THE FAMILY AFTERWARD
1. The pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for working Steps One through Eleven are on the first forty pages in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. The next thirty-six pages discuss the different aspects of the Twelfth Step. In R.A., we believe that this shows how important it is to work with others. We must do this if we want to find the same permanent recovery and contented, useful life that the pioneers found.
2. We are now going to read and discuss Chapter Nine, "The Family Afterward." It details how to work with other family members.
3. Then, the next chapter is Chapter Ten, "To Employers." It details how to work with an employee. Finally, Chapter Eleven, "A Vision for You," tells us why we need to work with others, and the results of doing so.
4. Many people, when they are new to the program, do not read Chapter Nine, "The Family Afterward." They do not think this chapter has anything for them.
5. In R.A., the first time many people read this chapter is when they do R.A.'s Highlighting Introduction. R.A.'s Highlighting Introduction suggests going through the entire Big Book, highlighting and underlining on every page.
6. Then R.A.'s Highlighting Introduction suggests reading all the highlighted passages, and then the entire book. When these suggestions are followed, most people find "The Family Afterward," to be a very relevant chapter.
7. This chapter contains the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" for working with family members and others we are close to. It is an extension of the previous chapters, "Working With Others," and "To Wives."
8. In R.A., we duplicate what was available in the early A.A. meetings. Therefore, every R.A. group and meeting, is open to equal participation by friends and family members who would like to be members of our fellowship.
9. R.A.'s experience is that participation by friends and family is very helpful to the recovery of both, and to the healing of the entire family.
10. This chapter is a blueprint. In it, the pioneers, based on their experience, give "clear-cut directions" about how the entire family should react to the alcoholic.
11. They also give "clear-cut directions," based on their experience, of how the alcoholic can, in turn, react with the family. In other words, the principles in this chapter can be applied by anyone to anyone in any situation.
12. We will now share R.A.'s understanding and experience. Please keep in mind that the Twelve Steps are a specific process that produces a specific result.
13. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, please turn to page 56, the first page of "The Family Afterward." In the first paragraph, the pioneers share their experience. They say:
"Our women folk have suggested certain attitudes a wife may take with the husband who is recovering. Perhaps they created the impression that he is to be wrapped in cotton wool and placed on a pedestal. Successful readjustment means the opposite. All members of the family must meet upon the common ground of tolerance, understanding and love. This involves a process of deflation. The alcoholic, his wife, his children, his 'in-laws,' each one is likely to have fixed ideas about the family's attitude towards himself or herself. Each is interested in having his or her wishes respected. The more one member of a family demands that the other concede to him, the more resentful they become. This makes for discord and unhappiness."
14. We think it is interesting to note that the only time the pioneers use the word "recovering" is in the first sentence of this paragraph. They described themselves as "recovered." They told newcomers they would recover. They detailed the Twelve Step program of recovery. They even mention the number of recoveries.
15. However, in this case they are not even addressing the alcoholic. They are talking to the "wife," spouse, or significant other, of an alcoholic. They say, "...the husband who is recovering."
16. The pioneers thought that someone was going to recover, would be experiencing recovery, or would have recovered. They never imagined a situation in which someone would continually be recovering.
17. The pioneers go on to share that perhaps, in the previous chapter, they gave the impression that the alcoholic is to "be wrapped in cotton wool and placed on a pedestal."
18. Actually, on page 50, it does say, "Don't condemn your alcoholic husband no matter what he says or does. He is just another very sick, unreasonable person. Treat him, when you can, as though he had pneumonia. When he angers you, remember that he is very ill."
19. However, in the paragraph we just read, the pioneers share that the alcoholic should not be placed on a pedestal. They say, "Successful readjustment means the opposite. All members of the family must meet upon the common ground of tolerance, understanding and love. This involves a process of deflation."
20. The pioneers share that this process involves the alcoholic and the entire family. They say, "The alcoholic, his wife, his children, his 'in-laws,' each one is likely to have fixed ideas about the family's attitude towards himself or herself. Each is interested in having his or her wishes respected. The more one member of a family demands that the other concede to him, the more resentful they become. This makes for discord and unhappiness."
21. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 56, in the second paragraph, the pioneers share:
"And why? Is it not because each wants to play the lead? Is not each trying to arrange the family show to his liking? Is he not unconsciously trying to see what he can take from the family life rather than give?"
22. Back on page 27, while discussing the Third Step and introducing the need for the Fourth Step, the pioneers shared, "Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wishes, the show would be great."
23. At the bottom of the next paragraph on page 27, the pioneers go on to share, "Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?"
24. As we can see, the pioneers are making it clear that the same solution that works for the alcoholic needs to be applied by the rest of the family.
25. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 56, in the third paragraph, the pioneers share:
"Cessation of drinking is but the first step away from a highly strained, abnormal condition. A doctor said the other day, 'Years of living with an alcoholic is almost sure to make any wife or child neurotic. The entire family is, to some extent, ill.' Let families realize, as they start their journey, that all will not be fair weather. Each in his turn will be footsore and will straggle. There will be alluring shortcuts and by-paths down which they may wander and lose their way."
26. Earlier in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 29, the pioneers shared that, "liquor is but a symptom." The next sentence says, "Let's now get down to basic causes and conditions."
27. This is why they can say the, "Cessation of drinking is but the first step away from a highly strained, abnormal condition." In other words, when someone stops drinking they have only made a start on the program. Drinking is only a symptom.
28. The alcoholic, their family, and everyone else around them, have been living in "a highly strained, abnormal condition." Everyone is affected by the alcoholic's problems and behaviors.
29. Everyone involved is to some degree ill. They all have the same spiritual malady, and therefore, need the same spiritual solution to recover.
30. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 56, in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh paragraphs, the pioneers share their experience. They say:
"Suppose we tell you some of the obstacles a family will meet; suppose we suggest how they may be avoided - even converted to good use for others. The family of an alcoholic longs for the return of happiness and security. They remember when father was romantic, thoughtful and successful. Today's life is measured against that of other years and, when it falls short, the family may be unhappy.
"Family confidence in dad is rising high. The good old days will soon be back, they think. Sometimes they demand that dad bring them back instantly! God, they believe, almost owes this recompense on a long overdue account. But the head of the house has spent years in pulling down the structures of business, romance, friendship, health — these things are now ruined or damaged. It will take time to clear away the wreck. Though old buildings will eventually be replaced by finer ones, the new structures will take years to complete.
"Father knows he is to blame; it may take him many seasons of hard work to be restored financially, but he shouldn't be reproached. Perhaps he will never have much money again. But the wise family will admire him for what he is trying to be, rather than for what he is trying to get."
"Now and then the family will be plagued by spectres from the past, for the drinking career of almost every alcoholic has been marked by escapades, funny, humiliating, shameful or tragic. The first impulse will be to bury these skeletons in a dark closet and padlock the door. The family may be obsessed with the idea that future happiness can be based only upon forgetfulness of the past. Such a view is quite self-centered and in direct conflict with the new way of life."
31. These paragraphs describe the pioneers' experience. Therefore, we do not believe these paragraphs need any further comments from us.
32. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 56, starting in the bottom paragraph, the pioneers share:
"Henry Ford once made a wise remark to the effect that experience is the thing of supreme value in life. That is true only if one is willing to turn the past to good account. We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and convert them into assets. The alcoholic's past thus becomes the principal asset of the family and frequently it is the only one!
33. On page 38, in the Promises, the pioneers shared, "You are going to know a new freedom and happiness. You will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. You will comprehend the word serenity and know peace. No matter how far down the scale you have gone, you will see how your experience can benefit others."
34. The pioneers share their experience because they know that doing this can help others. First, they do this to assure everyone that they can recover, just as the pioneers did, by following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions."
35. Second, they share their experience so that others do not make the same mistakes, or take the same detours, that delayed the pioneers' own recovery.
36. By using their experience to help others, the pioneers are turning all the negative things they went through into assets.
37. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 57, in the first full paragraph, the pioneers share their experience. They say:
"This painful past may be of infinite value to other families still struggling with their problem. We think each family which has been relieved owes something to those which have not, and when the occasion requires, each member of it who has found God, should be only too willing to bring former mistakes, no matter how grievous, out of their hiding places. Showing others who suffer how we were given victory is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have — the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them."
38. The pioneers' experience is that their "painful past may be of infinite value to other families still struggling with their problem."
39. But this is not their only reason for sharing. Their experience is that they cannot expect to keep what they have found, unless they give it away. That is why they say, "We think each family which has been relieved owes something to those which have not..."
