything. I've spent my whole life being a human "doing," and the good feelings from all my accomplishments were left behind in the dust of my next pursuit. If happiness is caused by something it's not real, because as soon as the cause is taken away, the happiness vanishes like smoke.

Largely through the process of elimination, I'm coming to believe that the real feel good I'm seeking comes from someplace inside of me. In fact I sense that there is a unlimited reservoir of good feelings down there somewhere. If I could only open up a pipeline to this reservoir and bring the feelings into my direct experience I gotta believe my life would be blissful beyond imagination.

Steps one and two are pretty easy. I don't really have to do anything, but I have to "take" them as a necessary foundation for step three. I won't, I can't, hope to give Step three a try without "taking" one and two. But step three is a real bugaboo. You taught me that my "will and my life" means ALL my thoughts and actions, not just the bad ones, the good ones too. At face value this seems impossible to me because I don't even know what I'm thinking half the time, so how can I turn it over? The answer of course is that I can't. I don't have the power but God does. My only job is to be willing to let Him.

I'm learning that just saying I'm willing is not enough. I must demonstrate my willingness by doing all the things suggested to the best of my ability.