My now deceased grandpa Walsh gave me this little AA book back in January of 1998. Nowadays it’s held together by some duct tape and love; I treasure it and, in fact, read it daily. But that wasn’t always the case. Back in the day I was rapidly heading off the rails: substance abuse, petty crimes, as well as many other self-destructive things. I’ve been on a whole different trajectory for the last 20 years. In fact, it was in April of 1998 that I eventually came to my senses,only a few months after my grandpa handed me this book and told me to call him anytime I wanted help. Although I don’t currently drink or use drugs, I never really considered myself an alcoholic or even an addict. But I have found it fairly straight forward to apply the wisdom of the 12 steps to my own need for recovery from any number of things. If you just read between the lines (a little), the message is pretty darn clear no matter what idea of recovery might be appropriate. For example, take this passage here:
June 1–A.A. Thought for the Day
Some things I do not miss since becoming dry: that overall awful feeling physically, including the shakes, a splitting headache, pains in my arms and legs, bleary eyes, fluttering stomach, droopy shoulders, weak knees, a three-day beard, and a flushed complexion. Also, facing my loved one at breakfast. Also, composing the alibi and sticking to it. Also, trying to shave or put on make-up with a shaky hand. Also, opening up my wallet to find it empty. I don’t miss these things, do I?
I realized that the things a recovering alcoholic does not miss about getting wasted can easily be translated into the things I do not miss about seeking privilege. I now occasionally take some liberties to change a few words from these readings in order to adjust my focus to those powers. Here’s my own list of “things I do not miss” since letting go of the so-called American Dream:
- I do not miss measuring myself with neighbors, friends, co-workers–all in secret–about who has the best possessions, job, social standing, etc.
- I do not miss moving at the speed of machines and feeling dizzy with my anxiety, always trying to keep up.
- I do not miss working harder and harder to plan for benefits, respect, and a future with more and more money.
- I do not miss living in denial about all this and justifying it with words like “prudence” or “value.”
- I do not miss churches and sermons that could only apply to people like me with way too much privilege in my hands.
- I do not miss feeling ashamed–yet responsible for my choices–and apparently powerless to change.
- I do not miss taking advantage of people’s labor who must work for low wages in order to survive.
- I do not miss grabbing more than my fair share.
- And I do not miss feeling sorry for myself.
No, I do not miss these things!