Wednesday, August 31, 2011
WILLINGNESS TO GROW
If more gifts are to be received, our awakening has to go
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 8
Sobriety fills the painful "hole in the soul" that my
alcoholism created. Often I feel so physically well that I
believe my work is done. However, joy is not just the
absence of pain; it is the gift of continued spiritual
awakening. Joy comes from ongoing and active study, as
well as application of the principles of recovery in my
everyday life, and from sharing that experience with others.
My Higher Power presents many opportunities for deeper
spiritual awakening. I need only to bring into my recovery
the willingness to grow. Today I am ready to grow.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
A UNIQUE PROGRAM
Alcoholics Anonymous will never have a professional class.
We have gained some understanding of the ancient words
"Freely ye have received, freely give." We have discovered
that at the point of professionalism, money and spirituality
do not mix.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 166
I believe that Alcoholics Anonymous stands alone in the
treatment of alcoholism because it is based solely on the
principle of one alcoholic sharing with another alcoholic.
This is what makes the program unique. When I decided
that I wanted to stay sober, I called a woman who I knew
was a sober member of A.A., and she carried the message
of Alcoholics Anonymous to me. She received no monetary
compensation, but rather was paid by staying sober another
day herself. Today I could ask for no payment other than
another day free from alcohol, so in that respect, I am
generously paid for my labor.
THE ONLY REQUIREMENT . . .
"At one time . . . every A. A. group had many membership
rules. Everybody was scared witless that something or
somebody would capsize the boat. . . . The total list was a
mile long. If all those rules had been in effect everywhere,
nobody could have possibly joined A.A. at all, . . . "
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, pp. 139-40
I'm grateful that the Third Tradition only requires of me a
desire to stop drinking. I had been breaking promises for
years. In the Fellowship I didn't have to make promises, I
didn't have to concentrate. It only required my attending
one meeting, in a foggy condition, to know I was home. I
didn't have to pledge undying love. Here, strangers hugged
me. "It gets better," they said, and "One day at a time, you
can do it." They were no longer strangers, but caring
friends. I ask God to help me to reach out to people desiring
sobriety, and to, please, keep me grateful!
Monday, August 29, 2011
I CHOOSE ANONYMITY
We are sure that humility, expressed by anonymity, is the
greatest safeguard that Alcoholics Anonymous can ever
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 187
Since there are no rules in A.A. I place myself where I want
to be, and so I choose anonymity. I want my God to use
me, humbly, as one of His tools in this program. Sacrifice
is the art of giving of myself freely, allowing humility to
replace my ego. With sobriety, I suppress that urge to cry
out to the world, "I am a member of A.A." and I experience
inner joy and peace. I let people see the changes in me and
hope they will ask what happened to me. I place the
principles of spirituality ahead of judging, fault-finding,
and criticism. I want love and caring in my group, so I can
Everyone can understand from natural experience and common sense that affection is crucial from the day of birth; it is the basis of life. The very survival of our body requires the affection of others, to whom we also respond with affection. Though mixed with attachment, this affection is not based on physical or sexual attraction, so it can be extended to all living beings without bias.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
LIGHTENING THE BURDEN
Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the
very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now.
. . . the dark past is . . . the key to life and happiness for
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 124
Since I have been sober, I have been healed of many pains:
deceiving my partner, deserting my best friend, and
spoiling my mother's hopes for my life. In each case
someone in the program told me of a similar problem, and I
was able to share what happened to me. When my story
was told, both of us got up with lighter hearts.
Friday, August 26, 2011
CENTERING OUR THOUGHTS
When World War II broke out, our A. A. dependence on a
Higher Power had its first major test. A.A.'s entered the
services and were scattered all over the world. Would they
be able to take the discipline, stand up under fire, and
endure . . . ?
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 200
I will center my thoughts on a Higher Power. I will
surrender all to this power within me. I will become a
soldier for this power, feeling the might of the spiritual
army as it exists in my life today. I will allow a wave of
spiritual union to connect me through my gratitude,
obedience and discipline to this Higher Power. Let me
allow this power to lead me through the orders of the day.
May the steps I take today strengthen my words and deeds,
may I know that the message I carry is mine to share, given
freely by this power greater than myself.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
GIVING IT AWAY
Though they knew they must help other alcoholics if they
would remain sober, that motive became secondary. It was
transcended by the happiness they found in giving
themselves to others.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 159
Those words, for me, refer to a transference of power,
through which God, as I understand Him, enters my life.
Through prayer and meditation, I open channels, then I
establish and improve my conscious contact with God.
