Category Archives: Steps

Step 2

Atheist – denies the existence of God

Agnostic – does not rely on or know if there is a God that will work in personal life

“If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago.  But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried.  We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philosophically comforted, in fact, we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn’t there.  Our human resources, as marshalled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly.  Lack of power, that was our dilemma.  We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves.  Obviously.  But where and how were we to find this Power?  Well, that’s exactly what this book is about.  Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.” – BB, p. 44-45, We Agnostics

I must see my own powerlessness and insanity before I can buy Step 2.  “If I have difficulty with the HP concept or a belief in some kind of God in step 2, it may be because I am still clinging to the idea that I have power…I might need to go back to Step 1 and make sure I haven’t overlooked something critical.

2012-08-11 16.16.58

Some of our alcoholic readers may think they can do without spiritual help.  Let us tell you the rest of the conversation our friend had with his doctor. – BB, p. 27

Whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not. – BB, p. 34

The Missing Piece: The Spiritual Malady
by Mike L., West Orange, NJ
We often hear people say something like, “I have a three-fold disease: body, mind, and spirit.”
 
“an allergy of the body and an obsession of the mind” – that once I put any alcohol in my system whatsoever it sets off a craving for more alcohol.
 
It is agreed that the “mental obsession” is the part of our “disease” which leads to the first drink; and it’s the first drink that triggers the “phenomenon of craving.”
But, what about the part of my “disease” that triggers the mental obsession in the first place?
 
Why is it that people who have remained abstinent from drinking in Alcoholics Anonymous for 1 year… 2 years… 5 years… 10 years… and in some cases even 20 years or more, go back to drinking?
 
We know the physical craving does not cause these people to drink because it’s been medically proven that after a few days of not drinking the alcohol is processed out of the body. And, if you’ve been in the AA Fellowship for a while, for most people, the mental obsession dissipates. So why is it that after a long period of sobriety many people in our fellowship return to drinking – EVEN WHEN THEY DON’T WANT TO? What is the third fold of our illness that triggers the mental obsession – WHEN NOT DRINKING – HAVING BEEN SEPARATED FROM ALCOHOL FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME?
 
Through closely examining our Big Book, along with much experience and practice with our Twelve Steps, as well as vigorous work with other alcoholics, the “missing piece” of Step 1 appears to be what is referred to on page 64 as the “spiritual malady.”
Now, let me attempt to discuss the second half of Step 1: ” – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
 
For a long time I thought my life was unmanageable because of all the crazy insane things I did while drinking – like the car accidents, hurting people when I didn’t mean to, failed relationships, loss of jobs, family dysfunction, jails, asylums, etc.
Finally, someone explained to me that those things are not the insanity that the Big Book talks about; nor are those things why the alcoholic’s life becomes unmanageable.
 
Of course those things can be classified as “unmanageability” – but they are external unmanageability. The unmanageability that the 1st Step is pointing to is the INWARD unmanageability of our lives – the restlessness, irritability, and discontentment that most alcoholics have even BEFORE they ever picked up their first drink. There are many names for this “inward unmanageability”. Some refer to it as “untreated alcoholism.” Others use the term “bedevilments”, which comes from page 52 of the Big Book (which I’ll be discussing in a moment). Page 64 simply refers to this “inward unmanageability” as “the spiritual malady.”
 
Our book promises us that “When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” The mental and physical factors of alcoholism are put into remission AFTER the “spiritual malady” is overcome – which means I’m still in danger of drinking until I have a spiritual awakening – whether I think so or not.
Two key points I’d like to focus on from this point forward:
 
  • What really is this “spiritual malady” and how, if left untreated, can it drive an alcoholic back to drinking? 
  • What is the remedy for it?
 
 
(By the way, our Big Book answers both of those questions in masterly detail in Chapters 4 – 11.) What is this “spiritual malady” we alcoholics suffer from and how can “untreated alcoholism” cause an alcoholic to return to drinking – EVEN WHEN HE/SHE DOESN’T WANT TO?
 
