Burning Desire to Share
I know I've read in AA literature somewhere a Doctor (Tebot?) stated that after working with thousands of alcoholics that he found that they had three traits in common; self centered, impatient, and a low tolerance for frustration.
Can anybody tell me where I saw this? I really need to know right away because I'm frustrated and it's very important to me.
I suggest you might find what you are looking for in "Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age", Appendix E:b, pages 309-319 "THERAPEUTIC MECHANISM OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS" by Harry M. Tiebout,M.D. "..Characteristic of the so-called typical alcoholic is a narcissistic ego-centric core, dominated by feelings of omnipotence, intent on maintaining at all costs its inner integrity. While these characteristics are found in other maladjustments, they appear in relatively pure culture in alcoholic after alcoholic. In a careful study of a series of cases, Sillman recently reported that he felt he could discern the outlines of a common character structure among problem drinkers and that the best terms he could find for the group of qualities noted was "defiant individuality" and "grandiosity.." How right the doctors are, we should listen to them more.
The three words you are searching for are childish, emotionally sensitive, and grandiose. Look at the bottom of pg 122 and top of 123 in your 12x12 to find this.
Dr. Harry M. Tiebout, M.D. was a psychiatrict who worked at Blythewood Mental Hospital. Please read Appendix E in the book AA comes of Age and purchase the pamphlet King Baby that was also written by him. It is obvious he understands the alcoholic and was paramount in our recovery. Truly a remarkable man who is an important part of AA's history.
Hope this helps you and always keep asking questions.
in service and appreciation,
Please read p. 311 in "AA Comes of Age" for the doctor's exact - and scathing - definition of an alcoholic.
Alcoholics are very strange people. Their activities and
symptoms are indeed baffling. What is even more strange is
the method with which they can recover. The remedy is
almost impossible to understand. Even more incredible is
that it does not have to be understood to be effective.
All we need to do is follow some simple rules. One is never
to talk down to an prospect from any spiritual plateau. Another is never tell an alcoholic what to do. Let the book tell him/her what they can do . We, who are recovered/recovering
simply tell the next alcoholic our own story, exactly what
has happened to us, without saying: well, if you want
what I have, then you will have to do what I did. Or
even worse, you will have to do what I tell you to
do, ie. follow my instructions/directions.
Study and understand the preceeding paragraph. It will
be a step in returning A.A. to an acceptable success
Like some of the other pleasurable things in life,
if we do not know what we are doing (do not know
the proper technique). we will seldom get the desired
results. Sometimes, maybe, but usually we fail. If
we know the proper technique, and follow it to the
letter and the spirit, we will rarely fail to get
the desired results. ANONYMOUS
And please buy the book: Alcoholics Anonymous Comes
of Age, a brief history of A.A. And The Language of The
Heart. Buy them and read them. They are loaded with
vital information. Important then and now. Rose
A few years ago I moved from the NYC area to a new state far away. I was sad to leave my home group being a member for 9 years. I went on speaking commitments, made coffee, volunteered for chairing, and took meetings into treatment centers and jails. I was looking forward to going to AA in a new place and becoming active again. After attending all the meetings in this small town, I noticed there seemed to be a social hierarchy among the members. Where I got sober everyone was considered an equal and the members with the most time didn’t separate themselves from the newcomers.
But, here it was obvious the ones at the bottom feared the ones at the top. Of course the ones at the top had the alpha-dog mentality. They would intimidate people and correct them after their shares. Many of the groups also chanted the 12-steps out loud which seemed creepy to me. I was waiting for everyone to hold hands and sway to a round of Kumbaya. Over the next couple of months, as I continued to share my experience, the ones at the top started a subtle hostility campaign against me. Thank goodness I could call my old sponsor back east. The same group of guys would make comments under their breaths while I talked and some would laugh out loud after I shared something sincere. At one meeting these two guys would make odd Para-language sounds trying to disrupt my train of thought. Once a guy yelled, “You aren’t really sober; I haven’t heard you mention God or prayer. Don’t come here and waste our time with that east coast therapy psycho-babble.” I didn’t know what he was talking about. I had never been in therapy. Just when I was going to give up and stop going to meetings here, an older gentleman approached me and said, “Look, don’t take them seriously. Those guys in there hate you and do you know why? You remind them their pontifications are full of hot air and have no substance. When it comes down to it, they can’t negotiate the split in their heads between “We’ve been giants of sobriety in this area for 25-40 years but, how’d it come to be we live in hated.” This guy was so helpful. He moved from California. We eventually formed a men’s group and people started showing up. I guess those dinosaurs had their day in the sun but times have changed. The men who started coming to our group wanted substance and not endless preaching and cornball rituals.
