Published by North Orange County InterGroup Association of Alcoholics Anonymous Groups, Inc.
1661 E. Chapman Avenue, Suite 1H
Fullerton, CA 92831
"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable."
Who cares to admit complete defeat? Admission of powerlessness is the first step in liberation. Relation of humility to sobriety. Mental obsession plus physical allergy. Why must every A.A. hit bottom?
"Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. Unity."
Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.
The final responsibility and the ultimate authority for AA world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole Fellowship.
Step One of AA: The Journey Begins
The first step of anything is a beginning, so the first step of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps is the beginning of your recovery process. It’s actually really exciting, because it’s the first day of a new life. This is where the healing starts.
Doing the 12 steps is also referred to as “working” the steps, because it requires willingness, effort and action. It is said the 12 steps of AA is compared to markers put out lovingly on a path by those who preceded us, to direct us on our journey. The journey can seem daunting from the perspective of a person at the beginning but fortunately all we are asked to do is to take one step at a time.
WE ADMITTED WE WERE POWERLESS OVER ALCOHOL—THAT OUR LIVES HAD BECOME UNMANAGEABLE.
If lucky, our journey has taken us to arriving at a point of surrender. For some people the road they traveled getting to the first step in AA has been more than enough to convince them that unconditional surrender is the only option for recovery.
A Small Part of a Great Whole
An Essay by Bill W.
Our whole AA program is securely founded on the principle of humility – that is to say, perspective. Which implies, among other things, that we relate ourselves rightly to God and to our fellows; that we each see ourselves as we really are – “a small part of a great whole.” Seeing our fellows thus, we shall enjoy group harmony. That is why AA Tradition can confidently state, “Our common welfare comes first.”
“Does this mean,” some will ask, “that in AA the individual doesn’t count too much? Is he to be swallowed up, dominated by the group?”
No, it doesn’t seem to work out that way. Perhaps there is no society on earth more solicitous of personal welfare, more careful to grant the individual the greatest possible liberty of belief and action. Alcoholics Anonymous has no “musts.” Few AA groups impose penalties on anyone for nonconformity. We do suggest, that we don’t discipline. Instead, compliance or noncompliance with any principle of AA is a matter for the conscience of the individual; he is the judge of his own conduct. Those words of old time, “judge not,” we observe most literally.
“But,” some will argue, “if AA has no authority to govern its individual members or groups, how shall it ever be sure that the common welfare does come first? How is it possible to be governed without a government? If everyone can do as he pleases, how can you have aught but anarchy?”
The answer seems to be that we AAs cannot really do as we please, thought there is no constituted human authority to restrain us. Actually, our common welfare is protected by powerful safeguards. The moment any action seriously threatens the common welfare, group opinion mobilizes to remind us; our conscience begins to complain. If one persists, he may become so disturbed as to get drunk; alcohol gives him a beating. Group opinion shows him that he is off the beam, his own conscience tells him that he is dead wrong, and, if he goes too far, Barleycorn brings him real conviction.
So, it is we learn that in matters deeply affecting the group as a whole, “our common welfare comes first.” Rebellion ceases, and cooperation begins because it must; we have disciplined ourselves.
Eventually, of course, we cooperate because we really wish to; we see that without substantial unity there can be no AA, and that without AA there can be little lasting recovery for anyone. We gladly se aside personal ambitions whenever these might harm AA. We humbly confess that we are but “a small part of a great whole.”
Wilson, William. The Language of the Heart. New York: AA Grapevine, Inc., 1988. Print. Reprinted.
“All I had to do was ask myself a simple question: ‘Am I or am I not powerless over alcohol?’ I didn’t have to compare myself or my experience with anyone, just answer a simple question.”
Miami, Fla., March 1962
Captured Quips from California Jack - January 2021
The wit and wisdom of Bill and Bob's friends.
From the “Big Book”of Alcoholics Anonymous , Pg.63, ”Next we launched a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal house cleaning which many of us had never attempted.”
- “I didn't know how to live drunk let alone sober.” Terry
- “I had two resentments, everyone and everything.” Bill M.
- “Fear says ‘I don't need to,’ and pride says ‘I don't want to’". Frank A.
- “What we resist will persist.” Paul
- “You scratched my shame scab.” Daniel
- “If I think that my life’s going to change just because I stopped drinking, I’m crazy as a bedbug.” Jackie C!
- “I've been on the run from myself my entire life.” Damion
- “The person I was lying to the most was me.” Keith
- “You can't put spilt milk back in the bottle. Clean up the mess and move on.” Melinda
- “They told me to put down my magnifying glass and pick up your mirror.” Kim H.
- “I don't understand that she's doesn't understand.” Elizabeth
- “You can never run away from your past because your past is what brought you here.” Greg.
- “I was stalling out emotionally because I'd been numb for so long.” Lavinia
- “They told me that God won't give me more than I can handle. I just wish He didn't have so much confidence in me.” Don
- “Oh, I remember the taste of it; going down and coming up.” Russ
- “It's not what I'm going though. It's what I'm going to. Reggie P.”
