Finding myself among the wreckage

Just putting this out there to get this out of my head. This all just came to me at once and hit me over the head. I wasn’t looking for it. It just happened. I know I I have a lot of work to do to continue to unpack all of this and understand it – but we are only as sick as our secrets and I don’t want to keep this in my head alone.

In the step meeting, we “accidentally” read the same reading from last week. I didn’t make that last meeting and instead and caught a later meeting instead asking for help. I have read this on my own several times. As we read tonight, a passage jumped off the page at me from Step 12 from the Twelve and Twelve (Pg. 122 - 125)

Let’s here take note of our improved outlook upon the problems of personal importance, power, ambition, and leadership. These were reefs upon which many of us came to shipwreck during our drinking careers. Practically every boy in the United States dreams of becoming our President. He wants to be his country’s number one man. As he gets older and sees the impossibility of this, he can smile good-naturedly at his childhood dream. In later life he finds that real happiness is not to be found in just trying to be a number one man, or even a first-rater in the heartbreaking struggle for money, romance, or self importance. He learns that he can be content as long as he plays well whatever cards life deals him. He’s still ambitious, but not absurdly so, because he can now see and accept actual reality. He’s willing to stay right size. But not so with alcoholics.

When A.A. was quite young, a number of eminent psychologists and doctors made an exhaustive study of a good-sized group of so-called problem drinkers. The doctors weren’t trying to find how different we were from one another; they sought to find whatever personality traits, if any, this group of alcoholics had in common. They finally came up with a conclusion that shocked the A.A. members of that time. These distinguished men had the nerve to say that most of the alcoholics under investigation were still childish, emotionally sensitive, and grandiose.

How we alcoholics did resent that verdict! We would not believe that our adult dreams were often truly childish. And considering the rough deal life had given us, we felt it perfectly natural that we were sensitive. As to our grandiose behavior, we insisted that we had been possessed of nothing but a high and legitimate ambition to win the battle of life.

In the years since, however, most of us have come to agree with those doctors. We have had a much keener look at ourselves and those about us. We have seen that we were prodded by unreasonable fears or anxieties into making a life business of winning fame, money, and what we thought was leadership. So false pride became the reverse side of that ruinous coin marked “Fear.” We simply had to be number one people to cover up our deep-lying inferiorities. In fitful successes we boasted of greater feats to be done; in defeat we were bitter. If we didn’t have much of any worldly success we became depressed and cowed. Then people said we were of the “inferior” type. But now we see ourselves as chips off the same old block. At heart we had all been abnormally fearful. It mattered little whether we had sat on the shore of life drinking ourselves into forgetfulness or had plunged in recklessly and willfully beyond our depth and ability. The result was the same—all of us had nearly perished in a sea of alcohol.

But today, in well-matured A.A.’s, these distorted drives have been restored to something like their true purpose and direction. We no longer strive to dominate or rule those about us in order to gain self-importance. We no longer seek fame and honor in order to be praised. When by devoted service to family, friends, business, or community we attract widespread affection and are sometimes singled out for posts of greater responsibility and trust, we try to be humbly grateful and exert ourselves the more in a spirit of love and service. True leadership, we fi nd, depends upon able example and not upon vain displays of power or glory. Still more wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy. Not many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be. Service, gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the well-understood fact that in God’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self-constructed prisons, the surety that we need no longer be square pegs in round holes but can fit and belong in God’s scheme of things—these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions of right living for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes. True ambition is not what we thought it was.

True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.


I made it that far, very well said. You are on quite the journey of self examination and it’s encouraging to see you and so many others here be willing to freely share these thoughts and discoveries. I helps me on my own path. The fear things is really giving me something to meditate on tonight.
Thanks :wink:


Thank you so much for sharing this, you make so many great points and I really enjoyed and could relate to this. I used to be really expressive and enjoyed wriring but alcohol stole that from me. I hope that one day I can put my struggles into words like you just did. In the meantime, thanks for sharing. This is really helpful.

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Thanks for sharing :slight_smile:

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A really good read, well spoken as always. I am currently struggling with this exact part of myself/my psyche. This, with a few changes, has a lot of similarities of my own downfall. The fear, the constant relentless fear that never goes, and always has something to make me regret or “revisiting” a scenario from 20 minutes ago or 20 years ago. You’ve given me so much to think about and also just shown that it’s okay to be scared as hell and keep pushing on for the right kind of better.

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I can totally relate to what you are saying.
After drinking to oblivion for 10 years until 2006, I managed to get some sober time and put my life together. I then discovered hard work and recognition and worked endlessly, like you did, to prove that I was not the failure everyone thought I was. I succeeded but what I had actually achieved was finding another way to conceal my fear and sense of inferiority by joining a race that had no end. Similar to you, soon alcohol creeped back in as I had no healthy way of dealing with the unrealistic standards I had set for myself. I had not ackowledged yet that the source of it all was feelings of inadequacy, inability to accept my true self as flawed as I might be, I thought that the succesful version was the only acceptable one. All these were a result of my upbringing where any failures (in school for example) were met with extreme confrontation, physical and psychological abuse.
It took me about 15 years to accept this, the last 10 of which were spent in agony, drinking, fear that my ‘true’ self will be exposed.
I am glad that you made this discovery, it will only lead you to healing. If I were to suggest something to facilitate the process, it would be readings on how to overcome chronic shame. It really is the basis for many addictions.
Best of luck and keep the healthy race going!


It sounds like work and alcohol grew into problems in a similar fashion!

Thank you for that rich share. It could be in an updated 12 & 12!

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