Sorry you are experincing the dificluties with your relocation. This is a very common problem I have heard with moving into and out of the NY area. Keep looking for a "Great" group that you are comfortable with and is worthy of your membership. Join, get a sponsor, get a job and get involved.
Chillin in Costa Rica
Why does Alcoholic Anonymous say we are beyond human aid over and over as stated in chapter 5's- 3 pertinent ideas, Doctors opinion, Bills story and most of all live then we run to sponsors to help us? Is this the insanity or death they speak of sober ?
Because they didn't know any better at the time. We have more insight about addiction and recovery today and more evidence to support the assertion that belief in a religious god is not necessary to bring about sobriety and a new way of life. I personally have seen people get sober without god and live fruitful lives in AA, so I feel that statement is irrevelant in today's recovery world. Because AA was created in a Christian dominated society, it can't escape the trappings of that thinking. I was raised in a Buddhist society and my recovery reflects that philosophy.
I believe anyone can recovery in AA with or without god as long as they apply spiritual principals in their lives.
Sponsor's job is to help the sponsee work the 12 steps.
The 12 steps are designed "to help you find a power greater than yourself that will solve your problem".
Good question thanx for asking.
Hi, You forgot to write the word "probably" before "no human power" From my experience, there is plenty of human power in the rooms today. The earlier members would change their position on that statement because we know thousands of people are getting sober today purely on human power within the rooms of AA. I am one of them. People who rely on human power will find the same quality sobriety as those whose power comes from outer space or other dimensions.
Also, I think you might find the sponsorship pamphlet helpful. Thanks
I've seen only one avowed atheist in the rooms I go to, and he claims to have many years sober, which I have no right or reason to dispute. But the few times I've heard this man share, there is one thing that stands out to more than one person. There is no sparkle in his eyes like many of the rest of us have. There is no joy or happiness in his voice or demeanor. There is standoffish-ness on his part, not wanting to be a part of the group. There's others who don't want to be a part of a group, but they don't seem to have a troubled and tormented soul or inner spirit as this person outwardly projects. He just always seems in a sad state. So maybe you can get sober and stay sober without acknowledging a power greater than yourself, but at what cost?
Whether a person has the light in their eyes has nothing to do with whether they believe or not believe. Some of the most spiritual and happiest people I have met in AA have been people who don't believe in a formal god but, apply the principals to their lives. We should pay attention to the lack of light in our own eyes. Judging every single non-believer based on this one guy is not good science. This kind of thinking just doesn't fly well. I was taught that we are all equal alcoholics in AA and to respect others beliefs or non-beliefs. When I walk on water than I will judge the person who can't. Anonymous
I agree with that share. What would AA look like if the word "Probably" was not attached to "..no human power?"
AA would be a totalitarian outfit of religious zealots.
Instead we are a diverse group of suffering alcoholics trying to stay sober. I learned from my sponsor by watching his actions. He was open-minded and was friends with everyone in our group despite their religious preferences. He even liked the new-agers and atheists. I remember him saying which, some other posts have said that sobriety will come from our actions not our sermonizing. Thanks Anonymous
I don’t know because I never read it and honestly, there’s plenty of other kinds of wisdom in the rooms which has brought about the good life for me and something I’ve always wanted. Our sponsors may have too much influence over us in our infant AA days and mine told me not to read it. He said something like, “There's not much in that book except outdated language, Christian morals and conversion philosophy."
He also explained it couldn’t keep me sober but, I could sure impress the babes in our home group.” He was just that way. Today, I laugh out loud when some people in my group wave the big book in the air when sharing. They resemble preachers on Sunday quoting pages spitting out fire and brimstone sermons. I find this approach bizarre and totally inappropriate for AA. I can see the newcomers are freaked out as well. Despite my lack of feeling towards the big book, I’m not blind. I see it’s a security blanket for many and I always offer the book to newcomer if asked. One of the three people I sponsor likes it and I support him. The others are unassuming agnostics. The one that reads it understands the big book is not the end all of recovery but, just a start. The earlier members where humble enough to admit they knew just a little.
Do whatever you want to do. I think that's why God gave us free will. I chose the tools spelled out in the Big Book and have had every single one of the promises fulfilled. If you join the Boy Scouts be a scout. If you join the Marine Corp be a Marine. If you join a photography club be a photographer. If you join AA read and follow label directions just like any other endeavor. You can sit in our chairs, drink our coffee but you aren't one of us if you don't, are you? Eagles don't flock. AA chairs are full of chickens who won't take the risk it takes to soar. What have you got to lose?
I sponsored an atheist for 2 years and I must say I am so grateful for him. What I had learned was my recovery was built on a house of cards while he was developing a solid foundation in his own terms. I was bogged down with AA rules, dogma, and rituals.
