Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Willing to go to any length....

Last week as I was having dinner with my beloved sponsee, she related a story that gave me chills. She just casually mentioned that the last person she heard say that he was NOT willing to go to any length was dead within 6 months. I had that eerie feeling it had to be the same person who I last heard say that. I asked her - who? She said "Skip." I asked her if we had been together for the conversation where he said he was not willing to go to any length to stay sober - she said we must have been. It was in our old meeting room. I wrote about the first time I found out he had been drinking (and posted some pictures of the view from the meeting room) here. He said he had too much money to go to any length to stay sober. And he was dead in 6 months. Truly. And he ruined a lot of people financially when he went.

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.


12 comments:

Syd said...

I am glad that you were willing. It's the same question I ask those who want me to sponsor them--Are you willing to go to any length to work this program? Many say yes but actually mean no. Thanks for being here.

dAAve said...

So far, so good.

Mary LA said...

What you say is so true. People don't realise that it is a matter of life and death. And the work done needs to be so deep and pransformative, so scary and hard, and we have to open ourselves up to trust, to faith, and a whole new way of life, have to let the old self die within in order that we might stay sober and begin to live.

Patty said...

I do not think you did that woman a disservice at all Mary. I was always told that we (of AA) cannot screw them up any worse than they already are when they get here! I just got fired (and I hate that word) not only by the 43 year old sponsee, but her angry mother as well. I had the audacity to suggest that she get off her hiney and actually walk or take a bus to a meeting and day treatment instead of waiting around like the queen of England for everyone else to take care of her. I know when I first got here I would have crawled if necessary. I still would today too, if need be.

Em said...

I am willing to go to any length. thank you for your post.

AnyEdge said...

It is amazing to me: I am willing to go to any length to stay sober. But I am not willing to go to any length at my work, in my marriage, with my health in other respects, etc..

That's God I guess. He has me where he wants me. I am still learning.

Anonymous said...

I just ran across your blog for the 1st time...I found it refreshing to hear from a long-time sober alcoholic what I felt my father needed to embrace...an addict really has to re-invent themselves if they want to stay sober and really be able to live. Unfortunate for my father the damage has caused unrepairable damage and his cognitive abilities are dimished - it's very sad.

drybottomgirl said...

Excellent post. When I came into AA four months ago I knew somehow that I would never be the same person that I was. It's difficult to change, to be willing to start over, to dig through the muck, to look at all the ugly truth, but I was a drunk too, and I would drink again if I didn't change. Powerful stuff, and we will deal with it for the rest of our lives.

Susie said...

At first, I didn't know I was willing to go to any length, but now I do.

Anonymous said...

Well said Mary! Very inspiring post.

Linda Myers said...

I am willing. I remember people who have died, too, because they weren't. Thank you for your post.

Guinevere said...

I've always been told that there are no mistakes, and the more I go along, the more I believe it's true.

It's always good for me to be reminded that the material things in this world don't protect us from sadness and illness. It's a question of spiritual fitness.

I've added your blog to my blogroll... Thanks, Mary. --G