Saturday, January 16, 2010


(note: I'm avoiding writing an article that I really think needs writing - just wanted to be honest here as that's what's making it hard to post the past couple of days - maybe tomorrow or soon...)

You have to appreciate a good sense of irony when you take AA meetings in to prison.  It makes the time and years a little more tolerable as you realize that most of the people there (99%?) are just going through some motions to be able to make points with their case manager and the parole board.

I volunteer to take a meeting into a minimum security prison ("...don't bother locking the gate after you leave - I'll get it later...") once a month and have done this for nearly 10 years now.  At this group, the meeting is run by the inmates (PC term = "offender" but I'm old and find it hard to change) and occasionally it's chaired by non-alcoholics and topics range all over the map before we sometimes get it brought back to some semblance of AA.

So, I smiled to myself when the topic, taken from Daily Reflections last Thursday, was "regret."  Frank Sinatra came to mind ("...Regrets - I've had a few...") but it really turned into a pretty good meeting.  Of a dozen inmates, most were clearly mouthing what they wanted us to hear but there was some great, empathetic sharing.

One inmate's sister had died the previous week and he understood that he was locked up  at this time for a reason - there was no way he could have gotten through this time sober on the outside.  Stuff like that.

I shared the following couple of paragraphs from our Big Book:
"The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife, he remarked, 'Don't see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain't it grand the wind stopped blowin'?'
"Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead. We must take the lead. A remorseful mumbling that we are sorry won't fill the bill at all. We ought to sit down with the family and frankly analyze the past as we now see it, being very careful not to criticize them. Their defects may be glaring, but the chances are that our own actions are partly responsible. So we clean house with the family, asking each morning in meditation that our Creator show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness and love." BB pp. 82-83
My current sponsor reminds me occasionally that I don't get to set the terms of the length for that period of reconstruction.  There are parts of my story in recovery where it took better than 2 decades to restore some trust that I'd broken.  Some of what has been reconstructed I've actually torn down in sobriety and then had to go back and rebuild it yet again.  That's hard.

Several of the inmates just sort of stared at me as I shared my story.  It was intended to be hopeful - indeed, as best I know, there are miracles available for each of us - at least that's been my experience and observation.  A few of them (besides the other volunteers at this meeting) "got it."

AA does, indeed, work.


indistinct said...

Sometimes I struggle with the idea that my Higher Power is in charge. I don't get to set the terms under which recovery will take place. "I want it all and I want it now."

God's time, God's will, God's place. I just get to trust and try to act out what I understand God would have me to do.


garden-variety drunk said...

good luck writing your article. this was wonderful to read as i, too, have a tendency to want to define the "long" period of reconstruction rather than trusting G-d and His timing

Syd said...

I used to be impatient, wanting to get through the steps like it was some kind of course that I could ace. I see that is not the way. I am making progress as God allows me. More is revealed every day.

Mary Christine said...

Now I am all curious about what you aren't writing.

I had no idea how long it would take to reconstruct some things and then like you, I tore down some, or a lot, in sobriety. And some you just don't get to repair.

Pam said...

Some of the things I've torn down in sobriety, needed to be torn down.
I'm all curious about what you aren't writing also.