I was trying to be the “big man” in my group and he was sincerely searching for truth. I spent my whole recovery memorizing books and studying everything to death.
One day, I listened to him share at a meeting and realized his recovery had flown right by mine. It was time to let him go. Eventually we became close friends. We are in our sober teens now. He’s found a support group of non-believer AA members and I’ve learned to tone down my act and listen to the minority opinion. My life is so much better today because of that sponsorship experience. Greg O.
Awesome share, Greg. Am new to the program, and currently going through the "foundation of the program" with my new sponsor. I've learned a great lesson from you. By the way, I did not know there could be AA group who are composed of non-believers? It's my understanding that there's "a" solution, not 2 or 3 or 344 etc. - God or Higher Power of one's understanding. Best wishes to that group, and your teen group! ~ Deo K.
1. phrase spoken repeatedly by crowd: a phrase or slogan repeatedly and rhythmically spoken, often with a simple singsong intonation, especially in unison by a crowd or group
2. something spoken monotonously or repetitiously: a monotonous or repetitive song or intonation of the voice
3. music for religious text: a set of words or syllables sung on the same note, or a single word or syllable sung on a series of notes. Chants are used in psalms, canticles, and other parts of some religious services.
4. hymn or prayer sung as chant: a psalm, prayer, or other religious text sung as a chant
* I like saying my name and having the 'response' of 'Hello' by the group. I never thought of that as a chant. It's my way of introducing myself and of having the group acknowledge my presence. I do see how it could be seen in a negative way, however.
* What I do not like that two of the small local groups that I have attended is the practice of 'chanting' out loud the 12 steps along with the person who is saying those steps at the beginning of the meeting. I appreciate what has been said here and will bring this issue to our group business meeting to do what it takes to discourage this practice. I can think of a dozen reasons to not do this. Thank you for your thought provoking comments.
When I make this statement: "My name is Joe and I am an
alcoholic", I am doing the first half of the first step. The
silly Hi Joe! chant appeared in the Northeast around 1980.
My friend calls it silly; I call it stupid. It makes us look
like idiots in the eyes of the public, and harms A.A. as
The statement is also part of the fifth step, admitting
to other human beings that I am an alcoholic. It never
was meant to be a greeting or salutation.
Chanting in any form must be removed from A.A.
activities. Leave this ritual to cults and religious sects.
I'm an AA "loner" for half the year. Work 3 weeks every day 12hour (often longer!) shifts then fly down south home for 3 weeks off. Almost 2 years ago I was working same rotation but in Nunavut. Very remote project. I had asked the mine manager if I could use a room for an AA meeting and he let me know. I put posters up around camp. Every Wednesday I was in camp I'd sit with my literature and Grapevine on my ipad. I'd sit there from 8-930ish then leave. No one ever came but it was ok. I heard folk joking around work about the AA meeting. About AA being a cult or whatever but that wasn't bothering me. In fact, I really enjoyed having the time to sit and read.
I'm at a different mine now. Northwest Territories. 3 weeks in. 3 weeks out. A very different set up. Even though technically I am working 12 hour shifts - I'm salary and often I will have to go underground on night shift - for at least a couple of hours. My sponsor suggested that I start a meeting here like I did at my last job but there are a lot of things that I'm struggling with.
One: the only room that I would be able to use is locked at night - it would be very difficult to get a key - not impossible - but would involve a LOT of people knowing why and needing to know who (i.e. me) has the key etc.
Two: even though I technically work 5am to 5pm - really it can vary up to 11pm and not in regular predictable ways. I also have to get up for work at 345am so staying up late is extremely hard but the room I might be able to use would only be free after 630pm.
Three: I work with folk who are - mostly good guys (some girls!). But a lot who are really just like 5 year olds. I've only been here 7months but its shocking how much gossip and rumours fly around and affect people. Hearing people judge others based on rumours.
Three Part B: If I was to put up a poster where I work now I GUARANTEE people would show up - but not to participate - they'd just want to see who is there then the rumour mill would go.
Four: Since I know it will be IMPOSSIBLE (if you'd met our mine manager you'd understand why) to keep my anonymity as an AA member. Its not that I would mind the medic or managers knowing. Not really. Its that I've experienced and seen the inability of many of them to not talk about people and peoples' problems which in turn ends up all over.
Five: I would like to remain fairly anonymous. Not just for myself and my work relationships - but also because there are days - well usually moments - when I'm not 100% spiritual. Luckily I can go through the steps - you know the daily step 10 and deal with the situations quickly without making a mess but having no anonymity concerns me because I dont want AA to look bad.
