Alcoholics Anonymous is probably most famously known through the lens of hollywood films. A majority of newcomers have great misconceptions about the program. Today represents my fourth year of Sobriety -- in effect -- Happy 4th Birthday Mike! Right about now, you may be wondering the following question:
Why is he revealing his sobriety and the program of A.A.?
Simple, the reason that I am able to write this blog post is due to the last four years of working on sobriety. I just wanted to touch on a few aspects about the program without revealing the program in its entirety or discussing other members of the program. Anonymity is the key to the program. Why? Because having the label of an 'alcoholic' can be stigmatizing to say the least. And when some people find out that you are in the program, adverse effects can happen due to their insecurity or misunderstanding of the program.
I am blessed to be able to tell you about my sobriety. I feel much different (in a good way) than I did 4 years ago. My story is not very much different than others inside the program. The underlying theme is that alcohol became the focal point or central part of our lives. Think about the analogous situation of being an 'over eater'. Eating becomes the central point of your life. Live for eating. Not eating to live.
The most vital point of A.A. is to understand that you have let some 'vice' take over your life. Entering the program can be equivalent to a 'reset' on your life. To bring you back to equilibrium. The program is centered around 12 steps -- which according to my interpretation are a way back toward living like a 'normal' member of society. Coming from a place where a 'vice' dictated your life, this understanding is crucial.
For me, living by the 12 steps is equivalent to living life like an ordinary citizen. Which is to say, pay taxes, take responsibility for your wrong doings, and admit when you are wrong. Additionally, be of service to another person either entering the program or suffering with living according to the 12 steps. If I take a step back from the veil of A.A. on the title of the program, I tend to ask myself the following question:
Why would every person not want to live by the 12 steps?
The world might be a better place if so. Why? Because, admitting that each of us have the tendency to take a 'vice' (eating, drinking, smoking, etc.) to the limits of where the addiction dictates our life is a serious issue. I believe that each of us could do great with a small amount of daily 'introspection' in our lives.
Having the ability to look inward and admit your own faults is critical to living a healthy life. Blaming others for mistakes only takes the person back in time. Which means that progress forward is now going to be much more difficult. Let me tell you about the last four years (briefly) and you can judge for yourself.
Upon entering the program (A.A.), my wife and I were "partiers" - who loved to socialize and drink to extreme. I have discussed our ability to live life to the extreme in other blog posts before. This is nothing new. We placed partying above other activities.
We were in debt (with taxes, credit card debt, etc.) to say the least. The first couple of years were spent on pulling ourselves back together financially while educating ourselves about the role of a 'vice' can play in our lives. Any 'vice' or addiction can be taken to the extreme. As soon as each of us realize this, then action can be taken to restore us to sanity sooner. But know this, work is involved on everyones part.
Today, our life is 180 degrees different (better) than four years ago. Education is a critical component toward success. You might say..."Mike, you are educated with a Ph.D.?" The education which I am talking about cannot be taught in school. This education requires each person to look within themselves and inspect for 'deficiencies' -- which is extremely unsatisfying during the initial process. Although, after a while the process gets much easier and better.
Where are we now?
As I just mentioned, daily work is required to maintain a good standing in society. I used to suffer from bad anxiety. Today, my anxiety is a small percentage of what it used to be. Furthermore, my wife and I rarely argue due to the absence of alcohol in our lives.
The overarching guiding principle for us was to understand the following:
Alcohol did not relieve us of our issues (problems). Alcohol enhanced and amplified our problems. Furthermore, alcohol prevented us from finding solutions to problems. Today, problems are met with solutions much easier than 4 years ago.
In closing, I would like to welcome you to the program if you have gone to a meeting recently. Do not worry about the process of 'identifying' as an alcoholic' at first. The more important realization is the following:
You do not have to take another drink again!
Have a great weekend!