From the October 2007 magazine.

Rearview Mirror

Danger in reverse

Recently, i chaired a meeting for newcomers. We read the italicized paragraph from page twenty-four of the Big Book, the one that begins: "The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink." The topic turned to our egos and how, when things are going well in sobriety, our egos get inflated and soon we go from the "We" program to the "Me" program. One woman, sober a little over a year, was talking about how good things were--her cancer scare proved to be benign, and people were always saying nice things about her. Yet, her desire to drink had been increasing--not a heavy craving, just the subtle "wouldn't a whatever taste nice" variety of desire. Then, she started talking about her troubles backing her car out of her driveway. She said, "Maybe I need to use the rearview mirror," which struck me as one of the most profound things I have heard in a meeting lately.

I was introduced to the Fellowship in 1987. I was twenty-four-years old and stationed at Kunsan AB Republic of Korea. I was an emotional wreck and the rest of me wasn't that healthy either. I drank daily and was even drinking prior to work. I never felt I fit in with others; my taste and ideals were outside the status quo. Beer and cheap wine, however, were magical potions that allowed me to change my personality. So, even being a bit of an oddball, I could fit into most social circles. But by age twenty-four, the magic had worn off, so I took a sharp pocketknife to my wrist. A mental health professional--also a friend of the Fellowship--told me my problem wasn't that I was outside the norm, but that I was an alcoholic and couldn't handle life on life's terms. So, out of fear for my career, and a sense of nothing left to lose, I walked into a little tin shed with an old oil heater for my first meeting. I felt welcome there, and after a couple of meetings, I knew I had found a place where I belonged. My fellow airmen and soldiers were "happy, joyous, and free." They shared their feelings and how they had found a way to live life and accept themselves and their circumstances. But right from the start, something else grabbed my attention: the Third Step. I was raised to believe that a person had to be involved in an organized religion to have a clear connection to God. I have always believed in a Divine Creator, and believed it was the same creator for everyone, of every faith. But that AA meeting was the first place I had ever been where it was acceptable to believe in a God of my own understanding, and worship as I see fit. Like many alcoholics, the chapter "We Agnostics" in the Big Book is about me and it saved my butt.

-- Scott W.

Overton, Nebraska

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