Burning Desire to Share
What would have happened if Jim B. and Hank P. had
gone to an all night New York diner and discussed these
issues between themselves? No, they stayed and fought the
good fight in order that any alcoholic could join A.A.
They kept the doors to our A.A. rooms open regardless of
one's beliefs or non beliefs.
Of course Alcoholics Anonymous has been distorted and
twisted. We have become some sort of religious temperance
movement, viewed by many as a strange religious cult.
But our founders and members like Jimmy and Hank left
all the information we need to restore the effectiveness our fellowship.
I believe that many A.A. members today are closed minded.
I don't agree that many are hateful. They are defending
beliefs which have been taught them by ignorant A.A.
members. Members like myself who for so many years was also
ignorant. I simply did not understand the IDEA offered to
Bill W. in the spring of 1935 by Dr. Silkworth. The
"little Dr. who loved drunks" offered a technique, a unique
method of passing the message (solution) to other drinkers
who suffer from our disease.
I still have hope that enough A.A. members will be
willing to do the investigation, in order to prevent the
complete distruction of Alcoholics Anonymous. But we are
near the cliff and could very easily fall.
I find it real necessary to do the GOD stuff. Or higher power. ..
After reading the comments about Hank and Jim, I felt led to reread their stories in the big book. I would suggest all who read this post to read Hank and Jim’s stories in their entirety. I think there stories are a great example of how AA’s program is spiritual and not religious, and parts of their stories should be posted here. This is the last line of Hank P’s story from the first edition of the big book, called the unbeliever: Brrr, this floor is cold on my knees . . . why are the tears running like a river down my cheeks . . . God, have mercy on my soul!
Here are some excerpts from Jim B’s story in the big book, the vicious cycle: “My loneliness was worse than it had ever been before, for now even my own kind had turned against me. This time it really hurt, more than any hangover ever had. My brilliant agnosticism vanished, and I say for the first time that those who really believed, or at least honestly tried to find a Power greater than themselves, were much more composed and contented than I had ever been, and they seemed to have a degree of happiness I had never known…….. For a long time the only Higher Power I could concede was the power of the group, but this was far more than I had ever recognized before, and it was at least a beginning. It was also an ending, for never since june 16, 1938, have I had to walk alone.
Around this time our big AA book was being written, and it all became much simpler; we had a definite formula that some sixty of us agreed was the middle course for all alcoholics who wanted sobriety, and that formula has not been changed one iota down through the years……. Since I was still a theological rebel-that the work God should be qualified with the phrase “as we understand Him”-for that was the only way I could accept spirituality………..I found myself in the middle of a brand new group. When I started to tell the boys how we did it in New York and all about the spiritual part of th e program, I found they would not believe me unless I was practicing what I preached. Then I found that as I gave in to this spiritual or personality change, I was getting a little more serenity. In telling newcomers how to change their lives and attitudes, all of a sudden I found I was doing a little changing myself. I had been to self-sufficient to write a moral inventory, but I discovered on pointing out to the new man his wrong attitudes and actions that I was really taking my own inventory, and that if I expected him to change, I would have to work on myself too…………. “and I still say that as long as I remember that Jan 9 in Washington, that is how ling, by the grace of God as I understand Him, I will retain a happy sobriety”
If Hank can get down on his knees and as Jim put it, “my brilliant agnosticism vanished”, work to grow spiritually (not religious) you and I can too.
In step 2 we ask ourselves do I now believe or am I willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. As soon as a man can say he does believe or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him he is on his way (big book page 47)
Good luck to you and God (as I understand Him) bless you!
