My friend’s brother is an alcoholic but he doesn’t’ want to “prove it” by going to an AA meeting. That tacit admission would be too hard for him to bear even thought he admits that he has lost his job and his home and his driver’s license because of repeated DUIs and jail stints. I am not judging him. I cannot say that I would do better or differently under the circumstances. I just don’t see how you can get better if you don’t admit you are ill. That would be like fighting cancer without chemo or fixing a broken bone without a splint.
When I heard my son announce in an AA meeting, “I am an alcoholic and an addict,” it took my breath away. At first, it saddened me immensely: I wanted him to be on the debate team, to crew a racing scull, to help build homes with Habitat for Humanity. AA was not the club I wanted him to join.
But at the same time, I was immensely proud that he claimed membership in this group that I know to be committed and brave and march on while the siren song of addiction calls out to them. This is a fellowship of people who dig deep to understand their powerlessness and to seek the help they need. There is tremendous empathy and mutual support within the walls of an AA meeting.
My son’s proclamation also compelled me to admit, “I am the mother of an alcoholic and an addict.” I never imagined that I would claim membership in this club. But there is strength and honesty in this proclamation that helps me get better, too.