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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!
I have finally desided that AA is not for me!!The more I listen to the members the more I hate the meetings things have changed alot since B W started this.to say this is not religouse based is hipacridical good luck to you all but I refused to be brain washed by out dated lodgic!!!
all of the fundamentals of the Program of Recovery are from a religious base. Although we are not affiliated with any sect,denomination, or institution.
It is imperritive to find a Higher Power of your understanding and invite it to guide your thoughts and actions each day.
the door of AA will always be open .
This is sad. So sad. Sounds like self will with a healthy topping of resentment. Can't be sure, but it sounds like something I would have said through a few relapse periods for me.
Should you find a way to become healthy without the help of the program, you will be one of the lucky few. Thank heaven. :-) If not, AA will always Brrr they're too help should you have a change of heart.
God bless and good luck.
I too felt this way . for 10 years i shunned aa as a cult or religion. not until i was ready to do anything it took that my eyes opened the fear and descriminating left. peace replaced these thing thanx to the great people of aa. you must learn it is not the book or meetings it is the people.
if ur an alchy like me, ur brain could use a good washing! seriously, if u don't like the meetings, start ur own. i did.
Alcoholics Anonymous is not for everyone. If you are
still on board, I ask you to please state exactly what it
is that you find repulsive. Meeting ought to be attractive
What are some of the things that bother you? Be specific,
not just that they cultish and religious. Maybe the things
that bother you bothers others. Perhaps changes can be made.
A large number of members are reading this forum.
I, personally would be willing to consider changes. If
you are a real alcoholic "of my variety", you will only
continue to hurt yourself and those around you. I would
be willing to sacrifice rituals or customs. There is no
way we can change the message, but maybe we can and ought
to change the way we carry the message.
By leaving AA you are joining the millions who have
left in the past two decades. But each one who leaves
goes on alone; I fear to a sad life and an early death.
Sincerely, what can we do to help? ROSE
I can really relate to the desire to bag AA. Over the past 20 years I have taken long vacations from meetings because people in the meetings interfered with my serenity!! In a small, rural town, one or two idiots can really muck it up.
Guys who think service work is latching onto newcomer girls,nagging control freak sponsors, people selling their version of a higher power. Old timers who are mean and abusive, who lie,engage in character assassination, though sober longer than anyone. It can be so wearing.
But I always come back.
I always come back because the wonderful folks who quietly help others on this path outnumber the dry drunks by ten fold. So I always come home to the place that saved my life.
you have the right to think and act as you wish. I hope before stop going too meetings you read pg,449 third edition Big Book , Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict. And Acceptance is the answer to( ALL) my problems today. Rick L
AA has no monopoly on sobriety, so I hope you find what you need elsewhere. However, while I have no idea where you have tried AA, there are large numbers of agnostics and atheists thriving in AA, notwithstanding some of the antiquated and intolerant language in "Alcoholics Anonymous"(the Big Book) that too often gets repeated by AA "fundamentalists." Try Google-ing "Agnostics & AA," check out some of the sites. You just might find an AA far more open-minded, compassionate, free thinking than that to which you have previously been exposed. I did.
I have done exactly as you recommended a number of times over the last several years and I encourage anyone to do the same. Unfortunately most sites I have found don’t have much to offer. The bulk of their content are simply complaints that AA won’t drop any mention of God for them and they don’t like it. Their recipe for recovery is the mother in law solution “Just don’t drink”. One with a top notch essayist recommended a four part system of recovery. Admission that abstinence was needed, a moral inventory, good behavior and helping others. Sound familiar? Show me an alcoholic willing to jump from step one to four and suddenly drop a lifetime dominated with self centeredness, impatience, superiority and a low tolerance for frustration and we are in business.
God fearing drunks do not have a monopoly on whining about what is wrong with AA, though at times you wouldn't know that based on the substantial number of complaints on this site about how the "original message" is being watered down. As an aside, I had to laugh when a young man told me about a church-based addiction boot camp, or something like that, he went to. When I asked if it were based on the 12-steps, he replied, in all seriousness, "No, it is a God-based program." But your point about some of the agnostic sites is well-taken. I think patience, acceptance, and tolerance, along with true humility, are the very last things to come in sobriety. I can only hope that while I wait for them to arrive or surface from within me, I do not say something that may harm or offend someone with different (and therefore wrong?) views than mine.
