Friday, March 16, 2007

Willingness

Let me preface this by saying; this will probably be a long and serious post... we'll see... Maybe I should start by telling a bit of my story. When I got sober, I had three small children; a 7 year old boy and 5 year old twin girls. When I brought them to a meeting with me, an old man called them names and told them to shut the f*** up. That was the end of me bringing them to meetings with me, which I later realized was a great blessing. (my opinion: Little kids do not need to be sitting in AA meetings, and dragging them to meetings may spoil a later chance for them to come willingly to AA when they need to, because if they are your kid, odds are they will need to...but I digress.) So, every day I would wait for my husband to get home from work, and then I would head out the door to an AA meeting. After we separated, I would pay a babysitter, even though I was poverty-stricken, and go to AA meetings. Later in my sobriety, I went for a couple of years without a car, so that I could afford to pay my child support (because my ex got custody of the kids when I was sober about 5 years). I had a bicycle and rode it to AA meetings. When I could not ride my bike for whatever reason, I rode the bus. Occassionally, I would get a ride with another alcoholic, but most of the time, I just got myself to an AA meeting by whatever means available to me - and I was happy to do it.

So - I just don't understand when someone can't get to a meeting. Or is "too tired" to show up when they are supposed to.

In my mind, if you are not willing to go to any length to stay sober, you are not going to stay sober. Right now I seem to be surrounded by new people who don't seem willing to go an INCH to stay sober. They act like they are doing someone a favor by staying sober for a day, going to a meeting, or making a phone call. No Comprende!

When I got to AA, I wanted to be sober more than anything in the world. I still do. I consider my sobriety to be a gift from God, one that requires a little bit of care and feeding. I am more than happy to do a teensy bit of legwork in an effort to keep it.

I am so grateful that my bottom was my own bottom. I didn't have a judge, or social services, or a husband - or anyone telling me that it was my bottom. When I got to AA I was ready and willing to get sober. I was out of great ideas. I did what they told me to do. I have always appreciated the time that another alcoholic would spend with me. I have never felt that anyone owed me anything. I consider it a gift! That is why you will never hear me talk about "the work," or "working the program." I just call that cooperating a little bit with God.

I guess I sound old and maybe the AA equivalent to "back in the day, I walked to school 2 miles - uphill both ways." But it is my very own experience, strength, and hope - and that is all I have to share with anyone.

"The essence of all growth is a willingness to change for the better and then an unremitting willingness to shoulder whatever responsibility this entails." -- As Bill Sees It, p. 115

14 comments:

Pam said...

You are telling my story...which you do often on your blog :)
I had 3 small children also, poverty, and illness. THe 1st 365 days of sobriety, I made 2 meetings a day, and counted the hours in between. I get so frustrated when I hear the reasons why a newcomer can't make it to a meeting. I was so grateful to wake up sober every morning....that I just did not care what I had to do to stay that way. Maybe in the end...hard fought sobriety is stronger...I don't know.

dAAve said...

Wonderful series of words that you have put together today.
Thanks.

lushgurl said...

Mary Christine you have once again inspired me to do more, contribute more and show up more. I don't make excuses to not go to meetings today because I never made excuses to not get to the liquor store!
I love this program it saved my life, I never thought I could plunge even further into hell than I had the last time I went out!
A gift from God- yup!, for me today it is still 'work', but I am grateful for this job and will continue to 'work it' as long as I have...
Thank you so much for being...love you MC...HUGS

Syd said...

What a wonderful post. I've never understood why anyone makes excuses not to go to meetings. I go to both AA and Al-Anon and always learn something at each that I attend. When I'm having a hard time, I really need a meeting and feel so much better after going.

BigSkymAAck said...

They told me I would have to be willing to go to any lengths. I have had to do that, and when a new comer is not willing to I won't waste my time I will give it to someone who wants to be sober more than anything in the world. I never give up on those that do not have the willingness I pray for them. Sometimes it can be the trudging but that is on the road to Happy destiny.
You Keep Thumping that Big Book girl.

Thanks for the happy wishes
FAEA

Gwen said...

Gurrrl, you ain't kiddin! Willingness is scarce these days. I would leave school in the middle of class to get my arse to a meeting. I would go to more than one a day. Midnight meetings that lasted an hour and a half. Any and all lengths baby! Nobody was holding my hand either. They said get to meetings so that's what I did.

Thanks for your post~

Noor Azman Othman GBE said...

