Burning Desire to Share
I’ve been retired for several years and thoroughly enjoy it. My 12th step work has been minimal until lately. I started to chair a weekly noon meeting and usually attend Saturday when we have an open meeting for people in treatment. Also do some other odds and ends as they come up. Started to notice that when 11:30 rolls around on the remaining five days I start thinking about heading to the meeting and I did a few times. Then it occurred to me that my motive was to go hang out with my friends instead of doing something else. Many projects need to be done at home etc. The first one is fun and the second isn’t. Then it came to me to throw in a third option. Visit somebody in a nursing home. Top of this list, wonderful guy who likely never took a drink in his life. Good church man for 80 years or so and a good customer when I was in business. I certainly don’t need to twelfth step him and his brand of religion doesn’t appeal to me. I just try to keep him company once in a while. Gets me out of myself, he enjoys it and I feel some real growth I couldn’t get from umpteen more meeting a week. Before somebody gives me a longer list of 12 step work I could be doing, I already have one. Near as I can tell the world has an unlimited supply of drunks and others as well who need help. I’m choosing one that isn’t a drunk once in a while.
I agree with what is said here, thank you. I feel people best respond to personal experience and not to being preached to.
That was the advice given to Bill W. by Dr. William
Silkworth in the spring of 1935. Stop preaching and
just share your personal experience. Bill obeyed and
A.A. was born. Bill writes that without that advice
A.A. could have never been born. Yet we tell newcomers
every day, "That One is God"!, May you find Him now!
We help very few alcoholics using that approach.
In the US and Canada, we gain about 15,000 new
members each year. We ought to be gaining at least
100,000 each year. Even a hundred thousand a year
is a conservative goal. We ought to be doubling in
membership about every ten years as we did the
first 57 years. And we will when we again pick
up that sledge hammer silky left for us. ANONYMOUS
Ah yes, another sentence taken out of context. From November, 1934, until May, 1935, Bill told alcoholics they had to have a spiritual experience similar to his. Besides his drinking, that was the only experience he could share.
The Big Book contains the shared experience of the early members, not so much their drinking but of their recovery. I can go to any gin mill in the world and find people who share my drinking experiences. From my own experience I feel safe in saying that nearly every one could tell the answer to all my problems. But how many could tell me how to recover from alcoholism.
If you don't like the Steps, fine, don't take them. But quit trying to convert other suffering alcoholics to your brand of so-dry-ety in the name of AA.
You aggressively shared, "If you don't like the Steps, fine, don't take them. But quit trying to convert other suffering alcoholics to your brand of so-dry-ety in the name of AA." That's black and white logic friend. Recovery is living in the grey areas. I think there is more to recovery than the the steps. Diagnosing someone with "so-dry-ety" recovery is judgement. Is our role in AA to judge others. Leave judgement to the religious minded people and anyway, I don't recall judgement being one of our principals in the first place. Let's be open-minded and put our hand out to the people who see things differently. Our rooms can put up with just about any human characteristic but, hatred is dangerous to AA as a whole. Live and Let Live.
Jim: I have written many messages although not all of
them have been posted. Of the ones that have been posted
can you point out even one in which I have said that I
did not like the steps. The messages are numbered: Which
one? I love the twelve steps of A.A. I attend two step
meetings each week where we read the steps as they
are written in the 12&12.
But I understand why Bill
wrote on page 8 in THE LANGUAGE OF THE HEART:quote "For example,
the Twelve Steps of our A.A. program are not crammed down
anyone's throat" end quote. If you will read the previous paragraph, Bill explains the example.
In the book Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, Bill
tells us how to carry the message. Page 70. ANONYMOUS
The first edition of the book Alcoholics Anonymous was priced at $3.50. It was printed on thick
paper which of course made the book bigger. They wanted the purchaser to believe he/she was
getting the most book for the buck. Bill and his friends needed money to proceed on their other
ideas, and most important to offer hope to other alcoholics and their families.
At the beginning of this year our Big Book group began at the front of the fourth edition,
with the intention of reading the entire book word for word. We read a chapter each week and
allow each alcoholic member to comment.
I am becoming more convinced that the book Alcoholics Anonymous is a story book only meant
to offer an invitation to our fellowship. It may be called our basic text, but it was not
meant to be a "work" book. The purpose of the book is to explain how the first 100 members
recovered. They left us a path to follow, a way out, if we choose to follow it. But we have
to thoroughly follow that path, or the results are nil.
That path leads to a better life and can be called a spiritual
awakening. There is no one on that path. They have gone ahead of
us. God may be there, but you probably won't see Him. Our pioneers
left us a path to follow. They tell us precisely how THEY recovered.
They do not tell us what to do. They only tell us what they did.
