Moment of Clarity
Messages like this sadden me. And the saddest part is that it could be written by most of the members of today's A.A., and that I could have written most of it
myself ten years ago. My head was pulled out of the sand
by events around me. I, too, thought A.A. was alive and
I did take your advice and started a meeting where we
do not read HIW, we do no chanting, and we do not do the
ring around the rosy hold hands and pray closing. We meet
every day at the local club and we are today usually a
dozen or more. I also started two LANGUAGE OF THE HEART
meetings. One has the format of the 1970's, and I am
working on the other one. A friend started a step meeting
using the 1970's format a couple years ago. Ten or
more show up every Sat morning.
I can add "real boar" to the list of names I have
been called. Believe me, I have been called worse. I
have been assaulted verbally and physically, but I
still continue. But I will give up soon. My wife laughs
when I say that, for late in the day I promise her
that I will quit. But early the next morning I am
back on the computer again. But I am almost done. I have
written my concerns over and over, both here and in
handwritten letters to the Grapevine.
This information will be available when AA members
and our leaders decide to use it. How is that for a
Bleeding Deacon's dry drunk EGO? Not much humility here!
I have used that parachute analogy more times than
I care to admit. I often wonder how many alcoholics have
died because of that one. I have read HOW IT WORKS many
times at meetings, saying "this is how it works". I found
out later that Bill W wrote in Three talks, that even
he could not fully explain how AA works.
I do believe we push suffering alcoholics away by the
demands we make of them. You know what they are.
Of all the messages posted on I-SAY not one writer
has agreed that reading HIW aloud at meetings is
harmful. But if you study Dr. Silkworths cart before
the horse idea, Well, there it is! A full explanation.
But you have to be concerned enough about AA to investigate
If we had continued growing at an acceptable rate, we
would/could/should have eight million members in AA today.
You know that we are stagnant at two million. Where are
the other six million. Those are the ones we have pushed
away by the way our meetings today are conducted. ANONYMOUS
Bill also wrote:"Our chief responsibility to the newcomer is an adequate presentation of the program. If he does nothing or argues, we do nothing but maintain our own sobriety. If he starts to move ahead, even a little, with an open mind, we then break our necks to help in every way we can."
In my home group an adequate presentation to the newcomer is to read. The preamble, How it works, and the Twelve Traditions at the start of every meeting. YOU are not the most important person in the room. The newcomer is !!!!! If your 70's format works for you fine. My only problem with your long winded diatribes,your distortion of facts and figures has always been your insistence on impossing your limited and narrow minded viewpoint and experience on the greater group of AA. This will be my last word on the matter and I will try to Place Principles Over Personalities once again.
The reading of the preamble is prettymuch a given. The
Traditions can be read explaining our guidelines. But if the
preamble has been read slowly and clearly, it contains most
of the traditions, except the traditions about our anonymous nature. Reading "How It Works" is time consuming
and may be confusing to newcomers. For a member who attends
a meeting every day it may become boring and lose its
value. And I do believe that chapter five is of great value.
Reading what we call "How It Works" aloud at meetings
is in contrast with the "cart before the horse" IDEA offered to Bill W. by Dr. Silkworth in the spring of 1935
prior to Bill's trip to Akron. Bill states many times that without Dr. Silkworth's IDEA, AA could never have been born.
Recovery from this illness is based on our mutual need
for each other, elder and newcomer. The newcomer is vital
to the future life of AA. Without the elder there would
be no AA for the newcomer to come to. I do not understand
how you can say that the newcomer is the most important
person in the room. Telling the newcomer that he/she is
the most important person in the room is hardly deflating
the ego. The hierarchy and patriarchy status of AA members
needs to be eliminated. We all come together as absolute
equals. Bill explains this in AACA page 70. Before you end
this discussion I ask you to investigate Dr. Silkworth' idea. I would appreciate a list of my distortion of facts
and figures. I don't claim to be perfect or an expert.
