It might sound cliche, but in AA you’ll hear the phrase god will do for you what you can’t do for yourself quite often. And that has definitely been my experience where acceptance is concerned.
But before I talk about acceptance, let me give a little background.
Leading the meeting I didn’t want to be at
Another cliche that you hear in the rooms is AA will give you all of the tools to not need AA and then some cautionary tale about relapse when said person stopped going to meetings. The not needing AA bit is where I feel like I am right now in my journey.
I’ve just passed 18 months of sobriety and life is super good. Business is great, my relationships are great, I’ve begun to learn how to love myself, I’ve started to develop a relationship with my higher power which I called the divine within me.
Going to meetings with a bunch of fucked up people isn’t really high on my agenda. After all, I tell myself that I went to AA to get sober and live my life, not make AA my new life like a lot of people seem to do.
My sponsor keeps getting on my ass to go to more meetings, to help others, not to be so selfish thinking about myself, which is what I am doing by not going to meetings because I deem them beneath me.
So, Thursday June 16 I grudgingly went to my usual Thursday meeting. It’s honestly the last place I wanted to be, but I want to do what my sponsor says. Shortly after getting there, they asked me to lead the meeting.
I’m very much a guy who likes to prep beforehand, not just wing it, so this stressed me out a little bit, but I decided to just go with it. Everything was okay. In fact, I think I was able to reach a couple of people and thus be of service rather than being so selfish.
4 Things I’ve Learned to Accept in Recovery
1. Leading meetings without prep
I’m a prepper. I care about my image. I want everything to go smooth. So, being asked to lead a meeting with no prep stressed me out. But I did good. I even reached a couple of people.
Most of the time in recovery, when you’re talking to someone one-on-one, you won’t have a chance to prep beforehand. To this is good practice for carrying the message in the moment.
2. The inevitability of death
Death is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. I remember precisely where I was sitting and who I was with (my Dad) when I became aware of the reality that my parents would someday die.
I hated the idea of death. It’s something that is inevitable, that I have absolutely no control over. And being an alcoholic with control issues, I’ve struggled with accepting the inevitability of death.
The past few months, my Dad has been super sick with complications with prostate cancer. We’ve never been particularly close, but I still love my Dad and want him to have a good quality of life. When he almost died, it really messed me up emotionally.
Fortunately my Mom was able to fly to Ohio and nurse him back to health. In a few weeks he will have his prostate taken out, and again my Mom is going to help him.
I’m still not happy about death, but I’ve accepted the inevitability of it. And I was able to do so - including process what was going on with my Dad - without needing to drink. That is a blessing from the program.
3. Being okay not being liked by everyone in the room
When I was going through the steps the first time, and doing a 5th step with my sponsor, one character defect that kept coming up was co-dependence. I needed people to behave in the very black and white way that I was raised to believe that people ought to behave. And worst of all, I needed to be liked to be okay.
I wasn’t happy about who I am or know how to love myself, so I was looking externally for validation. The thing about people is that they are human and imperfect. And will always let you down. So I’ve learned how important self-love and self-care are.
For example, if I was in a room of 100 people, 99 who told me I was awesome and 1 who hated me, I would have fixated on the one who didn’t praise me. I needed them to like me.
But I don’t need that anymore. In fact, the divine within me has given me the tools I need to get through life without drinking. If someone doesn’t like me, or is rude to me, that says a lot more about them than it does about me.
It would be a lie to say I 100% don’t care, but I don’t lose sleep over what other people think anymore.
4. Accepting people’s flaws and life’s annoyances
Two of the things that annoy me the most are: tardiness and flakyness. And in AA, most of the people I’ve met are one or both of those things. In the beginning it used to rub me the wrong way.
But now I don’t let it bother me.
The Life Coach in my networking group said it better than I ever could.
When you’re late, it’s either fuck you or fuck me.
Since we’re talking 12 step recovery and a lot of people are total wrecks, even sober, it’s more likely fuck me. And that’s their problem to worry about, not mine.
Things I still need to learn to accept
I still haven’t accepted that traffic in my city is going to suck. And probably only get worse as the population increases. I still get really frustrated in traffic. Perhaps the divine within me can help me address that next.