Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Use of profanity in meetings. Acceptable or not? Tolerated or not?

Profanity in the AA fellowship? Acceptable or Not? An essay illustrating the importance of creating a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for the new commer.

Since about 1993 I've attended AA meetings. Inevitably there are some shares that contain profanity. Occasional profanity is tough to avoid and even with an announcement that it's discouraged in the meeting people will slip. Of course this is understandable. In some cases profanity is not just occasional but consistent. I believe excessive use of profanity, talk of politics, sexual innuendo and other "hot topics" are detrimental to the atmosphere and primary purpose of the AA fellowship and should be discouraged wherever possible.

AA's primary purpose is to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers. In most cases these are people new to AA. Mainly people who have never been to an AA meeting or in their first 30 days of abstinence. Our primary purpose is to carry the message of AA. Abstinence from alcohol by recovery from alcoholism through a spiritual awakening brought about by practice of the 12 steps.

AA meetings should, wherever possible, make the newcomer welcome and comfortable without being singled out or put on the spot. We must make our best effort to behave in a manner which everyone commonly agrees would most likely be welcoming and comforting to all who may enter. We can't cater to every personality but we can do our best to cater to most. During meetings, we who have recovered or are in the process of recovering, attempting to be responsible AA members, should demonstrate the spiritual awaking we have achieved or are in the midst of achieving through our behavior and our words.
Sharing our experience strength and hope can easily be done with out expletives, profanity, sexual innuendo or bringing up polarizing political stances or issues.

How does one demonstrate that they have achieved a spiritual awakening and a connection to a Power Greater than themselves through their behavior and words? I have been taught (and most Big Book students would agree) that spirituality revolves around one single and important concept - selflessness. Page 62 of the AA book highlights a very important AA concept.

Selfishness - self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.

If selfishness is the root of our troubles selflessness is surely the solution.


So ultimately selflessness is the essence of spirituality. All manifestations of selflessness in how we behave and in our words are Gods will for us. In Step 6 when we prepare to change and move away from letting character defects rule our behavior we make a concerted effort using OUR WILL to change. Where I may have been dishonest, be honest.  Where I was selfish be more selfless. Where I may have been inconsiderate be more considerate. Where I have hated try to love (sound familiar) The 11th step prayer is a good practical example of how to behave spiritually.

From selflessness grows concern for others, tolerance of others, love for others and RESPECT of others. Use of profanity, sexual innuendo, borderline hate speech, politics or other polarizing topics in meetings jeopardizes are efforts at being respectful and considerate of others feelings, sensitivities, moods etc..

New alcoholics are very sick, skeptical and fragile people. We must do our best to NOT ALIENATE anyone sensitive to profanity, politics, use of sexual innuendo and the like to make our AA meetings the most welcoming and comfortable as possible to anyone who may be at their first AA meeting, new to AA or even new to our group. Our demonstration of spirituality is much more powerful than our talk of spirituality.

We ought to discourage profanity, talk of politics, sexual innuendo or any other polarizing hot topics which may alienate others in an effort to make our meetings comfortable and welcoming to all who may attend.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

11th Step Workshop Web Links

 

Web Links to all the Chris S. 11th Step Workshop Information and Documents.


Go Here To Get All 11th Step Workshop PDF documents

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1NWsg0g0LHJZZSZ63zktSrZ97TM8bDrVM?usp=sharing

Review of the AA program up to step 11

https://neweraspiritual.blogspot.com/2020/02/11-step-workshop-outline.html

Eleventh Step Evening Review directiions pg 86 Alcoholics Anonymous

https://neweraspiritual.blogspot.com/2012/02/aas-morning-and-evening-meditation.html

Eleventh Step Morning Mediation Instructions from pages 86,87,88 AA Book

https://neweraspiritual.blogspot.com/2012/03/aas-morning-and-evening-meditation.html

Morning Meditation Quick Guide

https://neweraspiritual.blogspot.com/2016/06/11th-step-morning-meditation-short-guide.html

Eleventh Step Meditation Instructions from the Twelve and Twelve Book

https://neweraspiritual.blogspot.com/2020/02/eleventh-step-meditation-review-from-12.html

Prayer instructions from the 11th step chapter in the Twelve and Twelve Book

https://neweraspiritual.blogspot.com/2020/02/eleventh-step-guide-to-prayer-as.html

Meditation in the AA early days

http://silkworth.net/dickb/meditation.html







Acceptance. Can I accept without Gods help? My experience is no.

This idea of acceptance is good. I found I need Gods help to learn to accept.
The part of the book, that gets talked about a lot in meetings however is not the program, but from one of the stories. So it's been important for me to understand that. Just learning to accept does not make me a recovered alcoholic. I need a spiritual awakening brought about by doing all 12 steps
Acceptance, I found comes as a result of my relationship with God, not ME learning to accept.
If we look at the serenity prayer.. what are we really asking God for?
"Grant me the serenity to accept"
I need Gods serenity to accept things, because I don't have it within me to completely accept life and all that goes on around me and in the world.
I am sober a long time, but I can still catch a resentment or get in fear just like anyone else, but I have God and the program to continue to grow towards God to help me.
So, in prayer and how I live is how God helps me to accept.  there are no shortcuts I have found. There are many tricks I can use to stay sober early on in my sobriety like just not drink one day at a time, don't drink even if my butt falls off and trying to remember to call another alcoholic if I feel like drinking. these are all great ideas. Trying to accept is another one. But ultimately I do not have the POWER to stay sober permanently on my own.. that's why I need the program of AA and that's why I need a Higher Power, because I lack power myself

For free recovery meetings and chat online please visit:

https://www.12step-meetings-online.com


Thursday, February 13, 2020

Eleventh Step Guide to Prayer as described in the Book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Guide to Prayer from the Twelve and Twelve Book

Chapter Step Eleven
Page 102 p2

Now, what of prayer? Prayer is the raising of the heart and mind to God—and in this sense it includes meditation. How may we go about it? And how does it fit in with meditation? Prayer, as commonly understood, is a petition to God. Having opened our channel as best we can, we try to ask for those right things of which we and others are in the greatest need. And we think that the whole range of our needs is well defined by that part of Step Eleven which says: “...knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” A request for this fits in any part of our day.
 

In the morning we think of the hours to come. Perhaps we think of our day’s work and the chances it may afford us to be useful and helpful, or of some special problem that it may bring. Possibly today will see a continuation of a serious and as yet unresolved problem left over from yesterday. Our immediate temptation will be to ask for specific solutions to specific problems, and for the ability to help other people as we have already thought they should be helped. In that case, we are asking God to do it our way. Therefore, we ought to consider each request carefully to see what its real merit is. Even so, when making specific requests, it will be well to add to each one of them this qualification: “...if it be Thy will.” We ask simply that throughout the day God place in us the best understanding of His will that we can have for that day, and that we be given the grace by which we may carry it out.
 

As the day goes on, we can pause where situations must be met and decisions made, and renew the simple request: “Thy will, not mine, be done.” If at these points our emotional disturbance happens to be great, we will more surely keep our balance, provided we remember, and repeat to ourselves, a particular prayer or phrase that has appealed to us in our reading or meditation. Just saying it over and over will often enable us to clear a channel choked up with anger, fear, frustration, or misunderstanding, and permit us to return to the surest help of all—our search for God’s will, not our own, in the moment of stress. At these critical moments, if we remind ourselves that “it is better to comfort than to be comforted, to understand than to be understood, to love than to be loved,” we will be following the intent of Step Eleven.
 