Imagine three layers. The first layer is our bodily reaction to alcohol when we ingest it – the physical craving. Under that is the second layer: the insanity of the mind just before the first drink – the mental obsession. Under that is the third layer: the inward condition that triggers the second layer, which in turn triggers the first – the “spiritual malady.” Symptoms of this “third layer” as described in the Big Book include:
  1. being restless, irritable, and discontented (page xxvi),
  2. having trouble with personal relationships,
  3. not being able to control our emotional natures,
  4. being a prey to (or suffering from) misery and depression,
  5. not being able to make a living (or a happy and successful life),
  6. having feelings of uselessness,
  7. being full of fear,
  8. unhappiness,
  9. inability to be of real help to other people (page 52),
  10. being like "the actor who wants to run the whole show" (pages 60-61),
  11. being "driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity" (page 62),
  12. self-will run riot (page 62),
  13. leading a double life (page 73),
  14. living like a tornado running through the lives of others (page 82), and
  15. exhibiting selfish and inconsiderate habits.
Page 25 tells us, “There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings, which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at out feet. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.”
 
This “fourth dimension”, which we find out in the 10th Step is the “world of the Spirit”, takes us beyond the physically, mental, and emotional dimensions of life – and eliminates the selfishness (ego) of the “spiritual malady.” The term “spiritual malady” does not mean that our “spirit” is sick. It simply means we are spiritually blocked off from the Power of God, which enables us to remain sober, happy, joyous, and free.
To conclude, it’s not my body – my allergic reaction to alcohol – that’s going to take me back to drinking. It’s really not my mind – the mental obsession – that is the underlying root of what will take me back to drinking. It’s the “spiritual malady”, as manifested by my EGO (selfishness-self-centeredness), that can eventually lead me back to drinking or sometimes even suicide.
 
On pages 14 and 15 Bill W. writes, “For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that.”
 
Thankfully, the “spiritual malady” is no longer a “missing piece” of Step One for me. It is a reality of my powerlessness and unmanageability and enables me to see why I so desperately need to seek a Power Greater than myself. And unless this malady is recognized, and a course of action (the Twelve Steps) is taken to enable God to remove it, the root of our alcoholic illness can lie dormant and burn us when we least expect it.
 
www.Barefootsworld.net

Questions for Journal/Working step 2

Starting with page 44 – 1. What does living life on a spiritual basis look like to you today? How has it changed from before you were sober and how has it changed while you have been sober? p.45&46

Look at areas you might not be comfortable admitting (agnosticism).

2. Do you have any honest doubts and prejudices about God or spiritual terms?

3. Do you have a particular idea of God that was impressed upon you in childhood? Did it help or hinder your belief system? Do you apply it today in your relationship with God, or did you have to abandon the idea for a new one?

p.47 – 4. What is your conception of God today? Is this different from where you started out when you got sober? Were there old ideas or prejudices you had to lay aside?

5. Have you been handicapped by obstinacy, sensitiveness, or unreasoning prejudice when it comes to God?

p.51 – 6. Has your spiritual beliefs been fettered (hindered/held back) by superstition, tradition, or fixed ideas? (Now or in the past).

p.52 – 7. Have you relied on self sufficiency to solve your problems in the past? How did that work? How does it work relying on God to solve your problems? Are there any problems you still try to solve on your own? Are there any problems in your life you feel God cannot solve?

p.53 – 8. God either is or He isn’t. What is your choice?

p.55 – 9. How has your relationship or access to God been limited by calamity (chaos), pomp (ego), and worship of other things?

p. 55 The consciousness of your belief is sure to come to you & p. 57 He has come to all who have honestly sought Him

10. How has God revealed himself to you and how have you honestly sought him? (What is your step 2 experience)

we agnostics 4

What if God is nothing?

