Suggest a topic
At a business/group conscience meeting I made a motion that
we stop chanting at the meeting. I don't think it was even
seconded, but we discussed the topic anyway. Out of the 10
members present, I was the only one who thinks it is stupid.
But we have to start somewhere. Today I find a lot of members who do not think we ought to chant at meetings.
The minority opinion is of great value. Bill often said
we must pay attention to the minority opinion.
You may not be a great speaker. But you have the ability
to write to express yourself. At the next group conscience
meeting (you are fortunate if you even have one), take a
three by five card and write exactly what you want to say.
And say it or read it. Air the concern. There are others
who will agree with you. They may remain silent, for the same reason you remain silent. There are just too many
of us who are afraid to speak up. The power driven personality will try to silence you. Refuse to be silenced.
This condition is connected to my own EGO. I am so concerned about what others think of me, that I am willing
to sacrifice my own beliefs just to be liked. I am so
afraid of making a fool of myself. Today I am willing to take the chance appearing as a turkey if I have to.
Today at meetings I sometimes will chant as loud or louder than the loudest of them. If I have to look like
an idiot to get my point across, so be it.
20 % of the population may suffer from the fears
you describe (your estimate). I had to become an alcoholic
and come into Alcoholics Anonymous, to even begin to
recover. I am nowhere near perfect, but each time I take
a chance and speak out I feel stronger. Try it. We have
to start somewhere.
I believe that hundreds of thousands of alcolics have
left A.A. for the reasons you write about. Many who could have been saved have died. Others may just stay dry and
miserable. So stand up and speak out. No one is going to
strike you. Believe me, it will become easier. ALSO ANONYMOUS
"I would not approach the business meeting of the AA group about not being called upon at meetings to share because it would cause me more problems than it would solve. The person who suggested it probably would succeed at getting support for that "
Sorry, I'm the guy that posted it and I RARELY get what I want at business meetings. I have thrown out ideas that I KNEW and still KNOW are good and might as well have thrown a dead skunk on the table for the reception it got. Any time I dust off my crystal ball and decide ahead of time "what i'll say - what they'll say - so what I'll say..." it has always proved wrong. ALWAYS.
I used the serenity prayer for years and waited to be made fearless. Wait a minute, I didn't ask to be made fearless, I asked for courage - taking action even if I feared the outcome. I tried it. It worked. My Higher Power thinks it's a slap in the face to be asked for courage and assume He won't provide it. He does provide it. He cannot not provide it. He's God. Sometimes I feel anger when I don't get my way. Sometimes its rage. God didn't make me a robot, he made me a human. But I've learned something about feelings. Although they aren't wrong they aren't right either. They aren't any reason to take unproductive action, they don't control me. They go away sooner or later. The fact that I tried to do a better thing, improve our group, remains. When I was drinking I lived in a would have, should have, could have world and had a long list of why I didn't, couldn't, shouldn't. With the help of the Alcoholics Anonymous program I have had a lot of that garbage removed and the promises that seemed past impossible are part of my normal life today.
Don't make a motion that "You" be called on. Make a motion that the system be changed so that everyone has a chance to share sometime - draw straws or numbers for 3 minute time slots, divide the meeting, chair the meeting. Alcoholics, drunk or sober, are the most self centered people on earth. Left to their own thinking they are incapable of behaving fairly. With a desire to stay sober and trainer wheels we can do better. Meetings need those trainer wheels.
A group therapy therapists defence if someone complains they do not get to participate would be that he or she always asked is anyone had a burning need to share.
That does not solve the problem of feeling not included and seemingly not supported about what one has together by the group as a whole.
I am continually amazed at the wisdom shared on this forum and in meetings: the same folks that only a short time ago could not distinguish their heads from their hinders now have the answer for the newcomer, as well as for AA worldwide. Last night a newer person came back to our small meeting of what I would call "laid-back" members, and said he had been to several other meetings, but was turned off by all the people telling him what he "had to do" (the usual: 90 in 90, get a sponsor, find THE God, work the steps, read the 1st 164 pp, etc.). It wasn't so bad during the meeting itself, he said, but afterwards he was literally beset by well-intentioned but misguided AA's who were quite convinced that he needed to do exactly what they did in order to stay sober. Personally, if asked, I tell people what I did when I came in, and what I am doing now, quickly adding that my program remains fluid, meaning what kept me sober yesterday may not kept me sober today, so I need to remain open-minded enough so I hear or see whatever it is that is going to keep me sober today.
