The First One!

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The First One!

Postby Brock » Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:00 am

At meetings in my area, well meaning members often say, 'it's the first one that get's you drunk, just don't take the first drink.' There is truth in that, but some of us really don't like hearing it, unless immediately followed by saying we have no power against taking that first drink, that the power must come from the steps and a spiritual awakening.

When we have discussed this, some members point to the AA idea of one day at a time, saying it means staying away from drinking one day at a time. For example I have seen the first question of the 12 question pamphlet used to support this, it says -
1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?

Most of us in A.A. made all kinds of promises to ourselves and to our families. We could not keep them. Then we came to A.A. A.A. said: "Just try not to drink today." (If you do not drink today, you cannot get drunk today.)

So when AA says "Just try not to drink today,” does that mean we don't need to tell the newcomers at their first meeting, that they need the help of a higher power, and it's OK to introduce that at as we go along?
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: The First One!

Postby Noels » Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:55 am

Brock wrote:At meetings in my area, well meaning members often say, 'it's the first one that get's you drunk, just don't take the first drink.' There is truth in that, but some of us really don't like hearing it, unless immediately followed by saying we have no power against taking that first drink, that the power must come from the steps and a spiritual awakening.

When we have discussed this, some members point to the AA idea of one day at a time, saying it means staying away from drinking one day at a time. For example I have seen the first question of the 12 question pamphlet used to support this, it says -
1. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or so, but only lasted for a couple of days?

Most of us in A.A. made all kinds of promises to ourselves and to our families. We could not keep them. Then we came to A.A. A.A. said: "Just try not to drink today." (If you do not drink today, you cannot get drunk today.)

So when AA says "Just try not to drink today,” does that mean we don't need to tell the newcomers at their first meeting, that they need the help of a higher power, and it's OK to introduce that at as we go along?[/quote

Good evening Brock :D the way I used to handle it (f2f) was to lean more towards sharing my own personal experience rather than following the sheep so my words ALWAYS included the fact that the God of my understanding is who kept and keeps me sober.
These days I don't mince words. That alcoholic's life is way more important than leaving out the HP part. I personally think there are so many relapses because we've been pussy-footing around being honest about "a God of our understanding" side of our program. God "officially on black and white" comes into the program by step 2 already so the sooner that suffering alcoholic hears that there is an HP who is part of our program the better for his/her recovery.
Having said that, id say either way is okai since it is effectively out of my hands. If HP want that alcoholic there and sober that alcoholic WILL be there regardless of what I say.
Hope this answers your question,
love and light
Noels xxx
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Re: The First One!

Postby Layne » Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:42 pm

Every time I have been to an AA meeting, the twelve steps are read near the beginning of the meeting. So basically a person at their very first meeting gets introduced to the concept of needing a higher power. It gets reiterated at every meeting and through the shares of some members as we go along, just not through the shares of everyone every time.
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Re: The First One!

Postby avaneesh912 » Mon Oct 23, 2017 1:45 pm

Before looking for the need for this power, whatever we call it GOD/HP, we need to help the new-comer arrive at the conclusion that he/she needs one.

When we say we are powerlessness over alcohol. Is it just losing control 'after we take that first' drink? Which is physical. Or is there a powerlessness over the ability to stay away from that first drink? Dr. Silkworth uses the word succumb, the Big book talks about it as subtle insanity that precedes that 1st one. We hit a blank spot. They illustrate these concepts using those stories in More about alcoholism.

If we just keep talking about losing control after we take that first drink, then all we have to do is not take that first drink.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: The First One!

Postby PaigeB » Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:07 pm

Too much "god talk" would have scared me away. I had to practice "semantics" from the beginning and would have NEVER been able to come up with that common sense solution (and practicing) without the assistance of a woman from the hotline who helped me get to my first meeting and continued to assist me one-on-one for several months after. She had to continue to remind me, by phone, to use semantics and think "AA Group" when everyone said god. IT WORKED.

Even when I begged, no one even tried to force me to use their HP (which I was sure was the Christian god since that is the prevalent religion in the USA). No, they said "whatever god you can work with", make up your own"... "Just keep coming back" etc. It was by continuing to come back that I got a sponsor and started to work in the book with her. Even then she said, "Don' worry - pick your own - the Group is fine for now. Let's focus on the Steps and the Big Book."

Many 24's later we got to Step 12 where it says "Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps..." THEN I had a HP that I could work with. Trust me, this gal (me) did NOT need more emphasis on the god angle in the first few months, or even in the first few Steps... by Step 3 I had made but a beginning. By Step 9 I had some of the Promises and knew "sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly" and by Step 11 I was ready to practice daily work with my HP.

