Written By: Fiona Stockard
The Big Book Broken Down – Part Thirteen
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.
AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).
Today, I’ll be breaking down a section of the chapter Working With Others.
Working With Others
Part of getting sober is learning how to deal with our families. By deal, I don’t mean begrudgingly exist with them! No, I’m talking about being helpful, kind, patient, and loving.
That’s new for most of us! It was for me anyway. Prior to sobering up, I was nothing but a drain on my family and loved ones. It was hard to start giving instead of taking. It was hard to start comforting instead of being comforted.
My new relationship with my family began after I’d made amends and shown them that I meant business. Working With Others echoes this idea. It reads,
“When your prospect has made such reparation as [s]he can to his [or her!] family, and has thoroughly explained to them the new principals by which [s]he is living, [s]he should proceed to put those principals into action at home” (p 98).
Before I cleared away the wreckage of my past, I wasn’t able to live on spiritual principals. Once I’d made amends and, more importantly, incorporated the ideas behind my amends into my life, well, that’s when things began to change. That’s when I stopped blaming my dad for all my mistakes. That’s when I stopped arguing with my mom about every little thing.
Again, Working With Others emphasis this. It says, “[S]he should concentrate on his own spiritual demonstration. Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague” (p 98).
That’s much easier said than done! For me, learning how to live in harmony, peace, and usefulness with my family was a trial and error process. After enough errors, I started to get it right!
Then there’s the idea of continued sobriety and spiritual growth. Simply telling my parents and brother I was sorry, then continuing to act on old behavior, wasn’t going to cut it. Nope. I had to live a completely new way of life. A.A. puts it like this,
“…the alcoholic continues to demonstrate that [s]he can be sober, considerate, and helpful, regardless of what anyone says or does. Of course, we all fall much below this standard many times. But we must try to repair the damage immediately…” (p 99).
What happens if we don’t get our family back, though? What happens if our drinking and drugging was so bad, took us to such a dark place, that our family wants nothing to do with us? Well, we can still get better!
Getting sober with the support and love of family is the easier path. Just because they may not want a relationship, though, doesn’t mean we can’t still heal. The only person we need a relationship with is God. Working With Others reads,
“Let no alcohol say [s]he cannot recover unless [s]he has his [or her!] family back. This just isn’t so…Remind the prospect that his [or her] recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his [or her] relationship with God” (pp 99-100).
That’s the truth. I was lucky because, despite hurting them time and time again, my family gave me another chance. That’s not always the case. If they hadn’t wanted me in their life, I’d still have been okay as long as I had God in my life.
It’s that simple. God is or God isn’t. God is everything or God is nothing. You choose.
So, what happens once we have God in our lives? Well, A.A. says, “Both you and the new [wo]man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen” (p 100).
Remarkable things? Sounds good to me. Where do I sign up?
Tune in next week for another installment of Faith Facts Friday with Fiona!