At a meeting earlier this week the topic of resentments came up. quickly the meeting turned to forgiving yourself for the resentments against yourself. I have seen this from time to time and usually use it as an example of what not to do. From my experience with AA literature what comes to mind is selfishness is the root of our troubles. It seems contrary to the AA program to be self centered enough to focus on forgiving myself instead of how I set the ball rolling with my resentments to others and the amends I need to make to those I have caused harm. I feel I have always put my needs ahead of others during my alcoholism, wet or dry. I think that was really my problem.
My suggested topic is this, can anyone find or suggest a source in any AA conference approved literature( besides a Grapevine article) That suggests making amends to or forgiving oneself? I can’t seem to think of or find any. I have always felt my main problem in life was really too much self thinking.
Looking forward to some great suggested reading!
Hi, Corey! I really 'listened' to what you wrote. In the 12&12 8th Step there is mention of asking forgiveness for ourselves. It seems to me that if it were vital to my recovery, there would be a Step directly dealing with it. Still, I believe that each Step taken is another step in self forgiveness. There is no better proof than the Promises coming true.
Like you,I have not yet found the mention of self forgiveness in any AA literature authored by Bill W. Thanks for sharing.
I have always questioned the "putting myself at the top
of the list" in Step Eight. Did not Christ get into serious
trouble by claiming to have the power to forgive sinners.
The belief was that only God can forgive sins. The only
thing I can do is to accept that forgiveness. We forgive
each other but we do not usually forget. I believe that
God wipes the slate clean, when we come to Him.
I appreciate the (Besides a Grapevine article). That
would be only the opinion of the writer and the person
who selected the article.
My goal is to become more concerned about the feeling
and comfort of others than of my "poor self". To become more honest, pure, unselfish and loving. I think these
are the principles Alcoholics Anonymous is built upon.
Thanks for your devotion to our fellowship. ANONYMOUS
Topic for help, support, tricks, etc...
tricks: The method that we use to carry the A.A. message
is a trick, of sorts. We do it by word of mouth. In a
group of like-minded individuals, we each share exactly
what we were like while we were drinking, the good the bad
ant the ugly. We each share the struggles we had while
trying to stop drinking.(I don't think for most of us A.A.
was our first attempt to stop). We share exactly how we
were able to stop drinking and what we are like now. This
is how we got sober. The way we stay sober is to try to
help others, in any way we can. Alcoholics Anonymous has
been called an altruistic society. This is a real fellowship. We do all this to make our fellowship
attractive and acceptable. Then we push the prospect away
by the demands we make of them: We read "How it Works".
If you got a sponsor right away, share in your
talk that you did so. But in no way are you to imply
that the prospect has to do so. If you worked the steps
share in your talk how you worked the steps. Do not imply
in any way that the prospect has to work the steps to
join us. He/She is doing us a great service by their
presense. If you understand what I am talking about that
is great. Attraction, not Promotion. Absolutely no
promotion of any kind. The real trick is keeping our
own EGO deflated. Faith without works may be dead. But
works without faith can also be dead. ANONYMOUS
your post was helpful until the sermon started with "then we push the prospect away".
Obviously you are one who does not understand what I am talking about. Most of today's A.A. members would consider
the whole message nonsense. At least you got part of it.
We push hundreds of thousands of suffering alcoholics
from our fellowship, due to this lack of understanding.
We are trying to promote A.A. instead of making it more
attractive. I don't know how that could be a sermon. I suppose it could be called an opinion. ANONYMOUS
A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts. Elements of preaching include exposition, exhortation and practical application
I apologize. I should have said preaching.
1. transitive and intransitive verb religion give sermon: to give a talk on a religious or moral subject, especially in church
2. intransitive verb give advice in irritating way: to give advice on morality or behavior in an irritatingly tedious or overbearing way
3. transitive verb urge people to accept idea: to make an opinion or attitude known to others and urge others to share it
in reading a lot of the subjects on this entire board,i find most of them very interesting.Our traditions and concepts are very clear what our primary purpose is.I dont think there is any debate at all about addicts,people with the disease of addiction,over eaters,gamblers or anything else that is discussed here.A.A. is for alcoholics,and that is all.We have many pamphlets and literature on problems other than alcohol.We are not affiliated with any outside organization.We are not therapists,lawyers,doctors or marriage counselors.If we follow what was put down from the start of A.A. and do not deviate or try to change our original purpose we really have no issues.This is not complicated,it is very simple and does not need to be reinvented.I will be curious to see if this post is allowed on this board,the last one I tried to put up was not put up.
Well put, I share your feelings, if we do not standguard for AA's principals the selfish dysfunctions of others will destroy AA. I would never go to a N.A., C.A., G.A., O.A., or any other eeting and disrespect that felowship and share about my alcoholism.
