I agree that successful recovery in AA is all about successfuly using the spiritual and fellowship principles of AA to relate to others in a loving, caring way. And, when we can't be loving and/or caring, to use these same principles to help us recover from that. An excerpt from the book (follows) I mentioned shows how I move in and out of balanced relational behavior and that seems to be par for the course. What I have found is that accepting and showing compassion for myself and my partner (also in recovery) in our most troublesome behavior has helped us to move deeper into sobriety and helped to forge a stronger bond between us.
The circle of AAers at dusk in the sweltering heat in the front garden of a small church in a suburb of White Plains, New York, were intimate strangers to Michael and me, though not, for the most part, to each other. The subject was humility, and as I sat among them listening to their stories, I suddenly saw the entire scene subtly shift to be infused with a gauzy-like spiritual presence that made the whole experience surreal and very sacred. Later, I told Michael that it is a wonderful Grace that we are part of â€“ to be able to travel anywhere in the country and sit with people we hadnâ€™t met before yet join in sharing our most vulnerable emotions and scary attitudes.
On his birthday, Michael and I spend two precious days and remarkable nights together, staying at the Hampton Inn in Tarrytown, New York which was adjacent to White Plains. I had brought Elaine Pagelsâ€™ book, The Gnostic Gospels6 with me and we explored â€“ as we generally do â€“ our purpose for being, the meaning of life, and our frustrations with living. This visit together underscored again how dear Michael is to me, as I know I am to him. We argue, talk, walk, eat, and make extraordinary love when we meet. The centerpiece of our relationship, however, is God because we know no power other than God could have joined our two very disparate lives into such harmony and beautiful intimacy.
We are also in a paradoxical relationship. Profound lovers who mirror father and mother, sister and brother to each other, Michael and I see each other also as husband and wife, teacher and student, and fast friends. But as addicts in recovery, we also struggle continually with each otherâ€™s â€˜character defectsâ€™ and impulsive appetites.
A case in point: Not long after one of my visits with him, I feel estranged, abandoned, and I question the validity of my love for Michael. This is predictable. When we rub up against our character defects, I am ready to run. I see that, in my life, I am chronically perched, ready to run. It is a deeply-entrenched pattern. I notice it, now, when I speak informally with my colleagues at school and pausing to observe my inner presence with them. I see that I will talk a few seconds or minutes, then turn to go â€“ as if I need to rush off somewhere. Itâ€™s like my whole life has been poised in â€œcrunchâ€