I couldn’t put it off any longer. I was running out of things to read to my sponsor during my first fifth step. The tension had been building for an hour as we discussed my resentments and fears. I really, really didn’t want to share my secrets with him. After all, what would he think of me? These were the icky things no one was to ever find out about me. They were so embarrassing, I tried not to look when I wrote them down. Now I had no choice. Somehow I summoned the courage, held my breath and plowed ahead. It didn’t take long to read my secrets to my sponsor. The last one was particularly painful to share, but when I finally admitted what I had done, he said, “Oh, did you do that too?” Then he went on to share a couple of his secrets and my anxiety immediately vanished. Through the years I’ve shared these very same secrets with a number of other alcoholic men without a twinge of anxiety. I learned that my painful life experiences are like gold, sharing them with other alcoholics enriches us both.
I share not only the stupid, embarrassing, hurtful things I did when I was drinking. I also share sad, angry and fearful experiences. We had a first timer at our meeting on Wednesday who broke into tears when he shared that his wife had passed away a few months earlier. I gave him my number after the meeting and he called me the next day. I shared with him about my experience losing Lola and he shared his feelings about losing his wife. He said he felt better after chatting with me and promised to stay in touch. I don’t know if he will call me again, but I felt glad that my grief over losing Lola had been put to good use.
AA’s official start date is not the date Bill W. got sober, but the day Dr. Bob got sober. The whole foundation of our program is not lofty spiritual ideas, but simply one alcoholic sharing honestly with another alcoholic. This is the language of the heart.