Stand Strong, we "alcoholics" are with you.
I agree with you completely that our primary purpose is clear, simple,unambiguous and in some ways sacred. I believe that staying focused on our primary purpose has helped AA survive. However, the devil is in the details. Today's new members seem to be much more aware of and willing to share about drugs, sex and food. At jail or prison meetings (especially jails for some reason)I listen to people whose drug related problems, especially meth, are so severe that they don't see alcohol as the problem. And maybe it isn't for some of them. Over time, however, many learn that when they drink, they crave meth. Some of these end up in AA with "a desire to stop drinking". Do we turn them away? Do we insist they only talk about alcohol?
In my home group, we would explain our primary purpose ask that they limit their sharing to the role alcohol played in their addiction. It takes leadership and group support to make this approach work.
If we again follow our steps and traditions,yes we tell them to speak about there problems with alcohol.Food,sex,gambling,issues do not belong being discussed in an a.a. meeting.Again if we follow our guidelines this is not up for debate.In the world there are g.a.,s.a.,o.a.and a.a meetings.These other programs deal with other issues.We also have n.a. meetings available for people.I have in the time I have been sober seen many groups fail and close up because of people thinking we should have meetings with everyone with every addiction in the same meeting.it is a very touchy subject but our program is set up the way it is for a reason.
primary purpose is to 1: go ask a sponsor and have it administered to you? or 2: Trust God and clean house.
98% use choice 1 and only 2% survive ever wonder why?
I completely agree. Please continue to carry the torch of AA as AA is mandated not as those who would want to minipulate it to suite everyone for every problem than alcoholisem.
I see references to declining AA membership. I haven’t seen the numbers from the source but for the sake of this discussion, I’ll assume that numbers have declined or growth has slowed at least. I’ve seen the culprit identified as chanting, too much prayer, wasting time reading How it Works ad infinitum. I haven’t seen any, what I would consider facts connecting these causes with the result. I would think that it would be really difficult, if not impossible, to compile the necessary information.
In my own experience and by my own observation I see another factor which would cause membership to decline - the timing of recreational drug use in society. In 1967 I was a senior in a rural high school in the middle of America. I am quite sure that only two people had tried marijuana and, of course, I was one of them and I didn’t happen to like it. But, of course I liked alcohol. Liked it a lot. A number of others did too. We had at age 18 legal access and an infinite supply of cheap beer in nearby Kansas and, of course, countless illegal sources.
One of my classmates attended 4 years of college and returned to teach at the same school. She easily saw that drug use had become prevalent in those 4 years. Soon Kansas raised the drinking age to 21. I don’t know what determines our choice, alcohol or other drugs but I would think that a ready supply for early experimentation and use would be a strong factor. Around the world people eat strange food and produce strange booze that no one else would touch, so early conditioning must be an influence. At age 18, given the choice between hashish and fermented horse milk would likely make me a candidate for NA instead of AA. The number of teenagers from grades nine through twelve that have used marijuana in the last month has grown from virtually zero when I was that age to 27 percent last year. That doesn’t count others who use other drugs instead. Dope and booze compete for the same customers. Do you suppose this has any influence on AA’s numbers?
I ask you to get the numbers from the source (GSO),
examine them, and then start discussion. ANONYMOUS
I'm not so sure about declining membership. See AA Pamplet p-48 http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-48_membershipsurvey.pdf for membership survey.
32% of members are coming in through treatment facility according to the survey. I wonder if sponsors are aware of GSO pamphlet P35 when their new sponsee's come from rehab and introduce themselves as addicts alcoholics. "through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps is the sole purpose of an A.A. group. Groups have repeatedly tried other activities, and they have always failed. It has also been learned that there is no possible way to make nonalcoholics into A.A. members. We have to confine our membership to alcoholics, and we have to confine our A.A. groups to a single purpose. If we don’t stick to these principles, we shall almost surely collapse. And if we collapse, we cannot help anyone."
I for one want AA to be here for my grandchildren. Lets keep to our primary purpose. It all begins with sponsorship.
Ever wonder why Bill wrote so many times that the teaching
of the steps and traditions is the sole purpose of the A.A. Group? It
has something to do with our singleness of purpose: to help
other alcoholics recover. But I see an even more important
element of that statement. It is the GROUP which does the
teaching, the GROUP is responsible to carry the message.
Yet in today's A.A. individual so-called leaders and
sponsors carry their own message to those who suffer.
