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'Are these extravagant promises?' (Page 84, Big Book)
It has taken years and years to work my way towards being authentic in my daily interactions. An enormous load of guilt and the endless 'people pleasing' which often accompanies it had ensured that I no longer knew who I actually was. I often knew what I was like when drinking or recuperating, but had lost sight of having an identity of my own. I was certain alcoholism was a moral failure, and that I just lacked willpower. The guilt trip intensified. Where then was this 'freedom to be me', mentioned on Page 147 of my Daily Reflections? How could I be someone I did not know?
This same theme of self-discovery comes up quite often in meetings, especially in those more recently created for women. These groups have offered a more feasible access route to the mixed groups for women who are desperately shy, nervous and overwhelmed at the thought of sharing their deepest, darkest, private worlds with men. Not without reason in terms of AA evolution, many groups are often at least two thirds comprised of men. The innovators were men, and they blazed a trail.
What is clear from conversations is that women have always tried to perform the many roles expected of them. They have been daughters, perhaps sisters, wives and not uncommonly mothers in their own right; they have tried to live up to societal expectations. Failure on any of these fronts feels shameful and painful. When we add the 'Superwoman' expectations of the last few decades to this mix, i.e. work and perhaps a career as well, it is no wonder that many succumb to regular drinking at a dangerous and habit-forming level. It takes the edge off all the worry. Sometimes too, as a final straw, women are asked to take on the care of their elderly parents.
I am sure that men could write a similar story in terms of role performance. Whether they 'people please' to the same extent, I will leave for them to examine. I am sure it is not a one-sided activity! We certainly have in common the fact that we lose our way and find comfort in drinking. I love my all-inclusive mixed meetings. I have made so many friends and learned such a lot. For me single sex ones are about access, not a final destination. They do not go against the grain of AA's all-inclusive Third Tradition but are part of a process of growth, and produce a positive outcome by allowing huge honesty on the part of the miscalled fairer and weaker sex! My recovery has been a magical journey which has opened new doors. The Promises ARE slowly coming to life for me, just as described in Daily Reflections for 9 September.
I find that I am clearer about who I am and more aware of parts I like and other areas needing daily attention. I take less time to prepare my responses, can show more spontaneous empathy and own up to my mistakes. I am passionate, particularly about AA, have a good sense of humour and love to make folk smile. I can be of most service in visiting schools and one day I WILL speak Spanish when abroad at conventions! In addition, I now have the amazing, unexpected joy of being a grandma. There is less of a gap between me and others as I am listening more and rehearsing far less. This seems to me to be about being a more authentic self. It is a reassuring voyage of self discovery.
'Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialise, IF WE WORK FOR THEM.'. In addition to our wonderful Fellowship arresting this appalling addiction, I have indeed been given the 'Keys of the Kingdom.'
If any reader needs a personal example of my Higher Power in action then I suggest reading the Daily Reflection for 21 September. It is 'The Last Promise'. I am currently in Torrevieja, Spain, attending a terrific AA convention, the sun is shining, there are wonderful people here and I am taking some new steps ... learning Spanish!
Women in Recovery, Aberdeen