MAY 4 "ENTIRELY HONEST" We must be entirely honest with somebody if we expect to live long or happily in this world. ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 73-74 Honesty, like all virtues, is to be shared. It began after I shared ". . . [my] whole life's story with someone . . . " in order to find my place in the Fellowship. Later I shared my life in order to help the newcomer find his place with us. This sharing helps me to learn honesty in all my dealings and to know that God's plan for me comes true through honest openness and willingness.
MAY 3 CLEANING HOUSE Somehow, being alone with God doesn't seem as embarrassing as facing up to another person. Until we actually sit down and talk aloud about what we have so long hidden, our willingness to clean house is still largely theoretical. TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 60 It wasn't unusual for me to talk to God, and myself, about my character defects. But to sit down, face to face, and openly discuss these intimacies with another person was much more difficult. I recognized in the experience, however, a similar relief to the one I had experienced when I first admitted I was an alcoholic. I began to appreciate the spiritual significance of the program and that this Step was just an introduction to what was yet to come in the remaining seven Steps.
MAY 2 LIGHTING THE DARK PAST 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 No longer is my past an autobiography; it is a reference book to be taken down, opened and shared. Today as I report for duty, the most wonderful picture comes through. For, though this day be dark— as some days must be—the stars will shine even brighter later. My witness that they do shine will be called for in the very near future. All my past will this day be a part of me, because it is the key, not the lock.
MAY 1 HEALING HEART AND MIND Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 55 Since it is true that God comes to me through people, I can see that by keeping people at a distance I also keep God at a distance. God is nearer to me than I think and I can experience Him by loving people and allowing people to love me. But I can neither love nor be loved if I allow my secrets to get in the way. It's the side of myself that I refuse to look at that rules me. I must be willing to look at the dark side in order to heal my mind and heart because that is the road to freedom. I must walk into darkness to find the light and walk into fear to find peace. By revealing my secrets—and thereby ridding myself of guilt—I can actually change my thinking; by altering my thinking, I can change myself. My thoughts create my future. What I will be tomorrow is determined by what I think today.
APRIL 30 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.
APRIL 29 GROUP AUTONOMY 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. *
APRIL 28 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 brother.
APRIL 27 JOYFUL DISCOVERIES 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 God's grace.
APRIL 26 HAPPINESS IS NOT THE POINT I 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)
APRIL 25 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!
APRIL 24 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.
APRIL 22 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 [ 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 he 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 .hoots: 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" (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 12).
APRIL 21 CULTIVATING FAITH "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
APRIL 20 SELF-EXAMINATION . . . we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. 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.
APRIL 19 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.
APRIL 18 SELF-HONESTY 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.
APRIL 17 LOVE AND FEAR AS OPPOSITES All these failings generate fear, a soul-sickness in its own right. 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.
APRIL 16 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 in them.
APRIL 15 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.
APRIL 14 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 them.
APRIL 13 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 suffering.
APRIL 12 GIVING UP INSANITY . . . where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane. 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.
Folks It saddens me that I might have to shut this blog down in the future, The doctors have diagnosed me with cancer and I already have a hospice nurse stopping by 2-3 times a week. I'm searching for someone to commit themselves to taking over. You might have to change the web address, but the daily reflection should always be there. Peace Out Sivle
APRIL 11 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 anyone.
APRIL 10 GROWING UP 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.
APRIL 9 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.
APRIL 8 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 forward. 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!
APRIL 7 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.
APRIL 6 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 human family.
APRIL 5 TRUE BROTHERHOOD 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 comprehension. 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 lesson.
APRIL 4 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 him!" 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.
APRIL 3 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 ahead.
APRIL 2 CHARACTER BUILDING 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.
APRIL 1 LOOKING WITHIN Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 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.
