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I was deeply touched by what I heard a young man at a meeting share about planning a party for his mother. He started to search through some old pictures in a shoebox and came up with photos of himself when he was 3 years old. Looking at them, he said to himself, “That little kid was no scoundrel.” I believe that everyone in the room could identify with him, but what happened to him between then and now?

Most of us were perfect when we were born, but something influenced us in those formative years that set the tone for the direction that our thinking would take. The childlike innocence gave way to the neediness and insecurity that Alcoholics seemed to have in common. The unworthiness tapes ran rampant in our heads telling us that we could not keep pace without cutting corners and doing things that we were ashamed of and then we were plagued by our conscience.

That little child was damaged and scarred on the inside in such a way that nothing could bring him peace, until he discovered the elixir in a bottle that gave him relief for a time. But, when that finally failed him, he showed up in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous trying to make sense of it all.

When I look around the room at an AA meeting, it seems like we all look about the same on the surface, with a few minor differences due to age and generational things. We’re all made up of hair, eyeballs, elbows, and feet, and things like that. Most of us follow certain dress codes and courtesy standards.

We’re not all that much different on the surface. But, real problems consume us on the inside, and we spend years trying to convince the world around us that we are as good as they are while, on the inside, loathing what we have become. It’s hard to convince a drunk that the child that he was, at 3 years old, is still inside him and can resurface if he desperately wants it.

Suppose for a moment, that we all woke up this morning with amnesia. We would all be the same. Only thing that makes us different is what is going on between our ears and we drag that around with us everywhere we go. I discovered years ago that my brain, with the aid of my ego, was lying to me, and that I wasn’t that hopeless loser that I thought I was.

I also discovered that all the damage could be reversed by amends and restitution and that I could, in time, develop an approach to life far superior to anything I could have ever imagined. The hardest thing that stands in the way of this was my inability to surrender, and to trust the A.A. process.

With the help of the group, slowly letting go of some of the old ideas, you can start seeing the results in a short period of time, and it will be exhilarating. However, we didn’t get this way overnight, and it will be a slow journey, but a very exciting and happy experience.

An old, departed friend of mine, used to say, “Your hair will be a different color before you know who you are.” To me it means patiently changing all those old habits that caused me grief and replacing them with unselfish deeds that start to heal the conscience. I’ve heard it said, “Try it for 90 days and if you don’t like what we have to offer we will gladly refund your misery”.

What have you got to lose? Now let’s go find that kid!

By Rick R.

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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.