You deserve a cupcake for the 12-step program, which I have read, but can only readily remember 3 or four of. And for popularizing the serenity prayer.
I don't think either is absolutely perfect, and I'll go into a couple of reasons why, in detail, after I get done singing your praises.
Quite a few friends of mine love your work too, either on their own behalf, or on the behalf of others that they love. And I'll tell you about one of them.
Now, I'm sure I met this guy before he quit drinking, but I don't actually remember that, so I don't know how you changed his life. But he does.
And what I love about what he's told me about it, is this:
He felt forced to attend some number of meetings to stay out of jail or avoid some lesser punishment. I'm hazy on the facts. It's not that uncommon a condition, for legally resolving problems caused by the drinker.
And he told himself from the get-go that come hell or high water, he would drink as much as he wanted as soon as he had fulfilled all the legally mandated requirements of that agreement.
And he does.
I totally adore this guy for a bunch of other reasons, not the least of which is that he, much like me, is annoying to a bunch of other people I care about. Not to me! And he knows who, and they know he knows. We are none of us much fooling very many others. But I digress!
Alcoholics Anonymous? Enjoy that cupcake.
The serenity prayer has a beautiful ending. "And the wisdom to know the difference."
I love this line. And I love wisdom. But I think that the first two lines are good enough advice, because they already suggest there is a difference. And while we would all like to have wisdom, not having it should never be a bar to, say, accepting the things we can not change, or changing the things we can.
Unfortunately for me, it feels unfinished if you stop after two pieces of advice, like the third makes it truer somehow? I was trying to resolve this for myself on a plane flight the other day, both before and after I imbibed, and I didn't come up with anything better than just stopping short, but I'll share them with you anywa, because I am just that giving.
Now the first try I wrote down was: Grant me the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I must, and the courage I need for both. I do not like the word must, it's too too. It's pretty much how I feel about most thing I love doing, but as advice it might rile up people not so great at accepting the things they cannot change. Which I am not too worried about, but obviously it worries me on some level.
Then I wrote: The courage to do whichever is best? The courage to do whatever is required? best? indicated? The courage to do whatever is necessary.
What a relief I felt at that point, for whatever reasons. It's still not perfect. But, luckily, perfection is not my goal. Better is nice, and good enough will be awesome.
Back to AA
Now I could do the research on the 12-steps and take them apart with the same ruthless passion for exactly the most helpful amount of clarity, but someone else has done some of the work, and I will share the upshot with you here, and analyze that instead of the actual 12 steps.
- admitting that one cannot control one's addiction or compulsion;
- recognizing a higher power that can give strength;
- examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member);
- making amends for these errors;
- learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior;
- helping others who suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.
with bullets. flailing around. don't want to edit html, though perfectly capable.
ok don't know how to get out of quote.
Back to the razor sharp analysis: higher power is imprecise. Though I totally respect it because it is purposefully imprecise.
The people who wrote it originally probably meant God. And as an agnostic and lover of atheists, turning to god is both a little bit of a weird thing for me to understand, AND not something that I can compassionately endorse to everyone I know.
But self control is a higher power too, and people who feel a compulsion and exercise self control to eliminate the unnecessary drama drinking causes in their lives totally have it.
And it is even more confusing to say that you are having a probem with self-control, and you must turn to self-control to solve it. Purposeful imprecision works better than actual clarity in this instance.
There are apparently also 12 traditions that go along with the 12 steps, which I'm not sure I've ever heard of before and also totally love. But maybe that's another post, because this one feels finished.