Principles before personalities.
That’s the AA tradition. Letting go of the ego and putting action into practice for a sober life. It sounds all well and good. Except it leaves me wondering, where’s the humanity. At it’s core, AA is a spiritual program. What could be more telling than its insistence on the reliance of a higher power to see us all through. And, in that way, the divinity of the spirit both Godly and human, shines. But, to me, so much of my love, for myself and for others comes from the love of our humanity.
Principles are principles, they aren’t human. They’re cornerstones of living. And certainly the elimination of ego negates many ill conceived notions of what we should be, thereby keeping us sober. It’s that individual, human, piece that I’m beginning to realize is a cornerstone for me. Not the ego, not the grandiose pomp and circumstance of living, but the actual personality. The human fingerprint that makes me and every human that walks this Earth, unique.
I’ve spent some time grappling with my discord in AA recently. Taking some meetings out of my schedule and replacing them with mornings in church, or writing, or laying around in bed with my boyfriend or cat. And, it’s felt good. It’s not a deficiency in my program, I’m not struggling or slipping in sobriety. I feel better. And, after seeing AA change my life, it’s hard to say that, maybe, it just isn’t enough. I say maybe because, these days, I’m not sure what enough is. Enough program? Enough service? Enough solution?
Where is the ‘me’ in all that? And, I don’t say that in a self-centered, it’s-all-about-me kind of way. I say that in a legitimate, questioning, spiritual kind of way. As I gear up to leave treatment, I’ve really asked myself what I’ve taken from my rehab program. How does it compare to AA? What have I taken from rehab that I didn’t and don’t get in AA? And, today, it became blatantly obvious.
One of my rehab ‘classmates’ graduated today. And, as we sat around her, sharing our memories and well wishes, I saw who she truly is. Or, rather, what she’s become. Like me, she came into rehab broken. Confused. Quiet. Sad. Lost. And today, she sat there beaming. Her personality shone brightly on her face. Her well chosen outfit, a punctuation of her wild and free spirited style. Her smile, slathered in red lipstick, was confident and honest. She found herself. She’s leaving rehab, but, she’s just arrived in the world.
That’s the difference. That’s the beauty. Rehab has given me, and today’s graduate, back something we’d both lost. Ourselves.
Being lost in a substance takes so much from you. It takes things that you didn’t even realize it had taken. Alcohol had morphed me into this shell of a woman, one that had chameleon-like abilities. There was nothing left of me. Only this thin skin that turned whatever color the person I was with wanted or needed me to be. And, when I got to rehab, without the armor of booze, that skin fell away, leaving a raw, unidentifiable mess.
AA may have given me my sobriety, but, rehab gave me, me. Piece by piece, I was able to relocate all the bits that made me who I was before I lost myself. I found the spirit of my childhood, the interests and passions of my womanhood, the humor that once infiltrated my whole life. And, fragment by fragment, I’ve been rebuilt. Where I stand today, in this moment, is in gratitude to have the fine, young woman I used to be, back. Better even. It’s not ego. It’s human. My person.
As we munched on cake in the rehab common room, I noted all the personalities in the room. Their different laughs, gestures, and idiosyncrasies. It was a symphony of sobriety. All of us being who we are, without our substance, just us. Naked so to speak. And, with all our imperfections, all our egos, all our damage put aside, we’re a pretty beautiful bunch.
So, with all that ooey-gooey goodness in my heart, I decided to skip the evening AA meeting I planned to attend. On principle.