In recovery, our early delight at feeling better and a burning desire to spread the word can lead to what I call the Guru Syndrome (GS). The GS can stem from a sincere desire to help others, but it can also hide a profound fear of getting the help we need for ourselves.
I had my last drink on September 14th, 1989, at about noon. At the end of the month, I’ll go to an anniversary meeting and pick up a coin stamped XXVI to denote my 26 years of “sobriety.” I’m not braggin’, I’m just sayin’.
Don’t get me wrong: if I hadn’t become abstinent from alcohol and drugs, I’d be dead now instead of approaching my 71st birthday. There is absolutely no question about that, and I am extremely grateful for the 12-step fellowships that supported me during those years and that continue to support me today. I owe the past 26 years of life to the people and the institutions that blazed the trail to abstinence. I take nothing away from that.
On the face of it, twenty-six years of abstinence is pretty impressive; but was I really sober? Continue reading
Fred, who has been coming to meetings for months, can’t remember what the 2nd Step is about.
Mary has gotten to the 4th Step several times, then bails, relapses, comes back, and repeats the pattern again.
Alec keeps screwing around with sponsors. He usually has one, but then finds a reason to fire them and find another. Little work results.
Mark has been around for years, talks a good game, but when pressed will admit that he’s never worked the steps with a sponsor and relies on his “spirituality” to keep him sober.
[The names have been changed to protect the guilty, but you know who you are.]
Which begs the question, “How Long Until We Actually Start Work?”
The great end of life is not knowledge but action. – Thomas Huxley
I got so caught up in the “how” of sobriety that I distracted myself from the doing. Knowledge is power, but power isn’t much use unless it has direction.
At a meeting the other day, a guy suggested a topic and proceeded to share at length. It really makes no difference what it was, but two things were clear: the person didn’t have any concept of what recovery is really about, and he is so far up in his head that he has a long way to go before getting the hang of it.
It got me to thinking about when I was in the same boat. To begin with, I analyzed everything. I was so smart and so on top of things that I’d been pretty much a useless drunk for the previous six months and a semi-functional one for several years before that. So, naturally, a few weeks out of treatment I thought I had all the answers.
I had all sorts of high-falutin’ theories. I’d read a few books, and I was pretty sure that with a bit of effort I could become a recovery guru and help all those other poor folks who just couldn’t seem to get it. I was going to re-write the Big Book and streamline the program so that it would work for folks in the here and now, instead of fooling around with ideas that were (at that time) fifty years old. Continue reading