We ought to be doing the same thing in A.A. today. We push away
those approaching us by trying to give them directions and
calling them suggestions. Alcoholics,
especially those who are still drinking are rebellious and do not
respond favorably to directions. So let us stop giving them
directions and just share our experience, strength and hope. Let
us do what the writers of the big book did. They just shared
how THEY recovered. ANONYMOUS
according to our latest local meeting list we now have over three hundred meetings per week. Quite a few are Big Book study meetings, quite a few more are Twelve step study meetings, yet not a single one is an AA Comes of Age study meeting.
One difference between the Big Book and "AA Comes of Age is that the eleven chapters of the Big Book were edited by those who were members of AA at that time and was a consensus of their total experience. There is and entire chapter devoted to carrying the message to the newcomer, Chapter Seven. In it we are told to, "..... simply lay out the kit of spiritual tools for his inspection. Show him how they worked with you." On the same page, "If he is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him to read this book in the interval."
Perhaps I'm misreading something there, but if he reads the book he has a good chance of reading the twelve steps. And he just might read that AA recommends taking twelve steps in order to have a spiritual awakening.
If simply telling our drinking experiences did any good the Big Book wouldn't need anything except the stories, and even they could be shortened to leave out any mention of recovery. We wouldn't have to go to meetings because all our drinking buddies can share their drinking experiences.
One more quote from Bill W., the author of both the Big Book and AA Comes of Age: "Sobriety - freedom for alcohol _ through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of an A.A. group."
Please tell me how we teach the twelve steps to the newcomers if we do nothing but tell him war stories of our drinking days.
"Sobriety, freedom from alcohol, through the teaching and
practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of an A.A. group." What do you think is the most important part
of that statement? Is that A.A. ought to stick with its
singleness of purpose and remove drug addicts?
I place the emphasis on the last part of the sentence.
It is the purpose of the AA Group to teach the twelve
steps. We do this in a group setting. If each member of the
group shares her/his experience, the newcomer is likely to
identify with a similar experience. Fitting in, the
sense of belonging, is what I was always looking for. I
found it in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
We ought to let the group do the teaching. Let the
Big Book do the explaining. We ought not have to "explain"
the Big Book to anyone who can read. Bill wrote it in
simple language. If we try to explain the meaning of the
Big Book to a newcomer, we are offering only one persons
intrepretation. Let the group do the teaching.
Jim, this message probably means nothing to you. You
obviously have not studied our A.A. history. A Brief
History of Alcoholics Anonymous can be found in the
book "A.A. Comes of Age". In all sincerity, I ask you
to read it. That book and The Language of the Heart book
ought to be studied by all members who have any concern
for the future of Alcoholics Anonymous. ANONYMOUS
Well said! well said! I have seen far too many alcoholics not drink and go to meetings until they die in a drunk driving accident or hang themselves in the woodshed because our groups were not focused on the answer we had found. when they were ready, they were told to go to meetings instead of practice the program of AA, the 12 steps.
Nonsense! The intention of the book was to put the aa program in writing to avoid the message from being garbled like it is in your post. If you don't think the big book is important, you better tell gso. They've wasted a lot of time and energy translating the big book into 67 foreign languages for no reason!
I assume this message is directed at me. I have written
many messages, not all are posted, and would appreciate
you pointing out any message where I have written I don't like the Big Book. I prefer the third edition, before the
"hold hands and pray" came out (in the fourth). Also in
the fourth edition fellowship has become Fellowship.
I consider the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous to be
one of the greatest books ever written. It offers hope
to the suffering alcoholic, and to their friends and
families, who suffer even more.
My concerns are at the way meetings are conducted,
the demands (called suggestions) we make on new members
and others. We say "no human power can help you" and then
tell everyone to get a sponsor to depend on or lean on.
You have read my messages. Someday I hope you put
them all together and the light will come on. I do still
have hope. ANONYMOUS
quit telling us how to do our 12 step work! The proof is in the pudding. How many newcomers have you 12 stepped that have gotten sober, stayed sober,are carrying "this message", and are happy about it?
I want to hear your results. Does your homegroup have to split in half or move to compensate for all the recoveries? Ours does. We encourage personal sponsorship, using our basic text as directions to practice the 12 steps of AA, and homegroup membership.
We are results orientated. We had far too many alcoholics who wanted to recover and didn't know the directions for recovery were in the big book.
Lighten up man. We are all in this thing together. The original post guy was just sharing his experience strength and hope. Just because the sound of it hurts your ears doesn't mean you have to hit the gong back at him. Diversity in sobriety is a good thing. We never know what a newcomer might hear that will keep that person coming back.
If one is a big book guru or one is a non-believer they are both permitted to be a member. Neither is right or wrong because some newcomers need to be bullied by dogma and others need to be allowed to discover their own path as an atheist.
What works for you might make me drink. Cheers Mate
Thanks Mate. I have no problem with the Big Book. It is
the Big Book Guru (one person's understanding) who is helping to destroy A.A. I first
read "Dogma and Distortion" a few years ago. That is what
is killing us. ORIGIONAL POST GUY.
