When I first stepped into an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting, I felt like my life had reached its end. Coupled with this overwhelming sense of doom, I was plagued by pressing questions that, to me, were crucial for my survival:
- How will I ever enjoy another Super Bowl without beer?
- How can I attend a rock concert without the cushion of weed?
- Can I possibly endure another Easter without dropping acid?
I had peculiar demands and misconceptions about life. According to the Doctor’s Opinion in the AA Big Book, “to them, the alcoholic life seems the only normal one.” As a newcomer, I was utterly detached from any semblance of normalcy.
Confronting Fear and Misconceptions
In my naïveté, I assumed everyone drank during the Super Bowl or lived with the same dependencies I was wrestling with. I was gripped by fear and misconceptions.
However, everything began to change as I committed to the program and worked through the steps, cleaning up my past. I was stunned to discover I could do almost anything I set my mind to, all without the crutch of alcohol or mind-altering substances. How did I come to this realization? I witnessed other members achieving incredible things: earning degrees, securing jobs, rebuilding marriages, starting families, and navigating hardships with grace and resilience.
Embracing Change: Attitude and Effort
From these members, I learned that two critical elements underpinned success: effort (or “footwork” in AA) and attitude (or “spiritual condition” in AA). Both of these aspects were under my control, facilitated by the steps of the program.
In the journey of recovery, the most significant obstacle preventing me from achieving my dreams was inaction. Fear could easily push me into this stagnant state. However, once I confronted these fears, writing them down, they revealed themselves as baseless and irrational – essentially, not real.
Moving Forward Despite Fear
Mark Twain once said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened!” This quote rings true for many of us grappling with fear in the early stages of sobriety.
My journey in AA has taught me to stride through the illusion of fear. It’s often not as substantial as it seems. Instead, it is our reaction to fear that determines our progress. In embracing the AA program and confronting my fears, I’ve found a renewed sense of hope and possibility.