40. The pioneers go on to share, "Showing others who suffer how we were given victory is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now."
41. This brings to mind the Third Step Prayer from page 29. It says, "God, I offer myself to Thee — to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!"
42. The pioneers use their experience to show others how they were given victory over their problems and behaviors. They use their experience to "bear witness" to those they would help of God's "Power," "Love," and "Way of life."
43. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 57, in the second paragraph, the pioneers share:
"It is possible to dig up past misdeeds so they become a blight, a veritable plague. For example, we know of situations in which the alcoholic or his wife have had love affairs. In the first flush of spiritual experience they forgave each other and drew closer together. The miracle of reconciliation was at hand. Then, under one provocation or another, the aggrieved one would unearth the old affair and angrily cast its ashes about. A few of us have had these growing pains and they hurt a great deal. Husbands and wives have sometimes been obliged to separate for a time until new perspective, new victory over hurt pride, could be re-won. In most cases, the alcoholic survived this ordeal without relapse, but not always. So our rule is that unless some good and useful purpose is to be served, past occurrences are not discussed."
44. The pioneers' experience is that people should dwell on the positive. They suggest looking forward to the future, instead of drudging up all of the painful experiences out of the past.
45. In some circumstances, the pioneers say that it may be wise for the family to be apart "for a time until new perspective, new victory over hurt pride, could be re-won." However, if everyone in the family is trying to live a spiritual life, separating may not make sense. It may do more harm than good.
46. The pioneers' experience, referring to separation, is that in "most cases, the alcoholic survived this ordeal without relapse, but not always."
47. Therefore the pioneers give one of their "clear-cut directions." They say their "rule is that unless some good and useful purpose is to be served, past occurrences are not discussed."
48. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 57, in the third paragraph, the pioneers share:
"We families of Alcoholics Anonymous have few secrets. Everyone knows all about everyone else. This is a condition which, in ordinary life, would produce untold grief. There would be scandalous gossip, laughter at the expense of other people, and a tendency to take advantage of intimate information. Among us, these are rare occurrences."
49. The pioneers' experience was that as people were restored to sanity, they no longer felt the need to gossip about, or laugh at other people.
50. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 57, in the fourth paragraph, the pioneers share:
"We do talk about each other a great deal but almost invariably temper such talk by a spirit of love and tolerance. We discuss another's shortcomings in the hope that some new idea of helpfulness may come out of the conversation. The cynic might say we are good because we have to be."
51. The pioneers then go on to say that they, "do talk about each other a great deal but almost invariably temper such talk by a spirit of love and tolerance."
52. When people share things in confidence, they have a right to expect that these things will always be kept in confidence.
53. Please remember that "shortcomings" are synonymous with "character defects." So when we talk about someone's character defects, we do this so we can find new ways to be helpful.
54. For example, in R.A. we suggest that working with others should be a collective effort. Someone's primary sponsor, and secondary sponsor, may need to talk to each other about the person they are working with.
55. These discussions are intended to help the person they are working with. Together they may be able to find a reference in R.A.'s Suggested Literature, that will help them to understand situations and problems that may be beyond one person's experience.
56. This should also be true among the members of the family. They need to talk to each other, and about each other, in an attempt to be helpful and supportive. They need to talk about each other with love and tolerance.
57. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 57, in the fifth paragraph, the pioneers share more of their experience and "clear-cut directions." They say:
"Another rule we observe carefully is that we do not relate intimate experiences of another person unless we are sure he would approve. We find it better, when possible, to stick to our own stories. A man may criticize or laugh at himself and it will affect others favorably, but criticism or ridicule of him coming from another often produces the contrary effect. Members of a family should watch such matters carefully, for one careless, inconsiderate remark has been known to raise the very devil. We alcoholics are sensitive people. It takes some of us a long time to outgrow that serious handicap."
58. We do not think the pioneers could have made these directions more clear-cut. The pioneers share that another rule they carefully observe is that they "do not relate intimate experiences of another person" unless they are sure that person would approve.
59. The pioneers share that they only talk about the situations in their own lives. People may talk about themselves, criticize themselves, or laugh at themselves. However, hearing someone else tell the same story can cause a multitude of problems.
60. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 57, starting with the sixth paragraph and continuing through the second paragraph on page 58, the pioneers share more of their experience:
"Most alcoholics are enthusiasts. They run to extremes. At the beginning of recovery a man will take, as a rule, one of two directions. He may either plunge into a frantic attempt to get on his feet in business, or he may be so enthralled by his new life that he talks or thinks of little else. In either case certain family problems will arise. With these we have experience galore.
"We pointed out the danger he runs if he rushes headlong at his economic problem. The family will be affected also, pleasantly at first, as they feel their money troubles are to be solved, then not so pleasantly as they find themselves neglected. Dad may be tired at night and preoccupied by day. He may take small interest in the children and may show irritation when reproved for his delinquencies. If not irritable, he may seem dull and boring, not gay and affectionate as the family would like him to be. Mother may complain of inattention. They are all disappointed, and soon let him feel it. Beginning with such complaints, a barrier arises. He is straining every nerve to make up for lost time. He is striving to recover fortune and reputation and thinks he is doing very well.
"Mother and children don't think so. Having been wantonly neglected and misused in the past, they think father owes them more than they are getting. They want him to make a fuss over them. They expect him to give them the nice times they used to have before he drank, and to show his contrition for what they suffered. But dad doesn't give freely of himself. Resentment grows. He becomes still less communicative. Sometimes he explodes over a trifle. The family is mystified. They criticize, pointing out how he is falling down on his spiritual program.
This sort of thing must be stopped. Both father and the family are wrong, though each side may have some justification. It is of little use to argue and only makes the impasse worse. The family must realize that dad, though marvelously improved, is still a sick man. They should thank God he is sober and able to be of this world once more. Let them praise his progress. Let them remember that his drinking wrought all kinds of damage that may take long to repair. If they sense these things, they will not take so seriously his periods of crankiness, depression, or apathy, which will disappear when there is tolerance, love, and spiritual understanding."
61. We need to remember that the pioneers are sharing their experience. They are trying to stop people from making the same mistakes they made. They went through these situations. They found out how to appropriately respond to them.
62. They learned that trying to control the others in their family, even with good motives, does not work. Criticism and resentment only brings out anger and frustration. All of the family members need to be supportive of each other if they are to recover.
63. Now let's look at the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" in this last paragraph. They say that all criticism, anger, and resentment, "must be stopped." The pioneers go on to share that even if there may be "some justification" for these feelings, "It is of little use to argue and only makes the impasse worse."
64. The pioneers share more "clear-cut directions," they say, "The family must realize that dad, though marvelously improved, is still a sick man." The family must remember that the alcoholic has a spiritual malady.
65. The pioneers go on to share, "They should thank God he is sober and able to be of this world once more. Let them praise his progress. Let them remember that his drinking wrought all kinds of damage that may take long to repair."
66. The pioneers then share their experience of what happens when someone follows their "clear-cut directions." They say, "If they sense these things, they will not take so seriously his periods of crankiness, depression, or apathy, which will disappear when there is tolerance, love, and spiritual understanding."
67. The pioneers say that everyone should be treated with "tolerance, love, and spiritual understanding." In other words, everyone should be treated with respect. Everyone should be supportive of the others, even if they are not fulfilling the families' expectations, or even their own expectations.
68. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 58, in the third, and fourth paragraphs, the pioneers share even more of their experience. They say:
"The head of the house ought to remember that he is mainly to blame for what befell his home. He can scarcely square the account in his lifetime. But he must see the danger of over-concentration on financial success. Although financial recovery is on the way for many of us, we found we could not place money first. For us, material well-being always followed spiritual progress; it never preceded.
"Since the home has suffered more than anything else, it is well that a man exert himself there. He is not likely to get far in any direction if he fails to show unselfishness and love under his own roof. We know there are difficult wives and families, but the man who is getting over alcoholism must remember they are sick folk too, and that he did much to make them worse."
69. Even though the pioneers took out part of this last sentence, we think it is important to remember that along with the alcoholic, "difficult wives and families" "are sick folk too."
