Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house. p.98 Alcoholics Anonymous
I post this here to burn this into my mind. Regardless of anyone. Trust in God. Clean house. I can get well regardless, even, of myself. I can recover regardless, even, of a shit storm swirling around me, whether I created it or not. The above line is from Chapter 7, Working With Others; our 12th Step, but it applies from the moment we give ourselves to this simple program. We must first admit complete defeat, as stated in our 12 and 12. If I haven’t admitted defeat, I am still playing God.
In Dallas, it’s quite possible my home group was host to the soap-opera rumor mill that exists in so many AA clubs and, well, anywhere a group of people gather. I was never witness to such shenanigans. I was selfishly seeking the solution with all the desperation of a drowning man, barely even paying mind to my own floundering marriage and peripheral relationships. I had a few female friendships in the program, I went to meals with fellow alcoholics and frequently stayed after meetings for fellowship. I was never approached by men and heard very little gossip about my fellow AA’s. I was protected. I heard about other clubs where “13th stepping” was the norm and felt gratitude that my home group was not one of them. Clean Air was, as I have mentioned before, comprised of older folks with, for the most part, long-term sobriety. The average member was there for recovery, not socializing or scoping out a date for Friday night.
When I came to Gillette my experience changed. This is a very transient town. The median age here is early 30’s and I would say the median recovery age is 2 years. The rumor mill turns at breakneck speed and “13th steppers” prowl with intensity. That’s not to say there isn’t good recovery, there is, but it isn’t the norm–not in my experience. I had to look for the solution, I had to create the fellowship that I craved.
I am no angel. I have missed the mark. I have written here that I relapsed just before coming back to Wyoming, and about a year after that I fell again in another area of my life. It involved a man in AA. As a result a rumor was started which, as a result of my actions is not completely unfounded but it is untrue. My transgression with this man was brief and ended long ago but that false rumor is still alive in the rooms. I have grown in the program and in my relationship with God but in the eyes of some of my fellows I am that lie. I am that false rumor. To them, I will not recover, regardless of how completely I trust God or how thoroughly I clean my house. I will wear the red A on my lapel every time I appear before them or each time they hear my name mentioned. Because of my actions, and because of a rumor. Because someone, at some moment, did not practice restraint of tongue to withhold a lie.
I can say it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of me, only what God thinks of me, but I would be the one who was lying. I have always cared entirely too much what others think of me, especially fellow AA’s. Perhaps one day God will remove this defect of character, but he hasn’t seen fit to do so yet. Perhaps he is waiting to do so until I can conduct myself like a lady without fear of what others think of me. Perhaps there will never be a full answer to some of these questions.