Inspiration of AA

I stopped drinking 35 years ago and I have been clean and sober ever since.

When I began to think about the things that mattered to me that became my book, “To Find The Way Of Love,” I thought about the Twelve Steps of A.A. which have influenced my life. Anonymity would preclude any personal discussion of aspects of my experience, but the Twelve Steps, available to anyone, are shining examples of a way of relating without judgment from others. We all need an environment in which to grow, at any age, despite what may have interfered with that growth. Drugs and alcohol are two of many disabling factors in what we think of as normal development. There are others.

A.A. and a ‘good enough’ family environment provide what has been described as a holding environment in which we can develop and begin to learn who we are in relationship to others. First, we have to learn who we are. That grows from within. Advice, judgment, shame, criticism are not helpful to this process. Finding oneself amidst all the noise is.  It is one of life’s most important challenges.

I had an experience many years ago that had a profound effect on me. There was a big costume Halloween Party at a restaurant hosted by a design firm that worked for the Medical Center of which I was Senior Vice President of Planning. Everyone was disguised: I went as a clown, unrecognizable in costume and elaborate face painting. My nose was a large red bulb. Looking at a picture now many years later I can see how I wouldn’t have recognized myself. I never spoke, but made hand signals and pointed. I spent the entire evening without revealing myself, even when I was leaving. Nobody knew who I was. I had a very large social circle of personal and business friends, of many years, many present, yet I was able to remain anonymous for hours.

The next day I woke with the thought that I was the only person in the room who knew who I was. That was a whole new experience.

Oliver & Barbara

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