It's All About Me

AA works because it's all about me: my sobriety, my spiritual growth, my sense of usefulness and purpose, my joy. I receive these gifts by being of service to others. Since it's in my best interest, I share my ESH with anyone who wants to listen. It is an added bonus if I can play some small role in helping another human being turn their lives around, but it's none of my business who "gets it" and who doesn't. I just do what I learned from my sponsor and others and try to get out of the way and let God do its thing.

Buddha said to find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life. I do not consider my 12-step activities to be work--much less self-sacrifice. I might think differently had I come along thirty years earlier. I've heard old timers describe 12-step calls back then. How they often left their warm beds in the middle of the night to go to some flophouse and clean vomit off wet drunks. How they put their belts between the teeth of a shaking alcoholic so he wouldn't swallow his tongue. How they abandoned their wives and kids to help some poor wet-brained sot stay away from a drink for few hours more. A self-centered person like me might conclude that a steady diet of these activities is self-sacrificing. But the principle is the same. The old timers did this work to stay sober themselves and for the joy it gave them. Self-interest pure and simple.

Am I doing enough? I have no idea. I know that I am sober; I know that I feel much more comfortable in my own skin today; I know that my life has meaning; I know that the spiritual love we alcoholics have for one another has grown in me over the years. All these gifts are a direct result of passing on to others what was so freely given to me. Self-sacrifice? Hardly.


The issue of my perfectionism came up in the treatment center almost seventeen years ago. The counselor said, "Trying for an 'A' in everything you do is making you nuts. Why not shoot for a B minus?" It sounded simple at the time, but it is anything but that. Essentially she was asking me to change the way I view the world entirely.

In AA I learned the only way I can change what I see on the outside is to change on the inside. The good doctor in his Opinion calls this "a deep psychic change." This interior change requires me to let go of all my old faulty beliefs about who I am and how life works and allow myself to be restored to the person I am meant to be. Only the repeated action of the 12 Steps makes this possible.

I am not cured of perfectionism, but I am much better. I have a better idea of what it means to do my best. The critical voices from my childhood no longer yell, but they still whisper.

AA Centered Life

I liked everything about AA from the moment I walked into my first meeting. I was shocked to hear people speaking from the heart. I laughed, really laughed, for the first time in years. I kept coming back. My mind began to relax. My life began to feel lighter. I floated on a pink cloud. One night when I was a few days sober it came to me that I had not thought about a drink for the whole day! I had absolutely no desire to drink. The obsession had been removed. I knew then without a doubt there was a power greater than me at work in my life.

I took the actions suggested and put myself firmly in the middle of AA. Since I was unemployed I went to two meetings a day. I made a bunch of new sober friends and looked forward to coffee after the meetings with other alcoholics. I worked through the steps with a patient and loving sponsor. My home group elected me the doughnut guy. I began to change. I found work and I fell into a comfortable routine of meetings and work. By this time I was sponsoring a couple of guys. The promises were coming true. I was almost three years sober when the crisis hit.

I was fired from the job it took me two years to find, sabotaged by unhealed character defects. Fear had me by the throat. I plunged into darkness. Instead of drinking, I picked up the phone and called my sponsor. I told the truth at meetings about what happened. I worked through Steps one through nine on the job loss issue and made my amends. After a few days the voices stopped and the fear evaporated. I was lifted up on another pink cloud. I had an overwhelming feeling that somehow everything was going to be all right. Three months later I accepted a wonderful job offer in China and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. I went from the bottom of the heap to the top of the world in three months. There is no possible way this could happen, but it did.

Today AA is still in the center of my life. I keep coming to meetings because I enjoy them. I sense there is still much more to learn. I remember reading a famous book when I was still drinking, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. One of the habits suggested was to live a God centered life. I do not know how to bring God into the center of my life, but I do know how to put AA in the center. God seems to follow automatically when I do.