I know some of these reasons are selfish and self-centred. I know there are many nights when I can barely keep my eyes open or body moving past 6pm! Or when I quit at 5pm and I'm so exhausted I dont even eat. How do I force myself to stay awake long enough to be responsible for opening a meeting every week that I am here? I dont want people I work with directly or indirectly knowing I'm an AA member. There are some that it really wouldn't bother me at all. Many that it would not be ok. Judgement, taunting, blah, blah that I just dont think I want to have to deal with.
Then my sponsor suggested that I am not willing to go to any lengths. Maybe he is right. But the word "any" means good and bad - right? I've brought in back issues of AA Grapevines and put them in common areas. Some never move - some have - some have "disappeared".
I've spoken one on one with some folk who are trying to get sober or have been sober. Its tough to find a private area to talk so conversations are brief. There are many who know I dont drink which I dont care if they know or not.
By not finding some way to set up and commit to an AA meeting (even if its only during the 3 weeks I'm in camp) - does that mean that I am not willing to go to any lengths?
I would say don't do it all yourself, if you have others who want to attend the meeting then the group should be working on starting a meeting. If you are at a work site then security can unlock doors at certain times. Again it sounds like you are directing the show. It will happen if it is supposed to. I'm not saying it will be easy or alot of work or effort, but the group should be doing it not just one person. I wish you lots of luck and I hope it all works out for the group. The meetings should take place with or without you, you are just another AA member. I would think the company's interest is served by supporting your efforts. God Bless and thank you!
I'm coming up on 33 years sobriety, many of them overseas without meetings to go to or any interest by others to attend. When I came back to the States I was usually surrounded by people who had 20 or 30 meetings to choose from that were attended by 20 to 60 people -- and because of this limited experience of theirs they would insist it was the only way.
I think attending meetings online, participating in the 'Loner' program, and being attentive to any opportunity to have a conversation with anyone in trouble with drinking is the way you can stay sober in such circumstances. 'Any two persons joined together in sobriety constitute a meeting' is what it says in foundational AA material. Genuine effort is what matters -- not mindless banging your head against the wall.
The biggest danger is to make sure you're not 'sponsoring yourself' and staying in contact with your higher power. Humility seems to be the first thing to go so you must guard it.
It sounds to me like you made more than a reasonable effort. Sometimes the landscape is truly empty of those needing 12-step attention. In cases such as that, remember the other part of the 12th step that calls upon us to 'practice these principals in all our affairs' and seek to help others in more general ways by being a 'worker among workers' and similar.
I can think of plenty of times where there were no alcoholics to work with (and none that I should 'insist' were alcoholics) -- but I can say that I continued seeking to help others. I shoveled snow, stacked crates, took care of pets, ran messages and other things and they all helped me live every day the way I think is spoken of in the 12th step.
I have been in and out of these rooms for 15+ plus years. This last time around I lost my job and decided to go back into treatment on my own and really listen to what was being said. For some reason GOD has allowed it to click in my mind this time around. I was told to do what the program and the treatment center suggest that I do, go to meetings, get a sponser, and do service work. Well I feel I have and will keep doing these things to the best of my ability for today. One day at a time. Not only has God and this program help me get my sanity back, but has allowed me to get back on my feet. No I have not been able to find a job, but God has provided for me. And for that I am grateful. What I dont understand is that it should not be this easy for me I feel sometimes. and I am scared. I have been able to deal with life on life terms, it has not been all roses, but I have not had to drink or use over anything. I dont know what to do about these feelings, so I am just putting them out there. I was told to KISS it (KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID). And that works for me. Im just scared that all. I was told that you get out of this program what you put into it, but it does not seem I am putting enough into it,because it is so easy. I talk to my sponser daily, go to 1 to 2 meetings a day, help out where ever I can, and call people or answer the phone hoping it is someone on the other end that can help me or I can help them.I feel sometimes that there is something else that I need to be doing. Hopefully it is just a feeling that shall pass.
Good luck to you. I feel another important thing to remember is to keep an open mind. I noticed you spelled the word God passionately with all uppercased letters (GOD)
In my recovery, God is spelled with lowercase letters(god)which stands for goodness, openmindedness and discipline.
We are all looking for salvation from our misery when we enter the rooms. Some find it with (GOD); others (god)and others still with nothing at all. Some look to the heavens to be saved, some look within to save themselves. Many members especially on this site fight over which is the right path. In my own experience, the (GOD) path only added to the misery and after a few years of not feeling better in AA, I threw in the towel and followed the(god) path. Soon my whole life changed. I discovered I was strong enough to take responsiblity for my own sobriety without (GOD). One thing I had to accept was I really wasn't a believer in (GOD). I was trying to fake it to fit in. I just couldn't wait around for the miracle to happen because my life was falling apart in sobriety and I never saw one in the first place. That being said I hope your(GOD)brings you salvation and my (god) continues to deliver ace's. The rooms are big enough for everyone.