Sometimes the one-on-one works, but the group can be
effective almost all of the time. ANONYMOUS
We just started a new women's meeting and we named it the Women of Principals yet I am trying to find if each month has a certain one each month. Like Feb we share about the 2nd . came to believe that a power greater then ourselves could restore us to sanity. So this month was HOPE.. I couldn't find anywhere if the principals for each month were listed..
I was sober (some may say dry) for 10 years (87-98) I had sponsors (in name only) and rarely called them. I would see them at meetings, shake hands, shae a bit about my day, my life and that was it. I worked the steps in a half hearted way, read all the literatire, and was somewhat active (coffee, group leader, and a few speaking commitments.) After 10 years I went out and stayed there for 13 years. I feel that the primary reason I went out is becasue I did not develop a spiritual program. I was doing it all on my own. I am now back 70 days in AA. I am doing a 90 in 90. What I would like to ask is how do you use a sponsor? How do you select a sponsor. Can someone tell me about their relationship with a sponsor. I find it hard to call someone every day and share whats going on. I can do meetings everyday, but call someone everyday, this is hard. What was everyoen elses experience with this part of the program. I hear about these friendships and how some AA's entire life (social life) is all about AA. AA people, AA events, everything AA. I have trouble with this also. how did it work for you?
God is everything or he,s nothing and you still think it is a sponsor? May God help you not get diverted again and again and again like so many of us do and did.
"I find it hard to call someone every day and share whats going on. I can do meetings everyday, but call someone everyday, this is hard."
Has doing things that are easy been working for you?
Yup I and others found it hard to call. It required disiplin, effort,change and get it done with a bit of growing up.
How hard can it possibly be to pick up a phone and dial
the same number every day? In many cases all I have to
press is one preprogramed button. I just do not think we
ought to be placing that much importance on one human
being. I do not want anyone depending on my wisdom
on a one to one daily basis. The group has the responsibility to teach, not the individual number.
The hard part is in the getting here. I believe it
ought to be easy to stay. At the end of a meeting we
were already planning a meeting the next day. I loved
A.A. right from the beginning. I knew there was something of great value here. That solution is still here but
we have placed it on the shelf, and insist on
doing it our own way. ANONYMOUS
I usually tell newcomers and my friends in A.A. that
I am willing to help in any way that I have the ability.
I encourge them to ask questions either on the phone or
at meetings. If I am asked to be a sponsor I say yes.
But I think the requirement to call a sponsor, or
anyone else every day is absurd. I certainly do not
want anyone to call me every day. I do love to see
my friends and newcomers at meetings on a daily basis.
The telephone contact and emailing is just too limiting.
Of course there are exceptions, when a member is not
able to get to meetings.
I believe the suggestions (requirements in disguise)
to do 90 in 90, call a sponsor every day, hold hands with
us as we pray, cause harm to newcomers and the fellowship.
When a newcomer hears all this, plus all the demands made
in "How it Works", I can't help thinking that they may be
thinking: "Let me out of here! ANONYMOUS
When I finally quit drinking for the last time 3-29-2004, I was finally ready/huumble enough to say to God that I cannot do this my way..... I asked someone I felt had good AA Sobriety if he would be my sponsor. Obviously he said yes. Unfortunately, I found out he was like an AA Nazi! He wanted me to call him every night @ 9:55pm, no exceptions. After a few days while trying to jugle sobriety, work, family, and the real world. I was not able to call him one night so I told him that day @ a noon meeting and he said that "I would have to find a NEW Sponsor if I was not going to follow his directions", period!!!
To say the least I was devastated. I assume I am like most AA's in that we like to do things are way.... So as you can guess it gave me an excuse to go out for another month. Not a good decision.
When I finally came back, I leasrned that this type of style does not fit my personality. I found a new sponsor and he said he would be happy to help me. He did ask me to do the 90 in 90, read 1st 164pgs of B.B. and call him daily when I had time. After a few weeks I asked him about the need to call him each day and he told me that it was up to me. By the way we attended the same home group that met twice a week and we then met once a week @ his office to work on the steps.
Finally, nothing is a requirement, rather mere suggestions from people who have found a solution to live SOBER in the real world and not go INSANE. If you find these things unacceptable, then by all means don't do them. I would rather trust those who came before me and those that are still around and have good sobriety as excellent references/tempoary sponsors, if you will.
I guess it just depends on how miserable one has to get in order to be humble enough to try something out of our comfort zone. For me I had to get sick and tired of being sick and tired, but I too used AA as a revolving door for several years, every time my wife kicked me out of the house. Mainly because I refused to get involved, read the BB or ask someone to sponsor me. With my Ego, I thought that the sponsorship thing was for lightweights. But I can say that until I got honest with myself with the help of a good sponsor, I would not be able to stay sober. Even then I had no idea what was to come down the pike. There have been more highs/good and less lows than when I was drinking.
And lastly. It sure is noce to wake-up in the morning and be able to find my keys, moneyclip(with $$ still in it), remember the events the nigth before, and when in doubt pause before I speak.
Oh, I don't like holding hands with someone who just sneezed into their hand I am about to hold. So that can be an exception.
Recently I was asked why I do not hold hands at meetings
any more. I replied that I don't know where those hands
have been. But the fear of germs has absolutely nothing
to do with it. I shake hands with one and all, no matter
if they have just coughed or sneezed into it. (I do a lot
hand washing). The reason I do not hold hands in the
prayer circle, is simple. I do not think members ought
to be coerced to "hold hands and pray". Sure most of us
are used to the ritual and accept it, but I am concerned
about the member who may not stick around long enough
to "get used to it". And I well remember the decade of
the 1970's, when we simply stood by our chairs and
closed the meeting with the Lords Prayer "for those
who wish to join". Those meetings were reverence at its finest. Today I just say "holding hands is
optional and I would like to opt out". ANONYMOUS
I can only assume that the "suggestions" on 90 in 90, getting a sponsor, reading the first 164 pages, which some seem hell-bent on preaching to the newcomer (along with "finding a higher power"), originally grew out of treatment centers. And now even some of those who did not go through treatment have heard it so many times in meetings that they think it is gospel. I agree that such forced feeding on the initiate is counter-productive. All I needed to hear at my first meeting was that people who drank like me had been able to quit by going to AA, that life would get better, and that I should keep coming back. After the meeting, some well-intentioned person nearly tackled me to feed me all that crap about what I had to do. Someone else was nice enough afterwards to point out that well-intentioned person was enthusiastic but mostly nuts. I needed to hear that as well. Don't drink today, come back tomorrow. Beautiful in its simplicity.
I don't know where the rest of the material you object to came from but suggesting reading the Big Book comes from the chapter "Working with Others" and "finding a Higher Power" comes from p 45. "...Well, that's exactly what this book is about. It's main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem...."
If I found myself in a group of people call themselves AA that was clueless about the Big Book and it's purpose I believe I would run, not walk, out of it and do whatever I needed to find a group of people who did.
Don't run away. Start a Big Book meeting. Start it.
They will come. That has been my personal experience. Rose
Well said! The big book works for hopeless alcoholics. It doesn't work for hard drinkers who can still run the show and can put the plug in the
jug by going to meetings.
If a hard drinker wants to stop drinking and can
put the "plug in the jug" by going to meetings,
I say welcome!
"I can only assume that the "suggestions" on 90 in 90, getting a sponsor, reading the first 164 pages, which some seem hell-bent on preaching to the newcomer (along with "finding a higher power"), originally grew out of treatment centers..."
I got it at AA. If I caught a cold at AA would it make any difference if it came there from a treatment center?
here is a link to the official AA view on sponsorship:http://aa.org/lang/en/catalog.cfm?origpage=161&product=17
My personal experience? In 1992 I was at an open meeting. The speaker shared his experienc, strenght, and hope in regards to the program of AA as outlined in the big book. After the meeting I asked him if he would be my sponsor. He said yes. He said the big book would protect me from him, so we did the steps as outlined in the big book. I have been happy, joyous, and free almost continuously since.
Bill, my sponsor never suggested to me anything that was not in the big book or 12x12. He led me to sobriety by example. and yes we are still in contact 20 years later, because he is still doing what he did then, and so am I!
Thanks for reminding me of where it all started for me.
I have been meditating a lot lately on some percent’s I have read in AA literature.
In Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, Cleveland Ohio had a recovery rate of 93%. For every one person exposed to our program that didn’t get sober, the next 9 found sobriety.
In AA comes of Age, it stated that 23 of the 28 authors of the first edition remained sober. That’s a recovery rate of 82% or 80 out of 100!
In the big book appendix 3, in 1944 Dr. Collier said AA had a proven recovery rate of 50-60%. That’s 50 or 60 out of 100!
In the forward to the second edition of the big book, written in 1955, it said that 50% of those who came to AA and tried got sober and stayed that way. 25% sobered after some relapses. That adds up to a 75% recovery rate, or 75 out of 100!
If any AA group today can claim A 10% recovery rate, they would still be a miracle compared to other methods of recovery. I think that’s part of the problem. When 1 newcomer out of 10 gets and stays sober, we have an illusion that we are doing well. Sometimes the good is the enemy of the best. 5 , 6 ,or 7 out of ten should be staying sober!
My suggested topic is this, what has happened to the effectiveness of this incredible program of AA?
Is it not adhering to our tradition 5, singleness of purpose?
Is it allowing our fellowship to be different from our program?
Is it lack of sponsorship?
Is it because we no longer use the big book as our text for the program of recovery?
Is it because we use the 12x12 as our program of AA instead of a compliment to the big book?
Is it because we no longer do 12 step work ourselves and leave it up to treatment centers?
Is it because we use material that is not AA in our meetings?
Is it because nonalcoholics are allowed to fully participate in AA groups?
Is it because we forgot that alcoholism is a 3 fold disease, mental, physical, and spiritual?
Is it because we oldtimers have turned the AA meetings over to the sickest of the sick, the newcomer?
Is it because by not using AA literature we have diluted the AA message?
Is it because we have the “cart before the horse”?
Is it because we let everyone confuse spirituality with religion?
If I can write 13 legitimate mistakes that I think we have made to dwindle our effectiveness, I wonder what our more seasoned members would add.
What have we done to this beautiful program?
I can see the solution. Just like when this program started. One alcoholic talking to another, sharing experience, strength, and hope.
Thanks for reading,
Hay Corey, thanks for taking the time to post your observations. It is obvious that how the AA program is used is changing as is society, too bad. If you change a recepie the cake will not be as good. I see less of God(not relegon) in many groups. I hear discussions about everything but alcohol. We, AA's are losing our primery pourpose and as Bill W once said we may selfe destruct from within. I have whitnessed crack heads, coke heads, gamblers, overeaters,and sex offenders shareing in meetings and hardly a time when the chair person reminds them this is an AA meeting and nothing else.People dont realize there is a night and day differance between alcoholics and other dysfunctions. Becoming a spineless society we dont want to exclude anyone or offend anyone. Its a Life And Death desiese and we are loosing our way. GSO is aware of these problems and has been looking into this dysfunction and a solution. Obviously the "Blue Card" is being ignored by the selfish and selfe centered who want it there way and not AA's way.
Is it allowing our fellowship to be different from our
program? Not only different. Our fellowship of Alcoholics
Anonymous has evolved (morphed) into a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM.
I believe that most alcoholics approaching us will become
sober members of Alcoholics Anonymous if we return A.A.
to being a fellowship. Sure, some come in ready to do the
steps/program and remain with us, sober. We have about
two million of them worldwide.
I was ready for the fellowship when I reached the doors
of A.A. I would not have accepted any kind of TWELVE STEP PROGRAM,
and was not presented with any PROGRAM. It was months
before I realized that I had taken the first three steps
before joining the fellowship.
I do believe that we should have at least eight
million members in A.A. today. We push away most of
those who try A.A. No, I have no way to prove that,
although I know it to be true. I no longer consider it
to be an "opinion". It is based on our documented
stagnation. We stopped growing in the early 1990's.
What have we done? You have about 80% of the answer,
and soon the light will come on.
But half measures avail us nothing. The seeming temporary
good has been the deadly enemy of the permanent best.
That man was a genius, and God's gift to the alcoholic
sufferer. That IS an opinion. ANONYMOUS
AA has been 100% effective in keeping me sober.So as a self-centered alcoholic I really can't complain. All this worrying and fussing about AA as an institution is missing the point.I cannot allow it to upset me.I might get drunk!Besides,all these newcomers with their newfangled ways are only doing what I did:stay sober and try to drive the stodgy oldtimers to drink.Someday they may even change the name to Addicts Anonymous.I only hope I stay sober long enough to see it.
Self-centeredness. Yes, it seems that most A.A. members
who remain in A.A. have that attitude: I've got mine.
Who cares if we don't grow. We have already changed our
fellowship to Addicts Anonymous. We just haven't changed
the name officially. ANONYMOUS
This is the simple truth about recovery. It is a lifelong journey. I still practice it today but not in the same way I did in the first few years of my recovery. I have gone through a lot of phases. But in 2010 I realized that I felt less and less contentment in the AA program. Over the last several years I had fallen into a combination of tension, discontent, resentment, depression, compulsive eating, and an overall sense of meaninglessness. I had stopped practicing all the principles in all my affairs. The result was a complete reversal of momentum and a relapse into serious personal misery. I was failing to reap the benefits I had gained from the AA program.
