Posted in Uncategorized

Navigating through life with Step 10

In many respects, the Fellowship is like a reasonably happy cruise ship or, in time of trouble, like a convoy. But in the long run each of us must chart his or her own course through life. When the seas are smooth we may become careless. By neglecting Step Ten, we may get out of the habit of checking our position. If we’re mindful of Step Ten, however, then we rarely are so far wrong that we can’t make a few corrections and get back on course again. “Do I realize that regular practice of Step Ten can help me determine what other step is needed to bring me into a happier frame of mind and into serenity?”

May Step Ten be the sextant by which I read my whereabouts on the sea of life, so that I can correct my course if I am heading for dangerous territory. May I keep in mind that if it weren’t for an all-knowing Captain (that would be G-d) and the vigilance of my fellow crew members, that my life could go adrift and I get into real trouble.

Clardy S.

Posted in Sharing

Nuggets

We’ve heard it say so many times, a fact that we hold dear
Just when you down you’ll often hear just what you need to hear
A member shares what’s taking place that has them so distressed
And you relate, you understand, the feelings they expressed

It helps you know you’re not alone with what you’re going through
Some other folks have been through worse but they knew what to do
So, open up and share with them, you may find by your candor
That someone else has felt the same and may possess an answer

At other times you’ll hear something that cause you to consider
A thought you have not had before, a new idea emitter
A nugget’s what I call these bits of useful information
To guide me through my program with a new found realization

Members often talk about the how great life has become
Beyond their wildest dreams since drinking had been overcome
I did not feel that way and thought there’s something wrong with me
My wildest dreams were fantasies, a rock star wannabee

One day a fellow shared that he had often felt the same
He’d worked his program, best he could, yet sometimes felt ashamed
He wanted what those others had until he understood
That GREAT might take some time, but now, not feeling bad was GOOD

Another time a member made an obvious remark
Concerning the relationship between daylight and dark
He said in order to feel good when he arose each morning
He had to go to sleep with pride on how he’d been performing

Each man had shared a thing he learned from being in AA
Neither were all that profound, a common sense souffle
Some nuggets from a meeting that inspired me to think
A good night’s sleep, not feeling bad, much better than a drink.

So, when you’re at a meeting and you hear a speaker say
A word or two that makes you think, something to take away
Bring it home and use it when your mind feels ill at ease
Just helpful hints that other use to combat their disease

Larry R.

Posted in Sharing

Step Zero

I heard a member say a thing that I had never heard
He opened up our meeting with a statement, quite absurd
We know they’re only twelve steps in the program of AA
It came as a surprise to hear what this man had to say

Officially they’re only twelve, he made that very clear
But to his way of thinking, there’s another we should hear
He called the thing Step Zero, was convinced that it was real
The step before we did the Steps, the Ones that helped us heal

According to the speaker it’s a step we all have taken
It started when our will to give up booze had been forsaken
But, unlike the other twelve where you do one and then the next
We often times repeat this step under a false pretext

We tell ourselves that we can stop at any time we choose
If things get bad, we make a vow, of giving up the booze
Then bad things come, we shrug them off, a victim of bad luck
Arrested for a DUI, a wrong turn in our truck

That should have been a wake-up call, we might just have some problems
But then our thinking takes a turn, we know just how to solve them
We’ll only drink when we’re at home and maybe cut back it back
The spouse comes home at 2PM, we’re passed out in the sack

What used to be a pleasant thing has turned into obsession
We can not stop, it speaks to us, a victim of possession
Controls our thoughts and actions, has become our evil hero
Dictating we keep tethered to this thing some called step zero

When mired in this step it often seems there’s no way out
Until we reach the point where we’ve no choice except to shout
Please help us, someone, we‘re done, just can-not live this way
We’re willing to do anything, might even try AA

Moving past step zero is a harrowing event
We fought this change for so long, our exposure to prevent
Admitting we were hopeless and surrender to defeat
Unsure of the reaction from those people that we’ll meet

To our surprise, they welcomed us, invited us to stay
A fellowship of folks like us, to show us a new way
To put that step behind us, find serenity and fun
It all begins the moment we decide to take Step One.

