Burning Desire to Share
My thoughts are very clear and were written to share the gratitude I have for the non-believers in AA for helping me develop a richer recovery and stronger faith. Do I really have to spell that out to you? What is there to discuss? I hope more people will embrace the recovery diversity that I am grateful for and to develop a stronger sense of unity with our code “love and tolerance.” Perhaps my criticisms and descriptions of certain individuals who attack non-believers and disrupt meetings with bullying tactics with fundamental ideas of recovery could be read as being too harsh. On the other hand your post to me seemed fragmented a bit and over pre-occupied with changing AA, which has nothing to do with my post because I love the AA Fellowship the way it is, as well as, my home group. AA is never the problem; it’s the people who have to mind everyone else’s business or spend a lot of energy trying to change AA, instead of working on their internal stuff which I see as the real problem. It never hurts to start another fourth step when limited by this frame of mind.
You love the Fellowship the was it is. I want to return
the fellowship to what it was before it became a Fellowship.
As long as you see A.A. as alive and well, as it is today,
our fellowship will never be very successful again.
We have the potential to grow at the previous rate of
doubling about every ten years, until all thirty million
sufferers in our country are reached. I mean really reached
as Bill was able to reach Dr. Bob in 1935. Sure, we offer
them a Twelve Step Program, but do we offer them ourselves.
Are we the altruistic society we were initially to be?
How can you possibly be satisfied with an increase of
less than 15,000 new members per year? We are not even
scratching the surface any more.
If you can't see that it is broken, you will never
see any need to fix it. And today's A.A. is so solid
and self-contained that it may never grow again. We
have closed the doors and soon they will be locked.ANONYMOUS
I am not so sure there are 30 million alcoholics who want to recover. AA is for those who want to recover and beleive they need some help.
You want AA to grow? That would require more alcoholics and that would mean increased safety risks for communities and families. Fewer alcoholics in the rooms could indicate a positive sign. Just because AA is not doubling doesn’t mean AA is falling apart and in peril. It just means AA is not doubling. It’s a complex issue. There are several obvious reasons AA is not meeting your expectations of growth. I don’t think it’s because of any internal lack. What are you talking about anyway? Taking over the world of spirituality and recovery? Just because AA saved my life and I love the Fellowship doesn’t mean the person walking through the door behind me will automatically feel the same. Every big thing has a golden age and AA had its time to shine. You want AA to return to magical Eden but, that place doesn’t exist anymore; the solution you seek is not in the past. AA does not have a monopoly on an alcoholic audience. There are other treatment modalities available, which are equally effective. To me, I am happy there are alternatives available because alcoholics that don’t fit into our system can plug in somewhere else and where is it written that alcoholics can only obtain a sober state in AA. In that way, with more variety of treatment options, there are better chances families and children will not be harmed or experience daily or unpredictable rages of explosive violence. Another way to look at it; AA works too well. People get healthy again and return to life becoming productive members of society. I’ve heard this from many ex-AA patriots that meetings become a negative and depressing experience after many years because it’s stuck in the beginning levels of sobriety. I also know many members who get treatment by attending church. This is all good. I’m just speculating that AA’s growth numbers also became over-inflated when the baby boomers started to take to meetings in the seventies and early eighties. Many were sent in by the courts and were not true alcoholics but people who abused drugs and alcohol, got in some trouble and were sent to AA. I also feel the many public health advocacy groups have helped lower the numbers because of community awareness campaigns which directly affected policies that deter drinking recklessly. When I was a kid the drinking age was eighteen. This was a disaster and thanks to advocacy groups, 21 is the universal drinking age today. One last thing, drugs are more fashionable today and perhaps people view alcoholism as “Your Grandfather’s Addiction” I hope this helps, thanks for asking.
We had a great discussion on this very subject at our sat morning big book study. A visitor to our group who has been going to other meetings for about 17 years asked “why don’t we have a picture of God on the wall’’? We discussed “God as we understand him” and turned in the big book to the last paragraph of page 46 and first paragraph of page 47. We discussed how in AA, when someone speaks of God, it’s their understanding of God. This is part of what makes AA so great. Each member chooses their own conception of God, whatever that may be. A religion says “this is God and believe as we believe” AA says start where you are at and as long as we try to lay aside prejudices against spiritual terms or religions, we are on our way. Read those paragraphs on pages 46 & 47 next time you are at a meeting and someone gets too religious.
I once was blind but know I SEE, that everything that AA is I want to BE. I once was blind but know I see, that when I listen to God I can truly be FREE.
Not a Bible or Big Book thumper, just inching towards my understanding of my higher power. Working on some quotes--
God, to me, is much like a prominent cardiologist who only takes walk-ins:
You may have to wait a long time to see Him. Sometimes He’ll give you good news, sometimes bad.