Through action I then receive the power I need to maintain
my sobriety each day. By maintaining my spiritual
condition, by giving away what has been so freely given to
me, I am granted a daily reprieve.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
THE GIFT OF BONDING
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 63
Many times in my alcoholic state, I drank to establish a
bond between myself and others, but I succeeded only in
establishing the bondage of alcoholic loneliness. Through
the A.A. way of life, I have received the gift of bonding—
with those who were there before me, with those who are
there now, and with those yet to come. For this gracious
gift from God, I am forever grateful.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
A RIDDLE THAT WORKS
It may be possible to find explanations of spiritual
experiences such as ours, but I have often tried to explain
my own and have succeeded only in giving the story of it. I
know the feeling it gave me and the results it has brought,
but I realize I may never fully understand its deeper why
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 313
I had a profound spiritual experience during an open A.A.
meeting, which led me to blurt out, "I'm an alcoholic!" I
have not had a drink since that day. I can tell you the words
I heard just prior to my admission, and how those words
affected me, but as to why it happened, I do not know. I
believe a power greater than myself chose me to recover,
yet I do not know why. I try not to worry or wonder about
what I do not yet know; instead, I trust that if I continue to
work the Steps, practice the A.A. principles in my life, and
share my story, I will be guided lovingly toward a deep and
mature spirituality in which more will be revealed to me.
For the time being, it is a gift for me to trust God, work the
Steps and help others.
BRINGING THE MESSAGE HOME
Can we bring the same spirit of love and tolerance into our
sometimes deranged family lives that we bring to our A.A.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, pp. 111-12
My family members suffer from the effects of my disease.
Loving and accepting them as they are— just as I love and
accept A.A. members—fosters a return of love, tolerance
and harmony to my life. Using common courtesy and
respecting others' personal boundaries are necessary
practices for all areas of my life.
Monday, August 22, 2011
SEEKING EMOTIONAL STABILITY
When we developed still more, we discovered the best
possible source of emotional stability to be God Himself. We
found that dependence upon His perfect justice, forgiveness,
and love was healthy, and that it would work where nothing
else would. If we really depended upon God, we couldn't
very well play God to our fellows nor would we feel the
urge wholly to rely on human protection and care.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 116
All my life I depended on people for my emotional needs
and security, but today I cannot live that way anymore. By
the grace of God, I have admitted my powerlessness over
people, places and things. I had been a real "people addict";
wherever I went there had to be someone who would pay
some kind of attention to me. It was the kind of attitude that
could only get worse, because the more I depended on
others and demanded attention, the less I received.
I have given up believing that any human power can
relieve me of that empty feeling. Although I remain a
fragile human being who needs to work A.A.'s Steps to
keep this particular principle before my personality, it is
only a loving God who can give me inner peace and
Sunday, August 21, 2011
WE JUST TRY
My stability came out of trying to give, not out of
demanding that I receive.
THE BEST OF BILL, pp. 46-47
As long as I try, with all my heart and soul, to pass along to
others what has been passed along to me, and do not
demand anything in return, life is good to me. Before
entering this program of Alcoholics Anonymous I was
never able to give without demanding something in return.
Little did I know that, once I began to give freely of myself,
I would begin to receive, without ever expecting or
demanding anything at all. What I receive today is the gift
of "stability," as Bill did: stability in my A.A. program;
within myself; but most of all, in my relationship with my
Higher Power, whom I choose to call God.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
TOWARD EMOTIONAL FREEDOM
Since defective relations with other human beings have
nearly always been the immediate cause of our woes,
including our alcoholism, no field of investigation could
yield more satisfying and valuable rewards than this one.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 80
Willingness is a peculiar thing for me in that, over a period
of time, it seems to come, first with awareness, but then
with a feeling of discomfort, making me want to take some
action. As I reflected on taking the Eighth Step, my
willingness to make amends to others came as a desire for
forgiveness, of others and myself. I felt forgiveness toward
others after I became aware of my part in the difficulties of
relationships. I wanted to feel the peace and serenity
described in the Promises. From working the first seven
Steps, I became aware of whom I had harmed and that I had
been my own worst enemy. In order to restore my
relationships with my fellow human beings, I knew I would
have to change. I wanted to learn to live in harmony with
myself and others so that I could also live in emotional
freedom. The beginning of the end to my isolation— from
my fellows and from God—came when I wrote my Eighth
Friday, August 19, 2011
A FRAME OF REFERENCE
Referring to our list [inventory] 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?
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 67
There is a wonderful freedom in not needing constant
approval from colleagues at work or from the people I love.
