Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pain is required...

I really don't know if pain is required to recover from alcoholism or not.  You hear it said at meetings around here that "...today, pain is optional..." - like, what they've learned in AA has given them a way of managing their lives to be able to avoid the self-inflicted consequences of their actions.  I think I know what they mean but I'm ready to hang that in my head as "one of those sayings you hear in the rooms that might be helpful or harmful, depending on who's hearing it."  As you might guess, this is a pretty long list.  It's a list of what, IMLTHO, makes AA meetings some of the most dangerous places to learn about the program of AA.

My sponsee Rob fell on the ice last Friday and broke his hip.  He was discharged yesterday so I grabbed some Panera Bread souffles and we had our regular Tuesday breakfast at his place.  He was 1/2 stoned on Vicodin.  We did not talk about his pain medications (other than that he was taking them as the doctor prescribed).  All my guys have it clear that they only person worse to proscribe for them than doctor (their name) is doctor Ed.   If he wasn't taking them as prescribed, we'd have had a different conversation.

But, pain was up for him and an ad in the local paper (he's an advertising guy so he notices that stuff more than me) for one of the local medical M-J- (fill in the blank - I'm trying to keep Google from indexing something I really have no desire to be found in my blog) dispensaries.  Medical M-J- is majorly "up" in this state and one of the local dispensaries ran an ad with the tag line "Stop Your Pain Today!"

Both Rob and I are dealing with sponsees who are early in recovery.  While everyone deserves a chance at "getting this" (an AA program that works for them) at their own level, it's hard to not compare and contrast those with a different level of motivation than those who just can't seem to show up at a meeting, make a phone call or, do virtually anything that might inconvenience themselves early in sobriety.

Some of our best AA literature, IMLTHO, is the DVD "Bill Wilson Talks About the 12 Traditions."  In this film, around the time he talks about traditions 4 and 5, Bill makes this startling claim (paraphrasing):
"... We discovered early in our history that we have but one true 'teacher' in AA.  That teacher is John Barlycorn (booze) ..."
I can remember the chilling impact that statement had on me when I first heard this film in early sobriety.  I suppose that I was sicker than most along the lines that I had believed that I was going to approach AA with the same regard as I did most new and potentially painful things - with an intellectual detachment that would save my butt if I couldn't somehow manage success.

Today, as I look over the cases Rob and I discussed as well as when I think back on the dozens of folks on this path that I still think should have been successful because, well, they worked this program better than I ever did (or could) - I am intensely grateful that I'd suffered sufficiently to recover this far.  I truly need not learn one more lesson at the feet of John Barleycorn (I pray God!).

For me, the pain was required to accept the solution that was offered.

"... With us it is just like that." BB p. 15.


Syd said...

I hope that you don't have to be involved in any way with John Barleycorn. This post fills me with a level of anxiety.

Syd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve E said...

Ed, I'm sorry to say it like this...but there's no other way:

"You are GoooooD". I've gotta make sure you're on my blogroll of Peeps!
You perform a REAL SERVICE on these blogs. Thanks.

Kathy M. said...

Pain is the only thing that's ever gotten my attention. Otherwise, I'm pretty thick-headed and stubborn.

Thanks for this blog. I always appreciate your insights.

Mary Christine said...

Pain is optional, just like I Choose not to drink today, etc.

dAAve said...

I think pain was required to accept the solution. But I don't think pain is required to have recovery.

I'm not sure if that's what you are saying or not.