Burning Desire to Share
About five and half years ago my mother, in her 90s, died as a result of a fire in my condo. My wife and I were out of our apartment and my Mom apparently left some food on the burner too long, grabbed the pan with a linen towel instead of a hot pad. The towel caught fire and she dropped it on the floor of the kitchen then tried to stomp the flames out. Her nightgown caught on fire giving her third degree burns on much of her body. The burn ward did all they could but she died a few days later.
We rushed to the hospital when we learned about the fire but my Mom was unconscious and stayed that way. That night when we went home there was a charred spot on the carpet like a police body outline where she had lay burning. If not for my sponsor and my Higher Power, that image would have driven me crazy. As my sponsor sagely advised me, "When you are in hell, keep walking." That's what I did. Thank you God!
What a scene! God and AA are amazing!
Just a twist on your sponsor's advice; I've heard it said like this, "when you're GOING THROUGH hell, keep walking. And if youre catching hell, dont hold on to it!
Sometime it can seem almost like we are passing through Hell right here now. By yielding our will and lives to God we have the promise he will see us through.
Last night, I had an overwhelming fear grip me of going back out and using after almost a year and a half of sobriety!
I immediately talked with several of my friends in my homegroup and they told me to take it easy that I was overwhelming myself with laundry, literature, and other things in my life.
So as a result of being woken up to reality, as a hard knox, my higher power worked through these individuals in a loving, and caring manner to bring me back to the basics: First things first, Easy Does It, and Let Go and Let God.
Sounds easier in principle form but if I want to stay sober that's what I have to do. Nothing! And I mean nothing here people is worth the risk of losing the precious gift of sobriety. Yes these are rough times today but learning to slow it down and treating ourselves good is important so I'm going to go to the library this afternoon and read! Yep. I'm taking care of myself from now on because I deserve it.
Thank HP you did the right thing! I too believe God works through people. They used to say " If you want to see God look behind a styrofoam cup"!
I have never heard this before. Never! They used to say: "There is a God and I'm not It. anonymous
When sponsors fail try A.A. as the Big Book say's it begins within PERSONAL wiliness not people willing !!!
Bill W. wrote in a grapevine article in the early 1960's: "Don't try to become a saint by next Thursday".
The statement was described as an admonition. I think
that could also mean a warning. Yet we tell the newcomer
and everyone at the meeting "That One is God, May you
find Him Now! The reading of "How It Works" at meetings
from the podium must stop, and MUST stop now! ANONYMOUS
Bill also wrote "Our chief responsibility to the newcomer is an adequate presentation of the program. If he does nothing or argues, we do nothing but maintain our own sobriety. If he starts to move ahead, even a little, with an open mind, we then break our necks to help in every way we can."
In my home group an adequate presentation to the newcomer is to read. The preamble, How it works, and the Twelve Traditions at the start of every meeting. YOU are not the most important person in the room. The newcomer is !!!!!
I dissagree and believe that "How It Works" needs to be read at the beginning of each meeting to give a newcomer a sence of what they will find in the literature and program. Just because God is mentioned and put out in hope that they find God is part of what we are suggested to do in our recovery. So why should we try to hide God when we know that as they read the AA literature it is filled with reference to finding God or Spirituality.
When I first sobered up and was reading the Big Book of AA in the chapter to "We the Agnostic" it says on pg46 "And it means, of course, that we are going to talk about God" and that night "I" also read "because without God it won't work." Now I have searched many editions of the Big Book since that night looking for those added words "because without God it won't work" that I read that night and have not found them in any edition.
I know today though that I needed to see those added words because I was on the road as an agnostic and without God I would not be sober today, without the spiritual I would have been doomed, God has done for me what I could not do for myself. I believe God added those words I saw because I needed to see them and it is a Spiritual program in AA, and it works better if I "Let go and Let God" be God!
Just my Opinion
How it works maybe the only thing usefully said rather than get a sponsor and if you don't you'll get drunk - I think I will stick with God and A.A.'s way of helping me introduce myself to him, thank you anyway.
