Friends of Bill or White Knuckles?

In my mind, those are my two choices.  AA or the dreaded “going it alone” seem to me the paths presented in recovery.  I get that it doesn’t need to be so black and white.  Maybe there exists a middle -ground, a gray area.  But it wouldn’t be obvious to anyone who attends AA, and I do, attend.  Many meetings over the past 488 days.  Yesterday was 16 months for me.  I can’t shake the concept  that if I’m not counting days, I must surely be skating on thin ice.  Let’s see how many idioms or metaphors I can fit into this post, shall we?

Which group do I belong to?  Because I must, in order to fully participate in life on earth, be part of a group, ascribe to a philosophy. I guess I am part of alcoholics anonymous even if I really don’t feel like it . Here’s the group I do belong to:  the human race.   It comes down to that really.  Take away the churches, the pamphlets, the meetings, the steps…we are all in this together. That’s too inclusive, you argue.  Alcoholic or not, we’re all human. The more days sober I collect, the more I learn how similar we are…nonalcoholic/addict and the addict. Sure, I have real issues. Some would say “a disease” But I bet the parent of the child with cancer would laugh at me calling myself “sick” or suffering from a disease. That view is not uncommon about addiction. And I struggle with that. I think the solution is to feel the same amount of compassion for everyone. Is that hard? Is it fair? Yes and no. But walk a mile in my shoes. And I encourage you to put yourself in another’s position, be empathetic, be kind. Have a grateful heart. I pray for this for me also. Forgive all, love all, accept all. It’s the only way to a peaceful existence.   
Where I resist AA or organizations of any type is this stress on a particular way to be successful, be happy, be right, find this peace.  Right.  When I don’t go to meetings or talk to my sponsor, I’m a bad recovering alcoholic. I don’t attend enough, call enough (I’m not enough.) But that is my own insecurity and self-doubt. If I loved and accepted myself entirely, I wouldn’t harbor these fears.   Even my sponsor tells me the commitment is to myself, not the group.  Yet I have a duty to the organization. Belonging comes with responsiblity. AA primarily serves to help others who want to be sober. I so want to be of service. I am of service daily…I’m a mom, a wife, a counselor, a teacher, a friend, a sister, a daughter…and a member of AA. Honestly I still havent’ figured out “my program” of recovery. My program, if I have one, is the life I live each day. Flawed but blessed with We, alcoholic or not, live one day at a time. How we get through the hours, the minutes, the joys and the heartaches, it’s our own unique program. AA has helped me be accountable, but true joy is not in being accountable. It’s fellowship and service. I do want to particpate in the fellowship of mankind without judgement, fear, worry, doubt and I guess I have to start within the fellowship of AA. Oh and if you like movies inspired by addiction and recovery check out ” Thanks for Sharing”


3 thoughts on “Friends of Bill or White Knuckles?

  1. I would have to say that there isn’t a “bad recovering alcoholic”. We’re not bad, as they say, we’re sick. If you were drinking even, you’re not bad. That’s just something our ego / old ways tells us. Alcoholism likes to talk like that. The one thing to remember is that being of service doesn’t have to mean making coffee or setting up chairs. My schedule changes every week – I can’t do commitments. Hell, I haven’t been to my own home group in 6 months (my days off never mesh)…so am I bad? I don’t see it that way. But I can be of service in so many ways – to co-workers, strangers, my family, etc. Service is service. People do service in AA to be a part of the group, or to give back to AA. And that’s great. I will volunteer at the conventions here, or greet or whatever, but I don’t get down on myself about that. I say that because I was like you that way. Thought I was a “bad” AA, that everyone else was doing it “better”. But jeez, I am sober, happy, a husband, father, son, brother, etc. and present. I got sober to live life, not be tethered to my homegroup. I think it’s important to hit meetings, that I do, but it’s not the be all end all. The program, for me, is most important. My homegroup ain’t gonna keep me sober.

    Being of service in AA certainly can catapult us into being of more service in other parts of our lives, as you mention. But it doesn’t keep me sober. The program does -working the steps. Using the spiritual tools. I also use other spiritual ways – other tools at my disposal. How the program fits into your life is your choice. Some go full tilt -5 meetings a week, countless commitments, etc. I don’t have the luxury of that time and scheduling, so I find other ways. Hell, even us blogging is service. We connect with other alcoholics…it’s online, but it’s still connecting.

    Live life, enjoy it. You’re not a bad AA. No one is. We get sober to live. 🙂


  2. I used AA for fellowship in my early days but I did not see the steps as particularly worthwhile, as they seemed more about religious practice than recovery. I left and had some private counselling where I learnt CBT techniques similar to those used by members of Smart recovery. I have not been to AA for seven years after moving on. There are many good books such as recover by Stanton Peele which help many who are interested in developing self empowerment instead of a faith based solution. Good luck!

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