From the BlogMeet Ron

Siren Song/ Let’s Ask Bill

Siren  Song AA Grapevine April 1997
I have told the following story at several AA meetings as a reminder to all of us not to be too complacent concerning our illness: An old man stood in front of us with tears running down his cheeks. He could hardly speak as he began to tell us his story. He’d been sober for thirty-four years and things were going quite well for him. His life was under control and there were no real pressing problems plaguing him. He was walking past a liquor store and for some unknown reason decided to buy a half pint of whisky. A half pint won’t hurt me, he said to himself as he walked through the doors. Within a few days he was up to a fifth a day. His friends in AA discovered he was drinking again and helped him to regain his sobriety once more.
 
I just celebrated my twenty-second year of continuous sobriety, so I had my sobriety well under control, or so I thought. Little did I know I was about to be exposed to a situation that tested my resolve and caused me to revamp my attitude toward my sobriety.
 
My significant other was going on a business trip to California and asked me to join her on the weekend to meet her father. I’d wanted to meet him for some time so I jumped at the chance.
 
Her father was a member of a band that plays in various bars around California on the weekend. He asked us to come listen to him and I didn’t see any harm in that. My friend had just celebrated eight years of sobriety, and I had twenty-two years of sobriety. What could go wrong?
 
The evening was really fun. The band was great, and my friend and I discovered a new wonderful aspect of our relationship by learning to dance together for the first time since we’d become a couple.
 
People in the audience were buying her father glasses of straight whiskey that he was drinking on stage as he played the steel guitar. During one of the short breaks that the band took, he came over to our table to chat and brought his glass of whiskey with him. While he was at the table with us, someone brought him another glass of whiskey that he put on the table in front of me. When he went back to the stage, he left this glass of whiskey on the table.
 
As I turned to watch the band, I saw the glass of whiskey sitting before me. For the next hour and a half, that glass of whiskey tempted me beyond what I thought was possible. I thought all those years of sobriety would protect me from even being tempted. But I was wrong.
 
All kinds of reasons kept going through my mind as to why it would be okay to take a drink of that whiskey. “One little sip won’t hurt anything. I’ll take a sip while my friend is in the rest room. I have breath mints so she’ll never know. Just one little sip is all I’ll have. Nobody will notice if I take just one little sip.”
 
My Higher Power and all I’d learned from AA throughout the years kept me from taking that drink. Knowing other alcoholics’ experiences proved to be helpful to me in this situation as well. I remembered that elderly man with thirty-four years of sobriety. I remembered how he slipped, and it was enough to keep me from making that fatal mistake of taking the first drink.
 
I acquired a new respect for my illness that evening. I learned it was just lurking under the surface waiting for the first opportunity to raise its ugly head. I learned it truly was cunning and baffling.
Rawlins R. – Tucson, Arizona
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Lets Ask Bill


Q – Could you explain AA’s tradition concerning other agencies in the field of alcoholism. 


A – I remember very well when this committee started (January, 1944) It brought me in contact with our great friends at Yale, the courageous Dr. Haggard, the incredible Dr. Jellinek or Bunky as we affectionately know him and Seldon and all those dedicated people.

The question arose, could an AA member get into education or research or what not? Then ensued a fresh and great controversy in AA  which was not surprising because you must remember that in this period we were like people on Rickenbacker’s raft. Who would dare ever rock us ever so little and precipitate is back in the alcohol sea.

So, frankly, we were afraid and as usual we had the radicals and we had the conservatives and we had moderates on this question of whether A.A. members could go into other enterprises in this field. The conservatives said, “no, let’s keep it simple, let’s mind our own business.” The  radicals said, “let ‘s endorse anything that looks like it will do any good, let the A.A. name be used to raise money and to do whatever it can for the whole field,” and the growing body of moderates took the position, “let any A.A. member who feels the call go into these related fields for if we are to do less it would be a very antisocial outlook.” So that is where the Tradition finally sat and many were called and many were chosen since that day to go into these related fields which has now got to be so large in their promise that we of Alcoholics Anonymous are getting down to our right size and we are only now realizing that we are only a small part of a great big picture.
We are realizing again, afresh1 that without our friends, not only could we not have existed in the first place but we could not have grown. We are getting a fresh concept of what our relations with the world and all of these related enterprises should be. In other words, we are growing up. IN fact last year at St. Louis we were bold enough to say that we had come of age and that within Alcoholics Anonymous the main outlines of the basis for recovery, of the basis for unity and of the basis for service or function were already evident.

At St. Louis I made talks upon each of those subjects which largely concerned themselves about what A.A. had done about these things but here we are in a much wider field and I think that the sky is the limit. I think that I can say without any reservation that what this Committee has done with the aid of it’s great friends who are now legion as anyone here can see. I think that this Committee has been responsible for making more friends for Alcoholics Anonymous and of doing a wider service in educating the world on the gravity of this malady and what can be done about it than any other single agency.

I’m awfully partial and maybe I’m a little bias because here sits the dean of all our ladies (Marty M.), my close, dear friend. So speaking out of turn as a founder, I want to convey to her in the presence of all of you the best I can say of my great love and affection is thanks.

At the close of things in St. Louis, I remember that I likened A.A. to a cathedral style edifice whose corners now rested on the earth. I remember saying that we can see on its great floor the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and there assembled 150,000 sufferers and their families. We have seen side walls go up, buttressed with the A.A. Tradition and at St. Louis, when the elected Conference took over from the Board of Trustees, the spire of service was put into effect and its beacon light, the beacon light of A.A. shone there beckoning to all the world.

I realized that as I sat here today that that was not a big enough concept, for on the floor of the cathedral of the spirit there should always be written the formula from whatever source for release from alcoholism, whether it be a drug, whether it be the psychiatric art, whether it be the ministrations of this Committee. In other words, we who deal with this problem are all in the same boat, all standing upon the same floor. So let’s bring to this floor the total resources that can be brought to bear upon this problem and let us not think of unity just in terms of A.A. Tradition but let us think of unity among all those who work in the field as the kind of unity that befits brotherhood and sisterhood and a kinship in the common suffering. Let us stand together in the spirit of service. If we do these things, only then can we declare ourselves really come of age. And only then, and I think that this is a time not far off. I think we can say that the future, our future, the future of the Committee, of A.A. and of the things that people of good will are trying to do in this field will be completely assured. © (Transcribed from tape. Address to The National Committee for Education on Alcoholism©. March 30, 1956).

 

A Date With Destiny?Bill W.

A Date With Destiny?

AA Grapevine October 1944

Somebody once said, “As much as you may grow, as many recoveries as there may be, I think the eventual by-products of A.A. will be greater than A.A. itself.”

Everywhere now, we hear such remarks. They come from all kinds of people. Doctors think of applying our methods to other neurotics; clergymen wonder if our humble example may not vitalize their congregations; businessmen find we make good personnel managers–they glimpse a new industrial democracy; educators see power in our non-controversial way of presenting the truth; and our friends wistfully say, “We wish we were alcoholics–we need A.A. too.”

Why these stirrings? They must all mean, I am sure, that we have suddenly become much more than recovered alcoholics, A.A. members only. Society has begun to hope that we are going to utilize, in every walk of life, that miraculous experience of our returning, almost overnight, from the fearsome land of Nowhere.

Yes, we are again citizens of the world. It is a distraught world, very tired, very uncertain. It has worshipped its own self-sufficiency–and that has failed. We A.A.s are a people who once did that very thing. That philosophy failed us, too. So perhaps, here and there, our example of recovery can help. As individuals, we have a responsibility, may be a double responsibility. It may be that we have a date with destiny.

An example: Not long ago Dr. E. M. Jellinek, of Yale University, came to us. He said, “Yale, as you know, is sponsoring a program of public education on alcoholism, entirely non-controversial in character. We need the cooperation of many A.A.s. To proceed on any educational project concerning alcoholism without the goodwill, experience and help of A.A. members would be unthinkable.”

So, when the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism was formed, an A.A. member was made its executive director: Marty M., one of our oldest and finest. In this issue, she tells The Grapevine of her new work. As a member of A.A., she is just as much interested in us as before–A.A. is still her avocation. But as an officer of the Yale-sponsored National Committee, she is also interested in educating the general public on alcoholism. Her A.A. training has wonderfully fitted her for this post in a different field. Public education on alcoholism is to be her vocation.

Could an A.A. do such a job? At first, Marty herself wondered. She asked her A.A. friends, “Will I be regarded as a professional?” Her friends replied, “Had you come to us, Marty, proposing to be a therapist, to sell straight A.A. to alcoholics at so much a customer, we should certainly have branded that as professionalism. So would everybody else.

“But the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism is quite another matter. You will be taking your natural abilities and A.A. experience into a very different field. We don’t see how that can affect your amateur status with us. Suppose you were to become a social worker, a personnel officer, the manager of a state farm for alcoholics, or even a minister of the Gospel? Who could possibly say those activities would make you a professional A.A.? No one, of course.”

They went on, “Yet we do hope that A.A. as a whole will never deviate from its sole purpose of helping other alcoholics. As an organization, we should express no opinions save on the recovery of problem drinkers. That very sound national policy has kept us out of much useless trouble already, and will surely forestall untold complications in the future.

“Though A.A. as a whole,” they continued, “should never have but one objective, we believe just as strongly that for the individual there should be no limitations whatever, except his own conscience. He should have the complete right to choose his own opinions and outside activities. If these are good, A.A.s everywhere will approve. Just so, Marty, do we think it will be in your case. While Yale is your actual sponsor, we feel sure that you are going to have the warm personal support of thousands of A.A.s wherever you go. We shall all be thinking how much better a break this new generation of potential alcoholic kids will have because of your work, how much it might have meant to us had our own mothers and fathers really understood alcoholism.” Personally I feel that Marty’s friends have advised her wisely; that they have clearly distinguished between the limited scope of “A.A. as a whole” and the broad horizon of the individual A.A. acting on his own responsibility; that they have probably drawn a correct line between what we would regard as professional and amateur.