Larry R.

Posted in Sharing

12 Steps in 30 Minutes

AAs are always asking: “Where did the Twelve Steps come from?” In the last analysis, perhaps nobody knows. Yet some of the events which led to their formulation are as clear to me as though they took place yesterday.

So far as people were concerned, the main channels of inspiration for our Steps were three in number–the Oxford Groups, Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital and the famed psychologist, William James, called by some the father of modern psychology. The story of how these streams of influence were brought together and how they led to the writing of our Twelve Steps is exciting and in spots downright incredible.

Many of us will remember the Oxford Groups as a modern evangelical movement which flourished in the 1920’s and early 30’s, led by a one-time Lutheran minister, Dr. Frank Buchman. The Oxford Groups of that day threw heavy emphasis on personal work, one member with another. AA’s Twelfth Step had its origin in that vital practice. The moral backbone of the “O.G.” was absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness and absolute love. They also practiced a type of confession, which they called “sharing”; the making of amends for harms done they called “restitution.” They believed deeply in their “quiet time,” a meditation practiced by groups and individuals alike, in which the guidance of God was sought for every detail of living, great or small.

These basic ideas were not new; they could have been found elsewhere. But the saving thing for us first alcoholics who contacted the Oxford Groupers was that they laid great stress on these particular principles. And fortunate for us was the fact that the Groupers took special pains not to interfere with one’s personal religious views. Their society, like ours later on, saw the need to be strictly non-denominational.

In the late summer of 1934, my well-loved alcoholic friend and schoolmate “Ebbie” had fallen in with these good folks and had promptly sobered up. Being an alcoholic, and rather on the obstinate side, he hadn’t been able to “buy” all the Oxford Group ideas and attitudes. Nevertheless, he was moved by their deep sincerity and felt mighty grateful for the fact that their ministrations had, for the time being, lifted his obsession to drink.

When he arrived in New York in the late fall of 1934, Ebbie thought at once of me. On a bleak November day he rang up. Soon he was looking at me across our kitchen table at 182 Clinton Street, Brooklyn, New York. As I remember that conversation, he constantly used phrases like these: “I found I couldn’t run my own life;” “I had to get honest with myself and somebody else;” “I had to make restitution for the damage I had done;” “I had to pray to God for guidance and strength, even though I wasn’t sure there was any God;” “And after I’d tried hard to do these things I found that my craving for alcohol left.” Then over and over Ebbie would say something like this: “Bill, it isn’t a bit like being on the water-wagon. You don’t fight the desire to drink–you get released from it. I never had such a feeling before.”

Such was the sum of what Ebbie had extracted from his Oxford Group friends and had transmitted to me that day. While these simple ideas were not new, they certainly hit me like tons of brick. Today we understand just why that was. . .one alcoholic was talking to another as no one else can.

Two or three weeks later, December 11th to be exact, I staggered into the Charles B. Towns Hospital, that famous drying-out emporium on Central Park West, New York City. I’d been there before, so I knew and already loved the doctor in charge–Dr. Silkworth. It was he who was soon to contribute a very great idea without which AA could never have succeeded. For years he had been proclaiming alcoholism an illness, an obsession of the mind coupled with an allergy of the body. By now I knew this meant me. I also understood what a fatal combination these twin ogres could be. Of course, I’d once hoped to be among the small percentage of victims who now and then escape their vengeance. But this outside hope was now gone. I was about to hit bottom. That verdict of science–the obsession that condemned me to drink and the allergy that condemned me to die–was about to do the trick. That’s where medical science, personified by this benign little doctor, began to fit in. Held in the hands of one alcoholic talking to the next, this double-edged truth was a sledgehammer which could shatter the tough alcoholic’s ego at depth and lay him wide open to the grace of God.

In my case it was of course Dr. Silkworth who swung the sledge while my friend Ebbie carried to me the spiritual principles and the grace which brought on my sudden spiritual awakening at the hospital three days later. I immediately knew that I was a free man. And with this astonishing experience came a feeling of wonderful certainty that great numbers of alcoholics might one day enjoy the priceless gift which had been bestowed upon me.

THIRD INFLUENCE
At this point a third stream of influence entered my life through the pages of William James’ book, “Varieties of Religious Experience.” Somebody had brought it to my hospital room. Following my sudden experience, Dr. Silkworth had taken great pains to convince me that I was not hallucinated. But William James did even more. Not only, he said, could spiritual experiences make people saner, they could transform men and women so that they could do, feel and believe what had hitherto been impossible to them. It mattered little whether these awakenings were sudden or gradual, their variety could be almost infinite. But the biggest payoff of that noted book was this: in most of the cases described, those who had been transformed were hopeless people. In some controlling area of their lives they bad met absolute defeat. Well, that was me all right. In complete defeat, with no hope or faith whatever, I had made an appeal to a higher Power. I had taken Step One of today’s AA program–“admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable,” I’d also taken Step Three–“made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood him.” Thus was I set free. It was just as simple, yet just is mysterious, as that.

These realizations were so exciting that I instantly joined up with the Oxford Groups. But to their consternation I insisted on devoting myself exclusively to drunks. This was disturbing to the O.G.’s on two counts. Firstly, they wanted to help save the whole world. Secondly, their luck with drunks had been poor. Just as I joined they had been working over a batch of alcoholics who had proved disappointing indeed. One of them, it was rumored, had flippantly cast his shoe through a valuable stained glass window of an Episcopal church across the alley from O.G. headquarters. Neither did they take kindly to my repeated declaration that it shouldn’t; take long to sober up all the drunks in the world. They rightly declared that my conceit was still immense.

SOMETHING MISSING
After some six months of violent exertion with scores of alcoholics which I found at a nearby mission and Towns Hospital, it began to look like the Groupers were right. I hadn’t sobered up anybody. In Brooklyn we always had a houseful of drinkers living with us, sometimes as many as five. My valiant wife, Lois, once arrived home from work to find three of them fairly tight. The remaining two were worse. They were whaling each other with two-by-fours. Though events like these slowed me down somewhat, the persistent conviction that a way to sobriety could be found never seemed to leave me. There was, though, one bright spot. My sponsor, Ebbie, still clung precariously to his new-found sobriety.

What was the reason for all these fiascoes? If Ebbie and I could achieve sobriety, why couldn’t all the rest find it too? Some of those we’d worked on certainly wanted to get well. We speculated day and night why nothing much had happened to them. Maybe they couldn’t stand the spiritual pace of the Oxford Group’s four absolutes of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love. In fact some of the alcoholics declared that this was the trouble. The aggressive pressure upon them to get good overnight would make them fly high as geese for a, few weeks and then flop dismally. They complained, too, about another form of coercion–something the Oxford Groupers called “guidance for others.” A “team” composed of non-alcoholic Groupers would sit down with an alcoholic and after a “quiet time” would come up with precise instructions as to how the alcoholic should run his own life. As grateful as we were to our O.G. friends, this was sometimes tough to take. It obviously had something to do with the wholesale skidding that went on.

But this wasn’t the entire reason for failure. After months I saw the trouble was mainly in me. I had become very aggressive, very cocksure. I talked a lot about my sudden spiritual experience, as though it was something very special. I had been playing the double role of teacher and preacher. In my exhortations I’d forgotten all about the medical side of our malady, and that need for deflation at depth so emphasized by William James had been neglected. We weren’t using that medical sledgehammer that Dr. Silkworth had so providentially given us.

Finally, one day, Dr. Silkworth took me back down to my right size. Said he, “Bill, why don’t you quit talking so much about that bright light experience of yours, it sounds too crazy. Though I’m convinced that nothing but better morals will make alcoholics really well, I do think you have got the cart before the horse. The point is that alcoholics won’t buy all this moral exhortation until they convince themselves that they must. If I were you I’d go after them on the medical basis first. While it has never done any good for me to tell them how fatal their malady is, it might be a very different story if you, a formerly hopeless alcoholic, gave them the bad news. Because of the identification you naturally have with alcoholics, you might be able to penetrate where I can’t. Give them the medical business first, and give it to them hard. This might soften them up so they will accept the principles that will really get them well.”

THEN CAME AKRON
Shortly after this history-making conversation, I found myself in Akron, Ohio, on a business venture which promptly collapsed. Alone in the town, I was scared to death of getting drunk. I was no longer a teacher or a preacher, I was an alcoholic who knew that he needed another alcoholic, as much as that one could possibly need me. Driven by that urge, I was soon face to face with Dr. Bob. It was at once evident that Dr. Bob knew more of spiritual things than I did. He also had been in touch with the Oxford Groupers at Akron, But somehow he simply couldn’t get sober. Following Dr. Silkworth’s advice, I used the medical sledgehammer. I told him what alcoholism was and just how fatal it could be. Apparently this did something to Dr. Bob, On June 10, 1935, he sobered up, never to drink again. When, in 1939, Dr. Bob’s story first appeared in the book, Alcoholic Anonymous, he put one paragraph of it in italics. Speaking of me, he said: “Of far more importance was the fact that he was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what be was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience”.

THE MISSING LINK
Dr. Silkworth had indeed supplied us the missing link without which the chain of principles now forged into our Twelve Steps could never have been complete. Then and there, the spark that was to become Alcoholics Anonymous had been struck.

During the next three years after Dr. Bob’s recovery our growing groups at Akron, New York and Cleveland evolved the so-called word-of-mouth program of our pioneering time. As we commenced to form a society separate from the Oxford Group, we began to state our principles something like this:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol
  2. We got honest with ourselves
  3. We got honest with another person, in confidence
  4. We made amends for harms done others
  5. We worked with other alcoholics without demand for prestige or money
  6. We prayed to God to help us to do these things as best we could

Though these principles were advocated according to the whim or liking of each of us, and though in Akron and Cleveland they still stuck by the O.G. absolutes of honesty, purity, unselfishness and love, this was the gist of our message to incoming alcoholics up to 1939, when our present Twelve Steps were put to paper.

I well remember the evening on which the Twelve Steps were written. I was lying in bed quite dejected and suffering from one of my imaginary ulcer attacks. Four chapters of the book. Alcoholics Anonymous, had been roughed out and read in meetings at Akron and New York. We quickly found that everybody wanted to be an author. The hassles as to what should go into our new book were terrific. For example, some wanted a purely psychological book which would draw in alcoholics without scaring them. We could tell them about the “God business” afterwards. A few, led by our wonderful southern friend, Fitz M., wanted a fairly religious book infused with some of the dogma we had picked up from the churches and missions which had tried to help us. The louder these arguments, the more I felt in the middle. It appeared that I wasn’t going to be the author at all. I was only going to be an umpire who would decide the contents of the book. This didn’t mean, though, that there wasn’t terrific enthusiasm for the undertaking. Every one of us was wildly excited at the possibility of getting our message before all those countless alcoholics who still didn’t know.

Having arrived at Chapter Five, it seemed high time to state what our program really was I remember running over in my mind the word-of-mouth phrases then in current use. Jotting these down, they added up to the six named above. Then came the idea that our program ought to be more accurately and clearly stated. Distant readers would have to have a precise set of principles. Knowing the alcoholic’s ability to rationalize, something airtight would have to be written. We couldn’t let the reader wiggle our anywhere. Besides, a more complete statement would help in the chapters to come where we would need to show exactly how the recovery program ought to be worked.

12 STEPS IN 30 MINUTES
At length I began to write on a cheap yellow tablet. I split the word-of-mouth program up into smaller pieces, meanwhile enlarging its scope considerably. Uninspired as I felt, I was surprised that in a short time, perhaps half an hour, I had set down certain principles which, on being counted, turned out to be twelve in number. And for some unaccountable reason, I had moved the idea of God into the Second Step, right up front. Besides, I had named God very liberally throughout the other steps. In one of the steps I had even suggested that the newcomer get down on his knees

When this document was shown to our New York meeting the protests were many and loud. Our agnostic friends didn’t go at all for the idea of kneeling. Others said we were talking altogether too much about God. And anyhow, why should there be twelve steps when we had done fine on six? Let’s keep it simple, they said.

This sort of heated discussion went on for days and nights. But out of it all there came a ten-strike for Alcoholics Anonymous. Our agnostic contingent, speared by Hank P. and Jim B., finally convinced us that we must make it easier for people like themselves by using such terms as “a Higher Power” or “God as we understand Him!” Those expressions, as we so well know today, have proved lifesavers for many an alcoholic. They have enabled thousands of us to make a beginning where none could have been made had we left the steps just as I originally wrote them. Happily for us there were no other changes in the original draft and the number of steps still stood at twelve. Little did we then guess that our Twelve Steps would soon be widely approved by clergymen of all denominations and even by our latter-day friends, the psychiatrists.

This little fragment of history ought to convince the most skeptical that nobody invented Alcoholics Anonymous.

It just grew. . .by the grace of God.

Bill W.
The Grapevine July 1953
Vol. 10 No. 2

Posted in Sharing

12 Steps in Reverse

Everyone is always talking about the 12 Steps in A. A. Another way of thinking about it are the 12 Mis-Steps of A. A. Here they are:

  1. Start missing meetings for any reason, real or imaginary.
  2. Become critical of the methods used by other members who may not agree with you in everything.
  3. Nurse the idea that someday, somehow, you can drink again and become a controlled drinker.
  4. Let the other fellow do the 12th Step work in your group. You are too busy.
  5. Become conscious of your A. A. seniority and view every new member with a skeptical, jaundiced eye.
  6. Become so pleased with your own views of the program that you consider yourself an “elder statesman.”
  7. Start a small clique within your own group, composed only of a few members who see eye-to-eye with you.
  8. Tell the new member in confidence that you yourself do not take certain of the 12 Steps seriously.
  9. Let your mind dwell more and more on how much you are helping others rather than on how much the A. A. program is helping you.
  10. If an unfortunate member has a slip, drop him at once.
  11. Cultivate the habit of borrowing money from other members; then stay away from meetings to avoid embarrassment.
  12. Look upon the 24-hour plan as vital to new members, but not for yourself. YOU have outgrown the need of that long, long ago.

C. L.
Chicago, Illinois
The Grapevine March 1947
Vol. 3 No. 10

Posted in Events

The deal that God makes with us Alcoholics

A drunk is walking home, feeling sick and hurt. He is at that magic moment of surrender.

On his way he sees God and notices He has something in his hand. The drunk asks “What’s that?” God responds “This is sobriety”. The drunk said “Oh man, I need that! Geez, I need sobriety. How much does that cost?” as he only understands buying things. God returns with “How much do you have?” The drunk says “I have about 20 dollars.” God responds “All right, for you, sobriety costs 20 dollars.” The man, trying to back out of says, “If I give you all twenty dollars, I won’t be able to buy any gas for my car.”

God responds “Oh! so you have a car? I’m sorry, but sobriety is going to cost you your car.”
“Whoa, whoa!” Says the man. “If I give you my car, how am I going to get to my job?”

“You have a job?!” Exclaims God. “No, no, no. Sobriety is going to cost you your job.”
The drunk responds “But, if I give you my job, how am I to pay for my house?” House!!

You have a house!?” God says with surprise. “I thought you lived in a cardboard box under the bridge! Your file is completely out of date! Sobriety is going to cost you your house.”

The man responds “If I give you my house what about my wife and kids?”

“A family! That’s right, you have a family! Yes, yes. Sobriety is going to cost you your family.