If it seems like things are too easy I think maybe that's what God wants. Remember God don't make mistakes we work hard for our sobriety he knows what we are able to handle and would never put on us what we cant carry.
I think you are doing a lot of great things that will help you live a sober life. All of those things are very important for me to do as well.
The one thing that keeps me doing the things you mention is to get on my knees in the morning to thank God that I woke up sober, and to ask Him to direct my thoughts and actions for the day.
Then at night I get on my knees and say a prayer of gratitude for keeping me sober that day and for other specific blessings He has provided me.
When I do this I stay sober, and I experience peace, love and happiness even when things aren't going so well.
- Mike S.
Thank-you for gratitude and directing my thoughts and actions for the day. Even when things are not going well for that moment or during the day I do slow it down and just for this moment I do say thanks.
Whoa! I can identify with this author, as I am currently going through very similar journey. Like, feeling like I'm not doing enough. What is so relieving is that when I get into this kind of situation (and it happens many times on daily basis), I simply escape to the "present moment." And I indeed keep hearing myself saying to myself, Relax! And do keep it simple, stupid. There and then I look at exactly my surroundings - like trees swaying, no major disaster or anything ... not even close to what is currently bothering my mind. And I'm like, Whheeew! Yeaaaa! It's indeed a wonderful day! HA!
Sounds like a great start. Your willingness to go to any lengths, I believe is the reason it seems too easy. That is why surrender is so important. Before I surrendered, I felt I could do it myself. When I fully conceded that I was powerless over alcohol, the recovery program outlined in the big book became very simple.
What can be frightening is that we all know that alcohol is cunning, baffling, and powerful to an alcoholic. Sometimes as our ego rejuvenates itself after our admission of complete defeat we begin to get thoughts of letting up on the spiritual program of action as outlined in our book. That’s when it is so important to remember we only have a daily reprieve from alcohol, contingent on our spiritual (not religious) condition.
Remember worry is like a rocking chair, it keeps me busy, but I don’t get very far. Some worry does have a purpose. When we have no fear or worry, that’s when I know I’m in ego trouble.
Good luck to you in your recovery and sobriety!
"I was told to do what the program and the treatment center suggest that I do, go to meetings, get a sponser, and do service work."
"I feel sometimes that there is something else that I need to be doing."
What they told you to do will work for a while. On pages 39 and 40 of the 12712 it says,"More sobriety brought about by the admission of alcoholism and by attendance at a few meetings is very good indeed, but it is bound to be a far cry from permanent sobriety and a contented, useful life. That is just where the remaining steps of the A.A. program come in."
Dust off your Big Book and don't just read it, use it.
i got 14 days, got god, got to sleep better, got an appetite, can drink water . i thank god every morning for simply allowing me to wake up. thats huge.im alive.then i thank him for everything.absoloutley everything.life is so beautiful when your not dead. a.a., god, and the fellowship are saving my life.im in a.a. for life. because death is no longer an option.
keep it up!
keep the gratitude every morning and find amazement and blessings whenever you feel like everything is bad or hard or people are mean or whatever.
I also am concerned about some of the ways that AA meetings have changed over the years since 1984. I do not enjoy cross-talk or chanting to name a few. I, too, support the idea of starting new meetings, expressing my opinions when called upon to share. I encourage people to work for change through their GSRs, Intergroup, DCMC, etc.
I wonder if holding "underground" meetings, which would be identified as AA would be in keeping with the 12 Traditions that we all hold so dear? It is a daily struggle to not become a "bleeding deacon" and to uphold the purpose of our life saving gift from on high. Just a thought....Mary Anne B.
Hi Mary Anne B, and ANONYMOUS and all the other folks who are concerned at the way AA is going:
Why don't you just start your own meetings where chanting is not allowed, or holding hands, or saying the lords prayer, or reading How it Works, or whatever else you object to? If they are more effective, people will flock to them and stay sober in them, right?
I used to go into the local jail at least twice a month. The inmates run their own meetings every week but outside speakers (like me) come in sometimes. At these meetings they chant lustily; they read lots of readings; they don't say but SHOUT the Lord's Prayer. There is much more ritual than at the meetings I ordinarily attend. It doesn't make a bit of difference. I have never felt more spiritually connected then when I am attending one of those meetings.