Frank, that's very hopeful and a great way to stay out of "the debating society." But has there been some other way of expressing a reliance on a "Power greater than yourself"? Is it a matter of just choosing the right words - nothing that would scare off a newcomer - or do you not believe that the Power is some kind of Deity? Or do you stay sober despite that you DON'T believe in an HP? I'd love to hear your take because I know a helluva lot of guys who can't get past step 2! Thanks
To me, our "AA Fellowship" has been confused with being the "AA program." The "AA program" is usually associated with the Big Book and Twelve Steps whcih contains all the confusing god language troubling many and scaring others away and some to their deaths. The "AA Fellowship" is defined by the Preamble and is all-inclusive. In my experience the Agnostic Groups follow the latter and adhere to the Preamble. Please read it. The Preamble tells me that whether one believes in a higher power or not this should not be an issue in AA because we are asked to share OUR EXPERIENCE, STRENGTH AND HOPE. A misjudgment that occurs is people who find they can recover without a higher power are assumed to be against the people who do. This is not true. I am supportive of all members. We are all equals in AA. Some like the god tango and some like the humanistic fox-trot. In my own recovery, I did not see AA as moral disease. My sins did not make me an alcoholic. I looked at it more from the biochemical aspect involving my brain. I needed to refrain from putting alcohol in my body. Once I went through withdrawal and the obsessive-compulsive aspect of addiction declined enough I discovered I was an immature 40 year man with an explosive personality still acting like a juvenile delinquent. All of a sudden all the pain I had been hiding with alcohol started to seep into my consciousness and I started to feel anxiety. Some find god helps them with these feelings. I found the slogans, healthy diet, exercise and the principals helpful. But the majority of wisdom I received did not come from “the AA Program.” It came from living in the real world and “the AA Fellowship” By listening to people in the rooms sharing their vulnerable experiences in recovery and hearing the tricks they actually did to overcame situations which were causing pain, helped me tremendously. One does not have to be holy or religious to recover from alcoholism.
Most of the language in the pre emblem was taken from the forward to the first edition of the book alcoholics anonymous. The then editor of the grapevine actually used the big book! I think we should too.
Thanks Frank R. I think I heard you share at a meeting in San Diego once while visiting. You said, "So whenever I am at a meeting and the topic is God, I just say, “I found it not necessary to believe in God to stay sober and I’ll pass.” It's funny you say that because I say a similiar thing but, luckily that topic doesn't come up very often. Our group feels talking specifically about God is an outside issue and can be disruptive in the discussion meetings. Of course we are okay when someone shares about their "Higher Power" There is even a few "Jesus" followers in our group but, they understand the true nature of Preamble and respect others beliefs. The majority of members in my group don't really care what a person does or does not believe in. Every once in a while a control freak will come into the group and disrupt it with dogma but, we don't take the bait and they move on somewhere else where I imagine they will fulfill their self-appointed role as the Big Kahuna of AA. Anyways, thanks again. Fast Eddie
I appreciate your experience. From what I remember, Jim B and Hank P are credited with the idea of “higher power” and God as I understand Him. The later is the only phrase that is repeated twice in the list of AA’s 12 steps.
If I remember correctly, Hank went back to drinking and never did return. I recall reading in “pass it on”, that Jim had gone out of town for business and found himself in trouble. The AA members at the time decided to let him go it alone since he didn’t believe in God. Jim talked of being alone in the motel when he came across a bible. He said nothing more of the experience. When he returned to New York, he snuck into Bill W’s house during the night and appeared in the morning asking to join in their morning meditation. Now this is not verbatim , just what I remember reading. It shows that even Jim gave meditation a try.
AA offers a “spiritual” program of action, whether a person can stay sober on a nonspiritual basis depends on how far advanced their alcoholism is. Spiritual and religion are two separate things. When an AA member speaks in an AA meeting or to a newcomer we ought to all use general terms like Higher Power, or God as I understand Him.
I came to AA as an agnostic, the chapter to the agnostics in the big book helped me greatly. As an agnostic, I was able to say I was willing to believe in a power greater than myself. I was then able to practice the prayer, meditation, and self-examination that the program of AA suggests. In a short time I was able to see that I had a God all along, it was me! Following my best ideas I became an alcoholic. Alcohol beat me into a state of willingness, that willingness allowed me to grow spiritually, which I now believe is the single most important aspect of my life.
Let’s remember that about half of the people who come in the doors of AA are atheist or agnostics. In our book “alcoholics anonymous”, Chapter 4 states clearly AA’s guide for the atheist or agnostic.
