WORKING WITH OTHERS
"Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action,
we tried to carry this message to others, especially alcoholics,
and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
1. In R.A. we have had a spiritual experience as the result of thoroughly following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" to work all Twelve Steps.
2. We use R.A.'s Step Presentation to work with others. This is how we "carry the message" that we have "had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action," to others.
3. We work with others in this way because it is not practical for newcomers to live with more established members, as was done in the early days of the program. By living with the pioneers for two or three weeks, the newcomer was able to absorb the same program and philosophy that is now contained in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book.
4. Therefore, we go through R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, reading every paragraph, and following every one of the pioneers' "clear-cut directions."
5. We also briefly talk about each paragraph and direction. This is done to help explain the pioneers' original intent, as R.A. understands it. This counters the years of confusion and misunderstanding that sometimes distort the pioneers' message of hope, sanity, and recovery.
6. To help us work with others, we use R.A.'s www.RA-Steps.info website. This website is not intended to replace one-on-one sponsorship. Its main purpose is to teach R.A. sponsors how to work one-on-one with R.A. newcomers.
7. While not the ideal, if an R.A. sponsor is not available to work with a newcomer, the newcomer can try to use R.A.'s www.RA-Steps.info website to go through the Twelve Steps.
8. If you are a sponsor working with a newcomer, have them read a paragraph from their copy of R.A.'s Multilith Big Book and then pause. You, as the sponsor, then comment about what was just read.
9. If you are new to this process, you can read the comments from R.A.'s www.RA-Steps.info website as you are working with your newcomer. You should read slowly, and with emphasis, as if you are talking to your newcomer, not reading at them.
10. As we've shared before, the Multilith Copy of the Big Book was written as an explicit instruction manual containing the pioneers' "clear-cut directions." After years of recovery, the pioneers detailed what they had done that had already worked for them.
11. What the pioneers wrote in the Multilith Copy of the Big Book was not a theoretical exercise in what one day they might possibly do to eventually recover. When we look at what they wrote as time-tested, proven, workable examples, workable directions, it puts this chapter, and the whole program, in a different light.
12. Therefore, as this chapter is read and discussed, please pay attention to these quotes, as the "clear-cut directions" they are intended to be.
13. First, we are going to recap what was done in R.A.'s Step Presentation up to this point. To start, we went over the history of the program and saw that it was designed to be spiritual in nature.
14. In the First Step, we not only admitted our powerlessness, but we came to understand exactly what that term means. It means without power.
15. We also admitted that our lives had become unmanageable and then recognized what unmanageable means. We recognized that our problems and behaviors were the symptom of our unmanageable life rather than its cause.
16. In the Second Step, we came to recognize that, since we were and are powerless, it would take a Power greater than ourselves to restore us to sanity. We also came to believe that this could really happen.
17. In the Third Step, we decided to try to turn our wills, and our lives, over to the care and direction of that Power greater than ourselves. We learned that a decision without an action is worthless. Therefore, we decided to validate that decision by taking the action of working the rest of the steps.
18. The Fourth Step was an inventory done using the pioneers' "clear-cut directions." During this process we recognized that the focus of the inventory was to find and see the character defects that caused us to hurt others and ourselves.
19. This inventory, as written by the pioneers in the Multilith Copy of the Big Book, then changed our focus from ourselves to how these character defects affected other people.
20. In the Fifth Step, we discussed our defects with another human being. We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our defects.
21. In the Sixth Step, we recognized that, since these character defects were spiritual in nature, we could not remove them from ourselves. We then became willing to allow God to remove them.
22. In the Seventh Step, we humbly asked God to remove all these defects to the extent that they stand in the way of our usefulness to Him and our fellows.
23. We recognized that asking God to remove our character defects in their entirety was not reasonable, and would not work. We saw that the character defects that stand in the way of our usefulness to Him and our fellows are what the program does work on.
24. In the Eighth Step, we looked at our inventory, and in searching it found those whom we resented, and those whom we had harmed. We put them on a list, and became willing to make amends to the people on that list.
25. In the Ninth Step, we discussed the process of making amends. We saw that it was a process designed to get us out of ourselves. We stopped focusing on the harm others had done to us. We could then begin to look at how we could correct the harm our character defects had caused us to do to others.
26. We began to understand that the first nine steps were only a beginning. They are a beginning that is fulfilled by working the Tenth and Eleventh Steps for the rest of our lives. We clearly saw that we didn't have to do the first nine steps perfectly because they were merely the beginning of a lifetime practice.
27. We saw that the Tenth Step is another way of focusing outside of ourselves. It lets us see, on a daily basis, how our character defects affect others and whether or not we need to make amends.
28. The pioneers' "clear-cut directions" show us that, when our character defects crop up, we need to ask God to remove them and then resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. This gets us out of ourselves.
29. In the Eleventh Step's discussion of prayer and meditation, we learned the difference between asking and listening. We saw that the pioneers use the Multilith Copy of the Big Book to give very specific suggestions for how to pray and meditate.
30. We saw that asking was a vital part of the Eleventh Step. We saw that the pioneers used the word "ask" and its variations many times in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 39.
31. We began to see that the ultimate goal is not merely living in Steps Ten, Eleven and Twelve. The ultimate goal is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.
32. We are now going to read and discuss the chapter "Working With Others" in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. It contains "clear-cut directions" for working the Twelfth Step.
33. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, the sixth paragraph on page 34 contains the entire discussion of Step Six. The seventh paragraph is the entire discussion of Step Seven.
34. On the top of page 35, the next three sentences are the entire discussion of Step Eight. Then there are a few pages discussing Step Nine, a few paragraphs detailing Step Ten, and a few more paragraphs discussing Step Eleven.
35. Compare that with how much space the pioneers devote to discussing the Twelfth Step. There is an entire chapter, "Working With Others," that details how to work with strangers.
36. Then there are two chapters, "To Wives," and "The Family Afterward." The first is about how to work with a spouse or significant other. The second shows how to work with the rest of the family.
37. Then there is a chapter, "To Employers," detailing how to work with someone we are in authority over.
38. Finally, there is a chapter, "A Vision For You," that summarizes why we need to work with others, and the results of doing so.
39. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book there are forty pages discussing the first eleven Steps, and five chapters on thirty-six pages discussing the various aspects of the Twelfth Step. This gives us a hint as to the relative importance of this step.
40. Please remember that we don't want to convince you of anything. R.A.'s experience has been that if you read this material, you will come to the same conclusions that we have. We want to endorse your conclusions, not convince you of ours.
41. We will now share our understanding and experience. Please keep in mind that the Twelve Steps are a specific process that produces a specific result.
42. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, please turn to page 41, the first page of "Working With Others."
43. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 41, the first paragraph of this chapter has clearer wording than the version of this paragraph that is in the later versions. It says:
"Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure your own immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other spiritual activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help them when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Remember they are fatally ill."
44. In the Multilith version, there are several additional words in this paragraph. The pioneers say that, "nothing will so much insure YOUR OWN immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other SPIRITUAL activities fail."
45. The addition of the words "your own" to the first sentence points out that working with others is the way for someone to insure their own immunity from hurting others or him or herself. This is an important distinction.
46. The second sentence equates "working with others" to a "spiritual activity." This also puts things in a different light.
47. R.A.'s experience is that people who have been in other programs often impose their own definitions on terms that are in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. We have found this to be especially true when R.A.'s Multilith Big Book shares about spiritual activities, maintaining a fit spiritual condition, or enlarging our spiritual life.
48. However, as we've shared before, when Bill wrote the Big Book, he presumed that people would read it in order. Therefore, each time he refers to enlarging our spiritual life, he presumed someone would have already read the passage he wrote on page 7. So, he did not define this concept again.
49. Starting in the middle of the first full paragraph on page 7, Bill says, "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."
50. We think that it is important to note that this passage tells us that there are TWO ways in which to perfect and enlarge a spiritual life: work AND self-sacrifice for others.
51. The second paragraph of this chapter also has clearer wording in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. It says:
"The kick you will get is tremendous. To watch people come back to life, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends—this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives."
52. In the current Big Book the first sentence of this paragraph was changed to "Life will take on new meaning." The second sentence, "To watch people come back to life" was changed. It now says, "To watch people recover." We believe that original wording has far more impact.
