When I first went to meetings and started to hear people say they were “grateful alcoholics”, I couldn’t see any reason why you’d feel grateful to be an alcoholic, and the phrase always made me feel cranky, even though I knew that they at least in part meant grateful to be a sober one. Since being sober I’ve come to feel a little bit grateful for being an alcoholic and a bit more appreciative of AA (verses my original resentment of the need to go).
Everyone in the world has their own shit and issues. Mine happen to be so big and screw up my life so much that I don’t really have a choice but to put the time and work into facing and working on them. I suspect at the end of the day I’ll be healthier and live more consistently with my values than I would have had I not had an issue that significant.
And AA it really does have a great program for looking at your “defects of character” and where you’ve harmed others and making amends. Along with the program there are people that support you as you work through the actions. You get to hear their intimate stories and realize how much everyone has in common in terms of feelings and emotions. How great is that?? There are so many “normal drinkers” that I wish had similar steps to go through and the same level of support.
The other thing is AA is teaching me to be more open minded and not judge people based on appearances. I’m not the richest, most educated, or best looking person attending meetings. There are many people that you would never suspect have substance issues based on appearances. I’m not trying to perpetuate stereotypes, so I want to be clear to say that before I also share that there are some people who are obviously having a hard time, homeless, far from clean and well dressed, and smell a little funky. In hearing them speak with an open mind, I’ve learned that many of them are also well educated, well traveled, and well read and have found both wisdom in their words and things I identify with. Again a pretty special thing. I feel like I’m getting a gift by learning to look beyond the superficial.