Dr. Paul Ohliger wrote the chapter “Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict” published in the 3rd edition of Alcoholics Anonymous. His most quoted passage — possibly the most quoted passage in the entire big book — was on page 449. The 4th edition changed the name of the story to “Acceptance was the answer” and moved the story. Now the quote is now on 417. For a while I had a real resentment about changing the name. The first name it was published under, though — in the Grapevine — was “Bronzed Moccasins”. So I guess if I’m gonna get pissed ‘case they change the names of stories, I should get pissed that they changed it TO “Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict”.
The Doctor died in 2000 — at the age of 83 — with 32 years sober. God Bless him.
The first 5 years of my Sobriety I loved everything about that story. And I truly believed that “acceptance is the answer to all my problems”. In one sense it can change it from being a “problem” to being a “situation“. It can also let me know that just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean it isn’t good, or even good for me. How many of us have heard a friend whine and complain about how his girlfriend just dumped him, he can’t live without her, “won’t you help me get her back?”… And you’re thinking to yourself: “Man, she was a Bitch! You’re better off without her!” but you can’t tell him that, because you know he won’t see it. But a couple of months later he gets a new girl — one who treats him right — and he comes to his senses. “What was I thinking!”
Everything is right in God’s world.
Whereas I can see the folly in others, I am often blind to my own. If you lose your job: “Man, what are you worried about? Get another one. You’ll probably get more money at the next place you work!” When I lose my job it’s the end of the world! My bills won’t get paid, I’ll never get another job, I’ll lose everything, I’ll be homeless… Hell, one time I was already homeless and I worried about that shit. What the Fuck! My job sucked so bad — or I sucked so bad at it — that I could afford to either eat or live indoors, but not both. So I was living in my car behind Sobrenity — working every day — and when I lost that job — the worst job I’d ever had — I was sad. I can awfulize anything.
Which brings me squarely to the point: Why I am no longer enamored of the “acceptance is the answer” school of thought. Why did I keep that job so long? Acceptance. Serenity. Telling myself I was lucky to have a job in this economy. Telling myself: “It’s not that bad. Others have it worse.” Being happy/satisfied with what I had. I fucked myself. For 2 years I kept a crappy job I should have quit in 2 months.
Not everything is acceptable. Acceptance is another word for Settling. I’m not going to do that. Lots of things are unacceptable: Jobs that don’t provide for you, Lovers who don’t Love you… If your Lover treats you like shit, get out. Don’t settle for less than excellent treatment. Not from your girlfriend or your job or your Sobriety… Or from God. Demand more from God. If God Shits on your head, saying it’s not Shit doesn’t make you Grateful, or an Optimist, or Serene… it makes you a Moron. Tell him exactly what you want and shoot high. If He doesn’t give it all to you, get pissed and get busy, but get it!
Acceptance isn’t an answer at all. It’s a question. And sometimes the answer is “No, this is not acceptable.” Then it’s time for Courage. “What are the things that I can change? In what ways can I change them?” Abraham Lincoln said: “Things may come to those who wait…but only the things left by those who hustle.”
I am worth it. No matter how many good things life gives me, I deserve it. I’m a good man who does good things. A.A. Wisdom says: “Do the footwork and leave the results up to God”. Here’s a clue, God: If I get handed good things (results) I deserve all of them, and more. If I get handed bad things, I’m getting cheated. Fuck You. Pay me!
Serenity? Highly over-rated! I’m done with the Serenity Prayer. I say the Courage Prayer. You may have heard it. It goes like this:
God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to Change the Things I Can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Name 5 people YOU believe have made the world a better place. Investigate their lives. Did they do it by accepting things the way they were or by getting busy and changing things?
We can’t all change the world, but I’ll bet I can make some improvements in my little corner.
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.”
Alcoholics Anonymous Page 449 417