Relapse Is Like Dancing With a Gorilla

Alcoholics Anonymous vs. Other Approaches: The Evidence Is Now In
June 26, 2020
aa dr bob
AA Dr. Bob: The Man and the Physician
July 27, 2020

Laughing at the Absurdity of Our Old Way of Thinking

One of the things I have always enjoyed about A.A. meetings is our ability to poke fun at each other, in a lighthearted way. We laugh at things that others would consider to have been tragic incidents in our lives but we seem to have come to terms with these past negative experiences and what we are really laughing at is the absurdity of our old way of thinking. Sometimes we need to have things explained to us in simple terms.

The world of A.A. is ripe with metaphors, similes, and allegories that make the learning process much easier to understand. With all of the re-learning we go through to help us in changing our old way of thinking, we are faced with the task of setting new principles, new disciplines and new priorities in place for our actions and behaviors in the future.

Starting with the first and most important priority, we have to be convinced that, we ”are like men who have lost their legs, they never grow new ones” (BB CH.3). It can’t be put any better than that. Then you may hear it said about relapse: “It’s the first drink that gets you drunk, not the forth or fifth.” Or, you may hear, “taking that first drink is like dancing with a gorilla, the dance isn’t over till the gorilla says your done.” These things are truths that we all hear at meetings but these things won’t stop anyone from picking up a drink if they’re not done yet.

In A.A. we hear a lot about prayer and meditation and it seems that everyone has their own way of defining what that means to them. Some may be reunited with the religion of their childhood, while others may feel that they are agnostics and seem to find a sort of neutral approach in finding a power greater than themselves, and that seems to works for them. Then there are those that consider themselves atheists and, as it says in the 12×12 (step two) “A, one-time, Vice President of the American Atheist Society got through with room to spare.” However, we as individuals, frame our own approach to how we incorporate this concept into our lives is equally acceptable, as long as it replaces our own, failed way of thinking.

What we pray for is another, sometimes, misunderstood practice that may be clarified by a few metaphors that we hear in meetings. Asking God to cure someone of an illness seems, well meaning but misguided. If God worked his wonders at that level, the hospitals would be full of sinners and the people we pray for would all be healthy and happy.  I can only pray for the understanding and strength to deal with these things when they are presented as it is suggested in step eleven, “praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.” (step 11) i.e. God, please show me what to do, and please give me the strength to do it; I do not do well on my own.

Most of the principles I live by today are backed up by stories that illustrate a point that may have been easy to misunderstand when my old way of thinking was involved. The next thing that I find important is that I have to do the things that I learn when I ask for guidance and not just give them lip service, after all, “If you’re going to pray for potatoes, you better grab a hoe“.

By Rick R.

Like this story? Join thousands of other A.A.'s who receive new stories each month delivered right into their inbox.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.