Slogans. A.A.’s got a million of ‘em. Some are famous (“One day at a time.”). Some not so much (“Seven days without a meeting makes one weak.”). If you spend any time in the rooms, you’ll see and hear these slogans ad nauseum. From the silly to the sublime, though, they are all there to help the newcomer white-knuckle his way through early sobriety.
And they work. At least they did for me. My favorite, though, is not particularly well-known. In fact, I’ve only heard it once, a long time ago. But it made one hell of an impression, even though it was just a phrase.
“Going to the hardware store to buy a loaf of bread.”
Without breaking anonymity, the woman who used this phrase described her relationship with a father who withheld love, praise, and support. She would distance herself, but kept going back expecting things to be different. He disappointed her every time. She would get upset and resentful, then drink. She would distance herself again, and the cycle would continue.
Expectations really are nothing but resentments under construction. Every time this woman went to her father expecting things to be different, she was “going to the hardware store to buy a loaf of bread.” And, of course, there was none to be had. And while she was burning with resentment, her father probably didn't even realize there was a problem. It wasn’t until this woman accepted her father for what he was -- a hardware store instead of a bakery -- that she could escape her own pattern of destructive behavior.
So when you need that loaf of bread, forget the hardware store you've been going to. Look for a nice, cozy bakery instead.