Two early messages the Newcomer hears in AA are “time takes time” and “it takes what it takes.” These are important lessons in sobriety. “Time takes time” addresses the frustration in early sobriety when progress seems very slow but the desire to change is very high. We are willing to go to any length and we are here to go that length, but time seems to creep. We look around at people with longer time in the Program and we want what they have – that peace, confidence, lack of struggle. They are settled in, they have arrived, but we are new to the game and not sure of our footing. We want to be Harry (in a dress or otherwise), but we cannot. We are entirely willing, but willingness cannot bring about the results we seek – only time can do that. There is no shortcut, no matter how sincere the desire. The saying “it takes what it takes” is used to answer the perennial question of why some alcoholics need to have such dangerously low bottoms, while others do not, or why some relapse several times before achieving lasting recovery and why others seem to have it easier. The answer “it takes what it takes” does not really answer these questions, because (a) they can rarely be answered and (b) the answers do not matter. Another way of looking at “time takes time” and “it takes what it takes” is to see them as synonymous. We cannot become physically sober until we are ready and we cannot become emotionally sober until we are ready. It takes what it takes to get to Step One, and it takes time to get through all of the Steps. It is all about acceptance of the past and living one day at a time in the present. It takes and takes. But all the while, it gives and gives.
Photo courtesy of MK