The meetings that I attend are stagnant. I noticed about
five years ago that our meetings had fewer and fewer
members. The few who stayed seemed to be changing faces.
I did not know that our total membership worldwide had
taken a nose dive after 1992. We have fewer members
today than twenty years ago. Am I happy about it. Hardly!
I want A.A. to again become attractive enough to
double its membership every ten years. You certainly
seem to be doing your part. I applaud you, although
Dr. Bob was quoted as saying,"don't applaud any
alcoholic". "I've got mine". My concern is for the
future of Alcoholics Anonymous. Future generations
of sufferers, alcoholics and addicts, are going
to need what real A.A. has to offer. ANONYMOUS
I would suggest you start with an inventory of your own meeting. something is wrong if it's had a steady decline for five years. is the group doing 12 step work? are the members carrying the AA message? is there sponsorship? is the meeting attractive to newcomers? how are you going to save future generations of AA if your own homegroup is decaying.
Sounds like a good time for a group inventory.
AA is just that AA and nothing else. AA says nothing about how an addict, overeater, sex addict,compulsive gambler, pedefile or anyone else recovers from there illness. If this offends you I suggest you read AA's primery pourpouse then read all of the other AA writings and you will not find any referance to any recovery but alcoholics. I am very much aware there is almost nothing like a pure alcoholic comming into AA today. I hear sharing in AA meetings about issues relater to alcohol and drugs. There are two problems with that. 1, the person who shares like that disrespects AA (read the primery pourpose) & 2, They may think they are helping them self but they are hurting them self.This is clearly part of selfish imature behavior. They very well might have two ailments to deal with(alcoholisem and drug addiction) but they are only getting help for one. It dosent matter how you twist , turn and minipulate AA to your satisfaction it is only for alcoholics. I heard a renowened alcoholic and drug counsler, PHD, MD speak one time to a group of alcoholics and drug addicts saying----Do not hide out in AA and look for a cure for your drug addiction, they are clearly two different addictions. She went on to say the same aplied to other illinesses and there treatment had no place or chance of recovery in AA. At the AA Convention in San Antiono at a discussion forum titled "Primery Pourpose" one of the guest speakers on the panel read a statement from N.A which said in part---Addicts have no right to disrespect AA by sharing there drug problems there and we (NA) would not like it if alcoholics shared there alcohol problems in a N.A meeting--- Although alcoholics , addicts and others share some common behavior issues we are just compulsive cousions and "not" brothers and sisters".
If you had a hart problem would you go to a dentist? Obviously not. Why not, they are both doctors. You will never get "proper" treatment from a dentist for your heart condition. Real simple.
I am sober quite a while, I have a son who is an active drug addict that has been homeless, lived in the street and been to prison in Mexico and the US and I would "never" recommend him to go to a AA meeting. I have all the respect in the world for addicts and others wanting to get well and live a sober life. I know people in AA who tell me they are addicts and attend AA meetings and just substitute the word alcohol and replace it with drugs. They have also told me they feel like an outsider and not fully included in AA, I wonder why. Its not AA that creates this feeling, its the addict etc. Inasmuch as the AA program is designed for alcoholics then by designe no one else will reach there full potential.
Treat yourself with the proper medecine in the program for your ailment, your worth it.
I used to qualify at meetings in this one close-minded suburb, "Hi my names Bill and I'm a drug addict, my drug of choice Alcohol" Yea the oldtimers there got annoyed for sure but, they were dying out and I could outlast them is the thought that ran threw my head at the time. I wasn't going to drink because I was treated as an outcast. Today, the hippy generation and 70's punks are now the oldtimers. I believe 98% of them used drugs. I always mention drugs in my lead because its my story. Once when I was sharing at an out of town meeting a guy went over and literally pulled the plug on me. He yanked the cord right out from the wall. But, afterwards I got mobbed by newcomers thanking me for being honest and real. Years ago the oldtimers wanted me to respect them but, they didn't respect me one bit. They only respected people who became docile and tame followers. I never was a re-Pete in AA. I had to fight against prejudice and hatred. Thanks goodness I packed my bags and moved to Manhattan. When I arrived I was fed up with that fascist suburban area and prayed that the AA here would really accept me. And they did. I've met the most loving, caring and serene people I have every known. I learned to breathe again and no one cares I smoked pot when I was eleven or the lifestyle I live. I'm even softening my position on the oldtimers from my early days but not too much. Bill V. Manhattan
Wow I feel very strongly about this but feel vilified for even mentioning this in our group .Thanks for putting it so well
Fellow alcoholic cathy
Wow I feel very strongly about this but feel vilified for even mentioning this in our group .Thanks for putting it so well
Fellow alcoholic cathy
Color Me Drunk in the Feb. issues ends with the statement ".....never look back, but always keep it green."