Bill W. AA Co-Founder, Bill W., October 1944

“A Date With Destiny” The Language of the Heart
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There is no greater weakness than stubbornness. If you cannot yield, if you cannot learn that there must be compromise in life – you lose. 
–Maxwell Maltz
Glass is very hard, but fragile. By contrast, leather is tough and resilient. A blow to a glass dish will break it, but a blow to a shoe will just be absorbed. Our program leads us to avoid the folly of being hard like glass, and we become tougher like leather. We must endure surprises, pressures, and blows from the world as a normal part of life. The more able we are to absorb the blows, the stronger and more whole we are as men.
A friend who has a different opinion from ours can be listened to and his ideas considered. There is no need to compete with him or prove that we are right. When our plan for a project at work gets set aside, we will feel the frustration but we need not come apart over it. Perhaps our Higher Power is leading us to a better plan. Frustrations with spouses or friends can be turned over to our Higher Power. We do not have a rigid recipe for life, and we must be open to more learning.
I will surrender my fragile stubbornness in exchange for the toughness I can learn in compromise.

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SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

Big Book

SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

The terms “spiritual experience” and “spiritual awakening” are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms.

Yet it is true that our first printing gave many readers the impression that these personality changes, or religious experiences, must be in the nature of sudden and spectacular upheavals. Happily for everyone, this conclusion is erroneous. 
In the first few chapters a number of sudden revolutionary changes are described. Though it was not our intention to create such an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God-consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook.

Among our rapidly growing membership of thousands of alcoholics such transformations, though frequent, are by no means the rule. Most of our experiences are what psychologist William James calls the “educational variety” because they develop slowly over a period of time. Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself. He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone. What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self discipline. With few exceptions our members find they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves. 

Most of us think this awareness of a Power greater than ourselves is the essence of spiritual experience. Our more religious members call it “God-consciousness.” 
Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial. 

We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable. 

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance —  that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” 

– HERBERT SPENCER

CHUCK D.

The whole problem is to establish communication with one’s self. 
E. B. White
We are like many faceted gemstones. Each side represents a different aspect of us. We have our emotional sides with different feelings and responses. We have our competencies and strengths, hopes and desires, destructiveness and negativity, self-doubts and resentments. We also possess a drive for power and knowledge, a desire to serve, and a wish to connect with others.
Our spiritual masculinity requires that we know our many sides. We need a working relationship with our thoughts and feelings so they can be appreciated, accepted, and understood. When we tell our story in a meeting, we let others know us, and we get to know ourselves better. When we are spontaneous in what we say or do, we communicate with ourselves. We discover ourselves through meditation, journal writing, playfulness, physical activity, and conversations with others. In that way we become more honest.
Today, I will use my lines of communication with myself
and become more self-accepting and more honest.
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AA Grapevine November 1945 
 
What Is the Alcoholic’s Moral Responsibility? 
Alcoholism has been traditionally regarded as a vice, with the implication of moral responsibility that such a characterization involves.
 
The modern tendency is to consider any obsessional aberration to be pathological. Hence, alcoholism is sometimes diagnosed as a disease, and the victim is accordingly absolved of moral responsibility.
 
Do the foregoing views constitute a conflict in which intellectual honesty compels us to take sides –or may they be reconciled and integrated?
 
If alcoholism is a disease it is one of which science has found so far neither cause nor cure. Dr. Silkworth in an article in the June, 1945, issue of The Grapevine says that “physically science does not know why a man cannot drink in moderation.” The doctor also states that he is only “sure of one scientific fact –that detoxication by medical treatment must precede any psychiatric approach.” Thus, the “physical issue” is reduced to the routine of a mere dealcoholizing process, preliminary to the really fundamental matter of dealing with what Dr. Silkworth refers to as the “moral issue.”
 
The A.A. Program of Recovery is devoted principally to the resolution of this “moral issue.” The alcoholic is assisted in developing the personality change essential to permanent rehabilitation.
 
In so doing the A.A. plan proceeds on the assumption that we have “defects of character” the removal of which is requisite to a restoration of sanity. The removal is to be accomplished not alone by the revelations of psychiatric treatment (self-knowledge), but by the application of spiritual force emanating from a Power in which we have faith (Steps 6-7).
 
Defects of character cannot, of course, be rooted out by knowledge alone. The authors of Alcoholics Anonymous were well aware of the limitations of the aphorism that knowledge is power, for at page 50 of the book, they assert: “But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge. This is a point we wish to emphasize and reemphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience” (italics theirs).
 
Elsewhere in the same text the same thought is expressed in different form and with varied application. It is said, for example, that “the alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a higher Power” (page 55).
 
Finally, for those of us who accept it, the predominance of the moral factors in the A.A. plan is summarized in the following statement at pages 35-36 of the book:
“The great fact is just this and nothing else: that we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences, which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows, and toward God’s universe. 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 for ourselves.”
 
Here, then, seems to be the answer to the question posed at the outset. Both moralist and scientist agree that there can be no blame imposed for a condition over which one has no control. Both agree that an alcoholic has been reduced to a state of powerlessness over alcohol. It follows that an alcoholic should not be held morally accountable for acts committed while in the grip of the obsession. The syllogism suggests a corollary.
 
When an alcoholic realizes the nature of his malady, and that help, human and otherwise, is at hand and that “there is a solution,” is it not reasonable to assume that an element of moral responsibility enters into the situation? Tolerance for the sinner but none for the sin is a noble sentiment. And alcoholics will probably always require understanding. But may we, who have accepted A.A. and assume to practice its precepts, continue to expect, under the new dispensation, condonation when the rules of society are broken? If the truth has made us free and the spirit has given us strength, shall we not take and maintain our places in the ranks of society without favor as well as without fear?
 
It is submitted that a lively sense of moral responsibility should be assiduously cultivated, the more so because of our newly found power to accept it and because in the very acceptance of it, we wax stronger and stronger as we “grow by what we feed on.”

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Daily Reflections
 
LISTENING DEEPLY
     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, well-thought-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 can 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 necessary.
 
From the book Daily Reflections 
© Copyright 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

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CHUCK D.

The great artist is the simplifier. 
–Henri Amiel
Just as an artist creates through simplification, so a person’s recovery process grows and deepens as one simplifies their life. This isn’t easy to do in our fast paced and high-powered world. We have often complicated a problem by our way of thinking. Sometimes we take pride in how complex we can make something seem. We look for hidden meanings when the truth is on the surface. We give long explanations for our actions when none is called for. We suspect a person’s motives when taking him at face value loses nothing. We take on a battle when we could just as well let it pass.
Most of us don’t think of ourselves as artists. Yet we are each given a profound, creative opportunity – to fashion a meaningful and worthwhile pattern in our lives. As we seek to do the will of God today, it is as if we are taking a lump of clay and creating an image from it.
As I go about today’s activities,
may I find ways to make it a simple and creative expression.
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Every closed eye is not sleeping, and every open eye is not seeing. 
–Unknown
Things are not always as they seem, even with us. Sometimes we get settled into a routine in our program. We are beyond the early struggles with detachment and sobriety. We have encountered many of the benefits of recovery. We attend our meetings and we know the words and ideas of the program. Although it all looks good on the outside, when we’re honest with ourselves, we know our spirit has gone flat. This is a serious situation and needs our attention.
When the inside feeling does not match our outside appearance, we need to become vulnerable again. We need to talk about how we really feel. Maybe little secrets we have been holding have deadened our program. Perhaps we haven’t admitted a pain in our life. Maybe we have been seduced by the power of looking good and have traded away the genuineness of being known by our friends. The renewal of this program is something we feel from within, and we can continue to be renewed.
I pray my eyes will be open to see and my program will stay alive and genuine.

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Lets Ask Bill 
 
Q – Do alcoholics as a class differ from other people?
   A – Some years ago the doctors began to look at Alcoholics Anonymous and they got about thirty of us together and they said to themselves “Well, now that these fellows are in A.A., and they won’t lie so badly, and maybe for the first time we’ll get a good look at what the interior of a drunk is like.” So a number of us were examined at great length by psychiatrists, and all sorts of tests taken, and the object of this particular inquiry was to see whether alcoholics as a class differed from other people, and if they did, just why and how much.
   A number of us were invited to attend the conclave, and a number of learned papers were read, and finally one of these physicians (a very noted one – the meeting took place at the New York Academy of Medicine) began to sum up what he thought the conclusion which they had arrived at was this: that the alcoholic is emotionally on the childish side. That the alcoholic is a person who is more sensitive emotionally than the average person. And then, they ascribed another quality to us – they used the word “grandiosity,” they were grandiose (meaning by that that as a type we were what you might call “All of nothing people.”) Someone once described it by saying all alcoholics hanker for the moon when perhaps the stars would have done just as well.
As a class, we’re like that, said the doctors. (Memphis, Tenn., Sept.18-20, 1947)

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To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of
loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. 
–Henri J. M. Nouwen
Knowing our loneliness and admitting it to us is the beginning of a spiritual path for many people. Today we are on a spiritual journey. We already have the means to translate the pain of our loneliness into a deeper spiritual dimension. Most folks in this program came in deeply aware of their feelings of isolation. Now, with the companionship of our Higher Power, we can spend time alone and use it for spiritual growth. As we develop a relationship with ourselves and deepen our knowledge of our Higher Power, our loneliness transforms into solitude.
In this quiet moment today, we can be more accepting of ourselves than we were in the past. We admit loneliness has caused us pain, but now we can see that it also can lead us to our deeper self where we find serene solitude. This change is a movement into the spiritual world.
Thanks to God for the solitude I have found in my life.

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Lets Ask Bill
 
These excerpts from various talks and articles by and on Bill W. reveal a wealth of the thinking and insight of the co-founder of A.A.
Q – What is meant by mental obsession and the obsessional character of alcoholism?
 
A – Well, as I understand it, we are all born with the freedom of choice. The degree of this varies from person to person, and from area to area in our lives. In the case of neurotic people, our instincts take on certain patterns and directions, sometimes so compulsive they cannot be broken by any ordinary effort of the will. The alcoholic’s compulsion to drink is like that.
 
As a smoker, for example, I have a deeply ingrained habit – I’m almost an addict. But I do not think that this habit is an actual obsession. Doubtless it could be broken by an act of my own will. If badly enough hurt, I could in all probability give up tobacco. Should smoking repeatedly land me in Bellevue Hospital, I doubt that I would make the trip many times before quitting. But with my alcoholism, well, that was something else again. No amount of desire to stop, no amount of punishment, could enable me to quit. What was once a habit of drinking became an obsession of drinking – genuine lunacy.
 
