from the San Diego A.A. Coordinator, January, 2000

“Frightened People” 

“In my opinion, alcoholics are frightened people,” he said. But I knew he was telling the truth, at least about me. His name was Curt S. and he spoke those words at the Northport Group on Long Island, in the spring of 1961. I was just completing my 90 meetings in 90 days and was attending my first meeting on the Third Step. Curt had been sober ten years then. 

“Guys like me are scared of life. We are afraid of failure, and we can’t handle success. We must look good at all costs. Our pride won’t let us say ‘I don’t know’ or ask for help. We’ve always got to be in control.” Those were nor his exact words, bur his meaning was clear. Playing “Center of the Universe” without a Higher Power proved to be too much. I had to drink! 

One of the other guys said to Curt, “In that Third Step, you’re asking me to run my life and my will over to the care of God as I understand Him. Don’t you understand? I was brought up to maintain control. I can’t stop just like that! You’re asking the impossible!” 

That was exactly how I saw it. I was trapped in a vicious circle. I couldn’t depend on God, so I was drowning in a sea of booze. Yet if I wanted to stop drowning. I had to turn things over to Him. Then, my sponsor Joe C., with seven years of sobriety, chimed in. “That is not what the step says. It says, Made a decision. That’s the only action called for.” 

Curt agreed. The guys who wrote this step were in the same boat. That’s why the first paragraph in the Twelve and Twelve says willingness is the key. All we have to do is try.

Success was no longer the issue.  I couldn’t fail. For the first time, I understood. If I simply tried there was nothing to fear — not even the rest of the steps. 

Curt and Joe are still sober and active in the program. Because of guys like them, so am I! 

~ Jim McE