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AA's message IS quite simple. Don't pick up that first
drink. Join us in AA to learn how to do that.
It is the passing the message on to other alcoholics
which is not so simple. This passing of the message on to
others is quite complicated. It took Doctor Silkworth
20 years to figure it out. I have met very few alcoholics
in AA who understand it. Less than five of the messages
on this entire forum indicate that the technique is understood. I am grateful for those few.
But the light will come on for many others soon. I
believe if our fellowship can develop an understanding
of why the 24 hour is not proper AA material we can also
understand why the Reading of "How It Works" from the
podium is so harmful to AA as a whole. These practices
can and must be reversed. ANONYMOUS
I have recently seemed to keep seeing and hearing that reading How it Works from the podium is harmful to AA as a whole. Could someone explain why to me other than it is time consuming and people do not pay attention to the reading of it ? Please, I am sincere in this question.
How to carry AA’s message is no big secret. It is spelled out in the chapter Working With Others in the Big Book. The character defect that my Higher Power hasn’t removed yet still team up to point me in the direction of doing things my way so I read that chapter often to remind me of the right way instead of mine. The only thing from my personal experience that I would add is that many alcoholics in need of AA’s message are already sitting in meetings. Our Public Relations, Cooperation with the Professional Community, the courts, VA and others get them to us so we don’t look like the men beside the bed picture hanging in many AA rooms much any more. Read and follow label directions.
From what I have read, Dr. Silkworth had only been primarily working with alcoholics at towns hospital in New York, maybe 3 of 4 years when he treated Bill W. He worked with alcoholics at towns hospital approximately 19 years, when he died in 1951. I haven't read anything about Silkworh taking 20 years.
This is what I found at http://silkworth.net/silkworth/silkworth_bio.html
"Pass It On," (p. 101) reports Silkworth became a specialist in neurology, a domain that sometimes overlaps psychiatry, and entered private practice in the 1920's. It says Silkworth invested his savings in a stock subscription for a new, private hospital. "Pass It On" says Silkworth's investment came with the promise of a staff position when the hospital was built. But, the report says Silkworth lost everything in the stock market collapse of 1929. And,"Pass It On" quotes Bill Wilson as saying that Silkworth, in desperation, went to Towns in 1930 for compensation of about forty dollars a week, plus board.
I also have heard an old tape of Sister Ignatia and Ed Towns, Charlie Towns son. Ed talked about his dad running into Dr. Silkworth and offering him a job at towns hospital. This was sometime after Silworth had lost his position and lifes savings in 1929.
It has been very interesting to me when I hit 30 and my last older than me sponsor passed,, because all of a sudden, right around my birthday every year I would be traveling and stop into a meeting in some little one gas station town, introduce myself and give my sobriety date and after the meeting someone would come up an tell me that they once had whatever years I was getting ready to have and tell me that they had gone back out.
The 30 year one was clear about it that his downfall started at about year 25 when he stopped trying to sponsor people because they were all "too young and they were drug addicts". He didn't think he had anything to give them because he couldn't relate to the drug usage. So he had kept going to meetings, stopped sharing and started spending a lot of time fishing so he could meditate. Then one day, right next to his favorite bait was his favorite vodka. He went fishing without any bait but with a bottle and got his first ever DUI and night in jail on the way home.
When he talked to me he had 12 years again and while he still couldn't relate to the drug stories, he was spending a lot of time teaching the druggies how to meditate and said that his life was better than it had ever been.
The story at 33 years was a fellow that had stopped sponsoring because he had gotten a bunch of degrees in counseling and treatment and was the head of a treatment center. He now has 4 years again, has several pigeons and given up counseling.
The 36 year one was a lady that retired and hit the road to be a full time traveling grandma. Somewhere in the wine country of California a grand daughter left a box of wine in the camper and before that lady got back to AA she had lost the camper and spent a year living on the street.
My local AA Convention is coming up (Coastal Bend Jamboree) and they do an Old Timers (30+) Meeting. There will likely be 1000+ attendees and less than 40 30+ oldsters. I plan to try an talk to everyone over 35 years.
Don't drink. Go to meetings. How can an alcoholic fail
if he/she doesn't drink and goes to AA meetings?
Don't drink alcohol. Go to AA meetings. Do whatever
you need to do to accomplish this. Try to help others
as they struggle. Listen when they share. Listen, Listen,
Listen. Learn how others stay sober. Try some of the
methods used by others.