I have no "axe to grind". My concern is for the future of
the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I watched a lot of our mistakes as they were taking place. Bill often wrote
about blunders A.A. could make. I find that we have made
practically all of them. ANONYMOUS
I am very interested in the 1970's fromat. If you could post a link or something along those lines where I could view some, I would greatly appreciate it!
I also very much enjoy reading your posts, so please keep it up!
I will also try to track down a local archivist to see if they have some formats to look over.
You had to be there! Honestly, except that would make
you elderly. I met an old AA friend last week at a beginners meeting. She came in in 1971, the year after I
got sober. She also has stayed sober all that time. After
the meeting (her first time at that meeting), I asked her
how she liked the meeting. She replied, It seemed kind of
empty. She commented on how reverent the meetings were
when we came in. I pointed out to her that our fellowship
almost tripled in membership in the decade of the 70's.
Our AA membership increased from about 300,000 to 900,000
in that decade.
At several meetings I would pine aloud for the way
meetings used to be. An AA friend suggested that I start a
meeting patterned after the meetings as I remembered them.
We did just that and we called it The Format of the 1970's
meeting. It is basically following Dr. Bob's advice to
"keep it simple. I will briefly describe the meeting, but
it is written all over the I-SAY forum. No readings other
than the preamble to open the meeting. We cite the
serenity prayer. If our members consider that praying that
is a personal choice. This particular meeting is a Language of the Heart meeting. We read an article written by Bill
W. origionally printed in the AAGRAPEVINE. Each member
reads a paragraph or two, simply going around the room.
I suppose this is additional reading, but it is not like
reading the same redundant thing over and over like some
meetings do. After the reading is completed, the basket is passed and discussion begins. We do not go by "show of hands"; we simply go around the room allowing each member
equal time. I have heard that called round robin.
We do absolutely no chanting. Hi! Joe! a response
by the group is chanting. Chanting is a cult or sect
ritual and makes us look foolish or at least a bit weird,
to new members and to our general public. "My name is Joe
and I am an alcoholic" is a simple statement, part of step
one and part of step five. This statement was never meant
to be a greeting or salutation.
You will notice that we do not read "How It Works".
This has been covered extensively on I-SAY. The same
applies to the 24 hr book. If I write about these again
I fear that I-SAY will throw me off this bulletin board.
We end the meeting after the last member has had the
opportunity to share, or the time is up. Closing the meeting
there is no "moment of silence" praying for all and sundry.
I feel that an AA meeting is not the place to pray. I
am a firm believer in prayer, but I pray on my own time.
We close with the Lord's prayer, "or a silent prayer of
your choice". We do not hold hands in what I call the
"ring around the rosy" circle. We all stand by our
chairs. I no longer "hold hands and pray", which I did
join in for many years. I believe coercing new members
to hold hands with strangers can be uncomfortable.
We have made about ten changes in AA at the group
level in the past three decades. I feel that these
"distortions" are the cause of AA's lack of growth.
When I write about lack of growth, I am writing about
human suffering, unnecessary suffering. We are failing
the very sick, when we have the means to help them.
Sorry, there is no link, and you will not find
much of this in the archives. Practically all of these
concerns are posted on I-SAY. And I-SAY is a free
service provided by the AAGRAPEVINE. Support it by
subscribing to the AAGRAPEVINE. I appreciate the
posting more than you know. As my AREA delegate wrote
me, Keep sounding the alarm; maybe we can get this ship turned around. ANONYMOUS
could you or someone who knows post where to find the yearly estimated membership list you posted. I can only find the 2010 estimated membership numbers in the aa factfile. It would be great to bring a hard copy of the 1935-2010 estimated yearly membership to our group conscience for discusion.
Please write to GSO. They will gladly provide that
complete list FOR you. It shows that AA membership
increased continuously for the first 57 years to almost
two and a half million members worldwide in 1992. I
tried to post it, but my computer skills are lacking.
Your anger and resentment is dripping from your poison pen. How do these numbers effect the newcomer to the rooms of AA. The real reason for any stagnation in AA ( if there is stagnation) could be pointed to angry old men who refuse to grow and can't stand being supplanted within a group. Start your own association and lets see who follows
How do these numbers effect the newcomer to the rooms of A.A.? They are driven away before they can be counted.
