Tuesday, January 31, 2012
OUR COMMON WELFARE COMES FIRST
The unity of Alcoholics Anonymous is the most cherished
quality our Society has . . . We stay whole, or A. A. dies
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 129
Our Traditions are key elements in the ego deflation
process necessary to achieve and maintain sobriety in
Alcoholics Anonymous. The First Tradition reminds me
not to take credit, or authority, for my recovery. Placing
our common welfare first reminds me not to become a
healer in this program; I am still one of the patients. Selfeffacing
elders built the ward. Without it, I doubt I would
be alive. Without the group, few alcoholics would recover.
The active role in renewed surrender of will enables me
to step aside from the need to dominate, the desire for
recognition, both of which played so great a part in my
active alcoholism. Deferring my personal desires for the
greater good of group growth contributes toward A.A.
unity that is central to all recovery. It helps me to
remember that the whole is greater than the sum of all its
Monday, January 30, 2012
FREEDOM FROM . . . FREEDOM TO
We are going to know a new freedom. . . .
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 83
Freedom for me is both freedom from and freedom to. The
first freedom I enjoy is freedom from the slavery of
alcohol. What a relief! Then I begin to experience freedom
from fear—fear of people, of economic insecurity, of
commitment, of failure, of rejection. Then I begin to enjoy
freedom to—freedom to choose sobriety for today, freedom
to be myself, freedom to express my opinion, to experience
peace of mind, to love and be loved, and freedom to grow
spiritually. But how can I achieve these freedoms? The Big
Book clearly says that before I am halfway through making
amends, I will begin to know a "new" freedom; not the old
freedom of doing what I pleased, without regard to others,
but the new freedom that allows fulfillment of the promises
in my life. What a joy to be free!
Sunday, January 29, 2012
THE JOY OF SHARING
Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to
see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a
fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends—
this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will
not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and
with each other is the bright spot of our lives.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 89
To know that each newcomer with whom I share has the
opportunity to experience the relief that I have found in this
Fellowship fills me with joy and gratitude. I feel that all the
things described in A.A. will come to pass for them, as they
have for me, if they seize the opportunity and embrace the
Saturday, January 28, 2012
THE TREASURE OF THE PAST
Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the
very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is
the greatest possession you have—the key to life and
happiness for others. With it you can avert death and
misery for them.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 124
What a gift it is for me to realize that all those seemingly
useless years were not wasted. The most degrading and
humiliating experiences turn out to be the most powerful
tools in helping others to recover. In knowing the depths of
shame and despair, I can reach out with a loving and
compassionate hand, and know that the grace of God is
available to me.
Friday, January 27, 2012
The very purpose of spirituality is self-discipline. Rather than criticizing others, we should evaluate and criticize ourselves. Ask yourself, what am I doing about my anger, my attachment, my pride, my jealousy? These are the things we should check in our day to day lives.
FREEDOM FROM GUILT
Where other people were concerned, we had to drop the
word "blame" from our speech and thought.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 47
When I become willing to accept my own powerlessness, I
begin to realize that blaming myself for all the trouble in
my life can be an ego trip back into hopelessness. Asking
for help and listening deeply to the messages inherent in
the Steps and Traditions of the program make it possible to
change those attitudes which delay my recovery. Before
joining A.A., I had such a desire for approval from people
in powerful positions that I was willing to sacrifice myself,
and others, to gain a foothold in the world. I invariably
came to grief. In the program I find true friends who love,
understand, and care to help me learn the truth about
myself. With the help of the Twelve Steps, I am able to
build a better life, free of guilt and the need for selfjustification
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who
wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution
for harm done? Who cares anything about a Higher Power,
let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice
time and energy in trying to carry A.A. 's message to the
next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in
the extreme, doesn't care for this prospect—unless he has
to do these things in order to stay alive himself.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 24
I am an alcoholic. If I drink I will die. My, what power,
energy, and emotion this simple statement generates in me!
But it's really all I need to know for today. Am I willing to
stay alive today? Am I willing to stay sober today? Am I
willing to ask for help and am I willing to be a help to
another suffering alcoholic today? Have I discovered the
fatal nature of my situation? What must I do, today, to stay
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
WHAT WE NEED—EACH OTHER
. . . A.A. is really saying to every serious drinker, "You are
an A.A. member if you say so . . . nobody can keep you
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 139
For years, whenever I reflected on Tradition Three ("The
only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop
drinking"), I thought it valuable only to newcomers. It was
their guarantee that no one could bar them from A.A.
