From the Grass Roots
I HAVE, until now, been able to resist the impulse to write to you in regard to the article, "Thanks. . .for Slipping," written by B.G. of New York City, which appeared in the March, 1956 edition of the AA Grapevine. I have at last resolved to commit my observations on this article to paper because I feel it is high time that someone who has had one or more "slips" stood up to his full height and told the self-righteous elements in our great Fellowship a few of the facts of life.
In writing these observations, I am not intentionally criticizing anyone, and I am aware that your editorial staff was not in full agreement as to whether the article should be published or not. Nevertheless I, for one, would like to see the whole very serious and important subject of relapses discussed more often, more fully, and more openly, not only in the AA Grapevine, but in our meetings as well.
I have been identified with AA for ten and a half years now, off and on. After seven years of sobriety I had a relapse which resulted in periodic binges for almost two years; for the last year, through the grace of God and the AA fellowship, I have again been actively associated with AA, and I want to go on record as saying that my relapse may turn out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. I regard it as a positive rather than a negative thing, and an experience which has given me a new and fresh appreciation of what life can hold.
I have encountered many instances since coming back into AA of self-appointed "elder statesmen" looking down their noses at me in one way or another for having slipped. I find this reaction more tragic than just plain ridiculous, but it takes all kinds to make a world, or a fellowship. I cannot and will not accept the premise that an AA member who has had a relapse must thereafter be regarded by his fellows as a second-class member.
I suggest that the term "slip" might well be dropped from our AA vocabulary since it connotes a slip from grace, rather than the relapse into an illness which, in fact, it is.
We alcoholics are characteristically impatient people, and I am no exception, believe me; but I get awfully impatient with AAs who persist in sitting in judgment on those of us who have suffered relapses. To them, perhaps this gentle reminder may be both timely and appropriate--"remember, and ponder well, my friend, that everyone in AA is exactly the same size."