I recall very well my first few meetings in AA and my attitude when I was new in sobriety. People identified as “grateful” alcoholics and talked about the amazing lives that they had “as a result of this program.” They talked about the jobs, relationships and opportunities they had been lucky enough to receive, attributing it to the fact that they had been sober. It made me roll my eyes, thinking I would never be one of these people.
Where did my motivation go?
I had a hard time finding motivation in sobriety during this time. AA was one of the last places I wanted to be and more often than not I had a victim mentality about the fact that I had wound up there. It didn’t make sense to me that this group of low-life rejects (as I perceived them) had anything but miserable lives. They were like me, right? Then why weren’t they upset and angry about what life had dealt them like I was?
Cunning, baffling, and powerful
Looking back on it, I was jaded and my perspective was warped about life in general. Years of drug abuse had convinced me that I was a victim of circumstance, that I didn’t receive what was owed to me and that everyone else should recognize that. The alcoholic voice in my head had a million and one different ways to justify and rationalize my behavior and twisted my idea of what was “normal”. Sure, I had goals. I even thought I had plans set on how I was going to get my job back, get a promotion, go back to school, get married and get all of the things I thought I wanted. I had no idea that substances had replaced all of that.
AA as a last resort
For me, as well as a lot of other people who come to AA, getting sober was a last resort. I had exhausted all of my options, my grandiose ideas had fallen apart and I knew I needed help. But asking for it, and even accepting it, turned out to be one of the hardest things I would ever have to do. I had always prized myself as a self-motivated and capable individual – after all, I had gotten myself this far, right?
Over time, I saw how my drug use had truly hindered my motivation and goals. I was always obsessed about the next fix, but I managed to minimalize my using by telling myself I was still a functioning member of society with goals and dreams. I had no idea just how sick I really was. I realized that without drugs at all, all of my motivation for those things had gone out the window. All I wanted to do was get high, and that scared me.
Making the change
The most valuable thing I learned about myself in my first year was that I had no ability to attain any of my goals so long as I was using. I had taken a good hard look at my history throughout my 20’s. I realized that despite what I had been telling myself, my goals and aspirations were ultimately overtaken and forgotten about due to my disease. I began to actually pay attention to the speakers that I had disregarded and listened to what they said with respect. They had turned their lives around just the way I wanted to and I learned to heed their advice.
A lot of us come into sobriety thinking that it’s all over, that things will never get better, and we had been dealt a bad hand. For me, I realized I had found something that I didn’t even know I was looking for. A community of people who’s only desire was to help me figure out what it was I truly wanted, how to attain it and how to do it sober. I have near limitless resources at my disposal now thanks to AA and the right kind of drive and motivation since leaving the drugs and alcohol behind.