Tuesday, April 30, 2013
A GREAT PARADOX
These legacies of suffering and of recovery are easily
passed among alcoholics, one to the other. This is our gift
from God, and its bestowal upon others like us is the one
aim that today animates A.A.'s all around the globe.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 151
The great paradox of A.A. is that I know I cannot keep the
precious gift of sobriety unless I give it away.
My primary purpose is to stay sober. In A.A. I have no
other goal, and the importance of this is a matter of life or
death for me. If I veer from this purpose I lose. But A.A. is
not only for me; it is for the alcoholic who still suffers. The
legions of recovering alcoholics stay sober by sharing with
fellow alcoholics. The way to my recovery is to show others
in A.A. that when I share with them, we both grow in
the grace of the Higher Power, and both of us are on the
road to a happy destiny.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Some may think that we have carried the principle of group
autonomy to extremes. For example, in its original "long
form," Tradition Four declares: "Any two or three gathered
together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group,
provided that as a group they have no other affiliation.,
. . But this ultra-liberty is not so risky as it looks.*
A.A. COMES OF AGE PP 104-05
As an active alcoholic, I abused every liberty that life
afforded. How could A.A. expect me to respect the "ultraliberty"
bestowed by Tradition Four? Learning respect has
become a lifetime job.
A.A. has made me fully accept the necessity of discipline
and that, if I do not assert it from within, then I will pay for
it. This applies to groups too. Tradition Four points me in a
spiritual direction, in spite of my alcoholic inclinations.
* This is a misquote; Bill quoted the Third Tradition, but was referring to
Sunday, April 28, 2013
TWO "MAGNIFICENT STANDARDS"
All A.A. progress can be reckoned in terms of just two
words: humility and responsibility. Our whole spiritual
development can be accurately measured by our degree of
adherence to these magnificent standards.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 271
To acknowledge and respect the views, accomplishments
and prerogatives of others and to accept being wrong shows
me the way of humility. To practice the principles of A.A.
in all my affairs guides me to be responsible. Honoring
these precepts gives credence to Tradition Four—and to all
other Traditions of the Fellowship. Alcoholics Anonymous
has evolved a philosophy of life full of valid motivations,
rich in highly relevant principles and ethical values, a view
of life which can be extended beyond the confines of the
alcoholic population. To honor these precepts I need only
to pray, and care for my fellow man as if each one were my
Saturday, April 27, 2013
We realize we know only a little. God will constantly
disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning
meditation what you can do each day for the man who is
still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in
order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you
haven't got. See to it that your relationship with Him is
right, and great events will come to pass for you and
countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 164
Sobriety is a journey of joyful discovery. Each day brings
new experience, awareness, greater hope, deeper faith,
broader tolerance. I must maintain these attributes or I will
have nothing to pass on.
Great events for this recovering alcoholic are the normal
everyday joys found in being able to live another day in
Friday, April 26, 2013
HAPPINESS IS NOT THE POINT
don't think happiness or unhappiness is the point. How do
we meet the problems we face? How do we best learn from
them and transmit what we have learned to others, if they
would receive the knowledge?
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 306
In my search "to be happy," I changed jobs, married and
divorced, took geographical cures, and ran myself into
debt—financially, emotionally and spiritually. In A.A., I'm
learning to grow up. Instead of demanding that people,
places and things make me happy, I can ask God for selfacceptance.
When a problem overwhelms me, A.A.'s
Twelve Steps will help me grow through the pain. The
knowledge I gain can be a gift to others who suffer with the
same problem. As Bill said, "When pain comes, we are
expected to learn from it willingly, and help others to learn.
When happiness comes, we accept it as a gift, and thank
God for it." (As Bill Sees It, p. 306)
Thursday, April 25, 2013
ENTERING A NEW DIMENSION
In the late stages of our drinking the will to resist has fled.
Yet when we admit complete defeat and when we become
entirely ready to try A. A. principles, our obsession leaves
us and we enter a new dimension—freedom under God as
we understand Him.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 283
I am fortunate to be among the ones who have had this
awesome transformation in my life. When I entered the
doors of A.A., alone and desperate, I had been beaten into
willingness to believe anything I heard. One of the things I
heard was, "This could be your last hangover, or you can
keep going round and round." The man who said this
obviously was a whole lot better off than 1.1 liked the idea
of admitting defeat and I have been free ever since! My
heart heard what my mind never could: "Being powerless
over alcohol is no big deal." I'm free and I'm grateful!
