I started a Web Site in 1999 when I came back into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Tripod decided to block me a few years ago , so I stopped writing, posting. SO I decided to take the posts I had there and put them here. Plus new ones I found on the net and shares of my own. Take what you need and pass on the rest! Blessings ds♥

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Missing Piece: The Spiritual Malady


by Mike L., West Orange, NJ
"Carry THIS Message" Group, West Orange, NJ


From "The Doctor's Opinion" to the end of "More About Alcoholism" the Big Book discusses the first part of Step 1, which states, "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol". We've discussed, studied, and internalized material from the "Doctor's Opinion" to page 23 to see how we're powerless over alcohol bodily. We've used pages 23 - 43 to help us experience how we've been powerless mentally. Now I'd like to talk about a part of our "disease" which is seldom discussed in meetings nowadays: the "spiritual malady."


We often hear people say something like, "I have a three-fold disease: body, mind, and spirit."


When you ask them to describe what they mean by that statement, they seem to have a firm grasp on the fact that we alcoholics suffer from "an allergy of the body and an obsession of the mind" - that once I put any alcohol in my system whatsoever it sets off a craving for more alcohol. And when I'm stone-cold sober, at my very best, the thought will occur to me to take a drink - or sometimes I think very little about it or not at all, and I come-to out of a blackout after having experienced what page 42 refers to as a "strange mental blank spot." And of course this vicious cycle of my mind continuously taking me back to a drink and my body dooming me to not drink like "normal" people puts me in a senseless series of sprees and it makes it virtually impossible to stop.

It is agreed that the "mental obsession" is the part of our "disease" which leads to the first drink; and it's the first drink that triggers the "phenomenon of craving." But, what about the part of my "disease" that triggers the mental obsession in the first place? Why is it that people who have remained abstinent from drinking in Alcoholics Anonymous for 1 year... 2 years... 5 years... 10 years... and in some cases even 20 years or more, go back to drinking?

We know the physical craving does not cause these people to drink because it's been medically proven that after a few days of not drinking the alcohol is processed out of the body. And, if you've been in the AA Fellowship for a while, for most people, the mental obsession dissipates. So why is it that after a long period of sobriety many people in our fellowship return to drinking - EVEN WHEN THEY DON'T WANT TO? What is the third fold of our illness that triggers the mental obsession - WHEN NOT DRINKING - HAVING BEEN SEPARATED FROM ALCOHOL FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME?

Through closely examining our Big Book, along with much experience and practice with our Twelve Steps, as well as vigorous work with other alcoholics, the "missing piece" of Step 1 appears to be what is referred to on page 64 as the "spiritual malady."

Now, let me attempt to discuss the second half of Step 1: " - that our lives had become unmanageable."

For a long time I thought my life was unmanageable because of all the crazy insane things I did while drinking - like the car accidents, hurting people when I didn't mean to, failed relationships, loss of jobs, family dysfunction, jails, asylums, etc.

Finally, someone explained to me that those things are not the insanity that the Big Book talks about; nor are those things why the alcoholic's life becomes unmanageable.

Of course those things can be classified as "unmanageability" - but they are external unmanageability. The unmanageability that the 1st Step is pointing to is the INWARD unmanageability of our lives - the restlessness, irritability, and discontentment that most alcoholics have even BEFORE they ever picked up their first drink. There are many names for this "inward unmanageability". Some refer to it as "untreated alcoholism." Others use the term "bedevilments", which comes from page 52 of the Big Book (which I'll be discussing in a moment). Page 64 simply refers to this "inward unmanageability" as "the spiritual malady."

Our book promises us that "When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically." The mental and physical factors of alcoholism are put into remission AFTER the "spiritual malady" is overcome - which means I'm still in danger of drinking until I have a spiritual awakening - whether I think so or not.

Two key points I'd like to focus on from this point forward:
  1. What really is this "spiritual malady" and how, if left untreated, can it drive an alcoholic back to drinking?
  2. What is the remedy for it?
(By the way, our Big Book answers both of those questions in masterly detail in Chapters 4 - 11.) What is this "spiritual malady" we alcoholics suffer from and how can "untreated alcoholism" cause an alcoholic to return to drinking - EVEN WHEN HE/SHE DOESN'T WANT TO?
Imagine three layers. The first layer is our bodily reaction to alcohol when we ingest it - the physical craving. Under that is the second layer: the insanity of the mind just before the first drink - the mental obsession. Under that is the third layer: the inward condition that triggers the second layer, which in turn triggers the first - the "spiritual malady." Symptoms of this "third layer" as described in the Big Book include:

