Posts Tagged ‘AA literature


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Accompany him to his first meeting. Take him along with you when you call on the next patient. Telephone him when there are other patients. Drop in at his home occasionally. Telephone him as often as possible. Urge him to look up the new friends he has made. Counsel and advise him.  [……]  He probably will be lonely. He may be too timid to seek the companionship of his new friends.

Experience has proved this to be a very critical period. So your labors have not ended. Give him as much attention as you did when you first called on him — until he can find the road by himself.

Remember, you depend on the newcomer to keep you sober as much as he depends on you. So never lose touch with your responsibility, which never ends.

via The Akron Manual from 1939-40

The above is quoted from  the purported first written study guide/ pamphlet used in the earliest meetings of AA.   It is an example of the material used in the AA that had a 75% success rate.

Read this this morning pretty much first thing. I’ve been enjoying reading historical AA writings, but this made me feel sick. I had woken up sad because I am about to give up trying to use AA for support.  I’ve been hurt more than I’ve been helped. And if it’s all my fault, so be it; I’m going to have to accept it’s not a helpful fit and whatever psycho-social-emotional wherewithal is required I lack.

I have a couple of numbers for members of Women for Sobriety I am going to call; I wrote asking about local meetings after visiting their forums/website a few weeks ago.  I’ll talk about that some more later.

I threw my AA books in the trash. I didn’t want to. I might get them out. I wish it would be helpful to me, it is a place where I can ostensibly meet people but, if I’m honest, I’m banging my head against a wall. It reminds me of alcoholic drinking:  the little good bits here and there create hope for more, and what I get over and over is…not helpful.


Written by xty

September 19, 2010 at 09:40

golden text

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Yesterday I reread my notes from when I was in detox a couple of weeks ago.  I also re-read most of the AA Number 3 story in the Book, which is what these particular notes were on.  Page 191: “Bill looked across at my wife and said to her:  ‘ Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling it to people.’ …This has been sort of a golden text to me.”

From that I took most note of two points:  Bill attributed his sobriety strictly to a supernatural act, curing at that, and the emphasis on sharing with others. The fact that AA #3 considers these points a “golden text” feels like something I should always bear in mind.

I heard a new AA cliche: oldtimer to relapser: “I hope you’re out of good ideas.”  Again and again I am drawn to the texts and pick up messages  that underscore the spiritual and service based nature of real sobriety.

Written by xty

July 14, 2010 at 07:19

how it’s going

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I made more meetings this past week.  I went to a new one in the city I work in (an hour away) and it seemed like a pretty nice one.  I’ll go back.  My days are long, but I enjoy them.  I see that this arrangement could be isolating…but I am not going to worry about that right now. It doesn’t matter.   All that matters is not drinking and going to work.

I have begun reading the Big Book the official Big Book Step Study Meeting (I affectionately refer to it as the “school supplies group”) way.  This consists of highlighting directions or suggestions in yellow, warnings or ominous stuff in pink, and promises and positive statements in green.   It’s causing me to read more slowly and that’s a fine thing.  I read a little at a time – I’m just starting Into Action.  (At the beginning I was continuously bothered that Pink wasn’t Positive,  Warnings weren’t Yellow,  Directions Green, but life on life’s terms. Acceptance is the answer to all my problems.)

This is unsanctioned or renegade BBSS reading – sponsor S goes and has a BBSS sponsor, and is passing suggestions along to me.  I wonder if it matters that my activity has no community affiliation.  It feels kind of flat – but I often experience reading the book that way, just because I’ve read it probably more than any other book on earth, except maybe the Rock and Roll Encyclopedia I had when I was in junior high.

Written by xty

March 28, 2010 at 10:02

A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 2, pt. 1

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This instruction is not a short-cut to A.A. It is an introduction – – a help – – a brief course in fundamentals.

This meeting covers Steps 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 11. We will take them in order.

Step No. 2.  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Our drinking experience has shown:

  • That as we strayed away from the normal social side of life, our minds became confused and we strayed away from the normal mental side of life.
  • An abnormal mental condition is certainly not sanity in the accepted sense of the word. We have acquired or developed a mental disease. Our study of A.A. shows that:
    1. In the mental or tangible side of life we have lost touch with, or ignored, or have forgotten the spiritual values that give us the dignity of man as differentiated from the animal. We have fallen back upon the material things of life and these have failed us.
    2. We have been groping in the dark.No human agency, no science or art has been able to solve the alcoholic problem, so we turn to the spiritual for guidance.

Therefore we “came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” We must believe with a great FAITH.

via A.A. History: The Detroit Pamphlet, Discussion No. 2.

It’s now 2010.  My first drink was in 1980; my first AA meeting in circa 1984 at an institution; my first AA meeting as an adult, voluntarily, I-gotta-do-something-find-out-where-a -meeting-is-drive-there-alone-and-go-in, was 1995.