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
LEARNING TO LOVE OURSELVES
Alcoholism was a lonely business, even though we were
surrounded by people who loved us . . . We were trying to
find emotional security either by dominating or by being
dependent upon others . . . We still vainly tried to be secure
by some unhealthy sort of domination or dependence.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 252
When I did my personal inventory I found that I had
unhealthy relationships with most people in my life—my
friends and family, for example. I always felt isolated and
lonely. I drank to dull emotional pain.
It was through staying sober, having a good sponsor and
working the Twelve Steps that I was able to build up my
low self-esteem. First the Twelve Steps taught me to
become my own best friend, and then, when I was able to
love myself, I could reach out and love others.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
A.A. IS NOT A CURE-ALL
It would be a product of false pride to claim that A. A. is a
cure-all, even for alcoholism
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 285
In my early years of sobriety I was full of pride, thinking
that A. A. was the only source of treatment for a good and
happy life. It certainly was the basic ingredient for my
sobriety and even today, with over twelve years in the
program, I am very involved in meetings, sponsorship and
service. During the first four years of my recovery, I found
it necessary to seek professional help, since my emotional
health was extremely poor. There are those folks too, who
have found sobriety and happiness in other organizations.
A.A. taught me that I had a choice: to go to any lengths to
enhance my sobriety. A.A. may not be a cure-all for
everything, but it is the center of my sober living.
Monday, April 22, 2013
NEW SOIL . . . NEW ROOTS
Moments of perception can build into a lifetime of spiritual
serenity, as I have excellent reason to know, loots of
reality, supplanting the neurotic underbrush, will hold fast
despite the high winds of the forces which would destroy
us, or which we would use to destroy ourselves.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 173
I came to A.A. green,a seedling quivering with exposed
taproots. It was for survival but it was a beginning. I
stretched, developed, twisted, but with the help of others,
my spirit eventually burst up from the roots. I was free. I
acted, withered, went inside, prayed, acted again,
understood anew, as one moment of perception struck. Up
from my roots, spirit-arms lengthened into strong, green
shoots: high-springing servants stepping skyward.
Here on earth God unconditionally continues the legacy
of higher love. My A.A. life put me "on a different footing
. . .my roots grasped a new soil"
Sunday, April 21, 2013
"I don't think we can do anything very well in this world
unless we practice it And I don't believe we do A.A. too well
unless we practice it. . . . We should practice . . . acquiring
the spirit of service. We should attempt to acquire some faith,
which isn't easily done, especially for the person who has
always been very materialistic, following the standards of
society today. But I think faith can be acquired; it can be
acquired slowly; it has to be cultivated. That was not easy
for me, and I assume that it is difficult for everyone else.
. . . "
DR. BOB AND THE GOOD OLDTIMERS, pp. 307-08
Fear is often the force that prevents me from acquiring and
cultivating the power of faith. Fear blocks my appreciation
of beauty, tolerance, forgiveness, service, and serenity.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
. . . we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking
that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 86
When said sincerely, this prayer teaches me to be truly
unselfish and humble, for even in doing good deeds I often
used to seek approval and glory for myself. By examining
my motives in all that I do, I can be of service to God and
others, helping them do what they want to do. When I put
God in charge of my thinking, much needless worry is
eliminated and I believe He guides me throughout the day.
When I eliminate thoughts of self-pity, dishonesty and selfcenteredness
as soon as they enter my mind, I find peace
with God, my neighbor and myself.
Friday, April 19, 2013
BROTHERS IN OUR DEFECTS
We recovered alcoholics are not so much brothers in virtue
as we are brothers in our defects, and in our common
strivings to overcome them
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 167
The identification that one alcoholic has with another is
mysterious, spiritual—almost incomprehensible. But it is
there. I "feel" it. Today I feel that I can help people and that
they can help me.
