Last night I sat down with a pen and this journal and did a lot of writing. I guess you could call it an inventory of sorts. Plans, dreams, present state, problems looming on the horizon, fears that seem to have taken over, and mostly regrets about so many decisions I have made in my life. A delayed existential crisis, a dark night of the soul, a profound sadness – none of these to be confused with depression.
Although I am glad I got sober and got sober when I did, I profoundly regret the way I embraced popular AA culture without question. I won’t call it “the program,” because it isn’t. The program is sound. The way we interpret it is a bit sick.
I went to meetings every single day, sometimes more than one, when I had children at home who needed me. When I was at home, I was constantly on the phone with women I sponsored, my ego let me say “yes” to everyone who asked (whenever, wherever….), and there were far too many. My kids designed Forms – yes, forms with multiple choice boxes to check – so that they could ask me questions while I was “helping” others on the phone. I spent precious money on down and out drunks instead of spending it on shoes for my children, or food for our table. I took responsibility for everything, which is a bit narcissistic, and didn’t even acknowledge my pain or hurt – I really didn’t even know I had it. I am now facing it popping up all over the place. I could rationalize all of this in the name of recovery from alcoholism. Now I see it as a way I took a good thing WAY too far.
I feel that I spent the first 20 years of my sobriety this way. In the last 8 or so years, I have had inklings of how very wrong I was. I have tried to change my ways, but I no longer have children at home who need me. I have adult children who were neglected by their mother. That is a terrible feeling. I don’t get to have a “do over.”
So now I am in a different place. Very grateful to be sober, but very regretful of the stupid way I misinterpreted the program to the detriment of my life and the lives of those I love. I have a deeper faith, but one that makes demands upon me. I don’t just get to believe in a blonde, blue-eyed Jesus who loves me just the way I am and forgives everything I do. I have a God who will forgive me when I repent. Not when I justify my wrong-doings in the belief that I don’t have to do anything. I was shocked to learn about this God when I formally studied the Bible for four years. Or as an AA speaker I heard long ago named Father Hillary said: “God created man in his image, unfortunately, man returned the favor.”
I abandoned my old blog because I came to feel like a phony. I started it when I was still in the dogma mode. I was all about AA. In the years intervening I came to question many of the things I believed. Maybe some of that was due to coming to know a few of you and realizing that we can’t just put down a set of “rules” that will work for everyone, because that doesn’t work. And when we act so hard-assed, we drive people away, which means we are pushing them off the fatal cliff of alcoholism.
And for those of you who may be concerned about me (and those of you who just like to drop in here and tell me how I should be sober), yes, I still go to meetings. Yes, I still have a sponsor. Yes, I still sponsor women (and I make sure to tell them not to neglect their families). I still do the basics, like “ask Him in the morning, and thank Him at night.” I am no longer part of the service structure because I actually care about the traditions, and they talk about the principle of rotation. And the rest of the organization would be in much better shape if the “bleeding deacons” would get out of the way and let new people experience what they have.
This is not where I intended to go with this post, but here it is. All of this is part of what I wrote in my little journal, with a pen, last night.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. — Ecclesiastes 12:13