But, if you don’t go to His office or step out of line, you’ll be left to your own de-vices to mend yourself.
In over 26 years of "One days at a time" being sober, I have attended many AA Meetings and in many States. The Fellowship of AA is nothing short of a miracle! I have often marveled at how there is an inconsistency in stressing the importance of Sponsorship in AA meetings. There are many meetings that do stress the importance of getting a Sponsor and conversely, it seems, many meetings that do not. There are topics brought up in meetings that should be discussed with a Sponsor and not around the tables. Often, there are newcomers and relative newcomers, that are trying to sort out all this "sharing stuff" and either lose interest in the meeting or are obviously lost in trying to decipher what is being shared. As with most opinions related to proper AA Meeting protocols and decorum, they vary widely. I believe it is important to search for the AA Meeting that you learn from and gain support from but, my concern is that it seems there is an increasing level of being too open in AA meetings and sharing issues that need to be discussed with a Sponsor and not around the tables. Having a Home Group is vital to this need, for a Home Group should guide a regular member to either get a Sponsor and work with him or, if you are not Sponsoring someone, urged to get a "Pidgeon" soon. This is one of the most fundamantal practices of AA, certainly sharing in meetings but, not to be dimished, the need of aquiring and keeping a Sponsor to share more delicate topics with.
Practice makes perfect
Or does it?
When I was a kid, our school recruited a new basketball coach. He was good enough that he had played some semi-professional ball. He accomplished that being less than six feet tall so he was easily the best ball player that any of us had seen this side of a TV screen. He was absolutely awesome with a ball. We get the first day of practice lecture. In it he said something important that I never heard before or since.
Practice does not make perfect.
Perfect practice makes perfect.
He continued: About anyone can pick up a ball, aim, throw, repeat and get better but only so much better. If you learn the best possible way to hold the ball, move your body, breathe, look where you need to look and follow through and repeat and repeat and repeat you will get as good as you possibly can be.
Fast forward forty some years. I’m reading yet another book with “God” in the title. I have learned that being SNR (spiritual not religious) does not give me permission to sit on by butt and let spirituality happen to me. I invest some effort in it. My current read provides a history of man’s search for God through ritual, philosophy, and religion as well as the lack of it. A common thread among those who have searched and benefitted from it? Perfect practice. Tougher than shooting free throws; you don’t get to see whether you got it right instantly.
The author’s conclusion focused on spiritual growth through prayer, meditation and good works. I really enjoyed the text to the end but the conclusion left me with some feeling of dis-ease. I was locked in to thinking in terms of practicing spirituality in the book’s religious framework. It had been a tough read and I started with the introduction again slowly. Then I got it. My AA program fit her formula perfectly, I’ve been at it years and getting the results for years.
Perfect practice vs. just practice? For me it means application of AA’s twelve step program of recovery instead of trying to keep alcoholism in remission with the commonly heard just-go-to-meetings-and-don’t-drink formula.
I'm practicing being tolerant, loving and accepting of others inside and outside the meetings...even those who don't do my "perfect" program and don't work the steps the way I think they should do...even those who "only" don't drink and go to meetings. It's tough. I'm far from perfect.
One thing I've found is that if I step out of the way and let others be, they unfold to be the people they were supposed to be. We're all heading for the same destination anyway, right?
I remember at all meetings that everyone left feeling like it was your home group. They called them the mom & pop meetings.
I agree about cross talk not being from AA. I remember AA as going around the table in rotation. I feel that cross talk & random meetings are a product of treatment centers, Not AA. In rotation everyone had a chance to pass or contribute. No one left the meeting without being respected as a part of that meeting without being able to pass.
You make it sound like some format was invented outside of your group and you are stuck with it. The traditions posted on our wall tell quite a different story.
After reading many of the opinions throughout the year, it gave me the impression that AA has devolved into two opposing camps. This is far from the truth. I don’t see this in our home group. The majority of us view AA as a Fellowship as stated in the Preamble; a place with a primary purpose and a diverse cultural membership who embrace traditional religious, non-religious and spiritual or humanist points of view. In general, we share a good view of 12-Step recovery and believe it is helpful, however, we recognize that the big book reveals human confinements and cultural biases of the writers as it reflects the 1930’s. We see AA as a family with an egalitarian mission supported by a democratic group conscience. But for the devolved and rigid individuals, their focus has shifted from our primary purpose to defending recovery turf. The fundamentalists believe AA is a Program which contains a finished and unchangeable truth. A Big Book divinely inspired with a 12 step plan; the Word of God flowed through Bill’s pen one desperate night; a perfect book infallible and steadfast, which offers the only means to sobriety. The other not helpful point of view is the close-minded progressive who believes AA is religious and needs a total overhauling. They see AA using covert brainwashing methods which provide members a “Stepfordian” recovery of robotic bliss; however they must forfeit their individuality to do so. When either camp points the finger or claims superior recovery everyone loses especially the new person. We are to welcome everyone with support until the healing takes hold of them and not force our selfish and ego-driven viewpoints onto them. One of the first things I tell a sponsee is to keep an open mind and to have tolerance and flexibility.