Perhaps a little more should be said about the obsessional character of alcoholism. When our fellowship was about three years old some of us called on Dr. Lawrence Kolb, then Assistant Surgeon General of the United States. He said that our report of progress had given him his first hope for alcoholics in general. Not long before, the U.S. Public Health Department had thought of trying to do something about the alcoholic situation. After a careful survey of the obsessional character of our malady, this had been given up. Indeed, Dr. Koib felt that dope addicts had a far better chance. Accordingly, the government had built a hospital for their treatment at Lexington, Kentucky. But for alcoholics – well, there simply wasn’t any use at all, so he thought.
 
Nevertheless, many people still go on insisting that the alcoholic is not a sick man – that he is simply weak or willful, and sinful. Even today we often hear the remark “That drunk could get well if he wanted to.”
 
There is no doubt, too, that the deeply obsessional character of the alcoholic’s drinking is obscured by the fact that drinking is a socially acceptable custom. By contrast, stealing, or let us say shop-lifting, is not. Practically everybody has heard of that form of lunacy known as kleptomania. Oftentimes kleptomaniacs are splendid people in all other respects. Yet they are under an absolute compulsion to steal – just for the kick. A kleptomaniac enters a store a pockets a piece of merchandise. He is arrested and lands in the police station. The judge gives him a jail term. He is stigmatized and humiliated. Just like the alcoholic, he swears that never, never will he do this again.
 
On his release from the jail, he wanders down the street past a department store. Unaccountably he is drawn inside. He sees, for example, a red tin fire truck, a child’s toy. He instantly forgets all about his misery in the jail. He begins to rationalize. He says, “Well, this little fire engine is of no real value. The store won’t miss it.” So he pockets the toy, the store detective collars him, he is right back in the clink. Everybody recognizes this type of stealing as sheer lunacy.
 
Now, let’s compare this behavior with that of an alcoholic. He, too, has landed in jail. He has already lost family and friends. He suffers heavy stigma and guilt. He has been physically tortured by his hangover. Like the kleptomaniac he swears that he will never get into this fix again. Perhaps he actually knows that he is an alcoholic. He may understand just what that means and may be fully aware of what the fearful risk of that first drink is.
 
Upon his release from jail, the alcoholic behaves just like the kleptomaniac. He passes a bar and at the first temptation may say, “No, I must not go inside there; liquor is not for me.” But when lie arrives at the next drinking place, he is gripped by a rationalization. Perhaps he says, “Well, one beer won’t hurt me. After all, beer isn’t liquor.” Completely unmindful of his recent miseries, he steps inside. He takes that fatal first drink. The following day, the police have him again. His fellow citizens continue to say that he is weak or willful. Actually he is just as crazy as the kleptomaniac ever was. At this stage, his free will in regard to alcoholism has evaporated. He cannot very well be held accountable for his behavior. (The N.C.C.A. ‘Blue Book’ ©, Vol. 12, 1960)

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The craftsman does not always build toward a prior vision.
Often images come in the process of working.
The material, his hands – together they beget. 
–M. C. Richards
We awaken in the morning, and the day is an un-built creation. We have some ideas about what we will accomplish today. But our Higher Power also has some things in mind, which are not yet part of our consciousness. We have lived long enough to know that every day brings surprises. We know in advance we will be frustrated in some of our desires, and we may be helped or advanced in others. But what about the totally unexpected? Will we even notice the subtle opportunities? Will we see an opportunity for a friendly conversation? Do our plans unwittingly prevent other possibilities from intruding?
When we hold loosely to our daily plans, we are more open to knowing the will of our Higher Power. Then each day is a spiritual process. It becomes a combined creation of our Higher Power and our own consciousness.
Today, I will hold my own plan loosely so that I can continue to be open to the healing powers of God.

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How does A.A. work
Q – Just how does A.A. work?
A – I cannot fully answer that question. Many A.A. techniques have been adopted after a ten-year period of trial and error, which has led to some interesting results. But, as laymen, we doubt our own ability to explain them. We can only tell you what we do, and what seems, from our point of view, to happen to us.
 
At the very outset we should like it made ever so clear that A.A. is a synthetic gadget, as it were, drawing upon the resources of medicine, psychiatry, religion, and our own experience of drinking and recovery. You will search in vain for a single new fundamental. We have merely streamlined old and proven principles of psychiatry and religion into such forms that the alcoholic will accept them. And then we have created a society of his own kind where he can enthusiastically put these very principles to work on himself and other sufferers.
 
Then too, we have tried hard to capitalize on our one great natural advantage. That advantage is, of course, our personal experience as drinkers who have recovered. How often the doctors and clergymen throw up their hands when, after exhaustive treatment or exhortation, the alcoholic still insists, “But you don’t understand me. You never did any serious drinking yourself, so how can you? Neither can you show me many who have recovered.”
 
Now, when one alcoholic who has got well talks to another who hasn’t, such objections seldom arise, for the new man sees in a few minutes that he is talking to a kindred spirit, one who understands. Neither can the recovered A.A. member be deceived, for he knows every trick, every rationalization of the drinking game. So the usual barriers go down with a crash. Mutual confidence, that indispensable of all therapy, follows as surely as day does night. And if this absolutely necessary rapport is not forthcoming at once it is almost certain to develop when the new man has met other A. A.’s. Someone will, as we say, “click with him.”
 
As soon as that happens we have a good chance of selling our prospect those very essentials which you doctors have so long advocated, and the problem drinker finds our society a congenial place to work them out for himself and his fellow alcoholic. For the first time in years he thinks himself understood and he feels useful; uniquely useful, indeed, as he takes his own turn promoting the recovery of others. No matter what the outer world thinks of him, he knows he can get well, for he stands in the midst of scores of cases worse than his own who have attained the goal. And there are other cases precisely like his own – a pressure of testimony which usually overwhelms him. If he doesn’t succumb at once, he will almost surely do so later when Barleycorn builds a still hotter fire under him, thus blocking off all his other carefully planned exits from dilemma. The speaker recalls seventy-five failures during the first three years of A.A. – people we utterly gave up on. During the past seven years sixty-two of these people have returned to us, most of them making good. They tell us they returned because they knew they would die or go mad if they didn’t. Having tried everything else within their means and having exhausted their pet rationalizations, they came back and took their medicine. That is why we never need to evangelize alcoholics. If still in their right minds they come back, once they have been well exposed to A.A.
 
Now to recapitulate, Alcoholics Anonymous has made two major contributions to the programs of psychiatry and religion. These are, it seems to us, the long missing links in the chain of recovery:
 
Our ability, as ex-drinkers, to secure the confidence of the new man – to “build a transmission line into him.”
 The provision of an understanding society of ex-drinkers in which the newcomer can successfully apply the principles of medicine and religion to himself and others.
So far as we A.A.’s are concerned, these principles, now used by us every day, seem to be in surprising agreement. ©(N.Y. State J. Med.,Vol.44, Aug. 15, 1944).
Second Answer
A – On the surface A.A. is a thing of great simplicity, yet at its core a profound mystery. Great forces surely must have been marshaled to expel obsessions from all these thousands, an obsession which lies at the root of our fourth largest medical problem and which, time out of mind, has claimed its hapless millions. © (N.Y. State J. Med., Vol. 50, July 1950).

====================================  

Some more from Chuck D,

On Cultivating Tolerance
by Dr. Bob S.
Copyright © AA Grapevine, Inc July 1944
 
During nine years in AA, I have observed that those who follow the Alcoholics Anonymous program with the greatest earnestness and zeal not only maintain sobriety but often acquire finer characteristics and attitudes as well. One of these is tolerance. Tolerance expresses itself in a variety of ways: in kindness and consideration toward the man or woman who is just beginning the march along the spiritual path; in the understanding of those who perhaps have been less fortunate in education advantages; and in sympathy toward those whose religious ideas may seem to be at great variance with our own.
 
I am reminded in this connection of the picture of a hub with its radiating spokes. We all start at the outer circumference and approach our destination by one of many routes. To say that one spoke is much better than all the other spokes is true only in the sense of its being best suited to you as an individual. Human nature is such that without some degree of tolerance, each one of us might be inclined to believe that we have found the best or perhaps the shortest spoke. Without some tolerance, we might tend to become a bit smug or superior – which, of course, is not helpful to the person we are trying to help and may be quite painful or obnoxious to others. No one of us wishes to do anything that might act as a deterrent to the advancement of another – and a patronizing attitude can readily slow up this process.
 
Tolerance furnishes, as a by-product, a greater freedom from the tendency to cling to preconceived ideas and stubbornly adhered-to opinions. In other words, it often promotes an open-mindedness that is vastly important – is, in fact, a prerequisite to the successful termination of any line of search, whether it be scientific or spiritual.
 
These, then, are a few of the reasons why an attempt to acquire tolerance should be made by each one of us.
================================

Everyone once, once only. Just once and no more. And we also once. Never again. But this having been once, although only once, to have been of the earth, seems irrevocable. 
–Rainer Maria Rilke
 
In the hopelessness of addiction and codependency, and as children of alcoholics, some of us have considered suicide, and some of us have actually tried to kill ourselves. We have maintained the option as an escape in case life got too difficult. Now, in recovery, we have chosen life. We’ve stopped killing ourselves in the slow ways of our old behaviors, yet some of us hold on to our ace in the hole. Either consciously or unconsciously, we haven’t made that unconditional commitment to life.
It may be one firmer step into recovery – a vote for the life we have been given – to say, “I will never choose suicide. Whatever comes my way, it is not an option for me.” When we give up that one final controlling maneuver, we may find ourselves freer to live in this one irretrievable life we’ve been given.
In choosing to be totally on the side of life,
I step further into the care of God.
Whatever 1 must meet, God is with me.

================================

The lust for power is not rooted in strength but in weakness. 
–Erich Fromm
 
 
Many of us have felt so insecure, so poor, or so much the underdog that we made a fervent promise to ourselves that we’d come out on top later. We know how weak we felt, and that image continues to be our guiding force long after the weakness was overcome. We may have spiritual problems because we are blind to the reality of our present life. While grasping for more security, more love, more money, or trying to lose more weight or attract more friends, we fail to stop and realize the real rewards we already have today. We are driven by the memory of pain and insecurity, rather than rising above it and relating to the higher principles and people around us. Getting more control or more achievements does not solve our spiritual problems, but by making peace with the fact that life is insecure.
Today, I will let go of my grasping for more.
I will let go of it again and again throughout
the day so I am not ruled by this weakness.

