BY: T. J. | HOUSTON, TEXAS – July 1981
BEFORE I CAME into AA, I answered to about ten different nicknames. I had as many names as I had roles and masks. But I had no identity. I was whoever you wanted me to be, a sailboat out on a lake with no destination, blown in first one direction, then the other.
When I quit drinking, my very soul cried out to be known, to be together, whole, unified, under one name. And gradually, through working the Steps and with the loving guidance of the Fellowship, I began to get to know myself. It was like groping around in a darkened room, bumping into half-familiar pieces of furniture, seeking, searching for orientation.
The First Step gave me my first step in identity. I had always looked outside myself–for my name, for the answer to all my needs. I looked to people, places, and things and, of course, to booze. Ironically, the alcohol I used to find answers gave me the first step in identity–I am an alcoholic.
I had no trouble trying God. I was grateful that a Higher Power would help me. So, with Steps Two and Three clutched to my heart, I went on to Four and Five. It was there that the door to self-awareness opened wider. I took my Fifth Step with a wise and kind counselor, and he looked at the fragmented pieces I brought him, and we pieced together at least an outline.
I have many defects still, but I have a better idea of how I can stay away from that first drink and stay comfortable. And as I make amends, I can see mirrored in faces the acceptance that I had to first learn to grant myself.
Step Ten, taking a daily inventory, is valuable, too, in my search for identity, I take a positive, clarifying inventory now. What have I done or left undone that reinforces the clues to who lives under this skin? I’m learning to recognize, then accept, then trust my feelings.
Probably, the biggest help to me in identity comes from Step Eleven. When I get quiet, am still, and try for a conscious contact with God, amazing insights float into my mind. Both knowledge of God and love seem to grow with self-understanding.
I used to think identity was static, a fixed thing. But by carrying the message to other alcoholics and trying to practice these principles in all my affairs, I see changes in those others–and in myself. The changes are chances, and we get a new one each day.
First, people in the program influenced me by believing in me. Then came trust and belief in the self that I am. And last comes responsibility for myself as a person–a worthwhile person.
AA has helped me to do something unexpected–it has helped me give birth to me.