It is a new and exciting feeling for me to care for
someone; to care what they are feeling, hoping for, praying
for; to know their sadness, joy, horror, sorrow, grief; to
want to share those feelings so that someone can have
relief. I never knew how to do this—or how to try. I never
even cared. The Fellowship of A.A., and God, are teaching
me how to care about others.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
The deception of others is nearly always rooted in the
deception of ourselves. . . . When we are honest with
another person, it confirms that we have been honest with
ourselves and with God.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 17
When I was drinking, I deceived myself about reality,
rewriting it to what I wanted it to be. Deceiving others is a
character defect—even if it is just stretching the truth a bit
or cleaning up my motives so others would think well of
me. My Higher Power can remove this character defect, but
first I have to help myself become willing to receive that
help by not practicing deception. I need to remember each
day that deceiving myself about myself is setting myself up
for failure or disappointment in life and in Alcoholics
Anonymous. A close, honest relationship with a Higher
Power is the only solid foundation I've found for honesty
with self and with others.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
LOVE AND FEAR AS OPPOSITES
All these failings generate fear, a soul-sickness in its own
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 49
"Fear knocked at the door; faith answered; no one was
there." I don't know to whom this quote should be
attributed, but it certainly indicates very clearly that fear is
an illusion. I create the illusion myself.
I experienced fear early in my life and I mistakenly
thought that the mere presence of it made me a coward. I
didn't know that one of the definitions of "courage" is "the
willingness to do the right thing in spite of fear." Courage,
then, is not necessarily the absence of fear.
During the times I didn't have love in my life I most
assuredly had fear. To fear God is to be afraid of joy. In
looking back, I realize that, during the times I feared God
most, there was no joy in my life. As I learned not to fear
God, I also learned to experience joy.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
ANGER: A "DUBIOUS LUXURY"
If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch
and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the
dubious luxury of the normal men, but for alcoholics these
things are poison.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 66
"Dubious luxury." How often have I remembered those
words. It's not just anger that's best left to nonalcoholics; I
built a list including justifiable resentment, self-pity,
judgmentalism, self-righteousness, false pride and false
humility. I'm always surprised to read the actual quote. So
well have the principles of the program been drummed into
me that I keep thinking all of these defects are listed too.
Thank God I can't afford them—or I surely would indulge
Monday, April 15, 2013
THE BONDAGE OF RESENTMENTS
. . . harboring resentment is infinitely grave. For then we
shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the spirit.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 5
It has been said, "Anger is a luxury I cannot afford." Does
this suggest I ignore this human emotion? I believe not.
Before I learned of the A.A. program, I was a slave to the
behavior patterns of alcoholism. I was chained to
negativity, with no hope of cutting loose.
The Steps offered me an alternative. Step Four was the
beginning of the end of my bondage. The process of
"letting go" started with an inventory. I needed not be
frightened, for the previous Steps assured me I was not
alone. My Higher Power led me to this door and gave me
the gift of choice. Today I can choose to open the door to
freedom and rejoice in the sunlight of the Steps, as they
cleanse the spirit within me.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
THE "NUMBER ONE OFFENDER"
Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more
alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of
spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and
physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 64
As I look at myself practicing the Fourth Step, it is easy to
gloss over the wrong that I have done, because I can easily
see it as a question of "getting even" for a wrong done to
me. If I continue to relive my old hurt, it is a resentment
and resentment bars the sunlight from my soul. If I
continue o relive hurts and hates, I will hurt and hate
myself. After years in the dark of resentments, I have bund
the sunlight. I must let go of resentments; I cannot afford
Saturday, April 13, 2013
THE FALSE COMFORT OF SELF-PITY
Self-pity is one of the most unhappy and consuming defects
that we know. It is a bar to all spiritual progress and can
cut off all effective communication with our fellows because
of its inordinate demands for attention and sympathy. It is a
maudlin form of martyrdom, which we can ill afford.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 238
The false comfort of self-pity screens me from reality only
momentarily and then demands, like a drug, that I take an
ever bigger dose. If I succumb to this it could lead to a
relapse into drinking. What can I do? One certain antidote is
to turn my attention, however slightly at first, toward others
who are genuinely less fortunate than I, preferably other
alcoholics. In the same degree that I actively demonstrate
my empathy with them, I will lessen my own exaggerated
Friday, April 12, 2013
GIVING UP INSANITY
. . . where alcohol has been involved, we have been
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 38
Alcoholism required me to drink, whether I wanted to or
not. Insanity dominated my life and was the essence of my
disease. It robbed me of the freedom of choice over
drinking and, therefore, robbed me of all other choices.