Today I feel enduring gratitude for the spiritual
development the Tradition has brought me. I don't seek out
people obviously different from myself. Tradition Three,
concentrating on the one way I am similar to others,
brought me to know and help every kind of alcoholic, just
as they have helped me. Charlotte, the atheist, showed me
higher standards of ethics and honor; Clay, of another race,
taught me patience; Winslow, who is gay, led me by
example into true compassion; Young Megan says that
seeing me at meetings, sober thirty years, keeps her coming
back. Tradition Three insured that we would get what we
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
There is action and more action. "Faith without works is
dead." . . . To be helpful is our only aim.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, pp. 88-89
I understand that service is a vital part of recovery but I
often wonder, "What can I do?" Simply start with what I
have today! I look around to see where there is a need. Are
the ashtrays full? Do I have hands and feet to empty them?
Suddenly I'm involved! The best speaker may make the
worst coffee; the member who's best with newcomers may
be unable to read; the one willing to clean up may make a
mess of the bank account—yet every one of these people
and jobs is essential to an active group. The miracle of
service is this: when I use what I have, I find there is more
available to me than I realized before.
Monday, January 23, 2012
HAVING FUN YET?
. . . we aren't a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or
fun in our existence, they wouldn't want it. We absolutely
insist on enjoying life. We try not to indulge in cynicism
over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world's
troubles on our shoulders
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 132
When my own house is in order, I find the different parts of
my life are more manageable. Stripped from the guilt and
remorse that cloaked my drinking years, I am free to
assume my proper role in the universe, but this condition
requires maintenance. I should stop and ask myself, Am I
having fun yet? If I find answering that question difficult or
painful, perhaps I'm taking myself too seriously—and finding
it difficult to admit that I've strayed from my practice of
working the program to keep my house in order. I think the
pain I experience is one way my Higher Power has to get
my attention, coaxing me to take stock of my performance.
The slight time and effort it takes to work the program—a
spot-check inventory, for example, or the making of
amends, whatever is appropriate—are well worth the effort.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
"LET'S KEEP IT SIMPLE"
A few hours later I took my leave of Dr. Bob. . . . The
wonderful, old, broad smile was on his face as he said
almost jokingly, "Remember, Bill, let's not louse this thing
up. Let's keep it simple!" I turned away, unable to say a
word. That was the last time I ever saw him.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS COMES OF AGE, p. 214
After years of sobriety I occasionally ask myself: "Can it be
this simple?" Then, at meetings, I see former cynics and
skeptics who have walked the A. A. path out of hell by
packaging their lives, without alcohol, into twenty-four
hour segments, during which they practice a few principles
to the best of their individual abilities. And then I know
again that, while it isn't always easy, if I keep it simple, it
Saturday, January 21, 2012
SERVING MY BROTHER
The member talks to the newcomer not in a spirit of power
but in a spirit of humility and weakness.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS COMES OF AGE p. 279
As the days pass in A.A., I ask God to guide my thoughts
and the words that I speak. In this labor of continuous
participation in the Fellowship, I have numerous
opportunities to speak. So I frequently ask God to help me
watch over my thoughts and my words, that they may be the
true and proper reflections of our program; to focus my
aspirations once again to seek His guidance; to help me be
truly kind and loving, helpful and healing, yet always filled
with humility, and free from any trace of arrogance.
Today I may very well have to deal with disagreeable
attitudes or utterances—the typical stock-in-trade attitude of
the still-suffering alcoholic. If this should happen, I will
take a moment to center myself in God, so that I will be able
to respond from a perspective of composure, strength and
Friday, January 20, 2012
"WE PAUSE . . . AND ASK"
As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or
doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 87
Today I humbly ask my Higher Power for the grace to find
the space between my impulse and my action; to let flow a
cooling breeze when I would respond with heat; to
interrupt fierceness with gentle peace; to accept the
moment which allows judgment to become discernment; to
defer to silence when my tongue would rush to attack or
I promise to watch for every opportunity to turn toward
my Higher Power for guidance. I know where this power
is: it resides within me, as clear as a mountain brook,
hidden in the hills—it is the unsuspected Inner Resource.