Good luck to you and God bless you,
If a belief in God had been required to be a member of
A.A., Jim would not have stayed around long enough to be
"saved". Somehow Jim knew the importance of being all
inclusive. If Jim was the member holed up in the hotel
room (I have read enough of your messages to trust them),
Jim's was a conversion story. Jim was allowed to "come
to believe". I believe that most alcoholics approaching
A.A. will come to believe if we don't push them away
by telling them to Find God and find Him now. We again have
to study and use that powerful tool suggested by Dr.
Silkworth, whom I believe was agnostic or atheistic.
You were allowed to grow spiritually at a pace you
weRE able to comprhend. Why do you insist that we tell
other newcomers they need to find God NOW? ANONYMOUS
Now that I think about it, Jim B is Ed in the third tradition in the 12x12, I think I mispoke and said in pass it on earlier. It's a great example of how the third tradition started so "alcoholics" wouldn't be thrown out of AA. Now we use it to keep "nonalcoholics out of AA".
Today is my first day of sobriety. I started drinking when I was 18 with my college boyfriend and his friends. I never learned how to drink responsibly. Most of the time I would drink too much only on the weekends. When my father became ill with cancer, almost eight years ago, I started drinking every day. I told myself it was because of my dad's illness but he has been gone for five years and I'm still doing it. I've been married for fifteen years and will not be married much longer if I don't stop. My husband didn't say anything at first but it is really bothering him now. It also affects my daughter's happiness. She has left me notes in my purse telling me that I just don't learn. She is sixteen but wise beyond her years. However, I have tried to stop for them before and that just wasn't enough. As much as I love them I have to do it for me and not because they will be mad if I don't. I've read posts here and feel that this is a good place for me. I just need to be around people who understand what I'm doing and why. Oddly enough I was thrilled to read a post about "Am I That Bad"? Not because that poster feels that way - it is a horrible way to feel - but because I understand it. I spent most of my life feeling like I was bad. Then I'd drink too much and screw up and it would just reinforce that badness to me. It was a vicious cycle. I have worked through the issue of feeling like I'm bad. Now I just have one more hurdle. Thank you for having this place.
first of all I wont to say; you are the most impotant person;an im really really glad your here smile
You are absolutely right,you do need the support of people who understand what you are trying to do.The fellowship of AA understands because that's what we are trying to do:Don't drink one day at a time.To most of us,AA is meetings. No meetings,no AA......The Grapevine is "our meeting in print"but I've never read the story of someone who stayed sober on the Grapevine alone.Please don't insist on being the first one.Don't make this harder than it has to be.Take advantage of the meetings-they can be magical.
Hopefully, this is your third day of sobriety. You began
to drink every day. You did what you had to do in order to
drink every day. Now you are beginning to not drink every
day (which, by the way, is possible). You will have to
exert a bit more energy in order to not drink every day.
Find A.A. meetings in your area. Go there. Tell us
who you are and why you are here. If possible, go to a
meeting every day for a while. Try different meetings.
Listen to others share how they stay sober. Spend the
time and energy you spent drinking, learning how not
I grew up with an alcoholic father and an angry mother.
I hated him for being "weak", but I picked up a drink and
soon became weaker than my father. I have been sober for
many years and today watch my son as he struggles with
his addictions. I give him the same advice, go to meetings.
If you don't like the meetings, keep going and eventually
you will like them. You will find a group of alcoholics
and will "be there" for each other. Your drinking bothers
your husband and daughter more than you will ever know.
Many times our friends and families just give up in dispair.
Their great love often turns to hate. Don't drink. Be
careful with over the counter medications. Use nothing
containing alcohol. Welcome to your new life. ANONYMOUS
I asked HOW?
I was answered Honest, Open, Willing.
Honest enough to actually look at my problem. You already have a good start on that.
Open enough to at least park my car in the vicinity of an AA meeting and scurry in like some kind of b-movie spy.
Willing enough to say to myself that out of a roomful of people a couple of them didn't seem too bad. I sure wasn't having any luck on my own. I could go back and listen again.
Its been a number of years since my last drink. The biggest problem in my life no longer even exists. I have a wonderful life and I got it at AA. I hope you join us.