When I drank, I was unable to make effective choices in
any part of my life and life became unmanageable.
I ask God to help me understand and accept the full
meaning of the disease of alcoholism.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
A WORD TO DROP: "BLAME"
To see how erratic emotions victimized us often took a long
time. We could perceive them quickly in others, but only
slowly in ourselves First of all, we had to admit that we had
many of these defects, even though such disclosures were
painful and humiliating. 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 did my Fourth Step, following the Big Book
guidelines, I noticed that my grudge list was filled with my
prejudices and my blaming others for my not being able to
succeed and to live up to my potential. I also discovered I
felt different because I was black. As I continued to work
on the Step, I learned that I always had drunk to rid myself
of those feelings. It was only when I sobered up and
worked on my inventory, that I could no longer blame
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The essence of all growth is a willingness to change for the
better and then an unremitting willingness to shoulder
whatever responsibility this entails.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 115
Sometimes when I've become willing to do what I should
have been doing all along, I want praise and recognition. I
don't realize that the more I'm willing to act differently, the
more exciting my life is. The more I am willing to help
others, the more rewards I receive. That's what practicing
the principles means to me. Fun and benefits for me are in
the willingness to do the actions, not to get immediate
results. Being a little kinder, a little slower to anger, a little
more loving makes my life better— day by day.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
FREEDOM FROM "KING ALCOHOL"
. . . let us not suppose even for an instant that we are not
under constraint. . . . Our former tyrant, King Alcohol,
always stands ready again to clutch us to him Therefore,
freedom from alcohol is the great "must" that has to be
achieved, else we go mad or die.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 134
When drinking, I lived in spiritual, emotional, and
sometimes, physical confinement. I had constructed my
prison with bars of self-will and self-indulgence, from
which I could not escape. Occasional dry spells that
seemed to promise freedom would turn out to be little more
than hopes of a reprieve. True escape required a
willingness to follow whatever right actions were needed to
turn the lock. With that willingness and action, both the
lock and the bars themselves opened for me. Continued
willingness and action keep me free—in a kind of extended
daily probation—that need never end.
Monday, April 8, 2013
AN INSIDE LOOK
We want to find exactly how, when, and where our natural
desires have warped us We wish to look squarely at the
unhappiness this has caused others and ourselves By
discovering what our emotional deformities are, we can
move toward their correction.
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 43
Today I am no longer a slave to alcohol, yet in so many
ways enslavement still threatens—my self, my desires,
even my dreams. Yet without dreams I cannot exist;
without dreams there is nothing to keep me moving
I must look inside myself, to free myself. I must call
upon God's power to face the person I've feared the most,
the true me, the person God created me to be. Unless I can
or until I do, I will always be running, and never be truly
free. I ask God daily to show me such a freedom!
Sunday, April 7, 2013
A WIDE ARC OF GRATITUDE
And, speaking for Dr. Bob and myself, I gratefully declare
that had it not been for our wives, Anne and Lois, neither of
us could have lived to see A.A.'s beginning.
THE A.A. WAY OF LIFE, p. 67
Am I capable of such generous tribute and gratitude to my
wife, parents and friends, without whose support I might
never have survived to reach A.A.'s doors? I will work on
this and try to see the plan my Higher Power is showing me
which links our lives together.
Saturday, April 6, 2013
A LIFETIME PROCESS
We were having trouble with personal relationships, we
couldn't control our emotional natures, we were a prey to
misery and depression, we couldn't make a living, we had a
feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were
unhappy, we couldn't seem to be of real help to other
people. . . .
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 52
These words remind me that I have more problems than
alcohol, that alcohol is only a symptom of a more pervasive
disease. When I stopped drinking I began a lifetime process
of recovery from unruly emotions, painful relationships, and
unmanageable situations. This process is too much for most
of us without help from a Higher Power and our friends in
the Fellowship. When I began working the Steps of the A.A.
program, many of these tangled threads unraveled but, little
by little, the most broken places of my life straightened out.
