You know what I was thinking? There should be a Survivor where all the people on the island are alcoholics. Instead of immunity idols, there could be hidden bottles of Jack Daniels. High atop cliffs, there could be warm beds and hot food, and the contestants would have to figure out how to get up to them. I would love to see the social aspect of the show turned on its head. You want fire? Want it more than vodka?
“… any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost in collision with something or somebody, even though are motives are good… If only [our] arrangements would stay put, if only people would do as [we] wished, [life] would be great… In trying to make these arrangements, [the alcoholic] may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may me kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish, and dishonest” (Big Book 60-61).
Sometimes, in my journey to understand myself, I read and re-read sections of the Big Book. Though I always find myself relating and identifying, I sometimes simultaneously think, “Well, hold up Bill W. Isn’t everybody like that?” I mean, really, doesn’t everybody want everything to go his/her way all the time? What person out there would have the fatuity to ask for a little extra helping of heartache or failure? I’ll tell you who, no one. And if I could figure out a way to make my life better through some subtle arranging of things, does that make me alcoholic or just smart?
Here is what I’ve decided this week. It’s not the manipulation of things around me for my betterment that make me alcoholic in nature, it is the extent to which I work to manipulate these things and then my subsequent reaction to them that identify me. I really think, by and large, alcoholics are fascinatingly intelligent and cunning people. I listen to people speak in meetings and it almost seems as if we alcoholics are running giant sociological experiments on those around us. Will you do it if I ask? No. How about if I am mean? Coercive? Gracious? What if I cry or throw a tantrum or refuse sex? What if I buy you a drink or a fur or a car?
And then, when I do not get what I want, there is no acceptance. Instead, there is a foot stomp followed by renewed exertion. Somehow, I think if someone failed me, it is not that they fumbled, but that I have somehow failed to properly explain what needed to be done. So, I try again. “He decided to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still [life] does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying,” (Big Book 61).
The longer I stay sober, the more sure I am that Bill was right when he talked about how doomed this idea of collision is. I used to think that people would one day wise up to the fact that I was only trying to help them. Now, I know better. I’ve learned better. I’ve learned that the human experience lies in the fact that people need to experience their truth first hand, and that no amount or lecturing or warning is ever quite the same thing. I’ve learned that no matter how much I think I know about a person, I will never know exactly what is feels like to be them.
But I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you’ll just have to experience it for yourself.