New to AA
By my saying that "the newcomer is the most important person," I am not saying that they are better than anyone, I am saying that without them, A.A. would die. A.A. was started by the newcomer, for the newcomer.
In A.A. we make simple sayings like this often. To pick them apart and analyze them is falling into the trap of making this program more complicated than it is, which is the whole point of the simple sayings.
People that go on and on about how A.A. is failing the still sick and suffering alcoholics are usually casually dismissed unless they actually put their words into action. Anybody can sit around and list what they think is wrong with everybody and everything else. Usually these people have quite a few years of sobriety and they think that they have it figured out, and if you would just listen to them, everything would be much better for everyone.
While some A.A. groups may have gone down the wrong path with some of the ways that they conduct their meetings, that is for them to decide. There is no A.A. police. We are allowed to make mistakes on our own. Nobody likes being told what to do.
My experience with Tradition 1 is that I have to keep my personal ideas, desires and ambitions in check whenever it could damage the unity of the A.A. group. Because, "Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
I think that when someone is new, a new job, a new singer, a new dancer, a new parent. Someone who is new is able to bring life and a new perspective. It also reminds those who have been here longer what it was like to be new and unsure and scared and afraid and wanting to bolt out of the door as fast as they can. I have been going to meetings since February 12, 2014. I am still new and when someone says that I am wanted and important it helps build a part of me that has died. The ego can also be threatened when light is shone on a new person, a new baby, a new employee, but instead of tearing someone down, its about lifting them up and in place lifting yourself up.
It was suggested that I start with the forwards to the earlier editions in the very front of the book and then move on to Doctor's Opinion and the 164. This method was also followed by all of the BB study groups I participated in over the years. There are great nuggets of information and pearls of wisdom sprinkled throughout the BB.
The stories in the back of the book have changed over the course of four editions. I believe that the stories, like those in the Grapevine, are intended to create identification by giving varied examples of how different people drank and recovered.
At the beginning and I suggest attending big book studies to get a better understanding of whats being read.
Why not start at the beginning? There is a lot of helpful information in the preface and the forewords.
I have a hunch the authors put the be beginning in the front of the book. Even the dust jacket contains important information. The preface contains information about the 44 personal stories. The foreword to the fist edition tells why the book was written.
You have a choice. You can get the information from it's source or from a guy that heard it from an guy that thinks it means....
I have seventy-four days sober and am thirty four years old. I have been giving this thing a shot since I was nineteen and still have struggled making any progress in my life. Sometimes I am so angry that I could murder someone, or take my own life. Most of my troubles have been with financial security and keeping a job. I have been locked up for drinking more than once. I seem to attract all of these people who like to party instead of people who want to do better and stay sober the rest of their life like I do. I can see others problems better than I can see my own. I wish my prayers would finally get somewhat answered and this bs would end. I am the only one who can change me and with help of a sponsor and home group things are getting better. I spend a lot of my time doing "KP" duty, cleaning up everyone else's messes. I am tired of feeling like I have been shit on and am ready to fight. Thank God I am sober today, and thanks AA.
When I am spiritually bankrupt, driven by one of the many "forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, self-pity," and obviously devoid of any gratitude what so ever, I do what has been suggested to me in the past that has worked: more AA 12 step meetings, more contact with other alcoholics (phone calls), and reaching out to the still sick and suffering alcoholic.
I had a day like that two weeks ago. I was laid off in November and I have been going to more meetings and doing more service work. I woke up one morning angry and discontented about my job situation, and I knew that I had to do something about it right away. I went to three meetings, made some phone calls and spoke at a treatment center. But the more time that I had to "think," the more I felt myself slipping back into self-pity, resentment, etc. But the action that I took made me feel safer and it gave me hope that tomorrow would be better.
When I am in a tight spot, nothing I can tell myself makes it any better; nor can I pray or meditate myself out of this jam. By myself, I am completely powerless over this "seemingly hopeless state of mind."
It is only by my positive action that I can keep myself away from that first drink. And what keeps me safe during this time is others. With the help of others I am restored to sanity. Much to my disappointment, this takes time. After nearly four years of sobriety, it takes a day or two, instead of a week or two. Before AA, this was a constant state of mind.
I don't like asking for help. I feel like a looser. I think that I am a big boy and I should be able to take care of myself and my problems. But the reality is, as I have learned over and over, it that I need help. I am often wrong in my thinking. AA has taught me a new way of living that I never dreamed possible.