I believe that most patients in detox and inmates in
prison have been to AA meetings. We have failed them
and pushed them further down by pushing the steps on
them and telling them to Find God and Find Him Now!
Bill W. explains this in an article to the AAGrapevine
in the 1945 issue. On page 4 in the book The Language of the Heart, Bill talks about personal glorification,
overweening pride, consuming ambition, exhibitionism ,
intolerant smugness, money or power madness, refusal to
admit mistakes and learn from them, self-satisfaction,
lazy complacency- these and many more are the garden variety of ills which so often beset movements as well
You and your early timer heroes are sober. You've
got yours. How successful have you been at helping
other alcoholics to recover? The rehabs and prisons
are full of failures. If your method is so successful,
why are they in detox, after 5,15,18,28 or 30 years
from what I gather the relapsers where not drinking and going to meetings. the 18 year relapse was active for about 16 years, then stopped working "her" program and was soon drunk. I have yet to meet anyone in the jail or detox that had been to AA, worked the steps as directed in the big book as a daily program. I have met many that thought the AA program was don't drink and go to meetings(where would they get that idea?). I think the don't drink and go to meetings method works for the cetain type of hard drinker in the big book page 20.
what I have found for myself is a real alcoholic at times has no mental defense against the first drink. my last drink was in 1992, 2 hours removed from my home group meeting. I had been to meetings daily for weeks. I felt like a million bucks. no problems, no arguments, nothing but feeling good. someone passed a drink my way and I drank it like water. 9 months of not drinking and going to meetings didn't work. I experienced what the big book describes at the bottom of page 43.
If you can simply not drink and go to meetings, you still have a mental defense, therefore you may only be a certain type of hard drinker. alcoholics have a mental obsession, physical allergy, and spiritual malady. alcoholics have a subtle insanity that precedes the first drink.
Don't get me wrong, I am glad that the hard drinkers are staying sober in AA. Please keep in mind us real alcoholics will eventually drink if we don't drink and go to meetings.
I do not understand how any alcoholic (or any drinker)
could get drunk if they don't drink and go to meetings.
Do both: "DON'T DRINK ALCOHOL AND ATTEND MEETINGS" and
sobriety is guaranteed. Half measures avail us nothing.
I guess we see it differently. When we come to AA, we
stop using alcohol. We attend meetings to learn how
to stay stopped. But in today's meeting we seem to learn
very little, not because of a lack of sponsors, teachers,
Normally, to teach someone something we tell them how
to do it. In AA we don't teach that way. (in reality
we do, but the message doesn't get passed on). In AA we
have a unique technique of passing the recovery message
from one alcoholic to another. In the "Three Talks"
pamphlet Bill calls it a gadget. What we have lost
is humility. Spiritual Pride and arrogance rule AA
today. We place too many conditions on sobriety. If
you do this, or if you do that, you can have what I
Why don't we use that sledge hammer tool that Dr.
Silkworth discovered, and offered to Bill, and left
for us. It worked better than anything he had ever found,
and will work for us today "If we work it". This
approach to helping alcoholics recover has little to do with the twelve steps. It centers on gratitude and
humility, not cramming the steps down their throats.
If you can't understand the subtle insanity of the first drink, obviously you are a different type of alcoholic than the real alcoholic described in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” the real alcoholic will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on their own power. That’s why there is no need for any authority over an alcoholic. If the real alcoholic fails to work the steps and grow spiritual through helping others, he is sure to drink. The problem in AA today, is the fellowship is full of nonalcoholic hard drinkers who can quit on their own power and continue to tell real alcoholics that the steps that lead to a spiritual experience are unnecessary. These hard drinkers have no need for the steps and traditions that keep the real alcoholics alive and happy.
I have been in the program for three years now seeing success from people who don't work the whole program and seeing failure from people who do work the whole program. So I am not going to even comment on that.
What I will comment on is this throwing around of labels like "real alcoholic" vs. "only a hard drinker". All it takes is the wrong AA member to read this comment and think oh, maybe I am not an alcoholic after all, maybe I am just a hard drinker as this experienced AA person is speaking of. You gave them the perfect out. And guess what comes next.