I thank my Higher Power for this world of light and
truth I see when I allow it to direct my vision. I trust it
today and hope it trusts me to make all effort to find the
right thought or action today.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Faith has to work twenty-four hours a day in and through
us, or we perish.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 16
The essence of my spirituality, and my sobriety, rests on a
round-the-clock faith in a Higher Power. I need to
remember and rely on the God of my understanding as I
pursue all of my daily activities. How comforting for me is
the concept that God works in and through people. As I
pause in my day, do I recall specific concrete examples of
God's presence? Am I amazed and uplifted by the number
of times this power is evident? I am overwhelmed with
gratitude for my God's presence in my life of recovery.
Without this omnipotent force in my every activity, I would
again fall into the depths of my disease—and death.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
WOULD A DRINK HELP?
By going back in our own drinking histories, we could show
that years before we realized it we were out of control, that
our drinking even then was no mere habit, that it was
indeed the beginning of a fatal progression.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 23
When I was still drinking, I couldn't respond to any of life's
situations the way other, more healthy, people could. The
smallest incident triggered a state of mind that believed I
had to have a drink to numb my feelings. But the numbing
did not improve the situation, so I sought further escape in
the bottle. Today I must be aware of my alcoholism. I
cannot afford to believe that I have gained control of my
drinking—or again I will think I have gained control of my
life. Such a feeling of control is fatal to my recovery.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
HAPPINESS COMES QUIETLY
"The trouble with us alcoholics was this: We demanded that
the world give us happiness and peace of mind in just the
particular order we wanted to get it—by the alcohol route.
And we weren't successful. But when we take time to find
out some of the spiritual laws, and familiarize ourselves
with them, and put them into practice, then we do get
happiness and peace of mind. . . . There seem to be some
rules that we have to follow, but happiness and peace of
mind are always here, open and free to anyone."
DR. BOB AND THE GOOD OLDTIMERS, p. 308
The simplicity of the A. A. program teaches me that
happiness isn't something I can "demand." It comes upon
me quietly, while I serve others. In offering my hand to the
newcomer or to someone who has relapsed, I find that my
own sobriety has been recharged with indescribable
gratitude and happiness.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Why all this insistence that every A.A. must hit bottom first?
The answer is that few people will sincerely try to practice
the A.A. program unless they have hit bottom. For
practicing A. A. 's remaining eleven Steps means the
adoption of attitudes and actions that almost no alcoholic
who is still drinking can dream of taking.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 24
Hitting bottom opened my mind and I became willing to try
something different. What I tried was A.A. My new life in
the Fellowship was a little like learning how to ride a bike
for the first time: A.A. became my training wheels and my
supporting hand. It's not that I wanted the help so much at
the time; I simply did not want to hurt like that again. My
desire to avoid hitting bottom again was more powerful
than my desire to drink. In the beginning that was what kept
me sober. But after a while I found myself working the
Steps to the best of my ability. I soon realized that my
attitudes and actions were changing—if ever so slightly.
One Day at a Time, I became comfortable with myself, and
others, and my hurting started to heal. Thank God for the
training wheels and supporting hand that I choose to call
Sunday, January 15, 2012
AN UNSUSPECTED INNER RESOURCE
With few exceptions our members find that they have
tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently
identify with their own conception of a Power greater than
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, pp. 569-70
From my first days in A.A., as I struggled for sobriety, I
found hope in these words from our founders. I often
pondered the phrase: "they have tapped an unsuspected
inner resource." How, I asked myself, can I find the Power
within myself, since I am so powerless? In time, as the
founders promised, it came to me: I have always had the
choice between goodness and evil, between unselfishness
and selfishness, between serenity and fear. That Power
greater than myself is an original gift that I did not
recognize until I achieved daily sobriety through living
A.A.'s Twelve Steps.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 83
Once I became sober, I began to see how wasteful my life
had been and I experienced overwhelming guilt and
feelings of regret. The program's Fourth and Fifth Steps
assisted me enormously in healing those troubling regrets. I
learned that my self-centeredness and dishonesty stemmed
largely from my drinking and that I drank because I was an
alcoholic. Now I see how even my most distasteful past
experiences can turn to gold because, as a sober alcoholic, I
can share them to help my fellow alcoholics, particularly
newcomers. Sober for several years in A.A., I no longer
regret the past; I am simply grateful to be conscious of
God's love and of the help I can give to others in the
Friday, January 13, 2012
IT DOESN'T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT
We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a
daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 85
The most common alcoholic fantasy seems to be: "If I just
don't drink, everything will be all right." Once the fog
cleared for me, I saw—for the first time—the mess my life
had become. I had family, work, financial and legal
problems; I was hung up on old religious ideas; there were
sides of my character to which I was inclined to stay blind
because they easily could have convinced me that I was
hopeless and pushed me toward escape again. The Big
Book guided me in resolving all of my problems. But it
didn't happen overnight—and certainly not automatically—
with no effort on my part. I need always to recognize God's
mercy and blessings that shine through any problem I have
Thursday, January 12, 2012
ACCEPTING OUR PRESENT
Our very first problem is to accept our present circumstances
as they are, ourselves as we are, and the people
about us as they are. This is to adopt a realistic humility
without which no genuine advance can even begin. Again
and again, we shall need to return to that unflattering point
of departure. This is an exercise in acceptance that we can
profitably practice every day of our lives.
