Simple Program, Complicated People

by Rick R.

Not everyone that comes to A.A. has the degree of desperation I did. That, I believe, is responsible for the various levels of success we have when it comes to abstaining from alcohol. Desperation was the great motivator for me. It made me thorough. The day I came to Alcoholics Anonymous I was searching for solutions to my out-of-control drinking problem.

Photos by Leonardo Yip and Raw Pixel

By some miracle, I woke up one morning with no other options

The reality is not everyone gets it on their very first attempt. With time comes understanding. Once I got beyond the initial stages of recovery it became very clear to me alcohol didn’t cause my problems (although it had eventually become a problem). My troubles started surfacing long before I ever started drinking. I now realize the drinking masked most of my mental and emotional difficulties for a long time but, as it happens, my tolerance for alcohol started to dissipate and the heavy drinking became an obvious problem.

I failed at marriage, jobs, friendships, parenthood and trust with just about everyone that knew me. I burned so many bridges that finally I had no place to turn. By some miracle, I woke up one morning with no other options and desperately called A. A. for help. I was finally ready. From that day on, over 49 years ago, I have never wanted a drink again. The obsession to drink has never showed its face again. I recognized the reasons drinking seemed to work in the early days and how the mental and emotional problems were exposed when I stopped. My issues would need to be addressed if I was ever going to be at peace with myself and with the world around me.

I had to relearn how to be a husband, a father, a brother, a friend

Fortunately from that very first day, I avoided denial about my condition and embraced what I recognized to be, the solution to my disease. The pathway to the future of contentment I enjoy today is the result of the thoroughness I applied to every facet of my life. I had to relearn how to be a husband, a father, a brother, a friend, an employee, a neighbor, a partner, and a citizen. I had to become an asset and not a liability.

Become an asset, not a liability

I must question my motives for everything I do to assure I stay on the unselfish side of the ledger. It was helpful to revisit the spirit of the things that I learned as a child in church, in school, and in the Boy Scouts and apply these principles where the selfish and dishonest habits had once ruled my life. I came to understand how my ego had taken over all of my mental properties. My conscience slowly regained control.

With time comes understanding

The program of Alcoholics Anonymous was there when I was ready to throw in the towel. It helped me recognize all of these changes. It doesn’t go into detail about how to meet the noble goals of being a good husband, father or friend. So I had to learn the details of these neglected issues from other experienced sources.

It was a process of reprogramming my inner self with components of right living. These things take time. They don’t happen overnight, but I couldn’t let that stop me from beginning this new journey. I found a new purpose for living. I am extremely grateful the program of Alcoholics Anonymous was established in time to save this broken spirit and turn it into the person that I am now. Today I override my ego and simply live by the dictates of my conscience.

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