I was clean and sober for nearly 10 years. Met someone out of the program who rarely drank, but guess what, I rarely drank with him until NOW, I'm a problem. I worked through the steps twice and healed so much that even today I reap the benefits--it was like free therapy that worked out my personal issues. The problem is, that now I drink and can't stop at one. I'll do what I consider to be great--only 3 drinks 2 or 3 times a week, but let's face it, I want more and I struggle not to so that my husband doesn't get upset.I know that the program works--but it totally doesn;t work for my relationship because I was in the program when I met my husband and he doesn't get it--the bonds and deep empathy that we have for one another. In addition, my 9 year boyfriend ended up overdosing while I was in recovery and his friends were all over me. I don;t want to be around sickness and I know I can choose who I look to for support--but I can't stand to be in a room full of people that are so full of crap and really don't want to change---just stay clean and sober. By the way, I'm a social worker and I'm around messed up people all the time--want to escape but be well.
To me the most troubling part about your post is that there is no indication that alcohol has stopped working for you. Most of us have had horrific consequences from drinking, me and many others from the very beginning. That stops non-alcoholics in there tracks but not us. We try a thousand work-arounds to out-smart the disease. Prisons are running over with the results of our creative solutions and we count the days to do it again. Then the day comes, if we’re still alive, that alcohol stops working. I don’t know when it happened. I only saw it in the rear view mirror. I stopped getting the relief, the joy, the buzz, the fix, the whatever it was that made me feel whole. I continued for years going through the motions not getting the result. Repeating behavior, expecting different results. I believe that’s called insanity in some circles. It wasn’t until this realization, after I joined AA that the door had closed behind me, that there was no going back to anything I could possibly want that gave me the motivation to go forward.
Have you indeed been there? As a yardstick, you might compare the result of your ten years attending AA with the vital spiritual experience described in chapter two. When you are ready for a solution you will no longer be interested in the wardrobe of the others in the lifeboat.
You followed the directions in the Big Book and tried some more controlled drinking. You seem to be finding out what many of us have. Drinking a small amount of alcohol sets up a compulsion. When this happens our priorities change. Our thinking changes. Drinking more than we pledged, promised, committed to or thought becomes unimportant.
You can keep doing what you are doing keeping in mind that if you are like us, any control you have had in the past will diminish or disappear, drinking and resulting problems will escalate.
You can stop taking the first drink and deal with the resulting feelings. Many of us have found the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous effective in that.
Two axioms I have always found to be true:
I can't think my way to right living but I can live my way to right thinking.
If drinking is causing a problem it is going to get worse.
I stopped drinking thirty three years ago. On the rare occasions something triggers a thought about drinking, a knee jerk reaction immediately recalls the sound of a utility pole ripping my car apart waking me up. I was using my very best thinking that night to limit my drinking and stay out of trouble. Of course that didn't stop me. It didn't come close to stopping me. But AA did.
It is a dilemma how to stop rituals (i.e. chanting) that have crept into AA meetings over the years. Entrenched for so long, they will be difficult but not impossible to reverse. It will take time.
The problems started at the individual and group levels and that is where they must be solved. Members need to recognise and accept problems exist and make long term commitments to take whatever action necessary to solve the problems. I believe the survival of Alcoholics Anonymous is at stake. This solution is no different than personal recovery; action is the word.
I would like to thank the anonymous member for the idea of chanting louder than everyone else to make the point how senseless, silly and stupid chanting is and the poor public image (cultism) it gives groups and AA as a whole. I think I will try your suggestion. For special effect I might even delay my chant until the group chant is finished. I’m sure the practice will give me a wonderful feeling of self- importance and terminal uniqueness which is probably the reason chanting started in the first place. If you can’t beat them, join them.
Try not stating your name when asked to share at meetings. Some will surely chant, "who are you" or "Hi Mike" to remind me to state who and what I am. Remind them AA is an anonymous program and I don't need to introduce myself but will consider stating my step 1 and step 5 if they do not chant my name. If nothing else it should get them thinking about the problem.
Before doing the above I should consider trying the following suggestions first. Attend my home group business or inventory meeting and make a motion the group draft meeting guidelines that discourage these practices. Meeting guidelines could address a long list of issues other than chanting including; non AA literature, readings, prayer, prayer circles, other drugs, religion, eating disorders, smoking, etc. etc. Read the group guidelines at the beginning of every meeting. Although we can’t force members to comply, we can ask them to cooperate by respecting our group conscience and guidelines.
Hold group and district workshops on Sponsorship and Chairing meetings. Sponsors need to know what to teach newcomers as it pertains to what AA is and what it is not. Group members chairing meetings need to know group conscience on the issues of the day in order to handle them appropriately when they arise during meetings.
Whenever possible allow only group members to chair your meetings. We can't expect non- members to know our group conscience and meeting guidelines and how we want our meetings conducted.
If your home group is unwilling to make changes to resolve these issues it is time to join or start another group that will. Also attend and support only meetings that are committed to eliminating practices that threaten AA unity, growth and personal recovery. As a last resort hold underground meetings at your homes by invitation only. This will ensure that attendance is limited to those willing to keep their AA simple, humble and back to basics.
