Beyond ‘Keeping it Simple.”

A Long Journey to Sobriety

I’ve embarked on a long journey of sobriety, attending countless AA meetings, listening to myriad stories, and absorbing lessons from the Big Book and other AA publications. I’ve sponsored individuals, engaged in enlightening conversations with old-timers, and have had the opportunity to observe diverse paths towards sobriety. But what wisdom can I distill from these experiences to share with others?

Uncovering the Many Facets of Sobriety

What I’ve gleaned over the years is that everyone’s journey with sobriety is highly individual. While there are common threads, the differences are equally prominent. The steps taken, the relationship with sponsors, the frequency of meetings – all these aspects vary from person to person. What seems to unite those in long-term sobriety, however, is the creation of a unique and effective personal program.

‘Keeping it Simple’ vs Embracing Complexity

A familiar refrain in AA meetings is ‘Keep it Simple,’ a mantra that appears to simplify the goal into abstinence. However, the path leading to this goal is far more intricate. Despite the comfort of repeating the ‘Keep it Simple’ mantra, the sobering reality is that the road to and the maintenance of sobriety are complex, nuanced, and constantly evolving.

The Myth of Simplicity

The notion of sobriety as a simple process of ‘not drinking a day at a time’ is misleading. The path to sobriety is a result of weaving together many complex thoughts and actions, which often leads to abstinence. Yet, the simplicity of this message seems to overrule logic, especially in emotional contexts.

Why We Gravitate Toward Oversimplifications

So why does the ‘Keep it Simple’ mantra, and other such platitudes, persist in AA meetings? I believe the reasons lie in AA’s philosophy of open-mindedness, the unchallenged nature of statements at meetings, and the comforting appeal of simplicity in face of complex problems.

Embracing Truth Over Comfort

After realizing the disservice of echoing oversimplified messages, I decided to shift my focus on speaking the truth about sobriety, even if it meant swimming against the tide. Despite the charm of simplicity, I believe it’s crucial to acknowledge the complexity inherent in the journey to sobriety.

Facing the Complications of Sobriety

While ‘Keep it Complicated’ might not be a catchy mantra, it captures the essence of my experience with sobriety. Achieving and maintaining sobriety requires personalization, persistence, and the ability to navigate life’s complications. This truth may not have the ring of ‘Keep it Simple,’ but it mirrors the realities of this journey.

In the end, though ‘Keep it Simple’ sounds more appealing, I believe that embracing the complexity of sobriety is a more authentic and ultimately more rewarding path.