================================

I am ill because my mind is in a rut and refuses to leave. 
–Karen Giordino
 
We are vulnerable human beings. We are susceptible to accidents and disease, and we can get bogged down in unhealthy thinking. We aren’t at fault when we catch a cold or get a more serious illness, and accidents can happen to anyone. In the same way our addictions and the addictions of people we are close to are not our fault. We never asked for these afflictions, yet we must deal with them.
Physical and spiritual health can’t be separated. A thriving spiritual life creates an environment for physical healing and strength. In the same way, physical well-being infuses our spirit with hope and joy. Human beings cannot go through life without sometimes being ill in either mind or body. Living by this program helps make us healthier in all ways. When we are bogged down, we can turn to one of the Steps as a means of healing and release.
Today, I will remember that lama whole human,
with body and spirit as one.
As I turn to the Steps,
my whole being is healed.

================================

You cannot get it by taking thought; You cannot seek it by not taking thought. 
–Zenrin poem
 
We are transported into unfamiliar worlds in this program by ideas that sometimes confound our mind. In the spiritual realms we learn things we didn’t learn anywhere else, and gradually they bring us peace. We can decide with our will to follow a spiritual direction, to turn our life and will over to the care of our God. We cannot control what God will do with them. When we learn that part of our problem was trying too hard, being too self sufficient, or being too controlling, our old ways tell us to try hard to control that. But then we are only doing more of the same old thing. We learn that after making our decision, our Higher Power takes over. Now it is possible to be released from our own trying, to move beyond our own efforts by falling into the caring hand of God.
I must give this program first priority in my life, 
remembering my spiritual progress comes as a gift,
not as an achievement.

================================

Which Came First, the Drink or the Disease? 
Grapevine May 1983
 
SOMETIMES, in speaking to an AA group, I depart from the standard opening, and start with:
 
“My name is E– , and I have alcoholism. Putting it this way helps me remember something I must never forget: I have a progressive, incurable, and unless arrested, fatal illness, and I will have it to the day I die. Alcoholism is a sickness which happens to some people through no fault of their own. It happened to me.”
And always, I wonder how many of the AA members sitting there, nodding agreement, actually believe it with real conviction.
 
I was new to AA the first time I heard a speaker say, “I became an alcoholic as the result of drinking too much too long.” Even in the chaotic condition of my mind in those early weeks, that struck me as illogical. Was he saying that everyone who drank a considerable amount over an extended period was bound to develop alcoholism? We need only look around us to disprove that.
 
I could look at my own kin, typical of thousands of American families. Of the twenty-seven assorted parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and cousins who made up our clan, I don’t know of any who didn’t partake of and enjoy alcoholic beverages. On the theory that drinking causes alcoholism, we should have produced twenty-seven alcoholics, but we didn’t. We produced three: me and two of my cousins.
 
I was to hear variations of the drinking-causes-alcoholism theme repeatedly as time went on. The most recent was at an AA conference, almost twenty-four years after my first one. “I drank myself right into alcoholism!” the speaker declared.
 
In my opinion, that man was getting cause and effect mixed up. He didn’t get alcoholism because he drank too much. He drank too much because he had alcoholism.
 
To attribute our alcoholism to drinking, rather than our drinking to alcoholism, as I see it, is to hold on to one of our old ideas we need to let go of absolutely. It is, in effect, to deny that our compulsive drinking is the result of an illness for which we are in no way to blame.
 
How patiently and resolutely we try to set straight the mixed-up thinking of the newcomers who say, “I drank because my husband (or wife) nagged me all the time,” or “I drank because I had so much stress at work,” or “I drank because I was worried sick over my debts.”
 
“No,” we tell them. “Those are the excuses you make to justify your excessive drinking, but they were not the reason for it. The reason you drank alcoholically is that you have alcoholism. The world is full of people who have problems just as serious as yours, but their drinking doesn’t go out of control. They aren’t any better or stronger than we are, but they are different from us. They don’t have alcoholism, and we do.”
 
Shouldn’t we go on to convince our new members that their drinking didn’t cause their alcoholism, any more than their problems did? For if they say, “I developed alcoholism because I drank,” they are also saying, “If I had not drunk, I wouldn’t have become an alcoholic. So it comes back to being all my fault, after all.” Most of us reach AA bowed down under a heavy load of guilt. We don’t need any more.
Clinging to the notion that alcoholism is caused by excessive drinking or, worse, that alcoholism is excessive drinking, presents two grave dangers.
 
First, the general public is slow to give up the belief that alcoholism is an immoral condition, that heavy drinking is a “bad” thing to do, and those who do it must be “bad” people. Still-drinking alcoholics who haven’t reached us yet are a part of that general public, and very likely just as misinformed. They find themselves in an impossible situation.
 
They hear from all sides that they “ought” to stop drinking, and that their failure to do so is the result of their own weakness, depravity, and lack of willpower. And they believe it. Yet they know they literally cannot control their drinking by their own efforts (only God and the alcoholics know how hard they’ve tried!), and they know that in no other area of their lives are they either weak or depraved. The only way they can see out of the dilemma is to deny that they are alcoholics–and all too many of them do to the day they die, of alcoholism.
 
We can reach more of these suffering alcoholics if we persuade them to believe the truth–that they have developed an illness the exact cause of which is still unknown–and if we can also convince their spouses, doctors, bartenders, ministers, and all the others in a position to point them in our direction. We can do this more effectively if we believe it ourselves.
 
The second danger of confusing the symptom, compulsive drinking, with the illness, alcoholism, is that it can hamper new arrivals in their efforts to get a grip on the AA program of recovery. Many times, in AA talks, we hear this:
 
“I came to AA and stopped drinking. I was on top of the world. I knew I would never drink again. As long as I was sober, there didn’t seem to be any reason for taking the Steps, or going to a lot of meetings. So I started to skip meetings. In three months, I was drinking again. And it took two sick, miserable, drunken years before I got back. You were right–it is a progressive illness.”
 
Whenever I hear something like that, I wonder whether it might have been avoided if the speaker’s early mentors in AA had talked less about alcohol and more about alcoholism–if they had dinned it into the newcomer that stopping drinking does not constitute recovery but is only the absolutely essential beginning of a recovery process that changes each of us into the kind of person we can live with contentedly, sober. Given the belief that drinking causes alcoholism, it is easy to con ourselves into thinking that stopping drinking is all we need.
 
It would be impossible to overestimate the importance of getting the drinking stopped. That must come before any real recovery can take place. A still-drinking alcoholic, I firmly believe, can make no progress in taking the Twelve Steps of AA, or in spiritual growth.
 
But becoming dry is the starting point, not the stopping point. Just as drinking didn’t cause our alcoholism, stopping drinking doesn’t deal with it. I came into AA as a confused, self-centered, egotistical, defensive person who drank excessively. I then became a confused, self-centered, egotistical, defensive person who didn’t drink. I was still sick, but from alcoholism, not from alcohol.
 
The real difference was that now I could start to recover.
I could set out on the difficult, exciting,
often discouraging, but always rewarding experience
in living that we call the AA program.
E. E.
Tulsa, Oklahoma

================================

Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself
and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life. 
–Herbert Otto
 
 
The rewards of our new life are apparent to us because of how we feel, and apparent to others by what they can see. Many of us had reached our bottom point, and we felt there was no risk in trying a program of recovery. Yet, we still had some distorted security in our harmful ways of relating to others or in our addictions. Letting go was an experiment. This program gives us guidelines for experimenting with our life for growth, and we continue growing everyday.
Some of our benefits are increased confidence and self respect, more intimacy with our partner, better friendships, and better physical health. We feel these changes in ourselves, and we see them in the other men and women in this program.
Today, I am grateful for the rewards in my life from this experiment in recovery.

================================

Many could forego heavy meals, a full wardrobe, a fine house, et cetera; it is the ego they cannot forego. 
–Mohandas Gandhi
 
We inevitably confront our ego in this program. We face our macho self, our powerful self, or our always-right self. We have developed many trappings, which give us an identity: our car, our stereo system, our job, our popularity, or our place to sit in church. The more attached we are to these trappings, the tougher it is for us to make progress on this spiritual path.
In stepping across a stream we must leave the side we are on in order to get to the other side. The repeated challenge in our spiritual life is to leave the secure trappings we know and take comfort in the still unknown new self. That is the leap of faith. We take the risk and trust something will be there for us. We have faith that letting go of our immediate attachments will bring us to a better place, that God will be there for us.
  I will let go of external images and use my faith to take the leap forward.

================================

Look at the post as a bullet. Once it’s fired it’s finished. 
–Catherine Bauby
 
Today is before us as an unformed experience. Yesterday took its own shape, and whatever it was has now gone. Our only opportunities exist in what we will do this day. Perhaps we can enhance the day by starting with a review of yesterday and then letting go. What were the major events in our experiences yesterday? How do we feel about them? Is something left unfinished in our feelings or actions that we need to complete or repair today? Can we take yesterday’s experience to build a better today?
We have centered ourselves in this day by reviewing where we just came from. We have taken a spot check inventory. Now we can let go of yesterday and move forward in the present. That does not mean we never think about the past again. It means we build on the past by learning from our experiences and letting them shape our activities now. In that way we draw ever closer into accord with the will of our Higher Power.
I will let go of the past by learning from it. I give myself to shaping today.

================================ 

Memorial Service for Dr. Bob

Memorial Service for Dr. Bob

24th Street Clubhouse, New York City, N.Y.

November 15, 1952

A meeting was held at the 24th Street Club House in memory of Dr. Bob. A recording of Dr. Bob’s

last talk was played and a portrait of Dr. Bob was unveiled. Bill W. then addressed the meeting.

Dr. Bob’s recorded voice has come down to us across the air since he died in 1950. Some may

say that his actual voice is still forever, but you and I know that is not so and that his spirit will be

with us so long as this well loved society of ours endures. Now, I happen to be one who believes

that people never die, that on beyond death there is another life and it could be that Dr. Bob is

looking down upon us now, seeing us, hearing what we say and feel and think and have done in

this meeting. I know his heart will be glad.