Thank you everyone that shares and comments here. You are all part of my Higher Power that keeps me spiritually fit so that I don't need to drink to feel better. I love you all!
The BB says that resentment is the number one offender that destroys more alcoholics than anything else. It also says that anger is the dubious luxury of normal men but is poison for alcoholics. Thankfully, we have a solution in the steps, especially the 4th step, where we have the opportunity to identify and deal with the people, ideas, institutions, situations...that piss us off.
The practices and principles that are in the steps are the key to freedom, recovery and a life that is happy, joyous and free.
I would wish you the best. Give up cleaning up everyone's messes. Did you ever think that you may have a need to do that rather than face your own issues and needs? I think if you can stop worrying about others and take care of yourself; you'll find yourself in a better place. You must come first. We really can't take care of others until we tend to ourselves first. Good luck.
" I am the only one who can change me" is the only thought impossible for any of us to bear. The correct thought is out of faith that "God is the only is the only one who can change me". Keep waiting on Him and he will change us all.
There's an old story about a guy who passed a vacant lot on his daily walk. The lot was overgrown with weeds and full of trash. One day he decided to do something about it and began cleaning it up. Every day he worked, taking trash out, getting rit of weeds and planting flowers and bushes. Soon there was a pleasant garden where there had been trash. A preacher passed by and commented, "Brother, you and the Lord ahve really done wonders for this lot."
"Yees we have. But you should have seen it when the Lord had it to himself."
My sobriety would have been impossible without my Higher Power, but I had to do a heck of a lot of work, too.
Its a good day to be sober! Keep it simple. Stay in the day, and hours become days, and days become months, and months become years! you are doing good by recognizing the people, places, and things. I understand what your saying, and I surround myself with people in recovery. Keep fighting and dont give up 5 minutes before the miracle happens. You are a miracle at 74 day! God bless. Lisa
Every day, as time goes by I feel healthier,
Because I am alive and feel wealthier.
Each day brings new beginnings and happiness abound,
For it is my attitude and wife's support that keeps me sound.
I wake up each morning and say what do you want to do,
Drink or be sober, it's all up to you.
Nothing makes me happier than knowing the support of family, friends and the love of my life,
Because of this, there is no strife.
As time goes by I continue my sober streak,
Let it be known I am strong and not meek.
I live my life one day at a time,
Because of this I feel sublime.
Five O'Clock rolls around every day,
With a little voice saying "Isn't it time for a drink today?"
I ignore this voice and find something else to do,
Remain calm and strong so I do not stew.
There are times when I would like a drink,
It could happen in a blink of an eye and a wink.
Knowing this I must not succumb,
There's a lot more to life than a drink and being numb.
Five O'Clock moves into the night,
Without me drinking into a fright.
Now is the time to say goodnight,
Reaching for my higher power and ask for him to do me right.
Today is today, I'm ready to thrive,
For I am sober and feel alive.
I am ready to tackle whatever God brings,
For I am positive and ready to sing.
I live for today and only today,
I reach for my higher power and his way.
He will guide me with my plan,
Because he knows I am a sober man.
At the end of the day, he will say,
You should feel good that you didn't sway.
Now is the time to thank one and all,
For being there with support so I wouldn't fall.
Does your higher power have a lot to do with it, or is mainly you?
The AA groups continue to be my "go to" higher power after almost 4 years of continuous sobriety and spiritual fitness. My sobriety is not the direct product of myself. I have asked for help, worked the steps, and I help others. The rest is a gift. I believe that there are no guarantees.
An honest look at my life revealed that I couldn't control alcohol after drinking a small amount, I couldn't stay away from it and I denied the first two facts. When I started AA the group was a power greater than me. They could not only not drink, they could be happy about it. I stopped drinking. Since I had used alcohol to numb every bad feeling that ever came along, I was in trouble without it. What am I supposed to do when anger grows to rage, when fear becomes paralyzing? I came to believe that a Power Greater than me could and would provide me with some sanity. The rest of the steps followed.
To answer your question, it is an inseparable partnership that has kept me sober for more than the last half of my life. I have to apply some effort in using AA’s proven program of recovery and God picks up the rest.