There are many associations started by alcoholics who
are turned off by today's AA. But Alcoholics Anonymous in
its origional true form was the best of the best. Two
words describe our blunders: Dogma and distortion ANONYMOUS
If one embarks on the outside sponsorhip institutionalized system around A.A. where a sponsor helps protect you from yourself – this sick SCENario is way beyond alcoholism and any God i could every even try to understand. I love the fellowship not someones followship, take a closer look at the wolfs dressed in sheep's cloth rounding up sheep.
Loneliness in a crowd can take you to some strange sponsored places and some can take it to insanity and death SOBER.
Sup prized myself AFTER going through HELL IN A.A. and came to believe in God.
after many moments of clarity I have realized that it is becoming a lifelong adventure. I am much quicker to see, before I react to certain life's struggles, the higher power solution. I am able to refer back to many situations and reference that it really does work! JER UT. ID. CA. & back to UT.
Bill W. wrote in an article for the 1963 April issue of the
AA Grapevine: Speaking for Dr. Bob and myself I would like
to say that there has never been the slightest intent on
his part or mine, of trying to found a new religious denomination. Dr. Bob held certain religious convictions, and so do I. This is of course, the personal priviledge of
every AA member.
Nothing however could be so unfortunate for AA's future
as an attempt to incorporate any of our personal theological views into AA teaching, practice or tradition. Were Dr. Bob still with us, I am positive he would agree that we could never be too emphatic about this matter. End
Bill repeats a warning previously written in AACA
at the bottom of page 232. What does Bill mean by this?
I believe he means that we can share(and ought to
share) our own personal beliefs and how they aided in
our recovery (exactly what happened to me), without
implying that any other member ought to believe the
same. I understand today, why Bill W. and his friends
rejected the 24hr book in the early 1950's. To have
accepted it as AA approved literature, would have
brought Richmond Walker's personal views into AA
tradition. Let me here note that I love that little
black book and have carried it in my back bocket for decades. But I understand today, why it was
rejected. In the early 1970's it was rejected by
the General Service Conference. Thank God it
was rejected again, although for I personally would
have voted for accepting it. I simply did not understand
the technique which had been developed by Bill W. and
Dr. Silkworth for the wholesale recovery of alcoholics.
In theory, every alcoholic entering AA is allowed absolutely
to chose his/her own religious beliefs, or none at all.
Working the steps is a personal matter and a personal
choice. I share exactly how I recovered, without even
implying or suggesting that anyone else do it the same
way. Reading the 24 hour book from the podium at meetings,
as part of the meeting format to all and sundry,
indicates that it has been accepted as AA tradition.
Many will say "Each group can do as it pleases". Sure,
but look at where that has brought us. We have half a
million members LESS in AA today than we had in 1992.
Our membership increased less than 15,000 in 2010 in
the US and Canada. How shamefully dismal! WE have 30
million suffering alcoholics in the US today. They
are still approaching us by the hundreds of thousands
every year and we are failing them. We stand in our
cozy circle, holding hands and praying, doing the
chant: "Keep coming back, it works if you work it,
so work it you're worth it, I die if I don't work it"
Today I see why we are failing so many. Alcoholics
Anonymous has morphed into some kind of strange
religious cult. I first heard this discription of
AA while viewing an A&E Real Life Drama video which
was produced in 1999/2000 for public television.
I like the "24 hr. Book" very much. I read it every day ..It helps me a lot..there is much truth in it...I still go the A.A. meetings and read the book.They read it in beginning of meeting that I go to..I am thankful to be sober 7 years...one day at a time...
