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  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic 'Thy Will, Not Mine' 11/20/2017 08:05 AM

    Daily Reflections

    "THY WILL, NOT MINE"

    . . . when making specific requests, it will be well to add to each
    one of them this qualification. ". . . if it be Thy will. "

    TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 102

    I ask simply that throughout the day God place in me the best
    understanding of His will that I can have for that day, and that I be
    given the grace by which I may carry it out. As the day goes on, I can
    pause when facing situations that must be met and decisions that must
    be made, and renew the simple request: "Thy will, not mine, be done."

    I must always keep in mind that in every situation I am responsible
    for the effort and God is responsible for the outcome. I can "Let Go
    and Let God" by humbly repeating: "Thy will, not mine, be done."
    Patience and persistence in seeking His will for me will free me from
    the pain of selfish expectations.

    Copyright 1990 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS WORLD SERVICES, INC.
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Topic for the Week 11/20/2017 08:00 AM

    He had come to pass his experience along to me---if I cared to have it. I was shocked, but interested. Certainly I was interested. I had to be, for I was hopeless.
    Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Bill's Story, pgs. 9,10, with permission from AAWS

    Here we have his friend Ebby Thatcher coming to Bill and asking if he could tell his story.  Which of course Bill said yes to.

    Topic: When you heard others tell their story, what did you think?

    Have a good day,
    John Begin
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Topic for the Week 11/20/2017 08:00 AM

    He had come to pass his experience along to me---if I cared to have it. I was shocked, but interested. Certainly I was interested. I had to be, for I was hopeless.
    Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Bill's Story, pgs. 9,10, with permission from AAWS

    Here we have his friend Ebby Thatcher coming to Bill and asking if he could tell his story.  Which of course Bill said yes to.

    Topic: When you heard others tell their story, what did you think?

    Have a good day,
    John Begin
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Topic for Nov. 13th 11/12/2017 10:07 AM

    No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found in that bitter morass of self-pit. Quicksand stretched around me in all directions. I had met my match. I had been overwhelmed. Alcohol was my master.

    Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Bill's Story, pg. 8, with permission from AAWS

    Topic:  How would you describe meting your match?
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Topic for the Week 11/05/2017 12:47 PM

    The classification of alcoholics seems most difficult, and in much detail is outside the scope of this book. There are, of course, the psychopaths who are emotionally unstable. We are all familiar with this type. They are always "going on the wagon for keeps." They are over-remorseful and make many resolutions, but never a decision.

    There is the type of man who is unwilling to admit that he cannot take a drink. He plans various ways of drinking. He changes his brand or his environment. There is the type who always believes that after being entirely free from alchol for a period of time he can take a drink without danger. There is the manic-depressive type, who is, perhaps the least understood by his friends and about who a whole chapter could be written.

    Then there are types entirely normal in every respect except in the effect alcohol has upon them They are often able, intelligent, friendly people.

    All these, and many others, have one symptom in common: they cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. This phenomenon, as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and set them apart as a distinct entity. It has never been by any treatment with which we are familiar, permanently eradicated. The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence.

    Alcoholics Anonymous, Edition 4, The Doctor's Opinion, pg xxx with permission from AAWS

    TOPIC: There are 5 types of alcoholics mentioned, can you find them, and what type would you say fit you in the beginning of your recovery?
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Helping Those Who Have Around Awhile 10/14/2017 14:31 PM

    Others can give us A.A. knowledge but A.A. wisdom is something we have to gain through personal experience.


     


                   HELPING THOSE WHO HAVE AROUND AWHILE


     


         Jack is an alcoholic who lives in a comfortable Chicago suburb. Years ago, he recognized his drinking problem and joined A.A. He went to meetings regularly and frequently. His drinking got worse. He continued to go to meetings and every few weeks or months, he got drunk. His life became more unmanageable, and he went to more meetings. This continued for 12 years of meetings and drunkenness. In all these years, Jack never worked the 12 Steps. Why not? I didn’t understand how and was ashamed to ask, he said. Nobody explained to him that he got drunk because he hadn’t worked the Program.


         Finally, he got drunk again and this time something happened. He ran into some A.A.’s who told him that how it works means that this is how the Program works. They guided him each Step of the way in working the 12 Steps. In a period of 24 hours, he declared, I took Step 3 aloud with another A.A. as it suggests on p. 63 of the Big Book. I wrote a searching and fearless 4th Step with another A.A. member, who took his with me at the same time. Then we discussed Steps 6 and 7 and prayed to have our character defects removed. Then, with his help, I listed the people I had harmed, and we talked about making direct amends starting right then. I began with my wife that same evening. I did more work with the Steps in 24 hours than I had done in 12 years around A.A. before that day.


         That happened in November 1971, and Jack has been sober ever since. He’s made all his amends. He’s continued to work every 1 of the Steps, including a number of 4th Steps, including a number of 5th Steps. Changes within him are reflected in a dramatically better life for him and his family. With a rueful smile, Jack says, I’d have done those things much sooner, but no one ever showed me how. Jack is talking about sponsorship he didn’t receive for 12 miserable years. For a dozen years, he heard about an individual Program where members take what they want and leave what they find distasteful. He went to meetings where people got in touch with their feelings instead of with the 12 Steps. He stayed drunk. Immediately upon working the Steps, he began to experience continuous sobriety. He found the A.A. message.