I knew from past experience the answer was to return to the original, strong AA. Through prayer and doing my yearly inventory, I realized I needed to start over as if I was a newcomer. I needed to do what I did in the beginning of my program. I felt I needed to write out each step and ask myself the same questions and work as hard as I did then. So I began writing a workshop for Women that were in a transition house. It too more than 2 years. But I finished two weeks ago. I am NOT going to publish it. But I been doing the workshop for about 1 year, only at the House. I do it for me to grow and become emotionally balanced. It works!
You see, I did not come to AA to stop drinking. I wanted to stay stopped but most of all become a different person. I wanted to learn how to become happy about not drinking. I wanted to get rid of loneliness, anger, depression and fear. I wanted to be able to hold my head up and go anywhere without feeling inadequate (not good enough).
When I heard “How It Works” read at my first meeting, I had hope. I heard that I couldn't fail if I was “willing to go to any length,” and to be honest and through. I was determined to do everything the program asked.
As it turns out, the men who wrote the Big Book were right after all. There is no easier, softer way. The extra work and commitment required by the full program approach pays enormous dividends. They make sobriety fun because they do not make sobriety an end in itself. Mere non-drinking is a very negative kind of life goal.
What it all boils down to - especially for us old-timers - is a willingness to continue practicing all the principles in all our affairs today. After years of sobriety I was doing what the Big Book says, “resting on your laurels”, or to put it simpler, just going through the motions of the program. I knew it was successful in long term continuous sobriety, but I had stopped working on myself. I stopped growing as a person and in my spiritual life. I stopped doing what I did way back when, in my first months and years of sobriety.
This workshop is the result of my search for the joy and since of purpose I had the first 20 years in the AA program. Telling the story of my journey to other women has given me a new kind of joy, and I am back to growing as a person. In prayer, I came to the realization that by myself, I am nothing. But by asking my Higher Power to give me the answer to my misery, He guided my hands and mind to this work.
Many times when drinking I prayed that God would just kill me so the misery of living would end. I wanted to be anybody but me. This much is certain: the Twelve Steps are as effective, and as practical now as they were when they first put it in writing in 1938.
The truths I discovered early on that helped me get and stay sober and be happy doing so are so ridiculously simple that it is hard to imagine how I could have forgotten them and allowed myself to lapse into the depression, etc., that you describe. Bill W. figured it out early on: "I was not too well at the time, and was plagued by waves of self-pity and resentment. This sometimes nearly drove me back to drink, but I soon found that when all other measures failed, work with another alcoholic would save the day." As Marty M. told her sanitarium roommate after her first AA meeting, "We are not alone." But when I stray from meetings, physically or otherwise, I forget that fact and can relapse emotionally. Best way out of my own head is service to others, as you discovered. I guess I need the reminder of these simple truths daily, especially that it isn't about me at all. Thanks for sharing your experience.
I have read pages and pages today looking for someone to identify with about my problem and my eyes are blurry! I'm posting because I wonder if there is any member who can identify with me.
I have 25 years of sobriety in AA that I cherish. The last 5 have been a dry drunk brought on by my reaction to emotional abuse at my home group and the distance I created between me and the Program based on the trauma I felt and the disorientation of not feeling "safe" in AA. I had not known that that feeling was possible. In the interim, I continued to use marijuana, a choice I shared with other members (first) after eight years of total abstinence, and with friends outside of recovery. Yet, for 20 years I lived and breathed AA to the best of my ability.
Having made this "mistake" of distancing myself from meetings (not literature, not prayer) and the dependence I have developed on marijuana, have left me bereft and isolated and confused. During my active years in the rooms, I thought of marijuana as an outside issue, and was not willing to cause controversy by bringing it to other members or the group. Now I am desperate to return to meetings (and have taken the first steps to just show up and listen) and have 2 problems. Should I share my dependence with members? With the woman who is willing to sponsor me and go through the Steps with me?
Of course there is the suspicion that I don't want to admit my dependence so I won't have to deal with it. Also, I feel like a fraud and question everything. What was I doing for 20 years? How could I have been so involved in the Fellowship and have been "off the beam" without knowing it? Do I even belong in the rooms that meant (and mean) everything to me while I struggle with admitting powerlessness over a substance other than alcohol?
Like now, I have many times shared with a group of alcoholics and wondered "Did any of that make any sense?" only to have another alcoholic tell me that it did, and tell me why with the result that I was "no longer alone". Am I "in the right place"?
Thank you for my sobriety and for listening.
