After I’ve recently attended an AI-Anon family group support meeting, I couldn’t get some questions out of my head: Do I act inappropriately towards my wife and parents during our family get-togethers? Am I still messed up and acting out my issues?
Now that I’m sober and clean, am I one of those recovering alcoholics filled with frustration ready to burst at any minute? Am I underestimating my strength and lying to myself that I actually want to get better?
Overestimating leads to disappointment
When you first start attending the AA meetings, you hear about the wonders that await you if you can remain sober. It’s something the AA dubs ‘The Promises’, which imply finding a new happiness and freedom by getting over the past and accepting what happened.
Because many long-term members claim that the lofty promises were accomplished, newcomers tend to view them in a glorified light. Unfortunately, when the old members make a mistake, the overvalued image is replaced by natural human emotions.
I remember I had this sweet little old lady in my first AA group, a kind and gentle woman that always encouraged the younger members by telling them how she managed to stay sober for almost a decade. I used to look up to her because I truly believed she broke free from the spell of alcohol and she found a lifestyle that makes her happy.
When she relapsed due to her sister’s death, my attitude changed completely. Although I was furious at her for throwing away a decade’s effort, I was also mad at myself for having unrealistic expectations about both of us. I was very close to giving up on my effort, but somehow my counselor made me realize that I have to follow my own path to sobriety.
Some people continue to lie
Not all recovering alcoholics practice the program as they claim. Even though you choose to see them in a glorified light during the meetings, this is what you want to see. While their commitment to the program sometimes simply leaves you in awe, in reality they’re not as steadfast as they like us to believe. These people continue lying to themselves and others.
The simple fact that you’re regularly undergoing meetings and encouraging members in distress doesn’t automatically mean you’ve gotten over your own cycle of negativity. Staying sober implies more than admitting you have a problem. You need to follow the entire alcohol recovery program, find yourself and discover the things that make you truly happy.
The sweet old lady I mentioned earlier did hold onto sobriety as much as she could. However, the truth is that she was miserable because of it. While she understood that alcohol ruined her marriage and estranged her 2 sons, she believed that giving up drinking will magically make all her problems go away.
If you’re determined to find happiness, then you need to work hard on improving your attitude, beliefs and behavior. In other words, you need to get rid of all the reasons why you started drinking in the first place!