I was a couple of weeks sober and sitting in the therapy circle in the out patient treatment center. When my turn came to share I said, "I feel so good, I'll never drink again!" The short, round woman who ran the center, an ex-heroine junky from New York, snapped back, "That's just ego bull shit Jeff! We don't say crap like that in here. You'd better just do everything you can to stay sober today and pray it's enough."
I have no idea if I'll ever take another drink. I have no desire to drink right now and I haven't thought seriously about taking a drink for many years. But like the woman who ran the treatment center said, it's arrogant to think I know better than my HP about what I need to grow. Maybe another deeper bottom is necessary to surrender the last few layers of self-will. I hope not, but maybe.
The long-term AA recovery rates I've seen indicate that many of us drink again after long periods of sobriety. Then there's the story in the Big Book about a man who felt his drinking was interfering with his business. He put the plug in the jug and kept it there for thirty years. He started drinking again when he retired and was dead in three years. Of course my ego is quick to create a story that makes me special and unique, different from those who go out. "They stopped working the program, they didn't do all that was suggested, they became complacent. But not you, Jeff, you are safe. You have the power to just say 'No'." Oh really? What about all those times I said "Yes" when I didn't want to?
My frightened, childish ego doesn't seem to understand that it has no power. It clearly doesn't believe what our book says in How It Works: "There is One who has all power. That One is God." If God has ALL power then it follows "I" have no power, none. Not even a tiny little bit. Ego keeps trying to convince me that "I" have the power to choose, that I have the power to decide what's best for me. I'm coming to believe that ego stands behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz furiously pulling the levers and creating a dazzling light show. But there is no truth. Ego is, to borrow a quote from Shakespeare, "full of sound and fury signifying nothing."
It took many years before I began to question the stories ego creates in my mind. I still get caught today, but I don't get as wrapped up in ego's web before I ask, "where's the evidence outside of my mind that this story is true? Is there one shred of evidence that I have the power to choose not to drink?" No! As my journey in recovery continues, I move from the illusionary world of ego to the truth of what I am and what I've always been. As ego loses its power, I naturally move toward what is healthy and right.