I wish I had known about this Step before, because once I
developed a frame of reference, I felt able to do the next
right thing, knowing that the action fit the situation and that
it was the correct thing to do.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Very deep, sometimes quite forgotten, damaging emotional
conflicts persist below the level of consciousness.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, pp. 79-80
Only through positive action can I remove the remains of
guilt and shame brought on by alcohol. Throughout my
misadventures when I drank, my friends would say, "Why
are you doing this? You're only hurting yourself." Little did
I know how true were those words. Although I harmed
others, some of my behavior caused grave wounds to my
soul. Step Eight provides me with a way of forgiving myself.
I alleviate much of the hidden damage when I make
my list of those I have hurt. In making amends, I free
myself of burdens, thus contributing to my healing.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
RIGHTING THE HARM
In many instances we shall find that though the harm done
others has not been great, the emotional harm we have
done ourselves has.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 79
Have you ever thought that the harm you did a business
associate, or perhaps a family member, was so slight that it
really didn't deserve an apology because they probably
wouldn't remember it anyway? If that person, and the
wrong done to him, keeps coming to mind, time and again,
causing an uneasy or perhaps guilty feeling, then I put that
person's name at the top of my "amends list," and become
willing to make a sincere apology, knowing I will feel calm
and relaxed about that person once this very important part
of my recovery is accomplished.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The compassion we feel normally is biased and mixed with attachment. Genuine compassion flows towards all living beings, particularly your enemies. If I try to develop compassion towards my enemy, it may not benefit him directly, he may not even be aware of it. But it will immediately benefit me by calming my mind. On the other hand, if I dwell on how awful everything is, I immediately lose my peace of mind.
"I HAD DROPPED OUT"
We might next ask ourselves what we mean when we say
that we have "harmed" other people. What kinds of "harm"
do people do one another, anyway? To define the word
"harm" in a practical way, we might call it the result of
instincts in collision, which cause physical, mental,
emotional, or spiritual damage to people.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 80
I had been to Eighth Step meetings, always thinking, "I
really haven't harmed many people, mostly myself." But the
time came when I wrote my list out and it was not as short
as I thought it would be. I either liked you, disliked you, or
needed something from you—it was that simple. People
hadn't done what I wanted them to do and intimate relationships
were out of hand because of my partners'
unreasonable demands. Were these "sins of omission"?
Because of my drinking, I had "dropped out"—never
sending cards, returning calls, being there for other people,
or taking part in their lives. What a grace it has been to look
at these relationships, to make my inventories in quiet,
alone with the God of my understanding, and to go forth
daily, with a willingness to be honest and forthright in my
Monday, August 15, 2011
DIDN'T WE HURT ANYBODY?
Some of us, though, tripped over a very different snag. We
clung to the claim that when drinking we never hurt
anybody but ourselves.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 79
This Step seemed so simple. I identified several people
whom I had harmed, but they were no longer available.
Still, I was uneasy about the Step and avoided
conversations dealing with it. In time I learned to
investigate those Steps and areas of my life which made me
uncomfortable. My search revealed my parents, who had
been deeply hurt by my isolation from them; my employer,
who worried about my absences, my memory lapses, my
temper; and the friends I had shunned, without explanation.
As I faced the reality of the harm I had done, Step Eight
took on new meaning. I am no longer uncomfortable and I
feel clean and light.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
BREAKING NEWS! Cincinnati Bengals football practice was delayed nearly two hours yesterday after a player reported finding an unknown white powdery substance on the practice field. Marvin Lewis immediately suspended practice while police were called to investigate. After complete analysis experts determined that the white substance unknown to players was the GOAL LINE. Practice resumed after it was decided the team was unlikely to encounter the substance again.
REPAIRING THE DAMAGE
We attempt to sweep away the debris which has accumulated
out of our effort to live on self-will and run the
show ourselves. If we haven't the will to do this, we ask
until it comes. Remember it was agreed at the beginning
we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 76
Making a list of people I had harmed was not a particularly
difficult thing to do. They had showed up in my Fourth
Step inventory: people towards whom I had resentments,
real or imagined, and whom I had hurt by acts of
retaliation. For my recovery to be thorough, I believed it
was not important for those who had legitimately harmed
me to make amends to me. What is important in my
relationship with God is that I stand before Him, knowing I
have done what I can to repair the damage I have done.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
A CLEAN SWEEP
. . . and third, having thus cleaned away the debris of the
past, we consider how, with our newfound knowledge of
ourselves, we may develop the best possible relations with
every human being we know.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 77
As I faced the Eighth Step, everything that was required for
successful completion of the previous seven Steps came
together: courage, honesty, sincerity, willingness and
thoroughness. I could not muster the strength required for
this task at the beginning, which is why this Step reads
"Became willing. . . ."
