You said, “When I think of AA, I think of the 12 steps.” To me, when I think of AA, I think of one drunk talking to another. I think of people from all walks of life sharing their experiences, strengths and hopes. I’ve taken a more mature view on AA and it is this, “although we do have a common problem, we do not have a common solution.” Unfortunately, today, there are members who would like to force a common solution on others and this distorts and harms our philosophy tremendously.
When you say “our philosophy”, I think the more “mature and correct” thing to say is YOUR philosophy. Don’t get me wrong, I really do appreciate your point of view. It’s just not AA’s point of view. AA’s point of view is in direct conflict with your point of view.
Our book “Alcoholics Anonymous” page 17 states the exact opposite of your comment. It says, “The feeling of having shared a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined.
The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.” Big book page 50 might shed more light on this topic.
Lots of people may think the big book is old and outdated. That may be, but alcoholism hasn’t changed, I don’t think alcoholics have changed, and from what I’ve seen, the solution hasn’t changed. That being said, we are on our 4th edition of the big book which came out in 2001, 3rd edition 1976, 2nd edition 1955, and 1st edition 1939. The first 164 pages have been left mostly unchanged with the exception of changes of numbers and so forth. So again, In AA we do have a common problem and a common solution. If we had a different solution, I would hope we would have removed page 17 from AA’s basic text.
I think page xxi also fits here, “Upon therapy for the alcoholic himself, we surely have no monopoly. Yet it is our great hope that all those who have as yet found no answer may begin to find one in the pages of this book and will presently join us on the high road to a new freedom.”
I feel the common solution AA offers, is for alcoholics who have tried those other methods of recovery from alcoholism with no lasting effect. It was only after I surrendered that I was willing to try AA’s common solution. It was only then that I have found permanent, contented sobriety. One day at a time of course.
There are members who have a need to be correct. This path will never lead to a new freedom and a new happiness. Desires such as this can awaken a whole gambit of character challenges in us or to use an archaic association, awaken, “The Seven Deadly Sins” I would rather feel a need to be honest and true, which is a sign of maturity. Having the understanding and open-mindedness to allow the hoop Bill talked about to remain large enough for everyone is a sign of maturity. After many years in AA one will witness and hear all kinds of recovery stories, not just one. Yes, there is a wonderful “suggested” path. But, to force this “suggested” path on anyone is not a sign of maturity. I’ve noticed that one’s ability to rehash clichés and impress people with knowledge of pages numbers and archival history facts has never brought about much to that individual but status, which is false because we are all equals in AA and a need to be greater than, reflects an immature element in that person. I feel members who need to threaten and control others are not demonstrating much sober maturity. My recovery does not depend on which book I read cover to cover, or which page number I can throw in someone's face. Having the humility to understand that another person’s recovery is not depended on what we might tell them is mature. To me, recovery is an individual experience. For example, if we pass a piece of paper and a number two pencil to a room full of people and ask them to draw a picture of what recovery looks like, I guarantee every piece of paper in that room will look completely different. There is enough wisdom in the rooms for everyone to be able to stay sober for one day. Some of it is at the podium, some of it is on the walls, some of it is in a book but, most of it to me is when one drunk is talking to another sharing their experience strength and hope. Sobriety to some is in their heads, others their hearts. To which is greater I cannot say.
It’s great to read that you have recognized your need to be correct! Anyway, now about the big book and page numbers. It’s this simple. If I go into my garage to work on my car, it all works better if I have a service manual, tools, and access to parts. It’s even better if I know a mechanic that has made the same repairs that I can call for advice.
In AA I have a sponsor, meetings, and a big book for direction in working the steps. At any time I can look in my manual ( big book) for direction with step 12 ( page 89-103), step 11 ( page 85-88) step 10 ( page 84-85) step 9 ( page 76-84) steps 6-8 (page 76) steps 5 ( page 72-76) step 4 ( page 64-71) step 3 ( page 63) step 2 ( chapter 4, especially page 47) and step 1 ( xxv-43 especially page 30). Call my sponsor, or attend a meeting that has a sole purpose of teaching and practicing AA's 12 steps.
Your are also correct that recovery is an individual experience. I simply recovered the way my sponsor, his, sponsor, and my sponsees have recovered. I found no reason to reinvent the wheel when there is a perfectly good, tried and true wheel in the first 164 pages of our book “Alcoholics Anonymous”. If you gave us a pencil and paper you would get the same answer ( see above).
In conclusion, take a good look at the heading of this forum. It says STEPS. So don’t be surprised if we talk about how we work those steps on this page. I’m sure you could find a “suggested path” web page with some like minded recovering people. Then again, maybe not.