What if that voice in the back of your head that tells you there is no God is right?  The only thing you will ever have to help you through life is whatever power, knowledge, experience, will, etc. that you can muster up on your own.  No God.  No AA.  No power to move you beyond where you are right now except you.

What if God is everything?

What if God is everything and you miss an opportunity to tap in to an immense power that will help you with everything in your life?

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In the 1930’s, NAPOLEON HILL wrote a book called THINK AND GROW RICH.  In it, he talks about something he calls the sixth sense and he says:

“Understanding of the sixth sense comes only by meditation through mind development from within. The sixth sense probably is the medium of contact between the finite mind of man and Infinite Intelligence, and for this reason, it is a mixture of both the mental and the spiritual.  It is believed to be the point at which the mind of man contacts the Universal Mind.

Through the aid of the sixth sense, you will be warned of impending dangers in time to avoid them, and notified of opportunities in time to embrace them.  There comes to your aid, and to do your bidding, with the development of the sixth sense, a “guardian angel” who will open to you at all times the door to the Temple of Wisdom.

Whether or not this is a statement of truth, you will never know, except by following the instructions described in the pages of this book, or some similar method of procedure. [Whoopeeparty suggests the Big Book of AA’s 12 steps!]

This much the author does know-that there is a power, or a First Cause, or an Intelligence, which permeates every atom of matter, and embraces every unit of energy perceptible to man-that this Infinite Intelligence converts acorns into oak trees, causes water to flow down hill in response to the law of gravity, follows night with day, and winter with summer, each maintaining its proper place and relationship to the other. This Intelligence may, through the principles of this philosophy, be induced to aid in transmuting DESIRES into concrete, or material form. The author has this knowledge, because he has experimented with it- and has EXPERIENCED IT.”

I had to stop fighting, step off the cliff into the unknown and CHOOSE to believe there was a God.  Every time a little fear came into my head and said, there won’t be enough, you won’t make it through, you will die alone, etc…I pushed it out of my mind and said something like, “I choose to believe that God is everything.”

This was like what you hear in meetings “Fake it ’til you make it.”  I really felt like I was having to fake a belief that God is everything until eventually I really believed God was everything!

If I can tell you who and what God is, then it is not big enough to help me.  I like the description given in a book called The Shack.  Like a mother would do her child, God wants to get down on the floor and color in the coloring book with me as I babble nonsense.  God wants to experience life with me.  God nods and says “Yes!  Very Good!” every now and then to build me up and encourage the relationship.

we agnostics 5

Miracles!

Three parts of step 3

p. 26  First, AA does not demand that you believe anything.  All of its 12 steps are but suggestions.

Second, to get sober and to stay sober, you don’t have to swallow all of step 2 right now.  Looking back, I find that I took it piecemeal myself.

Third, all you really need is a truly open mind.

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The Bondage of Self

In the 7th step prayer, I ask God to relieve me of the bondage of self, so that I may better do His will. Over time working the steps, and through study of the 12 and 12 and Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, I have identified many of the parts of self that hang me up and keep me in bondage. The list so far:

Self-centeredness
Self-seeking
Self-pity
Inaccurate self-appraisal
Self-centered fear
Selfishness
Self-deception
Self-delusion
Self-destruction
Self-determined objectives
Self-importance
Self-justification
Self-loathing
Self-propulsion
Self-reliance
Self-righteousness
Self-sufficiency

It helps me to remember that “any life run on self-will can hardly be a success” (BB p. 60), and any review of my life shows me that is the case! I am here to play the hand God dealt me and no amount of wishing it was any other way is going to change that. I am not in charge and I don’t make the rules. I don’t get to decide what is best for anyone else either! “It’s all in Divine Order” my sponsor tells me. So when I get tied up in any of the parts of self listed, I again have to make a choice like I did in Step 2: “…either God is everything or else He is nothing.” (BB p. 53)

God, help me to submit to Your will today!

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How I Worked Step 1

Cover of "Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story...