         That message is far more than just not drinking. It’s the witness by men who have found a life so good, so joyous, and so useful that they don’t have to drink any more. It describes a way of living that offers hope, meaning, and direction and it provides specific tools in the 12 Steps that enable each of us to become what we should be. It works as effectively for a new A.A. member as it did for Jack. It’s axiomatic that I can’t give away what I haven’t got. Unless I work the 12 Steps on a continuing, lifetime commitment, there are 3 things I won’t understand: (1) what the A.A. message is, (2) how to experience it, and (3) how to help another alcoholic find it.


         The kind of change that Jack describes will be experienced by any alcoholic who wants to stay sober and will follow the directions in the Program. This will work, too, for the A.A. member who has been sober a number of years and finds himself suffering depression, anxiety, fear, hostility, and boredom. Invariably, in my experience, these symptoms are the result of inadequate work with the Steps. Work the Steps and the symptoms disappear. Sponsorship is carrying the message, and the Big Book outlines precisely how to do it. Just staying sober does not bring manageability to our lives. That results from working the Steps that follow Step 1, and each of us will be really healthy to the degree that we apply the Program.


      Source unknown
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic How Groups Work 10/14/2017 14:29 PM

    Our 12 Steps are useless unless practiced.

     
    HOW GROUPS WORK
     


         Rarely have we seen a group fail that has thoroughly followed A.A.’s Traditions. Those who do not follow them are groups who cannot or will not accept these simple principles, usually groups that are constitutionally incapable of being humble. There are such unfortunate groups. They are not at fault; they seem to have begun that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of functioning which demands practicing group humility. Their chances of surviving are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from affiliation and guru-itus, but many of them do survive if they are willing to refrain from these activities.


         Our group meetings disclose in a general way how we handle our affairs, remain in unity, and seek to carry our message. If a group decides it wants recovery, unity, and service to be its experience, and is willing to practice humility to get them--it is then ready to adopt certain principles.


         At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, more effective way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold onto money, power, and prestige and the result was chaos until we practiced the Traditions in our group life.


         Remember that we deal with alcoholics, seeking to direct rather than be guided, affiliate rather than cooperate, to accumulate rather than to pass it on. Without help unity is beyond our reach. But there is One who has all power that One is God. May you find Him in your group conscience now!


         Warping the Traditions availed us nothing. We began to see our coming destruction. We asked His guidance toward unity with honest humility.


         Here are the principles which are suggested as the way towards group unity:


         1. Our common welfare should come 1st; personal recovery depends on A.A. unity.


         2. For our group purpose there is but 1 ultimate authority-—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.


    Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.


         3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.


         4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.


         5. Each group has but 1 primary purpose--to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.


         6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.


         7 Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.


         8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.


         9 A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.


         10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.


         11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain anonymity at the level of press, radio, and film.


         12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.


         Many of us exclaimed, "those don’t apply to this situation". Do not be unique. No group has had the misfortune of curing all alcoholics. We are not magicians. The Traditions are not as old-fashioned as they seem. The point is they guide us in how to be of service to fellow sufferers. The principles set down are guides to group progress. Better to be of a service to some than of no use to all. We hope to see our group progress, that is why we have group inventories. Not to become the model for A.A. as a whole.


         The Traditions as written, the experience that developed them, and the chaos resulting from their avoidance or misuse make clear 3 pertinent ideas:


         (a) That a group, unguided, could destroy everyone’s chance of recovery.


         (b) That probably no amount of human power could get alcoholics to make my solution for the group work out right.


         (c) That God would grant us a humble unity when we follow A.A. Traditions.


      Author unknown
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic How It Works Commentary part 2 0f 2 10/14/2017 14:28 PM

