The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.
The most far-reaching Twelfth Step work was the publication of our Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous. Few can equal that book for carrying the message. My idea is to get out of myself and simply do what I can. Even if I haven’t been asked to sponsor and my phone rarely rings, I am still able to do Twelfth Step work. I get involved in “brotherly and harmonious action.” At meetings I show up early to greet people and to help set up, and to share my experience, strength and hope. I also do what I can with service work. My Higher Power gives me exactly what He wants me to do at any given point in my recovery and, if I let Him, my willingness will bring Twelfth Step work automatically.
Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.
Thinking of others has never come easily to me. Even when I try to work the A.A. program, I’m prone to thinking, “How do I feel today. Am I happy, joyous and free?”
The program tells me that my thoughts must reach out to those around me: “Would that newcomer welcome someone to talk to?” “That person looks a little unhappy today, maybe I could cheer him up.” It is only when I forget my problems, and reach out to contribute something to others that I can begin to attain the serenity and God-consciousness I seek.
Never talk down to an alcoholic from any moral or spiritual hilltop; simply lay out the kit of spiritual tools for his inspection. Show him how they worked with you.
When I come into contact with a newcomer, do I have a tendency to look at him from my perceived angle of success in A.A.? Do I compare him with the large number of acquaintances I have made in the Fellowship? Do I point out to him in a magisterial way the voice of A.A.? What is my real attitude toward him? I must examine myself whenever I meet a newcomer to make sure that I am carrying the message with simplicity, humility and generosity. The one who still suffers from the terrible disease of alcoholism must find in me a friend who will allow him to get to know the A.A. way, because I had such a friend when I arrived in A.A. Today it is my turn to hold out my hand, with love, to my sister or brother alcoholic, and to show her or him the way to happiness.
Offer him [the alcoholic] friendship and fellowship. Tell him that if he wants to get well you will do anything to help.
I remember how attracted I was to the two men from A.A. who Twelfth-Stepped me. They said I could have what they had, with no conditions attached, that all I had to do was make my own decision to join them on the pathway to recovery. When I start convincing a newcomer to do things my way, I forget how helpful those two men were to me in their open-minded generosity.
. . . nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. . . . Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. . . . Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances!
Doing the right things for the right reasons-this is my way of controlling my selfishness and selfcenteredness. I realize that my dependency on a Higher Power clears the way for peace of mind, happiness and sobriety. I pray each day that I will avoid my previous actions, so that I will be helpful to others.
. . . work with other alcoholics. . . . It works when other activities fail.
Life will take on new meaning, as the Big Book says (p. 89). This promise has helped me to avoid self-seeking and self-pity. To watch others grow in this wonderful program, to see them improve the quality of their lives, is a priceless reward for my effort to help others. Self-examination is yet another reward for an ongoing recovery, as are serenity, peace and contentment. The energy derived from seeing others on a successful path, of sharing with them the joys of the journey, gives to my life a new meaning.
Tell him exactly what happened to you. Stress the spiritual feature freely.
The marvel of A.A. is that I tell only what happened to me. I don’t waste time offering advice to potential newcomers, for if advice worked, nobody would get to A.A. All I have to do is show what has brought me sobriety and what has changed my life. If I fail to stress the spiritual feature of A.A.’s program, I am being dishonest. The newcomer should not be given a false impression of sobriety. I am sober only through the grace of my Higher Power, and that makes it possible for me to share with others.
When dealing with an alcoholic, there may be a natural annoyance that a man could be so weak, stupid and irresponsible. Even when you understand the malady better, you may feel this feeling rising.
Having suffered from alcoholism, I should understand the illness, but sometimes I feel annoyance, even contempt, toward a person who cannot make it in A.A. When I feel that way, I am satisfying my false sense of superiority and I must remember, but for the grace of God, there go I.