Cover via Amazon

DISCLAIMER: This is how I was instructed to work Step 1 by my first sponsor. There are several ways to work Step 1, and my opinion is that you DO AS YOUR SPONSOR INSTRUCTS YOU! I have since worked Step 1 using other formats, but I continue to use this format with my sponsees because I found it to be useful to me. If you have found this page and are interested in working Step 1 using this format, take it to your sponsor and discuss it with him or her. Remember, you asked your sponsor to be your sponsor because you want what THEY have, not what I have! (Although I love what I have, but you don’t know me…but I digress….)

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Step 1 has two parts:

  1. POWERLESSNESS – Has to do with my attempts to CONTROL my addiction.
  2. UNMANAGEABILITY – Has to do with the CONSEQUENCES of my drinking and/or drug use.

POWERLESSNESS

I was instructed to pray and ask God to show me the TRUTH, then write out the following:

Excuses I made in my head through:

  1. Minimizing – making things smaller than they actually are. Examples are: “I only drink at night, not in the morning.” or “I don’t drink before work.”
  2. Justifying – a good definition I heard in a meeting is “giving a socially acceptable reason for socially unacceptable behavior.” Examples are: “I worked hard all week.” “I deserve a break.” “I can drive stoned.”
  3. Rationalizing – inventing reasonable explanations for actions or opinions that are in reality based on other causes. Examples are: “They are prescription drugs.”

My sponsor told me that a relapse starts long before I pick up a drink. The excuses I wrote down above will be the LAST thoughts in my head before I pick up a drink. The last thoughts will be preceded by a period of time when I am not doing the basic things I have to do to stay sober, which were for me the list at the post entitled First Things First.

UNMANAGEABILITY

I was instructed to pray and ask God to show me the TRUTH, then write out the following:

The consequences of my drinking, which were:

  1. Physical – Examples are: headaches, tired, shaky, over-eating, under-eating, weak, passing out, black-outs (give examples – what was YOUR experience?)
  2. Emotional/Mental – Examples are: suicidal, hopeless, depressed
  3. Spiritual – Examples are: couldn’t feel God’s presence, lost, empty
  4. Financial – Examples are: I spent approximately $________ on the purchase of alcohol and/or drugs since the time I began drinking and/or drugging, I spent money I didn’t have (via credit cards or other) while under the influence of drink or drug, I spent money to hire an attorney to fight my DUI, on DUI school, to post bail, for rehab, on chemicals that would mask my drug use or clean out my system so that I could pass a drug test
  5. In Relationships – How has my disease affected my relationships with myself, God, boyfriend or girlfriend, friends, parents, siblings, co-workers, other family members?

My sponsor explained that the consequences I have written above are my (current) bottom. She explained that the elevator can and will go down further if I drink today and that things that haven’t happened while drinking are things that I should describe as my “yets”.

My first step list was 22 pages. She explained that what was on those pages is the very BEST I can do drinking and running my own life. She told me that what is on those pages is the END and that I should “play the tape through to the end”. Upon further investigation of the Big Book (specifically in “There is A Solution” and “More About Alcoholism”) and the description of the mental obsession, I learned that there may come a time that I will not be able to remember my END.

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink. – BB, page 24

“I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help me in those strange mental blank spots.”     – BB, page 42

Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power. – BB, page 43

It is this information that propelled me into Step 2 because I saw that if I were to stay sober, the self-knowledge I gained from my Step 1 exercise would not be a sufficient defense against the first drink!

Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?

Well, that’s exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem. – BB, page 45

3 Step 3 Requirements

First Requirement

The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. – BB, p. 60

Second Requirement

…we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. – BB, p. 62

Third Requirement

Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. – BB, p. 62

4th Step Questions

SEX

12×12 p.49 Did I lust for sex?

12×12 p.43 Have I ever placed the sex desire above everything else?

12×12 p.43 Did I threaten my chance for material security?

12×12 p.43 Did I threaten my chance for emotional security?