I've never heard this expression before. Can someone enlighten me?
A very wise woman named Willie B. from Spring, Tx. used to say 'you have to keep the grass green" and she stated she meant we should continue attending meetings, talking to the newcomers, sponsoring people, reading the Big Book, working the steps, etc. It works for me-E
Years ago, when sitting with my sponsor at a discussion meeting listening to a seemingly important man speak. My sponsor leaned over and said,
“That guy sure knows the talk but, doesn’t have a clue about the walk.
When we leave this room is where the walk begins”
Sure enough that guy relapsed. What I learned from that experience is my sobriety can not be depended on how I look or how knowledgeable I sound but, my actual experience and with this I can offer strength and hope to the newcomer. I’ve learned people can hide behind the 12-steps and all the Big Book language. And I can also tell you how many of these 12-step professors have relapsed. The only guarantee I know in AA is this “If I do not put alcohol in my body today then I will be sober today.” People squawk over what sobriety means and what is the only means of obtaining it. But to me, just because a person can tell me everything about the 12 and 12, the big book, the history of AA or all the other books doesn’t mean they are telling me anything about sobriety. Knowledge of the path is not the same as the wisdom obtained by walking the path. So when I sit at meeting I listen to the wisdom shares and when the knowledge people speak I pull out my wife’s honey-do list and think about my responsibilities as a husband and father.
I would have to agree with you as one of the former big book gurus who could quote passages and paragraphs weigh ease, but still want at ease with the most important part off sobriety,a higher power. I became once again, the higher power with all my knowledge of the big book, the steroid and the,"process" . I too regrettably, picked up again, and first it was prescriptions, so the old, I'm not drinking so I'm sober mentality had firmly gripped me in the depths off despair again. I was a 3 year sober gal who has no clue sponsoring many girls, one with over 25 years, pure egotism. That is what I still craved, attention getters and ego driven power mad thumpers, because I still suffered from our age old complex, inferiority. now, I take it one day at a time, living my life for me, not attention, sponsoring no one and learning how to live not speak.
Sounds like semantics. Your wisdom through your own experience is what we call "reinventing the wheel ". Our Aa literature cuts to the chase.for example I met with a new sponsee over lunch today. We read the prefaces to the big book and the Dr 's opinion. In his words, he said he learned more about the program of Aa in an hour than he did in three meetings a week over the past ten months.
Again, why reinvent the wheel? Alcoholism hasn't changed since man first crushed grapes, the answer hasn't changed since then as well. It is still spiritus contra spiritum.
How did you conclude I was "Reinventing the wheel?" The wheel as interpreted by you I imagine is the "AA Program" And the “AA program” to you is the Big Book and the 12-Steps? Am I right? Suppose this wheel is broken? Suppose someone is not interested in the “AA Program?” Can they not then be a member of the “AA Fellowship?” Or should we banish them to the streets and some to their end? I’m not aware of any tradition or law that states, “The only requirement for membership is you must obey the ways of the ‘AA Program?’” Can we coexist with members who have found spirituality and sobriety from different sources? Can they not share these sources if it is their experience, strength and hope with a newcomer? These sources might save a life where say the “AA Program” might fail. Not every newcomer has the same needs or the same brain even if it’s soaked with alcohol. Are we not responsible to the newcomer? Is it a crime to question the wheel? Unless AA has a success rate of 100%, we can do better in my mind. Just pretending the wheel is perfect is irresponsible. There are many like me who feel the AA Fellowship as stated by the Preamble saves us from becoming dogmatic recovery snobs. It does not need to be fixed unless one wants to add the word "religious" in front of the word sect. The challenge AA faces today in my opinion is to take a stand against members and groups who promote ideas not in tune with the Preamble. To me, reading say “How it Works” at the podium is misleading the newcomer and it is not in tune with the Preamble because it aligns itself with specific sects, denominations and institutions. Saying the Lord’s Prayer to me is out of line. Not all AA members get sober “by the book.” Just the reading alone marginalizes many members and sends their recovery to the back of the bus. Will this post make a difference to the institution of AA? Not one bit. Could this post help out a new person? Definitely! Because if it wasn’t for the experience, strength and hope at the margins I would be long gone dead. Lastly, there are volumes of new information and data pertaining to addiction, brain chemistry and recovery that were not available to the earlier members. Perhaps if it was the “AA Program” might look completely different today. Trees that don’t bend with the wind won’t last the storm.
It is commendable to spend an hour reading the Big Book
with a newcomer. It seems like a lot of reading for one
session. I recently started chairing a Big Book meeting (not a study group, leave your crayons at home). We are
all at liberty to do 12 step work any way we feel best.