AMEN again... Keep it simple and most importantly keep an open mind!
0617 I agree with the Solid. Today's AA is a group of
two million sober alcoholics who are so solid that the
suffering alcoholic approaching us have little or no
chance penetrating its walls. Those members who understand
this are few, a real minority.
Can you imagine what an army of two million sober drunks
could be, what power we could have, if we truly knew how
to carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous? We could
be five million strong by the year 2020. Are we ready and
willing to follow that advice offered to us by Dr.
Silkworth so many years ago: Stop preaching. Start practicing love and tolerance.
Attraction with no promotion. Once again, become a fellowship instead of a Fellowship. A fellowship which
offers a program in a suggestive manner.
Bill wrote that without the doctors advice, A.A.
probably would not have been born. I say that if we
keep ignoring that advice A.A. will eventually die.
My greatest concern is that we are turning away so
many who could easily be saved. But they continue to
suffer and many are dying while we chant and pray. Their families and friends are suffering, needlessly.
You may say, "I am only one AA member", what can I do.
You can do what I did, and sit quietly for 35 years,
or you can investigate and get busy, I warn you, it will
not be easy. It may take years/decades to reverse our
mistakes. Bill called them blunders and I believe he
warned us about nearly all of them. We have to start somewhere. ANONYMOUS
Does anyone have any experience they can share about the Reading of HIW at meetings? Does anyone
understand why this custom has to stop? When I try to bring it up at meetings, it is like I am
trying to change everyone's religion. I am certainly not an agnostic or an atheist (not that there is anything wrong in that). But I don't try to cram my religion down anyone's throat. We have made
several blunders in AA over the past three decades. The reading of How It Works aloud at meetings
as part of the format was our most tragic mistake ever. I made that statement to our General
Service Office manager, and she gave me a blank stare. Reading "How It Works" aloud at meetings
changed the dynamics of A.A. and certainly not for the better. We have been stagnant for over
two decades now. Does anyone know the gravity of that statement? Alcoholics are suffering and
dying. Many are turning to drugs, when they find that AA doesn't work for them. We hold in our
hands the most effective tool ever for the "cure of alcoholism". And it is not the twelve steps.
It can be found in Dr. Silkworth's "cart before the horse IDEA. Most AA members today have no
idea what that technique is. Stop preaching! Reading HIW is preaching. Alcoholics are dying; their
families are suffering while we read HIW and chant. "Keep Coming Back". ANONYMOUS
The program of AA has many suggestions. It's important that old or new members know how the program works. It's also important that an informed member or group let the new comer know the GOD in how it works is still a name for a higher power of each members choice. Call it higher power , the group, the buddha, jesus christ, ect. It's just important to know it isn't the aa indivisual with 24 hrs or a 100 yrs.
I keep reading this opinion over and over in the forum. OK. I get it. You don't like the reading of How it Works, chanting, holding hands, Lord's Prayer at meetings. I don't agree with some of those things either. Though the door to AA is pretty wide, I too would prefer that it be wider- that there not be anything in AA that would make an alcoholic want to run for the exits.
That said, if I want to make changes in AA, I go to the monthly business meeting of my home group, as I did yesterday, and offer my suggestions. Yesterday, we agreed to make changes to our preamble and in how we chair meetings. (some members think others share too long and go off topic...imagine that!) Over the years, we've made significant changes to our meeting & group.
Another option is to start a new meeting. Some folks in my home group thought we needed more focus on the steps so we started a Step Meeting that met in an adjacent room each Saturday. After a couple of years, that meeting petered out. No problem, our main meeting is still going strong and there are other strong step groups in our area.
I've seen members start an entirely new meeting based on whatever they think AA should be. Our local meeting for "Atheists, Agnostics and All Others" seems to be doing very well. I doubt they are holding hands, reciting the Lord's Prayer or leading off with HIW.
As the Tradition says, "each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole". So have at it.
Here's a bit of wisdom from the 12&12....
"Over the years, every conceivable deviation from our Twelve Steps and Traditions has been tried. That was sure to be, since we are so largely a band of ego-driven individualists. Children of chaos, we have defiantly played with every brand of fire, only to emerge unharmed and, we think, wiser. These very deviations created a vast process of trial and error which, under the grace of God, has brought us to where we stand today.