    HOW IT WORKS COMMENTARY part 2 of 2
     


    3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care and direction of God as we understood Him. (There are 3 words here that are important to understand. For a long time, I thought that the 3rd Step said that I turn my will and my life over to the care of God. But it doesn’t say that. What it says is that I make a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God. So the 1st word that needs to be understood here is the word decision, which is defined as “making up one’s own mind.” Let’s say my car breaks down. Although the decision to get my car fixed is a vital and crucial step, that decision alone does not get the car fixed. I will also need to take the actions necessary to get it fixed. For any decision to mean anything, it always requires further action. If I decide, or make up my own mind, to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand Him, that decision alone will not turn it over. I will have to take the actions necessary to turn it over. The 1st 3 Steps are designed to bring us to the point where we become willing to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a Higher Power, Steps 4 through 9 are how we turn our will and our lives over (because Steps 4 through 9 reveal and remove the blocks that prevent us from actually doing so), and the last 3 Steps are how we keep our will and our lives turned over to God indefinitely. After a period of time though, our ego (self-will) begins to reassert itself again; and because of our "human-ness", we fall short in maintaining perfect spiritual focus in all of our thoughts and activities. That is why I believe, even if we have worked the Steps to the best of our ability once, we will need to eventually begin the Steps cycle again and again. The other 2 words that are important to understand are the words will and lives. I’ve always thought that the words “will” and “lives” were concepts way over my head and were way too large to relate to or comprehend. But then it was explained to me that my “will” is my thinking and what motivates me, and that my “life” is all the actions that I’ve taken up to this moment. That explanation made the words a little more down to earth and easier to comprehend. So I now understand the 3rd Step as saying that I decide to take the actions necessary to turn my thinking, my motivations, and my actions over to the care of God as I understand Him. Since it’s been said in many different pieces of spiritual literature that God is Love, it can also be said that the essence of all this is that I need to always be motivated by love, I need to always try to have loving thoughts and always try to take loving actions. Also, what motivates me drives my thinking and my thinking directs my actions, so I need to go deeper than just acting my way into right thinking. If my motivation and thinking is God-directed, I will make the right decisions (whether it seems that way at the time or not), and the actions taken will inevitably be healthy. But if my motivation and thinking is self-directed, I will mostly make the wrong decisions (even though I may not realize it at the time), and the actions taken will inevitably be unhealthy. Quite possibly, the single most important statement about Step 3 can be found at the top of p. 64 where it says, “Though our decision was a vital and crucial Step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us.” So it’s saying this 3rd Step decision will have little permanent effect unless we immediately follow it up with an intensely active effort to work Steps 4 through 9, because where we face these blocks is in Steps 4, 5, and 6 and where we get rid of them is in Steps 7, 8, and 9. And what we’re being blocked off from is the ability to turn our will and lives over to begin with. So after working the 6 middle Steps, then and only then, will we be able to turn our motivations, our thoughts, and our actions over to our Higher Power with any kind of consistency. In the Big Book, this Step is described on ps. 60:3  64:0. The directions for taking Step 3 are on ps. 60:4  62:3, and 63:2-64:0. The results of taking Step 3 are given on p. 63:1 and the last line of 63:3.)


    4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (One of the definitions for the word moral is “truthful” and another is “conduct in relationship”. Also, I think a key word here in the 4th Step is ourselves, not anyone else. The Big Book provides us with 3 specifically outlined and powerfully transforming written inventories: the Resentment Inventory, the Fear Inventory, and a Sex and Harms Inventory of our conduct. It also asks us to create a future sex life/relationship ideal. In the Big Book, this Step is described on pages 63:4-71 and directions for taking this Step are given throughout. The results of taking Step 4 are given on p. 70:3.)


    5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (Please notice that it does not say that we just admit our wrongs, although that is part of the process. It says that we admit the exact nature of our wrongs. That’s why the 3 and 4th Step Inventories not only compile what we did, but draws attention more importantly to why we did it. The exact nature of our wrongs or why we did these things are what we need to ask God to help us with in Steps 6 and 7. Also, notice that it says that we are to 1st admit our 4th Step inventories to God. I have had some incredible results in working with people by asking them to 1st find a place where they feel God’s presence strongly and spend an hour or 2 silently or out loud sharing their inventories with their Higher Power. From doing this, there is a sense of forgiveness, accumulated power, and a little more understanding that is then carried into the 5th Step with the person or persons who will hear it. After the 5th Step is done, we get a deeper sense of humility and another perspective which brings about a strong understanding of our inner workings. In the Big Book, this Step is described on ps. 72-75. The directions for taking Steps 5 are on p. 75:1, the 1st sentence of 75:2, and 75:3. The results of taking Step 5 are on p. 75:2 after the 1st sentence.)


    6. Were entirely willing that God remove all these defects of character. (There is a very important direction associated with Step 6 in the Big Book which is often missed. It says that “if we still cling to a defect we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.” So if there is a shortcoming that we are not willing to ask God to help us with, we pray for the willingness until it comes. This should not stop us from going on to Step 7 with the shortcomings we are willing to ask Him to help us with. In the Big Book, this Step is described on p. 76:1. The directions for taking Step 6 are also there.)


    7. Humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings--holding nothing back. (Notice that the wording here is a little stronger than how it ended up in the Big Book. It’s obvious that the authors considered this Step to be a deep and all-inclusive part of this Program. Notice that it’s not saying that we work on our shortcomings, because the only way I can work on my shortcomings is by making them worse. We need to seek our Higher Power’s help with our defects and to begin to take the actions necessary to move in the opposite direction. Also, this is 1 of the many statements that lead me to see that A.A. is not a self-help program, it’s a spiritual help program. In the Big Book, this Step is described on p. 76:2. The directions for taking Step 7 are also there.)


    8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make complete amends to them all. (Please notice that it mentions the word “all” twice! Do you think they really mean that? The word amend is sometimes reduced to only saying that we are sorry. I prefer using the definition found in chapter 1 Bill’s Story where it says “I was to right all such matters to the utmost of my ability.” It’s more about taking responsibility than it is about only saying that we are sorry. Also, 1 of the definitions for the word amend is “to change” so we need to change and move away from the behavior that caused the harm in the 1st place. Just like the 6th Step, the Book says that “If we haven't the will to make amends, we ask until it comes,” so don’t forget to pray for the willingness to make the amends that you are not willing to make. In the Big Book, this Step is described on p. 76:3. The directions for taking Step 8 are also there.)