Everyone is different and manages their own way with the help of the literature and other AA's. One of the biggest dangers that I encounter in meeting are the big egos that want everyone to do it their own way. Sure it's better if you go to meetings and work the steps. But for some people it takes time to get there.
My best advice... Stay Sober Today.
the book "alcoholics anonymous" uses the term "real alcoholic" 9 times in the first 164 pages. that's 5% of the first 164. I can't expect you to know what you don't know. If you read big book pages 21,23,30 (it' there twice, 31,34, 35, 92, and 109. please read those pages and consider why would the authors use a label like "real alcoholic"?
Bill is speaking to the society. Bill makes this statement.
You may ask "how does AA work. Bill says that even he,
the co-founder of AA cannot fully answer this question.
He says that we can only tell you what we do and what
seems to happen to us.
If Bill were alive today, he could simply order a
copy of How It Works from GSO. Are we so prideful and
arrogant to state and believe that we can fully explain
how AA works. It works by faith not by our own works. ANONYMOUS
I'll be thinking of not drinking and going to meetings this Saturday while I’m at my friends funeral. He usually made it about 6 weeks between drinks by going to meetings. The mental obsession with alcohol returned and he would drink.
By definition, an alcoholic is someone who has lost the ability to control their drinking. If you can control your drinking, I would venture to say you may not be an alcoholic. If you are a hard drinker I would expect you to be able to not drink and go to meetings.
I think we are helping many hard drinkers to get sober by not drinking and going to meetings. If a real alcoholic takes that advice, we most certainly will kill him.
I agree we don’t shove the steps down anyone’s throat. We didn’t with my deceased friend. He truly believed if he just kept coming back, it would work, but it didn’t for him because he didn’t do the work.
For every person that suggested he get a sponsor, homegroup, and work the steps, there were 10 hard drinkers saying “keep coming back, it works”. Now he’s dead.
While I agree that immediately telling the new comers that they have to get "GOD", especially a specific conception of "GOD", is failing them, I think not telling them to do the Steps is an even bigger failure.
Once heard a story about the diety named Satan consoling one of his minions who was fearful that the Steps would save too many people from living in hell. Satan told his minion not to worry. That he had already taken action to keep the Steps from working by convincing many people at AA meetings to just tell the new people, "Don't drink and go to meetings."
The guy in my year 30 year story never stopped going to meetings. He never stopped praying. He never stopped meditating. He just stopped working with others and the Big Book is clear that working with others means doing the Steps. That to keep what we have, we must try to give it away.
These are the instructions I was given about one week (28 or 29 Sep 1975)
into my recovery. They were given to me by a Retired Marine Gunny Sargent that was missing a leg.
"Read the first 164 pages of this book. Whump!! (as
his hand slapped the Big Book)
Don't try to do anything except read it!! Whump!!
When you get to the end if you are convinced that you
are an alcoholic, then go back to the start of Chap 5
and do exactly what the book says. Whump!!
The book will tell you when to go fast, and when to go
It will tell you when to wait, why to wait, how long to wait and what to do while you wait. WHUMP!!
It will tell you when to ask for help and who to ask
for help and why you need help. Whump!!
When you get to Step 12 if you still think you want to
drink,, it means you haven't had a spiritual awakening
yet and that means to haven't been honest
enough yet. Whump!!
So,, go back to the start of Chap 5 and do it all
again and no matter what happens,, DON'T F**K**G
If you have trouble deciding if you are an alcoholic
or finding a Higher Power,, then start reading the
Any time you are reading this book you must look for
all the ways you think you are exactly the same OR
EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE!! WHUMP!!
This book says alcoholics are are "enthusiasts",,
that means they do things to extremes and if you
think you are exactly the opposite from the people in
this book then you are still an extremist and
still might be an alcoholic."
Notice there is no mention of finding "GOD". No mention of meetings. (Maybe because he knew I was getting ready to climb on a Navy ship and go to sea for 9-10 months and there wouldn't be any meetings.) His instructions were to do the Steps.
Sounds like a true Big Book Whumper. I am grateful my
introduction to AA was not what you describe. I was not
told to do anything. Those early timers shared their
own experience, strength and hope. I could see what
they had and I wanted it. I didn't drink and went
to AA meetings. Sober over four decades now. ANONYMOUS
Everything the Gunney Sargent told me is in the book.
The book was written for the express purpose of spreading the AA message without the need for meetings or to people where there ARE no meetings.
