I am not an advocate of Alcoholic’s Anonymous. I have mentioned this before and maybe I’ll get a lot of kickback and controversy for it. I have a whole slew of reasons why it doesn’t feel right to me despite it having an almost cult-like loyal following of believers. If it feels right to you, to anyone anywhere, great! That’s awesome. I know many people attribute AA to saving their lives, and of course, I honor and applaud that. However, there is no denying that the very low ten percent success rate of AA is evidence it doesn’t work for the overwhelming majority of people who join.
It is my experience in learning how the twelve steps work, the principles of AA, that as people are told to label themselves alcoholics, a self image is formed that includes feeling unworthy, diseased, less than, inferior, imperfect, flawed. When we judge ourselves as bad, wrong, weak, powerless, when we are trained to think we have to rely on sheer willpower alone to overcome an addiction, we feel discouraged, overwhelmed, and easily give up. Relapse happens when we return to what is known because we feel small, lost, insecure, alone, afraid. We return to the escape of an alcohol addiction. Our strength and resolve can only carry us so far. Willpower by itself will never be enough to heal our brains, bodies, and souls from the controlling and powerful dependence on a highly addictive substance like booze. There has to be a relearning, a new awareness, a brand new way of being in the world, a different way of seeing who we are and how this happened to us.
My entire adult life has been a journey into mastering leadership and empowerment, healing and growth. People do not grow and become empowered when they are instructed to view themselves as wrong, feeble, incapable of tackling their wounds, problems, conflicts, or addictions with a stronghold. The greatest strength of AA is the community it creates, I acknowledge and support that concept completely. I couldn’t agree more that healing from addiction requires reinforcement from others who have traveled down the same path. It is my intention to create a community of interested people who come together with curiosity, hope, openness and wonder about what it might be like to live a life sans booze. This will be a calling out, an invitation to folks who are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I want to create connection with others on the same path of discovery and healing through sobriety. We will share ideas, suggestions, inspirations, ways to support one another, recipes, health and wellness tips, fun suggestions for things to keep our minds busy and away from drinking alcohol, creative pursuits, adventures, travel destinations, books we love – a resource to buoy us up, fill our hearts and souls with happiness instead of numbing out by turning to The Booze Bitch.
My personal choice of how to live my best life is aptly described in The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I faithfully attempt to emulate the teachings as I go about interacting with others. I am taking the liberty here of delving into The Four Agreements for some exploration of just what it means to live this way:
Be impeccable with your word. Be honest! Be clear in your communications. Don’t talk about others behind their back, don’t be harsh and mean, never be a “backstabber”, don’t say unkind, cruel things about others OR about yourself. Don’t practice negative self talk. Be clean with how you express yourself, live in integrity, don’t make up stories or lies to cover up your guilt or make excuses. If you are late because you slept in, say that. If something distracted you, tell it like it is. Live in a way that you never have to feel ashamed of your words or your actions.
Don’t take anything personally. This is a hard one for me! What others do and think and say is about them, not about me. Remember that we are all on this path living our own individual lives, and we each have a story unique to us and us alone. What someone else has experienced in their life is their stuff. Others may have wounds that cause them to act in a certain way, maybe do or say things we do not understand. Maybe we are on the receiving end of very hurtful behaviors, but we always have a choice. We can remember not to take it personally, to know that each of us has our own path, our own stuff. Stay in your power, connect with your own beautiful spirit, no matter what.
Don’t make assumptions. Inadequate forms of communication, a lack of communication, poor communication, clouds understanding. As we assume we know what’s going on with another, when we make up stories in our heads about why they said or did a certain thing, we can get lost in false beliefs. We may be absolutely wrong. I admit that I am guilty of this more times than I can count, thinking someone feels a certain way when in reality, I couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to learn to give others an opportunity to tell us what is real. Wait. Be patient, allow space, pause. We really never know just what is going on in someone else’s life. We each write our own stories, have our own experiences, walk our own trails. When there are times that an absence of understanding peeks in, perhaps when not hearing from someone or not being clear about what a person is feeling or wanting to express, we need to breathe, allow air, pause, ask. We have to remember to open our minds and hearts to all possibilities.
Always do your best. This one is ongoing, of course. There are days when my best is about 50% of the 100% I can give on better days. There are days when maybe I couldn’t sleep and my energy is low, my patience is fading, my mind is unclear. “Always do your best” means giving as much as you are able to give to the situation at hand, doing the right thing when no one is watching. When we feel amazing, we perform at our best. Doing my best includes eating well, trying to get enough sleep, loving myself by caring well for myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. That means I am my own first priority, that I put myself first, take good care of myself, allow down time, quiet time, connection with spirit time. “Always do your best” means putting quality ingredients into our bodies that nourish us, resting when we are tired, choosing the company of others who uplift and inspire us as much as possible. Doing our best requires avoiding toxic people and situations whenever we can, putting out maximum effort to be a beneficial presence on the planet. For me, there is no denying that living my best life, doing my best all the time as much as I am able, absolutely includes sobriety. I have slayed The Booze bitch. Now I can more closely follow the Four Agreements and row, row, row my boat gently down the stream.