As alcoholics, we’re all in this recovery thing together, right? When we enter into battle each day and staying sober is the only way to emerge victorious in the war against booze, we’re all on the same team, right? Maybe not. Seems to depend upon the weapons you use.
Perhaps I am crazy, but I am starting to notice different classes of alcoholics. Some are not accepting of others. And some are very protective of their recovery culture. In hindsight, I think I knew this might be the case.
I think back to when I was a new mom struggling to nurse my first baby. I wasn’t producing milk. He wouldn’t latch on. It was a nightmare. I fought hard for him. For us. I wanted to breastfeed. I called in multiple layers of reinforcements from a high priced lactation consultant, to the pediatrician, to a free support group at the hospital where I gave birth. We finally got the hang of it and I was so proud of our accomplishment. I actually became quite the breast feeding advocate. I encouraged other new moms not to give up. I made sure they knew about all the resources available to them. But, I never told them they were wrong if they chose not to take my advice, even if they elected to use formula. And I didn’t chastise them for seeking solutions other than what worked for me. I respected their decisions.
Like nursing a newborn, there’s no right or wrong way to get sober. There are lots of tools in the box. Pick what works best for you. No one will care how you get sober as long as you do it. At least that’s what I told myself when I began this journey. But, it seems there are rules. The first one I learned is: Don’t make the mistake of misunderstanding one of the 12 steps. A commenter on my blog made that perfectly clear yesterday.
Since I started this blog a month ago, I have been craving feedback, dialogue, camaraderie. So I was thrilled to see a new comment when I got into the office after a meeting yesterday. Then, I read it. Crap. I pissed someone off. Not really the kind of spark I was looking to ignite in sharing my journey to sobriety.
The comment addressed my misinterpretation of Step Nine: Making Amends. Oops. My bad. I thought it had to do with saying sorry. Totally honest mistake. I am not a member of AA and I have not had the 12 steps explained to me.
In fact, as a high bottom drunk, I don’t have that many amends to make. My alcoholism never physically or financially damaged anyone. I didn’t steal money. I didn’t cause bodily injury. I didn’t get arrested. Yes, I broke the law. But I didn’t get caught, and I can’t go un-drive drunk. The best I can do is not drive drunk again. I have plenty of living amends to make. And, lots of saying, “I’m sorry.”
But, what really bothered me was the level of nasty delivered in the comment. It was rude. Like I offended her. Almost like I personally attacked her. There are at least a dozen nicer ways she could have let me know I screwed up.
I wonder, had I been in a lecture hall presenting my story as opposed to blogging about it, and had the commenter been in the audience live and in person and not separated from me by a screen, what would she have said? What would she have done?
The commenter is a woman whose social media profiles are sprinkled with bible verses and references to God. Do unto others much? Alrighty then. Moving on.
A mistake is worthless if you can’t learn from it. So, I did some learning. I’ve been wondering about the “Bill W” reference I keep seeing in people’s Twitter and Instagram profiles. So I looked him up. A-ha! The man who wrote the “Big Book” – I’ve been wondering what that is, too. Good to know.
I also took some time to read more about AA and the 12 steps. They are incredible tools and resources. They’re proven. At the same time, they really don’t seem like the best fit for me at this stage of my journey, so I’m not going to force it. If that makes me a “bad alcoholic,” so be it. If that makes my recovery less worthy in the eyes of those who swear by AA and would never consider not being a member, I’m sorry we can’t be friends and I truly wish you the best. I’ve got some pretty amazing tools, too. I’ll share them with anyone who wants to know, though there will most likely never be a book about them or a worldwide following of dedicated people who rely on them to achieve success. It doesn’t matter. I’m sober. I’ve got this. Right.
God grant me the
to accept the things I cannot change,
to change the things I can, and
to know the difference.