Houston has its own wrestling TV show called Reality of Wrestling. I am going to give Booker T. a plug because if you have not seen it, you should. It’s on at 1 AM Saturday night/Sunday morning on channel 57 (The Cube). It’s super awesome, old school wrestling in the overly dramatic, absurd kind of way. For the past few months, my sweetie and I have started a new routine. We attend our usual 10 o’clock candlelight meeting, go out to dinner, and then come home in time for wrestling. Though I cannot believe how lame we are, what I really cannot believe is how much I like it.
My sponsee and I were talking a couple of weeks ago about the idea that addiction is a disease of perception. I’ve never really been a happy person. I’m more the glass half empty, life has no meaning kinda girl. But I crave happiness. I desire it. I search for it like an explorer looking for El Dorado or the Fountain of Youth. For years, I traversed the bar scene, drinking and talking. I met not so interesting people. I played jukeboxes and shot pool. I skipped lines and got after-hours pulls.
Looking back, though, what’s incredibly awkward is I do not think I had a moment of pure joy the entire time I was out there. I thought I did. I thought I was having fun, because in some messed up sense it was fun, compared to the rest of my life. On my happiness scale of one to ten, I continually fell around a 2; I was genuinely unhappy. I then go out and drink, some gross boy flirts with me, tells me I’m pretty, and suddenly I’m like a 4. But I am never really happy; I’m just better than I was. I had mistaken happiness.
What the steps of AA do is alter my perception of my life through gradual acts that help change my perception of myself. Simple things: I look at my past acts, things I have done that have hurt others and try to rectify them. I look at the parts of my character that I do not like and try to engage new and better habits. It is cognitive therapy at its finest. “… huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them” (Big Book 27).
One of my favorite AAs in the world said something once that continues to resonate with me over time. He said, “I use to pray to God to make me a better dresser. But God did one better, he made me not care.” That is the emotional displacement that occurred as a result of the steps. Those are the parts of AA that make me say, “Oh, yeah. That’s right. Better dressing isn’t that important to me. Good character is.”
AA didn’t make me thin or tan or an optimist. What AA has done is help continually correct my faulty perception that being those attributes are going to make me happy. What the steps have done, what acting myself into right behavior has done, is improve, not my perceived life, but my genuine life. So today, on my happiness scale, I run about a six, but six is better than four. And the happiness I spent years looking for…? Well, I found it on my sofa, in my pajamas, watching ridiculously awesome wrestling.