Of course, it is reasonable and understandable that the question is often asked: “Why can’t we take a specific and troubling dilemma straight to God, and in prayer secure from Him sure and definite answers to our requests?
 

”This can be done, but it has hazards. We have seen A.A.’s ask with much earnestness and faith for God’s explicit guidance on matters ranging all the way from a shattering domestic or financial crisis to correcting a minor personal fault, like tardiness. Quite often, however, the thoughts that seem to come from God are not answers at all. They prove to be well-intentioned unconscious rationalizations. The A.A., or indeed any man, who tries to run his life rig-idly by this kind of prayer, by this self-serving demand of God for replies, is a particularly disconcerting individual. To any questioning or criticism of his actions he instantly proffers his reliance upon prayer for guidance in all matters great or small. He may have forgotten the possibility that his own wishful thinking and the human tendency to rationalize have distorted his so-called guidance. With the best of intentions, he tends to force his own will into all sorts of situations and problems with the comfortable assurance that he is acting under God’s specific direction. Under such an illusion, he can of course create great havoc without in the least intending it.
 

We also fall into another similar temptation. We form ideas as to what we think God’s will is for other people. We say to ourselves, “This one ought to be cured of his fatal malady,” or “That one ought to be relieved of his emotional pain,” and we pray for these specific things. Such prayers, of course, are fundamentally good acts, but often they are based upon a supposition that we know God’s will for the person for whom we pray. This means that side by side with an earnest prayer there can be a certain amount of presumption and conceit in us. It is A.A.’s experience that particularly in these cases we ought to pray that God’s will, whatever it is, be done for others as well as for ourselves.


In A.A. we have found that the actual good results of prayer are beyond question. They are matters of knowledge and experience. All those who have persisted have found strength not ordinarily their own. They have found wisdom beyond their usual capability. And they have increasingly found a peace of mind which can stand firm in the face of difficult circumstances.We discover that we do receive guidance for our lives to just about the extent that we stop making demands upon God to give it to us on order and on our terms. Almost any experienced A.A. will tell how his affairs have taken remarkable and unexpected turns for the better as he tried to improve his conscious contact with God. He will also report that out of every season of grief or suffering, when the hand of God seemed heavy or even unjust, new lessons for living were learned, new resources of courage were uncovered, and that finally, inescapably, the conviction came that God does “move in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.



Excerpts from Twelve and Twelve used under AA fair use policy

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Eleventh step meditation guide from the Twelve and Twelve book chapter "Step Eleven"

How to Meditate as taken from the AA book "12 steps and 12 Traditions" chapter Step Eleven


Twelve and Twelve Page 99:
The actual experience of meditation and prayer across the centuries is, of course, immense. The world’s libraries and places of worship are a treasure trove for all seekers. It is to be hoped that every A.A. who has a religious connection which emphasizes meditation will return to the practice of that devotion as never before. 

But what about the rest of us who, less fortunate, don’t even know how to begin? (this was me) 

Well, we might start like this. First let’s look at a really good prayer. We won’t have far to seek; the great men and women of all religions have left us a wonderful supply. Here let us consider one that is a classic. Its author was a man who for several hundred years now has been rated as a saint. We won’t be biased or scared off by that fact, because although he was not an alcoholic he did, like us, go through the emotional wringer. And as he came out the other side of that painful experience, this prayer was his expression of what he could then see, feel, and wish to become:

Eleventh Step Prayer:

“Lord, make me a channel of thy peace—that where there is hatred, I may bring love—that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness—that where there is discord, I may bring harmony—that where there is error, I may bring truth—that where there is doubt, I may bring faith—that where there is despair, I may bring hope—that where there are shadows, I may bring light—that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted—to understand, than to be understood—to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by for-giving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.”

As beginners in meditation, we might now re-read this prayer several times very slowly, savoring every word and trying to take in the deep meaning of each phrase and idea. 

Here we see how AA suggests to mediate and what their way of mediation is. AA mediation techniques were not taken from the Eastern/Buddhist styles of mediation that became popular in the 1970's. They used biblical mediation practices (refer to the AA mediation history document) The 12 and 12 book was written and published in 1952.  So AA's way of meditation is what is known as CONTEMPLATIVE or CONCENTRATIVE * meditation. This is where one concentrates thoughts on a particular idea or concept. Here we see AA suggesting the same in the 12 and 12. They say they concentrate and deeply "take in" the meaning of the prayer and what it says. They use constructive imagination to apply the ideas of the prayer to their daily lives.

(please see the essay at http://silkworth.net/dickb/meditation.html for excellent information on early AA's meditation techniques)

A great example of this is from the Book "Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers." It explains Dr. Bobs meditation practice.

Dr. Bob’s morning devotion consisted of a short prayer, a 20-minute study of a familiar verse from the Bible, and a quiet period of waiting for directions as to where he, that day, should find use for his talent (Dr. Bob and the Good Old timers, p. 314)

Twelve and Twelve:
It will help if we can drop all resistance to what our friend says. For in meditation, debate has no place. We rest quietly with the thoughts of someone who knows, so that we may experience and learn. As though lying upon a sunlit beach, let us relax and breathe deeply of the spiritual atmosphere with which the grace of this prayer surrounds us. Let us become willing to partake and be strengthened and lifted up by the sheer spiritual power, beauty, and love of which these magnificent words are the carriers. Let us look now upon the sea and ponder what its mystery is; and let us lift our eyes to the far horizon, beyond which we shall seek all those wonders still unseen.

“Shucks!” says somebody. “This is nonsense. It isn’t practical. ”When such thoughts break in, we might recall, a little ruefully, how much store we used to set by imagination as it tried to create reality out of bottles. Yes, we reveled in that sort of thinking, didn’t we? And though sober nowadays, don’t we often try to do much the same thing? Perhaps our trouble was not that we used our imagination. Perhaps the real trouble was our almost total inability to point imagination toward the right objectives. 

So again, here we see AA suggesting using our imagination inspired by the 11th step prayer to think about how we ought to conduct ourselves throughout the day. We think about how we should be in our relationships at home, at work and in our dealings with others. All inspired by the 11th step prayer or other spiritual readings.


Twelve and Twelve:
There’s nothing the matter with constructive imagination; all sound achievement rests upon it. After all, no man can build a house until he first envisions a plan for it. Well, meditation is like that, too; it helps to envision our spiritual objective before we try to move toward it. So let’s get back to that sunlit beach—or to the plains or to the mountains, if you prefer.

When, by such simple devices, we have placed ourselves in a mood in which we can focus undisturbed on constructive imagination, we might proceed like this: Once more we read our prayer, and again try to see what its inner essence is. We’ll think now about the man who first uttered the prayer. First of all, he wanted to become a “channel.” Then he asked for the grace to bring love, forgiveness, harmony, truth, faith, hope, light, and joy to every human being he could.

This idea of bringing love, forgiveness, harmony, truth, faith, hope, light, and joy to every human being he could is at the core of of AA spirituality. It is in how we behave and how we are with others that our spirituality and doing a Higher Power's will is demonstrated. AA spirituality is very much about Faith without works is dead. 

