The Challenge of Normalcy
Grapevine (November 1955), pp. 34-36
Sgt. Bill S. (Sonoma, California)
The new member of Alcoholics Anonymous who has attended only a few meetings is full of hope and faith. He is sure that this new way of life is the solution to many of his ills and he is looking forward to the time when he can say, "I have one year of sobriety." He feels that he is floating on a pink cloud because he has overcome the one evil in life that has been a stumbling block to his success. Without these shackles curtailing his every move he feels free as the school child on the first day of summer vacation.
He now has time to do things that he has wanted to do for years. He can play golf, go fishing, be a part of society in general, and still be free from the desire to drink. This is a revolutionary period in his life. He can look at things in their true perspective without any thought of drinking.
As time passes, these new experiences give way to routine living without the bottle. Like the child two weeks after Christmas, the luxury wears off and he is faced with the task of living in reality for the first time. His family and loved ones become complacent with his new-found happiness because they do not understand the true nature of his problem. The glory and praise wear thin and the man who was once the town drunk is now Mr. Average Citizen. Sobriety might become monotonous because of lack of insight or acceptance. Realism has come into play to spoil the honeymoon.
The phase of the AA program that is very important is the one following this so-called honeymoon period. During this period attendance at meetings is particularly important. This is a transition from dependence to a somewhat independent state. Now the application of AA philosophy becomes vital to survival.
Cartoon from this issue
of the Grapevine
Alcoholics Anonymous doesn't make us immune to problems: material, domestic, or financial. It does provide a means to attack these problems through realism, objective thinking, and desire. We in AA are fortunate to have a program whereby we can discipline our every action. To the new member of AA, seemingly impossible obstacles can become enlightening challenges through the application of this philosophy.
We have all heard of peace of mind and serenity in AA. I feel that these two expressions are grossly misunderstood and perhaps over-used. This presents a picture of complete harmony and accord to the new member. Total serenity and peace of mind becomes the objective. When this condition is not reached, the new member feels that the AA program has failed him. He might again slip into obscurity if he succumbs to this first challenge.
Older members in AA are neither in complete accord nor without problems. They are not infallible. They are human and subject to all the complex social problems known to man. They are in a better position to meet this challenge because of the desire to be realistic, mature and objective in their thinking.
Those who stay sober in AA live with their defects. They recognize them and are constantly striving to do something constructive to control these emotional problems. Through discipline and constant vigilance, the aggression, self-pity, remorse, resentments, hate, guilt, intolerance, and selfishness give way to a positive, objective approach.
We have to live with others in AA as well as on our job. The new member should accept or reject the philosophy of others with an impersonal attitude. The expression, "Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion" is a very good one. We can air our beliefs and feel a part of the AA program by so doing. This being the case, we cannot afford to evaluate a person according to his or her philosophy. Sincerity is the hallmark of quality in AA. If the new member is sincere in his desire to overcome excessive drinking and destructive thinking, then some of the above situations should not become a burden to him. He will stay sober in spite of his changing position. He will accept his changing attitude as moral and spiritual strength and continue to grow in this wonderful program.
The AA program is for you. Know your needs and meet them with AA's never-ending supply of wholesome guidance.
Sgt. Bill, San Antonio, Texas