Show Me The Way To Recovery Road

September 26, 2012 Alistair McHarg

I entered the damp basements of Alcoholics Anonymous many years ago, and found a new, immeasurably superior, way of life. I won’t belabor this point, and I certainly won’t try to sell it to you. But I will say it worked for me and continues to do so.

Everything about it surprised me, which was annoying, because I don’t like surprises; I’m the kind of person who likes to believe he has it all worked out, (especially when he doesn’t), which I suppose is part of the reason I ended up there in the first place.

One of the biggest surprises of all was the amount of humor. Indeed, the process of having your perspective adjusted almost always improves your sense of humor.

In AA, feelings of self-pity and uniqueness give way to honesty and sympathy. You can’t really do that without seeing yourself as ridiculous and life as funny. As this crossover begins, you find yourself laughing at stories that “square pegs” would consider macabre – you laugh in recognition, acknowledging terror, relief, and common humanity – confronting what you fled so long makes you giddy.

One of the most delightful things about AA meetings is that there is so much life affirming, healing laughter there. Individuals accustomed to playing the victim and getting others to do the heavy lifting for them find all of this very confusing. To get off the bench and into the game you’ve got to let go of b.s. When the going gets tough, the tough get funny.

It can be no shock to my readers that many dipsomaniacs enter “the program” for vehicular reasons. This true story concerns one of them. Let’s call him “Dave” but let’s spell his name with a silent “Q” just to make it interesting. Qdave had wrecked his truck while inebriated and had his driver’s license suspended for a year. He was a regular member of a very small meeting I attended weekly so I got to know him well. Qdave installed drywall, was divorced, a devoted dad to his small daughter despite custody issues, and a convicted felon. Qdave had served time for burglary and reentered the mainstream at a disadvantage.

In prison he had encountered AA where he’s been told in no uncertain terms that – if he truly desired sobriety – he would have to gain it by “going to any extreme” – whatever was required.

One evening he revealed to us that – for his first year in sobriety – with no driver’s license and no friends or family eager to help – he had a major problem when it came to attending meetings. This is how he solved it.

Every time he was ready to go to a meeting, he stole a different car from his neighborhood. He was an expert thief and this posed no challenge at all. He always returned the cars to their rightful place, unscathed. Out of a sense of fair play he never stole the same car two days running.

There are so many moral ambiguities in this tale that one scarcely knows where to begin. And yet, after thinking about it quite some time, I say – yes. It’s your life you’re saving, by any and all means necessary.

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2012, September 26). Show Me The Way To Recovery Road, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

Hannah Coale
May, 30 2013 at 2:53 pm

PS is Qdave a reference to Psmith in Wodehouse? If not look it up...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
May, 30 2013 at 4:12 pm


Hannah Coale
May, 30 2013 at 2:52 pm

You're really good darlin'. I've been reading these posts for over an hour. That would be, like, a year for anyone else.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
May, 30 2013 at 4:13 pm

I appreciate the interest and I understand the context - context matters.

September, 26 2012 at 2:51 pm

I hope Qdave didn't get caught with the stolen cars; it's a unique solution. My brother-in-law is an alcoholic and AA literally saved his career and life. He's doing well now. Yes humor, is a life saver! My husband has depression and I am bipolar, we both joke that we've managed to not be sick at the same time;it makes things much more convenient.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
September, 26 2012 at 4:21 pm

I am happy to report that "Qdave" was never caught and in time was able to switch to legal transportation. -- There is a lot of powerful recovery in your family - more power to you all! - Always great to hear from you!

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