Dr Bob was a chap who was modestly and singularly against taking any personal acclaim or

honor but surely now that he is no longer with us he can’t mind, I don’t believe and for him I wish

to thank everyone here who has made this occasion possible and the unveiling possible, with all

the work and love that that has entailed. Again, I wish to thank each and everyone.

In A.A. we always deal in personalities, really, this thing is transmitted from one to another and it

isn’t so much what we read about it that counts, it’s what we uniquely know about of ourselves

and those just around us who have us and who we would help. Therefore, I take it that you folks

would like it better than anything else if I just spun a few yarns about Dr. Bob and that very early

part of A.A., which we so often call the period of flying blind.

Of course you’ll remember my little story about how a friend comes to me with the idea of getting

more honest, more tolerant, making amends, helping others without demand for reward, praying

as best I knew how and that was my friend Ebby.

As you heard Dr. Bob say, he had heard those things too from the same source, namely the

Oxford Groups which have since as such, passed of f the scene and have left us with a rich

heritage of both what and what not to do. Anyway, a friend comes to me and I go to other

alcoholics and try to make them my friends and some did become my friends but as you heard

Dr. Bob say, not a darn one got sober.

Then came that little man that we who live in this area saw so much, him with kind of blue eyes

and the white hair,’ Doc Silkworth. You’ll remember that Doc said to me, “Look Bill, you’re

preaching at these people too much. You’ve got the cart before the horse. This ‘white flash’

experience of yours scares these drunks to death. Why don’t you put the fear of God into them

first? You’re always talking about James and the Varieties of Religious Experience and how you

have to deflate people before they can know God, how they must have humility. So, why don’t

you use the tools that we’ve really got here, why don’t you use the tool of the medical

hopelessness of alcoholism for practically all those involved? Why don’t you talk to the drunk

about that allergy they’ve got and that obsession that makes them keep on drinking and

guarantees that they will die? Maybe when you punch it into them hard it will deflate them enough

so that they will find what you found.”

So, another indispensable ingredient was added to what is now this successful synthesis and that

was just about the time I set out for Akron on a business trip. It had been suggested by the family

that it was about time that I went back to work. I went out there on this venture, which as Dr. Bob

said, “fortunately fell through.” You heard him tell about the story in the hotel after I had taken a

good beating and I was tempted to drink and needed to look up another alcoholic, not this time to

save him but to save myself, for I had found that working with others had a vast bearing on my

own sobriety.

Then, how we were brought together by a girl who was the last person on a long list of people I ‘d

been referred to. The only one who had time enough and who cared enough and that was a girl in

Akron, herself no alcoholic, her name was Henrietta Seiberling. She invited me out there and she

became interested at once. She called Smiths and we learned Smithy had just come home with a

potted plant for dear old Annie and he put it on the dining room table but as Annie said that just

then he was on the floor and they couldn’t come over at that minute.

2

You’ll remember the next day how he put in an appearance. Haggard, worn, not wishing to stay

and how then we talked for hours. Now I have often heard Dr. Bob say and I thought he said it on

the recording that “it was not so much my spirituality that affected him,” he was a student of those

things and I certainly know that he was never affected by any superior morality on my part. So,

what did affect him? Well, it was this ammunition that dear old Doc Silkworth had given me, the

allergy plus the obsession. The God of science declaring that the malady for most of us is

hopeless so far as our personal power is concerned. As Dr. Bob put it in his story in the book

“here came the first man into my life who seemed to know what this thing alcoholism was all

about.”

Well, if it wasn’t the dose of spirituality I poured into Dr. Bob, it was that dose of indispensable

medicine to this movement, the dose of hopelessness so far as one doing this alone is

concerned. The bottle of medicine that Dr. Silkworth had given me that I poured down the old

grizzly bear’s throat. That’s what I used to call him.

Well, he gagged on it a little, got drunk once more and that was the end. Then he and I set out

looking for drunks, we had to look some up. There is a little remembered part of the story. The

story usually goes that we immediately called up the local city hospital and asked the nurse for a

case but that isn’t quite true. There was a preacher who lived down the street and he was beset

at the time by a drunk and his name was Eddie and we talked to Eddie and it turned out that

Eddie was not only a drunk but something which in that high faluting language we now call a

manic depressive, not very manic either, mostly depressed. Eddie was married with two or three

kids, worked down at Goodrich Company and his depression caused him to drink and the only

thing that would stop the depression was apparently baking soda. When he got a sour stomach,

he got depressed so he was not only drinking alcohol but we estimated that in the past few years

he had taken a ton of baking soda. Well, we tried for a while, of course, we thought we had to be

good Samaritan’s so we got up some dough to try to keep the family going, we got Eddie back on

the job but Eddie kept right on with alcohol and baking soda both. Finally, Dr. Bob and Annie took

Eddie along with me into their house, a pattern which my dear Lois followed out to the nth degree

later and we tried to treat Eddie and my mind goes back so vividly to that evening when Eddie

really blew his top. I don’t know whether it was the manic side or on the depressive side but boy

did he blow it and Annie and I were sitting out at the kitchen table and Eddie seized the butcher

knife and was about to do us in when Annie said very quietly “well Eddie, I don’t think your going

to do this.” And he didn’t. Thereafter, Eddie was in a State asylum for a period I should think of

going on a dozen or more years but believe it or not he showed up at the funeral of Dr. Bob in the

fall of 1950 as sober as a judge and he had been that way for three years.

So even that obscure little talk about Eddie made the grade. So then Dr. Bob and I talked to the

man on the bed, Bill Dotson, who some of you have heard, A.A. number three. Here was another

man who said he couldn’t get well, his case was too tough, much tougher than ours besides he

knew all about religion. Well, here it was, one drunk talking with another, in fact, two drunks

talking to one. The very next day the man on the bed got out of his bed and he picked it up and

walked and he has stayed up ever since. A.A. number three, the man on the bed.

So the spark that was to become Alcoholics Anonymous was struck. I came back to New York

after having taken away a great deal from Akron. I never can forget those mornings and those

nights at the Smiths. I can never forget Annie reading to us and the two or three drunks who were

hanging on, out of the bible. I couldn’t possibly say how many times we read Corinthians on love,

how many times we read the entire book of James with loving emphasis on that line “Faith

without works is dead.” It did make a very deep impression on me; so from the very beginning

there was reciprocity, everybody was teacher and everybody was pupil and nobody need look up

or down to the other because as Jack Alexander put it years later “we are all brothers and sisters

under the skin.”

A group started in New York, but let’s turn back to Akron. Smithy, unlike me and the man on the

bed was bothered very badly by a temptation to drink. Smithy was one of these continuous

drinkers. He wasn’t what you would call one of these pantywaist periodic’s. He guzzled all the

time and apparently by the time he got to be sixty odd, which was when he got A.A. He was so

soaked in rum that he just had a terrible physical urge to drink. Long after he told me that he had

that urge for something like six or seven years and that it was constant and that his basic release

from it was in doing what we now call the twelfth step. So Smithy, greatly out of love and partly by 

3 being driven began to frantically work on those cases, first in City Hospital in Akron and then as

they got tired of drunks in the place, finally over at St. Thomas where there is now a plaque which

bears an inscription dedicated to all those who labored there in our pioneering time and

describing St. Thomas in Akron as the first religious institution ever to open it’s doors to

Alcoholics Anonymous.

Ah, how much of drama, how much of struggle, how much of misery, how much of joy lies in the

era before the plaque was put there. No one can say. There was a sister in the hospital, a

veritable saint if you ever saw one. Our beloved Sister Ignatia. Dr. Bob mentioned her. He told

how she would deny beds to people with broken legs in order to stick drunks in them. She loved

drunks. She was a sort of female Silkworth, if you know what I mean. So finally a ward was

provided and you remember that Dr. Bob was an M.D. and a mighty good one. Now you know

that quite within the A.A. Tradition Dr. Bob might have charged all those drunks who went through

that place for his medical services. He treated 5,000 drunks medically and never charged a dime,

even in that long period when he was very poor. For unlike most of us to whom it is a credit to

belong to Alcoholics Anonymous, it was no credit to a surgeon at that time. “It was lovely that the

old boy got sober” his patients said, “but how the hell do I know he’ll be sober when he cuts me

up at nine o’clock in the morning.” And so that frantic effort went on out there and it went on here

and we got back and forth a little bit between Akron and New York. You haven’t any conception

these days of how much failure we had. How you had to cull over hundreds of these drunks to get

a handful to take the bait. Yes, the discouragements were very great but some did stay sober and

some very tough ones at that.

The next great memory I have is that of a day I shared with him in his living room in the fall of

1937. I, you remember had sobered up in late ’34 and Bob in June 1935. Well, we began to count

noses, we asked ourselves “How many were dry and for how long,” Not how many failures, how

many successes were there in Akron, New York and the trickle to Cleveland and in the other little

trickles to Philadelphia and Washington. How much time elapsed on how many cases? We added

up the score and I guess we had maybe forty folks sober and with real time elapsed. For the first

time Dr. Bob and I knew that God had made a great gift to us children of the night and that the

long procession coming down through the ages need no longer all go over into the left hand path

and plunge over the cliff. We knew that something great had come into the world.

Then it was a question of how we would spread this and that was answered by the publication of

the book and the opening of the office here. It was spread by our great friends who rallied about

us. There were friends in medicine, friends in religion, friends in the press and just plain but great

friends. They all came to our aid and spread the good news.

Meanwhile drunks from all over Ohio, all over the Middle West flocked into the Akron hospital

where Dr. Smith and Sister Ignatia ministered to them. And I have no doubt that two out of three

of those drunks are sober, well and happy today. So that achievement certainly entitles Dr. Bob to

be named as the prince of all twelve steppers.

That was the end of the flying blind period; next we needed to discover whether we could hold

together as groups. We had learned that we might survive as individuals but could this movement

hold together and grow. On a thousand anvils and after a million heartbreaks the tradition of

Alcoholics Anonymous was also forged out of our experience and what had been a tiny chip,

launched in the flying blind time on the sea of alcoholism now became a mighty armada

spreading over the world, touching foreign beachheads. Of all that, this meeting here in this

historic place in commemoration of Dr. Bob is a great and moving symbol. I know that he looks

down upon us. I know that he smiles and we know that he is glad.


