I’m going to set out on a bit of a series. I am going to challenge “my” AA. By “my” I simply mean my experiences in the AA community in which I participate.
This is not intended to discredit AA as a whole…. nor in part for that matter … but more to challenge the things I find challenging. Hey, maybe its all me just being intolerant… who knows.
The reason that this is of any importance at all is simply because I have found great help through AA. I am a number of years sober after a number of failed attempts at other methods of sobriety and recovery.
I respect and admire the fundamentals and origins of AA. I simply find that the way it is practiced in my community feels often like it is going in a bad direction. Maybe I’m right, maybe I’m wrong…. I would welcome your input in helping me find out.
So my maiden topic will be Ego.
Ahh yes, that all too familiar lighting rod of AA wrath. We so often hear it spoken against, yet in my experience, we so often see it nurtured and practiced in disguise.
Most of us show up at the door of our first AA meetings crushed and desperate. Every coping mechanism having failed us, we are finally ready to listen and try something new. We are often told that we must crush our ego, or at least check it at the door… and this is true, we must if we want to grasp something new. We have no other way than to empty our hands of what is old because we can’t hold both at the same time.
So we do and life gets a little better. More time passes, we remain sober, we begin to recover, and life gets even better. Then what often happens? The shattered pieces of our ego gather themselves, reform, and sneak in the side door. Often, we get the notion that since we are now sober and life is improving, that we just might be…. well not quite ‘ALL’ that, but at least ‘SOME OF’ that.
Have you seen what can happen farther down this road? Perhaps after a year or two or ten or thirty years of sobriety. The reformed ego that snuck in the side door has now grown to full, but disguised, maturity.
It tells us subtly that we have some unofficial ranking or seniority based on our years of sobriety. We can handle newcomers, chair meetings, share with poise and eloquence, make people laugh or cry, and be known by name at many a meeting around town.
We can quote the Big Book and get heads nodding in a meeting when we share our experience, strength, and hope.
C’mon, lets be honest, does the ego not start to tell us things by this point? Is it not alive and well… and well-disguised? Our we so naive to believe everyone is healthy and recovered enough to handle all of this success, attention and admiration with humility? And does our AA community not encourage us along by giving us accolades? Especially at our cake meetings?
Are we not tempted to become self-righteous and feel we know what we and others need? After all, look at our track record. Do we not suspect that we are indeed small “c” celebrities in our AA community?
If we get to this point, have we not swapped one form of ego for a new, more culturally acceptable one?