There were no meetings on the U.S. Navy man-of-war I spent my 1st 9+ months of sobriety on. 9+ months and 7 foreign seaports in the Mediterranean that have been getting sailors drunk for over 3000 years.
8 of the first 14 years of my sobriety were spent underway on U.S. Navy ships where there were no meetings as those ships regularly called on seaports that have been getting sailors drunk since the founding of those sea ports.
No meetings.. Just reading the book and following the directions in the book to do the Steps.
Not sitting in meetings crying about how bad life is without alcohol while people that haven't done the Steps told me to just "not drink and go to meetings".
Just reading the book and doing the Steps to understand how I was the cause of all the bad in my life.
Not sitting in meetings picking out the next newcomer female I was going to use to change how I feel since I can't drink to change how I feel.
Just reading the book and doing the steps to understand why I don't like how I feel and find a way to feel different without hurting other people. Especially women.
The book is clear about it that "drinking was but a symptom of the problem." Therefore, not drinking and going to meetings isn't going to solve the problem. Just going to leave me with a problem and no solution.
Reading the book and doing the Steps, which means I need the help of another person, is the solution to the problems.
I listened and listened and listened and heard
The steps, the steps, the steps.
When we start accepting that Alcoholism is a disease with a prominent symptom called denial then we see why "just go to meetings, don't drink and give away something you don't have, doesn't work.
Tell a chronic depressive to just cheer up or a schizophrenic to ignore the voices, the guy with lung cancer not to cough.
You don't seem to know much about alcoholism. Maybe you need to listen, listen, listen for a while
I'm not really sure why I am so not comfy with this step. Revealing your darkest secrets or your twisted things you have done, did it at rehab with a consuler, but to a stranger, it's a trust thing I guess!
“Step Four. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
Have I had thoughts, feelings and behavior that were in conflict with what I believe to be right? Of course I have (and still do). That’s what I needed to write an inventory of. Patterns and specifics. That’s what I did. Was I comfy with doing it, no. ##@!! NO! Nobody in their right mind would. So why did I do it? Because a book called Alcoholics Anonymous tells me that “We, of Alcoholics Anonymous are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.”
Not “got relief from”
Not “kept in remission”
You are likely to run across lots of people saying that they are in AA that are willing to settle for a fraction of the outcome spelled out starting on p 83 and a really uncertain future. Like those first one hundred, I’m not one of them.
The example of an inventory of resentments in the Big Book comes up short for many of us. That’s why I think the 12 and 12 was written. I need the information from both.
Your projection of discomfort in doing Step 5 is not unusual but unnecessary. Each step changes who I am. I wasn’t the same man walking into a chaplin’s office with my fourth step in my hand as I was with a new pen and blank sheet of paper a few days before. Welcome and may you find the best Alcoholics Anonymous has to offer.
Here are some tips I learned in AA.
Work step 4 (writing inventory) as if you will never work step 5 (sharing inventory). Because maybe you won't. My sponsor gave me this tip (works for step 8 as well) and it freed me up to be much more honest.
Step 4 involves taking a "searching and fearless moral inventory". Primarily, you investigate what you are resentful at and afraid of. These are the bugaboos that ruled my life - even before I'd ever taken a drink. Step 4 puts the key into the door of freedom.
As for dark and twisted things...when I was new to AA, I marveled at how guys in my home group talked and laughed and kidded each other about the sick and twisted things they had done. Now I understand. Thanks to the steps, those things have no power over me any more. I am now tempted to embellish stories I used to hide.
My sponsor referred me to a recovering AA priest for my 5th step. He was a real pro and did not want to hear about every girl I'd ever picked up in a bar or every sick and twisted thing I'd done. After a couple of tales he'd say he understood and would help me put a name on my behavior...hedonism, selfishness, greed, fear....whatever. He helped me identify the nature of my wrongs and my defects of character.
At one point he jumped in and asked me to tell him what I didn't want to tell him. This caught me by surprise so I just blurted out details of an eating disorder I was deeply ashamed of. He looked me in the eye and said to not do that anymore. Miraculously, I never have. It was part of the dark, sick and twisted web from which AA helped free me.
Over the years, I have been able to share that part of my story with others. People sometimes come up to me after a meeting with tears in their eyes saying, "I did that too".
