"The road gets narrower" is an expression heard often enough in AA meetings, and neatly encapsulates the idea that, in sobriety, what used to fix us tends to stop working after a while.
It struck me today, though, I don't think this expression actually occurs in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" (AA's Big Book.)
While I believe there's much truth to the sentiment, (and certainly as I've written about before, it has been very true for me over the years), what AA really talks about is a Broad Highway -- as in how, should you stay sober, you will join with others on the Broad Highway of life/recovery/spiritual growth.
For me today, taken together those two phrases make for a larger truth.
It occurred to me, isn't every fix ultimately the same thing at its rotten heart? Whether it is food or sex or shopping or whatever (the window dressing varies) aren't they all just a way to blot out the world, avoid dealing with life on life's terms, and focus inward -- solely on myself? And then the attendant self-abuse, the same old same old shame, the tired circular litany of would-have-could-have-should-have ... aren't those just further exercises in turning within, staying small, keeping my life chronically rooted in the weary rut of checking out?
The fix stops fixing.
The process of the 12 Steps, applied and reapplied, eventually makes the fix an uncomfortable (even intolerable) act -- pulling my focus from myself onto my fellows (from looking inward to looking outward). Ultimately it is not that I am able to do less, but that as the self-obsessive escape mechanisms fail I am capable of doing much, much more -- because without the fix and its ever-tightening inward spiral, there is space for real and truly nourishing things, honest healthy connections, to form.
As with most things spiritual, on the surface it seems a paradox, but for me today a narrower road leads to a wider life -- the Broad Highway.