From page 99 of the Big Book:
Now we need more action, without which we find that “Faith without works is dead.” Let’s look at Steps Eight and Nine.

Twelve and Twelve:
Next came the expression of an aspiration and a hope for himself. He hoped, God willing, that he might be able to find some of these treasures, too. This he would try to do by what he called self-forgetting. What did he mean by “self-forgetting,” and how did he propose to accomplish that? He thought it better to give comfort than to receive it; better to understand than to be understood; better to for-give than to be forgiven.

Here we see another example of what AA spirituality is all about. It's again about our behavior with others. How exactly can I attempt to understand than to be understood? Well, personally I find I used to like to talk a lot. I always wanted everyone to listen to ME! But now, as an AA trying to stay recovered the AA way I try to listen more. I make en effort to listen and understand especially if someone is in distress or upset. I'll listen, then perhaps ask questions. A demonstration of selflessness. This is often very useful in working with sponsees which, of course, another important part of the AA program. The 12th step.

Twelve and Twelve
This much could be a fragment of what is called meditation, perhaps our very first attempt at a mood, a flier into the realm of spirit, if you like. It ought to be followed by a good look at where we stand now, and a further look at what might happen in our lives were we able to move closer to the ideal we have been trying to glimpse. Meditation is something which can always be further developed. It has no boundaries, either of width or height. Aided by such instruction and example as we can find, it is essentially an individual adventure, something which each one of us works out in his own way. But its object is always the same: to improve our conscious contact with God, with His grace, wisdom, and love. And let’s always remember that meditation is in reality intensely practical. One of its first fruits is emotional balance. With it we can broaden and deepen the channel between ourselves and God as we understand Him.

* Reference Wikipedia:

In the West, meditation techniques have sometimes been thought of in two broad categories: focused (or concentrative) meditation and open monitoring (or mindfulness) meditation.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Eleventh step workshop AA program review up to step eleven.

  Eleventh step workshop AA program overview.

  • Before we get into how to do the 11th step, let's have a quick review of the first ten steps as described in the book Alcoholics Anonymous to find out exactly why the eleventh step is important why it's suggested to be done everyday morning and evening.
First it's important to understand that Alcoholics are powerless to recover from alcoholism by themselves using self discipline. They cannot quit entirely using their own willpower. They've lost control over their drinking. If they did have willpower, by AA's definition they wouldn't be alcoholic. In fact on pages 20-21 this very subject is talked about. The books solution is directed at "real", "true", hopeless and chronic alcoholics. If I had the power to stop drinking on my own I wouldn't need to be here, I wouldn't have needed to do the program. I would not be alcoholic by AA's definition. It would be a matter of just making a decision to moderate or stop altogether and then doing that. The fact is I can't though, and that's what makes me alcoholic.

AA says alcoholism has two parts:
     A) An allergy of the body
     B) An obsession of the mind.

These two things together are the "hopeless state of mind and body" that is referred to in the forward to the first edition of the AA book. Or in other words.. alcoholism.

We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.

By the way, it's good to note that from this excerpt which is at the very beginning of the book, what the exact purpose of the book is.


The Book Alcoholics Anonymous, states the two part idea of alcoholism over and over and explains alcoholism in about the first 3rd of pages 1 through 164 of the book along with the Doctors opinion.

  • The Doctors Opinion chapter explains the allergy of the body and phenomenon of craving part of alcoholism. 
  • The first part of the chapter "There is a Solution" and all of "More about Alcoholism" explain the obsession of the mind second part of alcoholism. 

Here are few excerpts, this is from page 44:

"If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic."

Also on pg 30: "We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control.

Except in a few rare occasions alcoholics are powerless over alcohol; they lack the power to quit entirely on their own.

The whole idea behind the AA 12 step program of recovery is to find Power to get relief and recover from alcoholism. Well what kind of power? From where? Many of us who have been around AA know the answer already. A Power Greater then ourselves. The Big Book states.

Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power? Well, that’s exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.

So let's quickly go over the steps till we get to eleven.

Roughly speaking the steps are grouped into 3 parts.

  • Steps One, Two and Three are preparation steps to start on the path to a spiritual awakening and a connection with a Power Greater than ourselves. 

1. I admit I have alcoholism and am powerless to treat the illness my self.
2. Believe that some kind of Higher Power can relieve my alcoholism.
3. Decide to try a Higher Powers way and in making a decision to do so demonstrating the decision has been made by taking action and doing the rest of the steps. (reference the 12 and 12 3rd step essay)

  • Steps Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight and Nine are the initial work, action and effort to "seek" God. Just as the ABC's illustrate in "How it Works" read at most meetings.

4. Make a moral inventory to try to uncover our character defects and how they show up and sometimes run our lives. We look at how they surface in what we do and how we behave and have behaved. In this way we uncover the character defects that are blocking us from God. (top of pg 64 AA book)

5. Admit to God, ourselves and another person what we've discovered in the forth step inventory and with the help of God and that other person, find out more about what may be blocking us (through advice, and another persons, (usually our sponsors) perspective on our inventory)

6. and 7. Now with the list of character defects from steps 4 and 5 and how they have shown up in our lives we make an effort to change. We try to not let the character defects, resentments or fear come out in our lives and actually try to live in the opposite direction. For example, where I was dishonest in the past. Be honest. We make an effort with Gods help to change and be more like God would have us be. My sponsor likes to say steps 6 and 7 are about action into right thinking through Gods help. God sees we are making the effort and changes us to the point where are thinking is more aligned with Gods simple will for us.

8. Make a list of ALL people we have harmed in the past and get willing to make amends to them all. (self explanatory) We list anybody we've hurt, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially etc..

9. Go to those people and make reparations, amends, apologies and try to our best to correct our mistakes unless it might harm someone else in the process.

  • Steps 10, 11 and 12 are a continuation and routine of steps one through 9. They are meant as a routine we follow where ever and whenever possible. With steps 10 and 11 meant to be a daily routine.

10. Step 10 is easily summed up. On AA Book page 84:2 Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code. So this is a continuation of steps 4,5,6 and 7.

Now onto step Eleven. Through looking at pages 85,86,87 and 88 of the Book Alcoholics anonymous we discover just what Bill W. and the original AA's did to practice this step.


AA Morning Meditation Explained
  

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Solutions for resentments 4th step


1) New perspective and attitude towards others -- perhaps the people who wronged us were spiritually sick

Big Book page 66 and 67:

This  was  our  course:  We  realized  that  the  people  who   wronged   us   were   perhaps   spiritually   sick. Though  we  did  not  like  their  symptoms  and  the  way  these  disturbed  us,  they,  like  ourselves,  were  sick  too.  We  asked  God  to  help  us  show  them  the  same  toler­ance,  pity,  and  patience  that  we  would  cheerfully  grant  a  sick  friend.  When  a  person  offended  we  said  to ourselves, “This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to  him?  God  save  me  from  being  angry.  Thy  will  be  done.’’ We  avoid  retaliation  or  argument.  We  wouldn’t  treat  sick  people  that  way.  If  we  do,  we  destroy  our  chance  of  being  helpful.  We  cannot  be  helpful  to  all  people,  but  at  least  God  will  show  us  how  to  take  a  kindly  and  tolerant  view  of  each  and  every  one. 