And just for fun: -
- My last New Year’s resolution was to lose ten pounds. I missed it by 15 pounds.
- My kid can’t eat onion rings because, although he loves onion rings, recently he learned they contained onions.
- Someone tried to return a defective item without a receipt. After explaining that I could not find where she had paid for the item, she yelled back, “It’s not my fault you people didn’t catch me.”
Do you have a quote that you think should be added to the list? Send it to California Jack at Golden.Buckeye@yahoo.com
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Alcohol, The Greatest Disability of All
He realized that living life as an alcoholic was a lot worse than living with the disability of having only one arm
It's depressing to think that your greatest achievements in life happened when you were a senior in high school, especially when high school was 30 years ago. It was the last football game of senior year, in front of the home crowd, and up until then, I had been riding the bench all season like I had nearly every year since the 5th grade. Nobody expects much from a one armed kid, but they always say they admired my efforts. That night, the coach sent me in. I had my play. I was wide open and the quarterback threw the ball at me. To everybody's amazement, including mine, I caught the damn thing. I could hear the crowds in the stands cheering. I still get goose bumps thinking about it sometimes.
A few hours later, after I got off from my shift at a local fast food joint, I got a ride to the kegger from my best friend. As usual, my parents had taken away my driving privileges. Drinking had become a big part of my life. I often drank until I got sick on the weekends.
When you grow up with one arm, it is sometimes difficult to convince others that your greatest handicap isn't necessarily the one that they can see, but the one you fight on a daily basis in your mind. Trust me; if I had a say in the matter, I would much rather have a missing body part than to be afflicted with alcoholism. People are more impressed with the things you can do despite a physical handicap than they will ever be for overcoming an addiction that most of them see as a weakness rather than a disease, but it is much easier to be engaged in a physical battle than a mental one. Being handicapped is easy; playing "Otis the town drunk" is hard. Learning how to do something with one hand, while normally not a cake walk, is more like putting together the pieces of a puzzle: you know the outcome you want, whether it be a tied shoe lace, a shot made on the basketball court, or a wall built, and the task is simply how to achieve that desired outcome with the tools you have been given. On the other hand, dealing with life in general without the chemical crutch you have used since high school is like going on a road trip without a map: you'll eventually end up somewhere, but chances are better than average it won't be anywhere near where you had planned.
I'm pretty sure I was an alcoholic from my very first drunk at about age thirteen, but it took another 35 years of practice to finally admit it truthfully, and have some small grasp of what it really means. I have spent the better part of the last three decades trying to get back that feeling I found in those early days. When I drank I was suddenly ambidextrous; for a while there I was just like everyone else.
I grew up around alcohol. I have old home movies showing my parents giving sips of beer us as toddlers; it's kind of shocking even to me to see it today, but back then it was just the way it was. I am beyond blaming genetics, family, or the environment I grew up in for my disease . While I am sure that I may be predisposed, it was still me that pulled the trigger. My brother and many others went through many of the same things I did, and for the most part turned out fine. Whatever the reason, excuse, cause, the fact remains that in recovery or not, I am an alcoholic.
I managed to screw up everything that mattered to me in life: jobs, my marriage, my relationship with my kids, school, sports. I barely graduated high school because I would rather party than study. I dreaded every testing season because every year I would get the "why don't you apply yourself" lecture. I have always blamed dropping out of college on the job I had at the time, but the truth is I was only working more hours to pay for more booze. I could have gone to the National Championships and possibly even the Olympics for handicapped skiing, but I convinced myself that I couldn't afford it when what I couldn't afford was to not buy booze.
Every time I worked my way up at a job, I blew it by allowing my work to deteriorate, showing up smelling of booze, or just flat out showing up drunk, period. Up until the last couple of years, I've always made pretty good if not excellent money, but I have always been behind on my bills, from rent to child support and taxes, because I would rather spend it all on drinking than responsibilities. When I was younger, If the laws were as severe as they are now, I would have gotten my felony DUI 25 years ago. The first time I proposed to my wife was when I was in a rehab unit trying to stay out of jail. The stay-out-of-jail-thing worked, and so did the proposal, eventually.
For a long time, I was what they call a functional alcoholic: I had the beautiful family, the good job, and good friends. There really isn't a specific instance I can point to and say that's where I crossed the line into complete chaos; I'm sure my ex could tell me, but I've been afraid to ask. I'd like to say that I woke up one day and it was all gone, but nothing that dramatic happened. It was more like a process of circling around the toilet bowl of life waiting for the big cosmic flush. In AA they teach you about taking care of the wreckage of your past, but not a day goes by that I don't wish that I either couldn't remember the past, or that I had a time machine to go back and change the last 25 years or so. I will go to my grave trying desperately to fix the damage I have done to my kids, my family, and most importantly and the hardest to finally realize—to myself.
