Well it's quite clear that these two great tastes that are supposed to go together, were written to go together, don't go together with a palate like mine. I'm Big Book 12 Steps. Now I have tried to read and apply the 12 Steps as written in the 12 /12 book many times at varying times in my AA recovery. The 12/12 even suggests I do it. I didn't just go to a few meetings and make a decision based on selfishness like, I didn't like the coffee or someone there. No I'm just not capable of reading and applying what I read to my life. It's not that I am unteachable, I just don't retain it. I am so selfcentered and dominated by people that sure I can sit there and read, even comment and feel a part of the group or meeting as a whole but when it's over? When I go out and get in my car and drive away? It's gone. The people are gone and with it goes any courage or strength I may have acquired just minutes before as I sat comfortably getting my belly rubbed and hugged for my honesty. So in this respect I am what the Big Book describes as a people worshipper. I use people for my emotional security. I steal it from my surroundings with my selfish arrangements. My self centered delusion. But like it says, if only my arrangements would stay put the show would be great right? Everyone including me would be pleased. I think I'm doing everything for you. Waiting for that vibe of security. My validation.
I hit the Big Book bricks around 1981. Hyannis Ma. All the Big Book Step Study meetings you see on the AA meeting list today? That's where it began. I know this because I was at intergroup with a few others trying to be recognized as a Big Book Step meeting and there wasn't anything like that in the North East anywhere and according to Central Service in New York, nothing in the country either.. Just 12/12 Step and Tradition meetings or Big Book Study which skipped over the 12 Steps to the stories. Maybe thoroughly too, sincere, dedicated with the best of intentions, even line by line word by word with all the desperation of drowning men. But not just the simple 12 Steps, the 12 Step directions, the process laid out in the Big Book, there wasn't anything like that.
Oh, there was AWOL. A Way Of Life groups that would spring up around the North East and it did and still does help many who suffer, especially the over eaters, but the hopeless? The ones who are powerless who have lost the power of choice in their lives? Who can't differentiate between true and false? They just floated around in the safety of meetings everyday. Warehoused, chainsmoking at the break, enjoying the benefits of the latest mental health medication had not begun to thrive yet... You want the 12 Steps? can't get sober and want to die? you go to a 12/12 meeting. Actually I've talked to some, no lots of long term sobriety folks that didn't know the 12 Steps were in the Big Book even though they had read it's pages over completely many times and Sponsor others.. The AA format had been raised to meet the needs of the many, Bill W raised the bottom to where any person with a drinking problem could find something of help. Good news for the many that could not make the admission of hopelessness which is required in the Big Book 12 Steps. So it became commonplace to just read and apply the Steps.
This 12/12 book of essays was of course the words of Bill W. With a few references to the Big Book 12 Steps as the original format and where the 12 Step process is made clear, some suggestion to seek God and grow Spiritually, but all in all? Good healthy discussion, talk therapy. The 12/12 Step wording is his experience. Ok fine. I have all the respect in the world for Bill W. So I attend my men's 12/12 meeting faithfully and it is a part of my sobriety, I read and apply week after week, I look for more? No problem. I want more and I get more. I get active in my 12 /12 group. There with this new attitude I get a sponsor and a Hazelden seven deadly sins 4th step guide. Maybe meet someone to hear my 5th Step at a Matt Talbot retreat or similar. Priest minister or Rabbi? Wife or best friend? I continue on . Making amends as they pop up for the rest of my life and go to meetings, lots and lots of meetings. Talk and share. I've seen many guys get ahold of this process and level off onto a pretty good solid life of sobriety. Get a healthy family dynamic back, self esteem. I wanted what they had and I did try but I just could not get it. People had me, I needed an all powerful God or a Spiritual Awakening. No human power could relieve my alcoholism. Even relying on the guys at the meetings was unhealthy for me, I was so co-dependent I only focused on them. They like me? I like me. I think they think, never having a thought of my own. I just could not muster the ability to care enough about myself to help myself. There would be no intellectual cure for my fragmented Spiritual condition. I needed the Big Book 12 Steps if I was to live sober if not simply survive. I was probably going to drink again, I just knew it I just wasn't sure when.
So Why is the Big Book so powerful? What's the hook? I mean really now! Well? I think it began with my willingness. I had willingness. So I listened. I asked a guy to Sponsor me and he agreed as long as I was willing to do the work which he explained in detail.. Not really putting much thought into it I said sure I am, of course I am willing. So he suggested I go home and read the Book, maybe Bills Story, more about alcoholism, there is a solution..Read as much as I can and we'll talk tomorrow. Great! I'm on something now! I'm into the Big Book 12 Steps! So I'm home and thinking I should get reading. A few hours go by and I think I really should get to it.
The next day I lied and said I had begun reading but couldn't remember much so he looked at me in the eye and said no problem, try again tonight. I don't know... Somethings wrong with me. It's like my brain just fell out of my head. I could not read that freaken Book to save my life! Bills story? Hampshire grenadier saved by pot, pot? like weed?, what the heck is that anyway, what are they talking about!. This has nothing to do with sobriety. Atleast at the 12/12 meeting we talked about stuff I could identify with. This Big Book is too old, outdated and definitely for the older crowd. No wonder nobody does this stuff. I was 27 not 57. So I come clean with my new sponsor, this isn't for me. He says no problem but why? I tell him I just can't pick up the Book and read, it's like it weighs a thousand pounds! He says well then why don't we try reading it together? I reluctantly agreed. Not sure what my problem was, was I boxed in? caught? Maybe I just didn't want anyone too close to me and reading together sounded a bit too cozy. We're both guys and well, we're both guys.
The hits just keep coming! We get together and he just shakes my hand and asks how am I doing? Then opens the Book and starts reading. No how is the ex-wife horror show going? Did I get to a meeting? Nothing, just reading. So I kind of get comfortable, I'm listening and I hear Bill W start off as a normal kind of guy. Then ha gets a bit grandiose in the service and comes home thinking he's the man. He's the great Bill W. Then he starts screwing up? Drinking out of control, using people, going down the toilet as a drunken psychotic. Holy crap! I had no idea there was anyone out there who was like me nevermind who had written a Book about me! I mean who talks like this! I was eager to read now so we shared a few pages each.. More about alcoholism, nobody likes to admit they were alcoholics? Yeah.. There is a solution? Willingness is key? Was I willing? willing for what I asked?
No answer, we kept on reading the next day and the day after that. I was at the God part. The Higher Power part. Hey I didn't know anything. I actually didn't even care if I was going to go Bible happy I just wanted some relief. My Sponsor said look in the Book whenever you have a question. If you are alcoholic it will be there. So it said my own conception of a power greater than myself was enough to make the approach. Approach to what? The Steps? or Jesus.. The J word scared me. My cousin was into Jesus and I hated my cousin so naturally I hated Jesus. Anyway, I didn't give it much thought and decided to ask whatever is out there for help, that seemed to be good enough. I still hadn't told anyone I was sleeping in an abandoned building and when I went home that night I was there as usual with my candle, getting ready to hit the sleeping bag. I got on my knees and said alright whatever, whatever is out there could you please help me. I don't know if I'm alcoholic or just crazy. Either way I'm not making it anymore. I am so hopeless.
Just then a car headlight went by the window. This would usually cause panic as it could be the cops or worse. But I didn't care. Weird, I didn't even care. It's like for a few seconds there I wasn't afraid. this was new. I was always afraid or in some anxiety of some kind. This was my first experience with asking my own conception of a Spiritual power to help me and something happened. Just a few seconds sure but to me it was huge! I had a Higher Power. I was willing to believe in a Spiritual power greater than myself. I had felt it, it could not be denied. It was about this time our Book reading was looking at the three pertinent ideas. Was I comfortable with Steps 1 and 2? Was I convinced? if so I could go ahead on to Step 3. This I did because I wanted to, I was willing and understood willingness was indispensable. My Sponsor mentioned there was much more to Step 3 that asking for help to keep away from a drink. I was willing to continue.