2) Unofficial 4th column from the Big Book:

Referring to our list again. Putting out of our minds the  wrongs  others  had  done,  we  resolutely  looked  for  our  own  mistakes.  Where  had  we  been  selfish,  dis­honest,  self-seeking  and  frightened? Though  a  situa­tion  had  not  been  entirely  our  fault,  we  tried  to  disregard  the  other  person  involved  entirely. Where  were  we  to  blame? The  inventory  was  ours,  not  the  other  man’s.  When  we  saw  our  faults  we  listed  them.  We  placed  them  before  us  in  black  and  white.  We  admitted  our  wrongs  honestly  and  were  willing  to  set  these  matters  straight.  

(see the last part of this post for questions to ask ourselves in filling out he 4th column of the inventory resentment list)

3) From my personal experience:

Looking at our resentments on paper can sometimes bring out their "childishness" or "silliness". Pop the balloon at how immature our resentments and anger can be. I look at what I've written and say to myself what a brat and jerk I have been to harbor such a resentment.

4) The famous "pray for the person you resent" part of one of the stories.

4th column questions:

A) Where was I not considering that others toward whom I felt resentful were "perhaps spiritually sick". Was I inconsiderate, not understanding or acknowledging that they may lack the ability to be the people I think they should be? Have I been DISHONEST with myself in thinking that people who I resent could do or say exactly the way I think they should? Were my expectations unrealistic that this person would be anybody else than who they or are capable of being?

B) What decisions based on self put me in a situation to be resentful or have to even deal with the person for whom I have resentment. 

Example: resentful at police for my DUI. 

My wrongs in the 4th column: being a selfish alcoholic and despite all warnings of society drinking to excess and not thinking of others in the form of neglecting responsibilities and causing trouble for others) If I had not been driving drunk I would never have gotten the DUI and not have the resentment toward the police now.

Character defect: Selfish, self centered (drank because I wanted to feel the way I wanted to feel despite the consequences to others)

Decisions based on self are decisions which involve trying to satisfy the basic instincts illustrated in the beginning of the Step 4 Essay in the 12 and 12 Book. (see page 62 in the AA Book, first full paragraph to for the origin of this concept)

The 3 Human Instincts

  1. Security instinct (Material and emotional)
  2. Social instinct ( having friends and relationships or social prestige.) Social prestige is about holding or ambitions to hold a position/title within a social group, such as a leader, manager, VP, chairperson etc. The desire to feel prestige in any social group we belong to. Could be the AA fellowship, a position at work or a position within any kind of social club.
  3. Sex instinct ( the desire to keep sexual relations or ambitions to have sexual relations)

Many times alcoholics and non-alcoholics make decisions based on fulfillment of these instincts (based on self) without fully considering all the possible problems. The fulfillment of these instincts can be so strong (self centered) that the decisions are made hastily without regard to possible problems because the person is solely thinking of fulfillment of one two or all of them. (making the decision based on self) Later these hasty or poorly made decisions may put them into positions to be resentful or in fear.

So we ask ourselves. Did I make a decision in the past trying to fulfill one two or all of the instincts hastily without fully considering problems (red flags) that may occur as a result of the decision. If so then my wrong or character defect is revealed in the motivation behind the decision.

Another example. I resent my wife, she cheated on me. 

4th column: I made made a bad decision in marrying her in the first place. Before I married her I ignored possible problems because she was so beautiful and made me look good to my friends. I ignored her bad temper, her rudeness to people at times. I let it slide when I caught her occasionally lying to me and her friends and went ahead and married her anyway. She was so beautiful and all my friends thought I was a badass to have her as a wife (fulfilling my sexual instinct and my social prestige). So I went ahead an married her even though the red flags were there that she wasn't very honest and kind at times.  It should be no surprise that she cheated on me. She showed me what kind of person she was long before we got married but I ignored the red flags because she was so beautiful and I liked the attention I got from my friends about her.

Character defects: Lazy: didn't leave her even though the red flags were there. Afraid: thought there would never be another one like her for me. Lust: she was so beautiful and the sex was amazing. Pride: I loved the praise from my friends about my beautiful wife.

C) What wrong(s) did I do to the other person that made them retaliate and create resentment towards them? What wrongs had I done to them that had them turn around and mess with me and then be resentful at them for it?

 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

My personal experience with the A, B, C's

a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives. 
  • I can't stop drinking myself and so therefore alcoholic. My life is unmanageable because while drinking I keep messing it up
 
b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
  • I tried and tried on my own human power to stop drinking and I couldn't. I also tried going to lots of meetings and depending on other humans to stop drinking, it worked for awhile longer but I still drank again.
 
c) That God could and would if he were sought.
  • Finally I broke down and stopped thinking my ideas worked for solving my drinking problem. I surrendered in an AA meeting, asked for help and got a sponsor who took my through the steps. From there I stayed sober and been sober the last 26 years... How do we seek God in AA? It's simple. 
DO THE STEPS!!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

My experience and understanding of Step 1

In the AA Book the instruction for taking the 1st step can be found on the first page of the chapter "More about alcoholism."

Here is the instruction and what they found they needed to do:

"We learned we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholic. This is the first step in recovery."

Many assume that the summary of step 1 found on the list of the 12 steps gives the instruction for taking the step. It does - to a point. But if one does not read all of the Big Book from the Doctors Opinion through to the end of the chapter "More about Alcoholism"  then a thorough knowledge of what AA says alcoholism isn't gained. If one does not thoroughly understand what AA says alcoholism is it will be difficult to fully conceded one has the condition. If somebody doesn't understand that the condition of alcoholism as AA describes it is an allergy of the body coupled with a mental obsession they may not understand how dangerous a condition they might have and fail to be motivated to carry out all the 12 steps.

 Many people make the mistake to dwell on unmanageability and how their lives were unmanageable. This sometimes happens when only looking at the summary of step 1 "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable" This is not the instruction for taking step l.

This is a mistake in that the point is missed about how truly hopeless the condition explained in the book is. An allergy of the body coupled with an obsession of the mind is a dangerous condition and AA say's it's hopeless and chronic.

The 1st step instruction again is:
"We learned we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholic.

So to take the first step is simple. It is just conceding (or admitting) to myself through and through that I have alcoholism. Or fully conceding to my innermost self that I have alcoholism - as alcoholism it is described in the Big Book. Anybody with this hopeless condition usually has an unmanageable life. What alcoholic truly in the cups of alcoholism has a manageable life? Any alcoholic who has tried on their own know they also cannot manage their drinking by themselves.

So, again, how can anyone fully admit that they have a condition unless they understand it? In the beginning I certainly understood how much trouble my drinking caused me, but that is not the same as understanding that I have the condition (or illness) called alcoholism. ( I don't call it a disease here because in the Big Book it is not called a disease)

What I have learned by studying the book is about the first 3rd of the first 164 pages talks about alcoholism as an allergy of the body coupled with a mental obsession of the mind.

I have this same problem and this is how it works:

1) when I drink I cannot control the amount I take. (this is the allergy of the body part of alcoholism which produces a craving once I start to drink)

2) Once my drinking became a problem and I tried to completely abstain, I found I could not do it for very long; at most about 6 months and during those dry months I really suffered from alcoholism. When dry, my untreated alcoholism had symptoms like anxiety, depression, restlessness, irritability, discontentment and fear. If something happened during that time that was too much to take what would I do? I'd go back to what I know gives me the instant comfort -- drinking (and drugs). (This is the mental obsession part of alcoholism and how it works in me)

I found that through doing the 12 steps and thus, seeking a Higher Power, I got freedom and was saved from this problem of body and mind that the Big Book says is alcoholism.