Sincerely,
Ron Richey
808-734-5732
545 Queen St. # 701
Honolulu, Hi 96813
iamronrichey@gmail.com
www.melloron.com

Chuck D.

Suffering is a journey, which has an end.
Matthew Fox

Pain is part of life. To live a spiritual life, we need a way to understand the suffering we sometimes endure. Looking back at other difficult times can give us a better perspective of the pain we feel today. All of us can recall a loss or a sudden difficult change that we never would have chosen for ourselves. Perhaps it brought us face to face with insecurities or doubts about our survival. Now, after the suffering has ended, we see how much we grew. We changed; we were strengthened and, perhaps, were liberated by what happened to us.

Thoughts about today’s suffering may not be clear as to what good it holds for us. But we are on a journey, and it can only happen one step at a time. We know that journeys teach us great lessons and they do have endings. Our pain today affirms that we are vital and alive people. We know others suffer as we do, and we can turn to each other to give and receive comfort while we are on the journey.

My pain will teach me something I need to know,
and it will have an end. I will pay attention to its lessons.
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He that to what he sees, adds observation, and to what he reads, reflection, is in the right road to knowledge. 
Caleb Colton
We are not just feathers blown on the winds of a powerless life. We bring ourselves to our experiences. The dynamics of learning include, first, what happens – what we see or read or hear – and, second, what we make of it. So in our observations and reflections we consider what an event means to us.
As people in a spiritual program, we need some time to think and reflect. That is, we need time away from the phone, away from interruptions and work, where we can let ourselves learn and grow from our experiences. Some get that by leaving the radio off while driving alone, others get it on the bus, others light a candle in a quiet room at home and meditate. In this way we are conscious and aware of what is happening in our lives and we bring our wisdom to it. Through time we deepen and grow stronger as we grow older rather than only accumulating more experiences.
Today, I will reflect on the meaning of my experiences and bring my wisdom to them.

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Anonymous

“I don’t react to the present the way I reacted to the past.”
  Last week I had a God shot that revealed the miracle of recovery in my life. An emotionally charged situation came up that used to trigger a wounded, withdrawn and resentful reaction, but as it unfolded I noticed something wonderful happening inside me – I was aware that I could choose a different, healthy way of responding. What a change that was!
  Before recovery, I was a literal slave to the old, hurtful wounds of my past. I was like Pavlov’s dogs – as soon as a stimulus was presented, I reacted automatically, and my reactions almost always made the situation worse. Not only was I not aware that I had a choice, I also had no idea there might be a better, more appropriate way of responding. And that’s what the miracle of recovery has given me.
  Through years of working the program, running my thinking and ideas by my sponsor before I took action, and praying for an intuitive idea or the right action and then waiting for inspiration, I have developed the space to consider my options and then choose the most appropriate way of responding. This new way of reacting has freed me, and allowed me to live a happier, healthier and more fulfilled life.
  Today, I don’t react to the present the way I reacted to the past.
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Many things are lost for want of asking. 
–English proverb
It’s a principle of this program that we grow, in part, by learning to ask for what we need. Perhaps today we are struggling with a problem that could be eased if we talked to another in the program. We could call them on the phone and just ask them if he has a few minutes to talk. Maybe we’re wondering about a physical pain. Maybe we feel strange about something we said and would like to ask someone’s opinion.
Mistaken notions about life get in the way of recovery when we refuse to ask for help. We think we should know the answers and be self-sufficient. Maybe we feel stupid if we have to ask. Those notions drop by the wayside as we get healthier and learn the rewards of connecting with others to satisfy our mutual needs. No longer does false pride have to keep us isolated and struggling alone.
Today, I will notice what I need and practice asking for help.

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From Chuck D.

How should one live? Live welcoming to all.
–Mechtild of Magdeburg
Welcoming is a spiritual practice we met when we came to this program. We may recall our first meetings and how welcome we felt in this group of fellow sufferers. It gave us hope when we felt desperate and continues to provide us with a nourishing place to grow.
To be welcoming means to accept others as they are, without passing judgment on their worth. It means to encourage them when they are despairing and to accept that they have a rightful place in our world. Welcoming is being generous with our resources. We do not have to feel close to someone to be welcoming. We can welcome a stranger. As we practice this attitude toward others, regardless of their status in life, regardless of their good or bad actions, we are changed inside. We learn from the people we welcome, and we are reminded that in the sight of God we are all loved as equals.
Today, I will practice a welcoming attitude toward everyone I meet.
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They have rights who dare defend them.
–Roger Baldwin
There is a hard side to emotional health and maturity. As we grow, we gain many more sides, more ways of responding to the situations we meet. We learn that yielding to God sometimes means letting our full strength flow to defend our rights and ward off intrusion or disrespect. As we have become more loving and tolerant, we have become more assertive for our rights and those of others.
We must speak up for ourselves and for our points of view. We must not let others demean us or put us down, nor can we take on blame for others’ life problems. When we ought to stand up for ourselves and don’t, we may be invaded by a false feeling that we are crazy or bad. As recovering people, we sometimes must call on our hard side and say, “No! I will not be a doormat for the harmful actions of others. I will defend my rights.”
I will cultivate my relationship with my Higher Power and let that lead me to stand up for myself.
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Without solitude there can be no real people…. The measure of your solitude is the measure of your capacity/or communion.
–John Eudes
If we listen in those moments when we hear a message from ourselves, we become true adults – real human beings. The message comes in our solitude, when our defenses against truth are set aside. It comes popping out without our planning it. Our solitude is a relationship with ourselves, and it might occur in silent meditation, or driving down the street, or during a dinner conversation. The message might be a painful truth like, “You just acted like a small child,” or a frightening fact like, “You are deeply loved by another person.”
Letting another person know what messages we are getting in solitude helps us deal with the messages. As we accept our imperfections and make peace with ourselves, we increase our sense of solitude. We become mature folks, full partners in relationships and in our communities.
Today, I will welcome solitude. When the messages
from myself are painful or frightening,
I will be gentle with myself.
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The Hospital Window
Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.
One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.
His bed was next to the room’s only window.
The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.
The men talked for hours on end.
They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation..
Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.
The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.
Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.
Days, weeks and months passed.
One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.
She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.
As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.
It faced a blank wall.
The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.
The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said, ‘Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.’
Epilogue:
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.
Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.
If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy.
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Some people regard themselves as perfect, but only because they demand little of themselves.
–Hermann Hesse
Many of us in this program have a struggle with perfectionism. This is a central spiritual issue. Sometimes we feel ashamed or frightened by our imperfections, or we strive so hard to overcome them that we successfully close our lives down to a very narrow, controllable scale. Spiritual awakening means we have zest for life and accept our imperfections.
We know today will be shaky and insecure in some ways. We probably will make some mistakes or offenses. Our solution is not our old behavior of attempting to control whatever happens; it is to join life with a spiritual feeling. We let go of ourselves, and what happens? We are part of a larger whole. We are not in control of the process of life, and whatever we do is part of an ongoing dialogue, so we will have another chance to respond, even to our own mistakes.
Today, I pray for liberation from my perfectionism so I can more fully engage in life’s adventure.
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Some good ones from Chuck D.

If I were to begin life again, I should want it as it was. I would only open my eyes a little more.
–Jules Renard

Spiritual and emotional growth is a process of raising our awareness. Reflecting on our growth as people, before this program and after, we see different levels of consciousness. Some of us might say we weren’t at all conscious of what it meant to be a mature person by the time we entered the adult world.

Now we are forming an awareness of mankind. We see ourselves more as recovering, caring, strong, vulnerable men in relationships with others. We have an increased sense that our actions make a difference as sons, as parents, as spouses, lovers, and friends. Our increased understanding of ourselves makes it possible to fulfill our potentials for growth. It is not idle fantasy to imagine beginning life again because, in a sense, we have. In recovery, it seems we have begun life again, only with our eyes a little more open.
Help me live this day with all of my awareness.
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Do not seek death. Death will find you.
–Dag Hammarskjold
When we accept deep within ourselves the fact that we will die, that our days are numbered as certainly as those of each thriving, bustling generation before us, then we become more fully alive and vital people. Facing this raises grief over our loss, and we wish to avoid it. Yet, death keeps us honest. It highlights the folly of our questions about whether we should live or die and confronts us with the self-destructive behaviors we have used. Some of us have nearly killed ourselves by our extreme behaviors.

Since death is certain, the real question is. How shall we live? By pursuing recovery and spiritual growth we have chosen to live more fully and to use our energies well. We live with commitment to our highest values. We stay in tune with our inner voice to help us make choices. We play, we love, and we celebrate the miracle of life every day, not because there is no grief, but because life is precious and time is limited.Today, I will accept my grief over the limits of life. I will celebrate its wonder.
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I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
–Walt Whitman 

How foreign the thought is to many of us that we might make progress by loafing. Yet we probably have experienced it. We have felt more in tune with ourselves after taking a break. After an especially relaxing weekend we feel more alive or clearer about ourselves. At those times we have invited our soul and have been rejuvenated.

Centuries of spiritual practice from different ideologies have taught the need for quiet relaxation in some form to invite the soul. Some have practiced a Sabbath day each week, others a time of prayer every day – even several times a day – others have practiced a daily period of deep meditation. Simply a period of loafing, with no particular goal in mind, may invite conscious contact with our Higher Power.

I pray for the ability to set aside my busy pace of life,
my worrying and fretting, my “take charge” attitude
for a period of time today.
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+MORE FROM CHUCK D.

If you keep on saying things are going to be bad, you have a good chance of being a prophet. 
–Isaac Bashevis Singer
Many of us have the habit of taking a negative outlook on whatever comes along.
We don’t believe things will work out for us; we don’t think we will have a good day;
we can’t accept our friends’ warm feelings. To follow this gloomy path is a strange distortion of faith –
it is faith in the negative. Any forecast, whether hopeful or pessimistic, is a step into the unknown.
So why do we choose the dark one?
We get a payoff for our pessimism, which keeps us hooked. It creates misery, but serves our demand for control.
There is more risk in being open to something positive because we cannot force positive things to occur.
We can only be open to them and believe in the possibility. But when we predict the negative and expect only bad things,
we squelch many good things or overlook them. Then we say, “I knew it would be this way,”
and in our misery we satisfy our self-centered craving to be in charge. When we surrender our need to be in control,
we are more open and welcoming of the good things that come our way.
Today. I will be open to the good that is around me.

