Is My Ego Getting In My Way?

Are we in recovery, or just abstinent? Are we just hanging around the edges talking the talk, but not walking the walk?

[Believe me — I’ve done all this stuff at one time or another!]

Is our program not working for us? Are we in recovery, or just abstinent? Are we just hanging around the edges talking the talk, but not walking the walk?

Are we hiding behind our intellect, thinking that we know more about how to “fix” ourselves than all those “uneducated” people in the rooms? Continue reading “Is My Ego Getting In My Way?”

Atheist or Believer, Bringing Religion Into The Rooms Just Ain’t Right

Believers (theists, deists, etc.) seek faith in the existence of a power that they cannot prove. That’s what faith is: belief without proof. Atheists espouse the opposite: that something that can’t be proven to exist therefore doesn’t exist, which is not only intellectually sloppy, but illogical.  Agnosis, in its purest sense and shorn of knee-jerk reactions, refers to people who admit that they don’t know. 

Personally, I am agnostic. I would like to believe in a God, but no anecdotal or other testament has yet convinced me that there is such a being. Nonetheless, I accept the fact that those things could change, however unlikely.  In the meantime, I’ll stand behind my efforts to live a good life. If God fails to notice and take that into account, it won’t matter anyway.  That said, I’ve no problem with you and whatever you believe, as long as you don’t use it as an excuse to mess with other folks.

But I DO have a problem with the way misunderstandings about religious issues affect my 12-Step fellowships.  That’s why I have a problem with those who feel the need to testify their personal beliefs at meetings, as well as those who huff and puff about all the “God” stuff in AA or other 12-Step “cults.”

Remember this well:

Recovery is about suggestion and example, not doctrine. Nowhere in approved AA literature does it say that anyone has to believe in God in order to get sober.

Those who believe their faith in a metaphysical higher power is what keeps them sober are perfectly at liberty to do so. As far as AA is concerned, they’re sober, and that’s what matters. Likewise, those who accept, as I do, that we can’t do it alone and get their guidance from the group, Steps, sponsors and outside support can and will get sober — as long as we remain open-minded.

images (1)Rigid attitudes and their expression always create barriers. Testimony tempered by humility is one thing, but proselytizing and fanaticism are something else.  Fanatics miss out on a lot of life’s lessons by focusing on the blacks and whites (most of which are really shades of gray) and ignoring the rest of the spectrum. Not only that, they risk alienating those who might have become their friends.  Those people may be so put off by perceived intolerance that they miss out on myriad other thoughts and counsel that the believers could provide.

In short, rigid ideas of any kind are divisive, and life is — or should be — about tolerance, understanding, lovingkindness and the other aspects of the human spirit. Spouting our beliefs at other people and making them uncomfortable is just plain rude, whether door-to-door or at a meeting. It drives away some people who need our fellowships.

Our job is “to stay sober and help others to achieve sobriety”, not create artificial walls that keep alcoholics and other addicts from learning what we have to offer.


by Bill

I was at a meeting last night where the subject was defiance.   I don’t recall ever having heard that suggested as a topic before,  but it’s certainly a good one! Defiance is the earmark of many a newcomer’s early program,  and I have exhibited a bit myself from time to time

It’s perfectly natural when you think about it.   Addicts don’t like to be told what to do,  especially when it threatens the deep-seated need to use that we have in early recovery.  We haven’t yet replaced the “comfort” of our addiction with the relief of recovery,  and while our conscious mind is telling us that we want to quit,  the rest of it is saying “Help!   We need our drug!”   Put the two together and you’re likely to find a certain…ah…resistance in the average newcomer when a bunch of relative strangers start making suggestions.
Continue reading “Defiance”


Ego and recovery don’t mix well.

by Bill

One of the groups that I attend regularly has lost its meeting place,  and for the last three weeks we’ve been meeting at the local IHOP for fellowship and to discuss possibilities.  (It turns out that meeting space is at a premium on Saturday at 6:00 PM.)

It was interesting,  but also disappointing. The two guys with the least sober time spent quite a while discussing members who weren’t present,  telling war stories,  and generally talking about stuff that I don’t consider conducive to recovery – –  at all – –  in that particular fellowship. The others in the group mostly kept quiet.  Since it wasn’t really a meeting,  and since I didn’ t find it disturbing on a personal level,  I just listened.  Naturally,  the guy with the least time was the most vocal by far,  pontificating on this and that and generally behaving like a newcomer who hasn’t yet gained a realization of how his ego is getting in the way of his growth in recovery.

The way I used to be.   (I’m not still,  am I?)

When I got out of treatment, back in the Dark Ages, I was already a bona fide, self-certified Junior Therapist and all-round expert on recovery,  psychology, the program and whatever other subject might have arisen – –  just the sort of know-it-all jerk I was when I was an active drunk and addict,  and just the way I can be now on the bad days. The concept of “sit down,  shut up and listen with an open mind”  totally escaped my notice,  as it still can on (thankfully) rare occasions. Hey,  I used to belong to Mensa!   How wrong could I be?

That attitude,  the poor self-image that made me a pedantic know-it-all,  and a general disinclination to listen lest I hear something that threatened my little cocoon of complacency kept me from getting into real recovery for the next 23 years.   Only when my previously-hidden sex addiction finally kicked my ass did I begin to develop even the vestiges of humility,  which I continue to work on daily with varying degrees of success.

I wish there was some way to impress on people like me,  early on, that we really don’t know shit,  and that opening our mouths too much simply demonstrates that to others. I know now whence came the smiles on the faces of the old-timers back in those days.

It wasn’t from a sense of admiration after all.


Children not only know how to forgive, they also know that enjoying times with their friends is a top priority. The longer they waste fighting, the less time they have for fun…and they are all about having fun. Seems like a pretty simple equation to me.

Why then do adults have such a hard time forgiving and moving on? It seems that as adults, we want to make sure our partner knows s/he was wrong, that we were right, and then we want our partners to wallow in the mistake. If that mistake at all hurt us, we want our partners to feel that same pain.