When A.A.'s Traditions were first published, in 1946, we had become sure that an A.A. group could stand almost any amount of battering. We saw that the group, exactly like the individual, must eventually conform to whatever tested principles would guarantee survival. We had discovered that there was perfect safety in the process of trial and error. So confident of this had we become that the original statement of A.A. tradition carried this significant sentence: "Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that as a group they have no other affiliation."
I assume that part of this comment is directed to me. I
have no objection to using the Lord's Prayer to close our
meetings. It is the holding hands in the "ring around rosy"
circle, coercing everyone to join that I object to.
Bill W. wrote a letter to his friend explaining why
the Lords Prayer is an appropriate way to close our
meetings. Google The Dear Russ letter, Bill W. Alcoholics
anonymous. I agree with Bill's opinion.
Every A.A. meeting I attended in the decade of the 1970's closed with the Lords Prayer (without holding hands).
Our membership tripled in that decade. 300,000 to 900,000
members. Alcoholics came out of their caves to join us. I
believe we can return to the AA of the 1970's and can
become even more effective. More certainly has been
My apologies if I was a bit strident about this. I agree with much, maybe all of what you say in regards to HIW, chanting,prayers and rituals. My primary point is that if we want to change things, there is a way at the local level through our group, district and area business meetings . I understand that it can be very difficult to enact change in AA - even at the group/meeting level. That said, another option might to start a new meeting along the lines you describe and see how it goes.
from what I have heard, it was Bill himself who started the "let's hold hands". it was at the end of the 1950 or 55 international convention that Bill asked everyon to join hands and say the Lords Prayer. I can't prove it, I think I heard it on an old speaker tape.
Clu1992, Surely you can do better than that!
Each AA group is autonomous and has a group conscious. A group has every right to read “HIWs” if voted on by members. Our group voted against reading “HIWs.” We open the meetings by just reading the Preamble and going straight to the topic. During group conscious we discussed how readings and other rituals where cutting into the meeting time and sharing our ESH is more important than pushing what we felt, after all, is a suggested program. Although everyone agrees the program works, it truly doesn’t reflect the diverse nature of recovery that we see. Some members pointed out that it could instill a narrow and misleading picture of AA and not show the complexities that come with recovery and living sober in the real world. We accept that not everyone works the 12-step program, which is their right and this doesn’t make us better because we do. Love and Tolerance
Thanks for the reply. My obsession with HIW began
4-5 years ago when I discovered that Alcoholics Anonymous
had lost most of its effectiveness. I found the passages
where Bill W. warned us about AA becoming a religion. He
wrote that nothing could be so destructive for AA's future.
Bill must have seen it coming in 1957 and 1963 when
those warnings were published. I believe reading that
reading HIW and the 24 Hr. book as part of the format makes
us look like a religion.
Our Saturday morning Traditions meeting is an hour meeting, but we voted to always stay until everyone had a
chance to share. We read the first two and a half pages
of chapter five and the page in the 24 Hr. book in
addition to the chapter on the Tradition of the week.
We had a strong group, usually up to forty members every
Saturday. We discussed deleting the extra readings for
about six months at our business meetings. We finally
voted on a new format and the vote was a very close.
We voted in favor of deletion, but we lost half of our
group. We have not increased to the forty count again,
after three years. We still pay the rent $75. monthly
but just barely. We seldom have more than twenty members.
I am deeply saddened by the hard feelings. Many of those
members were good A.A. friends. But I am convinced that
those readings have seriously harmed Alcoholics Anonymous.
We have made several other serious perhaps fatal mistakes,
All need to be corrected if A.A is going to be around for
the thousand years our co-founder wanted. ANONYMOUS
Thanks for sharing what happened to your group after changing your format to remove the HIW readings. I can imagine a similar reaction in our group. We had a huge disagreement and lost members when we changed from paper to ceramic coffee cups. Ultimately, we compromised and made paper cups available to restore peace.
I believe that most old timers and regular meeting attendees, including me, frequently check out during the first 5-10 minutes of readings. I am not sure how important and impactful those readings are to newcomers. Our weekday noon meetings are only 45 minutes long. Would the time be better spent on personal sharing? I will bring this up at our next biz meeting.
I love the idea of giving all a chance to share during a meeting and offered that as a suggestion at a recent business meeting where we discussed ideas for keeping shares shorter and more focused. My first AA group was an hour long meeting where all shared. A group norm developed where we usually managed to finish at about 5 minutes before the hour whether there were 5 or 25 people in the room. It seemed that folks just developed a 6th sense for managing the time. If someone went a bit long, others would keep it short. It was an amazing thing to see. During a visit to that town years later, I took my AA wife to that meeting and it was still working.