12×12 p.43 Did I threaten my standing in the community?

12×12 p.44 Did my pursuit of sex result in my trampling upon people who happened to be in the way?

12×12 p.50 When, and how, and in just what instances did my selfish pursuit of the sex relation damage other people and me?

12×12 p.50 What people were hurt?

12×12 p.50 How badly were those people hurt?

12×12 p.50 Did I spoil my marriage?

12×12 p.50 Did I injure my children?

12×12 p.50 Did I jeopardize my standing in the community?

12×12 p.50 How did I react to these situations at the time?

12×12 p.50 Did I burn with guilt?

12×12 p.50 Did I insist that I was the pursued and not the pursuer, and thus absolve myself?

12×12 p.50 How have I reacted to frustration in sexual matters?

12×12 p.51 When denied, did I become vengeful?

12×12 p.51 When denied, did I become depressed?

12×12 p.51 Did I take it out on other people?

12×12 p.51 If there was rejection or coldness at home, did I use this as a reason for promiscuity?

12×12 p.52 What sex situations have caused me anxiety?

12×12 p.52 What sex situations have caused me bitterness?

12×12 p.52 What sex situations have caused me frustration?

12×12 p.52 What sex situations have caused me depression?

12×12 p.52 Do I lack the ability to accept conditions I cannot change?

MATERIAL/FINANCIAL SECURITY

12×12 p.43 Did I hoard money?

12×12 p.43 Did I become a miser?

12×12 p.44 Did my pursuit of wealth result in my trampling upon people who happened to be in the way?

12×12 p.51 What character defects contributed to my financial instability?

12×12 p.51 Did fear and inferiority about my fitness for my job destroy my confidence and fill me with conflict?

12×12 p.51 Did I try to cover up those feelings of inadequacy by bluffing?

12×12 p.51 Did I try to cover up those feelings of inadequacy by cheating?

12×12 p.51 Did I try to cover up those feelings of inadequacy by lying?

12×12 p.51 Did I try to cover up those feelings of inadequacy by evading responsibility?

12×12 p.51 Did I try to cover up those feelings of inadequacy by griping that others failed to recognize my truly exceptional abilities?

12×12 p.51 Did I overvalue myself and play the big shot?

12×12 p.51 Did I have such unprincipled ambition that I double-crossed and undercut my associates?

12×12 p.51 Was I extravagant?

12×12 p.51 Did I recklessly borrow money?

12×12 p.51 Was I a pinchpenny?

12×12 p.51 Did I refuse to support my family properly?

12×12 p.51 Did I cut corners financially?

12×12 p.51 Did I get involved in “quick money” deals like the stock market or races/gambling?

12×12 p.51 Did I juggle charge accounts?

12×12 p.51 Did I manipulate the food budget?

12×12 p.51 Did I gamble?

12×12 p.51 Was I irresponsible with money?

12×12 p.51 Was I wasteful with money?

12×12 p.52 What financial situations have caused me anxiety?

12×12 p.52 What financial situations have caused me bitterness?

12×12 p.52 What financial situations have caused me frustration?

12×12 p.52 What financial situations have caused me depression?

12×12 p.49 Did I eat, drink or grab for more of everything than I needed?

12×12 p.49 Did I fear I would never have enough?

12×12 p.49 Was I lazy?

12×12 p.49 Did I loaf and procrastinate?

12×12 p.49 Did I work grudgingly and under half steam?

12×12 p.52 Do I lack the ability to accept conditions I cannot change? If I am able to change something, am I willing to take the measures necessary to change them?

EMOTIONAL SECURITY

12×12 p.44 Did I make demands on others for too much attention?

12×12 p.44 Did I make demands on others for too much protection?

12×12 p.44 Did I make demands on others for too much love?

12×12 p.43 Was I determined to depend completely upon a stronger person for guidance and protection?

12×12 p.43 Did I fail to meet life’s responsibilities with my own resources?