I also love the 24hr book. I read it often. My first copy was given to me by an AA member 41 years ago. The price
was $1.75. I often questioned why Bill W. and his friends
rejected this book when it was offerred to Alcoholics
Anonymous. I am quite sure it has always been a popular
book and very profitable. I always thought that it was
rejected because it wasn't Bill's work. It was only recently
that I fully understand why this book was rejected. It is
simply too religious. The 24hr book is for an AA member's
personal use, never intended to be read to all and sundry
from the podium. A true investigation of this opinion may
reveal the truth that AA has become too religious. This
reading at meetings and the reading of HIW aloud at meetings
have been two of our worst blunders. Add the chanting and
we become a strange religious cult. ANONYMOUS
A Religious Nature is about running to a sponsor (person) or a Meeting (place) or shopping (things) instead of God (what the hell is that?) lol
it will be ok god will take care of it. keep comeing back like the old timeers told me or change it or go with the flow.god bless u and keep uu.
Although my thinking is not as bad as it use to be there is still a modicum of confusion and defocussing that I must cut through in order to function properly. Don't think, don't drink and go to meetings.
I defocus in order I believe not to sabotage but because of fear of the unknown and of avoiding the inevitable. I do not fear success, but abhor failure as the slow suicide of drink and I want to be well, but how well? Do I like some of my character defects? oh no!
I guess I will let go, let God and ask Him to remove some shortcomings! Ah-ha, thought I was perfect again!
You know something could be wrong when you discover yourself and you are the last to know your an alcoholic - most think they are something else. The clarity was astonishing didn't even need an outside sponsor to tell me i was. cool or what
This is probably the wrong place to write but I am desperate. My daughter has been clean and sober for 18 years and has worked the NA program all of these years also. While she was visiting me (her mom) from out of town I found, after her visit she had been drinking and hid the bottles which I found just yesterday.
I am just sick about this and I want to know if I should confront her with this by phone or tell one of her friends and see if she could help her? Being a long distance from her does not permit me facing her face to face and telling her I know she has been drinking and if I don't say something to her then I feel like I am an enabler.
Please, can someone answer here as to what I should do?
It's ok to stand still and hurt it's really human to do that.
Your daughter is an adult - let her be that!!!
DO THE BEST THAT U CAN DO PRAY TO GOD ABOUT IT AND LET YOUR HEART DICTATE TO U WHAT U SHOULD DO,AN OLD TIMER SAID ONCE U CAN LEAD A HOURSE TO WATER BUT U CANT MAKE THEM DRINKE. ITL WORK OUT IN GODS TIME. ME////
I loved AA from the start. I was tired of drinking and ready to stop. I was a terrific person who just drank too much. I didn't mind hearing you tell everyone about your terrible life and how drinking made it unbearable etc. but me? I still had a job, a place to live and a relationship.
All I could really judge my life by was my externals. I was so cut off from any internal or spiritual self that I could not identify with anything anyone said about "feelings."
I was so completely detached from my emotions that I didn't even realize that all I ever felt was rage and fear.
I was from NY. NYer's don't whine. We get on with it.
Then, one day after about 6 months of not drinking and going to meetings I heard a speaker. I can't even remember what she said but I felt this burning heat on my face. I know now it was a feeling of embarassment and humiliation. Then it dawned on me - I was just like everyone else I had been listening to for 6 months. I was physically and mentally and spiritually sick and my life was indeed unmanageable. The second step was washing over me. My sponsor used to say some things will not be figured out they will only be revealed.
I too loved AA from the start. I wanted to stop drinking and I had tried every way described in the Big Book. Location, moderation, meditation, church, exercise, Doctors, and drugs. Will-power alone got me a week but no more. My drinking had cost me 2 marriages and was about to cost me a 3rd. My health was failing and my children were distant while being only 20 minutes away and my grandchildren hardly knew me at all. My retirement was destined to be a short one, most definitely not a relaxed or a happy one.
To the world I seemed like a terrific person. Thirty years as a Firefighter/Paramedic, seldom missed a day of work, no appearance that my drinking was effecting my work. I thought I was very clever in how I concealed it. I did volunteer work all over the country and the world as a disaster response team member. Haiti 2010 just after the earthquake was my last attempt to stop drinking on my own. Even in a disaster zone the ETOH flows.
