It seems that most in AA just accepted Step 1 when they came in the door, with having come to that conclusion being the reason they reached for AA in desperation as the last card in the pack after trying everything else to sort out their problems with life.
I got here because my life had become pretty unmanageable and I had to concede that my problems with drinking were at least part of the reason for that. I didn't know of anyplace else to go about a drinking problem, but would have preferred something like the Drink only on the Weekend Fellowship if I knew of such a thing because I knew that AA was about stopping drinking and I considered that much too drastic.
I didn't have much of a clue about what an alcoholic was or whether I was one. I thought that it was just someone whose problem was alcohol. I didn't know what my problem was, but alcohol still seemed more like a solution and relief from it rather than the problem itself. I could not identify with the people who talked as if they had solved most of their problems when they stopped drinking, because I seemed to go a bit crazier when I stopped.
It was after about 18 months of uncomfortable sobriety, thinking that AA was mostly about reminding me not to drink, that I came to see that this is about living in sobriety, not drinking.I only drank for 9 years and got here at 28 without much of a drinking story compared to most in AA. About the most remarkable things about it was that I got to 336lbs. as I heavy beer drinking and had the usual problem of often waking up in a wet bed with little or no memory of the night before. It helped when somebody told me that the best drinking stories where in cemetaries and that it wasn't necessarily true in AA that the worse you were, the better you are.
I eventually heard that an alcoholic was someone who cannot guarantee his actions after taking the first drink, and that was definitely true for me. If someone on the next bar stool had asked me if I could stop after having the drink I was on, go home and not drink again that night, I would have probably said something like, "Of course, I could, but why in the hell should I?" I kept drinking because my thinking changed after I started and not because some mysterious force took over my hand.
I have been sober for over 33 years, but still had a serious problem with overeating until quite recently. I have been able to lose about 90lb since moving to Tasmania to retire five years ago, finding myself able to just make sure that most meals are quite sensible and that I seldom go far over the line when they are not. I have been able to maintain a healthy weightfor over a year now and haven't lapsed into anorexia. The idea of filling my stomach is no longer appealing and I just concetrate on making sure that the next meal I prepare or order is a truly sensible one with limited calories and avoid eating between meals.
A friend who has far more of a problem with overeating than I and I have concluded that I probably was never a compulsive overeater in the OA sense. I don't seem to have a compulsion, in that I am far less likely to overeat after doing so the meal before as I feel guilty and tend to make amends to myself, and there doesn't seem to some sort of line that I cross if I eat too much that sets off any sort of compulsion.
I seem to have just thought that a sensible meal was a lot larger then it really is and that thinking became a hardwired habit. Once I could hardwire new habits, only cooking or ordering meals that are truly sensible, there wasn't much of a problem.
I don't seem to have much of an obsession with food either as I don't think much about it between meals. I find now that I enjoy meals that are truly sensible more than big ones as there is no guilt component.
The problem is that this experience got me doubting whether I am really an alcoholic in the AA since. I was about to stop drinking on my own without going into a rehab and, if I had an obsession, it seemed to be gone in a couple weeks. I went to about ten AA and NA meetings a week for the first three years and seemed to transfer my addiction to those, feeling like they were needed to get and retain any sort of sanity.
But I guess I have always had a bit of trouble understanding the sort of self-destruction I heard talked about there and still have trouble understanding those who come along, talking about how AA saved them and then go back to drinking, joining AA's vast research department.
I have sometimes thought that, if there was a blood or urine test that could determine whether someone is an alcoholic with 100% accuracy, I wouldn't be sure if would find that I am one. I have no desire to drink again. I wouldn't want to be a social drinker, having a few drinks and then going home just when I start to feel good. That would be like the method birth control called coitus interruptus, where the couple uncouples just prior to sperm transfer. I can see why it isn't a very popular method. Even if I did want to be a social drinker, it would be like putting on a parachute with a 2% probability of opening.
The thought has occurred to me that perhaps I was really just a heavy drinker who has become an AA oldtimer under false colors. I believe I have an addictive personality. I will overdo anything that feels good, but perhaps alcohol wasn't really one of my addictions. One reason why I still feel a bit weird even in AA is that I have never heard or read anything like this from anyone else. I have found almost continual contentment in the last few years and credit meetings, Steps and God for that, but sometimes wonder if I have really recovered from other addictions and compulsions.
I raised this at a couple meetings here, somewhat sheepishly. Another member reminded me that it isn't just the first part of Step 1 that can become a problem even for someone with long sobriety. As life gets easier, more orderly and less hectic, I often did start thinking that my life was now quite manageable. After doing a job for 14 years, I could easily start thinking that I could handle it on my own without help from God or anyone else, unlike my early days when I would sing the Serenity Prayer in my head through days while trying to do a job as a high school teacher that actually scared me silly, knowing that I was in big trouble if it didn't work.