MARCH 30 OUR GROUP CONSCIENCE ". . . sometimes the good is the enemy of the best" ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS COMES OF AGE P- 101 I think these words apply to every area of A.A.'s Three Legacies: Recovery, Unity and Service! I want them etched in my mind and life as I "trudge the Road of Happy Destiny" (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 164). These words, often spoken by co-founder Bill W., were appropriately said to him as the result of the group's conscience. It brought home to Bill W. the essence of our Second Tradition: "Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern." Just as Bill W. was originally urged to remember, I think that in our group discussions we should never settle for the "good," but always strive to attain the "best." These common strivings are yet another example of a loving God, as we understand Him, expressing Himself through the group conscience. Experiences such as these help me to stay on the proper path of recovery. I learn to combine initiative with humility, responsibility with thankfulness, and thus relish the joys of living my twenty-four hour program.
MARCH 29 TRUSTED SERVANTS They are servants. Theirs is the sometimes thankless privilege of doing the group's chores TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 134 In Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis describes an encounter between his principal character and an old man busily at work planting a tree. "What is it you are doing?" Zorba asks. The old man replies: "You can see very well what I'm doing, my son, I'm planting a tree." "But why plant a tree," Zorba asks, "if you won't be able to see it bear fruit?" And the old man answers: "I, my son, live as though I were never going to die." The response brings a faint smile to Zorba's lips and, as he walks away, he exclaims with a note of irony: "How strange—I live as though I were going to die tomorrow!" As a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, I have found that the Third Legacy is a fertile soil in which to plant the tree of my sobriety. The fruits I harvest are wonderful: peace, security, understanding and twenty-four hours of eternal fulfillment; and with the soundness of mind to listen to the voice of my conscience when, in silence, it gently speaks to me, saying: You must let go in service. There are others who must plant and harvest.
MARCH 28 EQUALITY Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation. ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 565 Prior to A.A., I often felt that I didn't "fit in" with the people around me. Usually "they" had more/ less money than I did, and my points of view didn't jibe with "theirs." The amount of prejudice I had experienced in society only proved to me just how phony some self-righteous people were. After joining A. A., I found the way of life I had been searching for. In A.A. no member is better than any other member; we're just alcoholics trying to recover from alcoholism.
MARCH 27 A.A.'s FREEDOMS We trust that we already know what our several freedoms truly are; that no future generation of AAs will ever feel compelled to limit them. Our AA freedoms create the soil in which genuine love can grow. . . . LANGUAGE OF THE HEART, p. 303 I craved freedom. First, freedom to drink; later, freedom from drink. The A.A. program of recovery rests on a foundation of free choice. There are no mandates, laws or commandments. A.A.'s spiritual program, as outlined in the Twelve Steps, and by which I am offered even greater freedoms, is only suggested. I can take it or leave it. Sponsorship is offered, not forced, and I come and go as I will. It is these and other freedoms that allow me to recapture the dignity that was crushed by the burden of drink, and which is so dearly needed to support an enduring sobriety.
MARCH 26 THE TEACHING IS NEVER OVER Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. May God bless you and keep you—until then. ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 164 These words put a lump in my throat each time I read them. In the beginning it was because I felt, "Oh no! The teaching is over. Now I'm on my own. It will never be this new again." Today I feel deep affection for our A.A. pioneers when I read this passage, realizing that it sums up all of what I believe in, and strive for, and that—with God's blessing—the teaching is never over, I'm never on my own, and every day is brand new.
MARCH 25 A FULL AND THANKFUL HEART try hard to hold fast to the truth that a full and thankful heart cannot entertain great conceits. When brimming with gratitude, one's heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion that we can ever know. AS BILL SEES IT, p. 37 I believe that we in Alcoholics Anonymous are fortunate in that we are constantly reminded of the need to be grateful and of how important gratitude is to our sobriety. I am truly grateful for the sobriety God has given me through the A.A. program and am glad I can give back what was given to me freely. I am grateful not only for sobriety, but for the quality of life my sobriety has brought. God has been gracious enough to give me sober days and a life blessed with peace and contentment, as well as the ability to give and receive love, and the opportunity to serve others—in our Fellowship, my family and my community. For all of this, I have "a full and thankful heart."