Provided we strenuously avoid turning these realistic
surveys of the facts of life into unrealistic alibis for apathy
or defeatism, they can be the sure foundation upon which
increased emotional health and therefore spiritual progress
can be built.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 44
When I am having a difficult time accepting people, places
or events, I turn to this passage and it relieves me of many
an underlying fear regarding others, or situations life
presents me. The thought allows me to be human and not
perfect, and to regain my peace of mind.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
THE 100% STEP
Only Step One, where we made the 100 percent admission
we were powerless over alcohol can be practiced with
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 68
Long before I was able to obtain sobriety in A.A., I knew
without a doubt that alcohol was killing me, yet even with
this knowledge, I was unable to stop drinking. So, when
faced with Step One, I found it easy to admit that I lacked
the power to not drink. But was my life unmanageable?
Never! Five months after coming into A.A., I was drinking
again and wondered why.
Later on, back in A.A. and smarting from my wounds, I
learned that Step One is the only Step that can be taken
100%. And that the only way to take it 100% is to take
100% of the Step. That was many twenty-four hours ago
and I haven't had to take Step One again.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
UNITED WE STAND
We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost
selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in
recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or
presently may be, has to be smashed.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 30
I came to Alcoholics Anonymous because I was no longer
able to control my drinking. It was either my wife's
complaining about my drinking, or maybe the sheriff forced
me to go to A.A. meetings, or perhaps I knew, deep down
inside, that I couldn't drink like others, but I was unwilling
to admit it because the alternative terrified me. Alcoholics
Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women united
against a common, fatal disease. Each one of our lives is
linked to every other, much like the survivors on a life raft
at sea. If we all work together, we can get safely to shore.
Monday, January 9, 2012
The creation of a more peaceful and happier society has to begin from the level of the individual, and from there it can expand to one's family, to one's neighborhood, to one's community and so on.
AN ACT OF PROVIDENCE
It is truly awful to admit that, glass in hand, we have
warped our minds into such an obsession for destructive
drinking that only an act of Providence can remove it from
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 21
My act of Providence, (a manifestation of divine care and
direction), came as I experienced the total bankruptcy of
active alcoholism—everything meaningful in my life was
gone. I telephoned Alcoholics Anonymous and, from that
instant, my life has never been the same. When I reflect on
that very special moment, I know that God was working in
my life long before I was able to acknowledge and accept
spiritual concepts. The glass was put down through this one
act of Providence and my journey into sobriety began. My
life continues to unfold with divine care and direction. Step
One, in which I admitted I was powerless over alcohol, that
my life had become unmanageable, takes on more meaning
for me—one day at a time—in the life-saving, life-giving
Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
DO I HAVE A CHOICE?
The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure,
have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will
power becomes practically nonexistent.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 24
My powerlessness over alcohol does not cease when I quit
drinking. In sobriety I still have no choice—I can't drink.
The choice I do have is to pick up and use the "kit of
spiritual tools" (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 25). When I do
that, my Higher Power relieves me of my lack of choice—
and keeps me sober one more day. If I could choose not to
pick up a drink today, where then would be my need for
A.A. or a Higher Power?