I needed to develop the courage to begin, the honesty to
see where I was wrong, a sincere desire to set things right,
thoroughness in making a list, and willingness to take the
risks required for true humility. With the help of my Higher
Power in developing these virtues, I completed this Step
and continued to move forward in my quest for spiritual
Friday, August 12, 2011
A LOOK BACKWARD
First, we take a look backward and try to discover where
we have been at fault; next we make a vigorous attempt to
repair the damage we have done; . . .
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 77
As a traveler on a fresh and exciting A.A. journey of
recovery, I experienced a newfound peace of mind and the
horizon appeared clear and bright, rather than obscure and
dim. Reviewing my life to discover where I had been at
fault seemed to be such an arduous and dangerous task. It
was painful to pause and look backward. I was afraid I
might stumble! Couldn't I put the past out of my mind and
just live in my new golden present? I realized that those in
the past whom I had harmed stood between me and my
desire to continue my movement toward serenity. I had to
ask for courage to face those persons from my life who still
lived in my conscience, to recognize and deal with the guilt
that their presence produced in me. I had to look at the
damage I had done, and become willing to make amends.
Only then could my journey of the spirit resume.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
REMOVING "THE GROUND GLASS"
The moral inventory is a cool examination of the damages
that occurred to us during life and a sincere effort to look
at them in a true perspective. This has the effect of taking
the ground glass out of us, the emotional substance that
still cuts and inhibits.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 140
My Eighth Step list used to drag me into a whirlpool of
resentment. After four years of sobriety, I was blocked by
denial connected with an ongoing abusive relationship. The
argument between fear and pride eased as the words of the
Step moved from my head to my heart. For the first time in
years I opened my box of paints and poured out an honest
rage, an explosion of reds and blacks and yellows. As I
looked at the drawing, tears of joy and relief flowed down
my cheeks. In my disease, I had given up my art, a selfinflicted
punishment far greater than any imposed from
outside. In my recovery, I learned that the pain of my
defects is the very substance God uses to cleanse my
character and to set me free.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Until you have the inner discipline that brings calmness of mind, external facilities and conditions will never bring the joy and happiness you seek. On the other hand, if you possess this inner quality, calmness of mind, a degree of stability within, even if you lack the various external factors that you would normally require to be happy, it will still be possible to live a happy and joyful life.
REDOUBLING OUR EFFORTS
To a degree, he has already done this when taking moral
inventory, but now the time has come when he ought to
redouble his efforts to see how many people he has hurt,
and in what ways.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 77
As I continue to grow in sobriety, I become more aware of
myself as a person of worth. In the process, I am better able
to see others as persons, and with this comes the realization
that these were people whom I had hurt in my drinking
days. I didn't just lie, I lied about Tom. I didn't just cheat, I
cheated Joe. What were seemingly impersonal acts, were
really personal affronts, because it was people —people of
worth—whom I had harmed. I need to do something about
the people I have hurt so that I may enjoy a peaceful
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
". . . OF ALL PERSONS WE HAD HARMED"
. . . and became willing to make amends to them all.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 77
One of the key words in the Eighth Step is the word all. I
am not free to select a few names for the list and to
disregard others. It is a list of all persons I have harmed. I
can see immediately that this Step entails forgiveness
because if I'm not willing to forgive someone, there is little
chance I will place his name on the list. Before I placed the
first name on my list, I said a little prayer: "I forgive
anyone and everyone who has ever harmed me at any time
and under any circumstances."
It is well for me to contemplate a small, but very
significant, two-letter word every time the Lord's Prayer is
said. The word is as. I ask, "Forgive us our trespasses, as
we forgive those who trespass against us." In this case, as
means, "in the same manner." I am asking to be forgiven in
the same manner that I forgive others. As I say this portion
of the prayer, if I am harboring hatred or resentment, I am
inviting more resentment, when I should be calling on the
spirit of forgiveness.
Monday, August 8, 2011
"MADE A LIST . . ." Made a list of all
persons we had harmed, . . .
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 77
When I approached the Eighth Step, I wondered how I
could list all the things that I have done to other people
since there were so many people, and some of them weren't
alive anymore. Some of the hurts I inflicted weren't bad,
but they really bothered me. The main thing to see in this
Step was to become willing to do whatever I had to do to
make these amends to the best of my ability at that particular
time. Where there is a will, there's a way, so if I
want to feel better, I need to unload the guilt feelings I
have. A peaceful mind has no room for feelings of guilt.
