Endigar 341

How can I help another alcoholic?  I truly am concerned that I will be a threat to the struggling heart and mind of the newcomer. My faith is like a light bulb with a short in it.  It seems to be turned on, but my wiring is not predisposed to dependable lighting.  Yet, this is the major point of imbalance in my recovery.  I need to be able to help other alcoholics.

I went to the South Suburban meeting yesterday and the topic was primarily on the necessity of helping other alcoholics.

The topic leader started off talking about the profound spiritual experience that Bill Wilson had, and then pointed to the intuitive thought that came to him right after that experience while he was still in the hospital.

Page 14 of the Big Book:  “While I lay in the hospital the thought came that there were thousands of hopeless alcoholics who might be glad to have what had been so freely given me.  Perhaps I could help some of them.  They in turn might work with others.”

The topic leader said that he reached out to and attempted to help many, many alcoholics for his first six months of sobriety and despaired to his wife that none of them stayed sober.  But then she pointed out to him that HE was staying sober in the attempt.  Then our topic leader turned to page 129 and read the bottom paragraph:

Though the family does not fully agree with dad’s spiritual activities, they should let him have his head.  Even if he displays a certain amount of neglect and irresponsibility towards the family, it is well to let him go as far as he likes in helping other alcoholics.  During those first days of convalescence, this will do more to insure his sobriety than anything else.

He emphasized that this “helping of other alcoholics” is conducted during those first days of convalescence.  He made the point that we do not wait until we get to the 12th step to start helping others, because it is the MOST important thing to do to insure our own sobriety.  Helping other alcoholics need not take the form of actual sponsorship, but should involve some form of service for the sake of the group and individuals of AA.

The topic leader then turned to page 159 of the Big Book which talked about the first fellowship’s development, and read the following;

These men had found something brand new in life.  Though they knew they must help other alcoholics if they would remain sober, that motive became secondary.  It was transcended by the happiness they found in giving themselves for others.

His point was that, although it begins as a means of alcoholic survival, it is transcended as a source of happiness.  He speculated that the very thing he sought in the bottle was answered by helping other alcoholics.

He then described his own recovery process in the beginning, that he was quite self-absorbed, and said that he began having problems with relapse after 13 years sober.  He was then sober for 2 years, and relapsed, then for six months, and relapsed, and then began to collect a succession of 30 and 60 day chips.   Finally, he had a sponsor that emphasized his need to help others.  Once he got to six months he was told to chair a meeting.  He realized that in that first 13 years, he had never chaired.  He was required to sign up for a month at a  time.  He showed up an hour ahead of time for his first meeting.  As he was preparing the coffee, he realized that he was alone and that no one else was there to help him.  He said that by the time the meeting begin, he was mad with anger believing that he was being taken advantage of and scheming of how to get out of the rest of his commitment.  As the meeting progressed, he calmed down and considered all those times he drank AA coffee without helping to make it.  Did he believe that it had just magically appeared?  It was a turning point for him.  He said that he has trouble with a roller coaster of moods, and that many times his sponsees would call just in time to keep him from diving into himself.

The topic was released to the group, and I heard things like “I had believed that I had to be fixed before I could help others; I just did not realize that helping others is a part of the process of getting fixed.”

Several periods of quiet erupted and the chair-girl of the meeting began calling on people to contribute.  With the last few minutes of the meeting left, she said, “What about the guy in black back there.”

“Damn!”

“Hello, Damn…” laughter.

I confessed that this is a weak point in my recovery, and that I related greatly to the topic leader.  Then I admitted that I had thoughts of drinking several times this last week, particularly this weekend.  I had pushed away that reality.  I had no thought of it until these words came spilling out of my mouth.  This last Saturday was my deceased mother’s birthday which is traditionally difficult. I also had to finish up level one anti-DUI courses for Shelby County.  Hearing those who are still using express defiant devotion to their drug of choice seemed to stir secret thoughts considering the possibility of a short periods of “controlled drinking.”  I felt my disease wrapping around old grief and resentments.  My last class at Aletheia House pointed out that the brains of alcoholics and addicts are permanently damaged by their abuse of chemical toxins.  There are certain levels of physiological recovery that are possible over time, but our tendency to jump head long into risky behavior is the result of neuro-pathways that have been permanently severed from chemical usage.  Thus we need each other and we need to develop habits that buy us time.

That meeting was a life-saver, and I truly was not conscience that my life needed saving.  I went to the meeting to work on connecting, but my connectives need to facilitate the helping of others.

My sponsor called me this morning, asking about me.  He cared.  That is so significant to me.  It was a big-little thing for me.  Maybe I can do big-little things for others.

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