I’m trying to change. I really am…

He said softly, “How did I get here?” I was not sure if he was speaking to me or if it was just a sigh that had turned into a question, but I didn’t respond. His head lifted and then he looked me straight in the eye. This time his voice was clear and the words were said with intensity. “Why do I keep repeating the same mistakes? Shouldn’t I be farther along in this process? I’ve done the meetings, said the prayers, took commitments and even followed your stupid directions. What’s wrong with me?”

Before I could reassure him that he was not as bad off as he believed, he followed with more of his self-loathing. “Look at me! I’m maladjusted to life; a full flight from reality at times! Come on, drinking or not, and although I am a full grown adult, no matter how hard I try, I remain childish, grandiose and basically emotionally immature.” “Why do you say that?” I replied.

“It’s the anxiety I feel right now, or maybe it’s the depression when thinking too much, the fear…the…and that intense desire for excitement. Always! Throw on top of all that an obsessive, compulsive, impulsive, excessive need for attention and acceptance! You are supposed to help me, what’s wrong with me?” It didn’t seem appropriate to give him an answer yet. No, this was far too important to just hand him an answer. He wanted once again an immediate gratification. It wouldn’t help him anymore than handing a bottle over to him.

“Tell me, is your thought life controlled by fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self pity?”

“Haven’t you been listening?”

“Slow down! Think about this before answering me. What are your motives?”

“Huh?”

“Selfishness?”

“Yes, but not always…sometimes.”

“Your motives, if they’re left unattended, do they seem to arouse in you a need to engage in what may be considered as dangerous behavior?”

“Sometimes? What are you now, some kind of shrink?”

“No, you are just like I used to be. Pride, anger, envy, greed, sloth, gluttony, I really wanted it all. When I got that way, it made me really emotionally sensitive. Raw. All this means is typically we both have a really strong tendency towards taking everything we see or hear personally if left unattended.”

“Really? You feel like that too?”

“Yep, but not all the time any more. In fact rarely any more. I used to be that way all the time. When I came to this program I was a spiritually bankrupt idealist and a brooding perfectionist. Because of this I was constantly defensive and guarded. To cope, I would rationalize, minimize, justify and deny all of my actions while casting blame upon others. To make this even worse, I got a distinct delight and a twisted pleasure out of judging and criticizing everybody I met.

“Wow, no wonder why you drank so much. It must of been hell living like that. What did you do?”

“For the longest time, I did just the same thing that you’ve been doing and feeling. I was just as helpless, hopeless. I felt like I didn’t fit in, I knew that I didn’t belong- I just knew that I must be different than all the rest. The only thing in the past that satisfied my restless, irritable and dissatisfied nature was drugs and alcohol; lots too. You know how that, even that way to find some comfort, eventually stopped working. So I was finally ready to surrender. The pain was finally greater than the fear of change. I hope you don’t have to wallow in the pain as long as I did before you do something about it”

“I am trying to change; I really am.”

“I know. I can see that you are trying. I know you are because we are the same except for one thing; I have worked through the fear and got into action. What has been suggested by this program really is a sufficient substitute to the drugs and frankly vastly more than that.”

“So you know it all, don’t you! You think you have it all figured out.”

“No, far from it. I realize I know only a little but God does disclose more to me and he will for you too, if you will let him. Remember that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, but he won’t do for us what we can do for ourselves. You need to fearlessly make an introspective look at the causes and conditions that have brought you to this point in your life. When you do, you will be amazed with what you see. Then that new found awareness will be amplified when you share what you’ve found with another person who can bring it all into a better focus. Just like what’s happening right now.”