I have grown SO much that at 8+ years I am going through the Steps again with a new sponsor and a new wider view of what my HP is and why that HP is vital to my sobriety.

To newcomers I say, "Keep coming back. Be Willing, Open-minded & try to be honest. Progress not perfection." It works better if you don't drink, but I no longer stress "don't drink" so much anymore... Drunks Drink. Sometimes they die if they don't drink. But we have a solution that really works. "Keep coming back. We will be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit and you will sure meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. Here is a meeting schedule. We will be there. Call those numbers you have been given. Here's my phone number. I will answer."
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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Re: The First One!

Postby JohnDaniels » Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:39 pm

.

Thanks Layne. I couldn't have said it any better.

Layne wrote:Every time I have been to an AA meeting, the twelve steps are read near the beginning of the meeting. So basically a person at their very first meeting gets introduced to the concept of needing a higher power. It gets reiterated at every meeting and through the shares of some members as we go along, just not through the shares of everyone every time.


I've had an incremental spiritual awakening, little at a time. If I'd have got it all at once my mind couldn't have grasped it. So to this day I continue to get it a little at a time like UHH! UHH! UHH! But those little bits warm my heart and help me grow a little more.

My buddy from Long Beach and I were talking with each other before an upcoming breakfast meeting we both spoke at. It was listed in that mornings program as "Spiritual Meeting". I love this man, his experience, his wisdom, his humor and his strength. I have asked him for advice in the past and out comes his wisdom, instantly. Before the Sunday Morning "Spiritual Meeting" I said to him "They're calling this a Spiritual Meeting. There's just something about it I can't quite put my finger on. Oh it's not bad, it's not even a big deal, just ... hmmm can't think of the word."

He replied "It's Spiritual".

I said "Huh?"

He said "Spiritual. That's the word that's got you bugged. They're calling this a Spiritual Meeting. So when you introduce yourself just say 'It say's in this mornings program this is a Spiritual Meeting but AA is all Spiritual. All of it'. AA, Al-Anon, Alateen. It's all spiritual."
He went on with "Didn't Papa tell us both that AA is one of God's Agencies because that's what Bill told him?"

I said "Yes! How'd you know that was it for me?"

He said he had gone through the exact same thing years before at a convention at a Spiritual Meeting he spoke at and he was just telling me what worked for him.

He spoke after I did. He focused on the disease and the obsession of the mind and the physical compulsion of alcohol. He talked about the first drink. He said "When I drank, I took a drink, the drink took a drink, then the drink took me". He always makes an interesting point.

I want to share one more thing on the boards here then I'll quit my yacking. I sponsor a few guys and we meet in my home twice a week. Over the following months we go through the Big Book cover to cover in my home. We also go through our Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions book cover to cover, over and over so the message becomes ingrained into their thoughts and the actions they take, so when they're out there the teachings in our Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions will come to mind when they are faced with a decision or situation. It's not about remembering the words to repeat at a meeting. I make a strict point of that right from the beginning about if they start repeating those words from their memory to impress someone, they'll lose the entire meaning of it all and lose the spiritual message in them. It's about our personal growth and development. It's about taking ACTIONS to change our old behaviors and old ideas. In short order those ACTIONS become a habit, then they become part of who we are, then they become a way of life. I talk with them, never at them. All my guys pray honestly from their hearts in their own words, not from something they read off a wall calendar. We share 2 times a week in my home about how we applied the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and the Big Book teachings in our lives since we last met.

The changes are gradual in increments.

Well, that's my take on it

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Re: The First One!

Postby Chelle » Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:08 pm

Brock wrote:At meetings in my area, well meaning members often say, 'it's the first one that get's you drunk, just don't take the first drink.' There is truth in that, but some of us really don't like hearing it, unless immediately followed by saying we have no power against taking that first drink, that the power must come from the steps and a spiritual awakening.



I really needed to hear that when I first came to AA. I always thought it was the 10th one that got me drunk. I had no idea of how to ask God to help me. They told me not to drink, keep coming back, and I would never have to take a drink again. Most people shared about the steps, and a higher power. I sat back and listened for a couple of weeks. I wasn't sure this whole AA thing was for me, but I said I would stay open minded for 90 meetings in 90 days (yes, I'm one of those.. it's my story and I'm sticking to it : :wink: )

I did what they said. I did not drink. I didn't want to disappoint all those nice people I had just met. About 10 days in or so, a lady described my life. I had only said hello to her, how did she know? It felt like a thunder clap from God himself. Then I was ready to hear what you had to say about a hp and awakening.