12×12 p.43 Did I fail to grow up?

12×12 p.43 Was I disillusioned?

12×12 p.43 Did I believe myself helpless?

12×12 p.53 Did I insist upon dominating the people I knew?

12×12 p.53 Did I habitually try to manipulate others to our own willful desires?

SOCIETY (COMPANIONSHIP)

12×12 p.44 Did my pursuit of prestige result in my trampling upon people who happened to be in the way?

12×12 p.43 Did I attempt to rule my fellows?

12×12 p.44 Did I impose my instincts unreasonably upon others?

12×12 p.43 Did I become a recluse and deny myself both family and friends?

12×12 p.47 Did I play the big shot?

12×12 p.47 Did I harbor grudges?

12×12 p.47 Did I plan revenge?

12×12 p.49 Did I covet the possessions of others?

12×12 p.49 Did I lust for power?

12×12 p.49 Did I become angry when my instinctive demands were threatened?

12×12 p.49 Was I envious when the ambitions of others were realized?

12×12 p.53 Did I develop hurt feelings or a sense of persecution?

12 Step Call

Today I went on the first real 12th step call I’ve ever been on, and it was so very sad.  I always wondered what that would be like. It was not glamorous at all.

An alcoholic in his cups is an unlovely creature.
-BB p.16, Bill’s Story

She reeked of alcohol.  There were bottles everywhere.  We threw them away.  One – a vodka bottle – still had vodka in it.  It made me thirsty!  How can I be witnessing such horror and still have a mental pull towards that poison?  (Clearly, the answer is that I am an alcoholic!)

We told her we loved her.  We told her about the solution.  We took her to a hospital.  She almost wouldn’t go with us. I told her I believed her only other choice was to stay here and die an alcoholic death.

To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face.
-BB p.44, We Agnostics

She is on suicide watch.  The back story I will not tell here.  But oh, God, how sad I feel.  This disease is so horrible.  What it does to us is so, so very tragic.

I suspect this won’t be the last time I am a witness to the terrible reality of alcoholism if I am to stay sober.  It made me think of all the people I have seen come in and go back out of my home group in the last couple of years.  So many people…where did they go? What will become of them? Are they alive? Why do some people get to stay and others have to continue this battle they will never win?

He begged the doctor to tell him the whole truth, and he got it. In the doctor’s judgment he was utterly hopeless; he could never regain his position in society and he would have to place himself under lock and key or hire a bodyguard if he expected to live long. That was a great physician’s opinion.
-BB p.26, There is a Solution

Please pray for D.

I Need A Miracle Every Day!!

In the early 90’s, I was a budding druggie alcoholic junkie who frequented Grateful Dead shows.  I remember guys, sporting dreadlocks and smelling like patchouli, walking around calling, “I need a miracle!” which apparently was code for “I need a ticket!” although at the time for some reason** I thought it was code for “I need a hit of acid!”

Too much of everything is just enough
One more thing I just got to say

I need a miracle every day,
I need a miracle every day,
I need a miracle every day, (got to be the only way)
I need a miracle

-Grateful Dead, “I Need A Miracle!”

**I thought we were all tripping on LSD and that my life was normal!

“The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false.” –BB xxviii(xxvi), The Doctor’s Opinion

I was going through the Doctor’s Opinion with a sponsee recently and was reminded of the “I need a miracle” calls when I got to this paragraph:

“We doctors have realized for a long time that some form of moral psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, but its application presented difficulties beyond our conception.   What with our ultra-modern standards, our scientific approach to everything, we are perhaps not well equipped to apply the powers of good that lie outside our synthetic knowledge.” -BB xxvii(xxv), The Doctor’s Opinion

I stopped, looked at my sponsee and said, “I think he is saying we need a miracle – what do you think?”  Fresh off the heels of another relapse, she quickly replied, “Yes!”

I listened to a Sandy B. talk recently where he describes the words used in the 9th step promises, such as “disappeared”, “slip away”, “intuitively”, and “materialize” as “magician’s words.”  It is magic I need – and I need it every day.

