One of my favorite sayings I use quite often now came from the rooms of recovery and it’s to never practice contempt prior to investigation, something I once did regularly both in and out of the rooms of recovery and occasionally still need a reminder of, like I did during my recent vacation with a restaurant I dined at.
Where this slogan began in my life was when I first checked out AA meetings back in 1995. I practiced contempt very quickly, judging the program, and everyone in it, feeling it wasn’t for me. I remained sick, mind and body, with countless addictions and addiction-based behaviors for years because of it. When I finally came into the rooms of recovery in 2007 with honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness (the HOW of the program), I saw a spiritual depth to the program that I clearly didn’t see from the few meetings I attended here and there over the 12 years I remained mostly a dry drunk/addict. Since then, I’ve learned that when coming around to 12 Step recovery, until one attends a good number of meetings, actually does the 12 Step work with a sponsor, and helps other suffering alcoholics and addicts, the gift of the program will remain hidden, thus making it quite easy to practice contempt. The investigation that’s ultimately needed is the one where a person sticks around in 12 Step recovery and follows the program as Bill Wilson and Bob Smith once laid out. I learned a lot by sticking around since 2007 and attending countless meetings, sponsoring many individuals, and volunteering my time in many ways where I’ve continued to share my experience, strength and hope. It truly has changed my life and something I was glad I finally fully investigated.
What’s truly ironic about this slogan is how it can also be applied to life in general. How many times have we all judged something without truly exploring it further, only to learn when we do it wasn’t at all what we expected? From people to places to things, I’ve done it numerous times myself over the years and found myself doing it again, albeit briefly, when I asked my best friend Cedric to pick a restaurant for us to dine at on our final night of our vacation together in Gloucester, MA. He picked a place called The Causeway, one I had never heard of. Upon arrival to their parking lot, at best it looked like a small breakfast/lunch café. To my ego, it wasn’t much to look at. Once we walked in, I felt even more that way as the ambience there was really just some folding tables, no music playing, and tons of people crammed in, some just ordering at a counter to go. But, knowing how much I’ve lost out on in life practicing contempt prior to investigation, I said nothing and sat down at the table we were directed to. An hour later, I must say, I had probably the best seafood meal I’ve had in decades. The waitress was so kind, the portions were incredibly large, the fish chowder was definitely the best I’ve ever had, and my main meal, my Baked Coconut Rum Haddock, was to die for. Truly, my old self would never have even given this place a chance, as I used to always only look for those prestigious and snobbish places to dine at, the ones where you usually need to dress up for, often where the meals weren’t even that good. At The Causeway though, a place where you can wear t-shirts and tank tops and ripped shorts, a no-frills type of place, you’ll most likely have an extremely marvelous meal that you’re going to remember, one I most definitely did and would give five stars.
The bottom line here is that practicing contempt prior to investigation has only ever led to one thing for me in life, that being to miss out on some pretty amazing things. Sometimes we just need to bypass our egos and give things a chance just to see how truly awesome they are for our lives like 12 Step Recovery and The Causeway have been to mine.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson