12th Step Work
I’m likely one of the few who doesn’t have a problem with your meeting schedule. I spent several years attending regularly and have gone through several changes since. The program is my program not meetings. To me it’s an unusual occasion to carry the message to someone who hasn’t asked for it, not wrong, just unusual. A question of “attraction not promotion” went through my mind. Most of my carrying the message is done at meetings. Courts, probation and parole, treatment centers, counselors, angry wives get people to us, bodily at least. Humility in working with others does not come natural to me. I highlighted 13 items in Working With Others in my Big Book that are perfectly appropriate for meetings. I review it frequently. I'm old and I don't need to do any thinking on the subject, it has already been thought out and written down. I just need to read and follow label directions, as usual.
Thanks for sharing, AA needs as much successful diversity as it can muster.
Hello. I am keenly interested in learning more about the 13 items in the Working with Others chapter of the Big Book that are appropriate for meetings. Do you mean appropriate in terms of as a replacement for, or instead of meetings but still appropriate for carrying the message? I absolutely agree with you that the thinking has already been done for us; in this case, however, I am not seeing it. Can you help me see it, please. Many thanks.
Thanks for the interest.
"...because of your own drinking experience you can be uniquely useful..." p89
"...find out all you can about him." p90
"If he sticks to the idea..."p92
Some of the 13 I found, yours may be different or more.
Hope this is helpful.
Before I went out of town last week we had a noon meeting on 12 step work. Good meeting. We talked about many ways to carry out 12 step work. Some members thought they were too new or didn’t have the time.
I was about 3 hours from home that night when I got a call from the local detox. An AA member from out of town was there looking for a meeting. The detox was out of meeting lists but called me since we have a meeting there. I got the guys number. Called a guy from the noon meeting who was 2 weeks sober since I know he was going to meetings every day. I asked him if he would take the out of towner to a meeting and he said he was game, so I had him call another AA member to go with. Last night All 4 of us showed up for our Monday night big book meeting. The out of towner is 25 years sober and the guys that 12 stepped him where 2 weeks and 3 months! I’m not sure who really 12 stepped who, I am just glad I was another link in Gods chain!
I recently joined an AA program and after the first few months of meetings I realized there were different kinds of alkies. listening to some of the worst shares that people have gone through under the influence made me understand I was pretty much a light weight but yet again we all had the same sickness. I don't have the urge to drink and found giving up cigarettes 1000 times harder. I go to 1-2 meetings a week with a very upbeat and happy attitude which is not put on by any means, but the women all around me are extremely negative and with much self pity. I have a great listening ear, and try to share with my positive thinking. I almost hate to share about the bad times of my black outs and every day happy hour, but i know this is the part of AA I have to give up to. I don't feel I need a sponsor but I do read the BB for continued support. The question is does everyone have to grow in sobriety in the same way?
It's been my experience that over the last 3 1/2 years of trying to 'work' my program these are suggestions that were suggested of which several I ignored or thought I had an 'easier, softer way':
* Get a homegroup and DO SERVICE WORK at that homegroup
* Get a sponsor
* Jump right into the STEPS WITH (not self-taught), WITH a sponsor
* Do 90 meetings in 90 days
* Pray daily asking God to keep me sober TODAY and Thanking Your Higher Power for keeping you sober at the end of the day
* Try to call at least 2 alcoholics a day
* CALL someone, EVEN AFTER ATTEMPTING MY SPONSOR, if I have the desire to drink
* Don't get into relationships or make any MAJOR Life-Changing events in the 1st year.
* a few other minor ones
My point...I'm approaching 8 months sobriety (you do the math)...it has been a 'rocky' 3 1/2 years but THANK GOD I now have SURRENDERED...Have WILLINGNESS (sometimes have to pray for even this)...and an Open Mind...
It's been my experience that NOW following ALL the suggestions...I've had a Spiritual Experience and find Maintaining Sobriety is a heck of a lot easier than GETTING SOBER! Keep Coming Back...It Works If You Work It!
I read your post and I actually felt sad that you do not have a sponsor. Sharing at an AA meeting doesn't always mean that we are just sharing the bad stuff, in fact, sharing where we came from, how we got here and what its like now through our experience, strength and hope with the 12 steps is what an AA meeting is about, its for sharing the good stuff as well.
"Sobriety—the freedom from alcohol—through the teaching and practicing of the twelve steps is the sole purpose of an AA group." — Bill Wilson
A sponsor is someone who is sober, belongs to an AA homegroup, attends face to face AA meetings regularly, she will be smiling, reaching out to newcomers, and will have been through the 12 steps with a sponsor of her own. She will be passing on what was passed to her, how to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety through the 12 steps.
I can't imagine being new and trying to navigate through the Big Book by myself. When I was new, I completely misunderstood many things in the Big Book and I was very grateful that I had a sponsor who I could call and talk with, meet for coffee and be taken through the Big Book explaining to me what things meant.
Without a good sponsor to take me through the 12 steps of recovery and to show me the way through the Big Book, I would have been left to my own devices.
And left to my own devices always meant doing things My Way, running on self-will with "stinking thinking" and that has a name...its called Untreated Alcoholism. And Untreated Alcoholism Kills, whether we drink or not.
I would strongly suggest joining an AA homegroup closest to where you live, and getting a good sponsor to take you through the 12 steps of recovery. Ask your HP in your morning prayers to put a good sponsor in your life, then Let Go and keep an eye out for who shows up :)
I need to just listen.
Thanks for sharing. Your thinking is very common. After 33 years it's still difficult for me to remember that everyone in a meeting got there based on his or her liabilities, not assets. So why should I expect them to all act sane? There is an old adage that eagles don't flock. I've found it in AA as well as anywhere else in life. But there are some. They found that when they let go they didn't fall, they soared. The ones I have run across and try to emulate use the steps and a sponsor. At the other end of the scale, I've seen many disappear, a few die and in between are those still held back by the negative thinking,self pity and all the rest that you have seen.
I had had the wrecks, tickets, thousands of hangovers, work problems bombed relationships like everyone else from the beginning. I walked into Alcoholics Anonymous when I was thirty years old and couldn’t break the habit of going home from work thinking I could drink a beer, turning it into at least six or eight and falling asleep in front of the TV. No family pressure, no crisis. A good inventory using the steps showed me I was as sick as anybody on skid row. The drinking is only a symptom it says somewhere. I had plenty of others.
There are numerous sites with recorded AA speakers online. Have a listen and see if they "have what you want..." and get ready to be motivated.
When I get to Alcoholics Anonymous, nobody gave me the Twelveth Step; they gave me some brochures and schedule group. Fortunately for me it was like that, if they had been saying silly things maybe I would not have stayed. I made four Twelveth Steps, three AA explain that it was achieved. When I was attending a lady entered a "buddy" was watching us and the first thing he said was that here was one important thing that was the First Tradition, had to behave well. The lady did not stay because of the things he said. When I went to meet a man entered two companions saying I had no right to do what I just step twelve in discussion. The man was not due to the show we gave.
All we say is that there is a new solution, we did it, the program worked out and the best way is with our behavior. I can spend two hours I saying nonsense but that is not carrying the message. when a newcomer get and improved look and recover physically and mentally is when they give me the twelveth step, after many years.
I am having problems with the 4th step and need help. Anyone have advice they can share?
How do I take an inventory of myself? How do I go
about this? See page 50 in the 12 & 12. Rose
I would suggest consulting your sponsor..
I was writing for two years when my emotional problems were coming to my mind, but in mexico in 1993 someone could advise me run the 4th. the 5th step. step in writing a single session, lasting three days, not if you live there but the service is related to the second blue book appendix (spiritual experience). Here in mexico more than 1 million people have practiced that way and I think that with 99 percent of effectiveness, I know that in Las Vegas there are about 30 such groups help and running this job. I hope to be of much help and you can help others
If you are interested in going the " old school " route for your 4th Step, I suggest listening to or downloading a talk or guide by Paul F which can be found at
xa-speakers.org and type in Paul F in the search box. From the list look for 432 I think that is the talk / workshop for the 4th Step.
At the same site there are workshops on the steps by Joe & Charlie and others.
The Paul F goes thru the 4th Step right out of the book and adds his experiences also.
Great to hear you’re thinking of beginning your 4th step. How did steps 1, 2, and 3 go? In the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, pages 64-71 in the chapter “how it works” contains the directions for step four. Ask your sponsor how to do a 4th in the big book. I would guess you don’t have a sponsor if you’re asking for help online. I suggest you go to several meetings asking for someone to help you work step 4 out of the big book. If you are like me, you will feel great security in taking step 4 out of our basic text.
If someone suggests you work your 4th step out of the 12x12 ask them to read the last two sentences of the first full paragraph on page 17 of the 12x12. Those two sentences state,” The book “Alcoholics Anonymous” became the basic text of the Fellowship, and it still is. This present volume (the 12x12) proposes to broaden and deepen the understanding of the 12 steps as first written in the earlier work.
We all know what a text book is. As far as using the 12x12, how do you broaden and deepen your understanding of something you have never done? It’s like coming back from somewhere you have never been. However there is great information for sponsors on step 4 in the 12x12.
Another reason for using the format from the big book is that when you continue to do steps 10 and 11 on pages 84-88 in the big book, it refers to the same format that you continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear and so on.
I wish you luck with your 4th step, the big hurdle is just getting over the reluctance to do it.
The guy who put Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. tells us
exactly how to do the fourth step. See page 50 in the 12 & 12. He makes it simple, though not easy, to "do". ANONYMOUS
The last 24 hours:
5-6 am considered my plans for the day. Asked God to direct my thinking and to divorce my thinking of self pity, dishonest, and selfish motives. Asked God to show me the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness, and love. Asked God to help me be in a position to help those who still suffer. Read pages 84-88 in the big book for inspiration to do step 10 & 11. Read part of a story from big book, a little in the 12x12, and the daily reflections.
6:30-3 worked, talked to Steve and Mike (AA members), left message for Chris (sponsee), Bill (sponsor who moved), and Ole an old timer in AA.
3-7:30 picked up kids from school, played with them, talked to wife for while making supper, played with kids and dog again. Ole called back and talked to him about AA.
7:30-9 big book study. Read steps 5-8 in big book. Two members still hadn’t done 5th step. Group member who did his 5 step convinced the last two to do theirs.
9-10:30 listened to 5th step. Welcomed him to the human race.
10:30-11:30 reviewed my day to see where I had been selfish, dishonest, inconsiderate, or frightened. Thought of who I might owe amends too. Read texts from two AA members and made plans for today. Thanked God for another day of sobriety and for putting me in a position to be of service.
5-6 am considered my plans for the day…………..
My last drink was Aug 13 1992. Ole’s last drink was in 1972. He taught me how to live 24 hours at a time like I just described. It’s a design for living that works! I know because I have been sober and HAPPY the last 20 years.
Cause and effects, I don't beleive much in big book. God's been taking care me for a long time. I don't have to keep asking him. The world i live in, and influenced by, is the the world i was born with and lives
with in me. PARoxdes the truth verses what seems like the truth, but don't last. West Virginia.
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information,
which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail
to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is
contempt prior to investigation."
Hey, Gods been taking care of me too. God was waiting for me as I was running my alcoholic life. when I finally ran out of options, I tried to work the program of AA as close to how the big book describes it. I found God and began to develope a conscience contact with God through working the 12 steps of AA.
My question is this, If you don't believe much in the big book, which "is" the program of AA and after which the fellowship of AA is named, what are you doing here and how do you carry the message of AA if you don't believe in it? It sounds as silly as someone who joins a football team, but doesn't want to play offense,defence,special teams, practice, or run the plays as laid out in the huddle. maybe that person should be playing cards or bowling.
It sounds like you are making a mockery of our third tradition. A lot of work went into developing our traditions. Maybe you could at least read them. Maybe this
writer lets the A.A. group, in which he participates,
carry the message. That is the purpose of the group, to
carry the message. My understanding of the message may
be limited. I believe the A.A. Group is more qualified
to carry the message. ANONYMOUS
I suggest reading chapter 7,working with others from the big book. It explains how YOU carry the message. Take note of how many times. "You "is written instead of we like the rest of the big book.
I was talking to a newcomer at a meeting recently. I offered a lift to the meetings I attend. He said sure and that his family was living in his uncles basement. I got his number and made plans to pick him up. On meeting night I called to get his address. He gave it to me. He was living in my neighbor's basement! He is new to AA and wants to go to the big book meetings my group has twice a week. Imagine that, an alcoholic being interested in the book alcoholics anonymous and big book meetings!
Share, Encourage or Move on...as the Spirit of the Lord Leads.
At 6am this morning, I was wrapping up my morning meditation with the words found on page 164 of the big book. I asked to be shown what I could do for the man who is still sick today. Then I heard a text message on my phone, so I looked at it. It said, I’ll pick you up at 5:45 to go talk at the treatment center at 6 and 7 pm.
My next thought was, the answer will come if your own house is in order. But you obviously can’t transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.
Thank you to AA for guiding me through the 12 steps so I could experience the Great Fact again today!
God, as we understand Him, bless us all!
"the hilarious life"is a phrase I read once in an AA story from the Big Book years ago.Forget which edition.It conjured-up memories of the end of my drinking career when I desperately tried to escape the "loneliness and despair" of solo drinking and frequented bars.My toothy grin and exaggerated foot-stomping to the music would draw stares.But at least the bartender called me Sir-"Sir,you're bothering the other customers.""Sir,you can't sleep here.""Sir,the police have been notified!"........If only I had joined AA earlier.All these Bleeding Deacons are quarreling over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin:"You aint talking to the poor Newcomer right!"....HILARIOUS!
I have printed out a list of meetings. I will attend one tomorrow. How do I find a good sponsor? I want to work the steps and make it work this time. I'm so tired of my messed up life. Today is day one.. I have kept myself busy. Had to go to a work function and as soon as I got there I gave away my "drink" tickets and brought no money with me. I had a good time. I know there will be hard days to come and I need to find a home meeting and people who I can reach out to. any suggestions on home meetings? I'm in Gilbert Arizona.
thanks in advance
Take the steps let God work them and stay close to the fellowship not a follow-ship take a closer look if your sober
if not someone will need to help you but you sound sober.
There are book studies everywhere you don't have to wait for someone take them.
For the time being, use the group as your sponsor. As time
passes you will be drawn to certain members of the group,
who may very well become lifelong friends. If you decide to
formally do the steps (they are suggested) you will need
someone to listen to your step five. I highly recommend
a priest or someone sworn to secrecy.
I attended meetings in Flagstaff AZ. a few years ago.
We had meetings at the train station where the only
"moment of silence" was when the train whistles blew.
Morning meetings held elsewhere were very reverent, but
we could still hear the trains. I would use the word
endearing to describe all the meetings I attended while
there on vacation.
I was also sick and tired of my messed up life,
although to all outward appearances I had it all
together. I may have once had it all together but I
forgot where I put it. I used to sit on the barstool
at a local bar, dreaming of the life I wanted. It was
Alcoholics Anonymous who made that dream come true.
In the town I recently relocated to, we now have 4 meetings that no longer read Hazeldon’s 24 hour meditation book as part of the AA meeting format. The 4th changed it’s format last Tuesday. It has taken a little over a year to go from zero to 4. I now feel comfortable to communicate with local doctors and ministers to do 12 step work. Until now I was uncomfortable bringing newcomers to the local AA meetings because of the 24 hour books religious tone. The 4 meetings mentioned have gotten back to AA’s primary purpose as stated in tradition 5.
After talking with a local minister, he thinks he has a few parishioners that might be interested in AA. I am looking forward to carrying the message to them with the help of our AA group. If they have problems other than alcohol, we will steer them in the right direction. It feels good to have some unity back in our local AA world. If we get and stay unified that AA is for Alcoholism, we stand a much greater chance of breaking through the denial that all alcoholics have. I believe that denial, as one of our trustees said is the single greatest obstacle to recovery form alcohol.
Thanks for reading
I was given a 24hr book by an A.A. member (not the group)
at my second meeting in Oct 1969. I loved that little book
and I still do. I remember that I bought a box of them in
my early sobriety and sold them at cost, or gave them away.
The price was $2.00. I used my own money and kept them
separate from A.A. conference approved literature. I really
did not understand why it could not be displayed at A.A.
meetings. But there were some members who understood, and
they were vocal about it.
Fast forward thirty-five years and the book has been
accepted as A.A. material. We not only used the book as
a topic for meetings, it became a regular reading in
addition to the preamble. I could see no reason for
not using the book and always voted to use it.
I never truly understood why the book was rejected
in the first place. The fact that it is very religious
never bothered me. Too much God in it? Absurd! God is the
core of Alcoholics Anonymous. And A.A. is religious or
spiritual at its core. So WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
The problem is that we are reading this religious
material to the newcomer at their first exposure to
A.A. This and other religious material is read along
with the preamble, disregarding the fact that A.A.
is not allied with any sect or denomination. It confuses
the newcomer and other alcoholics who have no interest
in religion. They just do not "Keep coming back". Our
membership numbers show that we are not growing.
There is no wrong way to get sober. We each find our
own path to recovery. Most of us find sobriety by
following the guidelines in our Big Book. And we have
a special unique method of allowing that to be transferred
from one alcoholic to another. We share our own stories,
exactly what happened to us, without telling anyone that
they must do the same. When we tell another alcoholic,
Well this is what I did, and if you want to get sober,
you have to do the same thing, we are way out of bounds.
Sure, it was/is the Big Book which told me what to do.
So why not also let the Big Book tell them what to do?
I can read it in the book. That is not the same as
having someone standing over me telling me what I have to do.
We can remove the 24hr book from A.A. meetings just
because it is not conference approved literature. But
I believe it is of greater importance to understand why
it was rejected in the first place. It ignores the advice
given to Bill W. by Dr William Silkworth in the spring
of 1935. This is the "cart before the horse idea". Bill
writes several times of the importance of this "IDEA".
Bill emphasizes that without this idea, A.A. could
never have been born. It has to do with the way we
carry the message. We talk about ourselves, not telling
anyone what they have to do. Simple, but difficult to
We go contrary to this IDEA when we read the 24hr. book
and "How It Works" aloud at A.A. meetings. That light
went on for me about five years ago, when I investigated
our lack of growth in the past twenty years. There are
numerous reasons/excuses for our stagnation. Some of these
reasons we can do nothing about. But we can remove the
24hr book from our A.A. rooms (you are doing that). But
we must also stop reading HIW to all and sundry. We must
stop the strange chanting, and the "hold hands and pray"
closing. Other mistakes are posted in previous messages.
But we must admit these mistakes, acknowledge them and
take action to correct them. They are not going to just
go away. It will take a lot of sustained exertion on our
part. You are certainly doing your part. I like to think
that I am doing mine. ANONYMOUS
I wish I didnt have to listen to all this critisism but it is creating in me more Love & Tolerance for the people who still suffer from this disease-the more 12 step work I do is the better I react with God
The old saying "no good deed goes unpunished" kicks in. But remember also remember "nothing worth-wild is easy". Keep up the good work.
I feel very fortunate to have sobered up when I did. I was taught to work the AA program as described in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous". I am not perfect with it, but I try to read some everyday and try to do what it says. I have learned that when I want to drink, that I need to work with another alcoholic. If you are an alcoholic like me, the time and place will come when you want a drink.
In chapter 7 of the big book is says nothing will so much insure immunity from alcohol as intensive work with other alchoholics. My last serious thought of drinking was relived while talking with 2 newcomers at a meeting. While relating my craving for alcohol with them, my craving was removed. I just have to remember to practice those other 11 steps so I can continue to have a spiritual awakening.
My craving or strong desire to drink was removed as
a result of the first three steps. In four decades it
has not returned. I believe that I have recovered.
I do not believe that the craving fo a drink will
return unless I introduce alcohol into my body. So I stay
away from the first drink. So I trust that I am safe
I continually, or continuously, work with other
alcoholics to try to help them as I was helped. This
is always a reminder that I am what I am. Mentally I
stay on stable ground by staying close to A.A. Today
I am able to attend meetings almost every day. I am
grateful for that privilege.
If I were to have a craving for a drink, I don't
know that I would be sharing that with newcomers. I
would not want spread that kind of message, that
even after some time
A.A. I still have a craving to
If I ever again have the kind of craving I had
in my last days of drinking, I don't know what I
would do. More than likely, I would just drink.
You mentioned this sharing your craving with
newcomers at least once before. Maybe you could
talk to some older more experienced members
rather than newcomers, if the craving returns. Or
I hesitate to send this, as I share several of
your "opinions", and appreciate the messages. So
I apologize in advance for any offense. ANONYMOUS
No offense taken, I rather enjoy all the banter. It helps me to consider all the different points of view. I also enjoy looking up information mentioned in AA conference approved literature. Just a side note, I searched online how many times honest (28), honesty (18), and honestly (11) occur in the big book and the 12x12. It is 57 times, Although maybe in different contexts.
As far as honesty with newcomers, I think they deserve it as well. My reference to craving alcohol was sometime around Sept or Oct 1992. I was just a few weeks to a month or so sober. I think you will be interested in the following paragraph taken from the Grapvine digital archives from the article titled “Dr Jung, Dr Silkworth, and AA 1967. Bill W talks about his meeting with Dr Bob when Bill was 6 months sober:
Naturally nothing happened until--again--the deflation came. It came on that day when, in the Mayflower Hotel in Akron, I was tempted to take a drink for the first time since my hospital experience. That was when I first realized that I would need other alcoholics to preserve myself and maintain that original gift of sobriety. It was not just a case of trying to help alcoholics. If my own sobriety were to be maintained, I had to find another alcoholic to work with. So when Dr. Bob and I sat down for the first time face-to-face, it was a very different act. I said, "Bob, I am speaking because I need you as much as you could possibly need me. I am in danger of slipping back down the drain."
If you read “Bills Story” , on page 15 of the big book, Bill says for the first 1 ½ years of sobriety he was plagued by waves of self pity and resentment and that sometimes nearly drove him back to drink, but soon found that work with another drunk would save the day. He says many times he has gone to his old hospital in despair. On talking to another man there he would be amazingly set on his feet and it’s a design for living that works in rough going.
On page 175 of the big book, Dr Bob says he didn’t get over his craving for liquor during his first 2 ½ years of abstinence.
I think if Bill and Bob mention their craving for alcohol well into sobriety, we should not fear to. I have experienced that discussing my occasional craving for alcohol actually helps newcomers. It reinforces our need for a daily reprieve from alcohol, contingent on our spiritual condition. I have also found from early on in sobriety, that when I am craving alcohol or emotionally disturbed, I need to pray, talk to another person, then turn my thoughts to someone I can help.
Thank you for your comments and God bless you,
Thanks for the clarification. It brings me great comfort
that you have studied our A.A history. I just wish others
would pick up those other books. Maybe they will, eventually.
I have learned much from our history books. You are
usually right on target. Of course you are bulls eye on
this one. Thanks for taking the time to investigate and
reply. I am still learning, after all these years. ANONYMOUS
I like to share my toughts with another AA member, it makes me feel Iam not alone in the universe.
I have read many of the comments and I would like to add a note. About five months ago I attended my first Alonon meeting with a friend who has been in AA for many years. I told him I was looking for a group experience of spiritually directed people for fellowship. He suggested Alonon because of my childhood abuse and long relationship years ago with an alcoholic. I have had fantastic therapy over the years. I just wanted to surround myself with people "working towards a higher consciousness. What happened was my friend went with me to the meeting and we have been going every week. He told me that his experience of AA was survival and recovery. His experience at Alonon was of strength and loving support. Something he had not found in AA meetings. It has helped him with his marriage, a woman also in AA for many years.
As for myself, I am developing new directions for my life and old behaviors.
So, stay in AA. Add on a meeting of Alonon and see if this works with the Soul of your feeling of loneliness and separation.
It takes great courage to love ourselves.
You are not alone on this journey...Be well.
Thank you for your comments. I went to an Alanon meeting some years back where AA's were told it was a mixed meeting and AA's were welcome. I happened to sit with a woman who resented the group's inviting AA's(apparently she had suffered under an alcoholic father). I want to encourage a family member to go to Alanon and attend with him. You have encouraged me to let go of my old negative experience, and explore what Alanon meeting would be appropriate. Thanks
I was at a meeting earlier this week. Most of the people in attendance have been sober 6 months to 40 years. As the meeting went on, the topic got a little deeper with each speaker. The meeting was very interesting and I felt overall pretty good.
After the meeting was over the alcoholic sitting next to me said, “I have no idea what we were talking about.” That’s when it hit me. I had been so self-consumed that I didn’t notice the person sitting immediately to my right was the newest member of the group, about 6 weeks sober!
After taking a good look at myself, I didn’t feel so spiritual. My ego had crept back in and I was enjoying a meeting that probably sounded more like a group therapy session than an AA meeting. I should have been thinking of what I could contribute to help the newcomer instead of what I could get. I am grateful that I am aware I have a lot of growing up to do, I think that keeps me teachable.
I make a habit of introducing myself to people I haven't met before in AA meetings. If I get the feeling they are interested in our program, I will offer my phone number and that they can call anytime if they wish and are under no obligation to me.
Over the years I have made many AA friends this way. I have often heard later how I made them feel comfortable and was the only AA to reach out to them. I know how they feel. twenty years ago a man with about 20 years sobriety shook my hand and offered his assistance. This fall he will celebrate 40 years and I will 20.
Yesterday I received a phone call from someone I have never met before. It turns out I had given my phone number to someone who wasn't too interested in our program. He in turn gave my phone number to someone who was! Once again a miracle happened. one alcoholic talked to another sharing experience, strength, and hope, for mutual sobriety.
While meditating on gratitude, my thoughts often drift back to my friend who held out his hand to me. I try to pay it forward by offering my hand to others. I do this for two reasons. first I owe it to AA for saving my life and for the great spiritual pleasure I receive for being of service.
Thanks for reading.
Where did the practice of making a person repeat the 12-step process again, persons who previously were taught the the 12 steps w a sponsor,had a spiritual-experience and then later relapsed?
If we read Dr.Bob's story we see that he had been through the steps, then prior to making amends he relapsed for 7-14 days (hard to determine) but he relapsed after his spiritual-experience & awakening, and after he comes back desiring to be done w Alcohol he isn't re-instructed int eh steps, he does his operation (after a beer given by Bill W to calm his nerves) and is gone all afternoon, making amends.... Technically speaking on his last drink of beer, in that same day he was fit to make Amends?