In 1998 I moved from  a treatment center in my hometown to an Oxford House in my current city. My first sponsor here was Michelle P.   Eventually, after 7 years of trying, I managed to go a little over 6 years with no drugs or alcohol, although by that time I got to one year I had stopped attending AA.  I drank again, and around two years later carried myself back into a meeting.  (I drank a bar nearby before the meeting, and couldn’t go the full hour without a drink.)  Who was sitting there when I walked in but Michelle P.  She said, “It’s step two for you. Step two.”

Here I am four months sober having been in detox and treatment twice in the past calendar year. Michelle has been sober 18 years.  I puzzle about the step two matter, talk about it, pray about it, collect stories.  (A tad more background: the party line on “my problem,” “why I can’t get it,” is that I Think Too Much.  My party line has involved failed attempt after failed attempt at NOT doing this, followed by my current policy of Being Who I Am and Seeing If It Will Work Anyway If I Don’t Get Too Hung Up On Anything and Ask For Help.  I already tried “trying AA harder” enough times that I’m scared and dubious about trying that still again, for “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”) (Have I closed the door then? Nah. Scared and dubious isn’t “done.”)

Back to Step Two.  Usually Step Two  is divided into two parts, the tedious grappling-with-admitting-insanity part, and the tedious believing-in-God part.   I’m will skip qualifying in a major way on part A, because this is my blog, and I say admitting insanity is no problem for me. There’s codified proof out there: my 15 or so hospitalizations and paperwork where I was involuntarily committed more than once.  And then there’s my life story, which is proof to anyone including me that I do not operate correctly.

What about part B? I believe in God, always have, have no hangups with religion or Jesus etc, I pray, all that.  When I was in treatment the last time, during a meeting,  I looked over the big Twelve Steps poster for like the four thousandth time and noticed a phrase is underlined: God as we understood Him.  Feels like where I subconsciously spit out the kool-aid is right about there.

I’ve sincerely said the third step prayer, um, a lot, full of hope, for “it only takes the key of willingness to open the door.” I’m slowly admitting to myself that I don’t really believe it works that way.  In other words, God as I understand God is the problem.  After sitting with that,  I realize what causes the huge mental eyebrow-knitting for me is the making up your own HP business.  First off the program insists, and I agree, that we are selfish, grandiose, self-centered hopeless cases. Then, the Solution is something we selfish crazies get to – wait for this – make up!

Where I go from here in my thinking is “Oh, I get it, it’s the placebo effect. We just use the steps as a maintenance tool once we’ve made up our minds for real-real.  Ok.  I don’t have a problem with the placebo effect, because the result is the same, yes?”   Except I’m not going to make up a God.  I don’t think that makes sense, and besides, I’m insane, right?  (Maybe I have made up God, and because I’m insane, he’s a weird dickhead. Hm.  Let’s revisit that later.)

Taking us to now, where I understand why Michelle P was right on the money.  And where I’m stuck with a bunch of steps and full-blown beliefs that I can’t dive into the prescribed way because, well, I don’t have FAITH.  Am I just as fucked as the guy I wrote about last night?

Written by xty

March 4, 2010 at 14:11


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I must be constantly careful of finding my thoughts standing on the stage in my head, talking about footwork and results, but surrounded by attitudes regarding reward and punishment.

via Mr. SponsorPants: Alcoholic Thinking .

Your life depends on this program….It might be suicidal to disagree with any part of it, so resolve to be open-minded and accept the Twelve Steps in their entirety.

via The Little Red Book .

Yep, I sure do need some supernatural miracle-wielding intervention. What I’m currently working out with my writing and conversations – with no small measure of embarrassment, as I have been reprimanded in AA regularly since the mid-90s for my thought-life – is my bafflement with my impression I must either just up and have different attitudes and beliefs or I’m suicidal.  (Or, scarier-ier, I’m incapable of being honest or following God’s will.) I want to take the Program at its word that it’s all suggestions, but then I hear an oldtimer, to much knowing laughter, state at meetings regularly that “it is also suggested that you open your parachute when you jump out of an airplane.”  Gaslighting offends me, especially when my life is at stake.

The Big Deal is….drum roll….my deep beliefs and attitudes vs. my willingness, conscious credulity, and 12 step training are the irresistable force meeting the immovable object. (Can I get a big “Lack of power, that was our dilemma!” Everybody now!)  I’ve been at this a long-ass time, every version of effort and grace has happened, and I can’t change my thinking with my thinking. And I want an answer – am I a textbook bratty alcoholic who can’t just deal, or am I right – fundamentalist AA might just kill me?  (The answer, of course, is yes.)

Written by xty

March 2, 2010 at 12:00

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