Thanks for sharing. AA has changed so much since the early eighties when I had my last drink. I attended AA in the 70’s but, felt I was different. Some members today have gone away from the true essence of what it means to be part of a Fellowship and what our primary purpose is even though I know in their hearts they mean well. One change I notice is we tend to promote rather than attract. The majority of members understand we do a disservice to AA when we come across as close-minded bullies who force ideas on others. We do better when we “suggest” things or show others by our actions. To me, if all there was to getting sober was reading the big book, we could buy it and never return to AA. The key ingredient in AA is what Dr. Bob says it is in his story talking about his meeting with Bill W. “Of far more importance was the fact that he was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what he was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience. In other words, he talked my language.” This is the true magic in AA, “One drunk talking to another.” When we share our experience strength and hope and not threaten members with page numbers and rules, we are mirroring the first AA interaction. What were they talking about? The Big Book and Twelve Steps weren’t written yet. They were talking about alcoholism, blackouts, the DT’s, cheap booze, god, bar fights, lying, quilt, shame, cheating, stealing, money problems, infidelities, jumping off bridges and etc. It’s very common to attend meetings today and never hear any of these things. To me, if or primary purpose is to help the newcomer, than these are the things the newcomer needs to identify with first. As far as I’m concerned, if a newcomer truly understands the first step and what powerless means they will never drink again. The rest of the steps are basically a moralistic approach which is not necessary for everyone. If I was to add two “musts” in AA it would be this. We “must” not force ideas on anyone and we “must” remain open-minded. These two “musts” reflect the meaning of our code, “Love and Tolerance” Thanks
You shared, “As far as I’m concerned, if a newcomer truly understands the first step and what powerless means they will never drink again. The rest of the steps are basically a moralistic approach which is not necessary for everyone.” Right on! I’ve been doing the first step correctly since 88. I agree with your idea that if “one truly understands the first step they will not drink again.” Each day I wake up and remind myself that I am an alcoholic, that I have a brain disorder meaning I have an addictive biochemistry hard-wired to ignite the pleasure centers. Drinking will never solve one problem. There are no ands, ifs or buts; if I pick up the first drink I will destroy everything I’ve accomplished since my last drink. I also have to be careful with any other substances that will ignite these centers as well. I stopped smoking, only drink two cups of green tea a day, avoid high doses of sugar, high fructose corn syrup and process foods, etc. When I became addicted to jogging in my early recovery, I damaged my knees and shins. This was a huge wake-up call teaching me to live in moderation. I was chasing an endorphin high. As for the rest of the steps you called a “moralistic” approach, I feel too they are optional. Many members benefit from the joys of working the steps and I recommend them to the newcomer if asked. But I do share my experience too in sobriety. I realized I already knew how to be a good person because my mother instilled in me the qualities needed to be one and I just turned my back on them and chased the pleasures of the world. I enjoy listening to people share about the steps and how they transform lives. I can see it. But, for me, I need to keep it simple which is “Don’t pick up the first drink and act like that person my mother raised me to be.” If I can do that one day at a time than all the blessings of the spiritual world our bestowed upon me. Many thanks for your down-to-earth message. Just another Alcoholic from LA and grateful member of the Fellowship of AA
Thank you for the fascinating discussion. It made me think of all the little miracles that led to my recovery.
On a Monday 27 years ago today I was at the Indy 500 behaving in a way that would lead to an intervention and my first AA meeting. The girl we were staying with in Indianapolis, whose name I still do not know, had been in Alateen. She joined my girlfriend in confronting me about my behavior and got me to agree to attend a meeting when we returned to St. Louis. They saved my life.
All I remember from that first meeting was lots of smoking, sharing, crying and drama. Walking out of the meeting, I admitted to my girlfriend that I had a problem and would quit but that I didn't want to die of smoke inhalation and thus would not be going to those meetings. Thankfully, I was given a "newcomers packet" at the meeting.
During the next 9 months of struggling to control my drinking, I'd pull that packet out, especially when hungover, and read. My mind was opening to the possibility that I really did have a problem and that there might be a solution. After 9 months of proving I could not stop on my own, I entered treatment and began attending meetings regularly. I'm still here.
Think of all the little miracles that came together for me. A girl who had attended Alateen got my attention, there was an AA hotline in St. Louis, a bunch of people created and attended that meeting in St. Louis and had the foresight to provide newcomer packets....
It took months for me to pick a sponsor and to diligently work the steps and make the steps a way of life.
I suppose I'm saying that it takes lots of little things to create an opportunity for recovery. Those of us in recovery play a role in making all of those little things possible.
I will attend a meeting at my home group today to celebrate my recovery and to be there for some hungover drunk who might have behaved badly at the Indy 500 yesterday.
