Freedom from Anger

I never realized I was locked in a prison of self-centered fear until I got my first taste of freedom in Alcoholics Anonymous. I had been running as fast as I could through life, trying to outrun the fear that followed me everywhere. It was like trying to outrun my shadow. As soon as I stopped and rested the the fear returned. I lived in a constant state of dis-ease, but I thought this was just the way life was. I struggled and suffered, but I never thought to question it. Alcohol made life bearable for me, even “happy” sometimes. But then the fear would return and one more time I needed the sense of ease and comfort a few drinks would bring.

I came in out of the cold when I stumbled into my first meeting and began my journey back to life. Through the years, thanks to meetings, steps and service, HP has continued to remove old, false ideas that keep me in prison, separate from life. Today I enjoy many freedoms. I am free from needing to change the way I feel with alcohol and other things. I am free from alcoholic loneliness -- that feeling of a hole in my gut that the wind whistles through. I am free from guilt and shame that kept me chained to yesterday. I am free from the war of self-hate I waged against myself for more than forty years. Yet, I still carry remnants of old, fearful ideas that cause me to suffer from time to time.  This past weekend is a good example.

I was camping in my RV in the California desert near Julian, and hour or so east of San Diego. The campground was almost completely empty. I enjoyed wonderful solitude for six days. Then, on my last day, an RV parked right next to me even though there were a hundred other empty spaces. That evening my new neighbors had a bonfire party. Four of them sat around the fire talking loudly, laughing and generally whooping it up. One woman had a piercing laugh I was sure could penetrate steel-reinforced concrete. By 9:00 PM my serenity was completely shattered. I wanted to sleep but the party was going strong. I tried putting a pillow over my head. I tried putting on my earphones and drown them out with music. I tried repeating the serenity prayer. Nothing worked. I could feel the anger growing inside of me like a volcano ready to erupt.

Finally, after suffering outrage for three hours, I reached into my AA toolbox and came out with a simple prayer: “Please God save me from being angry.” I began repeating this prayer silently like a mantra. After five minutes I began to feel some relief. After another five minutes my serenity begin to return. After another five minutes a curious thing happened. I began to feel glad that my neighbors were having such a good time in the desert. They called it a night a short time later and I fell fast asleep.