During a recent meeting, the chair decided to read one of the patient stories towards the end of the BB. It was actually quite bracing for me as I’ve yet to come across an AA group or person from the program that places decent emphasis on those stories at the end. Since they essentially are just personal accounts, I think people view them as “unnecessary.” They’re not part of the crux of the program; let’s not waste our time reading it… I’ve heard people suggest. However, when the main speaker/facilitator of my home group was out a couple weeks ago due to her husband’s illness, the fill-in chair went ahead with a round-table style reading of the short story, Crossing the River of Denial. I have to honestly admit, I’d never looked at this story in-depth until then. I’m actually really glad we did!
It is a story of two alcoholic people married to each other. They are in denial of being alcoholics, but they do accuse the other person of “having a problem.” Sounds trite to us at this point, doesn’t it? What’s so great and unique about this little story is it is basically told from both of their perspectives, back-and-forth, quickly, with no notice. This rather inadvertent literary effect complements the dysfunctional, hectic nature of the man and woman’s relationship. I loved everything about this one really because as you read along through it, you discover that they each realize they’re alcoholic themselves. That’s always compelling for another addict of any kind to hear about.
HOWEVER, the most crucial, pertinent aspect of this story has to be the text written underneath the title, since I strongly feel that this is how we all end up telling ourselves sort of officially that we are sick…that we are alcoholics…
“She finally realized that when she enjoyed her drinking, she couldn’t control it, and when she controlled it, she couldn’t enjoy it.”
– pg. 328, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Original copyright 1939.
What an amazing quote. I think this says it all, precisely in fact. The last part of it there, it truly is kind of a different way to regard our situations. We seldom mix the thoughts of control and alcohol and/or drug use together since we know it almost never happens…or happened. Why? Because we always wanted to enjoy ourselves. We always wanted to be happy. We always wanted to numb that pain.
There’s no denying that.