Freedom. What a gift.
If you really want to and feel like you need to share your
darkest secrets or twisted things with another human being,
find someone who is sworn to secrecy such as a counselor or
a priest. If you did the 4&5 with a counselor, why do you
feel you need to do them again? If they did not help the
first time, it may not help to repeat them. Please do
not do this because someone is telling you to do so. They
helped me immensely in the past, but they are not for
everyone. Revealing your darkest secrets to the wrong
person can cause great harm. Be careful who you choose, if you decide to do them again. I recently shared
my moral inventory with a paid counselor. It was not
worth the effort or the co-payment. ANONYMOUS
"I recently shared my moral inventory with a paid counselor. It was not worth the effort or the co-payment. ANONYMOUS"
I didn't get instant relief from steps four and five either. Why should I, they simply reveal the problems. The remaining steps solve them.
read big book page 75, there are 7 things you should feel if you did step 5 correctlly. If you don't feel those results, you did it wrong.
Those 7 or 8 things described on page 75 in the Big Book
are very promising. I experienced all of them the day I
completed a fifth step with an elder in the fellowship,
I especially identify with the drink problem disappearing.
I felt that I could stay sober, and I have done so. I was
sober about five years when I completed the fifth step,
and have remained sober another 39 years. I wish that
every A.A. member could experience what I experienced.
I am sure that many do. BUT I would never tell an AA
member that if this was not their experience, that they
did it wrong.
The steps are suggestions, and ought to be offered to
all in a suggestive manner. We can try them if we chose.
They worked for me. They may work for others. It is possible that they may not.
I believe there are A.A. members who believe that
any member can have the desire to drink removed by
sitting down with pencil and paper and working the
twelve steps, If it were only that simple. ANONYMOUS
it sure sounds to me like your telling someone their doing it wrong by insisting the steps are offered in a suggestive manner. putting the pencil to paper is 1/12 of what it takes for most real alcoholics to have their desire to drink removed. obviously you are not my type of alcoholic since you made it 5 years without a 5th step. my big book says on page 72 that most newcomers who didn't do step 5 invariably got drunk. most, invariably to me means almost everyone.
I'm greatful I wasn't killed by an oldtimer that didn't hide the fact that if I didn't do the steps, i would more than likely die of alcoholism. I have to remember I am an alcoholic, not a problem drinker. problem drinkers tell alcoholics they can just "quit" like they did. alcoholics need the steps or they invariably drink again and to drink is to die for this alcoholic.
They told me if I jumped out of an airplane, that they suggest I pull the rip cord. it's up to me to pull it or not.
Actually, step 4 does not include sharing our darkest secrets, but rather just figuring out what they are. As there is no timetable for doing the steps, you can of course wait to do step 5 until you have found someone with whom you are comfortable being totally honest. Or perhaps you will feel more comfortable doing step 5 with a priest or minister. No, I wouldn't (and didn't) do step 5 with a stranger - I waited until a year or so into sobriety until I felt comfortable doing the step and had found someone whom I knew I could trust not to divulge what I had divulged to him (unless I okayed it). Others I know waited even longer, though we all agree in retrospect that our "deep dark secrets" were in reality stupid little things our minds had grown into monsters.
Can you all share how calling other alcoholics on a regular basis helps you stay sober? Does it help you in other ways too? How can you encourage others to make these phone calls?
My sponsor told me to call two alcoholics each day and it was like a death sentence for me. It turned out to be a death sentence for my obsession to drink. It was one of the hardest things for me to do. And it seems to be the hardest thing to get others to do.
Making phone calls helped me to feel comfortable in my own skin. I always considered myself an introvert and a loner. I found out that this was just a rationalization for the life I had accepted as "the best I could do." Through others, I have found out who I am; I have found my identity. And that has led me closer to the path that my Higher Power wants me to travel; I am closer than ever to accepting His will and not mine. So, through others I have strenghened my relationship with my HP.
By calling others when I am doing good, it becomes habit for me to pick up the phone instead of the bottle when I am experiencing difficulty. I have lost my fear of being sober; I don't have to do it alone.
I wish I could point to some part of the Big Book or the Twelve and Twelve that definitively suggests calling other alcoholics on a daily basis. To me, A.A. started when one alcoholic called another alcoholic for help. For me, I practice the second step every time I pick up the phone; others are a collective embodiment of my Higher Power, and I believe that they can and do help me to stay sober and attain spiritual fitness. Many other correlations can be made I'm sure, so I'd like to leave the rest for you all to comment about. Thank you all so much for helping to keep me sober and sane!