Hi, your "miracles" I would just call "coincidences." And the great thing about AA is the rooms are big enough for the both of us. We can use the language of "miracles" to describe our day to day events or we can use the language of "coincidences" to describe these very same events. It's important for us to respect others and to have an open-mind. I like to hear different points of view. It helps me clarify and refine the way I see the world. Whether I'm a born-again or atheist, if I'm an alcoholic I have to stay away from the first drink one day at a time. Thanks
I suggest you read about bill n Bob's meeting in pass it on. Bob did identify with bill. Bill stayed with Bob for a couple weeks. Bob got drunk. While bill was helping Bob get sober for his surgery. The following morning, Bob said "I'm going to go through with-it " bills said the surgery? Bob said no the rest of the program. After the surgery, Bob went around town and made amends. He never drank again. Look for yourself. From the beginning we had a definate program of recovery that only works if you work it. Only then it was the Oxford group's. Program of morning meditation, confession, restitution, and helping others. The program you describe is what we call 2 stepping. Admiting we are alcoholic and trying to help others.
In conclusion, Bob didn't do the 12 steps, he worked The steps bill had done. The same steps that bill expanded into 12 to tighten up any loopholes the rationalizing alcoholic would try. If anyone wants to learn more about 12 step work, read working with others in the big book and step 12 in the 12x12. Those books were writen to keep AA 's program of recovery from being garbled by word of mouth over time.
"To me, when I think of AA, I think of one drunk talking to another. I think of people from all walks of life sharing their experiences, strengths and hopes. I’ve taken a more mature view on AA and it is this, “although we do have a common problem, we do not have a common solution.” Unfortunately, today, there are members who would like to force a common solution on others and this distorts and harms our philosophy tremendously."
I read more arrogance than maturity in statements like that.
"Sobriety - freedom from alcohol - through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of and A.A. group." ("Language of the Heart" page 223, "As Bill Sees It" page 79 and the pamphlet, "Problems Other Than Alcohol")
When I think of one 'drunk' talking to another I think of two untreated alcoholics chatting. One 'drunk' talking to another can be found in any gin mill in the world.
You said, “When I think of one 'drunk' talking to another I think of two untreated alcoholics chatting. One 'drunk' talking to another can be found in any gin mill in the world.” I would say that’s an unfortunate position to take because that’s how AA started. The phrase, “One drunk talking to another” is a very common AA idiom which can be heard in any meeting in the world and throughout the i-say posts. Anyone with a true sense of recovery can understand a deeper meaning behind such a seemingly trite saying.
Before Alcoholics Anonymous became a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM,
it was a fellowship of men and women. As a fellowship our
membership grew at the rate of doubling our membership
about every ten years. Hundreds of thousands were finding
a haven in Alcoholics Anonymous every year. As a TWELVE
STEP PROGRAM we are only helping and holding enough alcoholics to replace those who die or drop out. Our
membership numbers show this. But we have to LOOK in
order to see.
When I think of A.A. I think of our wonderful
fellowship, the A.A. gatherings, meetings. The twelve
steps are suggestions. They are offered in a suggestive
way. (in theory). We are not to cram the steps down any
members throat, whether they are newcomers or earlytimers.
Bill explains that on page 8 in LOTH (Language of the
Heart). Or read it in the September 1945 issue of the
Do you really know to apply the solution to alcoholism,
how it should be done? Like some other pleasures in life,
if we do not know the proper technique, we are not likely
to get the desired results. To satisfy others, to watch
them awake spiritually is an experience like no other.
We do not reach the heart of the Alcoholic sufferer
by telling him/her to Find God and find Him NOW! We have
a technique/method which rarely fails. Bill refers to the
real solution on page 70 of AACA (Alcoholics Anonymous
Comes of Age). We reach the soul of the suffering alcoholic
by approaching her/him with weakness and humility. Spiritual Pride is the enemy.
"Before Alcoholics Anonymous became a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM,
it was a fellowship of men and women."
Wrong! Before Alcoholics Anonymous became a Twelve Step program it was part of the Oxford Group, a purely Christian organization. And it's a documented historical fact that the members of the Oxford Group didn't like the alcoholics.
Your are correct! At first AA was not a twelve step program, it was a 6 step, word of mouth program. For the best example, look on 4th edition big book page 263. The founder of AA in Chicago describes how Dr. Bob explained the 6 step program in 1937. While putting our program in written form in 1938, Bill W changed the 6 steps to 12. He wanted to tighten up any loopholes so the rationalizing alcoholic would have less wiggle room.
There is a fair amount of discussion in AA today about what works best. We don’t need any pushing or prodding. Alcohol is the only enforcer AA has or needs. That being said, we do need to keep to what has worked for the most alcoholics. The 12 steps are what most AA members practice to stay sober and happy. Just look at AA membership through the first 7 years!