Thank you for sharing you story. An inspiration for me for making up 1001 excuses for not going. But I've a very good sponsor who would come to my place to pick me up. I'm always grateful for that. If not for his willingness, I don't where I gonna ends up. Prison, rehab center or death, that's the only likely places I could end up. But look at me now!

Thank you Mom, but I love my chick (en) more than a piece of carpet!

vicariousrising said...

This is a fantastic post. I don't know that it is necessarily that you are "old" that many of the newcomers are not willing to give whatever it takes to stay sober, but rather that it is becoming more acceptable to seek help when you are beginning to realize you are in trouble with your drinking, but you are probably not ready to "go to any lengths."

I guess I don't know that we should turn away people who are not ready to go the distance; I think it is terrific that the stigma is lightening, although I worry that it makes AA look like it is not working when these people fail due to their own lack of commitment rather than a flaw in the program.

I have almost 17 months and I still go to meetings every single day. I do not understand when people go out of town, whether for business or vacation, and claim they can't find meetings. I went to a tiny little town in Iowa, population less than 500 and found meetings daily (not in the same towns, mind you) within 15 miles of the place throughout the day. It was not the least bit impossible (although if I needed to find a non-smoking meeting, I might have been a little more put out).

These people will either end up one of the three (dead, jail, institutions) or back in AA at their final bottom, ready to fully commit at last.

My god, I cleaned out ashtrays because I was told to and I don't even smoke. Grumbled, asked nicely for a change of responsibility, but did what was required. Because sobriety is my only option.

Thanks for an awesome, awesome post.

~Judith

recoveryroad said...

You don't sound old. You provide an insight into what AA is like for you and others like you.

Had I heard that man tell you/your kids to "shut the f*ck up" I would have had a robust and open and frank word with him outside the hall.

Kids are welcome at most AA meetings in the UK in my experience.

Thanks for sharing. :)

Shannon said...

I appreciate you sharing that.
I have taken Bayleigh to AA meetings with me since she was a baby,and was lucky there was a group of us young girls who all had babies about the same time, so would take turns sometimes and babysit for one another. Now all our kids range from 6- 12 and they still come to meetings, thy love birthday nights, and the potlucks and picnics and holidays.

I know what you are saying about bringing them, I look at our kids, that have all grown up together with their mammas all sober... and see their little alcoholic personalities and think OH God I hope if they need it they come.

One of my best friends, (same age as me had a baby same time as me and got sober the same time I did) she was a kid who came to AA meetings with her parents.. BUT she rejected it for a long time... she didnt stay sober until this last time 10 yrs ago... her brothers are the same... It is hit or miss... it is something to think about.

Hope you have a great day

Christine said...

thank God you were willing
But yeah, not many are---not in Alanon either. Sooo many go to 1 meeting a week, go home and bash teir loved ones with how they are now taking Care of themselves yuck. The latest excuse I heard was she fleabombed the house and then cleaning just got obessive. H E L L O!

But my bottom was my bottom and altho it was so painful its what I needed to get me to meetings and have a sponsor. My way is not the only way but it is what worked for me.

Tab said...

A lot of people struggle with will power in sobriety and addictions.
I have always known the rooms to be welcoming , each time , I guess you are only human to get frustrated with some people though.
At least you know what works for you and really, that is all that matters at the end of the day.
Thanks for sharing~

Anonymous said...

I went to AA meetings with my mom since I was about 11 years old. I loved it. You may not think so but I learned alot in those meetings. Needless to say it did not prevent me from becoming an alcoholic. I've always been the kind of person who had to learn everything the hard way. I thought I was going to be the one who was going to beat this disease. When I came back this time everything they said was exactly how I remembered it, but somehow strangely it meant something different to me. I am a grateful alcoholic. I really believe that there was no way for me to learn the lessons that I've learned except to go through this. These lessons are mine now and no one can take that away from me. Nobody can say to me no that's not the way it is. The program has given me my own personal relationship with God. I have no need for a third party to tell me what God's will is. He speaks to me directly. I don't go to meetings because I need or have to anymore. I go because I love to!!! I once heard that you can't really appreciate joy until you have experience sorrow. It has proved so true for me! It's crazy the little things that make my day! Especially that 1 hour I take each day to share my experience strength and hope with fellow alcoholics. I remember I used to call in hungover or drunk, back in the day. Sometimes these days I call in sober. If it's a slow day at the salon I'll take the day off just to go hang out at the club. With my beloved family! Love and hugs MC! snoogs

Meg Moran said...

wow...willingness...I posted about it today too. I have a sponsee who put AA on her 4th step resentment list cuz it f-d up her drinking. What?!!! I don't even know how to respind to that.