What are you, some sort of AA guru?

No. No, no, no, NO! Alcoholics tend to have this insatiable need to put people up on pedestals then throw rocks at them until they fall off. Our insecurities are such that we are looking for a savior, but our pride can’t allow our savior to have any faults. In our black and white world, you are either a god or completely worthless. Once someone we look up to reveals himself as human after all, our whole world shatters as our faith in the program takes a huge hit.

AA is not embodied in any one person in much the same way that one individual cannot exemplify the sum total of the Church or be the personification of love and goodness. Alcoholics new to recovery sometimes have a hard time seeing the forest for the gnarly, twisted, scarred, imperfect trees, so they will look for the one beautiful, stately, sturdy oak in the bunch and carve the encircled triangle in its trunk. The more time they spend sitting under this idyllic oak, the more they see its little flaws. One day, a strong wind comes and their tree will lose one of its branches. Our newcomer then fears for his life. He has put all his faith and hopes on this one “perfect example” only to find out that this one is just as fallible as all the others, just as susceptible to life’s storms.

Sometimes, an alcoholic will begin to think they know it all and they’ll climb right up on that pedestal. “What a perfect height to look down on all you simpletons and tell you how things are supposed to be.” Their self-confidence and fancy rhetoric can be mesmerizing and next thing you know, they have a dozen others kneeling before their golden calf. It can be quite distressing to watch others falling prey to these false idols, but ours is a jealous God (as we understand Him) and soon enough that golden calf will fall and its hold over others will be dispelled.

My name is Laurie and I am an alcoholic with clay feet. I have put many people up on that pedestal only to watch them topple off and smash to bits. I am fallible. So are my brothers and sisters in recovery. I have no program without them, but I can’t allow any of them to become the program for me. And PLEASE don’t ever think I am anything like a perfect example of how this thing works!

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