Year 1 – 5
Year 2 – 15
Year 3 – 40 (they decided to start writing the book to prevent the word of mouth program from being garbled)
Year 4 – 100 (AA program put in written form)
Year 5 – 400
Year 6 – 2000
Year 7 – 8000 (source AA comes of Age)
So you can see how once the big book was written, AA membership exploded. Once it settled down it continued at a rate of about 20% a year until 1992. I think that’s when don’t drink and go to meetings instead of working the steps out of the big book started to take a firm grip on the fellowship.
I know you like page 70 in AACA, but try reading the rest of our history book!
Very impressive numbers. I hope you'll forgive me if I see a very close resemblance between your statistics and the false statistics put out by Wally P.'s "Back to Basics" plan which has as it's sole purpose shifting AA back to the Oxford groups/ Moral Rearmament/Initiatives of Change.
the numbers come from AA comes of age. I'll have to double check when wally p's book came out. If it was 1992, maybe that's when our mebership numbers slowed.
I have never seen anything that would lead me to believe that there are any reliable numbers on AA membership or statistics and your speculation of the cause is nothing but a guess to support some notion you have. You are welcome to your opinion; just don’t try to pass it off as facts.
I read page 8 in Language of the Heart, as you suggested but it doesn’t exactly sound like the cafeteria plan you present.
“We powerfully unite around them (The twelve steps) ….He sobers up and is led, little by little to complete agreement with our simple fundamentals.” Language of the Heart p70.
The AA Comes of Age passage simply refers to Bill’s twelfth step call in Dr Bob’s Nightmare. This was an extremely unusual meeting, one that any of us are unlikely to ever encounter. Bob described it “...a man who had had most all of the drunkard’s experiences known to man, but who had been cured by the very means I had been trying to employ, that is to say the spiritual approach.” He goes on to say that the important thing was that it was the first time he had ever talked with anyone with knowledge of alcoholism based on his actual experience. Bob had already spent two and a half years in the Oxford Group giving the spiritual approach (later spelled out in the twelve steps) much time and study.
Laying aside the extremely unusual coincidence of Bob already working on the spiritual cure for alcoholism I see the two relevant facts. Many alcoholics need to have the message of recovery deliver by someone who has experienced both the problem and the solution. The message is that there is a spiritual solution comprised of Faith in a Higher Power, a moral housecleaning and helping others. It is dived in 12 steps. I have done this. We have done this. We think it will work for you. We haven’t seen anything else that works. You are welcome to it. If you don’t want it, it’s your choice; we will gladly leave you alone.
As you readers can see, two people can read the same things and draw nearly opposite conclusions. Go to the source. Read it yourself.
Our General Service office does the "guessing". I would
hope that it is an educated guess. Alcoholics Anonymous has
always tried to keep a head count. It is an indication of
how effective we are.
I don't have AACA in front of me, so forgive any mistakes. But I believe that Bill was writing about his
first success in A.A. when he met Dr. Bob. Page 70. Bill
wrote that this is the approach at the heart of helping
the newcomer today. Bill wrote about weakness and humility.
Pride and EGO is what I see today.
Bill tells us on Page 8 LOTH that we do not try to cram
the twelve steps down anyone's throat. They are not sustained by any human authority. Yet we read HIW at
almost every A.A. meeting. ANONYMOUS
You sound like you really know this stuff. I am up to step two and have trouble. My sponsor says it was sort of automatic with him and doesn't know what to tell me. Read about it in the book but still not getting anywhere. Only one meeting around here within 80 miles and about all these guys know anything about is setting around and eating.
How did you do your 2 step?
I missed your question last month. I will tell you the
same thing your sponsor told you. Step two came after I
finally realized and admitted "My name is Joe and I am
an alcoholic." At my first A.A. meeting I came to believe
that these people could help me. They had been where I
was and I could tell that they were no longer suffering.
Eighty miles is a long way to travel to a meeting.
Especially if "How It Works and the 24hr book are read."
These readings do not leave much time to absorb or
carry the message. Try to find two or more alcoholics
to join you for a weekly meeting. And maybe car-pool
to the 80 mile meeting. Boy am I lucky. I have several
meetings every day within walking distance. Keep that
Big Book close. Read at least a chapter every day.
Remember we "come to believe". Most alcoholics
do not come in believing in anything. ANONYMOUS
I was a little taken aback by what I thought step two suggested, that only some supernatural, ethereal being could save my hinder, which was problematic as I did not believe is such a being. But then I read some material on AA from a Buddhist perspective, and the writer described coming to understand that the the group of drunks in the rooms of AA could help restore her to sanity, and thus collectively comprised a "power greater than ourselves." All I had to do was stick around and let it happen. It made sense, as I was struck at my first meeting by the fact that here was a room full of people who drank like I did, tried to quit on their own without success, but had been able to quit by coming to AA meetings. So whatever the "power greater than myself" was, it was in the rooms of AA.
