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Title:Helping Those Who Have Around Awhile
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  • Registered: 11/03/2008
  • Posts: 187
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Others can give us A.A. knowledge but A.A. wisdom is something we have to gain through personal experience.




     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
Have a good day,
John T. Begin
Date Posted: 10/14/2017 14:31 PM
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