It has cost me my wife and children, my freedom, every decent job I've ever had, and most importantly my self-respect. Up until about a year ago, no one including myself would have ever thought that I would be a college student now, especially a sober one. If you had asked me then where I would be today, I probably would have told you in prison. I was awaiting re-sentencing on a felony DUI; re-sentencing because I had been sentenced earlier to probation, and eleven days later showed up to my first probation appointment smelling like a brewery. When my probation officer asked me how much I had drank the night before I was semi-truthful when I told him only a couple. However, it was a good thing he didn't ask me how many I had had for breakfast that morning. Why the judge didn't just ship me out to the state penitentiary, I will never understand but be forever grateful for. Instead, he sent me to a six-month treatment program at the North Idaho Correctional Facility up at Cottonwood. Like I said, I will never understand why I went there instead of just being warehoused south of Boise, and I probably won't ever be able to put into words what finally "clicked" while I was up there, but the one thing I am certain of is that the judge more than likely saved my life.
I will soon celebrate my first year of sobriety, Lord willing, and for the first time in a long time I don't hate myself. I am actually proud of some of the things I'm doing for a change, and hopefully some of the wounds are starting to heal, especially with my children. I have goals that don't revolve around my next day's supply of beer and how to afford it, and I don't dread talking to my kids anymore. I'm a 48-year-old, unemployed college freshman and I kind of like it.
A Vision History of Alcoholics Anonymous: An Archival Journey
Lavishly illustrated, this lively tour through AA's history is told in hundreds of iconic images never before published in one volume. Illuminating descriptions walk us through powerful moments in our shared history - from the people, places and things integral to AA's early growth, and forward to today's vibrant, international Fellowship. 4.75" x 3.75", 416 pages.
$19.95 plus $1.55 tax = $21.50 each
This is a limited edition publication of a new book from AA World Services being released in February, 2021.
She hated computers, but finding AA online forums gave her the courage to return to the program after a long relapse
My story begins in 1991 when I was first introduced to AA. I went to meetings, had a number of sponsors, and actually made it to more than a year of sobriety, but it turned out I wasn’t done drinking yet.
Fast forward to the year 2006. My husband and I got our first computer. I didn’t like computers at all! I thought that they were going to ruin the world. (Actually, that’s still in question.) By this time, I was drinking on a daily basis. I had stopped working a few years earlier, due to other health problems. I had my days and nights mixed up. I drank until 4:30 AM and didn’t get out of bed until after 1:00 PM most of the time. My selfishness and self-loathing were taking over—I didn’t care if I got out of bed or if I would ever wake up again. Mentally and spiritually I was hitting bottom. But I was still not done the drinking.
But even with my drinking, I was starting to learn and figure out things on the computer. I discovered online forums of people writing back on forth on whatever subjects interested them. I first joined a cat site, since I have always loved animals, cats especially. It was ok for a while but I didn’t feel like I fit in with the people on there. Then I joined a paranormal site. There were a lot of interesting things to read on that site, but the people were a bit strange, so that wasn’t for me, either.
By now, I was feeling overwhelmingly lonely. I was drinking every day, with no friends anymore, no one to talk to except my husband when he was home from work. I was starting to feel worse and worse, physically and mentally. My days blended together. It didn’t matter if it was Monday or Thursday because it was the same thing, day after day. Drink, eat, clean house a little (maybe), go on the computer, and then go to bed. Get up and do it all over again.
One day, I decided to see if Alcoholics Anonymous was on the computer. Yep, there it was. So, I drank and read, drank and read. I actually found somewhere or another online of an audio recording of Bill W speaking at a convention somewhere. I cried listening to that and remembering how it was when I was in AA years before. Then I ended up finding other websites, with recovering alcoholics involved in forums and online meetings. For nine months, I wrote back and forth with these people, while drinking my rum and cokes. They kept telling me to go back to AA, and I kept saying: “No, I’m scared, it didn’t work for me.” Eventually, in the summer of 2007, I did get the courage to go back to AA. I struggled that whole year and kept drinking every couple of weeks. I couldn’t get a month under my belt. But I kept hearing over and over: “Keep coming back” and “Don’t give up before the miracle.” In January 2008, I picked up a white chip and I haven’t had a drink since.
I have a home group and a sponsor, and I’ve held a few service positions. I truly believe my Higher Power reached out to me through the computer even though I didn’t understand it at the time. Today I still go on my forums with my AA friends from all over the US and the world. Some of the people who helped me so many years ago to get the courage to go back to AA are still there. I owe my life to them and Alcoholics Anonymous. So I guess computers aren’t that bad after all. I wouldn’t be sober today if I didn’t have one.
BY: BARB C. | ENDICOTT, N.Y.
“Online Sobriety”. www.aagrapevine.org. 2019, https://www.aagrapevine.org/magazine/2019/may/online-sobriety. 6 Jan 2021
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