My experience with step 2 is in the last paragraph of chapter 3, the entire chapter 4, and the first 3 pages of chapter 5 in the big book. Study those parts and see if that helps you. Second paragraph page 47 is the one short question for step 2. Second full paragraph on page 53 is the second question. Page 55 third paragraph helped me a lot. The fourth paragraph on page 55 is the kicker-it describes the attitude that will not fail!
Double check on page 60 to see if you believe the three pertinent ideas (A, B, and C). If you don’t, reread the big book up to that point again. Remember it doesn’t take long to have an idea!
Good luck to you, and remember God doesn’t make too hard of terms for those who earnestly seek.
We have a guy who has been sober three years and has no sponsor although he sponsors several young men. He has been around about thirty years and talks as if he has been sober that long. I hate talking about others in AA. I go to a lot of meetings and sponsor many women. This guy talks about his sponsors who knew Bill W. and what they told him for Ten to 18 minutes at every meeting. If someone leaves, he calls them names. He runs others down. New people are confused. I realize we are suppose to take care of this as a group.
I want to feel good in meetings again. This has gone on for months. I am going to different meetings until we have a group conscience this Friday. People are either afraid of him or not willing to confront him.
I prayed for courage and waited for God to make me fearless. Eighteen years of formal education and I needed a middle school dictionary.
Courage - the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.
I never get comfortable dealing with jerks like that but I do it anyway. I also keep in mind that I probably won't be able to control them. It's more important that I can control ME. I can do the right thing regardless of others. That's where the big payoff is. Try it.
Group Conscience is a good start. I believe the group's ego is more important than the individual's ego. Yes, he sounds like a true blowhard, all talk and no action, which is proven by the fact he is relapses often. Sometimes we must be brave enough to stand up for what we feel is correct even though it goes against the grain or group in this case. Guys like this are a dime a dozen in the bars so, I'm used to them but they can harm AA as a whole. I imagine as a women this guy might evoke unresolved conflicts with men from a one's' past-Did I just give unwanted advice? A healthy womens group might make all the difference. Because you asked, I'll offer the way I have handled this in the past. This is certainly not an AA approved policing technique in these matters but, I would just kindly interrupt him during one of his preaching sermons and say, "Shut Up you Old Blowhard!" and see what flies.
Much Gratitude Thanks
First talk to the bully yourself. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, get 3 people who agree with you to confront him at the same time. If that doesn’t work, confront him at your group conscience.
It doesn’t matter what religion you are, if you are open minded you will try suggestions from any religion. My suggestion comes from Matthew 18 to be exact, look for yourself. If you don’t want to use anything from the Christian religion, I’m sorry, but most of the AA program comes from Mathew and James. Just remember the next time you write a check and date it to meditate on what happened 2013 years ago that we would still be using that as a basis for time.
Anyway, if that doesn’t work, start your own meeting and run it the way you want using the 12 traditions as a guide.
One of the joys in recovery was seeing my daughter Carmen come into the fellowship. Although she had never seen the drunk in me, my daughter became an alcoholic and entered the rooms while at grad school. Carmen was very zealous about the program, talking all the talk as beginners do. She likes to challenge my laid back ways. Every time she asks me what step I’m on, I say “I think it’s the foxtrot” She is a beautiful kid full of goodness and love and that part of her comes from her mother Maria. When Carmen started drinking, I cursed the gene I put in her biochemistry. My wife was not an addict but died of breast cancer while Carmen was in high school. This was difficult for Carmen and me. I had support from AA. She took to the bottle. I could see the ugly parts of me in her and felt devastated. Eventually, Carmen’s drunken ways caught up with her. She was placed on academic probation and took time off to have a baby. She moved back home to sober up. We don’t discuss the father. I’m grateful she felt safe enough to move in and knew I would not mettle. Carmen quickly found comfort with the younger crowd at the12-step meetings and I have always enjoyed the support from the men’s groups I have attended since before she was in her mother’s belly. Recently, Carmen celebrated her one year with the new baby and me. We had driven to the cemetery and placed flowers with her anniversary coin and a baby’s rattle on Maria’s grave. She said her mother taught her about love but thanked me for teaching her about the steps, which made me laugh out loud because I never did. I remember her saying, “Dad, it took me a while but, I realized you live the steps and that to me is why mama loved you so much.” We had a mini-cry-a-thon and sure it was nice to hear but, it’s Maria who shines straight through her coupled with the 12-step meetings she attends and love for a new baby. We are both on a journey to stay away from the first drink one day at a time but thanks to the flexibility in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous we have chosen completely different paths to get there. Genaldo
One of the most heartwarming stories I have ever read.