    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (An important word here is the word “direct”, and I’d like to suggest that we are not the “others” mentioned here. Also, 1 of the greatest things that I have ever heard about hesitating to make amends is the following: Is it possible that your lack of willingness to make amends (or move forward with any Step) has anything to do with whether you drink again or not? It sure makes ya think! In the Big Book, this Step is described on ps. 76:4-84:1 and the directions for completing Step 9 are given throughout. The results of taking Step 9 are on ps. 83:4-84:1.)


    10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. (It doesn’t say “if we were wrong”, it says “when we were wrong” so it’s realistically admitting that we are going to make mistakes. By the time we get to the 10th Step we now have a way to deal with the times we fall short--Steps 4 through 9 in a quick way, moment by moment. Also, it says that we “promptly admit it” not “promptly explain it”. In the Big Book, this Step is described on ps. 84:1-85:2. The directions for taking Step 10 are on p. 84:2, the 1st line of 84:3, and 85:1. The results of taking Step 10 are on p. 84:3-85:0.)


    11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. (For some reason, the word “conscious” was not included here originally. Notice that it mentions what we should only be praying for. I believe that if I pray for specific things, I am assuming that I know better than God about what is best for me or someone else. Also, you’ll notice that in Step 10 it says “Continue”, in Step 11 it says “Seek and improve”, and in Step 12 it says “in all of our affairs” so the Program leaves no room for complacency or coasting. Besides, the only way we can coast is downhill! The last 3 Steps are not maintenance Steps, they’re growth Steps. To maintain something means to keep it the same. For me, our Program is like walking up a down escalator. If we keep moving forward, we can get to the next level. But as soon as we slow down or stop our forward movement, we go right back down to where we came from. And I don’t know about you but I desperately do not want to go back to where I came from! In the Big Book, this Step is described on ps. 85:3-88:3. The directions for taking Step 11 are on ps. 86:1-88:0. The results of taking Step 11 are found on p. 88 lines 2-8.)


    12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action, we tried to carry this message to others, especially alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all of our affairs. (This Step, as written here, obviously has 3 parts: (1) the spiritual awakening as the result of the Steps. This is a promise. It doesn’t say that it might happen or that it sometimes happens, it says that it will happen if we work all 12 Steps completely; (2) I don’t carry my message or a message but I carry this message--the message of the spiritual awakening as the result of the Steps to alcoholics and perhaps others too; and (3) practicing the principles of the Steps (the way of life outlined in the Big Book) in all of our affairs. Every once in a while I have to ask myself if I think they really mean all here and if I’m doing this more and more in my life. When I do this I get a positive result and when I don’t do it I get a negative result. Speaking of carrying this message, I recommend to people I work with that when speaking at an A.A. speaker meeting that they use the same format as Bill W. did in “Bill’s Story” at the beginning of the Big Book. “Bill’s Story” is 16 pages and for the 1st 8 pages he talks about what it was like when he was drinking and for the last 8 pages he talks about what happened to bring about a change and what’s it like now that he is in recovery. Most of the time at speaker meetings the speaker will speak for 20 minutes and 19 of it is usually drunkalog and 1 minute is “and now everything is wonderful and we have a nice way of closing”. This doesn’t bring much hope to any newcomers in the room. If we can do 1/2 our talk about our experience with drinking (so the newcomer can identify with the fact that we are an alcoholic); and then spend the other 1/2 of our talk on experience, strength and hope about what it’s like working the Steps and practicing a Program of Recovery, we then will carry a much stronger message to the newcomer in a way that has depth and weight. We all know how to drink. How about hearing more about living a happy, useful, contented life without needing alcohol? In the Big Book, this Step is described on ps. 89-150. Many tips on how to carry our message of recover to another alcoholic are found throughout chapter 7, and many tips on how to carry our message and practice these principles in all of our affairs are found throughout chapters 8-10.)


    You may exclaim, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. (Which is why it’s a good idea to go back and work the Steps, starting with the 1st 1, every year or 2. Because we are human, we will fall short in keeping spiritual focus in all of our affairs.) We are not saints. (An understatement!) The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. (Do you think that this is important? If you do, are you more loving, honest, unselfish and accepting than you were a year ago?) The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.


    Our description of the alcoholic (Step 1), the chapter to the agnostic (Step 2), and our personal adventures before and after (there are 2 ways that this can be taken: before and after this part of the book, or your personal adventures before and after you stopped drinking), have been designed to sell you 3 pertinent ideas:


    (a) That you are alcoholic and cannot manage your life. (Drinking or not. Step 1)


    (b) That probably no human power can relieve your alcoholism. (Step 2. Please keep in mind that this includes everyone in the Fellowship, yourself, your sponsor, your support group, etc. Although they are all important, they are still only human power.)


    (c) That God can and will. (Also Step 2, and what a wonderful promise if God were sought!)


    If you are not convinced on these vital issues, you ought to re-read the book to this point or else throw it away! (Rather humorous! In other words, take it or leave it!)
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic How It Works Commentary part 1 of 2 10/14/2017 14:26 PM

    HOW IT WORKS COMMENTARY part 1 of 2
     


    (The following is from the Big Book’s December 1938 pre-production multilith. This is the opening of the Big Book’s chapter 5 “How It Works” in the Original Manuscript that was sent out to inform the Fellowship that there had been progress made in the writing of the Book, and so that the last changes could be made a few months before the Big Book was published on April 10, 1939. “How It Works” was written and re-written over 30 times and this is how it looked before the very last changes were added. I am not suggesting that these last changes should not have been made. Actually, in most cases I think that it was really important that the changes were made, but I think it’s significant to see that the Original Manuscript version reveals more of where the authors were coming from. Differences with how it currently appears in the Big Book are underlined below. Since this is heard 100’s of times by A.A. members, it often is not really listened to anymore so I have included commentary here, in regular type, on some of the parts that are important and that many A.A.’s no longer even notice.


    Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our directions (thoroughly does not mean “slowly”, it means “completely”). Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple Program (please ask yourself occasionally, “Am I currently giving myself completely to A.A.?” In other words, “Am I currently involved in all 3 parts of A.A.’s solution for alcoholism: (1) Recovery (which can be found in the Program; also known as the working of all 12 Steps), (2) Unity (which can be found in the Fellowship; also known as going to meetings, participating in a Homegroup, and interacting with other A.A.’s), and (3) Service (which can be found in unselfishly doing for others and expecting nothing in return--inside and outside of A.A.; also known as altruism.)” I have seen many people go back to drinking who got away from 1 or more of the 3 parts to A.A.’s solution (this includes old-timers), but I have never seen anyone return to drinking who remained involved in all 3, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally (which means “on their own”) incapable of grasping and developing a way of life which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. (Please notice that the word “honest” or “honesty” is mentioned 3 times in the 1st paragraph, and even says that our way of living demands rigorous honesty. Honesty must be really important because this is A.A.’s most read piece of literature. Also, we need to ask ourselves if we are becoming more and more honest. This is an important form of dealing with reality. Also, I would like to suggest that “grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty” is the essence of the A.A. Program and way of life!)


    Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you (1) have decided you want what we have (what we have is a spiritual awakening and freedom from the bondage of alcoholism, selfishness and fear as the result of working all 12 Steps. Also, please keep in mind that the “we” here is not referring to all the people in A.A. today. They’re talking about the 1st members of A.A. who contributed to the Big Book, and the experiences of the people described in and practicing the Big Book way of life. The promises in the Big Book are only the result of working the Steps as outlined in the Big Book.) and (2) are willing to go to any length to get it--then you are ready to follow directions. (So you don’t have to wait months or years before getting into working all the Steps. Back when this was originally written, the Steps were worked immediately and quickly, and resulted in a 75% recovery rate throughout the fellowship for the 1st 20 years of A.A.’s existence.)


    At some of these you may balk. You may think you can find an easier, softer way. We doubt if you can. (No subtlety there!) With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. (They’re begging us!) Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. (That’s a warning and a promise. If we let go of our old ideas, especially the 1’s that don’t work anymore (like how we have been dealing with our alcoholism on our own and how we live our life), we’ll get some positive results. But if we don’t let go of these old ideas the result will be nil, which means “nothing” or “worthless”.)


    Remember that you are dealing with alcohol--cunning, baffling, powerful (and let me add that alcoholism is patient, too)! Without help it is too much for you. But there is One who has all power--that One is God. You must find Him now! (I think the Big Book authors are trying to tell us something important here!)


    Half measures will avail you nothing. (1/2 measures do not avail us 1/2 results. Only being honest 1/2 the time is not being honest; only being kind and considerate to others 1/2 the time does not bring about 1/2 results in spiritual matters. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to be 100% honest and loving at all times, but the more we are, the more and more freedom, happiness and serenity we’ll experience! And if 1/2 measures avail us nothing, then less than 1/2 measures avail us less than nothing!) You stand at the turning point. Throw yourself under His protection and care with complete abandon (I think the authors are again trying to tell us something important. Also, abandon means “to give up with the intent to never take back”.)


    Now we think you can take it! (They say this because they have just given us over 65 pages worth of information describing the desperateness of the alcoholic dilemma. Now they’re going to lay out the practical Program of Recovery which clears away what blocks us from a Power greater than human power, which will solve all our problems.) Here are the Steps we took, which are suggested as your Program of Recovery (so it’s a suggested Program not a program of suggestions. Also, it’s not enough to just read about or hear about or talk about the Steps. We need to participate and have an experience by taking all the actions that the 12 Steps require):