Over 26 years and counting, my life has never been better. I've retired early, don't want for anything. I have a lot of time to help new alcoholics which is one of the most rewarding things I do with my life.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Observations about the 4th step resentment list column 4.

Questions to ask when getting stuck in column 4.

1) What character defects in my thinking have created resentment?
2) What decisions have I made based on self that put me in a position to be resentful? (or fearful -- this question is also useful in the fear inventory).
3) What character defects drove me to make these decisions based on self which put me in a circumstance to be angry?


Most all resentments against people can be reduced to this:

  • I am resentful at someone for doing or not doing something.
  • I am resentful at someone for saying or not saying something.
  • I am resentful at someone for not being the kind of person I would like them to be. 
So resentment has to do with what this person has DONE OR NOT DONE in some manner or another, not just AT the person in general.
The Big Book says they ask themselves: 

Referring to our list again. Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dis­honest, self-seeking and frightened? Though a situa­tion had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man’s. When we saw our faults we listed them. We placed them before us in black and white. We admitted our wrongs honestly and were willing to set these matters straight.


In the sex inventory they also ask:

We reviewed our own conduct over the years past. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, or inconsider­ate?

Inconsiderate:

Example of inconsiderate thinking. 

How am I inconsiderate? I lack the empathy or sympathy to see this person is incapable of being the kind of person that would do or not do things I would like then to do or say or not say things I would like them to say. They are not BEING like I want them to be.

AA says some people, like ourselves are perhaps spiritually sick. The resentment is created by my inability to see this. I lack the perspective or empathy to consider that the person is question may completely lack the ability due to spiritual sickness or other reasons to be like I think they should be so -- I am being inconsiderate.

The resentment portion of the 4th step lists this advice for "mastering" or "escaping" resentment.

 Big Book Page 66 and 67:

How could we escape? We saw that these resentments must be mastered, but how? We could not wish them away any more than alcohol.
 

This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same toler­ance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, “This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.’’ We avoid retaliation or argument. We wouldn’t treat sick people that way. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful. We cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

4th step inventory questions from the 12 and 12 AA book

The 12 Traditions and 12 steps book essays have been a constant inspiration and benefit to me as a practicing AA member and a sponsor. Here I have extracted the inventory questions from the 4th step chapter.

Page 50:

SEX QUESTIONS:

  • When, and how, and in just what instances did my selfish pursuit of the sex relation damage other people and me?
  • What  people were hurt, and how badly? 
  • Did  I  spoil my marriage and injure my children?
  • Did I jeopardize my standing in the community?
  • Just how did I react to these situations at the time?
  • Did I burn with a guilt that nothing could extinguish?
  • Or did I insist that I was the pursued and not the pursuer, and thus absolve myself?
  • How have I reacted to frustration in sexual matters?
  • When denied, did I become vengeful or depressed?
  • Did I take it out on other people?
  • If there was rejection or coldness at home, did I use this as a reason for promiscuity?


FINANCIAL AND EMOTIONAL INSECURITY QUESTIONS:

Also  of importance  for  most  alcoholics are the questions they must ask about their behavior respecting financial and emotional security. In these areas fear, greed, possessiveness, and pride have too often done their worst.Surveying his business or employment record, almost any alcoholic can ask questions like these:

  • In addition to my drinking problem, what character defects contributed to my financial instability?
  • Did fear and inferiority about my fitness for my job destroy my confidence and fill me  with conflict?
  • Did I try to cover up those feelings of inadequacy by bluffing, cheating, lying, or evading responsibility?
  • Or by griping that others failed to recognize my truly exceptional abilities?
  • Did I overvalue myself and play the big shot?
  • Did I have such unprincipled ambition that I double-crossed and undercut my associates? 
  • Was  I  extravagant? Did I recklessly borrow money, caring little whether it was repaid or not?
  • Was I a pinch penny, refusing to support my family properly? Did I cut corners financially?
  • What about the “quick money” deals, the stock market, and the races?

Businesswomen in A.A. will naturally find that many of these questions apply to them, too. But the alcoholic house-wife can also make the family financially insecure. She can juggle charge accounts, manipulate the food budget, spend her afternoons gambling, and run her husband into debt by irresponsibility, waste, and extravagance.

EMOTIONAL INSECURITY:


The most common symptoms of emotional  insecurity are worry, anger, self-pity, and depression. These stem from causes which sometimes seem to be within us, and at other times to come from without. To take inventory in this respect we ought to consider carefully all personal relationships which bring continuous or recurring trouble. It should be remembered that this kind of insecurity may arise in any area where instincts are threatened. Questioning directed to this end might run like this:

Looking at both past and present, what sex situations have caused me anxiety, bitterness, frustration, or depression

  • Appraising each situation fairly, can I see where I have been at fault? 
  • Did these perplexities beset me because of selfishness or unreasonable demands?
  • Or, if my disturbance was seemingly caused by the behavior of others, why do I lack the ability to accept conditions I cannot change? 

These  are  the  sort  of fundamental inquiries that can disclose the source of my discomfort and indicate whether I may be able to alter my own conduct  and so adjust myself serenely to self-discipline.

Suppose that financial insecurity constantly arouses these same feelings. I can ask myself:

1) To what extent have my own mistakes fed my gnawing anxieties. And if the actions of others are part of the cause, what can I do about that? If I am unable to change the present state of affairs,am I willing to take the measures necessary to shape my life to conditions as they are?

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Spiritual Principles

Tolerance, patience, love of one another, kindness, honesty, consideration. These are all spiritual principles that are important for me to put into my life. Why? Because I want continued recovery from alcoholism and this is what AA winds up being about. I need to take ACTION on these principles; actually make an effort to BE tolerant, loving, kind and thoughtful.
When I do this I am doing Gods will, not mine. My will used to be me going through life doing what I wanted and wronging others sometimes to get what I thought I needed.
It is through trying to continue to BE the kind of person that has turned his will and his life over the care of God that I continue to get Gods protection from the insanity of the first drink and a contented life of peace and serenity.
I could not abstain from alcohol and drugs myself for very long. Of course I had to abstain through using self will in the beginning but that would only last for so long. I ultimately needed Gods help to do it permanently and have recovery.
That's what the steps are for, to give me a  spiritual awakening and give me a connection with God strong enough to access Gods power to abstain 100 percent of the time. I could not do that on my own using self discipline. I found out that AA is not about self discipline. It's about relying on a Higher Power, because after all I am powerless over alcohol. Otherwise I wouldn't need AA.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Thankfully AA is not a religion but a simple practical spiritual program of action.

Thankfully AA is not a religion nor is affiliated with any religion. I would not have accepted that when I first came around because I was a staunch atheist. AA is very open when it comes to spirituality. One can choose their own understanding of God. What a wonderful thing. In fact there is no requirement to have any concept of God at all to do the first three steps. Only a willingness to seek. How cool is that! I was able to do the first three steps by just having a willingness to believe that there might be a Higher Power that could help me.. I then did steps 4,5,6 and 7 and then around step 7 I started feeling something helping me stay sober. I came to know that as God or a Higher Force that I accessed by doing the steps. I had 6 months sober; something I had not done in a long time. AA works if you work it.
 