  1. being restless, irritable, and discontented (page xxvi),
  2. having trouble with personal relationships,
  3. not being able to control our emotional natures,
  4. being a prey to (or suffering from) misery and depression,
  5. not being able to make a living (or a happy and successful life),
  6. having feelings of uselessness,
  7. being full of fear,
  8. unhappiness,
  9. inability to be of real help to other people (page 52),
  10. being like "the actor who wants to run the whole show" (pages 60-61),
  11. being "driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity" (page 62),
  12. self-will run riot (page 62),
  13. leading a double life (page 73),
  14. living like a tornado running through the lives of others (page 82), and
  15. exhibiting selfish and inconsiderate habits.
These name just a few of the symptoms of the "spiritual malady" that's described throughout our text. But still in all, these are just symptoms of the "spiritual malady."

What is it really? What is the driving force of the symptoms described above?
On page 62 the text explains that "Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles." This "SELFISHNESS-self-centeredness" (or the "ego", as some people refer to it) drives us to respond to life situations with the above "symptoms" as well as disorders and addictions other than alcoholism.

If this selfishness-self-centeredness continues to manifest in an alcoholic's life - EVEN IN SOMEONE WHO IS NOT DRINKING AND CONTINUES TO ATTEND MEETINGS - and the ego is not smashed and re-smashed by continuous application of all twelve steps, the sober (or "just not drinking") alcoholic is sure to drink again eventually... or even worse, continue to live miserably being "undrunk" (better known as a "dry drunk"). This is why we see people with 10 years in AA wind up in mental institutions - AND THEY HAVEN'T HAD A DROP TO DRINK!

You see, if I continue to act out with selfish - self-centered - ego-driven behaviors I will continue to experience the symptoms of the "spiritual malady." If I continue to experience this inward unmanageability, eventually my mind will seek out the "sense of ease and comfort" it thinks it can receive from taking a drink. Or, my ego can deceive me into thinking I'm doing perfectly fine. (i.e.: Fred's story in Chapter 3... Fred drank when there wasn't "a cloud on the horizon".)

Typically, we'll tell ourselves and others, "Well, at least I'm not drinking." All of a sudden, I can experience a "strange mental blank-spot" - otherwise known as a "sober blackout" - and before it even hits me I'm pounding on the bar asking myself "How'd this happened?"

So, ask yourself if you're suffering from the "spiritual malady" - particularly if you haven't had a drink for a while. What condition is your "inner life" in, currently? Are you experiencing any of the symptoms listed previously? (Also refer to the "Step One Unmanageability Exercise" also included in this issue of "This Day".)

Has it been a while since you've taken another alcoholic through the Steps?
Has it been a while since you have gone through the steps?
Have you ever taken all of AA's Twelve Steps?
Have you done more than one 4th Step inventory?
Have you completed all your 9th Step amends wherever possible?
Are you working with the disciplines and practices of steps Ten and Eleven (self-examination, meditation and prayer)... consistently... EVERY DAY?
Page 62 says, "Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness ("the ego"). We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self (ego) without [God's] aid."

Page 25 tells us, "There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings, which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at out feet. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed."

This "fourth dimension", which we find out in the 10th Step is the "world of the Spirit", takes us beyond the physically, mental, and emotional dimensions of life - and eliminates the selfishness (ego) of the "spiritual malady." The term "spiritual malady" does not mean that our "spirit" is sick. It simply means we are spiritually blocked off from the Power of God, which enables us to remain sober, happy, joyous, and free.

To conclude, it's not my body - my allergic reaction to alcohol - that's going to take me back to drinking. It's really not my mind - the mental obsession - that is the underlying root of what will take me back to drinking. It's the "spiritual malady", as manifested by my EGO (selfishness-self-centeredness), that can eventually lead me back to drinking or sometimes even suicide.

On pages 14 and 15 Bill W. writes, "For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that."
Thankfully, the "spiritual malady" is no longer a "missing piece" of Step One for me. It is a reality of my powerlessness and unmanageability and enables me to see why I so desperately need to seek a Power Greater than myself. And unless this malady is recognized, and a course of action (the Twelve Steps) is taken to enable God to remove it, the root of our alcoholic illness can lie dormant and burn us when we least expect it.