Go back to meetings, stop getting high and humble yourself by raising your hand and say your coming back. Get into the steps with a sponsor and start at 1. Read P-35 http://aa.org/pdf/products/P-35_ProOtherThanAlcohol.pdf
Also read P-42 http://aa.org/pdf/products/p-42_abriefguidetoaa.pdf
Are you not looking for that ease and comfort you found in alcohol at one time in pot today ? A drug is a drug is a drug.
Then, look up the definition of "sober"
I was recently in St Paul, MN for work. As I usually do, I attended a few meetings to see how groups function in other locations. One of the groups I visited was called “Outright Mental Defectives”. It was listed as a 2 hour big book topic meeting and there were about 130 people present. I was impressed that only 3 of the 130 introduced themselves as something other than simply alcoholic. The chairperson asked to start the meeting with the 3rd step prayer. Then the entire group dropped to their knees wrapped arms around each other, and prayed the 3rd step prayer. Then began about 30 minutes of service work announcements, which I thought was great, only after each service announcement there were a series of strange chants, ie the night owl service was followed by 130 hoot hoots and so forth. We then read from the big book for ½ hour. If anyone wanted a definition, they just shout out the word and the dictionary person read a definition. After the reading we had a 10 minute break. After break time the meeting continued as a call up meeting on what was read. Finally the meeting ended with the chairperson declaring that we would now close with the 7th step prayer. The group promptly dropped to the kneeling position, again wrapped arms around one another and prayed the 7th step prayer.
After the meeting, I turned to the man next to me, who was very outgoing as was the rest of the group, and said this is the kneelingest, huggingest, chantingest group I have ever seen. We both had a laugh. I mentioned that in the original draft of the 12 steps, step 7 directed you to be on your knees, but was removed after further discussions and left it at that.
I have been to meetings all over the US and Canada over the past 20 years and have never until this week experienced a group that, as part of the meeting format drops down to their knees and prays. I personally kneel most mornings and enjoy it.
My topic is this, is kneeling to pray in AA meetings happening in other cities or states? Obviously this large group is doing alright if it has 130 regular attenders, but what happens to the newcomer who attends their first meeting and sees all the kneeling and strange chanting? I think there is a reason the language in step seven was changed and the kneeling was removed. If about half of the people who come to AA are atheists or agnostics, we are likely scaring them away before they get a chance to try our program.
Thanks for reading
I think that the meeting that you described is absolutely outrageous. Kneeling, hugging, hooting in an AA meeting? Outrageous and absolutely perfect. A perfect application of Tradition Four. Sign me up. Not my choice for a home group but enjoying the view from Everest doesn’t mean moving there.
I sometimes attend a men’s meeting that has a well earned reputation for being a collection the bawdiest, rudest, crudest cross-talking collection of misfits ever assembled under the AA banner. I’ve learned that long term sobriety is not a good yardstick for quality of sobriety but a large collection of long term sobriety is, and they have it. Any time there is a newcomer the meeting becomes a first step meeting. Every time. I don’t know how many members that they have. I’ve seen from a dozen to thirty at a meeting. They needed an expensive new roof, bucked up once and wrote a check for it. When a member is hospitalized or a member passes away we all get an email within a day. Its good AA but not everybody’s AA. It doesn’t need to be.
Do these outrageous fringe meetings turn newcomers off to AA? It might put a stone in someone’s path so I try let them know that we don’t represent AA as a whole. At the end of my first meeting an old salt asked me if I was willing to go to any lengths to get sober and I responded honestly that I didn’t know. He told me loud and clear “Then AA is no @*&!! place for you.” I went back about three months later with the conviction that if that building wasn’t big enough for both of us, he could leave. I’ve been sober ever since and he lived sober until he died years later. Could I have died in those three months? Yes. Did I? No. Because of it, I always point out to newcomers that there are a variety of meeting nearby and sometimes take them. Whenever I see someone acting nuts in AA I am reminded that when AA only had 100 members, crazies were already prevalent enough to be included in the most important section of the Big Book –“…some suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders…” AA survived with them then and continues to.
I can hear the impassioned old-timers talking about "the way it was" and lauding the practice as a return to "AA's roots." To the extent kneeling may reflect some of the early practices, it speaks volumes to the level of intolerance of the early AA's towards anyone with contrary views. The discussion in the 12 x 12 of the membership requirements, "pure and respectable" alcoholics (add "Christian"), comes to mind. Reading Bill's later writings, along with the writings of Jimmy B., indicate that something approaching tolerance took time to develop, and perhaps is reflected in the earliest AA literature only because Bill wrote the bulk of it (as opposed to the groups having developed any consensus on it). All I can say of the practice you describe is that if it turns one newcomer away, that is a tragedy... in my opinion.