The dictionary defines truth as the true or actual state of a matter, while defining honesty as being honorable in principles, intentions and actions. One can be truthful in what they say, but not honest in their intent. For example: “Do these jeans make me look fat?” “No, the jeans don’t make you look fat!” The responder is telling the truth, it’s not the jeans that make the wearer look fat. But if they were being honest they would have replied, “No, the jeans don’t make you look fat – it’s just you that’s fat!” This scenario simply serves as an illustration; honesty without love is brutality. Yet for recovering alcoholics, honesty is essential.
The format of my Tuesday night women’s meeting is for the leader to choose a portion of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and share on that section. The speaker read the first page of chapter 5, and chose relapse as her topic. It is customary in southern California to read a portion of chapter 5 at each meeting. Most of us in recovery could recite it by memory. Yet we hear it so often, it almost becomes background noise. For this reason, having the leader speak on chapter 5 was poignant. What especially stood out was the sentence, “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program…they are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.” Notice that Bill did not suggest that telling the truth would be helpful in staying sober. He clearly states that the AA way of live demands rigorous honesty.
Honesty has become a way of life for me, and countless others. I can no longer justify and rationalize bad behavior the way I used to. In early sobriety, honesty meant not taking what did not belong to me, also known as “cash register honesty.” Practice of the 12 steps strips the veneer of delusion and a conscience is born. My prayer at the end of the meeting was for the alcoholics who still suffer to hear the depth and weight of that first page in chapter 5.Share post