To let go and let God, to know that I can't control people places and things, to place principles before people, to have humilty, to have graditude, to have acceptance and look for the good in all, to not carry resentments, to learn from the past and not live in the past, to listen, to know that picking up a drink will complete the list of "yets" and lastly to love myself for who I am.
One of the first meetings I attended I heard, "keep coming back, we will love you until you love yourself". That statement stuck me. I been sober and happy for over year now.
This program has taught me how to live life. I would get mad at the drop of a hat, drink over the good and the bad, which over time, what I thought was my best friend became my worst enemy. Although successful at work receiving great reviews and rewarded financially, my family paid dearly on the weekends. Staying sober and thinking clearly has allowed me to mend those relationships.
I keep my life simple today. I've found a meeting for which I'm the cookie guy (thanks to wife) and I keep track of the finances, doing what ever is asked of me.
I hope I can give back as much as has been given to me.
abandond by my counceller, now left between a rock and a wet place why? AM I SO BAD?
I heard a wonderful person say, 'we're not bad people trying to get good. We're sick people trying to get better.' Try to find some love for yourself. You're worth it!
We are not bad people tiring to get GOOD we are sick people tiring to get well and the 3 pertinent ideas of A.A are simple and clear. Take a closer look
Bad has nothing to do with it. If you have alcohol dependence then you have a brain disorder and some find AA helpful. Sins or lack of morals does not cause addiction. They are toxic run-offs from overuse. If you "just feel" like a bad person-sure thats normal. Sometimes people abuse alcohol without being an alcoholic because of untreated mental health issues and many self-medicate with alcohol. Seeking professional help would be a good start. Attending a few meetings and listening to people share their experience is another. Remember-suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
There is a young Irish kid in our group that has never had a drop of alcohol but, he claims to be an alcoholic because it runs in his family and it’s in his genes. “I don’t have to drink alcohol to prove I am an alcoholic, just look at my family” His father, older siblings, uncles and cousins all have the disease. I guess he is a member if he says he is but, I thought the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. How can he be a member if he hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol to get a desire to stop drinking in the first place? Yea, I know it’s my problem, something I need to look at and I’m reminded by my sponsor to keep an open mind nonetheless, it’s still challenging for me to sit through a meeting and have this kid preach to us about alcoholism. Once I hollered out, “Hey, why don’t you just go out and get drunk and then come back and talk to us” This was a selfish thing to say forgetting the newcomers in the room are watching. I drank for 25 years and spent many days in hospitals, jails and treatment centers and this kid only has factual information about alcoholism spoon fed to him in the crib. My sponsor suggests I should consider this kid my best friend. I really don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Lay-off the kid!I've got people I don't want a drunken kid running over on the sidewalk.Staying away from one d-'d drink for one d-'d day is as good a description of the 3rd.tradition as any.There is no shortage of mean drunks in AA.And we wonder why we aren't attracting more members.Also,my experience is that the best way to kill a drunk in AA is to get between him and his sponsor.
"Love & Tolerance" DOES NOT translate into becoming outright stupid!Your perceptions & uncomfortability with this young fella are quite normal. Alanon is where he belongs if he's so concerned about the affects of alcoholism in his life. How would Alanon member's feel about someone coming to mtg.'s spouting off when they've never, ever had a "Qualifier" in their life?. In my 40 yrs. of AA membership, I've yet to hear of an "Honorary AA member". It's nonsense! And frankly I'm concerned for much of the nonsense that's permitted to float in AA these days. This person should not be allowed to attend closed mtg.'s in AA. The welfare of the group comes first with the welfare of the individual a close second. The group members have a right & a responsibility to the group & those in attendance to uphold the traditions (anonymity)& the group guidelines. This fella sounds like "problems other than alcohol" & people in AA gotta get it through their head that we cannot be all things to all people. It's an ego trip to think otherwise. And that is not mean, it's simply true! We are simply not set up for some folks. This arguement that people go to immediately about not driving the new person out, has become a cheap emotionally charged weapon to hamstring AA member's from being AA member's. I was a newcomer. I've been witnessing mewcomer's for 40 yrs. I didn't need anyone to give me a resentment or a reason to leave or stop going to mtg.'s. I could find those all by myself without any help from anyone or facts to base them on. Until I was ready the teacher simply would'nt appear. To this day, I would go to hell to help the alcoholic. But if they want to stay there, I'm leavin. Let's talk about Love & Tolerance. Regardless of what you may think about religion or religious figures, I would think that most would agree that the Pope knows something about Love, Tolerance & Forgiveness. The last Pope was almost assassinated. That Pope spent 5 hrs. in his assailants cell Loving him & Forging him. Now I believe that he forgave him as do most others. But I can garantee you that he did not have that assasin up to the Vatican on Fri. or Sat. nite for dinner nor did they go for long strolls together thru the local malls. People don't end up in AA because of their great diplomatic skills. We carry the message as best we can with what we've got. If you're gonna be critical of how another member does that & you want to expose you're AA super hero power's, at least be honest about your motives & correct in the delivery of your message.
