Monday, May 28, 2007

A High Price to Pay

It's last Thursday night. I am sitting in my AA meeting gleaning ideas for my mental health support group. "I don't want it to be religious and I don't want some damn twelve steps to slog through to get help for the group," I note mentally as I sit there thinking. "We will draw strength from each other by our company, fellowship and conversation."

My deep thoughts are interrupted as Sandy, a man who I don't much like, talks. He is a holy roller.

"I asked my higher power this morning to do with me what he will," he says. "I let God guide me through my day. But for the grace of God, I stayed sober today."

"Each to his own," I try to think open mindedly as I mentally cringe at the thought of this poor, deluded soul having to bow down to some mythical being to get help. "Each to his own."

Sandy is a bitter old lonely man who is sober, but seems and acts so unhappy. I would rather have a few last years of drunken bliss than a lifetime of miserable sobriety.

The meeting ends and I quietly escape out the front door to find George waiting out front on me in his Buick. I get in the car as I buckle up and then drive off.

"You know about you always calling AA a religious cult?" I tell George.

"Yeah, what about it?" George says as he sips on his beer.

"You're right," I say. "Some of those poor people are completely brainwashed. They are like automatons."

"But they are sober, right?" George asks, playing Devil's advocate.

"They are sober, but with a very high price to pay," I reply. "They don't even have control of their own lives. The program has overtaken them. Twelve steps written by some drunken doctor in the 1930's rules their lives."

"Are you going to quit going?" George asks.

"I don't know," I say, pensively. "I really don't know. I enjoy some of the camaraderie. I enjoy having something to do every night. It gives me purpose."

"You're starting to sound like one of those cultists," George says, rightly.

We grow quiet as I think and drive George through the drive-thru at McDonald's to get his usual bag of cheeseburgers. We leave the restaurant as I watch George crack open another beer as he eats a burger. "If I could only drink like George," my alcoholic mind thinks. "He can handle his liquor." I realize I don't have any answers. I don't know if AA is right or if AA is wrong. I do know there is something terribly distasteful about it to me. I finally take George home and walk back to my house. As I walk, I echo Sandy's words in AA that night leaving out the God reference. But for the grace of ME, I stayed sober today. I am one step closer to finding the answers I seek.


Summer said...

Borrowing a line from a movie, which has made me think a lot the past few days... "The trick is, living without an answer. I think."

What do you think?

abbagirl74 said...

George CANNOT handle his liquor. If he could handle it, he wouldn't need you to drive him everywhere. He would be able to stop at any moment. He wouldn't have to borrow twenty bucks every other week for booze. He would be able to hold down a regular job. He wouldn't have gone to jail. Even his mother knows he cannot handle his liquor. She pays you to drive him around so he can drink. Thank goodness you are doing this or he could actually kill himself or someone else. No, I would say that George cannot handle his liquor. I'm off the soapbox now. Sorry. I just care about you.

kathleen said...

People do what they need to do whne their lives are a mess. Some people get religion, others get a dog; still others join a group or do all of these things and more to make their lives liveable and meaningful. Different things work for different people. Don't be too hard on those who turn to religion just because you don't think you need it. They are dong what they need to do to make their lives liveable.

austere said...

Well, devil's advocate again. It does help to be beholden to a higher power. I dont see how i could have got past the last few days without the man in the sky watching out for me. For sure.

Whatever works.

PipeTobacco said...


You have had times in the past where you drank to excess, you have had other times where you drank in pleasant and appropriate quantities, and you have had still other times where you have been sober.

If AA is not speaking to you with its message, then it is not helping you in your goal... or your goal has changed.


Blue Gardenia said...

Now you've hit on a key word......myth. A mythical figure. It is easy to see the myth in other's cultures but not in our own. So here is the external higher being. However, it is no matter how outlandish the myth is. If you live your myth, then your myth works on your behalf. The Jesus myth works, the Buddha myth works, the omnipotent formless God myth works. Why not invent your own myth. But once you do you must really live it. Invent the Andrew Guardian Angel myth and really, really live it. Pray and talk to your guardian angel and ask for its protection on every issue. It need only be a bright light that lives just above you, it is Andrew's highest self. No matter how outlandish you make your myth you need only practice it and it will work for you with very fine results. Schizophrenic Shamanism has worked for many thousands of years and is your birthright. Let it work for you. You are the Shaman, the Wizard the Magician.

Autumn said...

Having a religion to turn to is actually helpful for some people. It may or may not help your problems but the feeling that something is there behind you that you can fall back on and who won't turn you away is a good feeling. It helps one get through life easier.

Barb said...

I am feeling like an outsider because I chose to follow Jesus Christ. I believe he died for my sins so that I can live eternal life. That faith, has allowed me to grip to it, when there was nothing else. When my disability got the best of me, and would carry me down. I hope that whatever it is, that you cling to, will continue to hold your hand when you are at the depths of despair. You have strength, that I admire Andrew!!

2 LMZ FARMS said...

I hope you find the answers that you are looking for. You have been sober for this long why start back? It's no tworth it. Hang in there. If you think AA isn't the answer then turn to someone who you trust and will be a strong one for you when you feel like you are going back into the hole. I pray that you will find what you are looking for. Take care and have a good one.

Leann said...

I have to ask....... do you truly believe you are the one who has led yourself down the paths of your life? I'm truly interested in your take, not a religious debate.