That something I felt helping me after doing my 7th step is what I call God now. I still don't believe in Christ or Buddha or Alah or the God of Abraham, but I believe without a doubt that there is a Higher Force that helps me stay sober if I stay spirituality fit by doing the steps.. In fact I write this because I need to do the 12th step as much as I can.. carry the message. 
 
The message of AA:
 
Recovery from alcoholism and thus abstinence from alcohol through achieving a spiritual awakening by doing the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The simple program of AA. Short summaries I like to use in online meetings.

I've been attending a few online meetings lately. I find, as is the case with many face to face meetings, that the focus tends to be on people talking about methods of using self discipline to stay sober. I think this is mainly because there are quite a few new people who are fresh out of rehab or treatment centers and are using "tips" from these treatment centers to stay sober. Treatment center tips and methods are good in the short term , however, as many of us who do the program of AA know, theses "tips" or methods for not drinking only last so long. No matter how hard a real alcoholic may try to apply self discipline they will ultimately find it ultimately fail. 
I was able to "put my mind to it" or "keep my guard up" for about 2 months at best but would go back to it because of the "obsession of the mind" part of alcoholism that the AA book talks about in the chapter "More about Alcoholism".  

So, here are some short blurbs I use and have heard over the years to try to illustrate in simple language the program of AA.
Trust God, Clean House, Help others. AA is a simple program.

I can't, Higher Power can, I think I'll let Higher Power help me by doing the steps. Simple but not easy at times... action, action and more action. Faith without work is dead - AA

I have an illness that I can't combat myself. If I am willing to seek a God of my own understanding that God will give me power to abstain where i couldn't on my own. How to seek that power is to do the steps.

A) we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives
B) Probably no HUMAN power could have relieved our alcoholism
C) God could and would IF he were sought
Simple but not easy at times - action, action and more action

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Recovered, recovering or "in recovery" What does AA say is possible?

Having been to many thousands of AA meetings over my 26 plus years of sobriety I've heard members announce themselves in a number of different ways.

First simply as an alcoholic.

Secondly, I have introduced myself as a recovered alcoholic now and again. Many of my Big Book enthusiast friends also announce themselves as recovered alcoholics. I usually say (to avoid any confusion) that I am recovered but not cured. I say this because I've been "talked to" by some AA members who confuse the words recovered and cured. They think those words mean the same thing. They think that saying your recovered means your cured. But in the Big Book AA makes a definite distinction between being cured and recovered. Being recovered from an illness does not mean one is necessarily cured. In fact I know I am not cured. I believe that the Big Book says. We are like men who have lost their legs, we never grow new ones. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.

Many members will also tell how they have been in "recovery" X number of years. Or how great "recovery" is and how it changed their lives. This sounds nice but one does not have to be perpetually in recovery.

Still overs will announce themselves as grateful and "recovering" alcoholics.
Some who I have heard introduce themselves this way have many years of sobriety. Why? Why do they still consider themselves recovering? Unfortunately, as is the case all over the world, more than likely they have not studied the literature and not seen or understood that they too can be recovered from alcoholism.

I can understand that new commers or people who have started on but have not yet completed the steps might consider themselves "recovering".  But to have 5, 10, 15 or more years sober and consider oneself recovering. Obviously these folks have not heard the good news. AA says one can be recovered after working all 12 steps! 

Just as the first 100 alcoholics in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" recovered so can you!

I question those who have years of sobriety and announce themselves as "recovering". Why are they still recovering after 5, 10, 15, 20 even 30 years sobriety? It doesn't make sense and is not AA. AA says we can be recovered from alcoholism!

Why this misunderstanding of the program, even from people with years of sobriety? The problem is unfortunately, that there is quite a bit of misinformation about the program of AA being talked about in the fellowship of AA. Much of it is brought in from for profit treatment and rehab "centers" and from "recovery" professionals who have been trained in medical perspectives of addiction and alcoholism. My experience is that many if not most of them have never really studied The Big Book or 12 and 12 that closely. Still other ideas leak in from the other fellowships that have different and a bit watered down view about what the 12 step program is and how to do it.

Fortunately there is the program of AA which is free and promises being able to be recovered through continued practice of the 12 steps.

Throughout the Big Book (The book entitled Alcoholics Anonymous) the authors tell how they had recovered. The word recovered in fact occurs many more times than the word recovering throughout the Big Book and 12 and 12.

In my opinion the word is used because of the HOPE that it can promise. There is light at the end of the tunnel! One does not have to be always "recovering". One does not have to be perpetually "in recovery". In fact after giving this some thought it does not make too much sense. If one is 5,10,15 years sober. Why is it that they have NOT recovered? Why are they still recovering if that haven't had a drink in so long? How can their lives NOT have recovered from the illness.

AA certainly DOES NOT PROMISE A CURE BUT IT DOES PROMISE RECOVERY IF THE 12 STEP PATH IS THOROUGHLY FOLLOWED. SUCH A HOPEFUL THING!

A wonderful thing about the 12 step program of AA is, if it is worked thoroughly, brings about recovery from alcoholism!. We can be recovered! In the Forward to the First edition it states just that.

In fact even the first page of the book where we find the title the sub heading states: The story of how many thousands of men and women have RECOVERED from alcoholism.

The word "recovering" only occurs twice. Once in the family afterward and once in a asterisk sub text in the chapter "A Vision for you" regarding Al Anon. That says a lot already.

Here I will list all the places in the book where the word "recovered" occurs.

FORWARDS:

We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. For them, we hope these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary. We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person. And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all.

    ...      Sixteen years have elapsed between our first printing of this book and the presentation of 1955 of our second edition. In that brief space, Alcoholics Anonymous has mushroomed into nearly 6,000 groups whose membership is far above 150,000 recovered alcoholics. Groups are to be found in each of the United States and all of the provinces of Canada. A.A. has flourishing communities in the British Isles, the Scandinavian countries, South Africa, South America, Mexico, Alaska, Australia and Hawaii. All told, promising beginnings have been made in some 50 foreign countries and U.S. possessions. Some are just now taking shape in Asia. Many of our friends encourage us by saying that this is but a beginning, only the augury of a much larger future ahead.

    ...      Hence the two men set to work almost frantically upon alcoholics arriving in the ward of the Akron City Hospital. Their very first case, a desperate one, recovered immediately and became A.A. number three. He never had another drink. This work at Akron continued through the summer of 1935. There were many failures, but there was an occasional heartening success. When the broker returned to New York in the fall of 1935, the first A.A. group had actually been formed, though no one realized it at the time.


AA     The Doctor's Opinion

    ...       In the course of his third treatment he acquired certain ideas concerning a possible means of recovery. As part of his rehabilitation he commenced to present his conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that they must do likewise with still others. This has become the basis of a rapidly growing fellowship of these men and their families. This man and over one hundred others appear to have recovered.

AA     Ch. 2 There Is A Solution
    ...      We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, know thousands of men and women who were once just as hopeless as Bill. Nearly all have recovered. They have solved the drink problem.

    ...      You may already have asked yourself why it is that all of us became so very ill from drinking. Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking What do I have to do?"

    ...      Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered. These are followed by three dozen personal experiences.

