When I entered the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous I was struck by the banality and simplicity of the sayings on the wall. I couldn’t believe that these people honored such plain and self-evidence aphorisms. I thought that they must be simpletons to honor the obvious. And as I sat and thought about those sayings I became angry. Did these people think I was so simple to be impacted by these silly sayings? Didn’t they realize what a complicated and sophisticated guy I was? I almost got up and walked out in a huff generated by my own sick thinking.
My desperation is what kept me there. My life was filled with frustration, disappointment and despair. But most of all it was filled with fear. Fear that the important people in my life would realize how much I was drinking; fear that they would find out what I was doing when I was drunk. I stuck around in the rooms because in the final analysis I wanted what these people had. And if that required me to tolerate the silly sayings on the wall, then I would do that.
As I stuck around and started staying sober on a daily basis, the sayings gradually started sinking into my consciousness. I got a Desire Chip, I got a sponsor and I slowly started working the steps. But in the first six weeks of my sobriety, there would often come the thought of taking a drink. A momentary escape from the way I was feeling was what I craved. Then that silly saying would come to me: First Things First. My sponsor had said over and over again that when I got thirsty, to pick up the phone. That was the First Thing I should do when I got thirsty.
That little piece of advice, and that silly saying, First Things First, saved my life in those early days.