“What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”  BB p.85, Into Action

Dr. Silkworth mentions the scientific approach in the passage above.  I’d like to address that by referencing a book I once skimmed through called When Skeptics Ask.  I found the chapter on miracles interesting.  The book says:

“A miracle is divine intervention into, or interruption of, the regular course of the world that produces a purposeful but unusual event that would not have occurred otherwise.  By this definition, then, natural laws are understood to be the normal, regular way the world operates.  But a miracle occurs as an unusual, irregular, and specific act of a God who is beyond the universe.  This does not mean that miracles are violations of natural law or even opposed to them.  As the famous physicist Sir George Stokes has said, ‘It may be that the event which we call a miracle was brought on not by a suspension of the laws in ordinary operation, but by the super addition of something not ordinarily in operation.’  In other words, miracles don’t violate the regular laws of cause and effect, they simply have a cause that transcends nature.”

I read somewhere that the scientific method says something must be observable, testable, repeatable, and falsifiable.  By their very nature, miracles are a one-time, unrepeatable occurrence, and therefore, cannot be proved by the scientific method.  But then again, with the estimate of the number of people recovering in AA from a “seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” being around 2,000,000, maybe miracles can be proved just by looking around the rooms of AA.  Maybe we are witnessing miracles every day.

I am fascinated by the fact that scientists were looking to something other than science to heal alcoholics.  “No human power could have relieved our alcoholism,” says our literature.

If you get a chance, I highly recommend Chapter 24 of Pass It on, which includes a letter from Carl Jung to Bill W.  He writes about his treatment of an alcoholic named Roland H. who would later get sober in AA.

“His craving for alcohol was the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language:  the union with God…The only right and legitimate way to such an experience is that it happens to you in reality, and it can only happen to you when you walk on a path which leads you to higher understanding…Alcohol in Latin is spiritus, and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison.  The helpful formula therefore is:  spiritus contra spiritum.”

“spiritus” = breath, breathing, air, soul, life; also Alcohol, as in spirits

“contra” = against, facing, opposite; weighed against; as against; in resistance/reply to; contrary to, no in conformance with; the reverse of; otherwise than; towards/up to, in direction of; directly over/level with; to detriment of

Whoopee party’s translation:  Spirit against spirits!

To end his book God and the Astronomers, Robert Jastrow, a NASA scientist, astronomer, physicist and cosmologist writes:

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream.  He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquest the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

How to find your miracle is explained here: 

Triumphant Arch

Hat tip to Friends of Bill W.  for pulling all of this together.  Early on, I became fascinated with the metaphor (I think it’s a metaphor) that runs through the Big Book relating to the construction of an arch.  I looked everywhere for this picture, Friends!  Thank you!  Thought I would share my embellishments on your work!

 

First Things First

At some point in my first week of sobriety, my sponsor had me make this list of the things I must do today to stay sober.  I like that she made it really simple, although I did not find these things to be easy.

*  Pray – on my knees! 

  • Ask for help in the morning to relieve the urge to go back to my old lifestyle of drinking and drugging
  • Thank God at night for keeping me sober that day

*  Go to a meeting

  • 90 meetings in 90 days
  • Go to a Big Book meeting and a Step meeting every week
  • Share what is really going on with me at the meeting

*  Call my sponsor

*  Call 5 sober members in recovery of the same sex

*  Help another

  • An anonymous nice thing
  • Service work at the meeting such as making coffee, wiping down counters, cleaning ashtrays
  • If someone picks up a white chip, give them my phone number and tell them how I felt on day one

*  Read literature and work steps

  • Starting with “The Doctor’s Opinion”, read the first 164 pages of the Big Book and highlight what I can relate to or what jumps out at me

*  Read Daily Reflections meditation in the morning

*  Take care of yourself!

  • Take a shower
  • Brush teeth
  • Wash face