I can throw it all away in a second if I pick up the first drink. I'm too old to bear the loss of a daughters love. She is all I have ever since my wife crossed the dark waters unto the banks of the endless light. Genaldo
Thanks for sharing the love! I was at my wits end too with my daughter’s drinking until she came into the rooms. I was Mr. Sobriety in my mind’s eye but, she was the truth. I soon would be reminded daily how awful and abusive of a father I was to her. My wife invited her to move back in with us under the condition I kept my mouth shut. So many dinners would pass with her yelling at me slamming her plate down and running out the door. This sent my ego off the cliff. I was the big shot in the rooms but, my daughter hated me and I knew I had to take it because I had harmed her mightily. I did not try and force a relationship or defend myself. After months after months of this, my wife and I decided it would be better for everyone if I moved out to give our daughter more space to heal. I moved in to a month to month rental. My wife loves me very much. The Al-Anon women saved our marriage. It was bad enough facing the truth with my wife but, my daughter’s hatred cut deeper. The Thursday Men’s group and long walks with my deacon brother kept me together. About a year later there was a knock on the door. It was my daughter. She entered and gave me the longest hug. She held me like she never wanted to lose me. I collapsed to the floor in a rush of shame and guilt under the power of forgiveness. I was a monster to her but with support from the AA Fellowship, its principals and my brother’s help, I finally could admit how awful and abusive I was and she was at a place to forgive and love. She asked me to move back home under the condition we have a father-daughter night out once a week. Today, I am grateful she humbled me. My arrogance blinded me to the harm I caused her. She has a boyfriend now, so our father-daughter night out is more like once every other month. What the support in the rooms has given her is incalculable. She has self-esteem and self-determination because of AA. She is fierce, strong and independent. I know she will never let anyone ever mistreat her again. Larry S. Michigan
When will I be an adult? That was frequently on my mind as an adolecent. I didn’t feel like an adult but I sure wanted the world to treat me like one. I imagine the world (well, that small part that had any interest in what I was doing) question was “When will he ever grow up?” With time and sobriety, the questions simply faded away. I finally made it.
When I joined AA another question popped up. When will I know that I have had my spiritual awakening? Bill’s flash of light experience didn’t happen but I read in the Big Book that it frequently doesn’t nor needs to. So the I knew that wasn’t the yard stick. I took the steps haphazardly so there was no clear finish line there. Now I know. I now GET to use the steps. A far cry from,”I don’t need the steps” and later “Yeah, I guess I need the steps, all of them”. I have the steps, the best set of tools in the world to solve all of life’s challenges. I have had my awakening.
In the past few weeks, I have listened to four 5th steps and have written a 4th myself (call it a 10th step if you want) and have given my 5th step. I can’t say for sure how many 5th steps I have given or listened to over the years. I think over the past 20 years, I have done at least one 4th and 5th step a year during an annual or semi annual big book study and listened to maybe 2 or 3 a year on average. Also whenever I sponsor someone, when we get to the 4th step in the book, I write one and share it with them (how can I suggest they do something I’m not doing?). So I guess I may have done 30 or so and listened to maybe 30 or more. I can’t recall anyone over this time drinking after doing the 4th and 5th steps. Not to give the wrong impression, they all have done their best with the seven remaining steps. I do recall several who decided they were exceptions. About ¾ of them continued drinking.
My point is this, through practicing the AA program as outlined in the big book, my life is now the best I have ever known! In continuously working the steps my life has gradually improved in all aspects.
After giving and listening to many 4th and 5th steps, a line from the big book in the chapter the family afterward comes to mind,” Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have-the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them.”
I would like to thank my sponsor for showing me how to take the steps as outlined in the big book and for listening to my 5th steps.
I want to share one helpful thing I tried while doing a fourth step. I wrote the third step prayer at the top of the page, like I just did this morning. Then I proceed just like in the book. By writing the third step prayer I remind myself that I'm not doing this to get something. And that is a comforting thought. And I know something solid, that I can believe.
As a teacher a very effective principal I had told me if I wanted to start enjoying my job that I had to teach something I believed. Even a simple concept. When I tried it, the students responded better. The lights went on in their minds.
So I think those things we learn while we are out there can be used for good after we get sober.
At the time, I used the new tool to make myself feel better, more hopeful, and I decided to try a different experience.
But I was driven by a motive like fear of not getting something.
One of my best friends. Rose from high school senior dad through numerous lousy dead end jobs to best radio announcer in town and starting a mobile dj business. Speeding, drinking, gun suicide age 28. Survived by widow, two pretty young daughters (who I watched grow up into very troubled lives).
Friend, neighbor, brick restoration company, freshly rehabbed house. Always smiling, making big bucks while enjoying considerable loafing time. Married to a lovely RN. Two year old boy, the apple of his eye. Found hanged in his garage. Decided never to drink or drug again no matter what.
