The Trinity of Self

The word Trinity is often referred to the three-in-one Person of the God of the Bible. There is another trinity (lower case t) of my self-centered world. There are three sides to my thinking. I am 1) selfish, 2) self-centered, and 3) live in self-pity. The perfect storm! I live with most of these defects of characters each day, sometimes one or the other is more prevalent, or there are days when I am not consciously aware that I am living in the self-centered world. Ah, before you judge me, I ask that you look for these defects in your life. If you still cannot see it, try a dose of humility.

What does it mean to be selfish, self-centered and self-pity? On page 62 of the Big Book has all three in two sentences and others added on for humility. It is the root of our (mine) troubles!

“Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows, and they retaliate.”

What is selfishness? It is me being concerned excessively or exclusively, about me or my advantage over you; where I am overly concerned with self-pleasure, or my welfare, at the expense of you.

What does it mean to be self-centered? It is me being preoccupied with my affairs at the expense of yours. This is the area where my ego allows me to go.

What does it mean to live in self-pity? This is my most active, “weakness.” Self-pity is when I feel suffering and misfortune because of self-indulgence thinking which I accept as truth, but it is all about me wanting something I do not deserve. Often it is a failure of faith, failed thinking and puffing myself up as I deserve something more than you do.

It is interesting to see the trinity of AA as well. When we look at the older AA logo of the circle and triangle that is most closely associated with AA, the triangle is three-sided, each side representing, Service, Recovery, and Unity.

So, the trinity of AA is how we should relate to each other. The Trinity of the Bible is how we should love one another.

And the trinity of self should be overpowered by those other two trinities; AA’s Service, Unity, and Recovery and most important learning to Love one another.


I love paradoxes— at one level it is a puzzle at another level wisdom, it may be a truth where I cannot see it, or it may appear to be false. In AA, the Big Book has many paradoxes which if explained proves these to be true. Some of these are listed below.

In the story of The Professor And The Paradox from the second edition of the Big Book, we can see them explained:

  • We SURRENDER TO WIN. On the face of it, surrendering certainly does not seem like winning. But it is in A.A. Only after we have come to the end of our rope, hit a stone wall in some aspect of our lives beyond which we can go no further; only when we hit “bottom” in despair and surrender, can we accomplish sobriety which we could never accomplish before. We must, and we do, surrender in order to win.
  • We GIVE AWAY TO KEEP. That seems absurd and untrue. How can you keep anything if you give it away? But in order to keep whatever it is we get in A.A., we must go about giving it away to others, for no fees or rewards of any kind. When we cannot afford to give away what we have received so freely in A.A., we had better get ready for our next “drunk.” It will happen every time. We’ve got to continue to give it away in order to keep it.
  • We SUFFER TO GET WELL. There is no way to escape the terrible suffering of remorse and regret and shame and embarrassment which starts us on the road to getting well from our affliction. There is no new way to shake out a hangover. It’s painful. And for us, necessarily so. I told this to a friend of mine as he sat weaving to and fro on the side of the bed, in terrible shape, about to die for some paraldehyde. I said, “Lost John”—that’s his nickname—”Lost John, you know you’re going to have to do a certain amount of shaking sooner or later.” “Well,” he said, “for God’s sake let’s make it later!” We suffer to get well.
  • We DIE TO LIVE. That is a beautiful paradox straight out of the Biblical idea of being “born again” or “in losing one’s life to find it.” When we work at our Twelve Steps, the old life of guzzling and fuzzy thinking, and all that goes with it, gradually dies, and we acquire a different and a better way of life. As our shortcomings are removed, one life of us dies, and another life of us lives. We in A.A. die to live.

To solve a paradox a few tools are required, an open-mindedness to the possibility it is true, and we look at the problem from different perspectives or viewpoints.

To illustrate this, I will use a simple statement. When are a circle and triangle the same shape? You may answer as it is the AA’s Recovery, Unity, and Service symbol. Yes, thank you, my friend Abbey for showing me that.

Take the shape of a cone. Move it around in your mind or hold it in your hand such as an ice cream cone. Hold it out to see the side, and you see the triangle, hold it out and turn it to see the top, it is a circle. So something like a cone can solve a simple paradox of two shapes being the same object. Plus you load it up with a few scoops, and you give a taste of a little heaven here on earth (another paradox).

Illustration of a cone, of a triangle and circle
Illustration of a cone, a triangle, and circle.

Burning Desires?

It is just me that some in our meetings have so many burning desires? When I lead a meeting, I never ask if there is anyone with a burning desire. Around me, so many take the concept of burning desire to mean they need and allow their ego to lead once again.

A leader can be sensitive to the group and pick up on the need for someone to share. Just look at their faces and allow God to direct you in picking the shares. Do you pray before and during the meeting to see what God wants to do?

It may be a surprise to you, that I am most likely wrong. I read that in the Twelve and Twelve:

92:2 Finally, we begin to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong, and then we approach true tolerance and see what real love for our fellows means. It will become more and more evident as we go forward that it is pointless to become angry or to get hurt by people who, like us, are suffering from the pains of growing up.

Yep, that is me. Ok, I am like you, and yes it bothers me. I may grow up one day, but today I can express that the folks that bother me the most are the “Loud and Proud.” The hidden drunk-a-log folks, those that repeat 80% of their experience and so little of their strength and hope.

