One of the major parts of the foundation we must include in the building blocks of our sobriety is honesty. Without it we’re greatly lowering our odds of making this program of A.A. a successful part of our life. A bottle of our favorite alcoholic beverage is waiting for our failure in the program. It is extremely patient and will win the battle if we’re not willing to be honest in this program. How early on I remember hearing honesty is the best policy. Years of active alcoholism took that idea away from me. Be as dishonest as you have to be to get that next bottle. Say you’ll pay back the $10 when you’ve no intention of doing so. Say you didn’t hear the phone when you really did and were too drunk to answer it.
The first three pages (58-60) of the chapter “How It Works” is read at the beginning of many meetings and it is no surprise to this alcoholic that the word honesty is mentioned three times in the first paragraph emphasizing that most don’t recover unless they can be honest with themselves and others. This program demands “a manner of living that demands rigorous honesty…,” “many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest…” and “constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves…” I had spent the last 10 years of my life lying, cheating, and stealing as far as my drinking was concerned. It had become a way of life. There were things in my life that being honest about were out of the question. As I read the steps on pages 59 and 60 and began to figure out that the steps had a whole lot to do with honesty my foggy alcoholic brain came to the conclusion I had to come clean with a whole lot of unpleasant situations. Lying had become such a way of life for me that I didn’t know what the truth was anymore.
To the rescue came my sponsor who simply began with first things first. By admitting I was powerless over alcohol, which I had done, the first step in honesty had been taken. A second statement of honesty came about by admitting that this program didn’t fail something I believed, but that I failed. If I became willing to have honesty, an open mind, and become willing (HOW) I would change.
As time marched on for me and I began to truly listen, I observed those members of the program who had some time, we’re honest and it was working for them in their lives. I looked up to them in awe that they were able to practice this honesty in all parts of their lives. What I thought impossible was not only possible but an easier way to live life. I didn’t have to remember what I told to whom. Very slowly as the fog was lifted from the brain their way of living became what I wanted in my life too. This was the simpler easier way to live. Yes being honest meant putting me in some uncomfortable situations. It is better to pull the weed out and get the entire root as opposed to only pulling out the plant. It might make the yard look better for awhile but the weed will grow back bigger than ever. Telling a person what they want to hear might get them off your back for awhile but the situation is going to come back and haunt you until you step up to the plate and tell it all. Again, this is yet another situation for your sponsor to help. He can wisely advise what to do in situations that baffle us. Take direction and you won’t be disappointed. Look up to other members of your group and do what they do. This is a time to be a clone and not be creative. Our thinking was getting us nowhere and it was time to do a 180 degree turnabout in our lives.
As we accumulate more time in the program we learn when we need to be rigorously honest and when to hold back our tongue and say nothing. Experience will teach us not to run out and bear are soul to the world but to slowly let this way of life evolve. We can look forward to the day when we’ve become like the people we look up to and we can in turn pass along what was given to us. Give this program a real chance and you too will find out that you can be honest in your life too. I’m grateful that this program has become a part of my life and honored to write an article about honesty. Honest.