"My sponsor told me to call two alcoholics each day". No
AA member ought to be telling another member what to do.
We do not give directions. We only leave a path they
can follow if they choose to do so. We do not even tell
them that they have to choose. We simply lay the tools
at their feet. We do not tell them they have to pick them up. Personally I came to believe, when I asked my Higher
Power for help, not when I picked up a phone. Collective
embodiment is offered by the AA group, not from one
individual on the phone. ANONYMOUS
Wow...did I hit a nerve? Nobody told me to do anything, so chill. I have done what has been suggested by those that have gone before me, and it has worked when nothing else has; this has been a spiritual awakening for me.
I use the AA group as my higher power. For me GOD = Group Of Drunks. I tap into that collective embodiment when I call an AA member.
I have a bad habit of trying to figure out why this works for me. So I will keep it simple and say that this has helped me to stay sober and spiritually fit.
I am not a "phone person". Never have been and never will
be. While I was working, the phone was a big part of my job. I was always "on call" and hated it.
Ebby brought the message of recovery to Bill in person.
Bill spoke face to face with Doctor Bob.
Two of your paragraphs "Making phone calls and "By calling
others" are what I believe is called suggestive.
But your sentence "And it seems to be the hardest thing to get others to do", is revealing. In AA we do not tell
others what to do. We only share our own "Experience, Strength, and Hope. (what worked for us).
To tell anyone in AA to call two AA friends every day
could indeed be a death sentence, period. ANONYMOUS
Where did the "call two alcoholics a day" advice come from. And this is in addition to meetings, sponsor, step work, etc...
Where did advice come from?
We share our experience, strength and hope and advice?
Bill's Story sets out the formula pretty succinctly: when all else failed, work with another alcoholic kept him sober, even at heights of his depression. Any contact with others is better than no contact, in person is best in my opinion. Whatever works best for you is best [for you and only you].
big book page 89- discreetly located in the chapter titled working with others-"frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives". It doesn't say phone calls, but it also doesn't say it's not phone calls ( I picked up that trick from my son!)
your simply experiencing the joys of working with others. keep it up, it gets funner and funner, if that's a word?
Hi, I just wanted to say hi. I read this forum for quite some time and finally I registered.
PS. Sorry for my English is not perfect yet ...
I am 59 years old with 23 years sobriety. I am married and I am a husband,a grandfather, a father, a father-in-law, an uncle and full time employed. I go to about 3 meetings a week and normally show up at least a half hour before the meeting to chat with other AA members. My sponsor fired himself this week because I never call him with a problem. I don't have too many problems, and someone would have to put a gun to my head or hold a family member hostage to make me drink. I have a very good connection with God and family. No one asks me to sponsor them. I am wondering whether I should be concerned. I normally leave right after the meeting since I get there early to chat.
I'm 55 and have a similar family life as you but just 3 years sober. I maintain 2 sponsees and feel blessed to help them. One man told me not to be a stinky sponge, i.e., just taking in knowledge and not squeezing it out--giving back. I leave myself open to who God puts in my path and have found "teaching" others to keep me in tune with my program. I encourage you to pray that God will put the right person in your path and embrace it.
Blessings to you,
Thanks for sharing. Good topic. My situation is similar to yours in age, time, no sponsor, no sponsees. My sponsor died a few years ago and I felt no need to find a replacement. If I need to talk one on one, I corner someone after a meeting or meet them for lunch. It has been both eye opening and enriching to talk one-on-one with someone I see with good sobriety in meetings. He’s most likely to share some of the same demons as I with the same less-than-perfect defense against them. The conclusion? No we aren’t saints but aren’t likely hell-bound either if we practice AA’s program as best we can. With a solitary sponsor, problems will likely be answered with the same solution that hasn’t resulted in any progress before.