Sixty years old, nice pension, savings, IRA's, big house, wife. From the outside everything looked hunky dory. Inside rage, anger and more frequently occurring blackouts were casting a insipid darkness on everything. My wife had taken two jobs out of state to escape the turmoil as I tried to get things under control. That of course only led to my drinking at home, drinking alone and drinking only to get drunk or until it was gone.
My wife was forced home by the economy only to find things worst then when she had left. My visits to her were a masquerade in sobriety and the rage and arguments resumed and now adding to it was physical damage of property that was only going to lead to physical violence. My life had become completely and totally unmanageable. Suicide seemed the only rational solution but that would mean she had won and she would be rich and happy and my resentments were to profound to let that happen.
I told my wife that I would go to AA twice a week if necessary and that I would leave the house and marriage if I were to start drinking again.
The closest meeting to me was a closed meeting, I didn't know what that meant so thankfully I chose an open meeting close to downtown. God must have been guiding me because the verity of people that were there made all the difference. (as an aside I have attended the closed meeting and they are a great bunch but not what I needed at the start)
I slinked in, avoiding as many as I could, sat in the back and didn't speak up when asked if anyone was there for the first time, I didn't speak up for a desire (24 hour) chip but when we went around the room and I said "my name is Dennis and I'm an Alcoholic" the flood gates opened and I asked if I could still take that desire chip. That was my first step on this long adventure.
My twice a week promise has become 5 noon meeting per week, two evening step studies, one weekend groups, and one evening topic group. If I make every one that's nine a week. Nobody explain 90 and 90 to me until I took a sponsor and by that time I was already locked in. I love each group and the friendships that have evolved. I'm guarding against burn out because as a alcoholic I know that excess is what got me here and as an introvert the camaraderie is intoxicating.
Several times during meetings in the last 514 days that I have been in this program, have been eye openers to say the least. I have examined things about myself and cried by myself. I have felt great sadness and been beset by moments of great happiness.
Coming to this program has been the best thing I have done for myself and my family. I look foward to the next meeting if I have felt down or depressed. Sometimes a meeting is the bright spot of my day and the messages of hope and recovery bring me closer to my higher power. I have dodged and procrastinated on my 4th step for weeks. I truly want to get it right and my sponser now sees why and what took me so long for me to do this. I did a lot of soul searching and have tried to be as thorough and as honest as possible.I never would be where I am at now if it weren't for this program, my group and my friend, my sponser. I look foward to many more days and hope to keep coming back so that I too, may someday pass along what was so freely given to me.
When I came into AA there were very few meetings designated as step meetings. Many meetings had the steps shade on the
wall, but no one pointed to them and said, this is what you
must do. They were truly suggestions. Over the years I forgot that they were suggestions and became convinced that they were "musts", much like pulling the cord on a parachute. But today I understand that they are suggestions.
I don't like the words "only suggestions" or "but suggestions". The steps are suggestions for the individual
to decide all by himself whether she/he wants to use them or not. We are not to cram the steps down anyone's throat. Bill W explains this on page 8 in Language of the Heart.
The fourth and fifth steps were very important to me. I
often wondered how to do the fourth step. Then I found
that answer on page 50 of the 12&12, under just how do I
ake an inventory of myself? How do I go about this? Bill
explains exactly how to take the fourth step. And my advice
for anyone taking the fifth step, take it with someone
who is sworn to secrecy, a priest, doctor. Lose the "sponsor" who insists that he/she is qualified to hear and guard your deep dark secrets. The fourth step in 12&12
is lengthy but it is full of vital information from our co-
founder. Read it. Study it. Select the questions that pertain to you, beginning on page 50. Some did not apply
to me, but many I claimed as my own. Write out the
questions and answers. Keep your work under lock and key,
until the fifth step is completed and then burn it. I
have completed this process thoroughly, two times in my
more than three decades of sobriety. In AA we allow
every member to make the decision when and whether to
do these steps. They are truly suggestions. Anonymous
My most important and life changing moment of clarity was the moment my HP allowed me to see and tell myself the truth that I had lied to myself about for 18 years: I was drinking because I HAD TO drink and not because I wanted to drink. I haven't had a drink since and that was September 22, 1983 - same year I became a GV fan!