The drunk responds “But if I give you all that, what good is my life?”

God states “That’s right. Sobriety costs you your life.”

The alcoholic, because he is at that magic moment of surrender is willing to give his God his money, and his car, and his job, and his house, and his wife and his kids, and his life and for that God gives him sobriety.

Then God looks him deep in the eyes and says:

“All right. I’m going to give you your money back but, it’s not your money anymore, it’s my money. I’m going to let you spend it for me.”

“I’m going to give your car back but, it’s not your car anymore, it’s my car. You get to drive it for me.”

“I’m going to give you your job back but, it’s not your job anymore, it’s my job. You get to work at it for me.”

“I give your house back but, it’s not your house anymore, it’s my home. But, you get to live in it for me.”

“I give your family back to you but, it’s not your family anymore, it’s my family. You get to take care of them for me.”

“I give your life back but, it’s not your life ever again. But, you get to live it for me.”

That’s the deal a loving God makes with us in the 3rd step.

Posted in Sharing

Important information pertaining to the use of AA:

Important information pertaining to the use of AA:

AA is an allergy relief program commonly used to treat and inhibit the use of alcohol and the common defects caused by alcoholism.

AA is designed to reduce the symptoms commonly associated with alcoholism.

When taken as directed AA is known to substantially reduce the negative side effects associated with alcoholism such as :
• Misery
• Depression
• Despair
• Remorse
• Guilt
• Shame
• Physical
• Mental and Spiritual maladies
• Mental obsession
• Physical allergy commonly known as alcoholism

We do not recommend that you use AA unless you are capable of being honest and completely willing to give yourself to this simple program. AA is available for use by those who have a sincere desire to stop drinking.

CAUTION: AA will impair your ability to consume alcohol. If you are using any other substance such as alcohol or any other mind-altering substance we suggest that you discontinue use immediately, as this will cause a substantial reduction in the effect caused by AA.

Some of the most common side effects associated with AA are:
• Honesty
• Hope
• Faith
• Courage
• Integrity
• Willingness
• Humility
• Brotherly love
• Justice
• Perseverance
• Spirituality
• Service

A spiritual awakening and a psychic change have been reported in most cases.

If you are experiencing a resurrection lasting more than four hours, you needn’t seek medical attention, as you may be experiencing the initial effects of AA.

AA has no negative side effects on pregnant women or women who are nursing.

To reduce your risk of chronic relapse, a lifestyle change may be recommended. In 9 out of 10 cases practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.

An increased risk of recovery and long-term spiritual effects have been associated with AA. Consult your Sponsor immediately when changes do occur.

AA should be taken with plenty of open-mindedness and willingness. Do not take AA alone. Independent studies have shown that AA is most effective when working with others.

Always remember it is important that you use AA only as prescribed:

  1. Trust in God
  2. Clean House
  3. Help others

WARNING: Do not skip doses or discontinue use as severe reoccurrence of fatal allergy symptoms may occur.

AA is recommended for long-term daily use. Prodigious results have been found in those who continue long-term use of AA. As with all allergy relief medications, some results may vary, sometimes quickly sometimes slowly.

For more information and to learn more about the AA 12-step program of recovery and alcoholism we suggest you contact your local AA community directly, retain a sponsor, and read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Gordon R.

Posted in Sharing

Promises of NOT working the Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

If we are NOT painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be drunk before we leave the parking lot.
We are going to know a new pain and a new misery.
We will regret our deeds and repeat them over and over.
We will comprehend the word chaos and we will know calamity. No matter how far down the road we stagger, we will still wonder where we are going.
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will intensify.
We will lose interesting things and gain relations with strange fellows.
Self-seeking will be constant.
Our whole attitude will be on the lookout for the cops.
Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us – homeless. We will intuitively know how to stay drunk with little or no money. We will suddenly begin to think that God does not exist.
Are these extravagant promises?
Probably not.
They are being practiced daily, sometimes insanely, sometimes deadly.
They will continue to happen if we keep drinking.