The Great Paradox of A.A.
When I first discovered alcohol, like a lot of people say, I felt that final piece of the jigsaw had been put in place. My social ineptitude, feelings of awkwardness and not fitting in were instantly forgotten. So profound was the effect that I proceeded to get drunk at every opportunity. If I could feel like this forever, life would be great!
Drinking became so important to me that I gradually stopped participating in life. The opportunities that come with growing up were passed over of they interfered with my drinking. My actions caused consternation and confusion in my family and friends but I was unreachable, I thought they didn’t understand – how could they? As I got older I felt more was expected of me and my natural reaction was defiance. The more responsibility I was given, the more I demanded my right to be free. I knew I was hurting the people who cared for me most but I felt I was hurting more. In time my morals, honesty and dignity were eroded to the point where I barely felt human, but my defiance was always with me. I thought that without it I was defenceless, at the mercy of others.
Eventually I was beaten, my self-reliance was killing me and for the first time I knew it. I turned up at the doors of AA looking for people who would understand, and that’s what I found. In the way they talked about their past and the inability to control their drinking, they proved to me that they knew all about the drinking game. If these people knew of a way out I wanted it as well! I was told that of I wanted to recover I would need to get myself a Sponsor, who would lead me through the 12 steps of the AA programme and would also be there to help me with my decision making which, if my track record was anything to go by, was no bad thing! I was told to get into service as this brings me into the heart of my home group and would allow me to give something back. My sponsor gave me simple actions to carry out on a daily basis and by doing these things I was showing that I was ready to start the steps. Also, these suggestions help me develop gratitude and encourage me to turn my attention to others instead of focusing on myself.
Three years down the line and I’m staying gratefully sober a day at a time, the promises as written on pages 83 and 84 of the basic text of A.A. I see coming true for myself and others around me. Being led through the steps has brought about a change in me that I could only dream of in my drinking days. I have been shown the meaning of empathy on a tangible level and practical ways to think of others. There hasn’t been any situation in recovery that I’ve wanted to solve with a drink whereas before, every situation demanded one.
For me, the great paradox of A.A. is that when I surrendered my defiance and agreed to do it someone else’s way was I graced with the strength to stay sober a day at a time.