53. Please remember that the Multilith Copy of the Big Book was written for the pioneers to share their years of experience with working the steps. Continuing with the third paragraph on page 41, they say:
"Perhaps you are not acquainted with any drinkers who want to recover. You can easily find some by asking a few doctors, ministers, priests and hospitals. They will be only too glad to have your help. Don't start out as an evangelist or reformer. Unfortunately a lot of prejudice exists. You will be handicapped if you arouse it. Preachers and doctors don't like to be told they don't know their business. They are usually competent and you can learn much from them if you wish, but it happens that because of your own drinking experience you can be uniquely useful to other alcoholics. So cooperate; never [criticize]. To be helpful should be your only aim."
54. In this paragraph, the pioneers give "clear-cut directions" for finding people to work with. Remember that the Twelfth Step says that we tried to CARRY this message. It does not say that we sit back and wait for people to come to us.
55. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, the fourth paragraph gives the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for what to do after you have found a prospect. It says:
"When you discover a prospect for Alcoholics Anonymous, find out all you can about him. If he does not want to stop drinking, don't waste time trying to persuade him. You may spoil a later opportunity. This advice is given for his family also. They must be patient, realizing they are dealing with a sick person."
56. The pioneers say that someone should find out all they can about each newcomer. They go on to say that if someone does not want to recover, don't waste time trying to change his or her mind. Both the sponsor and the family needs to realize that the newcomer is spiritually sick, and that they should be patient with them.
57. The pioneers' "clear-cut directions" continue in the fifth paragraph. They say:
"If there is any indication that he wants to stop, have a good talk with the person most interested in him—usually his wife. Get an idea of his behavior, his problems, his background, the seriousness of his condition, and his religious leanings. You need this information to put yourself in his place, to see how you would like him to approach you if the tables were turned."
58. This makes it clear that each newcomer is unique. Therefore, finding out as much as possible about each newcomer will make it easier to effectively approach him or her.
59. The sixth paragraph contains one of the most important of the pioneers "clear-cut directions." They say:
"Usually it is wise to wait till he goes on a binge. The family may object to this, but unless he is in a dangerous physical condition, it is better to risk it. Don't deal with him when he is very drunk, unless he is ugly and the family needs your help. Wait for the end of the spree, or at least for a lucid interval. Then let his family or a friend ask him if he wants to quit for good and if he would go to any extreme to do so. If he says yes, then his attention should be drawn to you as a person who has recovered. You should be described to him as one of a fellowship who, as a part of their own recovery, try to help others, and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you."
60. This is one of the pioneers' more controversial directions. However, remember that they are sharing their experience. They found it wise to wait until someone, who is resistant to joining the program, goes on a binge. Their experience was that this might convince the newcomer that they can't solve their problems or behaviors on their own.
61. The bottom of this paragraph has another important direction. The pioneers say that if a newcomer accepts help, "his attention should be drawn to you as a person who has recovered." This is very clear. If someone is interested in the program, his or her attention should be drawn to the sponsor as a person who has RECOVERED.
62. It is important to do this so that the newcomer will know that there is a solution. They want the newcomer to know that the process will restore them to sanity. They want the newcomer to understand that they will be able to live their lives reacting sanely and normally, so long as they keep in fit spiritual condition.
63. The pioneers continue their "clear-cut directions" by saying that someone, "should be described to him as one of a fellowship who, as part of their own recovery, try to help others and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you."
64. To accent this point, we are going to share a passage from the Big Book story, "Alcoholic Anonymous Number Three." It is in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, in the Second Edition Stories section, on page 185. It is also on page 185 in the current Big Book.
65. Bill and Dr. Bob recognized that they needed to share the process of recovery with others, in order for the program to continue working for them. Therefore, less than twenty-four hours after Dr. Bob's last drink, they approached a gentleman named Bill D.
66. Bill D. became the third recovered alcoholic. First Bill and Dr. Bob approached Bill D.'s wife, and she, in turn, then approached him. On page 185, starting with the first full paragraph, Bill D. shares how his wife "said, 'You are going to quit.' That was worth a lot even though I did not believe it. Then she told me that these two drunks she had been talking to had a plan whereby they thought they could quit drinking, and part of that plan was that they tell it to another drunk. This was going to help them to stay sober. All the other people that had talked to me wanted to help me, and my pride prevented me from listening to them, and caused only resentment on my part, but I felt as if I would be a real stinker if I did not listen to a couple of fellows for a short time, if that would cure them.' "
67. This passage accents that the newcomer a sponsor approaches, the newcomer that a sponsor shares with, is doing the sponsor a favor by allowing the sponsor to share with them. Therefore, a sponsor needs to treat a newcomer with the respect and kindness that the sponsor would treat anyone who is doing them a favor.
68. The "clear-cut directions" in the Big Book don't suggest approaching someone by saying, "Have I got a program for you!" The pioneers do suggest approaching a newcomer by asking if they would do you the favor of allowing you to share about R.A.'s program with them.
69. As a sponsor you need to explain that you need to share about R.A.'s program because you need to do so in order to get well and stay well yourself. As a sponsor you should try to approach a newcomer with no expectations or demands about what the newcomer will do or not do with what you share.
70. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 41, the seventh paragraph also contains "clear-cut directions." It says:
"If he does not want to see you, never force yourself upon him. Neither should the family hysterically plead with him to do anything, nor should they tell him much about you. They should wait for the end of his next drinking bout. You might place this book where he can see it in the interval. Here no specific rule can be given. The family must decide these things. But urge them not to be over-anxious, for that might spoil matters."
71. We feel that the "clear-cut directions" in this paragraph are self-explanatory. We also feel the "clear-cut directions" in the next paragraph do not need further comment.
72. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 42, in the first paragraph, the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" continue. They say:
"The family should not try to represent you. When possible, avoid meeting a man through his family. Approach through a doctor or an institution is a better bet. If your man needs hospitalization, he should have it, but not forcibly, unless he is violent. Let the doctor tell him he has something new in the way of a solution."
73. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 42, the second paragraph has more "clear-cut directions." The pioneers then end this paragraph with two interesting sentences. The pioneers say:
"When your man is better, let the doctor suggest a visit from you. Though you have talked with the family, leave them out of the first discussion. Under these conditions your prospect will see he is under no pressure. He will feel he can deal with you without being nagged by his family. Call on him while he is still jittery. He will be more receptive when depressed."
74. Once again, based on their experience, the pioneers use the last two sentences of this paragraph to give "clear-cut directions" regarding when the newcomer should be approached. The pioneers say to "Call on him while he is still jittery. He will be more receptive when depressed."
75. There's a common misconception in some other programs that someone can be approached only when they're clear minded. R.A.'s Multilith Big Book suggests just the opposite. Many people will not be willing to take the actions Recoveries Anonymous requires if they're already sober.
76. In other words, someone who's already sober probably will not be willing to go through the Twelve Steps. This is because he's already got what he wants. Someone who's abstinent probably would not be willing to go through the Twelve Steps, because he's already abstinent. Someone who has serenity probably won't go through the steps, because they already have their serenity.
77. In the Multilith Copy of the Big Book, the pioneers suggest that we should not approach someone who already is sober. Since they are sure to drink again, it is better to wait for the end of their next spree.
78. Based on their experience, the pioneers recognized that people needed to work the steps IN ORDER to get well and stay well. If they were sober to start with, they probably would not be desperate enough to work the program.
79. Some people might say that a newcomer is not going to understand the program, that he or she needs a clear mind. This is not necessarily true.
80. It's interesting to note that the original hard cover version of the Big Book got its name because it was about an inch higher, and a half inch thicker than the current Big Book. This was in spite of the fact that it contained far less text than the current edition.
81. The paper used to print the Big Book was far thicker than the paper used today. The size of the type was quite a bit larger than the typeface used in the current edition. The pioneers felt that the drunks they were approaching would not be able to handle fine print and fine pages. They did not expect newcomers to be sober before working the program.
82. Based on their experience, the pioneers also knew that most people would not continue to work the program if they did not get results. Therefore, in the early days of program, the pioneers insisted that a newcomer get up to their Ninth Step within their second or third week in program.
83. The pioneers knew that when people entered the program they would sometimes have a sort of grace period. This would sometimes cause the newcomer to slow down or even stop working the Twelve Steps. They would rest on their laurels.
84. Sometimes the grace period would last for months, a year, or even in a few cases, for many years. However, the pioneers knew that the grace period would eventually expire. The pioneers knew that if someone had not worked all Twelve Steps by the time the pink cloud stage wore off almost invariably they would slide back to where they started.
85. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 42, in the third paragraph, the pioneers give more "clear-cut directions." They say:
"See your man alone, if possible. At first engage in general conversation. After a while, turn the talk to some phase of drinking. Say enough about your drinking habits, symptoms, and experiences to encourage him to speak of himself. If he wishes to talk, let him do so. You will thus get a better idea of how you ought to proceed. If he is not communicative, give him a sketch of your drinking career up to the time you quit. But say nothing, for the moment, of how that was accomplished. If he is in a serious mood, dwell on the troubles liquor has caused you, being careful not to moralize or preach. If his mood is light, tell him humorous stories of your escapades. Get him to tell some of his."
86. We feel that the "clear-cut directions" in this paragraph are self-explanatory. We also feel the "clear-cut directions" in the next paragraph do not need further comment.
87. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 42, in the fourth paragraph, the pioneers continue sharing their experience and "clear-cut directions." They say:
"When he sees you know all about the drinking game, commence to describe yourself as an alcoholic. Tell him how baffled you were, how you finally learned that you were sick as well as weak. Give him an account of the struggles you made to stop. Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. Do this as we have done in the chapter on alcoholism. If he is alcoholic, he will understand you at once. He will match your mental inconsistencies with some of his own."
88. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 42, in the fifth paragraph, the pioneers give several more important "clear-cut directions," They say:
"If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic, you may 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. And be careful not to brand him an alcoholic. Let him draw his own conclusion. If he sticks to the idea that he can still control his drinking, tell him that possibly he can—if he is not too alcoholic. But insist that if he is severely afflicted, there is little chance he can recover by himself."
89. The first sentence of this paragraph says that, "If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic, you may begin to dwell on the hopeless feature of the malady." This often brings up the question of what is a "real alcoholic."
90. We have read and discussed what the pioneers have to say about the "real alcoholic" earlier in this presentation. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 10, in the first paragraph, the pioneers say, "But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink."
91. Back on page 42, in the middle of the fifth paragraph, continuing from where we left off, the pioneers give another of their "clear-cut directions. They say, "Don't, at this stage, refer to this book, unless he has seen it and wishes to discuss it. And be careful not to brand him an alcoholic. Let him draw his own conclusion."
92. These are "clear-cut directions" to not mention the Big Book at this point, and to not label anyone as an alcoholic. This helps us recognize that each individual needs to come to his or her own conclusions about whether or not they want to work the program.
93. It does not matter whether someone is an alcoholic or not, whether someone is an overeater or not, whether someone has emotional problems or not, whether someone is an addict or not. Labeling them is not going to help them. Let them draw their own conclusions. Then try to endorse their conclusions. This is far more effective than trying to convince them to come to the same conclusions we came to.
94. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 42, in the sixth paragraph, the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" continue by saying:
"Continue to speak of alcoholism as a sickness, a fatal malady. Talk about the conditions of body and mind which accompany it. Keep his attention focused mainly on your personal experience. If doctors or psychiatrists have pronounced you incurable, be sure and let him know about it. Explain that many are doomed who never realize their predicament. Doctors who know the truth are rightly loath to tell alcoholic patients the whole story unless it will serve some good purpose, but you may talk to him about the hopelessness of alcoholism, because you offer a solution. You will soon have your friend admitting he has many, if not all, of the traits of the alcoholic. If his own doctor is willing to tell him that he is alcoholic, so much the better. Even though your protege may not have entirely admitted his condition, he has become very curious to know how you got well. Let him ask you that question, if he will. If he does not ask, proceed with the rest of your story. Tell him exactly what happened to you. Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the man be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God. He can choose any conception he likes, provided it makes sense to him. The main thing is that he be willing to believe in a Power greater than himself and that he live by spiritual principles."
95. The first two sentences of this paragraph have "clear-cut directions." The pioneers say to, "Continue to speak of alcoholism as a sickness, a fatal malady. Talk about the conditions of body and mind which accompany it."
96. Helping someone to the recognition that his or her condition is hopeless, lays the foundation for the First Step. Unless someone does recognize their hopelessness, they, in all likelihood, will not recognize his or her powerlessness.
97. The pioneers use this sentence to make another vital point. No matter what someone's problems or behaviors may be, whether they are physical, emotional, mental, or some combination, they are dealing with a FATAL illness. Even if someone doesn't die physically, they do die spiritually. They do have a FATAL malady.
98. Part of a sponsor's role is to help instill hopelessness in the person we're talking to. A sponsor helps the newcomer to realize that nothing they've ever done has produced the permanent result they've been seeking. They have not been able to find the permanent sobriety, or the permanent weight loss, or the emotional balance, or whatever permanent result they have been looking for.
99. In the middle of this paragraph, the pioneers continue by saying, "Even though your protégé may not have entirely admitted his condition, he has become very curious to know how you got well. Let him ask you that question, if he will. If he does not ask, proceed with the rest of your story. Tell him exactly what happened to you. Stress the spiritual feature freely."
100. In some meetings, in other programs, it is sometimes heard that spirituality shouldn't be stressed. The theory is that newcomers will be scared off if spirituality is discussed. However, this ignores the fact that this is a Twelve Step SPIRITUAL program of recovery.
101. In R.A., we believe that if newcomers are introduced to a different type of program, they are being misled. R.A.'s experience is that when they finally recognize that this is a SPIRITUAL program, they may have a difficult time making the transition.
102. R.A.'s experience is that compulsive people have a difficult time with change, even if it's a change for the better. Therefore, some people, when confronted with the need to change their basic idea of the program, simply leave.
103. Therefore, we believe that it is best to be honest with newcomers from the very start. They need to know that they will eventually need to come "to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore [them] to sanity."
104. In the bottom of this paragraph, continuing from where we left off, it says "If the man be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God. He can choose any conception he likes, provided it makes sense to him." These principles are part of the Second and Third Steps.
105. Notice the condition the pioneers have placed on the newcomer. God as they understand Him has to make sense to them.
106. One of R.A.'s members shares how she started thinking about God. She says:
"I started by using Tinkerbelle as my concept of a Higher Power. This was a friendly image that allowed me to feel comfortable."
107. Another one of R.A.'s members shares her experience. She says:
"I used the good witch from the Wizard of Oz, complete with sequined gown and sparkling wand.
"This was an image I could relate to, that I could feel comfortable with. It wasn't intimidating or foreboding."
108. When they were new to the program, these concepts made sense to THEM.
109. However, while these concepts made sense to them as they started their spiritual journey, they soon found that they needed to find a different Power. They needed to find a Power that could restore them to sanity.
110. This is why in R.A.; we believe that the pioneers' concept of God should be presented to newcomers right from the start.
111. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 5, the pioneers describe a God personal to them, who is love, superhuman strength and direction. A little later on they describe a God who will do for them what they could not do for themselves. And in the Second Step they describe a God who can and will restore them to sanity."
112. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 42, starting in the bottom paragraph, the pioneers again share their experience. They give "clear-cut directions" about how to talk to a newcomer about spiritual principles. They say:
"When dealing with such a person, you had better use everyday language to describe spiritual principles. There is no use arousing any prejudice he may have against certain theological terms and conceptions, about which he may already be confused. Don't raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are."
113. Many people have strong opinions and feelings about religion and religious terms. In this paragraph, the pioneers give us a clear-cut direction to not "raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are." For example, the program does not discuss the theological implications of sins. We do talk about defects of character.
114. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 43, in the first full paragraph, the pioneers continue their experience and "clear-cut directions." They say:
"Your prospect may belong to a religious denomination. His religious education and training may be far superior to yours. In that case he is going to wonder how you can add anything to what he already knows. But he will be curious to learn why his own religious convictions have not worked, and yours have given you victory. He may be an example of the truth that faith alone is insufficient. To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self-sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action. Let him see that you are not there to instruct him in religion. Admit that he probably knows more about it than you do, but call to his attention the fact that however deep his faith and knowledge, there must be something wrong, or he would not drink. Say that perhaps you can help him see where he fails to apply to himself the very precepts he knows so well. For our purpose you represent no particular faith or denomination. You are dealing only with general principles common to most denominations."
115. We believe that most of this paragraph does not need any further comment.
116. However, the pioneers do say one thing, at the end of the fifth line in this paragraph that will benefit from further discussion. They say that, "To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self-sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action."