My current version of a Higher Power (who I just read made 8.8 billion planets which can easily support life) wants for nothing. No money, no prayers, no praise, no spreading the word, no fasting, nothing. I ask for help and get it (in a form sometimes I don’t understand at the time). I was hung up on a God like a human authority figure – I will love you if…. With God there is no if. I practice it and feel it working. It answers almost all of my BIG questions. For me no other version of God comes even close.
Sobriety is a journey,
With alot at stake.
Just dwelling leads to relapse,
Which is a big mistake.
Knowing what is right and what is wrong,
This is key to make you strong.
The journey is a life-long ride,
Staying on board will give you pride.
The past is smoething I regret,
I have hurt some, I hope they will forgive and forget.
Today is for learning beyond all call,
If you don't learn, you will stall and fall.
Believing is key reaching for higher power,
Keep believing in every hour.
The journey is serious and for real,
You must be willing with all your zeal.
During your weakest hour, reach out to your higher Power.
Hi, I'm about 2 1/2 years sober. I love AA, but have been having a really hard time with one particular old-timer man in my home group lately. I'm admittedly a younger woman. My perception has been that the old-timer in question is often indirectly telling others how to work their program in his shares. For instance, a woman qualified on meditation, and he shared that he felt that she "wasn't doing it right". More often he will cross-talk in his shares indirectly, which leaves people wondering if he was actually talking to/about them or not. He's got so much wisdom and experience, but the way he talks to people, especially women( he seems to have more to say to women in the regard), is so irritating to me I find myself wondering if I should just find another home group. I think I should approach him about the issue, but I have the feeling he'd be pretty defensive and unfortunately I am not the most articulate especially around men. (Brought up by an extremely critical rage-aholic who often called me stupid) What to do? Be brave and take an action and let go of the results? Or just let my 4th step on him be enough and have patience and put the cotton in my mouth.
thanks for any suggestions!
Those prayers on page 67 and 552 are to help us to deal with people who aren't going to change. What is it in me that is not accepting them? I don't know but I have been saying those prayers for some people for years. Those prayers are reflex now.
This man has no wisdom about women, and limited experience on meditation so that is where he is coming from.
Many oldtimers do talk in meetings about how they did the steps....especially when they think it might be helpful.
Maybe you can find a way to avoid taking all this personally?
People are going to be who they are no matter how inconvenient it is for me.
Patience isn't the character defect that causes me to be irritated with people.
We deal with all the usual issues in our home group, including cross talk by bringing up the topic in a meeting or during our home group business meeting. I learned when taking a meeting into a local jail that the inmates had no concept of cross talk. They needed to be educated.
Nobody makes me feel angry or feel anything else. Sometimes I have unrealistic expectations of others that make me feel something. If I have my head on straight (which I don’t always) nobody can push my buttons. That is a direct result of my using Alcoholics Anonymous program of recovery. In fact we are promised this result.
Another vital piece of information; membership in AA is based on people’s liabilities not assets. At every meeting you likely hear “We are not saints...” It goes beyond well beyond that. “…some suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders…” I try to remember that when AA had only 100 members these were already prevalent enough to be included in the most important section of the Big Book. Then there are us “Regular” alcoholics described by a Dr Harry Tebot in “Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age” as “a narcissistic egocentric core, dominated by feelings of omnipotence, intent on maintaining at all costs its inner integrity.” WOW! There’s a curriculum vitae for a life coach.
If you only have one jerk like you speak of, you must have a small group! Have you thought in term of how much power we give someone that we resent? “He’s so awful, I’m going to a different group”. Like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. If our resentments surrender at step four, what do you suppose are the remain steps are for?
For years I said the serenity prayer and expected to be made fearless. Then I was shown that courage isn’t the lack of fear but doing the right thing in spite of it. If the sick person who you said raised you isn’t around any more, perhaps its time to quit minding them. Articulate can be accomplished in three words “Please shut up”.
My mother is in a constant losing battle with alcoholism. I understand this is a disease, I've been dealing with her problems my entire life. Sometimes the parent-child roles are even switched. I stayed home last night to make sure she didn't go anywhere and to make sure she was okay. She claims she's done with drinking but does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to help herself and keeps on buying alcohol. I am fed up with her adding fuel to my own problems. I cannot help someone who does not want to be helped but it feels like I'm abandoning her when I just want to help myself. I have my own clinical issues. I'm so lost. What should I do?
walk away and pray for here.