I personally feel that the teaching of the Big Book
ought to be done in a group setting. The newcomer is
getting only three opinions, Bill's, Dr. Silkworth's
and yours. The Book ought to be read alone or in a
group setting. One person's intrepretation is just
too limited, in my opinion. ANONYMOUS
I recently started working the big book with a sponsor. I love the overall meetings, but sometimes when I'm reading the Big Book, I have questions that could use some clarification. I'm almost 90 days without drinking, and it has been some of the craziest and hardest three months of my life. I am trying to comprehend the world as it is without that veil of alcohol, and it's so difficult at times. Some things just don't make sense to me at times. I have changed SO MUCH over the past 90 days, it's just hard.
Thanks so much for your wisdom. Wisdom is seldom heard in the rooms today because so many people are too busy defending the 12 steps and big book way of life and attacking the members who have found others ways to obtain sobriety in the rooms. Bill W. can not keep me sober. My sponsor can not keep me sober. My home group can not keep me sober. AA books and literature can not keep me sober. The only person that can keep me sober is me and the wisdom I continue to develop on a daily basis. Unfortunately, while reading over the shares on this site there appears to be two kinds of people in AA. There are the big book and 12 step blow hards-passionate guardians of the ultimate truth and the other group of humble AAèrs who actually apply the principals in their lives, have a degree of open-mindedness and are willing to accept that diversity in recovery experiences exists in AA. In this diversity, true wisdom is bred and it is what Bill W. hoped for AA. My last drink was in January 1983.
I need the wisdom too. Just having AA knowledge is not enough for me to have a peace of mind. I guess the knowledge guys can get a new person to fix their cars for free or have their houses painted. They can even thirteen step their way into an ill-fated love relationships but, I need more. I remember one day at a meeting I heard this guy go on and on about the 12-steps and how they changed his life and that he was happy, joyous and free. Soon after the meeting I happened to behind him in my car when I saw him having road rage with another vehicle. He was putting other vehicles and pedestrians in jeopardy. Shockingly, the man even jumped out of the car screaming and yelling and making familar hand gestures at a light. The first thing I thought of is I hope he comes to the next meeting and shares this kind of stuff. It could be more useful then his empty words. Of course, the following week came and he returned with all his perfect recovery talk again. One day I hope he is brave enough to be real. For me, I have to be honest and share both sides of my recovery and not just the positive stuff. Bill W. was humble enough to share some of his negative sides in recovery and so can I.
Glad to hear your wisdom has kept you sober and not AA. If you don't need Aa, why are you here?
You said, "Glad to hear your wisdom has kept you sober and not AA. If you don't need Aa, why are you here?" My response is why the hostility? What a odd conclusion to arrive at and your assumtion is ill thought out. Why not clarify yourself and own up to your remarks like a mature member. Obviously, my post challenged your comfort zone. This is a forum where people can share their experience, strength and hope. People who post here feel a sense of freedom. Its a way they can share their true thoughts on recovery because many come from areas where the meetings are controlling and close-minded. I would say this site performs an excellant service openning up the recovery dialogue and helping people who are usually intimidated by AA gurus feel safe. And to answer your question which is not really a question but an agressive atack on another AA member I would say your question does not make any sense so a proper reply is not earned. I would ask what part of my post did I say I don't need AA? What exactly do you mean? I would like to know. Are you coming from a place like "If it ain't in the big book or 12&12 its not AA"?
This would be an unforntuate place to live in.
Live and Let Live
If you had studied AA liturature you would know that alcoholics can rarely, on their own power, put the plug in the jug. If you had taken the time to read AA liturature you may have read about emotional sobriety, if you had read AA liturature you would know that alcohol is but a symptom of our illness.
your language sounds like a hard drinker who goes to AA meetings for group therapy. Obviously your sponsor didn't guide you to read our liturature escpecially the pamphlet the AA group that says the sole purpose of an aa group is the teaching and practicing of AA's 12 steps. If you don't care enough about yourself to study and use AA liturature, we can't expect you to care enough about the newcomers too.
You certainly get an A+ for taking someone’s inventory. Please read my post again. How on earth did you ever determine I never read the literature or don’t have an effective sponsor? Let me refresh you on Wisdom and Knowledge. This is important. “Many people mistake knowledge for wisdom because they are intimately related, and this is unfortunate because they are quite different in an important way. Knowledge is the accumulation of facts and information. Wisdom is the synthesis of knowledge and experiences into insights that deepen one’s understandings of relationships and the meaning of life. In other words, knowledge is a tool, and wisdom is the craft in which the tool is used.” Facts and information alone will not lead me to a higher place but, if facts and information is all your recovery requires then I salute you.
Big book, bottom of page 44 - if a mere code of morals or better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago………Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?
Obviously! That’s one of my favorite sentences in the big book.