117. This is a theme that runs throughout the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for working with others.
118. Please notice that the pioneers mention two things in this sentence: "self-sacrifice" and "unselfish, constructive action." We believe that this makes it clear that they are two different things.
119. Many people, once they have gone through the Twelve Steps and are attempting to live a spiritual life, recognize that taking "unselfish, constructive action" is a necessary part of the program, and their recovery.
120. However, R.A.'s experience is that sometimes these people do not understand how "self-sacrifice" is different from "unselfish, constructive action."
121. We would like to give an example. In this example, someone is attempting to live a spiritual life. They are trying to live in Steps Ten, Eleven and Twelve.
122. Therefore, if they happen to be going someplace and someone calls them and asks for a ride to that place, they will in all likelihood give that person a ride. They will do this even if it means going out of their way. That is an example of the "unselfish, constructive action" the Big Book is talking about.
123. However, if someone calls and asks for a ride, and they did not intend to go out, giving that person a ride would be "self-sacrifice." In other words, self-sacrifice involves doing more than what is easy or convenient.
124. Unselfish, constructive action must always be paired with self-sacrifice. When someone tries to use one without the other, his or her program might become self-centered. They may begin to work with others for the reward they think they are going to get. However, the program says to give to others without any thought of reward.
125. To put this in perspective, let's step back in time for a moment. It's November 1934. Two men are sitting in a kitchen in Brooklyn. Between them is a crock of pineapple juice and gin. The two men are, of course, Ebby Thatcher and Bill Wilson.
126. Ebby is describing the program he has joined, the Oxford Group, to Bill Wilson, a hopeless alcoholic.
127. In A.A. Comes of Age, at the bottom of page 58, Ebby shares the process of recovery with Bill Wilson. He says, " 'I learned that I had to admit I was licked; I learned that I ought to take stock of myself and confess my defects to another person in confidence; I learned that I needed to make restitution for the harm I had done others. I was told that I ought to practice the kind of giving that has no price tag on it, the giving of yourself to somebody. Now,' he added, 'I know you are going to gag on this, but they taught me that I should try to pray to whatever God I thought there was for the power to carry out these simple precepts. And if I did not believe there was any God, then I had better try the experiment of praying to whatever God there might be.' "
128. As we look at this original presentation of the program something stands out. The description of what is now the Twelfth Step does not match how most people would describe this step today. When asked to describe the Twelfth Step, many people would simply say it is "carrying the message," or perhaps say it is "working with others."
129. As we look at these original steps, we see that the Twelfth Step, as it was originally presented, does not fit either one of these definitions.
130. The other steps are very clearly related to our current definitions of what the steps should be. For instance, "I learned that I had to admit I was licked" is very clearly the predecessor of our First Step.
131. The next step, "I learned that I ought to take stock of myself and confess my defects to another person in confidence" is very clearly the predecessor of our Fourth and Fifth Steps.
132. And the statement that, "I learned that I needed to make restitution for the harm I had done others," is very clearly the predecessor of our Eighth and Ninth Steps.
133. However, "I was told I ought to practice the kind of giving that has no price tag on it, the giving of yourself to somebody," is NOT a very clear predecessor of "carrying the message" or the current definition of "working with others."
134. In A.A. Comes of Age, it describes how Bill asked Ebby to repeat his neat little formula once more. In this telling the distinction becomes even clearer.
135. In A.A. Comes of Age, on page 62, at the bottom of the page, Ebby says, "You admit you are licked; you get honest with yourself; you talk it out with somebody else; you make restitution to the people you have harmed; you try to give of yourself without stint, with no demand for reward; and you pray to whatever God you think there is, even as an experiment. It was as simple and yet as mysterious as that."
136. This defines the Twelfth Step as someone giving "without stint, with no demand for reward." In other words, giving time, effort, and energy without restriction or limitation, and without demanding anything in return.
137. When working with others is looked at as simply a way to fulfill self-centered motives, it won't work. Just like any other self-centered motive, it simply won't work. As an ideal we should try to look beyond self-centered motives.
138. Remember, as we read before in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 35, it says that, "At the moment you are trying to put your own life in order. But this is not an end in itself. Your real purpose is to fit yourself to be of maximum service to God and the people about you."
139. Working with others needs to be an extension of this ideal motive of being of maximum service to God and the people around us. Therefore, when someone asks God to direct and guide him or her toward fulfilling this ideal, they are no longer working a self-centered program.
140. Working with others is not only a question of how much time, energy and effort is given. It's the goal of that time, energy and effort that matters.
141. When someone's goal is to work the program simply to put their own life in order, they are still being self-centered. They just want to get and keep their own recovery. Eventually they find that this doesn't work. Then, some people just give up. They stop working the program because they are not getting the result they want.
142. However, when someone keeps their real purpose in mind, when they work with others so they can be of maximum service to God and the people around them, they find that they do begin to get the result they are looking for. Most people will keep doing something that DOES work for them.
143. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 43, the second paragraph contains more of the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for what to do when approaching a newcomer. They say:
"Outline our program of action, telling how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past, and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him. Make it plain he is under no obligation to you, that you hope only that he will try to help other alcoholics when he escapes his own difficulties. Show how important it is that he place the welfare of other people ahead of his own. Make it clear that he is not under pressure, that he needn't see you again, if he doesn't want to. You should not be offended if he wants to call it off, for he has helped you more than you have helped him. If your talk has been sane, quiet and full of human understanding, you have probably made a friend. Maybe you have disturbed him about the question of alcoholism. This is all to the good. The more hopeless he feels, the better. He will be more likely to follow your suggestions."
144. The first sentence of this paragraph is a clear-cut direction. The pioneers say that, when talking to a newcomer, someone should, "Outline our program of action, telling how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past, and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him."
145. This makes it clear, that on a sponsor's first visit with a newcomer, they are to describe R.A.'s entire program of recovery and how the sponsor worked it.
146. The pioneers then say that the sponsor should let the newcomer know that they will be doing the sponsor a favor by listening to them. The newcomer will be helping the sponsor to get or stay recovered.
147. The second sentence emphasizes that the newcomer has no obligation to help. However, if they do work the program and recover, it is hoped that they will also try to carry R.A.'s message of hope, sanity, and recovery to others.
148. The third sentence gives another clear-cut direction. It also makes one of the most important points of R.A.'s program. The pioneers say to show the newcomer, "how important it is that he place the welfare of other people ahead of his own."
149. Here, the pioneers make it clear that even a newcomer needs to immediately start changing. They need to go from being selfish—self-centered—to placing the well being of other people ahead of their own.
150. This does not mean that the newcomer should ignore his or her own welfare. This only means that they need to place the welfare of others ahead of their own.
151. Continuing with the fourth sentence, the pioneers say that, while talking to a newcomer, a sponsor should "Make it clear that he is not under pressure, that he needn't see you again, if he doesn't want to. You should not be offended if he wants to call it off, for he has helped you more than you have helped him."
152. This reference and other references from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book give us a perspective on the relationship between a newcomer and a sponsor that is different from the way this relationship is looked at in other programs.
153. The pioneers go on to say, "If your talk has been sane, quiet and full of human understanding, you have probably made a friend."
154. The ideal is for the sponsor and the newcomer to think of each other as "friends."
155. One of R.A.'s members shares how this works for him. He says:
"If someone I'm sponsoring doesn't call me at the time we arranged, I call him or her just as I would any friend.
"If I hadn't seen or heard from a friend for a period of time, I would give them a call and ask them how they're doing. I would ask if there is anything I can do for them.
"I do the same thing with the people I talk to and work with in the program. I try to have a giving relationship with them. I think of them as one friend talking to another.
"I'm not necessarily talking about the type of relationship that involves going to the movies and having dinner. That may develop, but when I use the term "friend," I'm talking about a caring relationship between equals, not an authoritarian or subservient relationship."
156. On page 43, the third paragraph contains more "clear-cut directions." The pioneers say:
"Your candidate may give reasons why he need not follow all of your program. He will rebel at the thought of a drastic housecleaning which requires discussion with other people. Do not contradict such views. Tell him you once felt as he does, but you doubt if you would have made much progress had you not taken action. On your first visit tell him about the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. If he shows interest, lend him your copy of this book."
157. The pioneers continue to share their experience and their "clear-cut directions." They say to not contradict the reasons someone may come up with for not working the program. However, they also say to make clear that only by working the program, can someone expect to escape their problems and behaviors.