Why would anyone want to join AA if they do not have a problem with drinking? Might encourage him to answer the two questions found on page 44 in our beloved Big Book, also kind of hard to share experience when having none, my sympathies friend. Your sponsor has a point; love and tolerance is our code, that is tough sometimes. Pray for the young fellow and try to mean, it is what my sponsor would tell me to do. Might try it. Let us know how it works out. AA Love M.
That's a difficult one. If the guy is an alcoholic I would hate to be the person who drives him away and potentially signs the guy's death warrant (even if it's years down the line before tragedy strikes). I know step 1 in the twelve steps and traditions book talks about raising the bottom. It also mentions AA being joined by potential alcoholics. The other thing is most AAs I know including me did not have the membership requirement; by that I mean I did not want to stop , I wanted to carry on without the consequences (not possible, for an alcoholic !). I guess he has a desire not to start , or is he just in denial and not being truthful about never having had a drink. If he really isn't an alkie then in time he will go (I cant see anyone without the problem, doing steps etc). I wonder if being a 'kid' he is unclear and needs AL ANON and not AA. In the end the only answer is between him and his higher power. Not an easy one is it.
Ought not be allowed in closed meetings. Ought not be
allowed to participate in open meetings. Either way,
he will not be around meetings for long. This
"problem" will solve itself, in my opinion. Manny Q.
I'm sure you are right, problems seem to solve themselves. In my opinion some problems still need a little push for the good of the group. I know what a idiot a Irish kid can be since I am 100% Irish and was one. Maybe I still am, but now I'm 63. God help me! It's always been said around here that AA's vote with their feet.
It is time for our membership leaders to stick around
and address issues and concerns, instead of walking away.
Some problems solve themselves, some take a lot of hard
work. Manny Q.
Here is my opinion. Problems do not solve them selves. I apply the AA principles to my my life one day at a time. I then experience the 12 promises on page 83 of the Big Book. As a young member in Ireland I heard the following nugget of wisdom, "THERE ARE NO MEDALS FOR YESTERDAY'S SOBRIETY! THERE IS NO GRADUATION DAY IN AA. WE HAVE GOT JUST THIS DAY. THIS SECOND IS ALL I HAVE IN WHICH TO LIVE. That is for me a consoling truth. God bless ye all.
I have enough trouble working my own program without trying to figure out how others should works theirs, or whether they really need to be in AA at all. In retrospect, I wish I had come into AA before I ever started drinking, as it would have saved me and others from a lot of misery, but the generations before me had a great network of enabling set up such that the impact of the disease was well-hidden from those outside the family as well as many inside.
Based on that reasoning, I'm not an alcoholic, because my brother and two sisters weren't alcoholics.
My opinion? Keep speaking out about know-nothings trying to tell alcoholics how to stay sober. We get enough of their steer manure from the treatment industry.
I'd also think about getting a new sponsor, one who is familiar with our Traditions. It's bad enough when the group allows that sort of trash, but to say it's your problem is a downright lie.