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He was shut out from all family affairs.
No one told him anything.
The children, alone with their mother,
told her all about the day’s happenings, everything….
But as soon as the father came in, everything stopped.
–D. H. Lawrence
Many of us folks are on the outer edge of our family circles.
The closeness between our children and our spouses often seems more comfortable,
more intimate than our relationships with them.
Perhaps it’s similar to the closeness we had with our mother while our father was outside.
It is painful to us and probably not entirely our own fault. We were taught that our main
job was outside the home – supporting our family by earning a living.
But it is up to us to change the situation.Many of us learned from our own father that grown
men stay aloof from emotional relationships, but this has hurt our relationships and alienated
us from the people we most care for. Learning to know our feelings and how to express them
helps us move into the family circle of intimacy.
Today, I will let go of my aloofness with my family so they can know me better.

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LIVE and let live
EASY does it
BUT for the grace of God
THINK think think
FIRST things first
When put in this order five of our sayings produce
a sixth saying by taking the first word of each one t
o make the sixth: LIVE EASY BUT THINK FIRST.
–unknown

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Those who are mentally and emotionally healthy are those who have learned when to say yes, when to say no, and when to say whoopee!
–Willard S. Krabill
We humans have fallen into many difficulties because of poorly defined personal boundaries. Some of us never learned to say no to our mothers and felt invaded or ruled by them. Or we never truly said no to our parents – never went through a teenage rebellion to establish ourselves as adults. Others have gotten stuck saying no and have never learned to yield and say yes.
Boundary problems have been part of the difficulty in many areas of our lives. We’ve told ourselves we have no right to our yes or no, or we’ve said we’re strong enough to sacrifice for someone else, or we’ve welcomed the escape from ourselves in discarding our choice. Not saying no when we needed to or not saying yes when we wanted to has led many of us into doctors’ offices, courts, jails, lost jobs, divorces, and bad marriages. Now the inner voice of our Higher Power is showing us our limits and encouraging us to stand up for them.
I am learning to know myself by defining my boundaries and choosing when and when not to cross them.

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Is the inventor of the ear unable to hear? Is the creator of the eye unable to see? 
–Psalms 94:9
The way we have been restored to our spiritual path is partly a mystery. Our willingness to accept mystery in our lives has taught us we are part of a larger whole. There is more at work in the world than we can know. Acceptance of the larger whole restores us to health.
We are not just separate beings with a private world. Our existence is part of a larger process. We came into being with no control and no forethought on our own part. We arise from a past that no one remembers.
It was when we didn’t see our place – as part of creation – that we were in the greatest pain and difficulty. Now each day, each hour, when we remember we are not in charge, and our will is not in control, we are restored again.
I am thankful for the mystery of recovery.
I accept this mystery as part of all the mysteries beyond my control

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Willingness 
At different meetings, I’ve heard and used that statement about claw marks being all over things that I’ve given up, which is really meant to say that I (and we) have all had a hard time letting go of (fill in the blank), hence the claw marks comment. 
I think it’s pretty honest and real. But, as the meditation continues, the important thing is that we did let go (and let God) and that we became willing. If I’m not willing, then I’m shutting down all the possibilities. 
   Willingness leads to openness which leads to
Awareness which leads to
Understanding which leads to
Compassion which leads to
Non-judgment which leads to
Acceptance which leads to
Forgiveness which leads to
Peace which leads to
Loving-kindness which leads to
Gratitude which leads to
Humility which leads to
a sense of Oneness and Unity with Spirit and all of creation. 
And it’s Willingness that opens the door. 
I pray that I become and remain willing to go where Spirit leads me and do what it takes.

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We shall describe conditions of the soul that words can only hint at. We shall have to use logic to try to corner perspectives that laugh at our attempt. 
–Huston Smith
As we live the spiritual life, we find words and logic are only capable of pointing in the direction of some truths. Words do not contain the entire truth our experience may be teaching us. This is like the difference between hearing about fishing versus actually being on the water, smelling the misty air, and feeling the fish tug on our line.
Spiritual development is a form of education. We are developing the part of us that learns by experience, that has a feeling without exactly knowing why, that understands stories better than statistics. Gradually, we accept more experiences in our lives as mysteries, as not fitting into any specific categories. Many experiences will have more meaning than cold facts could ever express. As this side of us develops, we don’t discard reason and judgment; we become deeper human beings.
Today, I will give my intuition more freedom. That will help my spiritual self grow.

Chuck D.

HE STILL HAD TIME BY Larry R.
 
On looking back he had to think, how could he be so dumb
He never had to pause or fear, he’s only having fun
He told himself he’s like the rest, they drink just like I do
So why was he the only one can’t stop with just a few
 
He still had time, he told himself, it’s just what young folks do
For sure some day he’d slow it down, but was that really true
Why stop or even slow it down, he has mountains yet to climb
One drink can’t hurt, might even help, he knew he still had time
 
And then one day he had to face how bad he really felt
His head did ache, his stomach sick, a friend said that he smelt
Yet this was just a passing thing, he still was in his prime
Tomorrow would be good enough, he knew he still had time
 
But time crept on and so did he, new thoughts began to grow
Perhaps this thing had gone too far and he began to know
That those old friends he partied with had moved on and had grown
And that was when he realized that he was now alone
 
So what to do, he had a choice, to live the same old way
Or face the truth, his life’s a wreck, seek help and start to pray
To any higher power, if one really did exist
Relieve him of his misery, the urge to drink dismissed
 
What happened next, to his surprise, he could not have believed
A friend appeared to tell a tale of what he had achieved
This friend had also been way down, along this dead end street
He had all but given up, when new folks he did meet
 
These folks he met had found a way, no more to have to drink
Join us they said, a better life that saved us from the brink
We know of others just like you and how their lives had changed
A bunch of drunks, all sober now, rearranged
 
He heard the works, but in his state, he could not comprehend
How meeting up with other drunks could help his soul to mend
But if there really was a chance, a way for him to climb
Out of this dark and lonely place, dear God he hoped there’s time
 
 
This friend said he would lead the way to where he had gone straight
A place where many folks had gone before it was too late
He went along but was confused, strange sayings on the walls
Twelve steps where only number one had mentioned alcohol
 
He heard his story told outloud, and he began to muse
These others had been just as bad, yet they had found the clues
To stop and turn their life around, and live a better way
By joining in a fellowship, a thing they called AA.
 
Some time has passed and he reflectes on how it could have been
A lonely life of misery, where death was sure to win
But sober now for quite a while, out of the dirt and grime
His AA friends to show the way and that he DID HAVE TIME
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  Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist but also in the ability to start over.
–F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sitting in a stalled car on the railroad tracks with a train approaching, one needs to let go and start over. A person who persists in that situation will die. Many situations require fierce persistence, but in others we need to start over. Early in recovery, most of us haven’t had a good way of knowing the difference. Perhaps with every challenge we tried harder and held on tighter. Our codependent relationships and our addictions had been our escapes.
Often we long for some clear directions from God to tell us, “Now is the time to let go,” or “Now is the time to persist.” That is not how we hear from our Higher Power. We can practice being less automatic in rising to every challenge. We can learn to see the wisdom and vitality in starting over. Certainly our recovery is a good example. Gradually we develop our contact with our Higher Power to help discern the difference. As we do, we develop more options for leading healthier lives.
Today, I will not automatically persist with a challenge.
I will notice when I have an opportunity to let go.
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Freedom means the right to be different, the right to be oneself. 
–Ira Eisenstein
Each of us is a unique creature and has special gifts to contribute to the world. We were not free in the past because we were slaves to addictions and codependency. We know that freedom is precious. Compulsions and pressures for conformity stifle our creativity and erode our dignity. As we grow in our relationship to our Higher Power, we get stronger and more balanced in our unique qualities. Some of us have a talent for empathizing with others, some for writing and art, others for sports and physical activities.
There is no recipe that prescribes exactly what kind of person we should be. Because we’re free, it is our creative task to discover what it means to be honest,  contributing folks within our particular circumstances. We don’t get a list of directions for each day, only guidelines for progress. Through groups and friendships, we develop in our own ways and learn to respect each other’s freedom.
I am grateful for the freedom to be uniquely and fully myself.

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The Coffee Cup 
I observed many standing around the coffee pot, the hallmark of the Fellowship. I was too nauseated to even consider a cup of coffee, let alone smell it. I came back the next day and was still holding onto my chair to stop my shaking. The coffee drinkers said “keep coming back” and “It gets better.” God I hope so cause I feel like I’m coming out of my skin. Day by day I returned to the smell of brewing coffee and sober people that seemed happy. I wanted to keep coming back because I had never seen this type of happiness. There must be something in the coffee.
  One day a lady handed me a half cup of this magic hot brew and I took it. For a brief moment the partially full cup puzzled me. As I embraced it with trembling hands, I realized the love and incredible understanding behind this silent gesture. I felt the warmth of it between my palms and held onto it instead of the chair that day. I waited until the meeting was well underway until I dare navigate the cup with both hands to my lips. I took a sip of this now medium-warm brown liquid and somehow felt a part of. That day I learned to drink coffee black and like it. As you can imagine, there came a day when I could pour myself a full cup of coffee and not spill a drop. I heard an old-timer remark “It takes a steady hand to hold a full cup.”
   This has proven to be an analogy of my life. So many times I had been given the opportunities of a full cup. But, because of my drinking, I spilled it every time and many times broke the cup it came in. I entered the rooms of AA and was given an appropriate amount in my cup at just the right time. I became steady enough to hold a full cup. I worked the steps and learned how to clean up the coffee I had spilled in my previous life. I was given tools to repair the broken cups, some even better than new. I learned how to keep my cup full and to keep the pot I poured from clean. But the most important thing, the most joyous thing, the most incredible thing has been to hand a newcomer a half cup of coffee at the appropriate time with the same gentle love and understanding I received.

