A fellow AA member read from the AA book “Living Sober” last week, then lent me his copy to read.
This book is blowing my freaking MIND. It makes way, way, way more sense to me than the AA Big Book (which I also love but, in a different way!). I need to get my own copy and keep it with me at all times.
I want to quote every single passage from this book. I wish I could somehow shorten its wisdom, or say one piece is better than the other, but every friggin word from cover to cover is pure gold (it is a very short book). Here are some passages that struck me especially:
Sometimes, an AA member will talk about taking the various parts of the program in cafeteria style–selecting what he likes and letting alone what he does not want. Maybe others will come along and pick up the unwanted parts–or maybe that member himself will go back later and take some of the ideas he previously rejected.
However, it is good to remember the temptation in a cafeteria to pick up nothing but a lot of desserts or starches or salads or some other food we particularly like. It serves as an important reminder to keep balance in our lives.
If you want to get well, one AA woman said, you just take your treatment and follow directions and go on living. It’s easy as long as you remember the new facts about your health. Who has time to feel ‘deprived’ or self-pitying when you find there are so many delights connected with living happily unafraid of your illness?
We have learned it pays to make a very special effort to try to understand other people, especially anyone who rubs us the wrong way. For our recovery, it is more important to understand then to be understood. This is not very difficult if we bear in mind that the other AA members, too, are trying to understand, just as we are.
Recovering alcoholics often say, “Just stopping drinking is not enough.” Just not drinking is a negative, sterile thing. That is clearly demonstrated by our experience. To stay stopped, we’ve found we need to put in place of the drinking a positive program of action. We’ve had to learn how to live sober.
In AA, no one is above or below anyone else. There are no classes or strata or hierarchies among the members. There are no formal officers with any governing power or authority whatsoever. AA is not an organization in the usual sense of the word. Instead, it is a fellowship of equals. Everybody calls everybody else by their first name, AAs take turns doing the services needed for group meetings and other functions.
No particular professional skill or education is needed. Even if you have never been a joiner, a chairman or a secretary of anything, you may find–as most of us have–that within the AA group, these services are easy to do, and they do wonders for us. They build a sturdy backbone for our recovery.
Whether we see the Serenity Prayer as an actual prayer or a fervent wish, it offers a simple prescription for a healthy emotional life. ...Serenity is like a gyroscope that lets us keep our balance no matter what turbulence swirls around us. And that is a state of mind worth aiming for.
Many of us have learned that something sweet-tasting, or almost any nourishing food or snack, seems to dampen the desire a bit for a drink.
Some have asked us, “Does this mean you rank sobriety ahead of a family, job, and the opinion of friends?”
When we view alcoholism as the life-or-death matter that it is, the answer is plain. If we do not save our health – our lives – then certainly we will have no family, no job, no friends. If we value family, job, and friends, we must first save our own lives in order to cherish all three.
The lonely road ahead looked dark, bleak, unending. It was too painful to talk about, and to avoid thinkin gabout it, we soon drank again.
Although some of us were lone drinkers, it can hardly be said that we lacked companionship during our drinking days. Poeple were all around us. We saw, heard, and touched them. But most of our important dialogues were entirely interior, held with ourselves. We were sure nobody else would understand. Besides, considering our opinion of oursevlves, we were not sure that we wanted anybody to understand.
No wonder, then, that when we first listen to recovered alcoholics in AA talking freely and honestly about themselves, we are stunned. Their tales of their own drinking escapades, of their own secret fears and loneliness, jar us like a thunderbolt.
We discover – but can hardly dare to believe we are right at first – that we are not alone. We are not totally unlike everybody, after all.
The brittle shell of protective and fearful egocentricity we have dwelled in so long is cracked open by the honesty of other recovered alcoholics. We sense, almost before we can articulate it, that we do belong somewhere, and the loneliness starts rapidly leaking away.
Here’s a look at some of the shapes and colors anger seems at times to arrive in: intolerance, contempt, envy, hatred, snobbishness, rigidity, cynicism, discontent, tension, sarcasm, self-pity, malice, distrust, anxiety, suspicion, jealousy
…Feelings of frustration also can give birth to anger. As a class, problem drinkers are not famous for a high tolerance level when faced with frustration, real or imaginary. A drink used to be our favorite solvent for such an indigestible emotion.
…Even if we are treated shabbily or unjustly, resentment is a luxury that, as alcoholics, we cannot afford. For us, all anger is self-destructive, because it can lead us back to drinking.
…ok, that’s as far as I’ve read!