My interpretation of an alcoholic from AA is if you find you cannot quit entirely (mental obsession) and cannot control the amount you drink (physical allergy) and when sober are restless, irritable, and discontent (spiritual malady) you are probably alcoholic. If you are not sure, step over to the nearest bar and try some controlled drinking. Drink and stop abruptly. If you try this several times, you will determine if you have the physical allergy to alcohol that our program describes. If that doesn’t convince you, we suggest you leave alcohol alone for one year, keeping in mind what we believe an alcoholic is. That will test if you have the mental obsession to alcohol. The strange mental blank spots where we think alcohol will affect us differently. Let’s remember that some potential alcoholics can stay dry for many years from time to time, becoming true alcoholics later in life.
If we don’t take the first drink, we don’t have to worry about the physical allergy to alcohol. Our real problem is the mental obsession with alcohol. That’s when we think it’s ok to drink just before we drink while sober. We can’t bring to mind with sufficient force the suffering alcohol causes us. That’s why alcoholics are powerless over alcohol. That’s why we drink when we are stone cold sober. My mind tells me alcohol is not going to affect me the way it always does. I am insane when it comes to alcohol. I am powerless over alcohol! I have lost the choice in whether I will drink or not. I have drunk myself to a condition that is beyond human aid, while sober. That is why I need AA’s suggested spiritual program of action. It enables me to stay sober one day at a time through the grace of a Higher Power.
Alcoholics of my type cannot stay sober through self knowledge. If I could stay sober through self knowledge I would have been spared the last 4 years of alcoholic hell.
I believe AA is full of moderate or hard drinkers that can avoid alcohol without working the program of AA. My hat is off to them. God knows I had tried long and hard to stay sober the way they do. What I have to concede is that if I was able to “choose” not to drink, I would never have needed the program of AA as outlined in our book “alcoholics anonymous”. The idea that I am like those hard drinkers in AA has to be smashed! I am like the “alcoholics” in AA.
If you find you cannot leave alcohol alone and have no control over how much you drink, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience (not religion) will conquer. The clear cut directions to that spiritual experience are laid out in the first 164 pages of our book “Alcoholics Anonymous”.
If our meetings help the hard drinkers stay away from alcohol, you are welcome to join us, just don’t confuse hard drinking with being alcoholic. Alcoholics have lost the ability to choose if we drink or not,especially while sober.
It really disturbs me that people will defend what they see as the absolute necessity of the program *as they work it* by labelling people who recover by working their program differently as "not alcoholic." I'm an alcoholic. I do not believe in God. I don't believe in a Higher Power per se. I believe in the grace, wisdom and love of the people in and out of the fellowship who help me to stay sober, in my own innate capacity to recover, and in my connection to this great and beautiful world, of which I am but a small part. I am also sober in AA.
I am sorry, but it is not your place to say that I am not an alcoholic because my recovery is different from yours. You are wrong. Avoiding the truth that there are many varieties of recovery experience by simply pretending that the people who don't agree with you cannot be alcoholics in recovery is breathtakingly arrogant.
In no way or manner am I trying to be contrary. Our objective is the same: to help as many suffering human
beings, whether in my family, or alcoholics in general.
If hard drinkers want to stop drinking and are able to
do so by joining us, they can become A.A. members just the
same as you and me: The only requirement...
Could you explain the difference between a spiritual
experience and a religious experience. I see them as exactly the same. I would consider most of my A.A. friends to be the most religious people on earth.
Only a few members of Alcoholics Anonymous have the
type (variety) of religious (spiritual)experience that Bill W. had.
Most of the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" was written while
Bill was close to his own spiritual awakening. At first,
during his first few months of sobriety, Bill thought that
all the alcoholics he was trying to help ought to have
a spiritual awakening similar to his own. A.A. history
points this out. Bill found out that the approach he
was using was pushing prospects away.
But Bill found a method to reach the suffering alcoholic
in a way that had not been attempted. A method of reaching
down and touching the soul of the suffering alcoholic. This
is explained in A.A.C.A. page 70. It is basically the
cart before the horse IDEA offerred by Dr. Silkworth. Bill
wrote this explanation in 1957 after 22 years of working
with other alcoholics. Surely more had been revealed
in the years between 1939 and 1957.
If Bill had not changed his approach, Alcoholics Anonymous could not have been born. Maybe a few could
have been saved. Throughout history some alcoholics have
been saved by this religious/spiritual approach. Bill was
one of them. Bill's grandfather also sobered up in the
Alcoholics Anonymous offers help to all drinkers who
want to stop and can't; not just those of us who are
willing to get on our knees and beg for help. ANONYMOUS
the answer to your question is on page 567 of the fourth edtion of Aa's basic text Alcoholics Anonymous. I believe appendix II spiritual experience was added in 1955 with the publication of the second edition of the book Alcoholics anonymous.
"The terms spiritual experience, spiritual awakening, personality changes, and religious experience, to me are all synonyms meaning a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism. read it, it's only two paragraphs of page 567.
Yes anyone who has a problem with alcohol is a member of AA if they say so. My point is as an alcoholic of my type who is unable to stay sober by self-knowledge and a nonspiritual basis has to be careful not to slip into alcoholic rationalizations that I can stay sober and happy without the program of AA as laid out in the big book.