Below is the meeting format we use. 2 years ago, there were several meetings in the town I moved to that were not attended on a regular basis. I went to this saturday meeting listed in the directory 3 weeks in a row and was the only one there. I commited myself to the meeting. I used this format from my home group meeting from the town I had moved from. last saturday, we had 10 in attendance which is good for a town with 14k people. our group even began a second meeting on thurday nights using the same format, but staggered so it's halfway ahead of the sat meeting.It's been 2 1/2 months and we have 5 regular attendees we have good fellowship before and after the meeting. please look at the format and let us know what you think.
Welcome to the Saturday 10 AM meeting of the Big Book Group my name is ______________and I’m an Alcoholic. My only qualification for chairing this meeting is that I am an alcoholic and a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
THIS IS A CLOSED MEETING OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. In support of AA’s singleness of purpose, attendance at closed meetings is limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend this meeting. We ask that when discussing our problems, we confine ourselves to those problems as they relate to alcoholism.
In ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS we generally open our meetings with the “SERENITY PRAYER,” all those who care to please join me.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership. We are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
Our 7th Tradition states, there are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions (Pass the basket).
Let’s have a round of introductions while the basket is being passed. In keeping with AA’s 12th & 3rd Traditions, please introduce yourself with your name if you so choose and that you are and alcoholic or have a desire to stop drinking.
Any AA related announcements? Feel free to borrow any of the literature on the table. Our group conscience meets the first sat of the month following the meeting.
Before we begin, this group would like to mention that none of us are AA or big book experts. When we discuss the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, we are simply sharing our experience with the program of AA. Remember, this is an informal meeting, so feel free to ask questions. If you feel you need to share about other than today’s topic, we will be glad to listen after the meeting.
Our traditions are a guide to better ways of working and living. They are to group survival what the 12 steps are to each member’s sobriety and peace of mind. The long form of the 12 traditions are found on pages 563-566. We will now read tradition ____ and discuss briefly.(or the group or problems other than alcohol pamphlet)
We will now read and discuss a portion of the Big Book. Turn to page _____.
CONCLUDE the discussion at 10:55. We try to keep our meeting to an hour, if you need to share more than you were able to during the meeting please talk to one of us after the meeting, we’ll be happy to listen and to share with you what was so freely given to us.
Please remember that the opinions expressed here are strictly those of the individual. Remember also that ANONYMITY is the spiritual foundations of AA tradition. The things that you hear here and share here are spoken and shared in confidence. Let them be treated as confidential.
ALL those who care to please join me in closing with the “Lord’s Prayer,” OUR FATHER …
How it works is how it works...and it does very well.
Not everyone is going to have the desperation and willingness to do what is necessary to get into recovery no matter what we do.
My own inventory showed that my corrective opinions about how things ought to be were just uninformed and grandiose manifestations of intolerance, mywayism, and refusing to accept that everything is exactly as it should be. Check out what Dr. Paul said on pg 417. He was right about me...maybe you will find yourself there too?
I don't think there is any way to "stop" HIW from being read out loud at meetings. Each AA group is an autonomous entity and can do what it chooses to do, except for an outside affiliation (3rd tradition - long form). Reading HIW, holding hands in a circle, chanting, etc. are all things each group chooses to do.
But it would be helpful to newcomers to AA if there were fewer of these type of meetings where HIW was read out loud and more meetings where the format was welcoming to newcomers who are not ready to find God NOW!
Isn't our primary goal to be helpful to newcomers? The
format ought to be welcoming to newcomers, whether they are
ready to find God NOW, or they really don't know what they
are looking for. True, some alcoholics who approach us are
ripe, and ready for the spiritual HIW approach. But I believe that most are still searching. We offer them hope
by sharing our own experience, strength and, most important,
hope. We close the door by telling them what to do, instead
of telling them our own personal story.
The custom of reading HIW aloud at meetings certainly
can be stopped. It will take a lot of persistent work. A
group conscience meeting is the best way to start. If
your group has no group conscience, develop one. Call
for a group conscience meeting, or as a last resort,
bring up the topic at the regular meeting.
Bill placed HIW in chapter five for a special timed
effect. If "How It Works" were to be the first thing a
newcomer ought to read or hear, would Bill not have
placed it in chapter one? Bill was following advice
given to him by Dr. Silkworth. Bill details this advice
on page 68 in AACA. I am not going to copy the page here.
Perhaps someone else can "cut and paste" the material
which begins at the bottom of page 67 AACA. Bill writes
"Quote: Just before leaving for Akon, Dr, Silkworth had
given me a great piece of advice. Without it, A.A. might
never have been born". end quote. My conclusion is that
if AA could not have been born without that "cart
before the horse idea", then we will not survive or thrive
without it. Reading HIW as part of the format ignores
that IDEA. Again, there are some who are "ready" when
they finally get the courage to come to us. We must be
willing to help the rest of them to become ready. We
allow them to "Come to Believe". If we are attractive
enough, our hope is that they will stick around until
the miracle happens.