I agree. I needed a POWER greater than myself, whom i could call GOD. Without HIM i wouldn't stand a chance. One day at a time, my HP keeps me sober.
So why should we try to hide God? Why did Bill W. place
How It Works in chapter five? If this were the first thing
a newcomer ought to be exposed to, it would have been chapter one, right in the beginning. In AACA page 159 and 160, Bill explains where he placed it and why. Reading HIW
at meetings from the podium is in direct contrast to Dr.
Silkworth's advice to Bill in the spring of 1935. Bill
writes many times that without this advice A.A. could never have been born. If we continue to ignore this advice Alcoholics Anonymous will eventually cease to exist. I know this is difficult to understand. But it can be understood
with a little or maybe a lot of research. ANONYMOUS
Good stuff. I think if God can perform the miracle of 2.1 million members of AA in 2011, that He can change 6 words in a book.
We had 2,489,541 A.A. members in 1992 according to Estimated Worldwide A.A. individual and Group Membership
numbers from GSO. That is close to 2.5 million. That was after 57 years of steady growth. For the past 20 years
we have been "spinning our wheels", churning. We are failing
most alcoholics approaching us today. We have forgotten how
to help them. Or we never learned the technique in the
first place. Like some of the other pleasurable things
in life, if we don't know the technique, and refuse to
listen and learn we will seldom get the desired results.
I believe that aa will help those who truly want help. Each of us must decide for ourselves what's more important, Quantity or Qaulity. Me personally, i believe that if aa helps one alcoholic stay sober, it has proven itself worth while.
"There are an estimated 1,384,699 AA members in the United States and Canada as-of December 31, 2011, this is the largest in history and up about 11,000 from the previous year. There are also 63,845 AA Groups in the United States and Canada. This is also the largest in history and 972 more than the previous year."
from Area Delegate, Gelong Tashi G., 62nd General Service Conference Report
By using the sentence "this is the largest in history"
you give the reader the impression that Alcoholics
Anonymous is doing just great. Are you really convinced
that an increase of 11,000 members for a whole year is
acceptable? I find it appalling. As a whole, who are
we helping? Basically just ourselves. The word is
churning. How can you be content with only one group
out of four gaining one new member in a year's time?
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to use you elyes if you are still even around as the answer is in the big book as the author discovered to share with others Alcoholics are BEYOND human power as the outsdie sponsor ship system inside A.A diverts them from A.A's facts right in front of our eyes. What is going on here?
"Are you really convinced that an increase of 11,000 members for a whole year is acceptable? I find it appalling."
"How can you be content with only one group out of four gaining one new member in a year's time?"
Personally, I don't think 30 per day is too bad.
Would you please tell me exactly where you found that 'one new member in a year' statistic? The only place I've ever seen it is in your posts.
In the 2011 FINAL REPORT (confidential) from The 61st
Annual Meeting of The General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous, I find this information. We have
approximately 60,000 AA groups in the US and Canada. We
had a gain of 14,802 members in the year of 2010. That
appears to be one group out of four gaining one member
for the whole year. That would be about 40 per day.
That may look like AA is total success. But if we
have almost a million and a half members of Alcoholics
Anonymous, and our duty is to help other alcoholics,
is this the best we can do? I do not think it would
be too much to expect each AA group to attract and hold
one new member in a year's time.
As a strange religious cult, we are saving 30-40
alcoholics daily. Imagine how many could be saved if
we use the sledge hammer left for us by Dr. Silkworth
and Bill W. The closest definition of this approach
that I have found is on page 70 of A.A.C.A. Bill W.
writes: THIS WAS IT. This was (and still is) how to
carry the message. This was the missing link which
is again missing in today's AA.
Alcoholism is a strange illness. The solution is
more than a little strange. But that is the method,
technique, which rarely fails. Using this tried and
true method or technique, we can save the 30-40 per day
plus the millions we have pushed away by the way our
meetings today are conducted.