Bill died in 1971, I have a hard time believing that the correct method is anything other than what was origionally printed in the big book. Seriously, don't you think Bill would have pushed hard to change the book or add to it? Even in the 12x12 which Bill was the sole author states on page 17 that the book alcoholics anonymous is AA's basic text and still is. That's one of the reasons I feel we need to give the big book the attention it deserves. It works! It works for me, my sponsor, his sponsor, and the guys I sponsor ranging from year 19,17,7,5,4,1 1/2,10 months,3 months, and two months, and as of Feb 14th 6 days.
You said, "Alcoholics of my type cannot stay sober through self knowledge. If I could stay sober through self knowledge I would have been spared the last 4 years of alcoholic hell." "Cannot?" I would like to suggest it’s important to speak for ourselves and not take on bigger roles and make statements such as this. It really misleads the new person and sets them up to fail. In my experience, I was a homeless drunk and suffered from DT's and hallucinations. I couldn't hold a job and had alcohol induced psychosis. A good meal for me was waiting for the supermarket to throw the old breads out in the dumpster. After endless, rehabs, drunkard tanks and state hospitals I ended up in AA. I went in and out of this one state-hospital so much the guard thought I was working there. I can laugh at that today. If you were lower than that than I salute you and you are my guru. I was not raised with religion or God so the language dis-interests me. My recovery has been mainly on self-knowledge. I often hear, "My best thinking got me here" I disagree with that, "My worst thinking got me here." In other words, it was alcoholic thinking dictating my life. Any self-knowledge was being blocked. My mind was fried. I was not capable of making wise choices because I was a sick person. After I went through withdrawal in a Doctors care, I went to meetings 2 times a week. I heard lots of things. 95 percent of the things I heard were baloney to me. However, the 5 percent of things kept me coming back. I believe sef-knowledge can be helpful. When my mind started to clear up I realized it was time to reach inside and see what was in there. One place I regularly traveled was my childhood especially memories of my mother. She was pure love. She instilled this in me but, I had to push it away to survive. It was too soft and I had to be tough-fibered. In my early days I was not popular in my group but, I was used to being on the outside of things. About my fifth year around 1985, the goodness in her started to seep through me and I started to grow not spiritually or religiously but maturely. I don't have to fly around with angels or kiss the feet of holy men or feel valued by a system that just wants my money to feel like a good person. I gradually became the person I always wanted to be and that is just a loyal husband, a loving father and grandfather, an average co-worker and kind friend. As many people have said already on this site the rooms can hold anybody. Charles O’C.
Thanks Charles, I remember coming into the rooms about 21 years ago off the streets. I remember some kid preaching to me about the steps and telling me I had to buy a big book because everything I needed to know about sobriety is in the book. I thought what does this punk know about life? He seemed obsessed and spiritually dead and saying things he possibly couldn’t understand. I said I wasn’t interested and he said my chances of recovery were zero if I didn’t read this book and walked away. The first few months, I went through the entire local list of big book and twelve and twelve meetings. They seemed strange. No one was sharing from their heart but they instead seemed to be playing the children’s game King of the Hill. I remember this guy with the gift of the gab and feared by all talked in a very angry, controlling voice. After he finished he would rush out and smoke. Nothing in this town was doing it for me, so I journeyed out to find a group I could relate to. Drinking was not an option anymore and this thought was reinforced by my wife and doctor. I found an open-speaker meeting in a few towns over and that did the trick. I listened once a week to all the leads and eventually found guy I could talk with. I joined the group and volunteered for things. I looked forward to each week. After I was sober a year, the group asked me to speak. I really found a place I belonged to. I have nothing against those other groups but, they weren’t for me. My group has a real sense about alcoholism and they live the principals. And today the proudest day of my life is seeing my daughter at the podium celebrating her one year.
Hey thanks for your honest share man. I love my home group too! Big Book and Twelve Step meeting didn't work for me either. I'm not a guy who likes to be preached to or condecended to by a bunch of people who have nothing better to do then hide out in the rooms and become know-it-alls.
My wife and kids don't care how much I know about AA, they want to see my actions in sobriety. People in my open speaker group have a life outside the rooms. We come in each week and celebrate the joys of sobriety instead of sitting around the table slicing and dicing the writings like the monks who used to sit around a roundtable arguing about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin. Keep on Keepin on!
please elaborate on the 5% that kept you coming back.
