Wording Context of the Big Book
After several months of sobriety and several marbles were spinning in the same direction, it was suggested that I read the Big Book all the way through, stories and all. Then, go back and begin a serious study of the directions offered in the first 164 pages. After so doing, I began to develop a better understanding of the Big Book wording context that Bill W. was trying to convey, rather than my oft-mistaken previous conception[s]—case in point:
The word: sanity: At first, I considered this term in context of the confused mental state of my early sobriety, or those seemingly bi-polar rollercoaster emotions, etc. ... or perhaps the legal definition of being a danger to self or others. But today I realize that Bill used this word more in the context of drinking booze, e.g.: He speaks of the insanity of “Jim” pouring whisky in his milk (pp. 35- 37), or the opposite: Fitz Mayo’s sanity, who “seemingly he could not drink even if he would” (p. 57). I now think of alcoholic insanity as the inability to see and act on the truth in drink, and sanity as the ability to do so. Although this is not always the case, this new insight serves as a handy learning tool.
The word: cured: A bit of confusion arose when I read Dr.Bob’s Nightmare and he wrote: “. . . but had been cured” (p. 180), or where Bill D. wrote: “. . . curing me of this terrible disease.” (p. 191) . . .. There are other examples in the “Story Section” of the Big Book. Confusion arose when I read on page 85: “We are not cured of alcoholism.” A contradiction! But by studying this book I learned (p. 29) that the clear-cut directions are in the first 164 pages, but the story section of a different ilk. It does not contain the clear-cut directions! These member's words are not necessarily in conjunction with the instruction pages.
Page 85 tells me: “The problem has been removed.” Does this infer that I can now drink like a gentleman? Well, not if I have studied the Big Book! If so, I will that realize the physical allergy is chronic—it will never go away.
Consequently, this is not the mentioned problem ... so, what is left? Of course, it is the mental obsession which has been removed. But, hold the phone! It has not been destroyed, eradicated or beamed to outer space. It will be ever lurking just waiting for me to exit from my fit spiritual condition. I maintain that I am a fully recovered alcoholic. This means that if I throw AA and God under the bus, I would likely be drunk by next Thursday, or sooner.
Bob S., Richmond, IN
I’ve heard it said that among those who wanted to quit drinking, some found it especially difficult to do so around the holidays. I never understood that. What was so hard about quitting drinking on Groundhog Day, Flag Day or Boxing Day? With all seriousness though, these had about as much significance to me as any of the real holidays, like Thanksgivings, Christmas and Easter. They were just another day I felt compelled to consume alcohol in great quantity.
Having stepped into the realm of reality thanks to my re-discovered Higher Power – God – and the Fellowship of AA, I can now somehow envision the horror my wife and kids must have experienced the day of each new holiday. Here we go again, or, how drunk will daddy be today? They might have thought. And for good reason. I would often pre-drink, hiding it in the garage (the “war room” where I would strategize how to combat the world – my enemy) even though I would usually drive to the relatives’ holiday party.
In retrospect, through the clear vision of today’s sanity, my wife always drove home; not to do me any favours, but most likely to preserve her life and her children’s. Imagine the nerve of her, assuming I couldn’t drive just because I drank a 12-pack of beer and half a bottle of a strong liquor. After all, I had 30 years/ experience of driving drunk with only one DUI, and that was not my fault; I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Heck, I could drive drunk better than most people could sober. And besides, you’d drink and drive too if you had my relatives! This was the insane mind set of a man whose cognitive rationale was completely taken over by the disease of alcoholism.
Each and every time, this saint of a woman, whom I still admire for the courage to stand by this pathetic man whom she seriously didn’t deserve, would pour me into the car after I miraculously staggered somewhere near it. Passed out most of the ride home, I would often wake up in the middle of the night still in the car. This was probably my wife’s part, as I’m sure she was sick and tired of trying to wake me up to go into the house.
For most people, the holidays were a perfect time of reflection and thanks, punctuated with a celebration of a couple of drinks. This of course was the opposite with me. The holidays meant reflecting how the world had screwed me, and how you “normies” got all the breaks. So volatile were my thoughts of disdain and hatred that thankfulness was the last thing I possessed. I resented, with a passion, everything and everyone. I remember distinctly that every year when Thanksgiving rolled around I would get especially depressed, knowing that another year was going by and that I, still clueless about how to escape from my self-incarceration, was going to have to endure at least one more.
But for some reason, on Dec. 6, 2006, I relinquished the power of will (which I never had to begin with) to God and the Fellowship of AA. Almost immediately, I began using the tools (some of which I’ve always possessed) the program gave me, and discarded the one I was using my whole life: the shovel.
Today, when Thanksgiving comes around, I have a choice about how it will affect me emotionally. Today I choose to be thankful to have a mostly serene sobriety, with a new understanding for the holidays and what they really mean. Every day truly is a holiday, if you have the right spiritual awareness.
Matt S. - Buffalo Grove, Illinois
*** This share was taken from the Grapevine Publication “Happy, Joyous and Free – The Lighter Side of Sobriety. Please contact GSO South Africa on firstname.lastname@example.org for any literature enquiries or to obtain books/leaflets.