What I was told about my Dad: You did not cause his disease and you can't control or cure it. He would have to hit bottom and want help before anything could be done...and then he would have to do it himself. Release with love they told me. I love you and I let you face your life and your problems. Then I had to learn how to live without finding another sick puppy to take care of. Al Anon in the company of other family and friends of alkies helped me. The steps grew me up.
This is so hard. Alcoholism is a disease of the mind and body. There is nothing you can say or do that is stronger than the disease thinking. You did not cause it and you can't cure it.
Alcoholism affects family too. We put up with much more than normal craziness and abuse. Recovering from that is what puts family life back on a healthy basis. I can have a good life no matter what my crazy alcoholic does. That does not mean abandonment, but letting go with love. For me that meant saying, "I love you but you have to do that stuff where I can't see it."
Finding the courage to have a good life anyway is the deal for me. Learning to respect myself and my own natural needs wasn't easy. Letting go of guilt, shame and impossible responsibilities was a real grizzly bear.
But it was worth it, still is and Al-Anon and attending group counseling for family of alkies are what helped me.
I never could have done it alone.
I have no advise. I have had some experience and witnessed the experience of others in your shoes.
I got help. Thousands and thousands of people in your shoes got help.
I'm reminded of a line from the film "The Exorcist". Just before going in for the exorcism the old priest tells the young one "Don't listen to a word it says". He didn't say "Don't believe" and he didn't say "her". In her case it was a demon doing the talking, for an alcoholic the disease has taken over and is doing the talking.
AL anon uses the same twelve step recovery program as AA. We are powerless over the alcohol clouding someone else's mind.
Some good work was done in the '80's and since on enabling. I don't want someone to drink so I don't help the alcoholic drink. On the other hand I take over their problems so they don't suffer the consequences that might be painful enough to get their attention and lead them to recovery.
Never been to an AA meeting on my own accord. My local meeting says its a "Closed Grapevine Discussion." What exactly does that mean? I can't really find an answer. My thoughts is, it isn't open to new comers, and is some sort of private "closed" to public ~ members only deal. Sorry im confused. I would like to find out ASAP. The local meeting is tonight & only 1 mile from my house. Thank You...
The meeting is open to Alcoholics only . No family, friends, overeaters etc.
It's open to anyone that thinks there alcoholic. Go to the meeting.
Hope you got an answer to your question and made the meeting, but here is my take on your question. Closed meetings are for those who think they might have a problem with alcohol, which of course would include newcomers. Thus, you would not run into anyone at such a meeting other than those who have admitted they have a problem with alcohol or those who think they might aren't quite sure. Another way of putting it, using the language of tradition 3, is that a closed meeting is for anyone who has a desire to stop drinking, even if only for a day. There is probably a pamphlet discussing this issue available on the AA worldwide website.
Your statement would not be accurate in my neck of the woods. We are currently averaging 40-50% court mandated attendees in our "closed" meetings. A severe lack of "open" meetings coupled with local judges that "sentence" anyone who has had a drink and been arrested to AA meetings has resulted in a situation where it is impossible to follow the NY GSO guideline on "Cooperating with the Courts" which clearly states that court mandated attendees should be sent to "open" meetings.
Simple fix. at the next group conscience meeting pass a motion that your group will no longer sign court slips. people who are attending for a signature will take up space somewhere else.
I have also seen groups that sign slips at the beginning so those who are not willing can leave.
Let's remember that AA is not for everyone, it's for those who "need" and "want" it, not just need it!
I have signed a lot of attendance slips and would probably
do so again. But you do offer a simple fix. This issue
ought to be resolved by our General Service Board of trustees. A general notice to "everyone" that Alcoholics
Anonymous no longer will sign attendance slips. I don't
believe that courts can mandate AA attendance any more
than it can mandate a client to attend church. But I still
see the slips being signed. As another poster explained,
the attendance slips have very little value.
If our AA fellowship is attractive enough, and those
who need it are offered it, I believe that most will
want it. What suffering alcoholic could refuse a new life.
All gso will do is say GSO will not sign a slip. GSO simply shares experience through advisory actions, conference approved liturature, and archival material. It's up to each group to decide these matters. GSO has no power over any group. The most drastic action they have is to remove a group from the GSO list. Even then it's up to the district or area to have that same group listed in their meeting lists.
You are absolutely right. September 2007, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that a parole office can be sued for ordering a parolee to attend AA that it has enough of a religious component that the government requiring AA attendence violates the First amendment. But judges either ignore it or work around it. Nobody made us their bosses (except at the polls) and the Federal court hasn’t designated us their enforcers.