Mike L., West Orange, NJ
"Carry THIS Message" Group, West Orange, NJ



"The Next Frontier: Emotional Sobriety"


by Bill Wilson
I think that many oldsters who have put our AA "booze cure" to severe but successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps they will be the spearhead for the next major development in AA -- the development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our fellows, and with God.
Those adolescent urges that so many of us have for top approval, perfect security, and perfect romance -- urges quite appropriate to age seventeen -- prove to be an impossible way of life when we are at age forty-seven or fifty-seven.
Since AA began, I've taken immense wallops in all these areas because of my failure to grow up, emotionally and spiritually. My God, how painful it is to keep demanding the impossible, and how very painful to discover finally, that all along we have had the cart before the horse! Then comes the final agony of seeing how awfully wrong we have been, but still finding ourselves unable to get off the emotional merry-go-round.
How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result, and so into easy, happy, and good living -- well, that's not only the neurotic's problem, it's the problem of life itself for all of us who have got to the point of real willingness to hew to right principles in all our affairs.
Even then, as we hew away, peace and joy may still elude us. That's the place so many of us AA oldsters have come to. And it's a hell of a spot, literally. How shall our unconscious -- from which so many of our fears, compulsions and phony aspirations still stream -- be brought into line with what we actually believe, know and want! How to convince our dumb, raging and hidden "Mr. Hyde" becomes our main task.
I've recently come to believe that this can be achieved. I believe so because I begin to see many benighted ones -- folks like you and me -- commencing to get results. Last autumn [several years back -- ed.] depression, having no really rational cause at all, almost took me to the cleaners. I began to be scared that I was in for another long chronic spell. Considering the grief I've had with depressions, it wasn't a bright prospect.
I kept asking myself, "Why can't the Twelve Steps work to release depression?" By the hour, I stared at the St. Francis Prayer..."It's better to comfort than to be the comforted." Here was the formula, all right. But why didn't it work?
Suddenly I realized what the matter was. My basic flaw had always been dependence -- almost absolute dependence - on people or circumstances to supply me with prestige, security, and the like. Failing to get these things according to my perfectionist dreams and specifications, I had fought for them. And when defeat came, so did my depression.
There wasn't a chance of making the outgoing love of St. Francis a workable and joyous way of life until these fatal and almost absolute dependencies were cut away.
Because I had over the years undergone a little spiritual development, the absolute quality of these frightful dependencies had never before been so starkly revealed. Reinforced by what Grace I could secure in prayer, I found I had to exert every ounce of will and action to cut off these faulty emotional dependencies upon people, upon AA, indeed, upon any set of circumstances whatsoever.
Then only could I be free to love as Francis had. Emotional and instinctual satisfactions, I saw, were really the extra dividends of having love, offering love, and expressing a love appropriate to each relation of life.
Plainly, I could not avail myself of God's love until I was able to offer it back to Him by loving others as He would have me. And I couldn't possibly do that so long as I was victimized by false dependencies.
For my dependency meant demand -- a demand for the possession and control of the people and the conditions surrounding me.
While those words "absolute demand" may look like a gimmick, they were the ones that helped to trigger my release into my present degree of stability and quietness of mind, qualities which I am now trying to consolidate by offering love to others regardless of the return to me.
This seems to be the primary healing circuit: an outgoing love of God's creation and His people, by means of which we avail ourselves of His love for us. It is most clear that the current can't flow until our paralyzing dependencies are broken, and broken at depth. Only then can we possibly have a glimmer of what adult love really is.
Spiritual calculus, you say? Not a bit of it. Watch any AA of six months working with a new Twelfth Step case. If the case says "To the devil with you," the Twelfth Stepper only smiles and turns to another case. He doesn't feel frustrated or rejected. If his next case responds, and in turn starts to give love and attention to other alcoholics, yet gives none back to him, the sponsor is happy about it anyway. He still doesn't feel rejected; instead he rejoices that his one-time prospect is sober and happy. And if his next following case turns out in later time to be his best friend (or romance) then the sponsor is most joyful. But he well knows that his happiness is a by-product -- the extra dividend of giving without any demand for a return.
The really stabilizing thing for him was having and offering love to that strange drunk on his doorstep. That was Francis at work, powerful and practical, minus dependency and minus demand.
In the first six months of my own sobriety, I worked hard with many alcoholics. Not a one responded. Yet this work kept me sober. It wasn't a question of those alcoholics giving me anything. My stability came out of trying to give, not out of demanding that I receive.
Thus I think it can work out with emotional sobriety. If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God's help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety.
Of course I haven't offered you a really new idea -- only a gimmick that has started to unhook several of my own "hexes" at depth. Nowadays my brain no longer races compulsively in either elation, grandiosity or depression. I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine.

