It Ain’t In the (Big) Book

In the movie Christine (from the Stephen King novel by the same name), the main character refers to them as “Shitters.”  Ashley Ambirge blogs about “Dream-zappers” in the middle finger project, while Chris Guillebeau over at The Art of Non-Conformity calls them “skeptics, naysayers, and charlatans.”

They are the voices coming at us constantly, louder than the surrounding noise, that tell us we can’t, we shouldn’t, we aren’t.  They tell us we’re wrong.  They tell us we aren’t being realistic; we’re not being practical.  They tell us something can’t be done, or they tell us it can’t be done that way.  They’ll tell us we don’t have the experience, or the knowledge, or the tools, or the brains.  They are the voices of negativity, and for sure they are shitty, critical zappers of dreams.

I call them Tormentors—the antithesis of Mentors. 

And not all Tormentors are ‘out there.’  We all carry our very own Tormentor along with us wherever we go—that nagging tape recording, just below our conscious mind, which plays over and over again the same messages that the other Tormentors carry.

In AA circles, Tormentors can be identified by such non-answers as “because that’s how my sponsor told me to do it,” or “because it’s not in The Book.”   Those are just two examples out of many.   Hey!  I know it’s not in the book; I’ve read the damn thing.  And if I wanted to know how your sponsor did something, I’d go to him.  I want to know how you did it.  Did you follow that sponsor’s advice to the letter, or did you make little changes here and there?  (My guess is that each and every recovered person in AA has done at least one thing differently from what s/he was told, or from what is written in the Big Book.)

It Ain’t Rocket Science.

We are not doing chemistry experiments here in recoveryland.  When we mix HCl with NaOH, we will always end up with salt water (NaCl + H20).  But people are not chemicals.  For all of our similarities, we are unique individuals with unique backgrounds coming into this recovery business.  Because of that, we will each experience the Steps slightly differently than anyone else.  And we may need to rewrite some of the Steps or other parts of The Book to reach an understanding that will bring us to the desired result—recovery.

Yet, through it all, the Tormentors will insist that it’s their way or the highway.  That’s bad enough as it is, but if someone should fail to reach the desired results after dutifully following instructions to the letter, the Tormentors’ fallback position is to blame the person.  S/he didn’t do this, didn’t do it thoroughly, won’t this, or can’t that.  It’s vicious and it’s real.  And it’s B.S.  As an instructor for the Navy, I was taught that if any trainee of mine didn’t learn the lesson, whatever it may be, the fault was mine, not the trainee’s.  That meant that the ball was in my court to find a way to adapt the lesson plan in such a way that the trainee would learn.  And it proved to be true many times over in the course of my career and beyond.

The best advice I have for anyone dealing with a Tormentor comes from a coffee cup I was given many years ago.  Along with a cartoonish picture of a sad dog lying down with two turkeys walking on him, the message was “Don’t Let the Turkeys Get You Down!”  If you believe you can do it, nothing can stop you.  Nothing.  Not even a Tormentor.

My purpose for this post is two-fold.  I hope to make the unaware aware of the presence of the Tormentors in both the outer and inner worlds, and I hope and pray that maybe a few of the Tormentors out there will read this and perhaps see a need to change their approach to become more Mentor than Tormentor.

Please use the comments section and let me know how you feel about this topic.  Dissenting views are welcome and appreciated.  Or e-mail me at the address located on the “About” page of this blog.

3 thoughts on “It Ain’t In the (Big) Book

  1. Pingback: “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” | The Spirit of Recovery

  2. Pingback: 7 x 7 Link Award | The Spirit of Recovery

  3. Pingback: “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” | The Spirit of Recovery

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