MANY of our A.A. friends are distressed about the increasing number of “slips” among members who have been dry three, four and five years. It seems to be the topic of conversation everywhere. There is much “viewing with alarm” among the elders; much incredulous surprise among the newcomers.
How often have we seen elders lose interest? How often have we heard a friend say, “What’s become of Joe? He used to be around all the time.” We have heard it many times. Later, we may hear murmurings that Joe is drinking and we are alarmed or surprised because we figured that it simply couldn’t happen to Joe.
Let’s look at the situation from Joe’s point of view. He has been in A.A. for five years. Most of the time he has been active and interested in his group and in the activities of A.A. He has been completely honest in his thinking about himself in regard to alcoholism. He has been unselfish and his thoughts have been of others rather than of himself. He remains sober and happy.
Soon, other good things begin to happen to Joe. He finds that he is getting ahead in his job and that the boss has more respect for him. His situation at home improves and his wife begins to take his dependability and sobriety for granted. He discovers that he has money in the bank. He is accepted for an insurance policy. A.A. has begun to pay dividends that he did not seek.
As time goes on, however, Joe starts to take these good things for granted. He no longer feels grateful for the recovery that made them possible. He finally gets around to feeling that he is entitled to A.A. dividends. In other words, his honesty with himself is becoming shopworn.
It becomes too much trouble to attend meetings, to speak, to give up a night of entertainment to do 12th Step work. Because Joe has lost his honesty, he has lost his interest and his gratitude.
Unless something happens to cut him down to size, Joe is heading for trouble. He may not have a “slip” but he may find himself in an unhappy state of mind. He may have a “slip” which is the worst thing that could happen to him because it will demolish his self respect. Generally, it will take him months of “bouncing around” to regain honesty.
To prevent such “slips” and, more important, to understand them is as much a part of A.A. growth as the Program itself. We feel that there is a great need for honesty. We believe that its a good thing for all of us to “Count yourself again, you ain’t so many!”
Copyright © The AA Grapevine, Inc.