(Reflection courtesy of Paul D-GRIN)

The first time I heard this saying I thought it was cruel and insensitive. I had been in A.A. about six months and was still convinced that I not only could help other people in my life recover, but that it was in fact my job to do so. Learning to detach with love was still foreign to me and the idea of allowing someone to destroy their life was unthinkable. When I asked my sponsor what to do he told me to look at my own experience.

I knew first hand how ineffective others were in trying to get me to see the dangers of my drinking. The more they tried to warn me or control my behavior, the more I resented and avoided them. In fact, their attempts had the opposite effect – they drove me to isolate and drink even more! In the end what I learned to be true is what I’ve since heard in meetings a thousand times – until we admit to our innermost selves that we’re an alcoholic (or addict) we won’t do the things we need to do to get and stay sober.

Over the years one of the things that continue to baffle me is why some people recover and others – who so obviously need it and would benefit from it – don’t. I’ve had to accept my powerlessness over others, but it’s still hard to see those I care about ruin their lives. My sponsor once told me that I needed to respect someone’s decision to drink themselves to death. That still sounds harsh but there’s a strange, sad truth to it.

It’s a reminder that people have the right to not recover