Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Are you a jaywalker?

My most recent class for school (I am 6 months out on a BA in Behavioral and Social Sciences from George Fox University) was a course on Addiction Disorders. One of our assignments was to either visit a local treatment facility or attend a 12 step (or equivalent) meeting in the area and write a short paper about what we see, hear, feel during the observation. I chose to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in NE Portland with a couple of other class mates.

What an amazing experience. It was so encouraging to see these strong people taking this step, making this commitment to themselves and their families. There was such a feeling of hope and courage in the room, the stories shared were touching and insightful - I am so thankful to have had the experience. The leader shared a story or parable at one point in the meeting that is called "The Jaywalker" and can be found on page 37 of what AA calls the 'Big Book.'

This parable really touched me and I could see where many of us (if not all of us in some way) have experienced a time where we looked at our choices or our actions and recognized how crazy, destructive or emotionally damaged they have been. I believe we all have something to learn and reflect on from this story, my challenge to you is to read and honestly reflect on how this parable might resemble your actions in some form and the ways you can make a positive change for the future.

"Our behavior is as absurd and incomprehensible with respect to the first drink as that of an individual with a passion, say, for jay-walking. He gets a thrill out of skipping in front of fast-moving vehicles. He enjoys himself for a few years in spite of friendly warnings. Up to this point you would label him as a foolish chap having queer ideas of fun. Luck then deserts him and he is slightly injured several times in succession. You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out. Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured skull. Within a week after leaving the hospital a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm. He tells you he has decided to stop jay-walking for good, but in a few weeks he breaks both legs."

"On through the years this conduct continues, accompanied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep off the streets altogether. Finally, he can no longer work, his wife gets a divorce and he is held up to ridicule. He tries every known means to get the jaywalking idea out of his head. He shuts himself up in an asylum, hoping to mend his ways. But the day he comes out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks his back. Such a man would be crazy, wouldn't he?"

"You may think our illustration is too ridiculous. But is it? We, who have been through the wringer, have to admit if we substituted alcoholism or any addiction for jay-walking, the illustration would fit exactly. However intelligent we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane. It's strong language but isn't it true?"

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