Alcholics Anonymous

Forward to the first edition

You can find a virtual copy of the Big Book Here. This is the chapter I provided notes for today.

  1. AA was more than 100 members at the time the book was written.
  2. Precisely– being exactly that and neither more nor less
  3. Alcoholic is a very sick person
  4. Our way of living has its advantages for all. (See the chapters to wives and the family afterwards.)
  5. Anonymous– of unknow name, whose name is witheld
  6. Avocation– a minor occupation, a hobby
  7. Anonymity is requested on AA’s when speaking publicly and in the press.
  8. (AA preamble and Tradition 11 probably come from this source.)
  9. Signed by the Fellowship, not Bill W.

Elementary my dear sponsor

One of my favorite characters in literature is a certain consulting detective. My private library carries more Holmesian stories than I have recovery books. Whether e-book, magazine, or paper book, Watson’s narratives bring me through rough times.

When I sit down to write, often I have an audiobook or podcast running in the background, with Mr. Holmes as the topic. Once in awhile, Watson’s words sweep over me, while I work on a post or two.

I write several posts for the week in rapid succession, scheduling posts a few days ahead in case I have a sick day. Earlier this month, I hadn’t planned ahead as well as I like to, and there was a lack of Essays. My apologies for the lapse.

  1. As a sponsor, and as a writer, sometimes my Idols slip into my recovery and my writing. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about the famous cocaine addict who solved crimes. Sometimes, being a person in recovery requires the intellect of the famous detective.

For example. I have recently started posting my study notes for the Big Book. Currently, I am getting ready to write the forward to the second edition. In writing the forward to the first, I realized that several things showed up in the Big Book as foreshadowing. I know for a fact that there is quite a bit of cross referencing later on in the book. I intend to provide the cross-references as well so that perhaps my work can help others.

Holmes called these types of studies that were published, monographs. A monograph is a detailed study. Where I am crippled is in the direct quotes sections I usually include in my notes.

However, I will soldier on. I will rummage through my brain attic, and provide the information. My sponsor expects no less from me.

Have a great afternoon, and I pray that your Higher Power is with you in your recovery today.

PREFACE Page Xi-xii

There are 4 editions to the Big Book.

  1. First edition Published 1939: 300,000 copies printed
  2. Second edition Published 1955: 1,150,500 copies printed
  3. Third edition Published 1976: 19,550,000 copies printed
  4. Fourth edition Published 2001: (37th printing as of 2017) As of this date, over 30 million copies have sold

“Because this book has become the basic text for our society and helped…. there exists a strong sentiment against any radical changes being made in it.”

  • 2nd edition moved the Dr’s opinion to the Roman Numeral section.
  • Spiritual Experience added in the 2nd printing of the 1st edition.
  • 2nd edition: the appendices were added. Personal stories were changed. (Now found in the book experience, strength and hope.)
  • 3rd edition: Stories changed around. (Redacted stories are now found in Experience, Strength and Hope book.)
  • 4th Edition: 12 concepts added. Personal stories changed. (Redacted stories are now found in Experience, Strength and Hope book.)

All changes were made to reflect the current fellowship. AA hopes the process of identification would increase by doing this.

Taking notes in a meeting

This topic can be controversial, especially in a tradition orientated meeting. There are some members who may try to stop you taking notes in a meeting. It has been mentioned to me, however, I try to protect the anonymity of those meetings.

Here is what I do:

I never use a keyboard to take notes. I always, if I am using an electronic tablet use a stylus. The clicking of keys can be disruptive to others. If using an electronic device, especially as my Big Book, Twelve by Twelve and other literature are found there, I make sure before the meeting starts to disable notifications and sounds on the device. I also make sure that the software I need is open and ready to go. I work hard to not be distracting or disruptive in a meeting.

On paper, the same rules apply. I try to be unobtrusive. I usually set out my pens and hilighters prior to meeting start, and I make sure that my notebook is small enough that I am not physically bothering others while I take notes.

The amount of notes I take depends on the meeting as well. In a standard meeting, maybe a page or two of notes will do. In a study meeting, I’ve sometimes walked out with pages of notes.

What do I write down?

Meeting date and time. I write down the topic of the meeting. I also write down any pages referred to by the members as the meeting progresses. I will write down a small quote during the sharing as well. Another thing I write down are my thoughts on the topic, as the meeting goes on.

For example: The topic is Hope in Recovery. The meeting Date is (today’s date) at (this time)

-> Pages 417 to 420 were read

–> What does this have to do with hope? (my thought)

*The chair person relates the reading to hope, and I paraphrase what the chair person said.

That’s what I do. Sometimes, I will write down the name of the members by what I wrote down, usually I do not unless I am trying to remember the member’s names.

Who reads this notebook? ONLY ME After a notebook is filled up, I will usually re-read my notes, look back at the topics and write about it for a little bit. However, unless it is something I need to question my sponsor about or add to my own daily homework, I usually burn these notebooks.

In the case of electonic tablets, I delete those notebooks.

That’s all I have for now, take care, may your Higher Power be with you in your recovery today.

Feeling safe in a meeting

Strange topic, I know. There have been a few meetings I attended that I did not feel safe for myself and my sponsees in. I did not return. Here are a few criteria for the difference between a safe and an unsafe meeting.