Do not hesitate to state your truths at meetings. AA is a fellowship that goes to great lengths to protect and respect minority opinions. I believe the views I express and those in agreement are definitely in the minority.
Take the time to write your concerns to the Grapevine, area newsletters and other AA related online web sites. Talk to your GSR, DCM, area service reps and GSO to express your concerns about the issues today that you believe threaten our lifesaving and life giving fellowship.
Bill W. stated if AA fails it will do so from within. In short we can destroy ourselves unless we are willing to go to any lengths to preserve AA's Steps, Traditions and Concepts.
The temporary good is always the enemy of the permanent best.
Hi Mike, I like the rituals. It gives me security and order out of the chaos in which I crawled away from. If you don't like them why not work on your sobriety more and stay out of the politics. That's what I do when I get caught up in things. You may encounter a stronger piece of mind.
When I hear people like you share I pray for you. I hope your higher power helps you see your shortcomings as mine does to me and bring resolve to this issue that is tearing away at your sobriety. I know in my last group the agnostics out numbered us and voted out the rituals. A bunch us left and started a new group where we like to chant, save the Lords prayer, hold hands and light candles. God Bless and Keep Comin' Back
Could not agree more with your post. I am seeing folks introduce themselves as "addicts" at closed meetings and being called on to share. I bought (100) copies of "Problems Other Than Alcohol" and put them in all of the local meeting halls. Cannot find any of them in any of the literature racks today but still hear folks from the other program coming to "my" meetings.
Thanks Mike, for the message. I too believe that changes
(reversals) can be made. When I began this challenge five
years ago, I had no idea it would be so difficult. But the
alcoholic EGO is very powerful thing. I innocently wrote
to my area delegate, explaining my concerns, thinking I
would "start at the top". I was sharply criticized for
even suggesting that A.A. was in trouble. And that was
after my third letter. I have written numerous (over 30)
letters to the Grapevine with copies to GSO, Box 459,
and our area newsletter. Two of my letters have been
published in the AAgrapevine. The rebuttals are soon
I have failed to identify myself at meetings, and
someone will shout "Who are you?". I simply say that
we are an anonymous fellowship, and who I am just is
not that important.
Before the group chant settled in, the members who
chanted the name of another member seemed to be saying,
"look at me! I'm here, too." Today I attend a meeting
almost every day, where we do no chanting at all. New
members soon realize how weird chanting is. They do not
know that this is a confession and never was meant to
be a greeting or salutation. They have been taught
to be friendly and welcoming by saying Hi! Joe!. They
just do not know any better, and will never change,
unless enough of us get up the courage to say something.
To join the herd is human nature. So thanks for "saying
something." You offer a lot of good advice. You must have
been hanging around members like me. Many such members
do remain with us. But they had the same opinions I had,
until I looked at the membership numbers. I still am
appalled that we were not told of our near collapse in
the early 1990's.
Bill W. was often quoted as saying "sometimes the good
can be the enemy of the best." He also wrote that "sometimes
the seeming temporary good can be the deadly enemy of the
permanent best. He went on to say that when it comes to
A.A., nothing but the very best will do.
PS: give some thought to the practice of reading HIW.
Investigate Bill's first meeting with Dr. Bob. What advice
did Dr Silkworth give to Bill, just prior to Bill's trip
to Akron in 1935? Along with the true understanding of
why the 24hr book was rejected, came an understanding of
why this reading of HIW has been so damaging to our
fellowship. Try to read this and to investigate with an
open mind. Give some consideration to this statement:
We ought to have at least eight million counted members
in A.A. by this time. You know that we only have a little
more than two million. How do we sleep at night? We have
failed all those alcoholics plus their friends and
families, plus all the others those we failed could
have helped. These faults in our fellowship will eventually
be corrected. Bill W. had absolute faith that faults in
A.A. would be self-correcting. They will be corrected but
not without a lot of work. I feel that the harder we work
the sooner the effectiveness of our fellowship will be
restored. You, Corey, and a few others are beginning
that herculean task. I believe the tide can be turned,
or at least our ship can be turned around. ANONYMOUS
I kept reading your comments, which seem to hold some strong stance and logic, until I read, "Give some consideration to this statement: We ought to have at least eight million counted members in A.A. by this time. You know that we only have a little more than two million. How do we sleep at night? We have failed all those alcoholics plus their friends and families, plus all the others those we failed could
have helped." We ought to have a least eight million? You sure not 7 or 24.3 millions? Or even 85.321 million? Or perhaps AA had achieved the current 2.0+ millions far more than it could have? ???? or ???? Who knows! Quite figures and what figures could have reached is a dangerous zone. 2+2=4, not could be 332.114. ~ Deo K.
