Yes, the title of this piece is borrowed from an Elvis movie (remember? Mary Tyler Moore played a perky nun and E.P. played a velvety-voiced doctor [!]), but I assure you, the content is not. It’s just that these words best express this addict’s 82-day experience in the fellowship of Marijuana Anonymous.
For me to take every action that has been suggested to me since I got here, I have had to change my habits. First of all—meetings. Are you kidding? Me, a die-hard, never join anything, not-even-a-Girl-Scout, rugged individualist, go to organized meetings? Every day, no less? But I do. Because my prideful habit of never being a part of any new group had to be changed. After a few weeks, it started to sink in—maybe that habit had something to do with me being quite a sick little puppy.
I thought I disliked groups because I was a superior non-conformist. But a new understanding of myself is beginning to emerge. Perhaps I rejected groups to ward off the possibility that they would reject me. That’s not even an issue in this fellowship. Anyone that has a desire to stop smoking marijuana is welcomed with hugs, hope, and smiles. And so, I was. Within five days, I was flooded with new friends, genuine and helpful people who gave me their real phone numbers and always called me back.
Another thing that definitely had to change was my habit of being an atheist. The idea of a Higher Power or (God forbid) God was not a part of my intellectual make-up. I had decided there wasn’t any, and anyone who believed was, well, not my kind of person. In fact, this stubborn habit of mine had kept me out of the program for years. I went on “dry highs” many times on my own my will power just to prove that I didn’t need to believe any of that stuff to abstain from marijuana. But somehow, life always became intolerable for me and my insanity kicked in and there I was, smoking more pot than ever.
So I finally surrendered and admitted I needed help (another change of habit) and came into the rooms of Marijuana Anonymous. So if these people wanted me to read THE BOOK, I would. Hey, I always liked reading anyway. When I read Chapter Four, I learned that I didn’t have to have some full-blown God-consciousness right away. All I had to do was be willing to believe. I guessed I could handle that. I had already learned through rough experience that I couldn’t quit on my own.
It occurred to me while I was reading—what do I have to lose? The idea of there not being a Higher Power was just that—an idea. It was one I had been stubbornly hanging on to for most of my life. And where had it gotten me? Sure, I could smoke anybody under the table, but I somehow sensed that life had more to offer me than a dubious achievement like that. So I decided to change my habit, let go of my idea, and cling to this new idea that there is a Higher Power.
Do I know exactly what it is yet, or if it’s listening when I pray? No. But I don’t need to just yet. I have enough willingness to believe, I hope, to get me through the steps which I am now convinced will lead me to a much more sure and strong faith. Praying—another big change of habit. I do it even though I don’t quite understand it. But people who have been sober a long time suggested that I do it and now I listen to them. Because I want to be sober a long time too.
So far, those have been the biggest changes for me. But I find that I need to make more changes all the time. As difficult situations arise, I call people in the program and figure out new ways to handle them. I’m learning how to deal with things at the outset, so my old habits of people-pleasing, obsessing, and beating myself up won’t rear their ugly heads.
Things are far from perfect for me. But they are definitely progressing. When I first came in to the program, I thought I’d just learn how to live without marijuana. But now I realize I’m learning how to live, period, in the fullest way possible, with honesty, dignity, and love for myself and others. And that, my friends, is the best change of habit of all.
From A New Leaf, February, 1995