Little People

Dorothy: It really was no miracle. What happened was just this…
Dorothy: [singing] The wind began to switch / The house, to pitch / And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch / Just then the Witch / To satisfy an itch / Went flying on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch!
Munchkin: And, oh, what happened then was rich!
Munchkins: [singing] The house began to pitch / The kitchen took a slich / It landed on the Wicked Witch in the middle of a ditch / Which was not a happy situation for the Wicked Witch!

Actually, it really WAS a miracle that I never killed myself or others with the amount of alcohol I had in my body. But if I had killed someone, I’m sure I would not have been singing songs about the dead, stealing their shoes (which were silver, by the way, in the book!), and then dancing off down the Yellow Brick Road with fellow misfits! Nope – a lifetime of guilt, more drinking for oblivion’s sake, and jail. It never happened, but it was only a matter of a little time.

The Munchkins weren’t described in the Oz books as being little people: “They were not as big as the grown folk she had always been used to; but neither were they very small. In fact, they seemed about as tall as Dorothy, who was a well-grown child for her age, although they were, so far as looks go, many years older.” As far as they were concerned, they were the normal ones.

I thought that I was pretty normal, but my world had become very small – few friends left, nothing much to look forward to, dwindling resources, and very little hope. I was small-minded, petty, a little bit of a victim playing the blame game, and still had a huge ego that said to me that I could go on drinking and survive. Somebody I know often repeats the line about being an EgoManiac with an Inferiority Complex, and strangely, I could identify with that!

And even when I got sober, I still struggled with that concept – I hadn’t yet seen the difference between stopping drinking and getting sober – TRULY sober – EMOTIONALLY sober. I was just like what Bill W. describes in the Big Book:

“The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others.  Hearts are broken.  Sweet relationships are dead.  Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil.  We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough.  He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined.  To his wife, he remarked, “Don’t see anything the matter here, Ma.  Ain’t it grand the wind stopped blowin’?”” Big Book p. 82

I swear Bill must have read the Oz books – the tornado and the storm cellar are just too close to the mark.

Selfish, self-centred, self-willed – I know a lot of people, both in and out of the program, who still struggle with surrender and think it defeat. They think that simple sobriety is enough.

When that series of surrenders happened to me – when humiliation turned into humility, and I swallowed my pride and admitted my alcoholism; when I turned my will over and let go; when I surrendered to my humanity and admitted my faults and that I couldn’t fix them all – when I felt the smallest I’d ever felt, that’s when I started to grow.

I asked one of my wife’s sponsees to share her story at a speaker/discussion meeting last night, and she finished up a powerful talk with that poem about walking down the street every day and falling into the same hole every single time. Until one day the hole was avoided, and a different path was chosen. I loved the metaphor.

But I still remember falling into holes even in sobriety. And I felt very small and dark. The strange thing was that other members kept on jumping into the same hole with me. They didn’t try to push me out. They didn’t try to reach down and pull me out. They simply showed me by example how to grow. And so I grew, and I gave back, and I grew some more. Until I could climb out of the hole “ALL MY BYSELF”, as my daughter used to say when she was small.

There’s a wonderful line in the King Baby  (attached for your reading pleasure) which talks about outgrowing the ugly King Baby characteristics (they’re not at all pretty – read the pamphlet!):

 “It’s not enough to want to change. It’s not enough to need to change. In order to change, we must experience change.”

If the difference between staying stuck in a small dark hole and being able to grow into the sunlight of the spirit is experience, then bring it on. If the difference between knowledge and wisdom is experience, then bring it on. If my experience with change has actually led to real change in my life, then I’m on the right path.

The King Baby lecture was given by a fellow named Bob Brissett in 1972 at Hazelden. It has helped many alcoholics and addicts since then. He aptly describes the problem:

“Now, these are the six manifestations of the King Baby Syndrome: the King; the Princess; the Ego Tripper; the Falsely Humble; the Perfectionist; and the Clinging Vine. Those of us who demonstrate one or more of these behaviours share a common delusion, and that delusion is a feeling that the world revolves around us, that we, actually, are the centre of the Universe. This is a serious, sick delusion for anyone – unless of course you do happen to be the centre of the Universe and the world does actually circulate around you – highly unlikely, we suspect. And the frustrations we experience, those of us who are still playing the King Baby game, occur because a dumb old world and all the people that live on it are not obeying our commands.”

Bob suggested four simple steps to grow out of being a King Baby:

“If you do these four things:

Number One: Accept your  need for change, face up to it and consciously and deliberately commit the act of change, willing and honestly.
Number Two: Let God or something bigger than yourself run the Universe and you assume your proper role.
Number Three: Interact with other people on an equal level in groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Number Four: Realize deeply that you are only one of God’s children, that you or any one of you are equal but that humankind is greater than you. And make a commitment to be in the service of your brothers and sisters and to live in whatever way is consistent with your experience of the life force.

If you do these four things, than you are truly overcoming your King Baby symptoms and you are free. Free to be yourself, free to be honest and trusting with other people, free to start
really swinging with life. After all this time of misery and unhappiness, to start having some real fun.”

My wife went off on a motorcycle camping trip with her daughter recently, and is lovingly recounting what her daughter spoke in her sleep: “Are you a baby, or a non-baby?”, to her mortal embarassment. Well, I know I’m not a Munchkin, and I’d much rather be a non-baby, thank you very much.

I’m grateful for change today. Grateful for growth. It’s a big free world out there, and life is just beginning to get interesting.


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