I was told after a meeting tonight that I over-intellectualize AA. I am the first to admit that I've always been a very analytical person. I have a degree in philosophy and can happily pass the time just pondering life's questions. I find AA to be a particularly fertile place for both spiritual AND intellectual growth and I see nothing wrong with "thinking" in AA. Yet I often encounter this belief that using my intellect is somehow dangerous. I hear people say, "my best thinking got me here" and although I understand their point, I would argue that it was my WORST thinking that got me here and that with the help of my HP and AA I am trying each day to improve my thinking. For me, understanding the principles and how they apply to my life is a very important part of my recovery. To suggest that I shouldn't think so much is akin to suggesting that I not breath so much. I am practicing a program of recovery that can and will save my life. I feel I owe it to myself to study it, to understand it, to learn all I can about it as if my life depended on it...after all, it does. I would like to hear what others "think" on the subject of thinking in AA. Is it a dubious luxury? Am I headed down a slippery path by using my noggin'? Do I need to dumb it down in meetings when I share so as not to put others off?
I too am a student of Philosophy. My experience in this program teaches me to be balanced. There are times to think and there are times to quiet the mind. My Higher Power has guided me on this. My higher power works through others, so there may be some validity to the feedback that you received. But, use your own barometer; are you spiritually fit? If I can practice the 3rd, 10th, 11th and 12th steps on a daily basis with no difficulty, the answer is usually yes. I realize that while my mind can move upward to accept new values in my life, my Higher Power can also transcend those morals, understandings and experiences if I allow this to happen. I value the question, so I never stop asking. My Higher Power has given me the courage to accept the answers.
In the first month or so of sobriety, after a meeting, I heard a couple of long-timers talking about me. One commented that she really thought I was going to "get it." Who knows what gibberish I had shared during the meeting, full as I was of non-western philosophies as I struggled with the "god thing." The other, who I later asked to sponsor me, replied: "If he doesn't over-think this thing." That of course was Dr. Bob's last message to Bill W: don't louse this thing up with a lot of Freudian nonsense - keep it simple.
For a time, I studied AA intensely, figuring I was best armed by being best informed. Over time, I have come to realize that all my erudition will not keep me sober, and in fact may lead me to conclude that I have this whole thing figured out and don't need AA, which is a sure road to relapse and worse. I also realize that I am one with the least learned (in a bookish sense)in AA, that I can learn something from everyone. I need to dispense with my intellectual pride inside (and outside) AA, as ultimately of course "intellectual pride" is an oxymoron.
Please don't dumb down. We need all of the variety we can get.
I suffer from a disease with at least three symptoms:
I can't control drinking after drinking a small amount,
Un-aided, I can't stay away from drinking,
and three I deny the first two.
It takes a tremendous amount of learning and experience to combat these consistently. Repetition is part of any learning. I have needed to hear, read, be exposed to the simple lessons of AA scores of times and I needed to hear these things explained scores of ways. Your angle on some part of recovery will be exactly what someone is needing for their Ah-Ha. Stick with it.
study big book pages 84 -88
in particular page 86. BB tells us exactly how to use our brains.
Thanks for your reply. The sort of contemplation I'm talking about is the kind that helps me to better understand and articulate the principles I've come to understand in this program. I enjoy using analogies to convey what it used to be like and what it's like today. I feel it helps me to carry the message. With that said, I will happily continue contemplating and marveling at the spiritual life I'm continually nurturing.
My sponsor Gordy G., got me going on audio tapes by Dr. Paul (Big Book, "Acceptance was the Answer (p.407)." He closes his story with ".....my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations." That is certainly true for me, especially when what Dr. Paul calls his "magic magnifying mind" takes over.
I do best in the morning when I start out with readings followed by as much silence as I can tolerate. This practice keeps me centered on God's will rather than my own, driven by over-thinking my problems and my agenda. Only then, am I free to pray.
Dr. Bob was a thinker, he read up on just about every philosophy and religion including the Koran, Confucius and voodooism (Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers pp. 309-311) Bill W. was a thinker too. The next time you bump into the alcoholic who told you that you over intellectualize, maybe you could think about saying to them that Step Two says “..humility and intellect could be compatible, provided we placed humility first.” (The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions p. 30 http://www.aa.org/twelveandtwelve/en_pdfs/en_step2.pdf )
And, “Those words of old time, ‘judge not,’ we observe most literally.”- Bill W. (“Tradition One,” The Language of the Heart p. 76, AA Grapevine December 1947 http://da.aagrapevine.org/ )
Then ask them if they have ever read the AA Service Manual Combined with Twelve Concepts for World Service. Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard medical school George E Valliant described it as “…a great piece of world literature, like the American Constitution. It is a great contribution to human thought.” (“A Doctor Speaks” AA Grapevine May 2001).
Here’s a bit from Concept IX:
“As individuals and as a fellowship, we shall surely suffer if we cast the whole job of planning for tomorrow onto a fatuous idea of Providence. God’s real providence is that he has endowed us human beings with a considerable capacity for foresight, and He evidently expects us to use it. Therefore we must distinguish between a wishful fantasy about a happy tomorrow and the present use of our powers for thoughtful estimate. This can spell the difference between future progress and unforeseen woe.
Vision is therefore the very essence of prudence, an essential virtue if ever there was one. Of course we shall often miscalculate the future in whole or in part, but that is better than to refuse to think at all.”
– Bill W.
(Concept IX, The AA Service Manual Combined with Twelve Concepts for World Service p 38 http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/en_bm-31.pdf )
I have to throw a sober bachelor party for a sponsee and I am looking for suggestions
Well...simply make it clear on the invites that "it's a no booze party". Let's see who the real friends are then? Have fun..you can still hire a bikini lady to jump out of a cake.
I have recently relapsed and the after effects both mentally and physically are so extreme and different than I have ever felt before. I feel great despair and doom inside me, it so horrible that it is giving me panic attacks (severe), I have never in my life had one of those. How do I get rid of this, can someone help me? I'm really desperate and scared this time. Please share with me on how some of you went through. I feel worthless and useless like never before. Its tearing me up. Thank you...
i been sober 11 and half month,and i am learning patience and clairity..my daughter just got locked up tonight at age 17 for assult and i was not mad or upset, my husband was so mad i was so calm and didn,t jump to go get her...i had some coffee and then called the OPP back..i am not responsible for her actions and i have choices in life and i don't need anyone to guilt me into doing what i think is right...and i belive everything will work out..
You have to pick yourself up and get back on the wagon. I was in AA 20 years ago and kept myself sober, going to meetings, social interaction with AA crowd, when slowly I started to slip away and eventually fell off the wagon completely. Since then I fought it and tried to convince myself that I am not an alcoholic, even though it was all getting crazy again. I felt like I'll never get it back again. Things got bad for me and I was not living my life - I was living for the next drink every other damn day. Now, as of today, I have eight days of sobriety and am starting over again after 20 years! I have to for me, my health, and my family.Yes , I have felt and still do feel anxious and depressed but the fog is starting to clear and I know I've got a long road once again. If I can do it, you can, too, my friend. Anyone of us can fall off the wagon, and anyone of us can climb back on again if we just take it one day at a time. That's my motto for this past week and everyday. Good luck.
I have heard comments like: It is easier to stay sober
than it is to get sober. I have also heard that the first
time is a gift; the second time is very difficult. It may
even seem impossible, but sobriety is still possible.
If you can "go away" for a 28 day drying out period,
you may have a better chance. You are fighting for your
life, so stay away from the first drink at whatever the
cost. Use every ounce of willpower you can muster. Find
some meetings which make sense. I find today that many
meetings are just nonsense. You may have to search.
Many have gained sobriety. You can too. ANONYMOUS
The Fellowship alone will not keep you sober, the program of recovery is in the Twelve Steps. Find a group member who has taken the Steps and ask them to take you through them . Half measures avail us nothing, and I'm not judging, I relapsed multiple times before I made a commitment to do the!work and it saved my life and led me to a new freedom and a new happiness! Don't give up good luck and God bless.
I saw the play "Bill W. and Dr. Bob" last night, it's playing here in NYC... and it was such an amazing experience. For the first time I really understood that Bill W....is not the star of AA. I thought of him as the leader, the main man. But I realized while watching the play that without Dr. Bob... we would have no program. That this is truly a WE program. I went with my 2 sponsees, and one of their sponsees. I'm in my 40s. My sponsees are in their 20. My grandsponsee, as it were, is 18 years old. 3 generations of people, who are sober today because of this program and the people that came before us. What an amazing gift. Has anyone seen this play? It made me pick up the book "Pass it On" so I could learn even more....