Thanks for your thoughts. I don't want to be a controversial figure in my group but, I just can't accept this. As you suggested, I ended my relationship with my sponsor and hope to find another soon as well as a new group. I know I was a jerk for speaking out but, my heart is not going to budge on that issue at this time.
Thank G.O.D for alcoholics anonymous I'm grateful for my recovery and I know A.A does not need me but I need A.A
We do not wish to engage in any controversy. That means
public controversy. We ought to avoid controversy at
the meeting itself. But the second tradition is built
on differences of opinions and certainly controversy.
Bill W. called them squabbles, and hopefully we will
always have them. We have a common goal: to make A.A.
as effective as possible. We do not all agree on how
best to do that. On second thought, maybe you are a
jerk for walking away from the group, instead of trying
to repair a fixable problem. As far as the change of sponsors, I firmly believe that today's concept of
"sponsor" ought to be deleted from our A.A. vocabulary.
If we do that then the real sponsor or mentor will
A member of our group was struggling with depression. After three years he finally got professional help. Members of our group were against him taking medication. They said he was depressed because he wasn't working the steps hard enough and that he wasn't being honest with his higher power. They also said he wasn't really sober and had a cheaters sobriety. People treated him as a "loser." I was against this and encouraged him to listen to the doctors. I reminded people at a group conscious that it is not appropriate to give medical advice. I believe people who are against taking medication are the people who need it the most. It is common knowledge that mental illness is very common with alcoholics. Just working the steps and praying does not work for everyone. So to cut to the quick, he started taking medication as prescribed and his life turned around. Unfortunately, members of our group kept working on him until they convinced him to stop taking the medication. As one would guess where this is leading to, he blew his brains out. I was the only member of our group to attend the funeral service. This is not the first time it has happened in my group. I have two questions; "How perfect does one have to work the steps and pray to have their higher power cure them of mental illness? Is sobriety only rewarded to those members that are perfect?"
I take strong exception to anyone telling another person what medication they can and cannot take. As a health professional in AA I have a seen many who have both an addiction to alcohol and major depression requiring medication. A good friend of mine who is now sober for 30 years in AA is an example of this. He works a great program, as evidenced by his continued sobriety, AND has had lifelong depression often requiring medication. He knows that he cannot live a healthy, joyful live without medical treatment because he has tried. No amount of good AA took away his depression even at 25 years sober.
Depression and other mental illnesses exist separately from alcoholism. Sure it can take a variable amount of time during the first months/years of sobriety for the effects of alcohol to clear from the brain but once they do we all have periods of happiness. People with depression do not have this happiness and they are at risk for suicide if left untreated.
You need to find a different group. There is a pamphlet on the aa.org website that covers this topic. Anyone telling another member what medications they should or should not be taking is a danger to others. I am sorry, but bipolar disorder does not resolve itself through prayer any more than hypertension, diabetes, and hepatitus do.
To the previous posts...Thanks for all the support. I've left the group and a good men's discussion meeting was recommended. I was told the members of the group do not say stupid things about medication and doctors. He also mentioned that the founder of AA struggled with depression throughout his recovery and tried various things to relieve the pain which is seldom acknowledged or talked about.
If the guy in my group who ended his life would of known that about the founder it could of made a difference and maybe he would of not ended his life. Shawn R.
Yes Bill did suffer from depression a long time he overcame his by practicing the 11th step he found out that he was wanting to be at the top of the heap or he would sank to the bottom of the heap when he didn't get what he wanted his solution was to quit playing God you can't rely on God and defy him at the same time, you can find this in the book Pass it on a story of Bill W.'s life.