AA     Ch. 4 We Agnostics
    ...      If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried. We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there. Our human resources, as marshalled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly.

AA     Ch. 7 Working with Others
    ...      Sometimes it is wise to wait till he goes on a binge. The family may object to this, but unless he is in a dangerous physical condition, it is better to risk it. Don't deal with him when he is very drunk, unless he is ugly and the family needs your help. Wait for the end of the spree, or at least for a lucid interval. Then let his family or a friend ask him if he wants to quit for good and if he would go to any extreme to do so. If he says yes, then his attention should be drawn to you as a person who has recovered. You should be described to him as one of a fellowship who, as part of their own recovery, try to help others and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you.

...      If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience. We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us. But point out that we alcoholics have much in common and that you would like, in any case, to be friendly. Let it go at that. Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not respond at once. Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer. We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you. If you leave such a person alone, he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself. To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy. One of our Fellowship failed entirely with his first half dozen prospects. He often says that if he had continued to work on them, he might have deprived many others, who have since recovered, of their chance.

AA     Ch. 8 To Wives
    ...      If he is enthusiastic your cooperation will mean a great deal. If he is lukewarm or thinks he is not an alcoholic, we suggest you leave him alone. Avoid urging him to follow our program. The seed has been planted in his mind. He knows that thousands of men, much like himself, have recovered. But don't remind him of this after he has been drinking, for he may be angry. Sooner or later, you are likely to find him reading the book once more. Wait until repeated stumbling convinces him he must act, for the more you hurry him the longer his recovery may be delayed.

AA     Ch. 9 The Family Afterward
    ...      So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we bust into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn't we laugh? We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.
    ...      Now about health: A body badly burned by alcohol does not often recover overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling. We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restorative. We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health. But we have seen remarkable transformations in our bodies. Hardly one of our crowd now shows any dissipation.

AA     Ch. 10 To Employers
    ...      After your man has gone along without drinking for a few months, you may be able to make use of his services with other employees who are giving you the alcoholic run-around -- provided, of course, they are willing to have a third party in the picture. An alcoholic who has recovered, but holds a relatively unimportant job, can talk to a man with a better position. Being on a radically different basis of life, he will never take advantage of the situation. 

The word "recovering"

Ch. 9 The Family Afterward
    ...      Our women folk have suggested certain attitudes a wife may take with the husband who is recovering. Perhaps they created the impression that he is to be wrapped in cotton wool and placed on a pedestal. Successful readjustment means the opposite. All members of the family should meet upon the common ground of tolerance, understanding and love. This involves a process of deflation. The alcoholic, his wife, his children, his "in-laws," each one is likely to have fixed ideas about the family's attitude towards himself or herself. Each is interested in having his or her wishes respected. We find the more one member of the family demands that the others concede to him, the more resentful they become. This makes for discord and unhappiness.

AA     Ch. 11 A Vision for You
    ...      * Written in 1939, when there were few women in A.A., this chapter assumes that the alcoholic in the home is likely to be the husband. But many of the suggestions given here may be adapted to help the person who lives with a woman alcoholic -- whether she is still drinking or is recovering in A.A. A further source of help is noted on page 121.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Recovery shortcuts? There aren't any. The program is the 12 steps

       As nice as some things sound in meetings much of what gets said in meetings may seem like it could be the program but is not. The literature is very clear about what to do. The program is the 12 steps. Much of the work, while simple to understand, is not easy to do. Some of the 12 steps require great effort on our part. There are no shortcuts to being a recovered alcoholic.

Here is a list of some of the ideas or suggestions I've heard in meetings that don't line up with with the Alcoholics Anonymous program of recovery found in the Big Book or 12 and 12.


* I just don't drink one day at a time even if my ass falls off.

* I just do what works for me.

* I just need to go to meetings, not drink in between, and talk about what's going on with me.

* 10 minutes of Buddhist meditation each day is my answer.

* I need to learn how to accept life on life's terms.

* I just need to learn to stay in the now.

* I just don't drink no matter what.

* I do whatever I need to do to stay sober today.

* I just need to play the tape back before I take that first drink

* I just need to remember my last drunk.

None of these things are the AA program of recovery. They all imply that sobriety / recovery is a matter of self control or will power. This is not the case at all. The program is NOT about developing self control. It's about developing a conscious contact with a Power Greater to get recovery. AA specifically says on pg. 30 of the Big Book. "We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking"

The above ideas may help some people not drink for awhile but for real alcoholics these are only band-aids or stop gap measures and don't address the root of the problem - the mental obsession part of alcoholism. AA says, throughout the literature, that relief of the mental obsession (or insanity of the first drink) is obtained through access to a Power Greater than oneself by working the 12 steps.

In the chapter "More about Alcoholism" the description of the mental obsession part of alcoholism is repeated over and over with a few stories thrown in to illustrate how it may manifest in an alcoholics life. Then the very last paragraph of that chapter states again the point they've been making. I'll quote it here.


Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power. 
AA Big Book Pg. 43 chapter "More about Alcoholism"


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The AA program. Action, action and still more action.

Over the years that I've studied AA literature I see that the 12 step program is primarily focused on action - spiritual action. In fact in the book Alcoholics Anonymous the program is described as a practical program of action.  It is through a daily routine of spiritual action that I grow my spirituality and thus continue my relationship with my Higher Power who gives me a daily reprieve from my alcoholism.

I've done a search of the AA Big Book in an effort to show just how much action is emphasized. I see now it is not so much a "thinking" program as it is a "doing" program and quite simple.

I'll start by putting one of my favorite quotes from the AA Book and then the rest are in order taken only from the program portion of the book; the first 164 pages.


To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action.  - Pg. 93


But he did no ranting. In a matter of fact way he told how two men had appeared in court, persuading the judge to suspend his commitment. They had told of a simple religious idea and a practical program of action. That was two months ago and the result was self-evident. It worked! - Pg. 9 "Bills Story"


The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism. - Pg 16 "There is a Solution"


"Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action which a hundred of them had followed successfully. Though I had been only a nominal churchman, their proposals were not, intellectually, hard to swallow. But the program of action, though entirely sensible, was pretty drastic. It meant I would have to throw several lifelong conceptions out of the window. - Pg 42 "More about Alcoholism"


Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning.  - Pg 63 "How it Works"


HAVING MADE our personal inventory, what shall we do about it? We have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with our Creator, and to discover the obstacles in our path. We have admitted certain defects; we have ascertained in a rough way what the trouble is; we have put our finger on the weak times in our personal inventory. Now these are about to be cast out. This requires action on our part, which, when completed, will mean that we have admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our defects. This brings us to the Fifth Step in the program of recovery mentioned in the preceding chapter. - Pg 72 "Into Action"


Now we need more action, without which we find that “Faith without works is dead.” Let’s look at Steps Eight and Nine. - Pg. 76 "Into Action"

It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. - Pg. 85

We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined. But this is not all. There is action and more action. “Faith without works is dead.” The next chapter is entirely devoted to Step Twelve.  - Pg. 88


Outline the program of action, explaining how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him. - Pg. 94


Now, the domestic problem: There may be divorce, separation, or just strained relations. When your prospect has made such reparation as he can to his family, and has thoroughly explained to them the new principles by which he is living, he should proceed to put those principles into action at home. - Pg. 98


After satisfying yourself that your man wants to recover and that he will go to any extreme to do so, you may suggest a definite course of action. Pg 142


The two friends spoke of their spiritual experience and told him about the course of action they carried out. - Pg 157








Wednesday, August 28, 2019

In response to a forum post - Am I an alcoholic?