Wife’s brother, successful attorney in Tucson. Worked enough to support his hobby of archaeology. Nice guy, always a beautiful girlfriend. On top of the world. Alcoholic, one too many holes burned through his stomach. Died in the emergency room in his early fifties.
My first sponsor (and then ex-sponsor) thought he needed a vacation at home with the blinds down. Postman noticed the mail piling up and then the smell. Dead at 62 on a floor covered with nice old Navajo rugs and empty vodka 750’s.
Second sponsor’s brother dead at 39 –cirrhosis.
Wife’s mother, retired teacher maintenance drinking trying to stand the pain of multiple osteoporosis fractures. Hospitalized for yet another fracture. Nice old lady, they thought dementia when she went over the edge. Delirium tremors from withdrawal. Dead.
My father, liked a stiff drink in the evening but never saw him drunk until his late sixties. A year in county jail at age 73. Then bourbon burned a hole through his stomach. Stopped him for a while. Few years later walked into the hospital for tests on Thursday, hearse picked him up on Sunday. Cirrhosis.
Funerals are bad. Some are worse. These are far, far worse. We mouth the words “It’s sad. It’s a disease, like anything else.” but nobody’s really buying it. There will be about two hundred more like it in the US today.
These are some of the reasons that Alcoholics Anonymous is not a leisurely paced social club for my wife and me. A disease treated with words. Only words. Listened to, read, spoken, written down. Is it any indication of our insanity that the solution is too tough to commit to today?
I wish I could toward this to others in the program
I could not help but respond to making amends. Yesterday we were on Step 9; so the need to comment to writer
who has 6mos. and wrote March 13th.
For me I know that the steps are in order for a reason and Step 9 is where it is because we need time to practice some changes to be a different person that came into the rooms. I shared and went back remebering how self-centered I was and am glad to have been able to make my amends after I was sober long enough to be believable, especially to those who had to be on the other end of my mouth.
My drinking days are well over 30years and I never want to forget who I was and where I came from.
Change comes when we have a good sponsor to show us the way and do all the work that is needed on steps prior to Step 9.
I will always be an alcoholic, I just don't have to be a wet one.
Joy in Massachusets.
I am new to AA, 6 months sober. I am trying to make amends to my boyfriend. He always says to me its ok. I do not feel that it is, I am trying to take baby steps in my sobriety. I am also trying to make amends to his two boys. He tells me its ok with them to. I need some advice on this please. Any help would be appreciated.
Thank you all
The most important person I had to make amends to was myself and it didn't happen overnight. Once I had though my actions were in a place where they spoke louder than my words and people could see a difference. The acts of kindness and love towards my family and friends is what made a difference not empty words like "I'm sorry"
Nonsence. If your an alcoholic your problem has always been too much self thinking and placing your needs ahead of everything else. If we put the needs of others ahead of our own, we would not drink.
I challenge you or anyone who has access to this site to find anything in the big book or 12x12 that says anything about making amends to yourself!
The second part of step 12 says we tried to carry this message to alcoholics. This message in AA has never been make amends to yourself!
Pg 76 "Let's look at Steps Eight and Nine. We have a list of all persons we have harmed and to whom we are willing to make amends. We made it when we took inventory."
Pg 67 "Referring to our list again. Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man's. When we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white. We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight."
Pg 66 "We turned back to the list, for it held the key to the future."
So our instructions clearly point out that our inventory from the 4th step is the key to making amends in steps 8 & 9. So what is on our list?
Pg 64 "We listed people, institutions or principles with whom we were angry."
In addition to the above inventory on resentments, we're instructed to inventory fears & sexual conduct.
To me it's perfectly reasonable that someone's path in following the instructions in the Big Book could lead them to write down their own name if they were angry with themselves. Can someone have a resentment against themselves? Absolutely. In addition, our fears are often based on self, "self-centered fear", so they can follow the instructions and put there name down there. An individual may have harmed themselves by their own sexual conduct; following the instructions they list their name there.
Once their name is listed on an inventory, following the instructions in 'Into Action' should lead them to make amends to themselves; to take some action to restore the balance.
Can our Big Book's specific instructions be followed to cause us to make amends to ourselves? Absolutely. If that works for someone, fine. If that hasn't been your path and doesn't work for you, fine. But I'll see your challenge and raise you another: Try following the instructions I've mentioned above, put your name on your list, and see where it takes you.
Apparently, you do not approve of my recovery. I was sharing my experience strength and hope. I'm not aware of judgment as one of our key principals, however it is in certain religious systems. Remember when you point the finger three are pointing back. The Big Book and Twelve and Twelve might be your security blanket at the moment but, not to burst your bubble; there is more to recovery and living in sobriety than waving AA books around. We are all equals in AA but, your comments placed you in a self-apointed superior position. Where is your humiltiy? Are you the keeper of my sobriety? I don't think so. Who are you to challenge me? Nobody. I've been doing quite well since 1983 without your help.