I am an alcoholic of the hopeless variety.Sober twenty years,I really enjoyed your message.As an iconoclast also,I thought I noticed a mischievous humor about taking-on "bigger roles"."Big shot,little shot:one shot and we're all shot"
Subversive and free thinkers always appear to free institutions from the internal rot of dogma, rituals and controllers. AA is no different. As far back as I can remember, there has always been a tug of war going on between the controllers who are fueled by narcissism and insecurity tugging the rope against the iconoclasts who are fueled by their love of AA and its principals. The iconoclast desire is always unselfish while the controllers aim is only to maintain power with selfish motivations. I'm not well liked in my group by the older members but, the newcomers like to hear refreshing perspectives. Unfortuantely, my way of seeeing things brings about too many newcomers asking me to sponsor them. I turn down people regularly because sponsorship is a priviledge for all members. I'm not the guy who has to sponsor 15 people to feel big in AA.
When I said alcoholic of my type, I was writing about my type. That’s the only type of alcoholic I have personal experience with.
In the Dr.’s opinion in AA’s book of experience, page xxx, Dr. Silkworth lists 6 types of alcoholics. Please read your book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, it is the basic text of AA regardless of what our opinions are.
As far as self knowledge as a way of sobriety, there are 4 precise examples of self knowledge being insufficient as a means of recovery.
The first is Bill W. himself, page 7 big book. He knew he was alcoholic and had Silkworth’s definition of alcoholic.
The second is Rolland H on page 26 of the big book. Rolland actually was under the care of one of the top 3 psychiatrists in the world for over 1 year yet found self knowledge insufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism.
The third is Jim on page 35 of the big book (maybe Ralf F). “he had much knowledge about himself as an alcoholic. Yet reasons for not drinking were easily pushed aside………
The fourth is Fred on page 39 of the big book (maybe Harry B). he appreciated their ideas about the subtle insanity that precedes the first drink ( self knowledge)
Then the paragraph before Fred on page 39 states “But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge. This is a point we wish to emphasize and re-emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience.”
So Charles as you can see, you must be the hardly an exception Bill was talking about. Or maybe not, I don’t know. What I know for sure is the Four examples of how self knowledge will not be enough to overcome drinking must have been very important to the first 100 members of AA and the millions after.
Thanks for the reminder of the importance of using our literature so the word of mouth program doesn’t get garbled. Actually that was the motivation to write the big book in the first place.
Thanks so much for your honest share Charles. None-believers get pushed to the margins in AA. Not by the design but, by members who want AA to align itself with 12-Step thinking. I can't tell you how many times I was attacked in AA for not following the god path. My sponsor let me go after a month and told me recovery and sobriety was up to me. He introduced me to various meetings, literature, history and popular controversies and explained the 12 steps. He said I didn't have to follow that suggested path of the earlier members because I told him it seemed too holy for me. I came from a similar side of the street as you; enjoying free donuts thrown away in the dumpsters. I believe this made me tougher and no lightweight holier-than thou person who has nothing better to do but, study AA and preach to people is going to chase me out of the rooms. For my sobriety, I have to live in reality and face life on life’s terms. I don’t believe there is someone in the heavens that loves me and will make everything okay one day. I had to learn to love myself and after that I learned to love others. And for someone to suggest all self-knowledge is wrong seems foolish because it lacks a degree of maturity that one needs to stay sober one day at a time. One last thing, I was called a loser when I came into the rooms by a group of people who described themselves as the winners because they were working the 12 steps and I was just sweeping the floors and cleaning the ashtrays. Not one of them is sober today, two have died and then there is me an old guy, sober since the 80’s. If I drink again, I will die. And today I want to live. To this very day, I sweep the floors, make coffee and well, there are no ashtrays to clean. Thanks from Wally J.
Thanks for the concise Big Book summary.
I attend a speaker meeting weekly here in town, and most AA's who stay sober a year or two are tapped to share their story at length. While many stories are complicated by other substances, which results in blank spots, by far the greatest majority reflect the progression of alcoholism. I hear often of the dilemma we know all too well - suffering drinking or dry.
I think most around here who stick in AA are, in fact, alcoholic. AA is like a self-cleaning oven, there are outliers, but the vast majority of members are real alcoholics. I also believe AA is not "broken". I am thriving with 2 million other sober alcoholics, thanks to our program of recovery.
My sponsor said I would have to change my sobriety date from 5/3/08 to zero because I started smoking cigarettes again. He also said I was never really sober because I switched addictions to sugar, caffeine and diet drinks. He said I am no better now than when I was when drinking alcohol. This disturbs me. I think I'm going to fire him and the reason why, I think he is nuts. From this logic the founders of AA were never sober because they chain-smoked until their deaths and relied on heavy coffee drinking. Is anyone really sober today? When I look around the rooms half my group is on anti-depressants and there are at least 5 guys who now weight close to 300 pounds, yes and my belly is headed in that direction too. And also, our meeting breaks up half way so people can have a smoke break. Its confusing to me but, I can tell you I am not going to pick up the first drink no matter what. I feel ashamed and keep praying but, I don't think the prayers are working. I know if I drink again I will surely be on the wrong side of the grave as the saying goes. Trying to keep it simple with an unsimple addiction.