NOTE. "Each group is autonomous and can do what it
chooses to do" is only one third of tradition Four.
There are two storm signals. I believe that this
HIW reading aloud at meetings has all but destroyed
our life saving fellowship. Bob H. Seymour, Ct.
I consider myself a "newcomer" to AA, even tho I previously made an albeit short attempt at attending meetings. And I must say that the reason I quit attending meetings was due to the fact that one "old-timer" felt the need to force his views on how it works down my throat. I was walking thru the door of my third Friday night meeting, when he approached me, and decided to take it upon himself to tell me that unless I attended more than one meeting a week, and found myself a sponsor that the program would never work. Being the type of person that I am, I am hesitant to open up to new people and new experiences - both of which AA was putting before me. So, I decided that I would never succeed at the program and just quit going. I am proud to say that I didn't resume my prior insane thinking about alcohol, quite the opposite, my entire philosophy surrounding drinking has managed to change, in spite of the fact that I don't attend meetings as regularly as some. So, I guess, in this rambling, I guess what I am trying to convey is that the program works differently for each individual. Everyone needs to find their own path within the guidelines that Bill laid out for us in the 12 steps and 12 traditions.
I believe that because there are many formats, readings are good; However each group serves to the best of their ability do carry the message of hope! It was one of the first forms of service work within the groups that I attended1! The best meetings were the meetings after the meetings. It has been a few years that I have had physical issues along with a speech problem, but whatever works is good! P.S. the best way to change things is attend the groups business meetings!
I was raised in a family with no religion. At the age of around 12 I started looking for something but I didn't know what it was now I realize it was the Holy Spirit. At the time though I didn't now this and I got side tracked and on the wrong path inside I started to drink. The Latin word for alcohol is spiritus coincidence probably not. Now In AA I've gotten back on the right track and found what I was looking for all this time not spiritus in a bottle but the the right kind of spirit. Maybe the Greeks thousands of years ago new something.
I know that worldly things won't provide the solution to the depth of my alcoholism. Yet I am jobless, practically homeless and I worry about things not getting any better. I have been asking God to remove my fears, but I find myself struggling with fear of the future and of economic insecurity. I want to be helpful to others, but I can't do that if I'm caught up in self-centered fear. This is my second real shot at AA. I had a few years once, then went back out for a few. It's harder this time around. My situation is more desperate and I feel stuck.
You just have to believe God is removing your fear.
I have heard many times that it is easier to stay sober
than to get sober. There are multitudes who are struggling
with fear of the future and of economic insecurity. Contrary
to "the promises", many sober alcoholics are among them.
I hold the belief that those who are always smiling are
either on something or up to something.
But if you don't spend that eight dollars for a pint,
you can use it to buy food. Maybe someone near you is
hungry: you could share it with them. You also have access
to God's greatest gift to the alcoholic sufferer, Alcoholics Anonymous. I believe Ebby was in your
shoes when he approached his old friend Bill W. He
stayed at Bill's home for a period of time. Ebby never
regained his fortunes, but did have periods of sobriety.
Fear can be a great motivator. Just don't numb it
with liquor. I fear that my house will be cold in the
morning, so I bring in the wood at night for the wood
There are many who are caught up in self-centered fear.
You can be helpful to them. Listen to them. Offer them
a little of your time. (not advice! time!) You will learn
how to really care about others.
But I cannot resist offering advice to you. "Don't take
that first drink, and stay close to AA." It has worked for
me for several decades. It will work for you. ANONYMOUS
Hang in there! It WILL get better....
We have a wonderful resource for dealing with fear right in the 4th step. I often recommend that my sponsees do that part of the 4th step first. That prayer is so simple and both parts are equally important.
But the lists of the fears is is the number one thing to do. I recommend that folks write one fear per line and don't leave out any thoughts that come to mind. Don't say 'that is silly, I'm not going to write it." Be honest and write what comes to mind...every fear that comes to mind. Probably you will have pages and pages...I did. That list will help you recognize fears and that the prayer needs to be said every time a fear pops up. 'Take away my fears and direct my attention to what you would have me be." BTW, I had to give my imagination something creative to do.
First, thanks for sharing with us. It's not easy. I need to be reminded what it feels like to be in your shoes, so you are helping me and others. I think fear is a natural response to your difficulties and I hope both end soon. It isn't unusual to find people miserable in mansions and happy in halfway houses. The program of recovery spelled out in "Alcoholics Anonymous" altered my attitude to enable me to find the good in difficulties. Can you honestly look at that sign on the meeting room wall and say that AA failed you the first time?
"I was told by a sober member of AA that if I wanted to stay sober I would need to do three things: get a sobriety date and don't change it, get a sponsor, and get a home group."
