The Denial Within Me Was Gone
By Rick R.
Years before I came to AA, I was aware there was something dreadfully wrong with me but not one person ever suggested I might be an alcoholic or that I should try AA. Perhaps that was due to the denial of the people around me who drank like I did. Suggesting I had a problem with alcohol would mean outing themselves and others. Looking back on it now, I feel fortunate I survived those last few years of failed attempts at life and when I ran out of options, I came to AA looking for answers. The denial within me was gone. My mind was open and for the first time in my life I was desperate, and I was listening. At my first AA meeting, I was moved by what I heard. It was different from anything I experienced before. The people were being honest and candid about things that only brought shame and guilt to me in the past. I felt safe for the first time in my life and could discuss those things openly that had been taboo up until then. Prior to then, everything in my life was a façade.
At that moment on October 15, 1969, my perception of the world changed, and I have not wanted a drink since. Call it a Spiritual Awakening if you like, it was for me, and it came in the form of a Profound Change in Perception. In Appendix 2 2, in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, it describes a man who had “undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life.”I began to question all the decisions I made in the past, and how the residue of those decisions tarnished and eroded any chance of a successful, happy life. I became aware that the value system I learned as a child, at church,at the Boy Scout meetings, etc., was lost in the dust and was replaced with guilt and shame. I was in trouble when I violated my own value system. I now realize I was not a bad kid, but I was a child who was not strong enough to do the things I knew to be right. The more I broke the rules, the easier it became, and moral standards were meaningless. Soon drinking was the only thing to ease my conscience. When that quit working for me, I found myself at the doors of AA.
Once I had that change of perception, I knew what to do. It may be as simple as “trying to stop doing the things I regret” but the key to it all is, “Being honest with myself,” and never going back to my old way of thinking. I said I was fortunate to have survived those last few years of drinking and I came to AA looking for answers. Being desperate enough to ask for help was the most important part of the experience. I do not believe anyone could have convinced me to stop drinking against my will. I may have stayed dry long enough to get the heat off, but I doubt that I would have surrendered to the degree necessary to have that change of perception and therefore a spiritual awakening. Getting off in the right direction from the start was especially important to any success I have had in AA. I know I only live once, and I do not want to waste one moment of the precious life God gave me. Today, as I continue to practice all the things I have learned in the Program, it has resulted in a peace of mind that was unimaginable when I first walked through the doors of AA. And that, I am extremely grateful.