Last weekend I attended the annual Passover Seders. A Seder is when Jewish families, friends, etc. sit around the dinner table and read the story of how Moses led the Jewish people out of bondage from Egypt. Part of the Seder includes how to explain the traditions and rituals to four different types of children. There is the Wise Child, The Contrary Child, The Simple Child and the Child Who Doesn’t Even Know How to Ask A Question. The last few years when going through this part of the Seder I’ve often thought that I could use these types of children as metaphors of different types of alcoholic/addicts.
The Wise Child I equate to the alcoholic/addict who has finally hit such a rock bottom that he is now, “willing to go to anything lengths” (Big Book, 1939) to get sober. This type of addict a sponsor can take through the Basic Text of Alcoholics Anonymous (AKA: Big Book), explaining what each part means with little to no push back. I reached this level following my last relapse (if you call several years a relapse – maybe a lapse?) and have never looked back. I followed the directions of those who went before me and the questions I asked were more about clarification than disagreement.
The Contrary Child I equate to the addict who hasn’t surrendered yet. He is still trying to make the program fit into his needs. This addict is often the one who tries to stay sober on “frothy, emotional, appeal” (Big Book, 1939). He is the one known as a two-stepper – he works Step One and Step 12 skipping all the steps that allows him a happy, joyous and free life and provides him with the ability to properly fulfil Step 12. As it is written in the Big Book’s Chapter A Vision For You if one’s own house is not in order one is not able to properly pass on the message. The Contrary Child, more often than not, relapses and continues to think that willpower alone will be enough to wage war on his addiction. The Contrary Child is deep into denial still unable to, “differentiate the truth from the false” (Big Book, 1939). The Contrary Child is the alcoholic who gets stuck on semantics using the word “God” as a reason not to change.
The Simple Child can be equated to someone brand new to recovery. She has not tried to become abstinent before and wants to learn. If she hooks up with the right kind of sponsor and recovery support group she will ease into recovery without many issues. The willingness is there for sobriety and it just needs to connect with the right kind of teachers.
The Child Who Does Not Even Know How To Ask A Question is also new to recovery but lacks the willingness of the Simple Child. She often gravitates to the Contrary Child still stuck in the notion that in order to be accepted she must change into what others want her to be. This addict will stick with the person who fights recovery following him in his bad habits and contrariness.
I hope that the latter three types of alcoholics/addicts will eventually, due to emotional and spiritual pain, change into the Wise Child and in the course of time become recovered and, in turn, become a sponsor or in this metaphor the leader of the Seder.
Good Pesach to my fellow recovered Yid and remember the four glasses of wine ritual can be carried out using grape juice. The four beverages just have to be from fruit that is grown on a vine.
Next Year in Recovery.