Stinking Thinking

Will C. was the first person I met in AA. He was a 70-something gentleman with kind eyes and a well-trimmed graying beard. If you looked up the word “humble” in the dictionary you might find a little picture of Will next to the definition. Will didn’t share often, but when he did, he always included the phrase, “I came for my drinking, but I stayed for my thinking.” Like Will, I don’t have a drinking problem today. I have a thinking problem. While my mind is certainly less conflicted today than when I stumbled through the doors to my first meeting almost twenty years ago, I am by no means restored to sanity.

These lines in the Big Book describe me perfectly: “Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.” I continue to think about myself most of the time, about my little plans and schemes. Gratefully, attending AA meetings, being of service in and out of the rooms and sponsoring others gives me a much needed break from thinking about myself. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I’m thinking about you instead of me. I am still self-centered today, but the good news is I know why.

My thinking is no longer driven by “a hundred forms of fear,” but I learned through repeated inventory I still carry ten or twenty forms of fear for sure. I watch my mind go into judgement of others who do not look like me, act like me or follow my script. If one of my fear buttons is pushed, restraint of tongue is almost impossible. I continue to try to do life perfectly, unable to follow the advice I received in the treatment center to aim for a “B-minus.” Occasionally the voice of one of my personal demons wakes me up in the middle of the night. Where do these old ideas, these ancient fears get me? Alone, all alone,  separated from God and you.

I understand the word sanity in Step Two to mean the perfect order, wholeness and harmony of the universe -- the “Oneness” of life.  Sanity means I perceive life the way life actually is, not how I imagine it is or wish it could be. I am restored to sanity as my mind becomes free of conflict and illusion. The dynamic action of the 12 Steps dissolves the self-centered fears that drive my “stinking thinking.” I am not yet fully restored to my right mind, but I am closer than ever.