Reality Can Be Uncomfortable – Grapevine Article July 1971 by M.M.

But learning to cope with life, people, and situations is vital to our growth

IS COMFORTABLE SOBRIETY the new goal in AA? It would seem so from some of the things I have heard recently, during and after meetings. For instance, at a Step meeting, a young man rather proudly announced that he couldn’t possibly take the Fourth and Fifth Steps because “raking up all that stuff would make me uncomfortable.” Perhaps it is significant that this same young man was practically always in a state of depression and, after meetings, ran from one member to another asking, “How long does it take to find the joy and happiness in AA?”

A woman AA friend was quite upset because the local AA intergroup office had phoned and asked her to make a Twelfth Step call on a very sick girl, who had just made her first appeal for help. The AA member had refused, on the basis that “Being around drunks makes me feel very uncomfortable.” What a tragic loss, not only for the sick girl, but for the member who walked away from an AA opportunity.

Another member, a man, has been unemployed since a short time before he came to AA, two years ago. He has specialized talent and training and undoubtedly could find a well-paying job and support his family adequately–but he hasn’t looked for work because he is “uncomfortable with non-AAs.” So he spends all his days at an AA club and his evenings at AA meetings. His favorite plaint to all who will listen is that his family doesn’t appreciate him and he can’t understand why they aren’t impressed with his sobriety. How could they be? He is never at home; he keeps himself wrapped in the comfortable cocoon that is his idea of AA.

There are many examples of AAs who make similar choices in their lives, in favor of the status quo, of remaining “comfortable.”

This is not for me! All my life, I have been uncomfortable in social situations, new schools, new jobs–anything unexpected. What happened? To ease this discomfort, I drank–and finally drank myself right into alcoholism and, fortunately, AA. My sponsor told me that if I stayed away from the first drink a day at a time and followed the suggested Twelve Steps, I could lead a sober life. She didn’t promise me health, wealth, happiness, love–or comfort. All she promised me was sobriety! Thank goodness, she didn’t promise me anything else, because along the AA path I have found sickness, death, unhappiness, and considerable discomfort. But I have also found the greatest joy, love, and happiness of my life.

For the first time, I am learning how to cope with life, people, and situations, not as I want them to be, but as they really are. Many times, this means accepting a challenge and perhaps being uncomfortable. But it also means accepting life, rather than hiding in AA in order to evade people or situations.

If your goal is “comfortable sobriety”–enjoy it. As for me, I want to continue growing up to new experiences and a living, challenging, and truly wonderful sobriety.

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