    1. Admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable. (For a long time I translated or internalized this sentence as saying, “Admitted I was powerless over alcohol, and when I’m drinking my life is unmanageable.” But that’s not what it says. When a dash is used in a sentence like this, what it’s saying is: “Admitted we were powerless over alcohol, and admitted that our lives had become unmanageable.” What does our literature say about this admission of powerlessness and unmanageability? In other words, what differentiates an alcoholic physically, mentally, and spiritually, from a non-alcoholic? Physically, the alcoholic has an allergy, or an abnormal reaction, to alcohol. The alcoholic’s abnormal reaction to alcohol is a craving for more alcohol once we take a few drinks. This craving never happens to a non-alcoholic. Because of this, a non-alcoholic can always predict how much they are going to drink, but an alcoholic cannot. Besides the craving, alcohol does something for an alcoholic that it does not do for a non-alcoholic. When an alcoholic drinks, they get a feeling of ease and comfort; an “in control, get up and go into town, I like this” kind of a feeling. When a non-alcoholic drinks, they get an “out of control, beginning of a nauseating, slightly tipsy, I don’t like this so I don’t want any more” kind of a feeling. That’s why they stop after 1 or 2, and make statements like, “I don’t want another drink because I am feeling that 1st 1.” Spiritually, because of the selfish and self-centered way the alcoholic views and deals with other people, their emotions, and life; they are filled with inner turmoil, discomfort, and anxiety. Since alcohol is the only thing that the alcoholic has experienced that brings relief from this inner unmanageability, we turn to alcohol again and again, even though it has caused problems for us in the past. We don’t see what alcohol is doing to us, we only think about what it is going to do for us, which describes the alcoholic’s mental obsession. A non-alcoholic’s relationship with alcohol is a “take it or leave it” kind of relationship, but an alcoholic’s relationship with alcohol is an “I need it to deal with life” kind of relationship. Please ask yourself if you can relate to the experience of an alcoholic. Also, in the middle of the 1st paragraph on p. 44, the Big Book makes a few statements that can be used to review the information about Step 1 and the direction we need to move in. In the middle of the 1st paragraph on p. 44, it says: “If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely” (which describes the mental and spiritual part of alcoholism), “or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take” (which describes the physical part of alcoholism), “you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.” If I’m powerless over whether I drink or not, than what I need is the Power with a capital “P”; and if my life is unmanageable, especially my inner life (whether I’m drinking or not) than what I need is a new Manager with a capital “M”. In the 4th Edition Big Book, this Step is described on Roman numeral ps. 25-32 (XXV-XXXII), on ps. 1-44:1 and 52:2.)


    2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (Please note that “Came to believe” describes a process, and is not saying that we need to believe anything prior to considering this Step. The question in the Big Book associated with Step 2 can be found in the middle of p. 47: “We needed to ask ourselves but 1 short question. ‘Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?’ As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way.” Nothing more is needed to move on with the rest of the Program. Our “coming to believe” will take place as we take the actions necessary to work the remaining Steps. Because we get results, our simple belief or our willingness to develops turns into actual faith in a Higher Power as we depend more and more on this Power as a source of guidance in our lives. I’ve heard many people say that the insanity that Step 2 is talking about is all the crazy things we did when we were drinking. Things like the D.W.I.’s, the crashed cars, the jobs and families we lost because of our drinking, etc. But we all don’t have those things in common. Besides, there are alcoholics who never got D.W.I.’s or who never lost jobs because of drinking, but that doesn’t make them any less an alcoholic. Even some non-alcoholics have gotten D.W.I.’s and lost jobs because of their drinking. The only insanity that we all have in common, which is the insanity Step 2 is talking about, is the insanity of returning to the 1st drink even though alcohol has caused us problems again and again. We are not able to see the truth about the damage alcohol has caused us because we only think about relief, ease and comfort that comes by taking a few drinks. Also, for some people, the word “sanity” is not completely clear because it sounds like it’s saying that we are crazy. Other descriptions that capture the essence of what is being said, and can be substituted for the word “sanity” in Step 2, are words like:...restore us to honesty, reality, peace of mind, truth, or balance. For the newcomer: Step 1 is where you are, Step 2 is where you want to go, and Steps 3 through 12 are how you get there! In the Big Book, this Step is described in parts of chapters 1, 2, 3, and all of chapter 4.)
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic How To Carry The Message In Step Twelve 10/14/2017 14:24 PM

    Our 12 Steps are the tools we need to use to free ourselves from the bondage of self, being selfish, self-seeking, self-absorbed, self-centeredness.


     

    HOW TO CARRY THE MESSAGE IN STEP TWELVE
     


    The 12th Step reads that having had a spiritual awakening, we try to carry this message to others. Our message is one of hope, love, comfort, health--a better way of life, 1 that works.


    How do we carry it? Not by rescuing. Not by controlling. Not by obsessing. Not by becoming evangelists for the recovery cause.


    We carry the message in many small, subtle, but powerful ways.


    We do our own recovery work and become a living demonstration of hope, self-love, comfort, and health. These quiet behaviors can be a powerful message


    Inviting (not ordering or demanding) someone to go to a meeting is a powerful way to carry the message. Going to our meetings and sharing how recovery works for us is a powerful way to carry the message. Being who we are and allowing our Higher Power to guide our actions are powerful ways to carry the message.


    Often, we find ourselves carrying the message more effectively than we do when we set out to reform, convince, or coerce someone into recovery.


    Care taking and controlling are not ways to carry the message. All those behaviors carry is co-dependency.


    Still, the most powerful form of helping others comes down to helping ourselves. When we do our own work and are honest and open about it, we impact others more than by our most well-intentioned "helping" gesture. We cannot change others, but when we change ourselves, we may end up changing the world.


    Today, I will strive to carry the message in ways that work. I will let go of my need to "help" people. Instead, I will concentrate on helping and changing myself. If an opportunity comes up to share my recovery with someone, I will do so quietly.


    God, help me show others comfort, empowerment, and hope. I can be a channel to help others when I am ready. I do not have to force this; it will happen naturally.


    Carry the message; and if you must, use words.


      Dr. Bob
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Unremitting Inventories 10/13/2017 08:13 AM

    Daily Reflections


    UNREMITTING INVENTORIES



    Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and

    fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We

    discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if

    we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to

    someone we can help.


    ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 84



    The immediate admission of wrong thoughts or actions is a tough

    task for most human beings, but for recovering alcoholics like me

    it is difficult because of my propensity toward ego, fear and

    pride. The freedom the A.A. program offers me becomes more

    abundant when, through unremitting inventories of myself, I

    admit, acknowledge and accept responsibility for my wrong-doing.

    It is possible then for me to grow into a deeper and better

    understanding of humility. My willingness to admit when the

    fault is mine facilitates the progression of my growth and

    helps me to become more understanding and helpful to others.



    Copyright 1990 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS WORLD SERVICES, INC.
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic False Pride 10/12/2017 07:26 AM

    As Bill Sees It


    False Pride



    The alarming thing about pride-blindness is the ease with which it is justified.

    But we need not look far to see that self-justification is a universal destroyer

    of harmony and of love. It sets man against man, nation against nation. By it,

    every form of folly and violence can be made to look right, and even

    respectable.







    It would be a product of false pride to claim that A.A. is a cure-all, even for

    alcoholism.



    1. GRAPEVINE, JUNE 1961 - 2. A.A. COMES OF AGE, p. 232

  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Self-Restraint 10/11/2017 08:22 AM

    Daily Reflections


    SELF-RESTRAINT



    Our first objective will be the development of self-restraint.



    TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 91



    My drive to work provides me with an opportunity for self-examination. One day

    while making this trip, I began to review my progress in sobriety, and was not

    happy with what I saw. I hoped that, as the work day progressed, I would forget

    these troublesome thoughts, but as one disappointment after another kept coming,

    my discontent only increased, and the pressures within me kept mounting.



    I retreated to an isolated table in the lounge, and asked myself how I could

    make the most of the rest of the day. In the past, when things went wrong, I

    instinctively wanted to fight back. But during the short time I had been trying

    to live the A.A. program I had learned to step back and take a look at myself. I

    recognized that, although I was not the person I wanted to be, I had learned to

    not react in my old ways. Those old patterns of behavior only brought sorrow and

    hurt, to me and to others. I returned to my work station, determined to make the

    day a productive one, thanking God for the chance to make progress that day.



    Copyright 1990 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS WORLD SERVICES, INC.
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Powerless Over Alcohol 10/10/2017 13:38 PM

    As Bill Sees It


    "Powerless Over Alcohol"



    I had gone steadily downhill, and on that day in 1934 I lay upstairs in the

    hospital, knowing for the first time that I was utterly hopeless.

    Lois was downstairs, and Dr. Silkworth was trying in his gentle way to tell her

    what was wrong with me and that I was hopeless. "But Bill has a tremendous

    amount of will power," she said. "He has tried desperately to get well. We have

    tried everything. Doctor, why can't he stop?"

    He explained that my drinking, once a habit, had become an obsession, a true

    insanity that condemned me to drink against my will.







    "In the late stages of our drinking, the will to resist has fled. Yet when we

    admit complete defeat and when we become entirely ready to try A.A. principles,

    our obsession leaves us and we enter a new dimension - freedom under God as we

    understand Him."



    1. A.A. COMES OF AGE, p. 52 - 2. LETTER, 1966
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Topic for the week of Oct. 8th 10/09/2017 07:51 AM

    Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks---drinks which they see others taking with impunity. After the have succumbed to the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, the pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery.

    Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, The Doctor's Opinion pg. xxvii and xxix, with permission from AAWS

    Topic:  This phenomenon of cravings how has it affected you and how did you over come it.

  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Topic for the Week of 10/2 10/01/2017 11:23 AM

    "The physician who, at our request, gave us this letter, has been kind enough to enlarge upon his views in another statement which follows. In this statement he confirms what we who have suffered alcoholic torture MUST believe - that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind. It did not satisfy us to be told that we could not control our drinking just because we were maladjusted to life, that we were in full flight from reality, or were outright mental defectives. These things were true to some extent, in fact, to a considerable extent with some of us. But we are SURE that our bodies were sickened as well. In our belief, ANY picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is INCOMPLETE. 
    The doctor's theory that we have an allergy to alcohol interests us. As laymen, our opinion as to its soundness may, of course, mean little. But as ex-problem drinkers, we can say that his explanation makes good sense. It explains many things for which we cannot otherwise account." 

    Topic: How did the allergy theory affect you in you disease of alcoholism?
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Exactly Alike 09/29/2017 06:59 AM

    Daily Reflections



    EXACTLY ALIKE



    Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright

    spot of our lives.



    ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 89



    A man came to the meeting drunk, interrupted the speakers, stood

    up and took his shirt off, staggered loudly back and forth for

    coffee, demanded to talk, and eventually called the group's

    secretary an unquotable name and walked out. I was glad he was

    there--once again I saw what I still could be. I don't have to

    be drunk to want to be the exception and the center of attention.

    I have often felt abused and responded abusively when I was

    simply being treated as a garden variety human being. The more

    the man tried to insist he was different, the more I realized

    that he and I were exactly alike.



    Copyright 1990 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS WORLD SERVICES, INC.
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic A.A. in Two Words 09/28/2017 07:12 AM

    As Bill Sees It



    A.A. in Two Words



    "All A.A. progress can be reckoned in terms of just two words: humility 
    and responsibility. Our whole spiritual development can be accurately 
    measured by our degree of adherence to these magnificent standards.

