Big Book Musings: “That Bitter Morass…”
I am again drawn to Bill’s story in the Big Book of Alcholics Anonymous. In his retelling of his story he starkly spells out the nature of his affliction. Here is what I would like to discuss today:
“No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found in that bitter morass of self-pity. Quicksand stretched around me in all directions. I had met my match. I had been overwhelmed. Alcohol was my master.”
After many attempts at quitting drinking, that quote signifies Bill’s final recognition that he was powerless over alcohol. But he still hadn’t quit. Even in this recognition, he still continued to drink until he is visited by his newly sober friend. Finally, during this visit, Bill surrenders himself.
What is so powerful in this quotation and, indeed, with Bill’s story, is the constant recognition of the destructive nature of his disease. However, he remains powerless in the face of that knowledge for years.
During his story he has often said that, although the will amongst many alcoholics remained strong in many other aspects of life, it was still “amazingly weakened when it comes to combating liquor.”
And in these quotes is a huge lesson and evidence of the most important 1st Step of Alcoholics Anonymous:
We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable
That “bitter morass” sucks us in and keeps us in. We must remain ever vigilant to keep from the quicksand of our disease. His story is powerful to me because he simply tells his story; he doesn’t preach or even point out that he is basically eliciting the steps. It is only when he is visited by another alcoholic that Bill has his epiphany, showing the first time an alcoholic helping another alcoholic.
If I even find myself romanticizing about my drinking–as we alcoholics are wont to do–Bill’s words resonant in my mind and remind me that, indeed, I was constantly in a quicksand mire. Everyday I awoke resigned to another day of doom and despair.
Today I have a better life. Today I am mindful of Bill’s story and I reread it every few months to keep my perspective on what really went on when I was drinking. I am grateful that I don’t often think of my drinking days. But if I ever do, reading the Big Book re-grounds me to my purpose.