by Claire A.

I’m pretty sure “someone” is looking out for all of us, if we care to acknowledge there’s a higher power we can tap into. I don’t mean to be grouchy, but I don’t completely agree with that saying – I’ve seen plenty of alcoholics who are struggling. What does it mean that someone is looking out for them? They aren’t dying? What about those that are dying? 

It’s easy to think that someone is looking out for me personally, because I can’t even believe I ever made it to A.A. It’s a huge blessing. And I have certainly heard plenty of stories in the rooms about people who have survived insane car wrecks and multiple suicide attempts. But for every one of us who survives and gets sober, how many others are out on the street or on the bathroom floor? How many are driving into a ditch or hitting others with their cars?

I stopped growing emotionally when I started drinking

Coming at this saying from a different angle, I feel it invites comparison between children and alcoholics. And though alcoholics (this one, at least) lack the innocence of children, there are similarities. 

It took me a while to realize that I stopped growing emotionally when I started drinking. The moment I felt the relief of that first drink, that liquid courage, I stopped needing to find my own source of courage. When I drank to relieve stress, I stopped learning to seek stress relief in exercise and meditation (or doing less!). When I drank “socially,” which was actually anti-socially, I didn’t need to learn how to manage social situations, how to get along with others, or how to leave at a reasonable hour. 

It’s astounding to me how many examples of stunted growth I have. I couldn’t dance without drinking – I didn’t learn how to be comfortable in my own body. Internally, I reacted to others at work in a juvenile way. Because I was too terrified to actually confront anyone, I gossiped about the people I feared. I couldn’t communicate with others. I couldn’t really stand other people. Toward the end, I couldn’t stand myself. It was thoughts of suicide that drove me to get help which eventually led to A.A. 

Basically stuck at a much younger emotional age

In A.A., working with a sponsor, I started to see how immature I was. In working the 4th and 5th steps I saw how I held grudges, obsessed about what others thought of me, plotted revenge in my head, fell prey over and over again to my own fears, and was basically stuck at a much younger emotional age. Looking at my character defects and taking responsibility for my actions has let me grow up a little. I’m a work in progress. 

photo credits available upon request to [email protected]

One of the greatest teachers and joys in A.A. has been working with other alcoholics. Seeing another person’s eyes light up as they take hold of the program, laughing with them over our crazy behavior, sharing what worked: these are all things I never dreamed of, and they are one of the greatest satisfactions of being in A.A. 

Now, I suppose the “someone” in the saying could be me and possibly you. As the A.A. saying goes, “I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that I am responsible.” Obviously, I’m a tiny part of this thing, but I and thousands like me are looking out for alcoholics who are ready to try this program. I suppose that is someone after all. 

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