    "Ever deepening humility, accompanied by an ever greater willingness to 
    accept and to act upon clear-cut obligations - these are truly our 
    touchstones for all growth in the life of the spirit. They hold up to us
    the very essence of right being and right doing. It is by them that we 
    are enabled to find and to do God's will."



    TALK, 1965 (PRINTED IN GRAPEVINE, JANUARY 1966)
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic Insurance Against The First Drink 09/27/2017 07:26 AM

    Our Twelve Steps require no will power, no treatment, no education and none of these stopped us from drinking.


     


    INSURANCE AGAINST THE FIRST DRINK


     


            Our faith in God is a kind of insurance against the terrible things that might happen to us if we ever drink again. By putting our drink problem in the hands of God, we’ve taken out a sort of insurance policy which insures us against the ravages of drink, as our homes and cars are insured against destruction by fire or accident. And we must pay our insurance premium daily.


         Every time we go to a meeting, every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, every time we get down on our knees, 1st thing in the morning, we’ve paying a premium on our insurance against drinking. And every time we help another alcoholic, we are making a large payment on our drink insurance.


         We’ve making sure that our policy doesn’t lapse. So if we take out an insurance policy by putting our drink problem in God’s hands and if we keep paying our premiums regularly by going to meetings, by prayer, and by helping others, we’ve building up an endowment in serenity, peace, and happiness that will keep us on the Road of Happy Destiny.


      Source unknown
  • JohnTBegin JohnTBe
  • Topic The Craziest Army In The World 09/27/2017 07:25 AM

    Our 12 Steps help build our self-confidence and self-esteem while at the same time, knocking down our pride and ego.



    THE CRAZIEST ARMY IN THE WORLD
    What if A.A. were an army? Mission: Maintain sobriety and liberate enslaved people from alcohol. It would be the screwiest and probably the most ineffective army the world has ever known. Every member an escaped POW and a front-line fighter. No hash marks for length of sobriety. Everybody eagerly volunteering for KP, stable detail, and garbage detail. Only One Supreme Commander, who prefers that every soldier be in close, personal contact with Him, but as they individually understand Him. He is seldom, if ever, seen. His general orders come through the IGC (informed group conscience).

    A loose table of organization is suggested, not ordered, in a field publication called The A.A. Service Manual. By usual standards, it is totally upside down. The lowly privates in the front line groups are at the top, and Pentagon in Washington at the bottom. Promotions, by election, are to the status of servant.

    Each group on the front line establishes communication with the reserve (district) forces by picking a good, stable, responsible group member to act as messenger--called G.S.R. for short. If G.S.R.’s don’t keep close contact with district and area forces, their group is cut off from up-to-date tactical intelligence.

    The district can supply basic help, but area forces supply heavy support. There are usually a number of districts in each area sector. Each district picks a runner from among the G.S.R.s--someone dependable, conscientious, an mature to be (D.C.M.)--to liaison with area forces. Intelligence on ideas and tactics that work, and those that don’t, is made available to the groups. Area supplies the artillery of the PI (public information) people, recruiting and help in rehabilitation by institutions people, and the long-range information system operated by the CPC units (cooperation with the professional community), which recruit willing civilians in various professions to act as agents in scattering the truth to alcohol’s prisoners.

    Overall intelligence services, basic weaponry (Big Books, other A.A. books, booklets, pamphlets, and leaflets) and support for the coast-watchers (Loners), come from our great supply operation (G.S.O.), sometimes referred to as the General Service Office.
    Liaison among U.S. and Canadian groups, districts, areas and G.S.O. is through delegates from each area. They gather in New York each April to share tactical and strategic intelligence and to evaluate and consider new weaponry, both print and high-tech audiovisual weapons.

    Selection of delegates is vitally important. All G.S.R.’s and D.C.M.’s from each area are detached for election duty one day every other year to select through a process peculiar to A.A. called third Legacy procedure, a delegate to serve a single two year term. Talk about a promotiondownward. This A.A. becomes not only the servant of the groups and districts, but the trusted servant of other servants in the area.

    Every member of this all-volunteer army has seen the terrifying gloom of alcohol’s prison from the inside. In gratitude for their escape, most are eager to do anything possible to help others escape.

    In basic training, recruits are encouraged, though not ordered, to study the basic field manual, nicknamed the Big Book. They must inoculate themselves with the powerful vaccine of humility if they are to survive. Frequent booster shots are necessary, but these are readily available at all group meetings. Recruits soon learn that the highest rank they can attain is sober, but diligent work and target practice on the Twelve Steps range sometimes earn them the serenity cluster.

    There are several booby traps threatening these soldiers. One is the Type IM number one antipersonnel mine, sometimes called the ego. By far the most deadly is the cleverly disguised, slow-fuse blockbuster first identified by bomb expert Bill W. in 1939. He called it the resentment. It is frequently hidden in a thicket of justification and rationalization.

    This war will never be won. Alcohol is cunning, baffling, powerful. It is also diabolically patient. We can fight it only one day at a time. But thousands of miserable people, young and old, rich and poor, men and women, can be rescued if we keep a united front, under the guidance of our Supreme Commander.

      AAGrapevine, August 1985
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