BECAUSE OF my “creativity” and my “inquisitive” mind–I thought–I was willing to throw any idea out the window if I didn’t think the speaker was talking to me. In my early days in the Fellowship, I lived with anxiety and resentments.
I tried to offset my ongoing problem with work around AA as group secretary, etc., but that “easier, softer way” didn’t work well for me or for the group. I was also jogging to relieve the tension–jogging with seventy physical pounds of excess weight and a spiritual ton of resentments and anxiety. Many months and about 700 panting miles later, I concluded, nursing a sore knee, surely there must be “an easier, softer way” than this!
God, in His wisdom, put me in with a group of AAs who were working the Steps. They didn’t have self-perpetuating, constant anxiety, nor were they eaten up with resentments. They could drive on the interstate without taking a searching immoral inventory of all the other drivers. They could do absolutely incredible things, better than leaping tall buildings or outracing fast locomotives. Amazing things like cashing a check at the supermarket by going to the manager’s office first; like getting a little ding in the side of the car without losing days to anger and resentment.
These beautiful people said to me, in effect, “If you want what we have, you’ll do what we did–work the Steps!” Aha! Here, at last, was the real “easier, softer way”! I did what they did, and I have what they have.
Look at what the program has given me. The day I joined AA, I saw no way to pay off my creditors. Today, I am director of a large savings and loan association. While my debt to AA is astronomical, I owe no money except for a small, current home mortgage.
While drinking, I resigned my part-time teaching job, to the great relief of a junior-college administration. Two years ago, I was a part-time professor at a major state university.
To the best of my ability, I practice the AA principles in all my affairs. I am an active leader in my field of business, a respected member of my church, a vigorous member of my AA group. I am sponsoring five newcomers who are scattered between Steps Five and Ten, and I have a dozen more close friends with whom I’ve shared all Twelve Steps. My life is good.
A few months before I joined AA, I heard a barroom acquaintance trying to give away some mongrel puppies, and I was afraid to ask for one for my two kids for fear of being refused. In 1978, my divorced sister-in-law was killed in an auto accident. The court took about five minutes to award us a “new” eleven-year-old daughter and a “new” ten-year-old son to go with my after-sobriety daughter, now eleven years old. We want them, and they want us. My Al-Anon wife and I know that great things will come from our expanded family. We have experience, strength, hope, and deep abiding love to share with all. Great pleasure and joy are in store for all of us.
The wherewithal to provide for a wife and five children (one in college) has been steadily coming in. Through the program, we get what we need and find that it is what we wanted all along.
Between the first and second drafts of this article, I had the front bumper of my car ripped off by a lane-changer. I was able to write the cab company and tell them–nicely–that, while their vehicle was at fault, the driver was polite and professional after the wreck. Talk about change!
I am grateful to AA, which has completely changed my life. If I could speak to myself of a few years past, I would say, “Don’t throw every new idea out the window. Work the Steps, all twelve, in order, and the promises on page 83-84 of the Big Book will come true. And every time you think things couldn’t get better–they will get better.”
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we
will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to
know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the
past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the
word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down
the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can
benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will
disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest
in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude
and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of
economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how
to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly
realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being
fulfilled among us-sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They
will always materialize if we work for them.