It is common knowledge Bill W. was not a saint. One does not have to be a saint to start a spiritual program. We like to think our fearless leader was angelic; perhaps this awareness might comfort us. However, if anyone was a saint it would be Lois is faithful wife who endured much embarrassment and humiliation. Bill suffered from depressions, rage, a large ego and indiscretions with women while married. Bill could not give up his nicotine addiction. His chain smoking led him to emphysema inside an oxygen tank where he kept smoking and finally he lay dying screaming uncontrollably for a drink as documented by the nursing staff. Despite these imperfections, I find a man I admire much. He was an ordinary man who sincerely cared for the suffering alcoholic throughout his life. He never quit but kept searching. He even experimented with LSD and niacin in order to find a cure. Today, if Bill were still alive he would be working with doctors and medical scientists to find the correct healing agent for alcoholism. Bill was human and in his humanness I’ve grown to appreciate him. I’ve learned to accept myself for not being perfect. Knowing he was flawed helped me to forgive my own unsatisfactory behavior. It relieves me to think he was a not a “god” but an ordinary human being like me who shared the same struggles in sobriety with character defects as I such as, temptation, fear, desire, and jealousy. If Bill stayed sober knowing he was deficient in character then so can I one day at a time.
Thanks for this discription of our co-founder. I
believe it to be accurate, although that belief was a
long time coming for me. Bill W. was relieved from
that obsession and compulsion by a spiritual awakening.
He finally found a way (method, technique, gadget)
to pass that solution to other suffering alcoholics.
What worked with others, was simply talking about his
own experience with an attitude of humility and weakness.
Initially Bill's attempts to help others was what Bill
called spectacularly unsuccessful. For six months Bill
used what I call the "How it Works" approach. That
approach did not work, and is not working for us today.
Bill was very much just another man, certainly not
a saint. (we are not saints). But he was determined that
a workable solution to alcoholism would not be lost.
Bill left everything we need to know to keep this solution
alive. Although my generation has pushed the solution
aside, it is still written in our simple history. Bill
left it for us, despite his own imperfections. In a nutshell
it can still be found in the IDEA left to us by Bill
and Dr Silkworth. Many thanks for the message. ANONYMOUS
Please post were u found the story of bill w screaming for booze
I suggest doing some homework. There is a thing called the Internet.
Many of Bills low lights are common knowledge at this juncture in AA's history but, his high lights gave us AA and me a way out into a new life.
Sometimes I get the odd call, or someone will share about how they have had enough of AA (often after many years sobriety) and my response is normally to share my experience and not resort to a quick dismissive remark about them being sick, quite often they are well and on the receiving end of a 'sick' meeting. I remember my sponsor saying that AA was not a fellowship of the well but there were well people in AA. When you live in a major metropolis, such as London, whilst there is no shortage of meetings (hundreds per week) and members, you are going to find the a range of sobriety and a few ( I stress a few) meetings which test your tolerance. Often the traditions have been forgotten at such meetings. A few examples, a speaker meeting where the chair shared about their OCD and all shared back about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (the cause of their alcoholism) maybe I should have said something but walked away justifying to myself it wasn't my home home group. There are those who think they are experts in medicine and try and advise others on health and medication (dangerous and arrogant). At a speaker meeting this week, the speaker shared how he did not suffer from fears , had no resentments and talked at the group, turned out he had been drinking the day before and the group secretary picked him at the last minute not knowing this (the speaker needed help as a suffering alcoholic not an opportunity to take the chair at the meeting).
So AA is just like real life there are going a be few disappointments and answer for me is not to walk away but to share with another long term member for their take on the meeting as it could be just me being over sensitive or expecting every meeting to be as I would like it to be.
The answer is to keep coming back and mention the Traditions when it helps. Also for me to watch out for the old perfectionism streak as in my 30 years plus continuous sobriety I would guess I have been to about 5000 meetings of which I would say about less than 50 have been wacky, this means 99% have been good, sober, and left me walking away feeling good about life and recovery. Sadly some will see a 'bad' meeting as a reason not to return and no longer see the need to pass on the gift they have been given. So part of my recovery today is accepting that sobriety is sometimes surviving AA as well , focusing on the good and seeing the value of the Traditions more and more.
From what I have been told from “old Timers” such as your –self, with 30 years Plus sobriety, I live In the part of the USA where AA traditions are adhered to at meetings, meaning; members don’t go off on tangents about medical issues associated with alcoholism such as, OCD or bipolar, or how when they drank they did drugs and other things and talk about them instead of Alcohol. Because If they do they are reminded that they are in an AA meeting.
