Principles and Personalities – Grapevine Article June 1971 by J.C.

Keep your eye on the principle and don’t let the personality bug you

MY NAME is Joe C. I have been sober four years now, and the last three have been happy years, though the first was miserable. I never want to live through that year again, and, if I don’t pick up that first drink, I won’t have to.

Recently, an AA friend of mine got drunk. I was crushed! He had been sober for two years. I liked him. We were friends. I had a lot of faith in him. Too much! I took his slip personally. It really bothered me. He came back to the meetings after the drunk, but his attitude had changed. We spoke together after the meetings, but it wasn’t the same.

My feelings were deeply hurt. I got mad at him for letting me down. I didn’t for one minute consider his feelings–his guilt, remorse, heart-sickness. I thought not of his wife, children, or father. I dwelled only on my own hurt. What self-centeredness and ego!

Since that time and after much deliberation, I understand the meaning of “principles before personalities.” My friend’s misfortune has helped me gain greater insight into the AA philosophy, I hope.

I must never again allow personalities to play so large a role in my sobriety.

Sober AAs are the finest people in the world, in my opinion. The fellowship, friendships, and acquaintances are a tremendous benefit to our program–but they are not enough! There are many times when we are on our own, with no AAs to talk with, and this is the time that we must draw on AA principles and teachings. People can err; time-tested principles cannot.

I must learn that any of us can, and some probably always will, fall by the wayside, and that I must not be shaken by these slips. It will not be easy, but if I continue to realize that my sobriety is “a daily reprieve” contingent on my spiritual growth (as the Big Book says), that AA principles must continually be worked on, and that I must remember to put Joe second, then and only then can I replace my egotism with compassion and understanding.

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