On the other hand the General Service Board is not empowered to issue any edicts. Every AA group is at the top of the chain of command. The GSB is there to serve not govern. The entire structure that has been working surprisingly well for decades would have to be scrapped to implement your suggestion.
AA started with members in far worse shape than those with papers needing signatures MOVED INTO BILL AND DR BOBS’ HOMES AND RELAPSIING AND TEARING THINGS UP. It’s most unfortunate that scratching your name on a piece of paper is such an imposition on you.
I sign papers with a smile. Any I’ve seen don’t require me to attest to anything. Sometimes I’m lazy and ask the person to fill out most of it and I scribble on a signature, fill in the club or my home number if they want it. Seen papers with a dozen entries with the applicant’s name left blank. I jokingly tell them if they don’t fill it in, I’ll put my name on it and get the credit.
Along with signing I frequently give a spiel like this to any of the visitors who haven’t heard it before.
“I’m happy to sign whatever this is to meet your simple personal request. I don’t know who its for and I don’t care. The sign on the wall over there says we’re not affiliated with anybody. That means we don’t have anything to do with probation or parole, the courts, your employer or your mom. You haven’t showed me any ID, I don’t know who you are and I don’t care but I’m glad you’re here if you’ve gotten in trouble with alcohol. If I did know your name, I still wouldn’t tell anybody you ever came here. The sign on the wall says that too and it’s easy to remember because half of our name is Anonymous isn’t it? If you look, you will also see that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. It is not required for anyone to sit in here for sixty minutes if they don’t want to. Here’s your paper, have a seat, head to the bar or go enjoy the day.” The rare few that have taken me up on it have offered the most apologetic, embarrassed explanation of how they really need to be somewhere else. I explain that I believe them and repeat how they aren’t hurting my feelings and we’ll get along fine without them. They nod the next time I see them. They have a friend. I hope they never run across anyone in AA that takes pride in doing less.
Your share was wonderful, and has caused me to rethink my feelings on slip singing. This is why I keep coming, listening, and exploring all areas of the program that help me grow. Thank you and the Grapevine Share page.
A simple fix to miss the miracles.
First of all,thank you for any input.I am isolated,having moved from another state.I have no family support,no health insurance.I am also bi-polar,and have periods of depression so severe that I sometimes can't get out of bed.I have been going to meetings since June,but because of my ever changing work schedule, cannot establish a home group,or get to know a potential sponsor(which I truly want).I feel I need detox,rehab SOMETHING to get me started. Any thoughts? Are these excuses? Delusional thinking? I am more than ready to quit my job to go into detox. If I get release from alcohol dependence,I have much to offer others. THANKS!
Many members are bipolar as well as alcoholic, so you are not alone. Many people self-medicate that illness with alcohol and street drugs.
I am remembering that my thinking and decision making wasn't all that good when I was still drinking.
I hope you are being given a chance to speak at meetings so that you can ask people to help you figure this out. There are probably people who would be willing to be a temporary sponsor. Choose someone with a lot of time in step work.
With the new health care system, I don't know what your situation is or whether your company allows sick leave. Couldn't your doctor or therapist make suggestions about how to go about this without necessarily blowing your confidientiality at work?
Also there are online AA groups that you can communicate with any time of day or night. I sponsored a woman out in Australian bush for 5 months until her job took her back in town. So you might find that the stability you need would be a combo of online and someone live to sponsor.
If you can pray, I'd suggest that you think about saying something to your Higher Power.. something like " Please? I am so sick and confused and I NEED your help here to get sober because I can't do this on my own. Please help me." If you don't have a Higher Power that will help you, talk to mine. Mine doesn't care what you call it and just loves everybody.
call in sick to work, check into detox so you don't die during alcohol withdrawal, call the local AA hotline and ask for a sponsor to take u to meeting and work the steps with you. good luck, if u stay desprate, u will have no problem working the 12 steps and recovering. to a life better than you have ever known!
If you have been diagnosed bipolar by a professional, but are not following with anyone, you need to. Usually there are social service agencies that can help find a professional and an agency to help pay for any meds you might need. As for detox, if you are actively drinking to extent that you are likely to suffer serious withdrawal if you stop (DT's, seizures, etc.), then detox is a good idea (or hospitalization). Remember, people can die from withdrawal from alcohol. I was lucky in that regard, others not so much. Good luck.