158. Please notice that the pioneers are giving "clear-cut directions" for what to do on a sponsor's first visit with a newcomer.
159. They suggest that if the newcomer seems interested, they should be lent a copy of the Big Book. Doing this has some advantages. For example, it gives a ready-made reason to meet with them again. It eliminates the excuses that they can't find or afford a copy, and it makes sure that they will have a copy at hand if they decide to go through it.
160. However, experience has shown that loaned copies are often not returned.
161. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 43, the fourth paragraph also contains "clear-cut directions."
"Unless your friend wants to talk further about himself, do not wear out your welcome. Give him a chance to think it over. If you do stay, let him steer the conversation in any direction he likes. Sometimes a new man is anxious to make a decision and discuss his affairs at once, and you may be tempted to let him proceed. This is almost always a mistake. If he has trouble later, he is likely to say you rushed him. You will be most successful with alcoholics if you do not exhibit any passion for crusade or reform. Never talk down to an alcoholic from any moral or spiritual hilltop; simply lay out your kit of spiritual tools for his inspection. Show him how they worked with you. Offer him friendship and fellowship. Tell him that if he wants to get well you will do anything to help."
162. We think the first three directions in this paragraph are self-explanatory. They do not need any further comments from us.
163. However, we do have something to say about the fourth sentence. In it the pioneers say that, "Sometimes a new man is anxious to make a decision and discuss his affairs at once, and you may be tempted to let him proceed. This is almost always a mistake. If he has trouble later, he is likely to say you rushed him."
164. Once again remember that the pioneers are sharing their experience. The "decision" is referring to the decision made in the Third Step. The discussion of "his affairs" is the inventory process followed in steps Four through Nine.
165. While these steps should be done in a matter of weeks, not months or years, the newcomer needs to understand the program and philosophy before they can successfully move forward.
166. We suggest pointing out that the newcomer did not get ill overnight. Therefore, they should not expect to get well overnight.
167. In the Big Book, Bill says that by working the Twelve Steps "a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built." He also tells us that we should not skimp "on the cement [we] have put into the foundation" of this structure.
168. In R.A., we recommend that the newcomer be told to take their time, follow the Big Book's "clear-cut directions," and build their spiritual structure on the firmest foundation they can.
169. In the seventh sentence, the pioneers say that, "You will be most successful with alcoholics if you do not exhibit any passion for crusade or reform."
170. We believe that we have not exhibited any passion for crusade or reform up to this point. We will try to continue in this way as we go forward. As we have shared many times, R.A. wants to endorse your conclusions, not convince you of ours.
171. In the eighth sentence of this paragraph it says that someone should "Never talk down to an alcoholic from any moral or spiritual hilltop; simply lay out your kit of spiritual tools for his inspection. Show him how they worked with you."
172. The steps are referred to as spiritual tools at several points in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. However, if someone were to try to live in a house constructed of tools, they would wind up getting rained on a lot. Tools are used to build something. They are used to build a sound structure.
173. The Twelve Steps are not an end unto themselves. They are spiritual tools that are designed to bring us to the point where we are of maximum service to God and the people about us.
174. Still talking about the newcomer, the last two sentences of this paragraph say that someone should "Offer him friendship and fellowship. Tell him that if he wants to get well you will do anything to help."
175. As we continue to share about the Twelfth Step, you will repeatedly see that the original intent of the Twelfth Step was to be helpful to others. The original context was to give without stint, without any thought of reward.
176. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 43, the fifth paragraph says:
"If he is not interested in your solution, if he expects you to act only as a banker for his financial difficulties or a nurse for his sprees, drop him until he changes his mind. This he may do after he gets hurt again."
177. This experience was true for the pioneers, and it is also true today. It is a waste of time and energy to spend time working with someone who is not interested in the spiritual program R.A. offers. If they are let go, circumstances may make them reconsider their decision. They may later become willing to work with you.
178. It's interesting to note that all of the "clear-cut directions" that we've read so far are for someone's first visit to a newcomer. The pioneers make it clear that the newcomer is told about the entire program during the first visit. This is how Ebby did it with Bill, and the way Bill did it with Dr. Bob.
179. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 43, the sixth paragraph, says:
"If he is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him to be sure to read this book in the interval. After doing that, he is to decide for himself whether he wants to go on. He is not to be pushed or prodded by you, his wife, or his friends. If he is to find God, the desire must come from within."
180. This is the first time that the pioneers say that the newcomer has to take an action. They say that the newcomer should be asked to read the Big Book between our first and second visit with them.
181. The pioneers say that the newcomer has to then decide if they want to go on and work the Twelve Steps so that they can find God. In R.A. we suggest that a newcomer be asked to read the Big Book by following the suggestions in R.A.'s Highlighting Introduction.
182. Until a newcomer has read and discussed R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, many of the terms and concepts that it contains will not be clear to them. A newcomer needs to understand what the pioneers' path is before he or she can decide to follow it.
183. If a newcomer does not understand the basic concepts of the program, such as where to find the "clear-cut directions" for working the Twelve Steps, or what the pioneers mean by calling themselves "recovered," how can he or she make a decision to find God?
184. Once a newcomer has completed the Highlighting Introduction, and they have decided to go on, they can start to work the Twelve Steps. In R.A. we use R.A.'s Step Presentation Workbook, R.A.'s RA-Steps.info website, and R.A.'s Multilith Big Book to work with others.
185. We have the newcomer read a paragraph from their copy of R.A.'s Multilith Big Book and then we discuss it with them. We go through the entire Multilith Big Book in this way. We read every paragraph and follow every one of the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" to work all Twelve Steps.
186. The sponsor and newcomer can then continue by going through the other books on R.A.'s suggested literature list. They continue reading, discussing and highlighting important passages. Continuing to go through the rest of R.A.'s suggested literature in this way is important to forming and maintaining a friendly relationship between the sponsor and the newcomer.
187. An R.A. sponsor should also introduce the newcomer to others in the program. They should be put in contact with everyone else the sponsor talks to. Then, once the newcomer has gone through this process, they should be encouraged to pass on what they have been given and start working with others.
188. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 43, in the bottom paragraph, still talking about the newcomer, the pioneers say:
"If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience. You have no monopoly on God; you merely have an approach that worked with you. But point out that we alcoholics have much in common and that you would like, in any case, to be friendly. Let it go at that."
189. Even if the newcomer is not immediately interested in what we have to offer, a sponsor can still try to stay friendly with him or her. If a friendly contact is maintained they may be more comfortable asking for help if they later change their minds.
190. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 44, in the first full paragraph, the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" continue by saying:
"Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not respond at once. Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer. It's a waste of time and poor strategy to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you. If you leave such a person alone, in all likelihood he will begin to run after you, for he will soon become convinced that he cannot recover alone. To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy. One of our fellowship failed entirely with his first half dozen prospects. He often says that if he had continued to work on them, he might have deprived many others, who have since recovered, of their chance."
191. If someone does not want to work R.A.'s program, or wants to work with someone else, do not become discouraged. Keep looking for someone to work with. Someone who wants what we have to offer is sure to eventually come along.
192. Sometimes a newcomer will only be interested in sharing about their problems. They want to share, in graphic detail, what his or her spouse or child did the day before. We suggest trying to bring the topic back to the solution and the Twelve Steps.
193. If the newcomer refuses to focus on the solution, it might be better to let them go until they change their mind and want what we offer. Once a sponsor makes it clear that they are only available to discuss the program, the problem-focused newcomer will soon realize that they're simply not going to get what they want. They'll eventually stop calling.
194. An R.A. sponsor needs to remember that they are not therapists. They are not psychologists. They are not counselors. Most sponsors are not trained for that. Even if they are, this is not the time to put that training into practice.
195. An R.A. sponsor needs to remember that they are carrying a spiritual message in a Twelve Step program of recovery. This is a very specific message of hope, sanity, and recovery that is in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book.
196. It is not a message that says, "I have recovered." It is a message that everyone can recover by God's grace through this Twelve Step program of recovery,"
197. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 44, in the second paragraph, the pioneers say:
"Suppose now you are making your second visit to a man. He has read this volume and says he is prepared to go through with the twelve steps of The Program of Recovery. Having had the experience yourself, you can give him much practical advice. Suggest he make his decision with you and tell you his story, but do not insist upon it if he prefers to consult someone else."