When i talk to a newcomer, i suggest that thet try not to drink, and if you really want a drink, here's my number, call me first, I can tell you how I avoided that first drink when I was new.

It took a few meetings before I was ready to commit to the steps or an awakening. They had to keep it real real simple for me. If they had told me I had no power over the first drink I would have called foul. I powered myself for one whole week. Now I get it though. It wasn't sustainable. Had I not done the steps, I would have been drunk in short order wondering what in the heck happened.

Thanks
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Re: The First One!

Postby Brock » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:56 pm

I see where it makes sense that we don't immediately tell the new person they don't have a hope without God, but I feel that the spiritual side and steps should be spoken about ASAP. As Chelle said for her it worked with not wanting to disappoint others, and having a phone number in case, lucky for her within ten days a lady spoke the language she needed to hear, and she was ready to consider a HP.

Things have changed a lot from the early days, I enjoy AA history and have read how Dr. Bob operated. In Dr. Bob and the good oldtimers speaking about Clarence Snyder, in hospital when Dr. Bob came to check on him, (apparently he did this with every patient after they had been there a few days) -
“Then he asked, ‘Do you believe in God, young fella?’ (He always called me ‘young fella.’ When he called me Clarence, I knew I was in trouble.) “ ‘What does that have to do with it?’ “ ‘Everything,’ he said. “ ‘I guess I do.’ “ ‘Guess, nothing! Either you do or you don’t.’ “ ‘Yes, I do.’ “ ‘That’s fine,’ Dr. Bob replied. ‘Now we’re getting someplace. All right, get out of bed and your knees. We’re going to pray.’

And the little Irish Nun Sister Ignatia, a hero of AA says -
"There was one thing that always irritated Doctor, some people who were on the program for a length of time would come up to him and say, 'I don't get the spiritual angle.' I heard him say time and again, 'There is no spiritual angle. It's a spiritual program.'"

That matches what John said -
So when you introduce yourself just say 'It say's in this mornings program this is a Spiritual Meeting but AA is all Spiritual. All of it'. AA, Al-Anon, Alateen. It's all spiritual."

Also the literature supports telling the new person that will power won't work upfront, from working with others -
If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic, begin to
dwell on the hopeless feature of the malady. Show him,
from your own experience, how the queer mental condition
surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning
of the will power. Don’t, at this stage, refer to this
book, unless he has seen it and wishes to discuss it.

So even before telling them about the big book, like we do all the time these days, you might say will power won't work. I agree we don't want to scare them off with too much God talk at the beginning, but think there should be some mention.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: The First One!

Postby positrac » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:18 am

When I came into AA and finally stayed I had mental push back on a lot of stuff and yet I tried and complied with what was being told to me as I was new and had no other options besides jail and death and at these point options become limited really fast.

My generation of AA these ideas of picking and choosing what we liked was different because we saw the results of the outside world when one of the "smarter" members stepped out to see if they could just have one drink. I never hear this used and yet I learned this in AA about God of my understanding: G-Good O-Orderly D-Direction GOD and ya know it works and it can be labeled whatever one needs to make it as long as they have faith that they alone have no power and need help from that first drink.

If I stick with the winners then my capability of taking that first drink has been drastically been reduced because I have like minded people in my court teaching me this new lifestyle I have decided to live. I don't frequent taverns, liquor stores, and other functions that have drinking in excess because I have to protect me from them and alcohol. These are my rules as I have witnessed what happens when those "smart " members start going to the tavern to play pool and or darts they eventually end up piss drunk!

If the new comer is open and actually willing to not drink and has more than just desire then they will learn to accept how it works in time. When a member is picking and choosing and making excuses over every single point then I believe they aren't ready yet and need to get to that low point of surrender.
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Re: The First One!

Postby clouds » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:50 am

At my first AA meeting they read from chapter 5, 'how it works' up to the a. b. and c.
It was clear to me after hearing it and what the ladies who shared step one at the meeting said that nothing short of a miracle from God could relieve me of my addiction to alcohol. I understood that right away.
They said keep coming back to meetings, handed me their phone numbers with the instructions ' call me if you think you are going to pick up a drink'.
I followed instructions and I'm still sober today.
I had no god, no religion and no religious or psychological background. AA was my first attempt at finding a spiritual way of life that works.
I was able to call those women though. They said to start out by doing my best to be honest, to quit fooling myself about my drinking days. They were right, I needed a Power Greater than myself to help me not drink again.
I had been a daily drinker, so for me it was more like 'one hour at a time', until the next meeting. But I have to say I never experienced the idea that I was supposed to use my will power against the first drink, or that I was just to sit around grabbing the edge of tables, griting my teeth and mentally saying to myself, 'dont drink dont drink dont drink'.
I understood that there were things I could do, like phone somebody inAA, go to a meeting, read the big book.
Eventually I caught on about actually asking this Higher Power that the sober people in AA said had got them sober to keep me sober too.
That's where it all began for me, because by then I was convinced that God could and would if I asked.
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
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Re: The First One!