All shares have value; some teach me the program, some teach me patience and some teach me humility. Sometimes, I am not teachable at that moment, my desire as I grow up is to become more teachable. Oh, how my serenity suffers when I allow this to bother me.

“Ring the bell that still can ring” (Leonard Cohen)

“Ring the bell that still can ring. There are cracks in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Flaws are what make us authentic and real, flaws are what make us shine, and authenticity trumps perfection every time. Those who ring cracked bells are the ones who make the biggest difference in our lives. They are the musicians who write the best songs, the artists who make the most meaningful art, the poets who write the strongest lines, and the people who make the best friends. When all hell breaks loose, their presence provides hope because it’s real. Nobody wants to spend time with a perfect person when their world is falling apart. We want to be with people who understand. Rather than make us feel ashamed, they empathize with our pain. Rather than fix our brokenness, they reveal the light even in dark times. Not all cracks are bad; some are just wild edges where the untamed music can be heard.” (Leonard Cohen)

‘Alcoholic’ versus ‘I am an Alcoholic.’

I am a real alcoholic which means in my recovery; I have alcoholic thinking. I hope one day that kind of thinking would be not so critical of some things.

When I sit in my meetings; we do the usual stuff, and ask people to identify, such as newcomers, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, six months, and nine months. We also do give cakes for birthdays (sobriety anniversaries.) As well as in the shares in the meetings. I listen to everyone, and I noticed this more and more lately.

I will use a name of Bill for this article. So, this person Bill, shares or identifies. I often hear, “Bill Alcoholic.” This identity is slightly off, from what I think I should being hearing. An alcoholic is not his or her last name. I believe we need to identify as who we truly are, like, “Bill I am an Alcoholic” or “My name is Bill P., and I am an alcoholic.” Slightly different, but I think it is important.

Why is it important. First, it is what we do, for each and at every meeting, (including business meetings), so why? Why do we identify as ‘I am an Alcoholic?’ I believe it helps when we are new to understand that we are physically and emotionally different from non-alcoholics, so this reinforces the understanding of who we are. Second, with time, it reminds us of who we truly are.

As well, I am identifying as an Alcoholic to identify with another… Alcoholic.

It is the Essence of Our Common Bond.

Doctor’s Opinion
XXX.5 All these, (alcoholics) and many others, have one symptom in common: they cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. This phenomenon, as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity. It has never been, by any treatment with which we are familiar, permanently eradicated. The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence.

Deleting is freeing

I often delete things. I am a purger and a minimalist, so the deleting things become a habit. I am talking about eliminating as opposed to throwing away or giving away. Those are physical actions. Deleting in this context is removing them from digital containers.

I was listening to a friend, Tom who was telling me that he purges friends on Facebook and other places when he is frustrated over life and other details. I do the same thing. I delete often.

I delete like cleaning when I feel overwhelmed in the material world; I clean my room, the bathroom, or kitchen as an example. The act of cleaning is cleansing for my spirit. I feel a release when my world is in the order and clean.

I have 2.5 million files on my hard drive. What? Some are system related, but most of what I have needs to be cleaned up. I need to have the structure to remove what I no longer need. I am a photographer, so I have many images that I need to let go. This year I started with 70,000 plus images and had that down to 55,000. I deleted images that have no value. Images that are too dark or boring are gone. Time will never make them better, so they are gone.

This year I deleted from my digital assets the following:

  • 5,000 songs (I stream only)
  • 550 contacts (no longer know them, everyone now belongs a group)
  • Remove hundreds of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and google plus
  • Removed most notifications to social media. I do not need to know you clicked the like button
  • 1/2 Terabyte of data (500 gigabytes)
  • Removed myself from most online presence, I no longer visit social media when bored
  • Removed seven years of images from Instagram and started over
  • Reduced my TV/Movie watching
  • Cut back on my RSS feeds, look it up the term if you need to
  • I deleted my Flickr account (after retrieving all my files, just in case).
  • I deleted my yahoo account

It looks extreme, but it is not. If they bring me no joy, they have no value. Deleting Yahoo was my backup of my backup for email. No harm, it was not needed. As Verizon is set to purchase Yahoo and Flickr, they will change things, so better I make the first move.

So, what does this mean? Am I living in self-pity? That I am hurt and striking back. Some think that is my motive, but it is not. This is a start, each week or so I remove what is not needed, there if freedom in being responsible for less.

I found freedom in not allowing my things to own me. I own them; they do not own me.

The Drink Think is Gone

The other day after a meeting, (not an AA meeting), I and some friends Anne and Amanda (mother and daughter— also normies) decided that pizza was required. Anne is struggling with unknown a skin condition which makes her scratch. To get some relief, she uses ice packs. The ladies were in the conversation on where they will pick up a bag of ice. Me being me, talk to the pizza lady about ice, I boldly ask for a free large bag. She comes back with a small zip-type bag. She tells that is all the ice she had, and she gets a bag for $2 at the liquor store. I announce I am going to the liquor store for ice. I get an escort from the mom. She tells me that I need help because the neighborhood is bad and I need her protection. Which is odd, but ok. She mentioned that she cannot let her daughter escort me because she never lets her daughter out with guys. Ok, I understand her rules.

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