I’m Valerie and I’m an alcoholic. I’m so grateful to be part of this group. Thank you so much to everyone who reached out yesterday for my 32nd anniversary. There’s no chance I would have been able to attain days, months or years of continuous sobriety without the support of others who truly understand the nature of this illness. In particular, in the past several years it has become increasingly difficult to get to f2f meetings. So many of you here at this meeting have helped me at various times to hang on for one more day.
I remember when I was newly sober and I heard a speaker with over 30 years of sobriety. I was so in awe of her. In fact, I was very much in awe of anyone who had been able to be sober for more than a year. I had been a daily drinker for 10 years. For some, that doesn’t sound very long, but in those 10 years I gave up everyone and everything that competed with my compulsion to drink. I quit college, quit playing competitive tennis, walked away from friends, boyfriends, jobs and anyone who questioned my drinking. I was unable to do the smallest of tasks without drinking first, and by the end I had to go home on my lunch hour and drink just to get through a day of work. Once, when there was a rare hurricane in Massachusetts where I lived at the time, others were out stocking their homes with food before the storm hit, but I was running from one liquor store to the next to make sure I didn’t run out of alcohol. Without AA, I have no doubt I would have drunk myself to death
For any newcomers that are here, we’ve all been where you are, and we all know we’re just one drink away from our next drunk. Years ago at a large speaker meeting, I heard a speaker say, “I have a disease that wants to kill everyone in this room.” It’s a cunning, powerful and insidious disease that’s lying in wait hoping we become complacent or forget where we came from, or that we forget we need each other to remain sober. Together we can do what none of us can do alone.
For this week, I’d like to suggest the topic of self-centeredness. In the Big Book on page 62, it says
“Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt. So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making.”
I remember reading that when I was new and feeling confused. I didn’t think that I was a self-centered person at all.
Boy was I wrong. I have come to recognize that I did make many decisions based on self that hurt me and other people. Self-centered fear affected many of my decisions personally and professionally. For me, self-centeredness tends to manifest most often as self-pity, and I have to be vigilant about my tendency to wallow in the “poor me’s”. Self-pity is driven by a tendency to think only of myself, my problems, my pain.
What a gift that the Steps give us the tools to recognize and work on defects of character, such as self-centeredness.
How has self-centeredness manifested in your life, in the past or in the present? I invite you all to share on this topic or any other topic that you’d like to share on this week.
Thank you all for letting me lead this week, and for letting me be part of this wonderful group.
Hugs to all who need or want one,