Saturday, January 7, 2012
AT THE TURNING POINT
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning
point. We asked His protection and care with complete
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 59
Every day I stand at turning points. My thoughts and
actions can propel me toward growth or turn me down the
road to old habits and to booze. Sometimes turning points
are beginnings, as when I decide to start praising, instead of
condemning someone. Or when I begin to ask for help
instead of going it alone. At other times turning points are
endings, such as when I see clearly the need to stop
festering resentments or crippling self-seeking. Many
shortcomings tempt me daily; therefore, I also have daily
opportunities to become aware of them. In one form or
another, many of my character defects appear daily: selfcondemnation,
anger, running away, being prideful,
wanting to get even, or acting out of grandiosity.
Attempting half measures to eliminate these defects
merely paralyzes my efforts to change. It is only when I ask
God for help, with complete abandon, that I become
willing—and able—to change.
Friday, January 6, 2012
THE VICTORY OF SURRENDER
We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to
take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our
admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be
firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 21
When alcohol influenced every facet of my life, when
bottles became the symbol of all my self-indulgence and
permissiveness, when I came to realize that, by myself, I
could do nothing to overcome the power of alcohol, I
realized I had no recourse except surrender. In surrender I
found victory—victory over my selfish self-indulgence,
victory over my stubborn resistance to life as it was given
to me. When I stopped fighting anybody or anything, I
started on the path to sobriety, serenity and peace.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
He cannot picture life without alcohol Some day he will be
unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it.
Then he will know loneliness such as few do. He will be at
the jumping-off place. He will wish for the end.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 152
Only an alcoholic can understand the exact meaning of a
statement like this one. The double standard that held me
captive as an active alcoholic also filled me with terror and
confusion: "If I don't get a drink I'm going to die,"
competed with "If I continue drinking it's going to kill me."
Both compulsive thoughts pushed me ever closer to the
bottom. That bottom produced a total acceptance of my alcoholism—
with no reservations whatsoever—and one that
was absolutely essential for my recovery. It was a dilemma
unlike anything I had ever faced, but as I found out later on,
a necessary one if I was to succeed in this program.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
BEGIN WHERE YOU ARE
We feel that elimination of our drinking is but a beginning.
A much more important demonstration of our principles
lies before us in our respective homes, occupations and
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 19
It's usually pretty easy for me to be pleasant to the people
in an A.A. setting. While I'm working to stay sober, I'm
celebrating with my fellow A.A.S our common release from
the hell of drinking. It's often not so hard to spread glad
tidings to my old and new friends in the program.
At home or at work, though, it can be a different story. It
is in situations arising in both of those areas that the little
day-to-day frustrations are most evident, and where it can
be tough to smile or reach out with a kind word or an
attentive ear. It's outside of the A.A. rooms that I face the
real test of the effectiveness of my walk through A.A.'s
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our
lives had become unmanageable.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 21
It is no coincidence that the very first Step mentions
powerlessness: An admission of personal powerlessness
over alcohol is a cornerstone of the foundation of recovery.
I've learned that I do not have the power and control I once
thought I had. I am powerless over what people think about
me. I am powerless over having just missed the bus. I am
powerless over how other people work (or don't work) the
Steps. But I've also learned I am not powerless over some
things. I am not powerless over my attitudes. I am not
powerless over negativity. I am not powerless over
assuming responsibility for my own recovery. I have the
power to exert a positive influence on myself, my loved
ones, and the world in which I live.
Monday, January 2, 2012
FIRST, THE FOUNDATION
Is sobriety all that we can expect of a spiritual awakening?
No, sobriety is only a bare beginning.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 8
Practicing the A.A. program is like building a house. First I
had to pour a big, thick concrete slab on which to erect the
house; that, to me, was the equivalent of stopping drinking.
But it's pretty uncomfortable living on a concrete slab,
unprotected and exposed to the heat, cold, wind and rain.
So I built a room on the slab by starting to practice the
program. The first room was rickety because I wasn't used
to the work. But as time passed, as I practiced the program,
I learned to build better rooms. The more I practiced, and
the more I built, the more comfortable, and happy, was the
home I now have to live in.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
"I AM A MIRACLE"
The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty
that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a
way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to
accomplish those things for us which we could never do by
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 25
This truly is a fact in my life today, and a real miracle. I
always believed in God, but could never put that belief
meaningfully into my life. Today, because of Alcoholics
Anonymous, I now trust and rely on God, as I understand
Him; I am sober today because of that! Learning to trust
and rely on God was something I could never have done
alone. I now believe in miracles because I am one!