We can easily increase our membership a minimum of
100,000 each year, by making these changes (reversals)
at the group level. I won't even list them. They are
written all over the I-SAY FORUM. And these changes
will not cost us anything in real cash. The cost will
be giving up our spiritual pride and EGO. ANONYMOUS
An A.A. friend mentioned that at her rehab the first
day she was given a copy of the Big Book and 12&12 with
some other literature. I understand that almost a million
copies of Alcoholics Anonymous are sold by our GSO each
year. As a delegate you would know if that is true.
I believe that almost all of these books are placed
in the hands of recovering alcoholics, either by groups
or by institutions. I suppose many are bought by groups
for activities such as Big Book study. But in my locale
the red Big Book study edition is used by some groups.
These are not printed or sold by A.A. headquarters.
What is my point? Out of a million books sold we
gained 11,000 members. That figures out to a success
rate of 1.1%. I know this theory is full of holes, but
it is only one more indication that Alcoholics Anonymous
is becoming less and less effective. Some members may say
Oh, well, "Many are called but few are chosen." ANONYMOUS
Ask yourself WHY WOULD ANYONE LEAVE A.A ?
Question: Was the traditions of A.A. wrote because of the outside sponsorship system prying on people inside the fellowship?
A.A states real clearly greateter than "OURSELFS" "No human power"
Question: Does the outside system taken over the A.A. program?
Honest questions deserve honest answers watch out the sponsors ego is going to come out of it's tree.
Quote: "Out of a million books sold we gained 11,000 members. That figures out to a success rate of 1.1%. I know this theory is full of holes, but it is only one more indication that Alcoholics Anonymous is becoming less and less effective."
Full of holes? Only a net could have more holes.
At one of our local meetings everyone who attends is given a fifty-fifty ticket (free) and at the end of the meeting whoever holds the winning ticket is given a Big Book. In probably nine out of ten cases the book ends up in the hands of someone who has been court ordered to meetings.
At another local meeting anyone who identifies as a newcomer is given a Big Book.
Big Books are given to local libraries and to local middle and high schools.
Our local CPC committee gives Big Books to doctors and other professionals who come in contact with alcoholics, and I have personally given Big Books to local ministers.
You do all this service work, the time and money spent,
distributing a million Big Books. A.A. members all over
the world are tireless in trying to spread the word of
recovery. With all this work and money spent, only one
group out of four gained ONE new member in a whole year.
That is shameful, but it has been that rate for the past
four years. We have distorted A.A. at the group level.
Our effectiveness today is practically nil.
Sure, it is great that 11,000 alcoholic lives were
saved in 2011. It could/should/would be 111,000 annual increase at the very least.
I think it is just too shameful to admit that we are
failing so many. I know, they are just not ready. Our
job is to help them become ready. ANONYMOUS
Good to know! great to here something positive about AA membership.
You saw "because without God it won't work. But it wasn't
written there. It is not written there for two reasons.
One, it is simply not true. Two, we do not want to push
anyone away from what may be their final chance at this
new life. The reading of "How It Works" at the beginning
of A.A. meetings, along with the preamble, is one of the
worst mistakes we have made at the group level in the
past three decades. You may say that is just my opinion.
But an opinion is a belief or judgement based on grounds
insufficient to prove complete certainty. The truth is
that most active alcoholics do not respond well to the
religious approach. No, I haven't done the survey. I just
look at the lack of effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous
since we started reading How It Works at meetings. Again
with the numbers. We pay to have these membership numbers
developed on a regular basis. Because the numbers do not
tell us what we want to hear, we ignore them or come up
with all kinds of excuses for our failure. Our blunders
have been listed many times on I-SAY. I hope you will
read them with an open mind and at least consider them.
It is nice to see a new name on the board. ANONYMOUS
When a horse dies most riders quit beating it. "No, I haven't done the survey. I just look at the lack of effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous since we started reading How It Works at meetings."
"How It Works" was being read at meetings long before you or I got sober. I doubt if there are many members alive today who got sober before meetings opened with it. According to Chuck C.'s "A New Pair of Glasses" (page 12) it was read at the first meeting in Los Angeles.
Perhaps they didn't read it in your little corner of the world. They did in the states and countries I visited in 1972 and '73.
