Sunday, June 14, 2009

They laughed at him

A little while ago, a gentleman -- let's call him "Guy" -- phoned to say that he had just read my book and wanted to start a LifeRing meeting. Guy said he is more than 20 years clean and sober in AA, and is one of the better known AA speakers in his region.

He happened to go to his favorite recovery bookstore, and this title, Empowering Your Sober Self, "jumped out at me." He bought it and over the next 24 hours read it straight through. He said he had been reading recovery literature for nearly 30 years and nothing had resonated with him enough to pick up the phone and call the author, until this book.

He said he liked AA enormously but after more than 20 years, he felt it was always the same thing, and it wasn't going anywhere, and he wanted the challenge of moving forward. The LifeRing concept really spoke to him.

He wanted to start a LifeRing meeting in his area, and he outlined a plan to go speak with some head people at a number of treatment programs with which he was familiar, having often spoken there, in order to get a room and referrals. Of course, I encouraged him, but at the same time I cautioned him that his enthusiasm might not be shared by some of his AA friends.

And so it was. At the first program where he spoke with the chief, he was told that the facility's board of directors was unlikely to go with anything other than 12 step.

He then took the book to his home group, and presented a share about the "A" and the "S" -- the addict self and the sober self. He said, "They laughed at me." They agreed about the "A" but they couldn't wrap their minds around the concept that there was an "S" -- a sober self -- inside the alcoholic's head. His talk met with sarcasm and ridicule.

It reminds me of Gandhi's famous saying:
"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win."
To his everlasting credit, Guy wasn't intimidated. He's going to speak to other treatment professionals. I shared with him that a number of senior people in 12-step programs have been expressing interest in the LifeRing option. He's now reading How Was Your Week in order to prepare for the convenor role. He's making plans to come visit Northern California in September so he can see LifeRing meetings first hand.


Ellie said...

Thanks for sharing. Very inspirational story about an individual's success with sober living.

speedy said...


i've decided to enter the "12 [fill in the blank]" game of my own accord.

below is a link for my "12 Rights For New-Comers To AA/12-Step":

hopefully the link passes blogger's editing parsers. if not just check out:

keep up the good work,


Anonymous said...

Of course they laughed at time.
They had to do that.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a movement has been born--- a movement that allows for something other than the archaic 12-step approach to thrive. If 12-step programs are so effective, then they would still be the only game in town. I am excited to see what the future holds and look forward to completing six months of sobriety so I can start a new non-12-step group in my area. We have nothing but 12-step groups here.

Kudos to the courageous Guy!

Anonymous said...

My friend used to read all these anti 12 step things.......shes dead now of an overdose.....obviously it didnt work