I'm hopelessly confused and hope someone can help me out. In my years of AA membership I have used the second, third and fourth editions of the Big Book, have worn out a few copies of the 12&12, and have lost or given away a few copies of "As Bill Sees It". I have searched on line and asked dozens of long time members, and cannot get an answer to my question, Where in our AA literature does it say we cannot get sober without a sponsor and a home group?
I was told many years ago I should put my faith in some kind of Power greater than myself. All my Big Books say,
"But there is One who has all power - that One is God. May you find Him now." (page 59)
"No human power could have relieved our alcoholism." (page 60)
You wrote, "No human power could have relieved our alcoholism." This is commonly misquoted in the rooms.
The correct quote is "That PROBABLY no human power..." People who use it conveniently leave out the word "PROBABLY." This is too much of an important word to omit because without it we would be a religious program. Let's quote AA correctly and not take AA into our own hands. This word widens Bill W.'s hoop and permits the agnostic or atheist member the right to remain a non-believer or a not-sure if that is their choice. I have known people in my group who rely on human power and they seem to be just as joyful as the next person or myself.
Thanks for paying close attention to detail. Leaving out the word "probably", closes the door for far too many alcoholics. We have dropped the word and have dropped
the ball. We have become known as a strange religion.
Another phrase "We are not a glum lot" is used to justify
the incessant chanting. Being serious and reverent does
not make us a glum lot. Chanting makes us look like a
religion or cult. ANONYMOUS
God 1st 4 me
Did the useful/helpful/hopeful experiences of AA members stop after publication of the big book or 12 x 12, or with Bill W's death? I absolutely believe that there is no wrong way to stay sober, and the most unhelpful thing I could have been told when I walked into the rooms a while back would have been that I had to get a sponsor, had to work the steps, had to find a god of my understanding. However, I have come to believe in the advice of Rumi: "It is necessary to have a guide for the spiritual journey. Choose a master, for without one this journey is full of trials, fears, and dangers. With no escort, you would be lost on a road you have already taken. Do not travel alone on the Path." Bill W considered Ebby to be his sponsor, but also obviously helped and was helped by Dr. Bob, and sought advice from Father Dowling. Basically, I can become "overcome by the spirit" and forget why I am on the Path, which is why I need someone, or several someones, to call me on my B.S. No god ever speaks to me directly, which is why I need the guide. But that is just my program at this moment in time.
I don’t think I have ever read anything that says you must have a sponsor to stay sober, but lots that suggests it’s a good idea. Mostly from the 12x12, see below.
... advisers the guidance they feel they have ... 12&12 Step Five, p.60
It is worth noting that people of very high spiritual development almost always insist on checking with friends or spiritual advisers the guidance they feel they have received from God.
... sponsorship for ten newcomers, and was gently ... 12&12 Tradition Eight, p.168
Then we saw that if a hardworking secretary answered the phone dozens of times a day, listened to twenty wailing wives, arranged hospitalization and got sponsorship for ten newcomers, and was gently diplomatic with the irate drunk who complained about the job she was doing and how she was overpaid, then such a person could surely not be called a professional A.A.
1.... sponsors? 12&12 Step Twelve, p.112
Can we have the same kind of confidence and faith in these people who have been infected and sometimes crippled by our own illness that we have in our sponsors?
2.... sponsors come to the rescue. 12&12 Step Four, p.46
At this stage of the inventory proceedings, our sponsors come to the rescue.
3.... sponsors declared that we were the victims ... 12&12 Step One, p.22
Our sponsors declared that we were the victims of a mental obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it.
4.... sponsors of those who feel they need ... 12&12 Step Four, p.46
The sponsors of those who feel they need no inventory are confronted with quite another problem.
5.... sponsors or spiritual advisers that we first ... 12&12 Step Five, p.58
Often it was while working on this Step with our sponsors or spiritual advisers that we first felt truly able to forgive others, no matter how deeply we felt they had wronged us.
6.... sponsors pointed out our increasing sensitivity to ... 12&12 Step One, p.22
Relentlessly deepening our dilemma, our sponsors pointed out our increasing sensitivity to alcohol -- an allergy, they called it.
... sponsor already has the advantage of knowing ... 12&12 Step Five, p.61
Besides, your sponsor already has the advantage of knowing something about your case.
2.... sponsor, but not necessarily so. 12&12 Step Five, p.61
This person may turn out to be one's sponsor, but not necessarily so.
3.... sponsor continues, "Take, for example, my own ... 12&12 Step Two, p.26
The sponsor continues, "Take, for example, my own case.
4.... sponsor's ear alone. 12&12 Tradition Twelve, p.185
Enthusiastic over the spectacular recovery of a brother alcoholic, we'd sometimes discuss those intimate and harrowing aspects of his case meant for his sponsor's ear alone.
5.... sponsor, "is a very good question indeed. 12&12 Step Two, p.26
"That," agrees the sponsor, "is a very good question indeed.