With the help of my Higher Power, if I am honest with
myself, I can cleanse my mind of these feelings
Sunday, August 7, 2011
A "DESIGN FOR LIVING"
We in our turn, sought the same escape with all the
desperation of drowning men. What seemed at first a flimsy
reed, has proved to be the loving and powerful hand of
God. A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, "a
design for living" that really works.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 28
I try each day to raise my heart and hands in thanks to God
for showing me a "design for living" that really works
through our beautiful Fellowship. But what, exactly, is this
"design for living" that "really works"? For me, it is the
practice of the Twelve Steps to the best of my ability, the
continued awareness of a God who loves me unconditionally,
and the hope that, in each new day, there is a purpose
for my being. I am truly, truly blessed in the Fellowship
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, selfseeking,
and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 62
My selfishness was the driving force behind my drinking. I
drank to celebrate success and I drank to drown my
sorrows. Humility is the answer. I learn to turn my will and
my life over to the care of God. My sponsor tells me that
service keeps me sober. Today I ask myself: Have I sought
knowledge of God's will for me? Have I done service for
my A.A. group?
Friday, August 5, 2011
It is clear that feelings of love, affection, closeness and compassion bring happiness. I believe that every one of us has the means to be happy, to access the warm and compassionate states of mind that bring happiness. In fact, it is one of my fundamental beliefs that not only do we inherently possess the potential for compassion, but I believe that the basic or underlying nature of human beings is gentleness..
How persistently we claim the right to decide all by
ourselves just what we shall think and just how we shall act
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 37
If I accept and act upon the advice of those who have made
the program work for themselves, I have a chance to
outgrow the limits of the past. Some problems will shrink
to nothingness, while others may require patient, wellthought-
out action. Listening deeply when others share can
develop intuition in handling problems which arise
unexpectedly. It is usually best for me to avoid impetuous
action. Attending a meeting or calling a fellow A.A.
member will usually reduce tension enough to bring relief
to a desperate sufferer like me. Sharing problems at
meetings with other alcoholics to whom I relate, or
privately with my sponsor, can change aspects of the
positions in which I find myself. Character defects are
identified and I begin to see how they work against me.
When I put my faith in the spiritual power of the program,
when I trust others to teach me what I need to do to have a
better life, I find that I can trust myself to do what is
Thursday, August 4, 2011
SEEDS OF FAITH
Faith, to be sure, is necessary, but faith alone can avail
nothing. We can have faith, yet keep God out of our lives.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 34
As a child I constantly questioned the existence of God. To
a "scientific thinker" like me, no answer could withstand a
thorough dissection, until a very patient woman finally said
to me, "You must have faith." With that simple statement,
the seeds of my recovery were sown!
Today, as I practice my recovery—cutting back the
weeds of alcoholism—slowly I am letting those early seeds
of faith grow and bloom. Each day of recovery, of ardent
gardening, brings the Higher Power of my understanding
more fully into my life. My God has always been with me
through faith, but it is my responsibility to have the
willingness to accept His presence.
I ask God to grant me the willingness to do His will.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
. . . TO BE OF SERVICE
Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum
service to God and the people about us.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 77
It is clear that God's plan for me is expressed through love.
God loved me enough to take me from alleys and jails so
that I could be made a useful participant in His world. My
response is to love all of His children through service and
by example. I ask God to help me imitate His love for me
through my love for others.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
WE BECOME WILLING . . .
At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But
this is not an end in itself.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 77
How easily I can become misdirected in approaching the
Eighth Step! I wish to be free, somehow transformed by my
Sixth and Seventh Step work. Now, more than ever, I am
vulnerable to my own self-interest and hidden agenda. I am
careful to remember that self-satisfaction, which sometimes
comes through the spoken forgiveness of those I have
harmed, is not my true objective. I become willing to make
amends, knowing that through this process I am mended
and made fit to move forward, to know and desire God's
will for me.
Monday, August 1, 2011
The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 83
When new in the program, I couldn't comprehend living
the spiritual aspect of the program, but now that I'm sober,
I can't comprehend living without it. Spirituality was what
I had been seeking. God, as I understand Him, has given
me answers to the whys that kept me drinking for twenty
years. By living a spiritual life, by asking God for help, I
have learned to love, care for and feel compassion for all
my fellow men, and to feel joy in a world where, before, I
felt only fear.