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Fair play is primarily not blaming others for anything that is wrong with us. 
–Eric Hoffer
As adults, we accept responsibility for our feelings and our circumstances. We haven’t chosen our own troubles, but we have the job of dealing with them. If a person falls and breaks a leg, they might say to someone, “It’s your fault, and I’ll make you pay for this!” But that won’t fix their leg. The healing still has to come from within.
Our impulse to blame others is an attempt to escape our responsibilities. We become overcritical. We want someone else to take the rap for our pain and our misdeeds, but this only delays our wholeness as humans. There is no point in blaming ourselves either. When we first confront our discomfort directly and accept responsibility for dealing with it, we feel an inner urge to escape again. If we stay with the discomfort a while, a new stage begins – the healing and acceptance stage. A feeling of wholeness comes, a feeling of being a real person, of having reached our full size.
May I not indulge in blame today – toward myself or anyone else. Instead, may I be a strong, responsible person.
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Some posts from Chuck D.

The only intrinsic evil is lack of love. 
–John Robinson
When we have feelings of guilt or self-hate, we have spiritual problems. It is a time to turn to our program for help. In the early stages of recovery we may, at times, feel more shameful than we ever did before, simply because we are becoming honest about how we feel. We may even become ashamed of our guilty feelings, and then the problem escalates.
Lack of love for ourselves is at the heart of our problem. We cannot become self-loving by force of will, but we can stop being so willful by simply yielding to the care of a loving God. At those moments we do not feel deserving of love, but we can stop fending it off. Perhaps God’s love is coming to us in the concern of a friend or partner. Maybe it comes in the warm sunshine or in the smile of a child. As we yield to it, we take a spiritual leap into a world we don’t control and we didn’t create, but we can be healed by it.
Today, I will surrender to the love which comes from the world around me and let it teach me how to love myself.
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“If a man does not know what port he is steering for,
no wind is favorable to him.”
 
It’s surprising how easy it can be to just let life send us careening this way and that, as if our boat has lost its rudder. We complain every step of the way, of course, about how bad our luck is, how nothing is turning out the way we want.
   How can we be disappointed about where we land when we didn’t know where we going in the first place?
 
If I want my life to make sense, I need to start with a mental map of what direction I want to go.
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Thought to Ponder
A “shortcoming” is like a flat tire.
A “character defect” is driving on it.

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A good indignation brings out all one’s powers.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
Anger is a human emotion that gets us in touch with our energy and our vitality. But like any good thing, it can also be used in hurtful ways. When we examine the role anger has played in our lives, some of us can see where we used it to intimidate and dominate others. Maybe we can recall being terrified by someone else’s anger or even by our own. Some of us denied our anger and covered it with excessive helpfulness.
Examining the place anger has had in our lives Is one of the doorways we must pass through to regain our full spirit. We learn to set aside the anger we used to cover fear or hurt. We express it respectfully and honestly when we feel it in a relationship. Expressing anger does not have to be abusive or rejecting. It can mean we care enough to be fully involved and we will not leave after we express it. We can learn to hear others in their anger rather than an attempt to control or evade their message. In the process we are invigorated and feel healthier because we are claiming a larger part of ourselves.
 
Today, I will first be honest with myself about angry feelings. Then I will find respectful ways to express them.

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Here’s some more from Chuck D.

THE PARENTS WHO DRUGGED US. 
The other day I was in an old farmhouse in the adjoining county and someone asked me a rhetorical question, ‘Why didn’t we have a drug problem when you and I were growing up?’

 I replied that I had a drug problem when I was young: I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals. I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather.

 I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults. I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the priest, or if I didn’t put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me.
 I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profanity. I was drug out to pull weeds in mom’s garden and flower beds. I was drug to the homes of neighbors to help mow the yard, repair the clothesline, and if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, my dad would have drug me back to the woodshed.

 Those drugs are still in my veins and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, or think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin: and if today’s children had this kind of drug problem, America would be a better place.
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The ONLY reason to drink
Staying Sober

There’s only one real reason I can ever have for taking a drink, ant that’s because I want to.

This remark at a meeting sums up AA’s position on why we drink. We never really drink because of pressures and troubles. We drink because we want to, because we feel like taking a drink.

It’s true that a serious crisis, like going into bankruptcy may make us conscious of an urge to drink. But we know that we’re also likely to have such urges in the face of good fortune. The alcoholic who would drink over a bankruptcy would also probably get drunk if he or she won the lottery.

By refusing to accept all of these alleged reasons for drinking, AA simplified our problem so we can deal with it. We either want to drink or we don’t want to drink, period. Even if we want to drink….. and some members do…. AA can show us how to stay sober and eventually lose such desires.
Nothing has the power to make me drink today. It is only my own willfulness that can destroy my sobriety.
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He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured.
–Ethiopian proverb

Concealment and secrecy have been second nature to some of us. We may have felt that our femininity/masculinity kept us loners. Perhaps we said we were covering the truth for someone else’s good. Maybe we could not bear to expose the truth because we feared the consequences. For some of us a lie came more automatically than the truth. Now we are learning to be open with our friends, and we are finding the healing effect of fresh air for our secrets.

Although it’s frightening to stop tampering with the truth, it’s also exciting to feel the power of honesty and to deal with the consequences of uncovering it. Perhaps we still have some secrets that erode our wellbeing. If so, we need to bring them into the open so we can live completely honest lives. When we let others know us as we really are, we are casting our lot with good health and recovery.Today, I will make progress in my recovery by letting myself be fully known.
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Heressssss more Chuck D.

“Wait till next year!” is the favorite cry of baseball fans,
football fans, hockey fans, and gardeners.
–Robert Orben

 

Hope was a casualty for many of us in our life of chaos and extremes. Some of us said to ourselves, “Life is just drab, I’d better get used to it.” We may have slowly changed our definition of normal to mean a hopeless existence. Others of us held onto some shred of hope that said “Better times are just around the comer,” but it only kept us from confronting how disastrous our lives had become. We are siblings in that we truly have been people on a dead-end path.

Our new lives have seen the dawning of true hope that has a solid base upon reality. We have the reality of friendships with our brothers and sisters. They provide comfort and support which are reliable and durable. We have the reality of our clearer thinking and our amended lives. We may not have everything we could desire, but we are actually on the road and progressing in directions we wish to go. We are engaged in the adventure of increasing our conscious contact with God. Our hope is founded in what we already feel in our lives.

Today, nothing is perfect, but hope underlies everything.
With the return of hope, I have my life back again.
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I would like to highly recommend reading the story in the July Grapevine “Something to Behold” written by a member who got sober in 1955. It shows what our meetings were like, focused on the new comer and not drinking “today” . Not a form of group therapy where not drinking is replaced with relationships, no work, finances, car broke down I could go on and on, God
forbid we talk solutions.  As a side note I spoke at a large meeting in La Jolla, Ca. couple of weeks ago (approx. 200) it was June 10th and less than 25 people knew it was the Anniversary of our Fellowship. They meet in a Beautiful Church with large signs ask “NO SMOKING” about 80 were standing outside before the meeting and at the break smoking. The meeting was in the Church Sanctuary and a girl with 4 year was the 5 min. speaker and in that short time ever other word was F— and S— and no one made a comment. ( I DID ) They call this the norm now. So SAD.

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In the life of the Indian there is only one inevitable duty – the duty of prayer – the daily recognition of the Unseen and Eternal. He sees no need for setting apart one day in seven as a holy day, since to him all days are God’s.
–Ohiyesa, Santee Dakota

Some of our past troubles came from our naive arrogance. We failed to acknowledge anything beyond ourselves. Whatever was unseen or eternal remained invisible to us. We were skeptical, scientific, task-oriented, self-centered, and unreflective. It’s like we had been racing down a country highway at top speed, hardly tuned in to the rich vitality of life that surrounded us. When we stopped the car and explored the road banks, we could suddenly smell the grasses, hear birds singing, perhaps see a whole community in an anthill, or watch a darting squirrel.

Coming to believe in a Power greater than ourselves is not something we create on our own. It is largely a matter of shifting our attention, of being open to the spiritual. We don’t need to force it. We need only be willing to quiet ourselves and notice. Ultimately, every moment is sacred.
Today, may I live from moment to moment.
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hERE ARE SOME MORE GOODIES FROM CHUCK D.

Choice of attention – to pay attention to this and ignore that – is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences. 
–W. H. Auden
 
Many of us have said, “I can’t help myself!” when we tried to stop our constant thinking about other people or their behavior. “I know it’s not good for me, but what can I do when they keep acting that way?”
Let us think of ourselves as living in a house with many windows. At each window is a different view, and within each view are many things to catch our attention. Perhaps there are some people, some traffic, some buildings, a horizon, and some trees. If we always go to the same window and focus on the same object, we are not using all our choices. We may have overlooked some things in our lives that need attention. There are many things we are totally powerless over. Our power exists in changing the focus of our attention.
   Today, I will notice where I am choosing to pay attention.
I pray for guidance in being aware of my options
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Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. 
–Helen Keller
 
When we look at our life and at the lives of others, it is clear that pain is part of life. We cannot escape this tragic truth; our growth and our wholeness must include it because our recovery stresses honesty. In our old way of living, we may have been bitter. Many of us felt sorry for ourselves. Some of us cursed God and wasted time in our self-centeredness, thinking life was especially unfair to us. Life is not fair; it just is. It is left to us to choose how we will respond.
People’s responses to life inspire us. We not only acknowledge the pain, but we see the heroic lives of others around us. They met their limitations and went forward with a willing spirit and faith. Today we can be grateful for the progress we have made in overcoming our suffering. We have friends who give us the joy of human contact. We have choices and possibilities where we never saw them before. We have a growing self-respect.
I accept the reality of life, and I will respond
with faith in the choices I make today.

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Despair is the absolute extreme of self-love. It is reached when a man deliberately turns his back on all help from anyone else in order to taste the rotten luxury of knowing himself to be lost.
–Thomas Merton
 
The surest way to unhappiness is to concentrate only on ourselves. Nothing will bring on despair quicker than thinking only of our own concerns. Extreme self-centeredness brings alienation from God, from our friends, and loved ones.
 
The surest remedy is to pray, not for our own comfort, but for God to bless someone else. If self-centeredness is contributing to our unhappiness, focusing some attention on others is the way out. We always get help for the blues by offering a hand to another or accepting a hand ourselves.
I can avoid despair by looking beyond myself. 

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