With that said, this part of the country also realizes that (or the people that have been through a detox), you are DULE- Diagnosed, 80% of Alcoholics also suffer from mental Illness, so it wouldn’t be uncommon for you to hear that in any AA meeting, just not as a main topic and any group conesus can stop the sharing of such a topic. The confusing thing to me is, someone 30years PLUS sober, should know this or should at least have the serenity to let it go.
I remember my early AA day’s hearing a lot of God talk. It didn’t offend me because I believed in God. I grew up in the church and was not threatened by prayer or miracles. I often looked down upon atheists and agnostics and considered them troublemakers. They were saying things about AA I didn’t want to hear. AA at the time to me was a simple program of god, steps and miracles. Why don’t they go somewhere else? When I started to recover and my brain cleared up I was in a more generous position to listen. They were not troublemakers at all but, brothers and sisters with legitimate concerns about the fellowship. These members actually loved the fellowship more than I! In social groups, sometimes it’s the edge people or minorities who hold the rope that can free the majority from the dogmatic quicksand it is sinking in and point it to a higher place. One day, I was listening to this atheist elder in our group share. He was more passionate about recovery and AA than I was because I think he had to fight for everything. He had a stronger grasp on spirituality and a better sense of the world. The truth hurt. It was a wake-up call. In my AA comforts, I actually was not growing at all. I realized I was hiding behind the language of recovery but not living it. I could razzle-dazzle people into thinking I knew it all but, I really didn’t. I studied the big book and steps and was miserable and here was a man that didn’t do any of that and was peaceful and friendly. I’m certainly not going to become an atheist of agnostic anytime soon, but I’ve learned to keep an open mind like the sign above our door. I’ve learned not to judge other members and treat everyone in the rooms with dignity and respect. Most importantly, I can’t have a “leave well-enough alone recovery.” I must continue to change as I march forward towards the grave.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Sounds easy enough…right? After walking through a cloud of cigarette smoke, I walked into a room and saw what appeared to be an assortment of nuts and empty seats. Then the meeting started. Some guy mumbled a bunch of rules that took forever. People were disinterested. It was a colossal bore. Then a person was instructed to start a discussion topic. He talked about God. The man seemed angry. He went on and on threatening new people like me to find God, work the steps or die. Then a person started talking about depression and the leader stopped her saying this is about alcoholism only. She got up and left. The next man called on paraphrased pages from a book as a few people nodded their heads. During the meeting, a young woman with the tightest outfit got up several times as many males gazes descended on her delightfully. And what these people all have in common is they are all talking in some weird coded language dipped in religious ideas. Then I thought, “I don’t belong here because I’m not a religious person” After the meeting a stranger walked up to me, “Hi I’m Dave, welcome, if you need anything let me know” This kindness disarmed me and I thought, “I’m not religious but, he seemed okay.” Then other aliens spoke. “Forget the god crap for now; just don’t pick up the first drink for one day. Can you do that at least?” “I lied, cheated and stole from the ones that loved me the most” “I wrecked my car in a blackout” “Once I picked up the first drink, I was off to the races” “I couldn’t even hold a wrench, my hands would shake so much.” “Woke up in jail with dried blood on my face” “She left me” “I forgot my kids at the mall” I remember identifying completely and it was comforting hearing laughter and meaningful conversation through it all. And that’s how it all started. My first impression of the actual meeting was not the greatest but afterwards the real human connection was pure gold.
Just Another Drunk
You are one of the very few who stick around for the
real message. Most get up and leave, maybe not physically,
but mentally they are saying "let me out of here".
The way the A.A. message is most effectively
carried is by sharing our own experiences, not by a lot
of redundant reading and chanting. We fail hundreds of
thousands of suffering alcoholics every year by the
very things that you mentioned. Keep them in mind and
when the opportunity presents itself, voice your
concerns to the group. Alcoholics are dying while
we read, chant and pray. ANONYMOUS
Last year I tried AA but then quickly found excuses to stay away. And I drank. Now I want to go back...need to go back...but feel ashamed and fearful I will fall back on my "excuses".
If you need AA it is there for you. You have a powerful experience that some other Alcoholic will listen to and identify with.
We all drank ourselves into AA membership!