At times I visit recovery forums and occasionally reply to posts. Today I replied to a post in a forum called " I drink too much". A man asked a question regarding his drinking behavior. He described being able to stop for awhile but when he started again he could not stop even after having just a couple of drinks. Below is my response.

The book "Alcoholics Anonymous" describes alcoholism as an "Allergy of the body" coupled with an "Obsession of the mind"
 
An allergy is an "abnormal reaction to a substance"
 
At the beginning of the AA book in the chapter "The Doctors Opinion" the doctor goes on to describe how the allergy works in alcoholics. In short it means that alcoholics can't stop drinking once they start. Moderation is extremely difficult if not impossible for chronic or "real" alcoholics.
 
There are people with drinking problems that are not necessarily alcoholic IF they can moderate or stop altogether using their own will power. These people are considered "hard drinkers" in the AA book. Page 20 and 21.
 
In the AA book they also describe the "mental obsession" or obsession of the mind. The mental obsession makes it very difficult for an alcoholic to stay sober for as along as they may want to. Most "real" alcoholics as described in the AA book want to stop but cannot do it permanently on their own will power. They cannot at CERTAIN TIMES use their own will power to keep from that first drink.
 
so in short - alcoholism is a LACK OF THE ABILITY TO CONTROL ONES DRINKING. -- this is as described by Alcoholics Anonymous.
 
The medical community may have many definitions or "symptoms" to describe alcoholism but that hasn't been important to me. I fit the description of alcoholism that AA gives so I use AA's solution to abstain from drinking. I cannot safely drink even one drink because I'll just keep going once I start.
 
I also found that trying to keep from drinking on my own didn't usually work for more than about 2 months... most of the time less. I tried for 3 years. Then I went to AA and asked for help, got a sponsor and started doing the 12 steps. That was 26 years ago and I am grateful to AA's simple 12 step program for my sobriety.

So I "identify" as an alcoholic as AA describes alcoholism and was able to see just how hopeless and dangerous a condition I have. Knowing that has motivated me to do all the 12 steps. Today I am a sponsor, have a sponsor, regularly attend meetings and practice steps 10,11 and 12 as best I can each day. Thanks to a Higher Power and the program of AA I have been sober for many years now.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Describing Alcoholism as a spiritual malady in meetings? This could be "leading with the chin" and not helpful to new commers

I've been to a lot of meetings over my 26 years sober in AA. Another "party line" that people like to repeat in AA is how alcoholism is not only an problem of mind and body but a spiritual malady also. While being correct in my view it's not a good idea to talk about that a lot in meetings, especially meetings with many new commers.


To people who like to go on about that I ask ... please show me in the Big Book or in the 12 and 12 where it goes into detail describing Alcoholism as a spiritual malady and then you can justify going on about that in meetings.
 
It's a popular party line in the meetings to say it's also a spiritual malady but it is not useful to start telling that to new commers. That is why it is only briefly mentioned once in one sentence in the 4th step portion of our Big Books first 164 pages.
 
There is however an entire section called the Doctors Opinion that goes into depth describing the physical allergy - phenomenon of craving part of alcoholism.
 
There is an entire chapter called "More About Alcoholism" that goes into depth about the mental obsession portion of alcoholism .... as AA describes Alcoholism
 
Carl Jung's writings to this effect seem to be correct due to the success of AA but Carl Jung's literature is not a part of the AA program. However interesting it may be his writings are not officially AA . When first working with newcommers I never go on about alcoholism being a spiritual malady ... that is what AA calls "leading with the chin". Its' borderline evangelical which drives some from AA and has them telling their friends that AA is a bunch of Jesus freaks and never going back, possibly dying drunk having been improperly introduced to the program. It is best to stick with what AA says in the chapter "Working with Others." We describe how the problem of body and mind worked in  the our problem drinking and how we discovered that we were alcoholic. Later on when a newcommer is curious about how we recovered, then we talk about spirituality and working the steps - not before talking about what AA says alcoholism is and how we could not control our drinking because of it.
 
I have sponsored many men over the years and I use the chapter "Working with Others" as my guideline. It specifically says to NOT talk about God or spirituality in the beginning when approaching a new alcoholic to help. Be careful, if that's what you are doing you might be driving alcoholics away who could use a more delicate approach to God and spirituality.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Voluntary versus selected sharing at meetings

If you've been an AA member awhile you've probably been to meetings that have different formats. Some meetings have open voluntary sharing where people can just chime in and share whenever they want. At other meetings members are called on to share. In still other meetings the sharing format is to go around the room until meeting time is over. Still in other meetings the tradition is to raise hands and wait to be called on - a variation on open voluntary sharing. The same goes for time. Some meetings time shares, others leave that open, still others suggest time limits.

Recently I started my own group with a couple of my sponsees and modeled the format and mission statement after my sponsors group in Los Angeles. My sponsor started a Big Book group that does not allow voluntary sharing at it's meetings - in fact it is part of their group mission statement. In other words when meetings are opened for sharing people cannot just share when the feel like it. Attendees are called on by the meeting leader and then in the last 10 minutes of the meeting there is a lottery drawing allowing for others to share at random.

What are the advantages and disadvantages or voluntary sharing? What about selected sharing where people wait to be called on?

I've found that at some meetings with open or "voluntary" sharing that those groups find they have attendees who always like to share first, last or may enjoy waiting for a few others to share and then make comments on previous shares.

What is best? Open voluntary sharing? Selected sharing? 

In the area where I live all meetings except meetings of my group have open voluntary sharing. Time and again some individuals will always try to share last to have the last word. Still others like to share early and then share off topic and talk about things other than how to recover the AA way.  One particular individual in some of these open share meetings likes to share about his tennis game and usually shows up 20 minutes late!

Voluntary open sharing can also lead to a slow start. Almost every meeting I go to in my area that has open sharing starts off slow. The leader announces "and now the meeting is open for sharing" and then there is a long pause of silence. For whatever reason people are hesitant to share first. Having selected sharing takes care of this problem. No hesitation to start sharing, people who wish to wait till last.

I think open sharing is fine IF members of the group understand what should ideally be shared and talked about at the meetings. But it seems that these days many AA meetings don't carry the true message of AA. Some meetings are made up of "meeting makers"  instead of people who put the steps in their lives and truly carry the message. The program of recovery through working the steps gets lost. Those meetings don't carry the simple message. The AA message is recovery from alcoholism through a spiritual awakening brought about by doing the steps.

In order for my group to keep it's meetings on point we chose to have selected sharing so members attending will hear the true message of AA. We have found a way to somewhat control, if we need to, the message being carried at our meetings. We have a way to limit sharing by those who might talk about things other than recovery the AA way.

I have found that in order for myself and my sponsees to effectively carry the AA message that we need to keep in mind that in our meetings someone may be there that has NEVER been to an AA meeting before in their lives. We want to do our best to accurately and effectively 1) Allow new attendees to identify as alcoholics with existing members. 2) Share how we've recovered from alcoholism through spirituality brought about by doing the 12 steps.