You keep citing GSO statistics to back your claims that AA is stagnating. A few minutes ago I checked the AA web page and saw a four year chart showing steady growth. Where are you getting your info, "GSO Watch" or "Agent Orange"?
Those who are so irritated at the readings and chantings could simply stay outside the meeting room until all the reading is finished and leave before all the chanting begins? That would solve two of their problems, they could start to work on their resentment and they would get the attention they so obviously crave.
Is "A New Pair of Glasses" a conference approved book?
You or another poster have mentioned that book before.
Forgive me if I am wrong, but I believe Chuck C. wrote
that book for his own personal profit. On page 450 in the
third edition of the big book the writer said that It's
as though A.A. has given me a new pair of glasses. He
is talking about seeing his wife Max in a new light. Is
this where Chuck C. found the title for his book? Is
this not using A.A. for personal gain, maybe real cash.
I attended meetings in three states from 1970 to
1980, and How It Works was never read at those meetings.
I went to at least two thousand meetings in that decade.
I remember the first time it was read at my home group.
I tried to prevent it but it was like trying to hold
back the tide. I just felt that it was wrong although
I did not understand why I felt that way. I knew very
little about our history. I eventually accepted the
reading as a vital part of the meeting. I would stand
when I was asked to read it at a meeting. I would read it
loud and clear. My head was in the clouds, actually in
When I found out that we had lost half a million
members in the 1990's and our membership had become
stagnant, I began my investigation. I remembered all
the changes I had seen at the group level since 1980.
They came back to memory quickly. I recalled the first
time a member chanted at a meeting. The first time the
chairperson said "we'll go by a show of hands", I
wondered, "why are we doing this". I have learned
other mistakes by listening to others who are concerned.
Today's concept of "sponsor" makes A.A. more than a
Just recently I read of conference advice that we
ought to keep non-conference items separate from A.A.
conference approved material when it is displayed at
A.A. gatherings. In my opinion, we should not have non A.A. material at any A.A. function at all. Any display of outside material is violation of our traditions of non-endorsement. Our leaders need to wake up to what Alcoholics
Anonymous really is. Not a Fellowship, or a TWELVE STEP
PROGRAM. Our preamble tells us that we are a fellowship
of men and women.
When I finally developed an understanding of why Bill
and his friends rejected the 24 hour book, I could understand why reading HIW at meetings aloud from the
podium is so harmful to A.A. newcomers and to A.A. as
a whole. Dr. Silkworth's IDEA must be studied until
its concept is understood. ANONYMOUS
"Is "A New Pair of Glasses" a conference approved book?"
No, or is the Grapevine, for that matter.
"Forgive me if I am wrong, but I believe Chuck C. wrote
that book for his own personal profit."
You're forgiven. The book was transcribed from the tapes of talks Chuck gave during a weekend retreat for members of AA.
"On page 450 in the third edition of the big book the writer said that It's as though A.A. has given me a new pair of glasses. He is talking about seeing his wife Max in a new light. Is this where Chuck C. found the title for his book?"
Lee T. wrote the book, not Chuck C.
"I attended meetings in three states from 1970 to
1980, and How It Works was never read at those meetings."
Between July, 1971 and April 1973 I attended AA meetings in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, California, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Phillipine Islands and a US Navy ship. "How It Works was read at every one of those meetings.
"Just recently I read of conference advice that we ought to keep non-conference items separate from A.A. conference approved material when it is displayed at A.A. gatherings. In my opinion, we should not have non A.A. material at any A.A. function at all. Any display of outside material is violation of our traditions of non-endorsement. Our leaders need to wake up to what Alcoholics."
Since the Grapevine isn't technically Grapevine isn't 'conference approved' should it kept separate also?
"When I found out that we had lost half a million members in the 1990's and our membership had become stagnant, I began my investigation."
According to a chart on the Alcoholics Anonymous web site, AA had 4533 more groups and 59129 more members in 2010 than in 2007. I don't see those numbers as a sign of stagnation.
"When I found out that we had lost half a million members in the 1990's and our membership had become stagnant, I began my investigation."
According to a chart on the Alcoholics Anonymous web site, AA had 4533 more groups and 59129 more members in 2010 than in 2007. I don't see those numbers as a sign of stagnation."