  1. How do they identify themselves? There is a reason for this. If a group identifies only as a recovery meeting, and not with a specific fellowship, then I don’t feel comfortable. I have attended fellowships where the recovering rapists were sitting next to the victims of sexual abuse. It is similar to shooting fish in a barrel. However, I have also met and made friends with a convicted murderer who was sober in AA. I was more comfortable sitting next to him than in the other fellowship.
  2. How do they moderate the meetings? Is one person, outside of the speaker meeting situation allowed to speak for over 20 minutes? Is cross-talk allowed or encouraged? Are the members bullied by the other members? If the meeting is not moderated, I am not sure that I should return to that specific meeting.
  3. Is the literature used and referred to in the meeting? I have attended what Joe and Charlie refer to as group depression meetings. I always felt worse after attending than before I attended. They were a “How was your week” meeting, and not a, “We have a program, here is how we work it” meeting. If the solution is not a part of the meeting, I may sit and have a cup of coffee and bring up the program, but I won’t return to that meeting. I can attend therapy if I want that type of meeting.
  4. Are the members offering to help the newcomers? The newcomer is the most important person at any AA meeting. If no-one greets and offers to share with the newcomers, then why are the meetings happening? If a member I have not met before comes into the rooms, I usually try to greet them warmly, and offer to introduce them to one of the members I know who can help them through the meeting if I cannot do so myself. If this is not happening on a regular basis, I usually bale on that specific meeting time or location.
  5. Are members allowed to share? If the meeting passes all of the above criteria, and yet certain members are not allowed to share, I will wait for an answer. For example: If a person enters the rooms who appears to be homeless, are they allowed to share? If a person enters who is apparently drunk, yet desires to quit drinking, are they allowed to share within reason? If a person enters who is not an alcoholic, but there are no meetings available for their fellowship in the area, are they allowed to share on the topic at hand? If the answer is no, I am confused as to why not. What does it harm our primary purpose, which is to carry the message to allow our members to speak?
  6. Lastly, are the other members actively listening and paying attention? I have sat in meetings and watched the whole group talk amongst themselves while others were sharing. It has happened to me. Not being heard is the most disrespectful thing that can happen to the others in the room.

That said, what do I do when I enter a meeting and it fails one or more than one of the above criteria? Usually, I wait it out. I do my best to be outwardly and inwardly a good example of an AA member in good standing. In the case of odd fellowships that under tradition 3 I qualify for, but that I deem are not safe, I do not return.

In the case of members being bullied, I usually speak up. I ask the bully what step they are working, and what traditions they are not working. In the case of members not being allowed to speak, I will speak, and then pass it to them specifically. In the case of a meeting where one person out of 30 is allowed to speak for 20 minutes, I will watch my watch. I do not time the members’ shares, I will time my own. I may suggest that I did not know that it was a speakers meeting that specific night. For the newcomers, I do the best I can.

I have learned that sometimes the only way to change a bad meeting is to change it from the inside. If the meeting cannot change, then I do not bring myself or my sponsees back to that meeting.

That’s all I have for now, take care.

Running with scissors

I am an alcoholic. I enjoy defying convention, or popular wisdom. I go out of my way to defy rules. I work hard no matter what it costs me, to be a pain in the tail for others. I make things worse for those who love me and live with me.

So, going to the conventional rules is against the grain with me.

This morning, I found a loophole to one of the rules. That rule is, don’t run with scissors, you will get hurt or hurt someone.

I found the right pair of scissors. It’s a little folding set that folds into itself. It is used in sewing, knitting or crochet. I have it on a chain and I wear it around my neck while working with thread. I realized that I could run with it, and go on in my life reasonably safely.

What does this have to do with recovery?

All morning long, I have been bucking the system. I have done everything and anything I could to not write this blog post. I have done anything I could to not work the steps. I have done anything I could to not work my homework.

Maybe, I just had the wrong tool. Maybe, I was looking at it from the wrong angle. Maybe, just maybe, like with this blog post, I needed to look at this from a different way.

So, I have quite a bit of work to do. Have a good day. That is all for now.

And we have ceased fighting

In my first step, I listed anger as one of my addictions. Today, it is the hardest of them all to kick. I sit here at the laptop, after reading a news article about someone I know who has helped me in my recovery. The article is a prime example of muckraking, and I will not post a link to it.

Yet, I am responsible for something here. I am responsible for my anger.

In step 3, I made the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him. I also began to live as if God was my Employer. I was to let go of resentments, in step 4, and forgive the people who had harmed me in any real or imagined way, step 4-8.  In step 10 I am to root out the anger, and get rid of it, talking to another immediately, as well as making amends as quickly as I can for any harms I have done.

Yet this anger hurts. I am hurting for the person named in the article. Currently, they are quite far away, and cannot answer the article in person. This anger is two fold. I am angry at the reporter, for repeating lies, and I am angry at the liar.

The only thing I can do, is to get it down on paper, talk to another, and pray. I have to pray not just for my mentor. (I had done a 5th step with this person, ergo they qualify as a mentor.) I also have to pray for the reporter and for the liar. See page 552 of the 4th edition Big Book if you are curious as to why.

I cannot take action on my anger in any other way. It is the correct thing to do, and it is what my Boss wants me to do. So, I will get right on that.

Have a good day, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below.