With or without a sponsor the pamphlet “Questions and Answers on Sponsorship” has some really important information that isn’t available elsewhere. Unfortunately, I don’t see many who sing the praises of sponsorship paying much attention to it. I see a lot of members participating in remission rather than recovery. A meeting every day and don’t drink in between. That’s it. Reduces the pain of not drinking but provides little lasting benefit. Give me a week out of town and a meeting in a strange place and I come back rejuvenated. Some wouldn’t dream of straying from their home group one-a-day or trying a meeting elsewhere if traveling. Then they rush back and share how terrible it was. Guess what the pamphlet recommends or what we are promised after step nine?
We’ve been fortunate enough to have a vacation to south Florida most winters. A tour guide was helpful at first but we’ve learned our way around. For me same with sponsorship.
Sponsees? Around here they equate quantity with quality and choose from the one-a-days.
Today's concept of sponsorship is so distorted it ought
to be dropped. Who do we think we are. To place another in
any level other than as an equal spoils our fellowship of
equality. I had not even considered this as a reason for
our failure until a writer for the forum persistently
explained it. Bill W. once wrote of "proper sponsorship".
Today's sponsor is a cult-like leader, sometimes called
a guru. Today's sponsor will vehemently defend his/her
I certainly wish you were in my region. I would like
to have such an AA friend, not as a sponsor or to be
sponsored. I see very few such friends in AA today. Our original
fellow started with equality (Bill and Bob). We need
to restore AA to such a fellowship. Maybe some day it
will happen again.
I can’t say whether you need to sponsor or not.
For me, sponsorship has enriched my sobriety. It started at an open speaker meeting. Bill was at the podium. Bill had that “something” that alcoholics get when they have worked the steps and are active in AA. He was enthusiastic about the program and fellowship of AA. When I talked to him after the meeting he had a certain calmness and serenity about him. I knew in my gut that I wanted what he had. In a few weeks, he took me through the steps in the first 164 pages in the big book (the way his sponsor had done with him). He told me he was human and therefore fallible. That I should rely on the program of AA and a higher power and not put people on a pedestal. That was hard to do, I had never met anyone so selfless. Anyway, he taught me how to take inventory, I did my 5th step with him, he helped me make my amends list from my 4th step list. I checked with him before making each amend. He showed me how to do steps 10 and 11 out of big book pages 84-88. Finally he taught me how to put step 12 into action. After having a spiritual awakening after working the first 11 steps, I kept my spiritual awakening by giving it away in step 12. When it says carried “this “ message to alcoholics, he taught me that means the message of recovery embodied in the 12 steps.
I feel I owe my sponsor Bill and the program of AA my life. I pay each back a little each time I take a newcomer through the steps. It came full circle the first time I heard a sponsees 5th step. That’s the day I feel I became a part of the human race.
Today aside from my family, working with newcomers is the bright spot of my life. I have been given the experience of being an alcoholic and a working knowledge of a program that arrests alcoholism and can make the alcoholic usefully and happily hole.
I can’t remember the last time I called Bill with a problem. Most of my problems have been removed through the program of AA and a loving God that I have grown to know through working with his kids.
I believe to place such dependence on one individual is
dangerous. I consider you to be one of the few lucky enough
to find an AA member of the quality you describe. Personally I believe that the teaching of the steps ought
to be left up to the group. Of course there are exceptions
such as yours.
Then no one member would be placing "all
their eggs in one basket". What if that person we have
placed on a pedestal relapses? Don't say or think that
it doesn't happen. I certainly would not want anyone
to place that much responsibility on my shoulders. You
and your sponsor are fortunate to be among the few
alcoholics who remain sober in today's AA. Even Bill W.
was able to stay sober by "trying" to help others.
But to transfer that message to Dr., Bob Bill had to
experience complete deflation of EGO. Bill finally
realized that fact and described it in his later
writings. The Big Book is a precious piece of the
solution, but not the complete answer. Anonymity is
not the spiritual foundation. Humility, expressed
by anonymity was the vehicle used by Bill to carry
that message to Dr. Bob. I guess you would have to
experience it to really understand. ANONYMOUS
where I got sober, sponsor and sponsored working the steps was the norm, not the exception. my sponsor took me through. the steps and I continue to take newcomers through the steps. 3-5 a year for 21 years. everyone. who continues to practice the steps and attend meetings is atill sober tiday. FYI - I'm meeting my new sponsee sat to start the steps. he will be in step 12 in a couple weeks. just like me, my sponsor, bill w, dr bob, and bill d. it worked in 1934 and it works. in 2913.