More groups has nothing to do with more people - maybe more pissed off people who try and start somewhere else.
It is clear that the Big books SOUL message is we are beyond human power and that God could and would if sought as the outside sponsorship system worms it's way diverting people from A.A as if it's their right to do so. Take a closer look at A.a. Without Misinterpretation FROM A OUTSIDE SYSTEM
So the pastor looks up from his coffee, amd says " Chuck, I think God is like a new pair of glasses," or something real close to that, it's been a while.
Jim S. I ask you to put those glasses back on and
take another look at the growth of A.A. from its beginning.
Although the four year span 2007-2010 shows an ever so
slight increase, look at the entire picture. A.A. membership
increased continuously (or is it continually?) for 57 years.
If the number of members is the same as twenty years ago,
I believe that is a sign of stagnation.
I have read a few books that are about A.A. which are
not conference approved literature. ROBERT THOMSEN's book
"Bill W." seems to be in line with the real A.A. literature.
This book was sold by our Headquarters for a period of time,
which I believe offers some credibility. There are other books which I have found informative. I believe that all we
need for our basic fellowship are the Big Book, 12&12, A.A.C.A. Pass it on and Dr. Bob and the Goodoldtimers.
In my opinion these five books ought to be owned and
read by a member's tenth year in the fellowship.
I believe that with the basic information from these
books, we can read other material about our fellowship
with knowledge and an open mind. As you can see from
my previous message, I have never seen "A New Pair of
Glasses" up close. And I am not sure that I care to.
I hope you do get a chance to read it. Well worth the effort. BTW Chuck C had passed by the time the book came out. I am glad you are so passionate for aa. Not so sure about your conclusions or my spelling. Lets each work for our part of God's purpose.
Grapevine is technically conference approved per a Conference Advisory Action from 1986. We publish the wording of that action inside the front cover of every issue.
Thank you. I am truly surprised that an AA member sober
for four decades did not know that. ANONYMOUS
That horse will surely die if we continue to put it
behind the cart. Agent Orange seems to have the opinion
that A.A. should be put to death. At this point I believe
it can be saved. I have seen A.A. at its finest, doubling
in membership about every ten years. I have seen our
effectiveness diminish to practically no growth. I saw the
changes being made and took part in some of them. Our
mistakes are listed here on I-SAY. I say Thanks! ANONYMOUS
Thanks for looking at A.A.'s growth for the past four
years. Are you satisfied that we are doing our best? In
2010 we gained about 15,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.
With two million members is that the best we can do? I
find our growth rate unacceptable. Do you just practice
acceptance? If I stayed out of the room to avoid the
redundant readings and left before the chanting, that
would leave very little time. I have seen the mistakes
we have made at the group level in the past three
decades. I took part in some of them. My area delegate
tells me to keep sounding the alarm (beating the drums
or a dead horse). Maybe someone will eventually listen.
I am grateful to the AAGRAPEVINE and to I-SAY. This
information is avalable to anyone who cares about the
future of Alcoholics Anonymous. You can relax. I
am almost done. My computer is faltering and so
am I. I have posted all my concerns here and in many, many
handwritten letters. As they say in my little corner of the
world, take what you need and leave the rest. ANONYMOUS
I used to drink a lot of coffee out of styrofoam cups at meetings. I used a lot of creamer with it. I usually got myself 2 cups of coffee before the meeting was to start because I drank them so fast and I didn't want to have to get up right away after the meeting started to get more coffee. 2 cups of coffee, an ashtray and a comfy seat was how I liked to begin a meeting. At the moment I'm neither consuming coffee or nicotine but I recently started using styrofoam cups at home. Sitting in my kitchen, I wondered why I felt loved when I drank out of the styrofoam cups. I think all the years of drinking coffee out of styrofoam cups in meetings and feeling the love in the rooms now makes me feel loved wherever I find myself drinking out of styrofoam cups.
It is wonderful that the fellowship of Alcoholics
Anonymous has enabled us to enjoy all those years. We would
have missed out on the joys of life. I remember the love
and concern I felt in the room at my very first A.A.
meeting, the love they had for each other and for me
whom they had never met.