One day at a time, almost imperceptibly, I healed. Like a
thermostat being turned down, my fears diminished. I began
to experience moments of contentment. My emotions
became less volatile. I am now once again a part of the
Friday, April 5, 2013
We have not once sought to be one in a family, to be a friend
among friends, to be a worker among workers, to be a
useful member of society. Always we tried to struggle to the
top of the heap, or to hide underneath it This self-centered
behavior blocked a partnership relation with any one of
those about us. Of true brotherhood we had small
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 53
This message contained in Step Four was the first one I
heard loud and clear; I hadn't seen myself in print before!
Prior to my coining into A.A., I knew of no place that could
teach me how to become a person among persons. From my
very first meeting, I saw people doing just that and I wanted
what they had. One of the reasons that I'm a happy, sober
alcoholic today is that I'm learning this most important
Thursday, April 4, 2013
CRYING FOR THE MOON
"This very real feeling of inferiority is magnified by his
childish sensitivity and it is this state of affairs which
generates in him that insatiable, abnormal craving for selfapproval
and success in the eyes of the world. Still a child,
he cries for the moon. And the moon, it seems, won't have
LANGUAGE OF THE HEART, p. 102
While drinking I seemed to vacillate between feeling totally
invisible and believing I was the center of the universe.
Searching for that elusive balance between the two has
become a major part of my recovery. The moon I constantly
cried for is, in sobriety, rarely full; it shows me instead its
many other phases, and there are lessons in them all. True
learning has often followed an eclipse, a time of darkness,
but with each cycle of my recovery, the light grows stronger
and my vision is clearer.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
ACCEPTING OUR HUMANNESS
We finally saw that the inventory should be ours, not the
other man's So we admitted our wrongs honestly and
became willing to set these matters straight.
AS BILL SEES IT, p. 222
Why is it that the alcoholic is so unwilling to accept
responsibility? I used to drink because of the things that
other people did to me. Once I came to A.A. I was told to
look at where I had been wrong. What did I have to do with
all these different matters? When I simply accepted that I
had a part in them, I was able to put it on paper and see it
for what it was —humanness. I am not expected to be
perfect! I have made errors before and I will make them
again. To be honest about them allows me to accept
them—and myself—and those with whom I had the
differences; from there, recovery is just a short distance
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
As social animals a key factor to our living a happy life is friendship, trust and openness. We are all the same as members of one human family. Trust is the basis of friendship and we'll find this if, in addition to the knowledge we gain from ordinary education, we develop warm-heartedness. This gives rise to self-confidence and inner strength, which through trust and friendship leads to cooperation with others.
Demands made upon other people for too much attention,
protection, and love can only invite domination or
revulsion. . . .
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 44
When I uncovered my need for approval in the Fourth Step,
I didn't think it should rank as a character defect. I wanted
to think of it more as an asset (that is, the desire to please
people). It was quickly pointed out to me that this "need"
can be very crippling. Today I still enjoy getting the
approval of others, but I am not willing to pay the price I
used to pay to get it. I will not bend myself into a pretzel to
get others to like me. If I get your approval, that's fine; but
if I don't, I will survive without it. I am responsible for
speaking what I perceive to be the truth, not what I think
others may want to hear.
Similarly, my false pride always kept me overly
concerned about my reputation. Since being enlightened in
the A.A. program, my aim is to improve my character
Monday, April 1, 2013
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 42
Step Four is the vigorous and painstaking effort to discover
what the liabilities in each of us have been, and are. I want
to find exactly how, when, and where my natural desires
have warped me. I wish to look squarely at the unhappiness
this has caused others and myself. By discovering what my
emotional deformities are, I can move toward their correction.
Without a willing and persistent effort to do this,
there can be little sobriety or contentment for me.
To resolve ambivalent feelings, I need to feel a strong
and helpful sense of myself. Such an awareness doesn't
happen overnight, and no one's self-awareness is
permanent. Everyone has the capacity for growth, and for
self-awareness, through an honest encounter with reality.
When I don't avoid issues but meet them directly, always
trying to resolve them, they become fewer and fewer.