AA is declining but this does not necessarily mean we are in peril and something is wrong. The numbers were over inflated when the boomers started to show up in the rooms in the seventies and early eighties. Many were false alcoholics who abused drugs and alcohol, got in some trouble and were sent to AA. But, many left eventually because they determined they were not alcohol dependent.
The numbers should be lower today because of public health awareness, advocates and policies that deter drinking recklessly. By today's standards, I would have had 50 drunk driving arrests, significant jail time and loss of license for life. In the seventies in the town I lived the cops would lock up my car and drive me home. Now you get the breathalizers, car boots, fines and jail. Another factor in declining numbers are members are choosing big pharma pain killers and other drugs over alcohol. My son never touched alcohol because of me but, after a sports injury in high school he got addicted to pain killers; I won't mention the brand everyone knows it though. He refuses treatment and I sense this addiction will kill him. I've lost him. My wife and I have changed the locks and gotten a security alarm. What father changes the locks on his son? This breaks me up.
How do I get a meeting back in the local AA Directory. One of our open meetings at Salvation Army is in our Indy Directory and the other one is not. Thur.8pm.
Find out who is responsible for drafting and having the directories printed in your local area. Find out from your group GSR or district DCM.
Is your meeting/group registered with GSO in New York? If not find out if your local directory is listing only registered meetings. It shouldn't really matter as most directories list all meetings especially to help out new groups getting started that have yet to register..
In larger centers it is usually the intergroup committee that is responsible for the directories. In more remote spread out areas the district committee is responsible.
GSO in New York also prints Directories for North America; 2 for the USA and one for Canada. Most Area have meetings published online.
Hope this helps.
People’s experience finding and joining (or not joining) AA varies as much as the people that walk through the door. Two people walking into the same meeting at the same time will have different experiences, different impressions. One thing is always true. They are different than mine. I read here frequently “If AA had been _____________, if my sponsor would have __________, if in meetings people would have_________________ I wouldn't have ever joined AA or stayed sober.” Are you sure? My thinking is a great deal better since I have been sober for several years however as good as it is, I can’t predict the future. Would I have been any better at fortunetelling with less than 24 hours of sobriety? Would you?
My Big Book has thirteen (sorry Bill) passages highlighted that tell me exactly how to carry the message IN MEETINGS. I use them. I recommend them. I've shared them in meetings. They aren’t easy for me. I review them and get back on course. One gal always puts on her biggest smile and tells newcomers “I’M REALLY GLAD YOU’RE HERE BECAUSE YOU’RE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE ROOM!”. They look like a deer caught in car headlights. I try to catch them before or after the meeting alone and ask in as colorful of language as I think I can “Who did you make mad?” or something similar. Whatever the answer is, I can respond honestly with either “Yeah, I’ve done that” or “Yeah, that’s the kind of stuff we do”. Sometimes that’s it. Sometimes they open up a little. In either case, the next time I see them, I get at least a nod out of them. That’s important. That’s really important. I remember.
I am grateful that when I came into A.A. that no one
told me that I was the most important person in the room.
I would have thought: If I am the most important person
here, we are all in trouble. My importance (EGO) was
neither built up nor pushed down. I came in as an equal.
I don't believe we ought to make a spectacle of
newcomers, or allow them to make spectacles of themselves.
Bill gives us a clear method of how to carry the message
on page 70 in Alcoholics Anomymous Comes of Age, published
in 1958. Bill desperately needed another alcoholic to talk
to to keep from drinking. Bill finally realized that deeply.
Dr. Bob needed what Bill was describing to him. Bill did
not push anything on him. Bill's message was truly a
suggestion. No pushing or prodding. Just instilling an
idea which might work if Dr. Bob chose to try it.
Bill W. approached Dr. Bob in a position of humility
and weakness. Not from a spiritual hilltop like we do
today. "Well, if you want what I got, you will have to
do what I done, or even more absurd, do what I tells
you to do." ANONYMOUS
I have some years of sobriety by the grace of God. I love my faith & church but many AA's have disdain for religion. I think Bill W. said in big book someplace that we should be quick to see where religious people are right. Coming in as a agnostic & desperate to stay sober I just kept coming back & AA itself became my Higher Power. We can not discuss religion at our AA meeting because they will not allow it. I am ok with that but are we able to discuss religion in this blog. I currently follow my Catholic traditions & find so many former Catholics bashing the church for their problems. I have kept an open mind & am a Catholic convert of 25 years plus. I do read & learn from also Buddhist philosophy to help my brain damaged mind to live in the Now. Is there anyone out there who has similar experiences???