What Does “Unmanageability” Mean in AA?


Let me explain. One of the first epiphanies I had in recovery was about 5 months in when I was living at STR’s Phase 3 House. I had just returned from Walmart and was unpacking my things when I almost broke down in tears holding a 12 pack of brand new socks.

“What is this?” I thought to myself. “What’s happening to me?”

Had my life without booze gotten so mundane that I could be brought to my knees by socks? No. There was something else going on here. I was overcome with feeling because I hadn’t bought a new pack of socks in years. I mean, I could have theoretically bought new socks during my active alcoholism; I wasn’t that broke. Ok, maybe I was that broke. But overdraft fees were not something that concerned me. My basic needs were not something that concerned me. Socks weren’t something that concerned me.

How Alcoholics Anonymous Has Helped

When I was drinking, the only thing I thought about was whether or not I had enough beer. When I wasn’t drinking, the only thing I thought about was how I was going to get enough beer for that night. But, while working the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, somewhere around my 9th step, my life had started to become manageable. There’s a passage from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous read before each meeting:

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

What was this new freedom? What was this new happiness? It was socks. It was what the socks represented. The socks were a sign of things to come, I thought. They were a symbol of my newfound freedom. They were an emblem of a happiness I was beginning to realize. And boy, I couldn’t wait to share this feeling with others. I’m so happy you let me share it with you today. I wish you manageability and all the packages of socks money can buy.

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