Friday, October 30, 2009


From AA's Big Book, page 58:

""Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such infortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty."

I sat in my home group this week, and listened to one of these people. I've never, in all my years of program, seen anyone attend 2-3 meetings each week, and remain so untouched, and unchanged. I'll never forget the night I sat in a meeting and listened to this woman speak, after everyone else had spoken, on the topic "justifiying our own behavior" and got a cold shiver down my back as she said, with no apparent understanding of what she was saying, that she was grateful for her justifications, because they allowed her to behave however she liked, without having to worry about someone else's feelings. She'd been in Al-Anon, attending numerous meetings in a week, for 3 years by that time.

(It's probably not very politically correct of me to say this, but I see this woman as an object lesson of what happens when we cannot give up our self-deception to work an honest program.)

I've seen many people attend meetings long enough to realise that the next step necessary for their growth is to examine their own behavior in detail, and then they stop coming to meetings, and one never sees them again. They just cannot face it, for whatever reason.

I've seen people reach this point in recovery and run headfirst into the proverbial brick wall of their own defenses, and stay stuck there, trying to find a way to slide out, or by, or around. I've watched people try to bargain, reason, argue or barter their way out of doing a Step 4, and I've seen how their recovery is a truncated and measly thing because of it, allowing them just enough relief to make it possible to keep plodding along, tolerating their lives instead of living joyfully.

The Big Book of AA goes on to say:

“Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.”

I call that "a leap of faith." I throw myself off the mountain of my discontent with complete abandon, trusting God to catch me. I can stand at the edge and look down and wiggle and squirm and struggle and protest, but until I jump, I haven't jumped. I can make fake-out lunges, and tell myself I almost jumped. I can decide to go home and jump some other time. I can practise all manner of self-deception, and most likely, my friends in program will nod and agree that yes, I did almost jump, and not point out that no, it doesn't work that way, you have to actually leave solid ground for it to count as a jump. My sponsor will, though. She'll smile lovingly at me, and point out that we are up here, rather than down there, so all self-deception aside, I didn't jump, did I?

I'm so grateful that with the help of my first sponsor, and all my other program friends, I was able to let of my ego's need to steer, and be able to climb into the back seat and let God take over the wheel. Although, I must confess, even then, I did my share of back-seat driving. Until my sponsor suggested I try something novel - shutting up.

Just say yes to God, and whatever He offers. The catch to that being, He requires that I be honest with myself, and with Him, to demonstrate my willingness. Just as it works for alcoholics in AA, it works for us in Al-Anon, that half-measures avail us nothing, and we stand at a turning point. I love that: "complete abandon."


  1. You never hear anyone regretting that leap of faith.

  2. Thanks for this. It helps me a lot today. I am so grateful to realize that God is there for me at all times. Bargaining with myself and self-deception kept me going in a sick way for many years.