Later I had a sponsee who seemed to have a hard time with the concept of commitment. I asked her to write down what she was willing to do to stay sober. To me it was a simple assignment. I thought she would write down "I will go to any length to stay sober." I was dumbfounded to see that she had written a very detailed list, several pages long, of the things she was willing to do. She was willing to go to 3 meetings a week. She was willing to meet with me once per week. She was willing to read something from the Daily Reflections every morning, etc., etc., etc. How do you explain to someone how wrong-headed that is?
I sometimes am too quick to say that people just aren't done drinking yet, or perhaps they are not even alcoholic. I think the woman above just hadn't hit any kind of bottom I am familiar with. She didn't seem to have a real alcoholic story. She had a tragic story of some losses and some problems and probably some mental illness. I think some counselor or another told her to go to AA. When she had problems, she ran to her prescription bottle, and that is a process I do not understand. I wanted with all of my heart to help her because I really liked her, but I think I was ill equipped to help her. Sadly, I may have done her more harm than good.
The first guy? He definitely qualified for membership in Alcoholics Anonymous. From listening to him share in meetings for years, I know he had a real alcoholic history. He had hit a real alcoholic bottom. And he had really gotten sober for a number of years. I believe it was 5 and a half years. He was sponsoring several men. He was wildly successful - in terms of a house in the mountains, a pretty young wife, a seemingly thriving business. He drove expensive cars all the time. A Jaguar one week, a Mercedes the next, etc. But it all came crumbling down, he drank again, and he died. And the devastation that followed for many people was chronicled in lurid detail on the evening news for weeks following his death.
I think sometimes we stress the wrong things. We love to talk about all our "happy joyous and free" and "go to meetings" and "keep coming back." I guess we don't so much like to talk about getting down to causes and conditions and writing inventory, talking to another about it, asking God to change us, making amends and then continuing in steps 10, 11 , and 12 once we have thoroughly done the others. This is serious stuff. This is WAY beyond going to a few meetings and making a few phone calls.
This radically changes who we are as people.
They told me when I came to AA that the woman I was was a drunk - and she would drink again. I had to become someone entirely different. God and the wonderful people in Alcoholics Anonymous could help me to do that.
One day at at time, they have done just that. And for that, I am truly grateful.