6.... sponsor or spiritual adviser, earnestly asking God's ... 12&12 Step Nine, p.86
Do we lay the matter before our sponsor or spiritual adviser, earnestly asking God's help and guidance -- meanwhile resolving to do the right thing when it becomes clear, cost what it may?
7.... sponsor or spiritual adviser, we make a ... 12&12 Step Ten, p.89
Then there are those occasions when alone, or in the company of our sponsor or spiritual adviser, we make a careful review of our progress since the last time.
8.... sponsor points out that our friend's life ... 12&12 Step Three, p.39
Of course the sponsor points out that our friend's life is still unmanageable even though he is sober, that after all, only a bare start on A.A.'s program has been made.
9.... sponsor probably points out that the newcomer ... 12&12 Step Four, p.46
The sponsor probably points out that the newcomer has some assets which can be noted along with his liabilities.
10.... sponsor probably says, "Take it easy. 12&12 Step Two, p.26
His sponsor probably says, "Take it easy.
11.... sponsor promptly proves by talking freely and ... 12&12 Step Four, p.46
This the sponsor promptly proves by talking freely and easily, and without exhibitionism, about his own defects, past and present.
12.... sponsor sold me one idea, and that ... 12&12 Tradition Five, p.154
Years later, this tough Irish customer liked to say, "My sponsor sold me one idea, and that was sobriety.
13.... sponsor usually laughs. 12&12 Step Two, p.26
At this juncture, his A.A. sponsor usually laughs.
... adviser. BB How It Works, p.63
We found it very desirable to take this spiritual step with an understanding person, such as our wife, best friend, or spiritual adviser.
"I don’t think I have ever read anything that says you must have a sponsor to stay sober, but lots that suggests it’s a good idea. Mostly from the 12x12, see below."
You've given a lot of quotes without answering my question so I'll repeat it. Where does it say in our literature that we can't get sober unless we get a aponsor and a home group?
The late Chuck C. states in "A New Pair of Glasses" that he never had a sponsor. He died with 38 years sobriety. I have a number of friends with 20+ years who have never had a sponsor. I was on active duty in the Navy when I got sober and in my first two years the longest time I spent in one place was ten months aboard ship in the Pacific. I wasn't any place long enough to get a sponsor or home group. In fact, for a good part of those two years I wasn't any place that had a home group. Last July I had my 42nd AA birthday.
That does not mean I'm anti-sponsorship. I believe sponsorship is important for both the sponsor and the pigeon, but I don't think any alcoholic has the right to tell another alcoholic he must or must not do something. To quote "A New Pair of Glasses" again, "In AA we share, we don't tell."
Now back to your first sentence, two things jumped out at me. First, you haven't been avble to find the answer to my question, either. And second, if the 'suggestions' concerning sponsorship are so important, why don't we put the same importance on the 'suggested' twelve steps?
The 20 quotes from the 12x12 are where sponsorship is discussed. I thought you might like to read up on what your missing if you don’t have a sponsor. You probably won’t find anything that says you must find a sponsor, just lots of how good it is to have one. That is the answer to your question, no requirement, just suggestions.
I don’t know for sure about chuck c having a sponsor, but I have heard speakers who he sponsored that were glad he sponsored them, just listen to Johnny H. After listening to tapes of chuck and johnny, I would have to say chuck did a lot of telling. You can get an earful at xaspeakers.com. they have the talk chuck c did that they wrote “a new pair of glasses” from.
I think being sober in AA is a combination of experiences. Few stay sober for long without working the steps, however some do. Few stay sober without going to a regular home group meeting, however some do. Few stay sober without a sponsor to lead the way, however some do. Many stay sober by working the steps, home group membership, and sponsorship. You may be able to get by with 2 out of 3. My life is important to me, that’s why I’m using all three. Steps, home group, and sponsorship.
You still haven't addressed my question so I'll try again:
Where in our AA literature does it say we cannot get sober without a sponsor and a home group? To put it another way, Where does the AA literature tell us we MUST have a sponsor?
More to my point, where are we told (In AA literature) that we need a sponsor to explain the Big Book to us? That we must let a sponsor make all our decisions for us? Or that each and every alcoholic who comes through the doors of AA is too stupid or brain damaged to get sober without a sponsor?
I had to be stuburn my whole life and learn the hard way one mistake at a time. I even did it with AA years ago and never asked for help and I made mistakes and relapsed. This time I decided to get a sponsor and learn from him and his mistakes and his sponsors mistakes rather then having to make them on my own,many minds are greater then one no matter how smart you are. I also believe having to swallow your pride and ask for help is a big step in EGO reduction and isn't this what it is all about. No where does this program tell you, you have to do anything the suggestions will just increase your odds.