(c) Copyright, AA Grapevine, January 1958

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Hi everyone Donna S alcoholic

 I remember anger well, it was all i knew for so long. I didn't know how to handle life's situations, and my anger became rage and i took it out on myself ( Self Harm) plus break things, living recklessly. Drinking and drugging would numb how i felt about life, about my anger eventually turned into depression y turned to
I came to AA when i was 28, as my husband had enough of me and was going leave with my sons. I have 2 sons, my oldest was 5 , youngest 3, I walked around town drunk and disorderly and in blackouts, with my sons thinking I was a great mom HA. So off to to rehab  I went. I didn't drive at this time, as i lost my license years before so I had to get rides to meetings, which caused more issues as i didn't come home until very late at night.
I was involved in meetings and went out and spoke, I think of it now and i must have spewed a bunch of lies. I stayed dry 4 or 5  years and then  relapsed.
I OD' 2 times and brought back. I now lived a life of periodic drinking, became a workaholic,and living an insane life style with no regards to my family. I was a horrible mother, wife, daughter, and sister. My kids missed out on a happy home with a mother who was responsible and who didn't teach them how to cope, so today they struggle with coping with issues in life. They have not idea what a real relationship is.
I came back to AA in 1999, my last drink was 1-12-99, my sobriety date is 1-30-99 as it took me till then to go to a meeting and surrender to the fact I am an real alcoholic. I found a sponsor, a home group and she got me very involved. I learned just going to meetings doesn't keep me sober as my problem was I didn't have a connection with a Higher Power and although i was very grateful for my sobriety i was still living a life for Donna. I  still was not regarding my responsibilities as a wife and mother. I  almost picked up a drink at the beginning of  my 6th year as i put myself in a situation on at an AA convention i shouldn't have been in and something horrible came of it. My first reaction was to drink but, because i did and still do have a great support group ( VERY IMPORTANT) I didn't pick up. I  got a new sponsor ( mine passed away) and i went through the 12 Steps out the big book.  God sought me out and I grabbed hold tight!
My gratitude goes deep to the people who never gave up on me. 

I celebrate to show you it is possible..no matter what u r going thru it isn't worth the drink/drug, you can get thru it!!  WE are here, and will not judge you. I am amazed at where i am at today...i never thought it would be possible to rebuild my marriage,the relations with my sons and my parents/brothers. It took time for them to SEE how i changed from who i was, showing my sons coping tools to there problems, building them up with confidence, showing my husband the love i never showed. I had to learn balance... to Much of anything isn't good for me .... and i try to give back what was so freely given to me.
 I've been coming to StepChat  i think 6 years now. Ive meet a bunch of great people, support and  I sponsor people.
So thank you all, I didn't do this alone, God and you all
Have a great 24 and don't pick up that first one!!  

Friday, September 22, 2017

WILLINGNESS TO GROW



If more gifts are to be received, our awakening has to go on.
— AS BILL SEES IT, p. 8

Sobriety fills the painful "hole in the soul" that my alcoholism created. Often I feel so physically well that I believe my work is done. However, joy is not just the absence of pain; it is the gift of continued spiritual awakening. Joy comes from ongoing and active study, as well as application of the principles of recovery in my everyday life, and from sharing that experience with others. My Higher Power presents many opportunities for deeper spiritual awakening. I need only to bring into my recovery the willingness to grow. Today I am ready to grow.

Hi everyone Donna S alcoholic
 What a great reading!! i realized that willingness is something i so needed to further y journey  u see all thru out the big book the word willingness it was something i didn't have for a long time i wasn't willing to stop drinking or change or grow up
I wasn't willing to admit alcohol beat me down
but the day i finally said Yes i will willing i was able to start my journey from that  point then i became willing to believe in a Higher Power could restore me to sanity for me i had to study the big book, not just read it
I thought all i had to do was read it thru and i was done same with step book and other AA reading material there's more then just the big book alcoholics anonymous has many books out there and i have read them and studied some and continue to go thru them
there's a book meeting i went to on Sat here where we go thru different AA books i learned  lot from that meeting in doing all this i began to grow
 sure Ive hit hard times during the years Ive hit places in my journey that i thought is this all there is ???
 but i stuck with it and continue to go to meetings and review my day Ive had a lot joys in my journey i find that if i want to be miserable i am welcome to it
i don't want to be so i continue to be willing willing to got any length
 Life is   good : so i am going to keep coming  ☮😊   Done