Here am I thinking, now that I’m an abstinent member of OA, it automatically means I’m an outstanding citizen within my family. But eavesdropping on a conversation between my wife and son lands a bombshell of a home truth in my lap.

My son asks, “Mammy, do you ever wake up grumpy?”

My wife replies, “Sometimes!” Then, after a substantial pause, “And sometimes I let him sleep on!”

Dumbfounded, I find this rock-hard lump of information too difficult to swallow and digest. After all, wasn’t I abstinent? Wasn’t I restored to sanity as a result? My wife must be wrong! I decide. “That’s it,” I announce grandly to myself. She needs to change, she’s the one who needs a program. I’m relieved and delighted. Her statement is now dismissed.

Coasting happily along, everything is going fine until one day I’m asked to put out the garbage bin. Before I know what’s happening, I’m shouting, “You do it yourself! I have more important things to do!” Next, we’re into a full-blown row.

Later, seething with resentments, I brood on the fact that nothing has changed; we’re back to what our lives used to be like before I found OA. “But I’m abstinent,” I think to myself. “They said I’d be happy in OA if I was abstinent and practicing the program. They said I’d be happy if I was doing service at home as well as at meetings, and I do a ton of it. I’m abstinent and practicing the program. What the hell is gone wrong?”

So I blame OA, thinking that if the program worked I’d be happy. Armed with my newfound “facts,” I head for a meeting with my sponsor. Relating all the problems at home and the reasons that my relationships are falling apart, I lay the blame squarely at the feet of my family, sponsor, OA, Higher Power, and anyone else I can think of. My sponsor listens patiently; every now and again, a winsome smile crosses his face. When I’m finished, he asks if he may summarize what he has heard. Suspiciously, I agree.

“You’re saying you are practicing the Twelve Steps in all your affairs, but still you’re unhappy, and it’s not your fault but everyone else’s.” He continues, with compassion and understanding in his voice, “Is that right?”

“Exactly right!” I agree wholeheartedly, delighted to have an understanding sponsor. “How do I straighten them out?”

My sponsor is now nodding his head wisely, as if he knows all too well the tribulations I’m living through. My expectations are high. I wait expectantly.

“Go home and apologize to your wife,” is what he says as he picks up his phone, intending to leave.

I am left speechless; anger and bitterness rise up like bile in my throat. “How dare he speak to me this way?” I fume.

But my sponsor is not finished yet. He offers just one parting piece of advice. “By the way, give gratitude for this suggestion, and for all those you found fault with, and especially for your wife and family. Start now; delay is dangerous, and rebellion may be fatal. Next time you hear a home truth don’t bother rationalizing it away. Give gratitude for being told it.”

A number of hours pass before sanity returns. Still smarting, I now very much want to hurt my sponsor. But I have to accept that I’d asked for advice and received it. Basically, he was saying I was wrong, dead wrong!

I couldn’t for the life of me see how I could be wrong, without any proof whatsoever. But I chose to accept that I was. Later that evening, I began the truly painful exercise of giving gratitude for my wife, children, sponsor, Higher Power, OA, and my group and its members. All the time I did so, a real rebellion in my head and heart was shouting and screaming that I’m right, right, right and my sponsor is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Daily, I persevered. Over succeeding days, weeks, and months I kept it up, often in the face of many negative emotions and misgivings. Then breakthroughs began to happen, and I could see how my head and emotions had been blatantly lying to me.

Now, when I hear a home truth about my character that I’m completely ignorant of, I no longer rebel or rationalize it away. Instead, I immediately pray to my Higher Power, accepting that I’m wrong, even though I don’t know how, and I go share that with my sponsor.

As a result, today I am a very happily married family man and a truly grateful member of OA.

— Anonymous

When difficult emotions arise in your relationships or threaten your abstinence, pick up a Tool. Get The Tools of Recovery pamphlet (#160) at or download the abridged Tools at

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