198. Notice that the pioneers are finally talking about the second visit with a newcomer. This is after the newcomer has read the Big Book. If the newcomer has agreed to go through the "twelve steps of The Program of Recovery," offer to work with them, to be his or her sponsor. Let them know they can also choose to work with someone else.
199. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 44, in the third paragraph, the pioneers give us more of their "clear-cut directions." They say:
"He may be broke and homeless. If he is, try to help him about getting a job. Give him a little financial assistance, unless it would deprive your family or creditors of money they should have. Perhaps you will want to take the man into your home for a few days. But be sure you use discretion. Be certain he will be welcomed by your family, and that he is not trying to impose upon you for money, connections, or shelter. Permit that and you only harm him. You will be making it possible for him to be insincere. You will be aiding in his destruction, rather than his recovery."
200. Remember that it is no longer the 1930's. On rare occasion it might be appropriate to help a newcomer find a job. It might be appropriate to give them a little money. However, if they really need assistance, it is probably wiser to help them sign up with their local Social Services office.
201. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 44, in the fourth paragraph, the pioneers say:
"Never avoid these responsibilities, but be sure you are doing the right thing if you assume them. Self-sacrifice for others is the foundation stone of your recovery. A kindly act once in a while isn't enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be. It may mean the loss of many nights' sleep, great interference with your pleasures, interruptions to your business. It may mean sharing your money and your home, counseling frantic wives and relatives, innumerable trips to police courts, sanitariums, hospitals, jails and asylums. Your telephone may jangle at any time of the day or night. Your wife will sometimes say she is neglected. A drunk may smash the furniture in your home, or burn a mattress. You may have to fight with him if he is violent. Sometimes you will have to call a doctor and administer sedatives under his direction. Another time you may have to send for the police or an ambulance."
202. Once again the pioneers, based on their experience share one of the most important concepts of the program. Starting with the second sentence it says that, "Self-sacrifice for others is the foundation stone of your recovery. A kindly act once in a while isn't enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be."
203. This passage graphically restates what the pioneers have said all through R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. Remember what we read back on page 7. It says, "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."
204. Then we have what we just read on page 43. The pioneers say to, "Show [the newcomer] how important it is that he place the welfare of other people ahead of his own." These quotes make it clear that this is not a selfish program.
205. Now let's look at the rest of this paragraph. Be assured that these are extreme situations that rarely happen these days. However, we suggest that someone pray to maintain the same attitude of willingness that the pioneers had when it was more likely these situations would happen.
206. The thought of "Self-sacrifice for others," or placing the "welfare of other people ahead of" their own sometimes frightens people. They look at their lives and blame most of their problems on their history of giving. They think they used to put the welfare of other people ahead of their own and were hurt because of it.
207. However, when these people are able to examine the type of giving they did before program, almost invariably they see that it was self-centered giving. They gave to others so that they would like them. They gave to stop arguments from breaking out. They gave to obligate people to them.
208. They gave to others only what they wanted to give them. They never considered what the other person actually needed or wanted. So their self-centered giving was not appreciated, or ignored. They felt abused and used.
209. Now, working the Twelve Steps has given them a different motive. They are now trying to fit themselves to be of maximum usefulness to God and the people around them. They now try to give without any thought of reward in either prestige or money.
210. They give because it is appropriate for a sane person to give, to help others. They take the time to find out what the other person really needs, and they try to help them get it. When they do this, they often find that their efforts are appreciated.
211. Experience has shown that there is often a difference between what someone needs, and what he or she wants. In this program, we try to fulfill someone's NEEDS, not necessarily their wants.
212. Many people don't think they know how to tell the difference. They don't think they know how to distinguish between something that's a need or simply a want.
213. The answer is simple. This is where prayer and meditation, the program's Eleventh Step, comes in.
214. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, back on page 39, in the sixth paragraph, we read some of the pioneers' "clear-cut directions." They say that, "In thinking through your day you may face indecision. You may not be able to determine which course to take. Here you ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. Relax and take it easy. Don't struggle. Ask God's help. You will be surprised how the right answers come after you have practiced a few days. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration becomes a working part of your mind."
215. In trying to meet people's needs, we pray for direction and guidance, and then trust the result. We pray to be WILLING to be of maximum usefulness to God and the people about us. Then we ask for direction and guidance about what actions to take so we can attain that goal. We can also pray to trust that God will not let us carry self-sacrifice to a harmful extreme.
216. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 44, in the fifth paragraph, referring to all the examples of self-sacrifice in the last paragraph, it says:
"This sort of thing goes on constantly, but we seldom allow an alcoholic to live in our homes for long at a time. It is not good for him, and it sometimes creates serious complications in a family."
217. In today's world it is hardly ever necessary to have someone live with us. However, if someone does find himself or herself in this unusual situation, the pioneers' experience was that it is not good to allow someone to live with us for more than a few days. This was good advice when it was written and it is still good advice today.
218. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 44, in the sixth paragraph, it says:
"Though an alcoholic does not respond, there is no reason why you should neglect his family. You should continue to be friendly to them in every way. The family should be offered your way of life. Should they accept, and practice spiritual principles, there is a much better chance the head of the family will recover. And even though he continues to drink, the family will find life more bearable."
219. This paragraph contains more of the pioneers' "clear-cut directions." They tell us to offer the newcomer's family our way of life. They tell us that the newcomer is more likely to recover if their family also works our program. They then go on to say that even if the newcomer does not join us, the family will benefit from working our program in their own lives.
220. In the early days of the program, there was only one fellowship. It consisted of the alcoholic, their family members, and their friends. Everyone was welcome to attend and participate in those early meetings.
221. For example, even though she wasn't an alcoholic, Lois Wilson participated in the meetings and worked with others almost as energetically as Bill, her husband did.
222. Dr. Bob's wife, Anne Smith, also attended those early meetings and worked with others. Her presence is credited with being vital to the program's success. Dr. Bob thought it was very important for family members to be involved in the program. Therefore, he used to insist that family members attend, and participate in, the early meetings.
223. In R.A. we welcome the friends and family of the person seeking help into our meetings and fellowship. Doing this stops anyone from feeling they are in competition with the program for the newcomer's time and attention.
224. This worked in the early A.A. meetings, and it still works today, in Recoveries Anonymous. An R.A. member can say to their spouse, "I'm going to my meeting, dear. Would you care to join me?" This gives the spouse an option. They can say, "Yes" and also go to the meeting. Or, they can say, "No, I'd rather stay home."
225. This is an important difference. The program is not making the choice for them. They are making the choice to be with their spouse or to stay home.
226. R.A., like early A.A., brings families and friends together. Everyone is welcome at our meetings, and everyone is encouraged to work the same program of recovery.
227. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 44, the bottom paragraph continues by saying:
"For the type of alcoholic who is able and willing to get well, little charity, in the ordinary sense of the word, is needed or wanted. The men who cry for money and shelter before conquering alcohol, are on the wrong track. Yet we do go to great extremes to provide each other with these very things, when such action is warranted. This may seem inconsistent, but it is not."
228. This paragraph is again referring to the difference between filling someone's needs and catering to their wants.
229. One of R.A.'s members shares their experience with this issue. He says:
"I received a call one evening from someone who was in a bad emotional state. He said that he desperately needed to get to a meeting that I usually attended.
"However, he lived approximately 40 minutes away in the opposite direction from the meeting. In most circumstances, if there had been no other option, I would have gone and picked up this person and taken them to the meeting.
"But, I happened to know that within 10 minutes of this person was another individual who was also coming to this meeting. When I called, she agreed to pick up the person who needed a ride.
"However, when he was offered this other ride, he still insisted that I pick him up myself. At that point he no longer had a NEED to get to the meeting. That had been filled. He could get there.
"Now it was merely a want. He wanted a specific individual to take him there. And while I would have gone to a great extreme to fill his need, it was not necessary to go to a great extreme, or any extreme, to fill what had become a want."
230. When we strive to fit ourselves to be of maximum usefulness to God and our fellows, He will guide and direct us in seeing the difference between someone's needs and his or her wants.
231. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 45, the first full paragraph sometimes confuses people in light of what we've been reading up to this point. It says:
"It is not the matter of giving that is in question, but when and how to give. That makes the difference between failure and success. The minute we put our work on a social service plane, the alcoholic commences to rely upon our assistance rather than upon God. He clamors for this or that, claiming he cannot master alcohol until his material needs are cared for. Nonsense. Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: job or no job—wife or no wife—we simply do not stop drinking alcohol so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God."
232. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, this paragraph has one word that is not in the current version. That word is "social." This one word makes a world of difference. It says that, "The minute we put our work on a social service plane, the alcoholic commences to rely upon our assistance."
233. When someone puts their work with others on a SOCIAL service plane, it distorts their purpose. It means that instead of being there to present the program, instead of treating a newcomer as if they're doing us a favor, they try to take control of their lives. They try to do for them the things they should be learning to do for themselves. When someone puts their giving on a SOCIAL service plane, they make the newcomer dependent upon them instead of upon God.
234. In the last sentence of this paragraph the pioneers accent this. They say that, "Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: job or no job—wife or no wife—we simply do not stop drinking alcohol so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God."
235. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 45, the second paragraph says:
"Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. No person on this earth can stop his recovery from alcohol, or prevent his being supplied with whatever is good for him. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house."
236. The first sentence of this paragraph gives us another of the pioneers' "clear-cut directions." They say to, "Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone." The pioneers were emphatic about this point. They could have simply said to "Tell the newcomer that he can get well." Instead they say to "Burn the idea into..." his consciousness.
237. The second sentence makes this point in even stronger terms. In it they state that, "No person on this earth can stop his recovery from alcohol, or prevent his being supplied with whatever is good for him." However, while we can only guess at the reason, we need to note that this sentence was removed in later versions of the Big Book.
238. In the last sentence in this paragraph, the pioneers say that instead of depending upon people, someone needs to work the Twelve Steps so they can learn to trust God.
239. Someone does a spiritual house cleaning by doing their inventory and making amends. Simply depending upon people, for example a sponsor or a meeting, does not produce this same result.
240. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 45, the third paragraph continues to give "clear-cut directions." The pioneers say:
"Now, the domestic problem: There may be divorce, separation, or just strained relations. When your prospect has made such restitution as he can to his family, and has thoroughly explained to them the new principles by which he is living, he should proceed to put those principles into action at home. That is, if he is lucky enough to have a home. Though his family be at fault in many respects, he should not be concerned about that. He should concentrate on his own spiritual demonstration. Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like leprosy. In many homes this is a difficult thing to do, but it must be done if any results are to be expected. If persisted in for a few months, the effect on a man's family is sure to be great. The most incompatible people discover they have a basis upon which they can meet. Little by little the family will see their own defects and admit them. These can then be discussed in an atmosphere of helpfulness and friendliness."
241. We feel that the "clear-cut directions" in this paragraph are self-explanatory. We also feel the "clear-cut directions" in the next paragraph do not need further comment.
242. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 45, the fourth paragraph says:
"After they have seen tangible results, the family will perhaps want to join in the better way of life. These things will come to pass naturally and in good time, provided, however, the alcoholic continues to demonstrate that he can be sober, considerate, and helpful, regardless of what anyone says or does. Of course, we all fall much below this standard many times. But we must try to repair the damage immediately lest we pay the penalty by a spree."
243. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 45, the fifth paragraph says:
"If there be divorce or separation, there should be no undue haste for the couple to get together. The man should be sure of his ground. The wife should fully understand his new way of life. If their old relationship is to be resumed, it must be on a better basis, since the old one did not work. This means a new attitude and spirit all around. Sometimes it is to the best interests of all concerned that a couple remain apart. Obviously, no rule can be laid down. Let the alcoholic continue his new way of life day by day. When the time for living together has come, it will be apparent to both parties."
244. Remember that the Big Book was written to pass on the pioneers' years of experience as well as their "clear-cut directions." We have found that we need to remember that "Obviously, no rule can be laid down." Each situation will be unique.
245. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 45, in the sixth paragraph it says:
"Let no alcoholic say he cannot recover unless he has his family back. This just isn't so. In some cases the wife will never come back for one reason or another. Remind your prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God. We have seen men get well whose families have not returned at all. We have seen others slip when the family came back too soon."
246. In this paragraph, the pioneers take the "Burn the idea..." concepts we read a few paragraphs ago, and apply it to the newcomer's relationship with their family. In the second and third sentences in this paragraph, the pioneers say to "Remind your prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God."
247. The pioneers are again emphasizing that someone's recovery depends on their relationship with God, not the people in their lives.
248. In the first sentence of this next paragraph, please notice the clear-cut direction with the word "must" in it. This is followed by the "Twelfth Step Promises."
249. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 45, in the seventh paragraph, it says:
"Both you and the new prospect must day by day walk in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen to you. When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God's hands were better for us than anything we could have planned. Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances!"
250. These beautiful promises come true for someone who persists walking in the path of spiritual progress. They can do this by using the spiritual principles of the program in their lives. This means they need to maintain their focus on the goal of being of maximum usefulness to God and their fellows. They can do this by carrying R.A.'s message of hope, sanity, and recovery to those who still suffer.
251. On page 46, in the first paragraph, we are once again given "clear-cut directions." The pioneers say:
"When working with a man and his family, you must take care not to participate in their quarrels. You may spoil your chance of being helpful if you do. But you may urge upon a man's family that he has been a very sick person and should be treated accordingly. You should warn them against arousing resentment or jealousy. You should point out that his defects of character are not going to disappear overnight. Show them that he has entered upon a period of growth. Ask them to remember, when they are impatient, the blessed fact of his sobriety."
252. A problem arises when someone expects his or her character defects to vanish instantly. Instead, what usually happens is that God only removes their character defects to the extent that these defects hinder their usefulness to God and the people around them. This is sometimes not easy to see or understand.
253. Therefore, because character defects are not removed in their entirety, some people invalidate the spiritual progress that has been made. They need to remember that their goal is spiritual progress, not perfection.
254. When someone has taken the first seven steps, they need to trust that God is doing for them what they can't do for themselves. They need to trust that God is directing and guiding their lives.
255. They need to trust that God has removed their character defects to the extent that they stand in the way of their usefulness to Him and their fellows.
256. This is not necessarily going to match their expectations. This doesn't mean that anything is wrong. It just means that God's idea of what they need doesn't match their expectations.
257. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 46, the second paragraph says:
"If you have been successful in solving your own domestic problems, tell the newcomer's family how that was accomplished. In this way you can set them on the right track without becoming critical of them. The story of how you and your wife settled your difficulties is worth any amount of preaching or criticism."
258. Obviously this paragraph is not going to apply to everyone. If what it says applies to someone, it is suggested that they follow this instruction. If it does not apply to someone, then they can safely skip it.
259. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 46, the third paragraph says:
"Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we mustn't go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn't think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Experience proves this is nonsense."
260. Once again the pioneers are sharing their experience. In the first sentence they say, "Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do."
261. In other words, the pioneers are saying that being recovered depends upon working a spiritual program to stay "spiritually fit."
262. As we've shared before, in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 7, the pioneers tell us how someone can stay "spiritually fit." They say that someone needs to "perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others." Once again, please notice they say that both work AND self-sacrifice are needed.
263. In the second part of this paragraph, the pioneers list all the things that someone working a physical program, as opposed to a spiritual program, is usually prohibited from doing. However, the pioneers say that by working their spiritual program, they can stay spiritually fit. Therefore, the pioneers' "Experience proves this is nonsense."
264. On page 46, in the fourth paragraph, the pioneers continue sharing their experience by saying:
"We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status. His only chance for sobriety would be some place like the Greenland Ice Cap, and even there an Eskimo might turn up with a bottle of scotch and ruin everything! Ask any woman who has sent her husband to distant places on the theory he would escape the alcohol problem."
265. In the first and second sentences of this paragraph, the pioneers say, "We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status."
266. Notice that it doesn't say there is something wrong with his program, or with his behavior, or with his sobriety or his abstinence. It says there is something the matter with his spiritual status.
267. This is because this is a spiritual, not a physical, program of recovery. The Twelfth Step says that someone will have a "spiritual experience" as the result of following the pioneers' course of action.
268. This means that someone needs to follow the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" to work all Twelve Steps. When they do this, God can enter their lives and restore them to sanity.
269. In the pamphlet The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Bob shares that 13 years into his sobriety he still thought about taking a drink. And when those thoughts came, he knew what was wrong. He hadn't been spending enough time working with newcomers.
270. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, continuing on page 46 with the fifth paragraph, it says:
"Any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself, he may succeed for a time, but will wind up with a bigger explosion than ever. Our wives and we have tried these methods. These foolish attempts to do the impossible have always failed."
