The notion of character defects that need be removed in Steps 6 and 7 and in popular books such as Drop the Rock, “…A big part of Twelve Step recovery is learning to recognize and let go of the character defects, shortcomings and attitudes that would otherwise sink us…” present a conundrum for me.
In the previous essay, I described the increasingly negative interactions between my fellowship’s Phone Meeting Intergroup and me in the first two years of my recovery, after 20 years away from the program. I had initially been impressed by their services because of the quality and variety of the phone meetings I attended, which reflected a solid body of past effort in developing formats for the different types of meetings and overcoming technical and human disruptions on the phone lines.
So often, my thoughts are fragments. Unknown fears that grab me and will not let go. Regret that I cannot forget. Scars I thought healed, plucked revealing old pain born anew. Disappointments become resentments that create walls between me and (you).
I’m and idealist in a practical realist body. Or maybe it’s the other way round. When I first came to Alcoholics Anonymous, Acceptance Was The Answer was quoted as frequently as The Promises. I heard sayings and slogans like, surrender to win, cease fighting anyone and anything (sometimes paraphrased to cease fighting everyone and everything).
What I initially heard at my first AA meeting was useful, I would even argue, necessary for me to take at face value in order to see the harsh reality of my psychological dependence on alcohol to cope with a life that often felt painful. Acceptance was the answer to all of my problems today, that day, April 21, 2007.
Thirteen years ago, April 20, 2007, I went to a special place for me, a wildlife area on the edge of town. I go there annually, much like the waterfowl migrating there each spring. On April 20, 2007, I didn’t go there to watch birds. I went there to drink. At 10:30 am, I drank a pint of vodka while sitting in my car there because I couldn’t
Bill from Paddington got sober in Sydney in 1955 and was a member of the Paddington A.A. group, hence his A.A. nickname. This audio recording of Bill is a typical example of storytelling shares that I heard at Sydney A.A. meetings. Bill died sober in 2020 and had been sober for over 64 years.
I have been sober for over twenty-six years, an atheist who doesn’t believe in the existence of a deity, having developed a much more natural secular sobriety. But if I could travel back in time with this experience and attend my early sobriety A.A. meetings, what would I now see in hindsight as the simple and true drivers that still underpin my sobriety today?
Personally, as regards my own sobriety, I have always lived with my primary purpose first and foremost in mind. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens regarding that primary purpose without complete and total abstinence from alcohol and non-medically necessary and prescribed drugs.