This week’s HTYH is the beginning of Dave’s story: The age of miracles has not passed, they’re happening all around us and if you like happy endings you’re in the right place. AA is full of happy endings. There are, of course, a few sad songs about the ones who took an arrow for us so that we might live, but we are the happy survivors. Before my recovery, I spent several months in the hospital and after they tested me for every malady known to science–nothing was found. After that the doctors suggested that I should talk to a psychiatrist and he sent me here. I drank for 22 years and my family no longer wanted me around them. I sat at home and drank alcohol until I urinated on myself. I took Valium every four hours and on Saturday’s, I stared at our pond and contemplated suicide. I planned to tie a cinder block to my ankle and jump out of the boat. The thought of suicide wasn’t horrible but the thought of living was and I imagined that after they found my lifeless, body my friends would file past my casket and say, “The poor fellow, his family never lived up to his expectations and it killed him.”
I felt like a kid who was in the bathroom when God gave His lecture on living and when I returned to my seat all that I heard was: And that’s all you need to know about living—I missed it all. When I called girls, before they could say hello–I’d hang up the phone. When they asked if I wa the culprit who hung up on them–I’d deny it. When my parents visited relatives, I would sit on my hands so I wouldn’t touch anything. My cousins would walk by and ask, “How are you?” I’d reply “fine” and I’d ask them how they were and they’d say, “fine.” I called that fine-an, a lot of that goes on down south. For as long as I can remember–I was never fine. I always felt inferior and less-than everybody else, and in every aspect of my life, but I wanted you to like me so, I lied and said that I was fine.
When I asked people how are you doing, what I really wanted to know was how am I doing? I didn’t really care about them because my mind was focused on my insecurities. This passage from Bill Wilson’s book “Alcoholics Anonymous,” best explained my dilemma:
“Selfishness and self-centeredness is the root of our problems. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self that later placed us in a position to be hurt.
So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of self, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though we usually don’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must rid ourselves of this selfishness. We must or it kills us. God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would’ve liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help. This is the how and the why of it. First of all we had to stop playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our director. He is the principle; we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.”