Try and keep any open mind. Genaldo
That is quite a wordy response to a simple challenge. It
was not to a Bull fight. We just want to know where in our
books and literature it says anything about making amends to ourselves. If it there I would like to read it. Rose
Rose who is this "we" you talk about? Do you really believe there is only one way of getting sober? If so, try a little flexibility. If you fall in line with the "paint by numbers" recovery crowd, try a little abstract expressionism. Make a few mistakes and practice imperfection every once in a while. Sobriety is a by-product of my actions not my words. There is one thing most alcoholics in recovery have in common and that is; there is an expectation that salvation will come floating in from the sky. Alcoholics are ever reaching out for something to relieve them from their misery and to satisfy selfish desires. I had to learn in AA to save myself and to let go of savior theories. I did this by throwing away formulas and to stop chasing spiritual highs. It’s okay if you do not approve of my experience, strength and hope. Sometimes it’s the stranger that comes to town that forces me to re-examine my recovery.
If your like me, you have mistaken emotionalism for true spiritual living. the 12 steps of AA have shown me the way to a truly spiritual life. I had no idea that the emptyness I felt inside was a higher power shaped hole. Through practicing the AA way out, I have a life today that is better than I have ever known and it keeps getting better not worse. when I suffered from alcoholism, my life continually got worse, even while not drinking.
And you still do not answer "our" question. Where in
our literature or books does it tell me to put my name
at the top of the amends list? Where does it say that I
am to make amends to myself? If it is written, I would
love to read it. Location please, only A.A. literature, Rose
I'll go out on a limb and guess that the "we" Rose speaks of are those of us who don't rely on our own will power to stay sober, but use the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I am sorry my comments gave you the impression that I put myself in a superior position. Please answer the question of where your idea of making amends to yourself came from? Was it a sponsor, friend, or spiritual advisor, some outside literature, or you own epiphany?
My concern is this, how many alcoholics have heard you say make amends to yourself since 1983? How many alcoholics have been misled as to what the program of alcoholics anonymous suggests as a program of recovery? This is exactly the reason why our founders decided to put the AA message in text book form. To keep the message (12 steps) from being garbled over the years. If you are a member of AA (you are if you say so), don’t you think it would be helpful to read up on the basic text of AA? Spend a little time researching the program that works for at least 50% of alcoholics who try? Maybe even try to apply those 12 steps to your own life.
Again, if I have upset you I am sorry. My intentions are to carry the message of AA, not the disease.
Hey man, thanks for being honest-To many deceivers and liars around us pretending to know more than they really do or are acting more important than they really should. It's refreshing to hear different points of view because we never know what the new person needs to hear. As far as I'm concerned we shouldn't boast how great the steps and big book are when our recovery rates and attendance are at an all-time low. There are too many members trying to get to heaven when I'm just trying to stay sober for one day. I don't need to tip-toe across the sky with holy men or meet Bill W. in heaven. When I come home from work my kids and wife are happy to see me. My mother-in-law lives with us and we can help her live out the remaining years of her live with dignity. Thats perfect enough for me. Like my grandmother used to say "Actions speak louder than words and words are like worms that dig holes in our hearts" Jake E.
You said, "My intentions are to carry the message of AA, not the disease." What exactly is the message to you?
To me, passing on sayings and cliches without true experiences and wisdom is not helping anyone in AA. I refuse to abandon logic and reason and blindly have faith in the earlier members and their ideas about recovery. There is a mythology about the "good ol days in AA" which increases the farther away we travel from 1935. In my opinion, many of the earlier members were not a happy or even sober. We have created this false golden age of recovery where everyone was perfect and everyone got sober by the book. I've doubled the time of Dr. Bob and a few years from now, one day at a time, I will pass Bill W. His ideas were a start but not the end to me. Personally, I tried all the big book stuff and could quote the pages with the best of them. When I looked around the rooms I saw a bunch of unhappy people preaching the "good news." I wanted more than that out of life. Prayer and God never helped me in recovery and after 15 years of misery and depression in recovery I became an atheist in AA. My whole life changed. I took responsibility for my recovery and abandoned mainstream AA ideas. So this is my experience, strength and hope. I share it freely at my home group and with people I sponsor. A few of my sponsees like the mainstream AA. I can help them with this because I have experience with it. If there was only one way of getting sober then there would only be one person sober in AA. I've learned to be flexible in recovery.
Mike S. New York
I'm curious, Mike. If you have found a better way to stay sober than the program passed down from the founders, why are you still in AA? Perhaps you have convinced yourself that AA would collapse if you stopped carrying your message, or do you just like the attention you get with your preaching your own brand of recovery?