Although I was never a smoker, cleaning the ash trays
was a pleasure. I worked the night shift then, and could
drink a lot of coffee, as I needed to be awake all night.
I had to give up the coffee in recent years. Maybe I will
return to using styrofoam cups also.
It is nice to read something from our generation. There
are so few of us left. anonymous
I also believe that God does work thru people.
I have been sober for 23 years this last november. However, About two years ago now the disease of aloholism destroyed my life. I was one of those alcoholics that decided I was cured after so many years sober. I discovered how rhampant the disease is, and how it picks up right where it left off. I didnt lose my family, my marriage, or my job when I hit my bottom in 1988 but I sure the hell lost it all when I hit bottom in November 2010. It was there alive and strong waiting for me. I did not pick up that first drink, but I so wanted to, I wanted to die, but slowly, after returning to AA, I went to 120 mtgs in 90 days, I got a sponser, and I started working the steps. I recently went back to work, in a job that pays 1/4 of what I was making, I live in a one bedroom apartment, and have my 4 year old, 3-4 days a week. I have found my way back to the spiritual side,and learned I am never alone, HP, is always with me, and I attend at least three to four meetings a week, and do service.
Thank god i did not take that first drink, but for those of you out there who come to think awwww its been so long its ok, Think agian.....self centeredness, anger and resentments distroyed my life as I knew it and fed the alcoholism.
I heard a guy say once, "if you stop feeding the habit the craving will go away". I believe there are two ways to feed this illness of alcoholism. 1) physically, (by taking a drink) and 2) mentally, ( by obsessing about things like alcohol, resentments, anger, fear, insecurity, finance, friends, sex and so on).
This illness has more than one way to kill us. The alcoholic who still suffers isn't always the new guy who stumbles in off the street, it can be the one with 1, 2, 5, 15, 20, 35 years! I really appreciated your sharing and thank God you made it back! This thing can work for you again as it has before!
Tonight my husband was watching The Lion King and it brought back some memories for me about the fourth step. Sometimes we get inspired while watching movies and they have some type of meaning behind them. Well, for me this movie brought back the hint about facing my past and doing something about it.
I actually did my fourth step inventory back in December of last year, but I wasn't expecting to feel the emotional benefits from it until recently. For so many years, I had run away from my problem or blamed others for my faults.
I felt like little Simba at the beginning of the movie lost and confused due to being in foster care for so many years. Banished from my own home! Or so I thought. Towards the end of the movie, Simba realizes that he must decide what course of action he is going to take for the future and for his pride. Once I accepted this stark fact tonight it hit me like a bomerang. I felt just like that.
So its not surprising to me that whether from a movie such as this or sharing with another alcoholic, I find such inspiration and courage to live life free by remembering to take responsibility for my recovery. Hope this helps.
I really enjoyed your post. I too have just recently found this forum. I think it's a great opportunity for 12th step work. I can see from your post that you also practice self-examination as desctribed in step 4. I am still amazed how much I learn and grow by practiceing self-examination, meditaion, and prayer as laid out in pgs 84-88 in the BB.
Instead of living each day as I did the last, this program has given my specific directions on how to consistantly grow.
Thanks again for your post,
We relaspe when we take our eyes off GOD and the tool he gave us to stay sober
Glad you said that " We relapse when we take our eyes off GOD and the tool he gave us to stay sober " I love A.A for allowing me to make my God what ever I want that's the only reason why i now have a sponsor.
We relapse when we take that next first alcoholic drink. I
don't believe many of us are always spiritually fit. I have
heard AA members say "I may as well have been drunk". That
is simply not true. I am convinced that dry is better than wet. AA is described as a spiritual fellowship. I understand spiritual things to be honesty, purity, unselfishness and love. We strive for progress in these
things, head for perfection, and some of us hurry. Rose
Wow, Rose - that was an excellent post - I really enjoyed that. Wonderfully written, thanks...
staying sober is not easy. There are days when I would like to go out drinking. I have 9 years soberiety.