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The Bad Alibi

In our nightmares, our brains simulate unresolved conflict. The only way to conquer our fears is to face them, so our minds force us to take a serious look at what we’re not properly dealing with in our waking lives. We’re churning through what makes us tick.

If certain factors of my life are any indication, I lack discipline and structure, and nothing has made me suffer enough to change me at my core. I haven’t received that fair shake in life, the one that follows a transformative yet brutally difficult experience.

AA has been giving me a lot of transformative moments, and I'm slowly beginning to teach and be of service instead of letting the ego take charge.

Here's what I've been learning, written out in a simple format.

  • Henri-Frédéric Amiel once said, “You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.” We are inseparable from our pain because pain is inevitable. What we choose to do about it, though, is optional. Be reactive or proactive? It is your choice, ultimately, and in the end, you are the sum of the choices in your life. 

  • Know this. You need to be grateful for your struggles because they can never fully be eradicated. If we get rid of our demons, we get rid of our angels as well. Life is about balance, and choosing faith over fear is where our path to a higher level of spirituality lies. Every moment is a test to see how determined we are to walk the right path, whatever that may be. Living in the moment is important. It does not matter what happened 5 minutes ago or 10 minutes ago. All you have is this minute, so live for it and be proactive about life and others.

  • We can only truly know something by comparison to its opposite.

The Bad Alibi

The majority of A.A. members have suffered severely from self-justification during their drinking days. For most of us, self-justification was the maker of excuses for drinking and for all kinds of crazy and damaging conduct. We had made the invention of alibis a fine art.

We had to drink because times were hard or times were good. We had to drink because at home we were smothered with love or got none at all. We had to drink because at work we were great successes or dismal failures. We had to drink because our nation had won a war or lost a peace. And so it went, ad infinitum.

To see how our own erratic emotions victimized us often took a long time. Where other people were concerned, we had to drop the word “blame” from our speech and thought.

Whether or not you're in AA does not matter. I wager that everyone reading this has played the victim and has mastered the art of bad alibis as an excuse to feel the way they do and continue to do absolutely nothing about it. Is your alibi a call-to-change-action, or an excuse to continue being the way you are, in your defects?

Whether or not you'll continue to repeat bad habits is not something I can ever know, but experience in dealing with people shows me that we hardly ever truly learn our lessons, which is why we need the constant reminder of pain and suffering to keep us humble.

What we are addicted to, then, isn't really damaging all on its own. Alcohol itself isn't toxic. Pills in and of themselves aren't a bad thing. Porn in itself isn't a bad thing. It is when our biological urges and strong impulses become unhealthily prioritized over everything else, that things begin to go awry. We prioritize our addictive behaviors to the point of self-destruction.

Self-control is a life lesson to learn. Indulgence is not.

The Old Cherokee

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lust, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego."

"The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too.” He continued.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Recovery, Unity, Service

"You can take a three-legged stool, try to balance it on only one leg, or two. See what happens in usage. Our Three Legacies must be kept intact. 

  • In Recovery, we get sober together.

  • In Unity, we work together for the good of our steps and traditions.

  •  Through service, we give away freely what has been given to us.

Being Self-Centered To The Extreme

"Why all this insistence that every AA member must hit bottom first? The answer is that few people will sincerely try to practice the A.A. program unless they have hit bottom. For practicing A.A.'s remaining eleven Steps means the adoption of attitudes and actions that almost no alcoholic who is still drinking can dream of taking. Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harm done? Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.'s message to the next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn't care for this prospect— unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself."

Simply put, we are our best selves when we are humble. Our scars give us character and they are a reminder that who we were, self-centered in the extreme, got us into the mess of the human condition. Being there for others is important. It does not matter what damage they have done to us. They must take their inventory and learn their own defects of character. We are required, as human beings, to help them in their current circumstances. The past is out of sight and mind. How can you help them? No, you may not like them. That's fine. But this isn't about liking. It's about our moral obligation to be free of resentment and retaliation.

Plus, if you spot it, you got it! If there's something you don't like in others it's more than likely that they mirror something inside of you that you don't like.

Anyway. Be of service to others, follow a good path and don't let past failures prevent present-moment success.

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