Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I am a carnivore. I love animals, they are tasty. In particular, I prefer chicken, turkey, and cow. I am not a big pig fan but will eat the occasional hotdog at the ballpark, if necessary. I don’t, however, wish to see animals hurt or tortured (disclaimer so you’ll read the rest of the article). However, in order to eat, something must die whether it is vegetable or animal. Thankfully, it’s not me!

What might carnivorous activities have to do with recovery you ask? Well, let’s see if I can make that connection in the next three paragraphs! As mentioned previously, I have an affinity for chicken. There is nothing like a chicken sandwich from a famous fast food retailer (ahem…Chik-Fil-A) with some fries and an ice cold drink! But on a deeper level, our little feathered friends can be helpful to our recovery.

Whenever someone is teased about lacking intestinal fortitude (i.e. guts) to do something, they are often labeled a “chicken”. You know, it’s the whole ‘Chicken-Little-the-sky-is-falling,-I-am-a-wuss’ scenario. Furthermore, some folks go as far as including sound effects such as, and forgive the rough translation, “bwock, bwock, bwock!” It is even more effective if said sounds are accompanied by a wing flipping action (hands tucked with thumbs attached under the armpit and flipping wildly back and forth…kids get permission from your parents before trying such a dangerous behavior) much like the bird that is being imitated! These sounds are immediately understood by the accused. They indicate weakness and ‘wussi-hood’ (a term I made up for this article that one does not want applied to oneself to be sure as it indicates complete, pathetic weakness)!

Much like the proverbial “bwock-ing” accompanying fear of the unknown, the A.A. Big Book teaches that most addicts, before they enter recovery “balk”, that is, reject, refute, or argue with the suggested 12 Step approach to long-term sobriety. It says, “At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not” (Big Book, p. 58). This “balk” is much like that “bwock” not only in sound but in meaning. Just as someone might “bwock” with fear at the thought of skydiving, so to; many addicts “balk” in fear at the effort it takes to get clean. “Balk-ing” is really just excuse-making. It is a way to get out of owning your responsibilities and being held accountable to your actions. In a word, it’s chicken.

You might be thinking, “Yeah that’s funny and all but you try kicking an addiction.” You’re right. It is funny! And you’re right that kicking an addiction is no joke. But here’s the catch, it’s not you that is chicken, rather, it is the addict within you who is afraid. It balks like a true Chicken Little because it is scared of how good the 12 Steps are and how effective they have been in the lives of sober addicts all over the world. So the next time you don’t feel like doing something your sponsor suggested, or going to a meeting, or anything else recovery-related, just remember to kick your inner chicken. Tell him that he’s done for and you’re not going to be a victim to his poultry pandering any longer. Because after all, chicken is white meat and white is the color of surrender. Time for ‘Chicken Little’ to quit while he’s behind!

Chris Newcomb – Aftercare Coach / Coordinator

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