Postby JohnDaniels » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:57 am

.
Excellent post Positrac

positrac wrote:My generation of AA these ideas of picking and choosing what we liked was different because we saw the results of the outside world when one of the "smarter" members stepped out to see if they could just have one drink ...


... These are my rules as I have witnessed what happens when those "smart " members start going to the tavern to play pool and or darts they eventually end up piss drunk!


I'm glad I was not too smart for this program.

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Re: The First One!

Postby avaneesh912 » Tue Oct 24, 2017 4:13 am

When a member is picking and choosing and making excuses over every single point then I believe they aren't ready yet and need to get to that low point of surrender.


I look at it this way Pos. I agree, not all ready but there are some who are ready but because they run out of grace, they hit the blind spot. They dont choose to pick up, but the insanity returns and they succumb.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: The First One!

Postby positrac » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:48 am

avaneesh912 wrote:
When a member is picking and choosing and making excuses over every single point then I believe they aren't ready yet and need to get to that low point of surrender.


I look at it this way Pos. I agree, not all ready but there are some who are ready but because they run out of grace, they hit the blind spot. They dont choose to pick up, but the insanity returns and they succumb.

Good point and one that makes the glass 1/2 full instead of black and white as I don't see gray.
I told a story of my frustration of early recovery a while back and how I was going to get drunk and how my drunk room mate made no bones about physical harm to me if I decided to pick up. His encouragement kept me sober and I made it through another day. it reminded me of thinking that first drink through from start to the next day. I do believe some folks are just not ready and I know I was one of those folks until I used up my last free get out of jail cards and then I had to make some serious decisions.
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Re: The First One!

Postby avaneesh912 » Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:44 am

For me the connection between un-manageability of step one and powerlessness came obvious when I looked back at my drinking history. When the doctors says we get restless irritable and discontented (we could add more to it) and looking at the history, it was always the same pattern. Go through a phase of not drinking but then manifestation of those internal conditions. Leading to that 1st drink. And then a spree. So when they say will power becomes practically non-existent, it all made sense. It helped me launch a course of rigorous action to clean up. I get it some can go through lot of pain before they either pick up or start working the steps and experience the power.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: The First One!

Postby JohnDaniels » Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:40 am

Brock thanks again for posting this topic. I've read some great replies here.

It was meeting night at my house this evening. We're into "More About Alcoholism" Chapter 3 again and it reminded me of your topic here, "The First One".

Each of us reads a page or so, then the next guy reads a page, then we talk about what it means to us and how we can apply it to our life or the food for thought we get from it to use in our life. We read through the story of the Jay-Walker that my guys especially liked. There were some great comments, mainly how this story is an excellent comparison between our disease and the Jay-Walker.

In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous the Jay-Walker story tells how:

The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death ... We are like men who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones. ...

Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to drink like other people! ...

Our behavior is as absurd and incomprehensible with respect to the first drink as that of an individual with a passion, say, for jay-walking. He gets a thrill out of skipping in front of fast-moving vehicles. He enjoys himself for a few years in spite of friendly warnings. Up to this point you would label him as a foolish chap having queer ideas of fun. Luck then deserts him and he is slightly injured several times in succession. You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out. Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured skull. Within a week after leaving the hospital a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm. He tells you he has decided to stop jay-walking for good, but in a few weeks he breaks both legs.
On through the years this conduct continues, accompanied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep off the streets altogether. Finally, he can no longer work, his wife gets a divorce and he is held up to ridicule. He tries every known means to get the jaywalking idea out of his head. He shuts himself up in an asylum, hoping to mend his ways. But the day he comes out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks his back. Such a man would be crazy, wouldn't he?
You may think our illustration is too ridiculous. But is it? We, who have been through the wringer, have to admit if we substituted alcoholism or any addiction for jay-walking, the illustration would fit exactly. However intelligent we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane. It's strong language but isn't it true?


Thanks again

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