271. Over the years one thing has become readily apparent. Many R.A. newcomers who have come to us from other programs, share that they never hurt themselves before they entered those programs, to the extent that they learned to hurt themselves while they were in those other programs.
272. When they tried to work a physical program and shield themselves from temptation, they may have succeeded for a while, but they usually wound up with a bigger explosion than ever.
273. What's impossible for someone to do on their own is certainly not impossible for an all-powerful God to do for them.
274. The question is whether someone can trust that their Higher Power is in control, or whether they continue to try to control that which they have proven over and over again to be beyond their power to control. Do they trust that they're being restored to sanity or do they not?
275. It's important to recognize that it's not someone's responsibility to shield him or herself from temptation. They need to work a spiritual Twelve Step program of recovery. They need to focus on being of maximum service to God and the people about them.
276. They need to demonstrate their faith in their Higher Power by acting on the presumption that God can and will do for them what they could never do for themselves. Their efforts need to be God centered, not self-centered.
277. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, continuing on page 46 with the sixth paragraph, the pioneers say:
"So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there. That includes bars, nightclubs, dances, receptions, weddings, even plain ordinary whoopee parties. To a person who has had experience with an alcoholic, this may seem like tempting Providence, but it isn't."
278. Once again, they are sharing their experience. They list things that people who work a physical program are usually told not to do. However, they are saying that someone who works a spiritual program and has been restored to sanity can do these things if they "have a legitimate reason for being there."
279. Continuing on page 46, in the seventh paragraph the pioneers give more "clear-cut directions." They say:
"You will note that we made an important qualification. Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, 'Have I any legitimate social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Am I going to be helpful to anyone there? Could I be more useful or helpful by being somewhere else?' If you answer these questions satisfactorily, you need have no apprehension. You may go or stay away, whatever seems best. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good. Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it. But if you are spiritually shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead!"
280. In the first sentence of this paragraph, the pioneers say, "You will note that we made an important qualification." The qualification the pioneers make is for someone to question their motives in going to these occasions. They say that if someone's motive is to be helpful, to see what they can contribute, they do not need to be afraid of going. However, it also says that if someone is spiritually shaky, they should improve their spiritual status by finding someone to work with instead.
281. On page 46, in the eighth paragraph, the pioneers continue to share their experience and directions. They say:
"You are not to sit with a long face in places where there is drinking, sighing about the good old days. If it is a happy occasion, try to increase the pleasure of those there; if a business occasion, go and attend to your business enthusiastically. If you are with a person who wants to eat in a bar, by all means go along. Let your friends know they are not to change their habits on your account. At a proper time and place explain to all your friends why alcohol disagrees with you. If you do this thoroughly, no decent person will ask you to drink. While you were drinking, you were withdrawing from life little by little. Now you are getting back into the life of this world. Don't start to withdraw from life again just because your friends drink liquor."
282. We believe that these "clear-cut directions" are able to stand on their own.
283. Please note that in the last sentence of the previous paragraph, and in the next paragraph, the pioneers bring the focus to the fact that, in this spiritual program, you need to get out of yourself, not withdraw. They say you need to become outwardly focused rather than introspective.
284. In the first paragraph on page 47, the pioneers give more of their "clear-cut directions." They say:
"Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go where there is drinking, if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such a mission. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives, and God will keep you unharmed."
285. When the pioneers are sharing about someone giving without stint, without any demand for reward, they are doing this expecting that the person they are addressing has been working the Twelve Steps as part of a spiritual program.
286. The pioneers' "clear-cut directions" apply to someone who is doing the best they can to live in Steps Ten, Eleven, and Twelve. They are addressing someone whose focus is on being of maximum helpfulness to God and their fellows.
287. This also applies to the next paragraph in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. Continuing on page 47, in the second paragraph, the pioneers say:
"Many of us keep liquor in our homes. We often need it to carry green recruits through a severe hangover. Some of us still serve it to our friends in moderation, provided they are people who do not abuse drinking. But some of us think we should not serve liquor to anyone. We never argue this question. We feel that each family, in the light of their own circumstances, ought to decide for themselves."
288. The pioneers are again sharing their experience. Here in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, they make it clear that their program is a spiritual program of recovery. It is not a physical program of avoiding temptation and self-control.
289. When someone has been restored to sanity by working the Twelve Steps, they do not have to be afraid to have liquor in their homes. Someone who has been restored to sanity will not argue about this with those who decide they don't want to keep liquor in their homes. They will let each family follow its own direction and guidance and make its own decisions.
290. In DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers on page 72, it says that Bill and Dr. Bob used to keep "two big bottles" of liquor on the sideboard in their kitchen just to show that they could live in "the presence of liquor."
291. Back in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 47, are the last three paragraphs of this chapter. These paragraphs present what is probably the most misunderstood aspect of the program. It is suggested that you pay special attention to what the pioneers say in these three paragraphs.
292. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 47, starting with the third paragraph, the pioneers once again share their experience. They say:
"We are careful never to show intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution. Experience shows that such an attitude is not helpful to anyone. Every new alcoholic looks for this spirit among us and is immensely relieved when he finds we are not witch-burners. A spirit of intolerance might repel alcoholics whose lives would have been saved, had it not been for our stupidity. We would not even do the cause of temperate drinking any good, for not one drinker in a thousand is willing to be told anything about alcohol by one who hates it."
293. In the first two sentences of this paragraph, the pioneers share that they "are careful never to show intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution. Experience shows that such an attitude is not helpful to anyone."
294. The problem is that many people in other programs don't understand that what they often tell newcomers, or demand that newcomers do, demonstrates hatred and intolerance.
295. For example, when someone is told that they must give up drinking before they are welcome in the program, they are being shown hatred and intolerance of the institution of drinking. The same is true for the overeater, addict or any other person who is told that they must stop their behavior before they will be accepted into that program.
296. In the third sentence of this paragraph, the pioneers say that, "Every new alcoholic looks for this spirit among us and is immensely relieved when he finds we are not witch-burners."
297. In R.A., we demonstrate our tolerance by being open to everyone, no matter what his or her problems or behaviors may be. We welcome them with the understanding that it is unreasonable to expect someone to even want to stop their problem or behavior before they work the Twelve Steps and are restored to sanity.
298. In the rest of this paragraph, the pioneers say that, "A spirit of intolerance might repel alcoholics whose lives would have been saved, had it not been for our stupidity. We would not even do the cause of temperate drinking any good, for not one drinker in a thousand is willing to be told anything about alcohol by one who hates it."
299. The pioneers share that their intolerance, their stupidity, might even have resulted in someone who could have been helped by the program, dying because they did not get the opportunity to work the Twelve Steps.
300. If someone is not well enough to want to completely stop their problem or behavior, and feels that they are not welcome in the program, they might never find the recovery they need.
301. R.A. is open to all. If someone feels welcome and joins us, without any pre-conditions, they may eventually work the Twelve Steps. Once they do, they will develop a conscious contact with God. Their loving Creator will restore them to sanity. They will stop hurting others or themselves. They will recover.
302. On page 47, the fourth paragraph says:
"Someday we hope that Alcoholics Anonymous will help the public to a better realization of the gravity of the liquor problem. We shall be of little use if our attitude is one of bitterness or hostility. Drinkers will not stand for it.
303. In R.A. we only need to trust God. We do not need to be afraid of those who are powerless to stop their behavior or solve their problems. We don't have to be bitter or hostile toward them, their problems or their behaviors. Many of the people who can benefit most from our program won't stand for intolerance. They will simply leave.
304. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 47, the last paragraph says:
"After all, our troubles were of our own making. Bottles were only a symbol. Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to!"
305. Here the pioneers are saying that someone needs to be loving and tolerant toward all. They are saying that someone's problem or behavior is only a symbol, a symptom of their spiritual malady. They are saying that, for the sake of someone's own recovery, they need to stop fighting or arguing with anyone about anything.
306. Everyone needs to learn from the pioneers' experience. If someone walks into a room and is told that they should never drink again, overeat again, get depressed again, or use again, that person may turn around and walk right out. Then, without access to the program's spiritual solution, they might die.
307. On the other hand, if a newcomer feels welcome, they might stay and work the Twelve Steps with us. Then their sanity will be restored. They will be able to make a sane, rational decision about what is appropriate for them. That is what the pioneers say was their experience, and that has also been R.A.'s experience.
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