By the year 1992 when you got sober, perhaps sponsor and
sponsored working through the steps had become the norm.
If you look at the membership list you will see that is
when our effectiveness began its decline. Coupled with
our move into a Rockefeller subsidized building in New
York our fellowship almost collapsed.
I am convinced that the type of sponsorship you describe
is extremely harmful to AA as a whole. The steps ought
to be taught by the group, not the individual. I am glad it
worked for you.
Today's concept of sponsorship ought to be abolished.
Then the real sponsor will re-appear naturally, without
the title or position.
Thanks again for posting those
membership numbers. I know it took a lot of time and effort.
That list is no longer available from GSO. It has been
revised and previous year's membership have been deleted.
Otherwise you could have simply cut and paste. ANONYMOUS
I wonder how many times this statement has been quoted (or misquoted). On page 132 in the Big Book
it appears in the middle of a paragraph. It reads "But we aren't a glum lot. Taken out of context
it is justification for hooting, hollering and the incessant chanting. Being serious does not
make us a glum lot. For many of us it is a matter of life and death. Does anyone know other
locations where this statement is written. Just wondering. ANONYMOUS
Guess I'm just lucky.
Attending meetings for more than three decades from Thunder Bay to Key West I have never witnessed any hooting, hollering and the incessant chanting.
An AA friend recently went to meetings in Peru. He
reported that the meetings there are also reverent. BTW,
when I state "My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic, that is
not a greeting or salutation. It is part of the first
step. The response of Hi Joe! by the group is chanting.
Chanting makes AA look like a cult. Add today's concept
of sponsor and their view is confirmed. We have morphed
into some kind of strange religious cult. God help us.
that is written in the big book chapter "the family afterward". I think they want us to have a good time. that page also says something like "we absolutely insist on enjoying life" "we think cheerfullness and lafter make for usefulness" ect. read the rest of page 132, "outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience....why shouldn't we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.
It's life and death for each of us in AA, I don't dispute that. I once took everything too serious, now I don't. Remember rule #62- don't take yourself to D**** serioulsy!
Dr. Silkworth worked with alcoholics for perhaps 20
years with very limited success before AA was born. He
had Bill W. as a patient for most of the year of 1934.
He had to inform Lois that Bill would have to be locked
up or Bill would be dead within a year. After Bill's
spiritual experience in Mid December 1934, the Doctor
allowed Bill to return to the alcoholic ward at Towns
Hospital to try to help his other alcoholic patients.
But Bill helped no one (except himself). Not one patient responded to Bill's attempts to help. Bill
worked with many. The "How It Works" approach just did
not work. But Bill remained sober.
Dr. Silkworth observed Bill's failure at helping
others and advised Bill to change his approach. He told
Bill to stop preaching to the alcoholics, that although
they may have wanted to get sober, Bill was pushing
Dr. Silkworth had this "idea". He offered this idea to
Bill. Bill wrote several times in our literature that
without that idea Alcoholics Anonymous could never
have been born. I will not try to explain the IDEA here.
They are discussed in AACA P.13 and P68: LOTH P,198-199.
Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers P.68. It is also explained in the book "Bill W". by Robert Thomsen P.231-234.
The book "Bill W." is not conference approved, although
it was sold by AAWS for a period of time.
It is the "cart before the horse" idea. I believe if
we can grasp a true understanding of this IDEA, Alcoholics
Anonymous' full effectiveness can be restored. ANONYMOUS
"Just before leaving for Akron, Dr. Silkworth had given me a great piece of advice. Without it, A.A. MIGHT never have been born." [caps mine] p67, A.A. Comes of Age.
I am not convinced that the effectiveness of A.A. has been diminished. There are other compelling arguments as to why the membership numbers have gone down, i.e., aging of Baby Boomers, proliferation of prescription medications which prolong the addiction and allow the addict to function, and many other theories. However, the reliance upon numbers/statistics is a weak position at best.
A.A. is great in some areas and not so great in others. Treatment counseling has not helped the problem much either: education does not equal recovery.
If you are not satisfied with A.A. in your area, do something about it. This is a program of action.
There are many members that have done just this and will be more that willing to help, but you must ask. Let us know what area you are in and see if you get any response here. If not, start with your A.A. District and Area. If still no success reach out to A.A.W.S. With a little patience you will not only stay sober, but you may help others! The Traditions and Concepts work!