I always learned that the cure for any hurdle was to “try harder.” Struck out in Little League? TRY HARDER next at bat. Low grade on a test? STUDY HARDER next exam. Didn’t close the sale at work? TRY HARDER next customer. The message was to keep doing what you’re doing…but TRY HARDER! Can’t stop drinking? TRY HARDER. When I tried as hard as I could to stop drinking and using drugs and found that I could not on my own will, I tried harder in other areas of my life. Surely success in those areas would offset my utter failure to control and enjoy my drinking! That logic seemed unbeatable. But experience taught I am not. And thus the great paradox of recovery reared its beautiful head in my life. To make progress, to find sobriety, to find happiness, I had to STOP TRYING. (WHAT??)
One of the great opportunities of living the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is our ability to become “God-Conscious.” Because our alcoholism is a brain disease, our brains reset themselves every night in our sleep to “alcoholic”. I find that I need to set my brain back every morning to “sober”.
My drinking got me kicked out of school; it got me into trouble with the law; I was put on probation; I was court ordered to counseling and I was fighting constantly with my parents. I hated what I was doing to them and I loathed what I was doing to myself, but I didn’t know how to stop. I finally got honest with my probation officer one day and she suggested I go to a Young Peoples A.A. meeting.
On December 11, 1934, while under treatment at Towns Hospital for alcoholism, Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, experienced a profound and lasting spiritual experience. This intense and life-changing spiritual awakening left Bill with an overwhelming sense of well-being and freed him from his obsession and craving for alcohol. Bill said this about his “hot flash,” “I knew I was a free man”.
So you’ve been asked to bring a meeting into a facility. Congratulations! What an honor and privilege it is to be involved in service. As it states on page 89 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous:
“To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends--this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.”
On July 18th, I received my 27 year AA medallion at the Summit Hill AA meeting in Saint Paul. It’s a big meeting, about 150 people, but I’ve been there most Monday nights since moving to Saint Paul in 2004. Staying sober over the long term is mostly a matter of relapse prevention, because for us, relapse is natural.