I have repeated the 12 steps many times. Why? 2 reasons: I take others through the steps personally (one on one or in groups of BACK TO BASICS) and (really important for me) I was taught to take any ONE problem through the steps, if I want relief from that problem (e.g. "I'm powerless over my boss-wife-dogs- and my life is unmanageable"). I don't have to go through the steps again; I GET to go through the steps again. My experience is that I ALWAYS learn something new as I journey through the steps and I feel free, as I grow spiritually.
As for Dr. Bob....who am I to judge any one day (of anyone)? And he took more than 5000 through the steps in his short time on planet earth, after sobriety. How many more lives were touched by his actions..in a positive way?
So, my 'guess' about the 'practice' of taking someone through the steps again, after relapse, is they GET to grow.
They get a 'new pair of glasses'. And a fresh start. Get the journey movin' forward...God Bless
Gene in Vegas
On page 179 of the big book, Dr Bob discusses his meeting with cofounder Bill W. and his experiences after meeting Bill.
Dr. Bob talks about meeting Bill for 6 hours the first time, having a couple of shorter talks afterward, and stopping drinking abruptly. He said that this particular dry spell lasted about 3 weeks.
On June 10, 1935 Bill gave Dr. Bob his last drink. Dr. Bob did go out and make some amends before he came home that night, although that is stated in other AA books. Dr. Bob does mention that unlike most of our crowd, he did not get over his craving for liquor much during his first 2 ½ years of abstinence.
Dr. Bob talked about Bill being cured by the same means he had been trying to employ-the spiritual approach. Bill gave him the information of alcohol that Dr Silkworth had suggested- mental obsession and physical allergy. Then Dr Bob states- 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.
Anyway, after making a short story long, I think what was holding Bob back was his unwillingness to make amends. He had been employing the six tenants of the Oxford groups of that day which are a shorter version of our 12 steps. I think he was spiritually far more advanced that Bill, but hadn’t done what we call the 1st step until his last drink after the 3 week dry spell. I think then he was able to fully concede to his innermost self that he was an alcoholic. That ego deflation gave him the humility to make amends.
I am certain that after only 3 weeks Dr Bob had only scratched the surface of what was to become of the AA program. Remember Bill was only sober 6 months himself and before Bob, as Dr. Silkworth put it “had the cart before the horse” in the way he was approaching drunks.
In my experience, since my last drink I redoubled my efforts at being sober. The only step I had to get right is the 1st. Any mistakes I made along the way (2-9) are taken care of in step 10 which is a combination of the first 9. Then 11 and 12 help me enlarge my spiritual life to insure continued sobriety.
An interesting note on Dr. Bob. It is estimated that he worked with 5,000 alcoholics during the 15 years he was sober, providing medical assistance free of charge. That’s an astounding 333 drunks a year! Those numbers bring new meaning to the phrase “going to any length for sobriety”!
On my first go-round in AA I was seeing a counselor (court mandated and chosen) he was an AA member also. At one point in our sessions he told me I should find a woman that I could relate to in meetings and ask her to sponor me. Trying to do the right thing I starters looking and listening finally finding an older and long time sober woman that I could relate to. Naturally I was not used to asking for anything,let alone help, but I finally worked up the courage to ask only to be told thatshe would not sponsor me because of conflicts with my counselor. I was pretty well let down. I thought wow how humiliating, it took so much for me to ask onlyto be turned down not even an offer of temporary sponsorship. I stayed sober for a year then had to go back out for 10 more.I found my way back to a new set of tables and again I found a woman I could relate to and asked again to be turned down, I don't even rember her reason. I was confused and even hurt. Maybe I have missed something but I have over 6500 days without a drink. I'm not sure that I have it in me to be turned away a third time. I try to work the best program I can and consider myself a grateful recovering alcoholic with the help of AA and my higher power.