Spiritual Malady

“Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.” Pg 82

It took many years in AA to realize that drinking isn’t my real problem. Like our book says: “Bottles were only a symbol.” My real problem is self-centeredness. The alcohol sickened my body and mind, but it is self-centeredness that blocks spirit from flowing into my being. I know today that regardless of the name I give it -- God, awareness, consciousness, recovery-- spirit is the vital life force. It’s what moves me and breathes me. It’s my connection to the power of the universe. When this life force is blocked, I become bodily, mentally and spiritually sick. I am powerless to act in my own best interest and my life is unmanageable.

It’s not my fault I’m self-centered. Like all of us, I was born this way. My first baby word was “me”; my second word was “mine”; my third word was “more”. As I grew my selfishness grew. Self-centered fears -- the fear that I won’t get what I need to live comfortably or the fear I will lose something I can’t live without -- began to dominate my life. I compensated for this insecurity by grasping for more. Always there was never enough of anything. I needed more. More respect, more love and more stuff...much more stuff. The more I grasped the more painful life became.

“Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!”

Looking back I can see I was much closer to death than I realized. I had been unemployed for eight months by now. I was running out of borrowed money and waking up every morning with an ache of fear in my gut. I gobbled Prozac but couldn’t seem to find the energy to send out a resume, clean my apartment, or take any other positive action. It felt like I was walking through life with cement shoes on. The only time I felt a twinge of excitement and sense of well-being was when I was drinking. Little did I know that forty-seven years of selfishness had reduced the flow of spiritual energy to a trickle. My life became very small. My whole world fit inside my messy apartment. It was in this sad state that I was graced with a moment of clarity that led me to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Today I look at my alcoholism as a blessing. Thank God I was graced with a disease that was going to kill me if I didn’t treat it. Thank God I have been given a set of tools to reduce self-centeredness and allow spirit to flow into my being. I am really, really grateful to be a recovering alcoholic today and grateful for all of you who walk this path with me.