70. As the pioneers shared back on page 30, "This is our course: realize at once that the people who wrong you are spiritually sick. Though you don't like their symptoms and the way these disturb you, they, like yourself, are sick, too. Ask God to help you show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that you would cheerfully grant a friend who has cancer. When a person next offends, say to yourself 'This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.' "
71. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 58, in the fifth paragraph, the pioneers share:
"As each member of a resentful family begins to see his shortcomings and admits them to the others, he lays a basis for helpful discussion. These family talks will be constructive if they can be carried on without heated argument, self-pity, self-justification or resentful criticism. Little by little, mother and children will see they ask too much, and father will see he gives too little. Giving, rather than getting, will become the guiding principle."
72. Remember, back on page 43, the first thing the pioneers say to show a newcomer is, "how important it is that he place the welfare of other people ahead of his own."
73. The pioneers share that "Giving, rather than getting, will become the guiding principle." This is true for the alcoholic and for all the other members of the family.
74. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 58, starting with the sixth paragraph, and continuing all the way through the second paragraph on page 59, the pioneers again share their experience. They say:
"Assume now that father has, at the outset, a stirring spiritual experience. Over-night, as it were, he is a changed man. He becomes a religious enthusiast. He is unable to focus on anything else. As soon as his sobriety begins to be taken as a matter of course, the family may look at their strange new dad with apprehension, then with irritation. There is talk about spiritual matters morning, noon and night. He may demand that the family find God for themselves in a hurry, or exhibit amazing indifference to them and say he is above worldly considerations. He tells mother, who has been religious all her life, that she doesn't know what its all about, and that she had better get his brand of spirituality while there is yet time.
"When father takes this tack, the family may react unfavorably. They are jealous of a God who has stolen dad's affections. While grateful that he drinks no more, they do not like the idea that God has accomplished the miracle where they failed. They often forget father was beyond human aid. They do not see why their love and devotion did not straighten him out. Dad is not so spiritual after all, they say. If he means to right his past wrongs, why all this concern for everyone in the world but his family? What about his talk that God will take care of them? They suspect father is a bit balmy!
"He is not so unbalanced as they might think. Many of us have experienced dad's elation. We have indulged in spiritual intoxication. Like gaunt prospectors, belts drawn in over our last ounce of food, our pick struck gold. Joy at our release from a lifetime of frustration knew no bounds. Father sees he has struck something better than gold. For a time he may try to hug the new treasure to himself. He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product.
"If the family cooperates, dad will soon see that he is suffering from a distortion of values. He will perceive that his spiritual growth is lopsided, that for an average man like himself, a spiritual life which does not include his family obligations may not be so perfect after all. If the family will appreciate that dad's current behavior is but a phase of his development, all will be well. In the midst of an understanding and sympathetic family, these vagaries of dad's spiritual infancy will quickly disappear."
75. Remember, the original Twelfth Step says, "Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action..." So, it seems clear that the alcoholic had "a stirring spiritual experience," as the result of thoroughly following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions."
76. When the alcoholic and their family do this, they can behave sanely and normally in the same situations in which they used to go to extremes. They will learn that they cannot "keep the precious gift" of recovery unless they "give it away."
77. It should also be remembered that, in R.A., our goal is taken from the Second Step. We follow the pioneers' "clear-cut directions" so we can find a loving God who will restore us to sanity in every area of our lives.
78. In addition, since the pioneers are generously sharing their experience and everyone can learn from them, it is less likely that anyone will indulge in "spiritual intoxication." They will not suffer from the same "distortion of values" that the pioneers experienced.
79. When each member of the family supports the other, they will find the uncertainty of each persons' "spiritual infancy" will more quickly disappear in "the midst of an understanding and sympathetic family."
80. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 59, in the third paragraph, the pioneers share more of their experience and "clear-cut directions." They say:
"The opposite may happen should the family condemn and criticize. Dad may feel that for years his drinking has placed him on the wrong side of every argument, but that now he has become a superior person with God on his side. If the family persists in criticism, this fallacy may take a still greater hold on father. Instead of treating the family as he should, he may retreat further into himself and feel he has spiritual justification for so doing.
81. However, if the alcoholic and their family do not support each other, if they "condemn and criticize" each other, they may each withdraw. Or they may insist that they know best and that God is on their side. Such an attitude of superiority and "spiritual justification" will only delay everyone's recovery.
82. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 59, in the fourth paragraph, the pioneers continue to share their "clear-cut directions" and experience. They say:
"Though the family does not fully agree with dad's spiritual activities, they should let him assume leadership. Even if he displays a certain amount of neglect and irresponsibility towards the family, it is well to let him go as far as he likes in helping other alcoholics. During those first days of convalescence, this will do more to insure his sobriety than anything else. Though some of his manifestations are alarming and disagreeable, dad will be on a firmer foundation than the man who is placing business or professional success ahead of spiritual development. He will be less likely to drink again, and anything is preferable to that."
83. These are some of the pioneers most important "clear-cut directions." They are saying that even though the family "does not fully agree with dad's spiritual activities, they should let him assume leadership." They continue by saying, "it is well to let him go as far as he likes in helping other alcoholics."
84. Remember that these "clear-cut directions" are designed for "those first days of convalescence." In other words, someone should immediately begin working with others.
85. As we have read many times in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, helping others "will do more to insure" someone's recovery "than anything else." This is true even if the alcoholic is not yet fully restored to sanity, and their behavior reflects this fact.
86. For example, on page 9 the pioneers tell us, "Our very lives, as ex-alcoholics, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs."
87. On page 41, the pioneers say, "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."
88. On page 44, the pioneers share, "Self-sacrifice for others is the foundation stone of your recovery."
89. In this matter, the family can go in two directions. They can be supportive and encouraging of each person's efforts to work with others. They can encourage someone to go to meetings or on twelfth step calls. Or, they can be critical and condemning, they can try to make someone feel guilty for not staying home.
90. Experience has proven that someone will have an easier time working the Twelve Steps, finding God, and being restored to sanity, with supportive, encouraging people around them.
91. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 59, in the fifth paragraph, the pioneers share:
"Those of us who have spent much time in the world of spiritual make-believe have eventually seen the childishness of it. This dream world has been replaced by a great sense of purpose, accompanied by a growing consciousness of the power of God in our lives. We have come to believe God would like us to keep our heads in the clouds with Him, but that our feet ought to be firmly planted on earth, nevertheless. That is where our fellow travelers are, and that is where our work must be done. These are the realities for us. We have found nothing incompatible between a powerful spiritual experience and a life of sane and happy usefulness."
92. Many people ask about the difference between what the pioneers describe as "the world of spiritual make-believe," and a "life of sane and happy usefulness."
93. In R.A., we believe the pioneers are describing the difference between someone resting on their laurels and someone actively working with others.
94. Sometimes, when someone has a spiritual awakening, they immerse themselves in prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices. They may think that they don't have a role to play in carrying God's message of love and tolerance to others. They may say, "God is going to take care of everything."
95. The pioneers share that this childish "dream world" will eventually be replaced by "a great sense of purpose, accompanied by a growing consciousness of the power of God." When this happens, someone will see that carrying R.A.'s message of hope, sanity, and recovery to those who still suffer, is a vital part of the recovery process.
96. As the pioneers have shared back on page 43, someone who has a "powerful spiritual experience," but does not try to help others may find that they are, "an example of the truth that faith alone is insufficient. To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action."
97. Someone can keep their "heads in the clouds with Him," but their feet "firmly planted on earth," through "self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action." In other words, through intensive work with others.
98. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 59, in the sixth paragraph, the pioneers share another of their "clear-cut directions." They say:
"One more suggestion: Whether the family has spiritual convictions or not, they may do well to examine the principles by which the alcoholic member is trying to live. They can hardly fail to approve these simple principles, though the head of the house still fails somewhat in practicing them. Nothing will help the man who is off on a spiritual tangent so much as the wife who adopts the self-same program, making a better practical use of it."
99. In other words, when the alcoholic or other family members, see someone else making progress by using the spiritual principles they found in Recoveries Anonymous, they may be encouraged to give these same spiritual principles a try in their own lives.
100. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 59, starting in the bottom paragraph, the pioneers share more of their experience. They say:
"There will be still other profound changes in the household. Liquor incapacitated father for so many years that mother became head of the house. She met these responsibilities gallantly. By force of circumstances, she was obliged to treat father as a sick or wayward child. Even when he wanted to assert himself he could not, for his drinking placed him constantly in the wrong. Mother made all the plans and gave the directions. When sober, father usually obeyed. Thus mother, through no fault of her own, became accustomed to wearing the family trousers. Father, coming suddenly to life again, often begins to assert himself. This means trouble, unless the family watches for these tendencies in each other and comes to a friendly agreement about them."
101. The pioneers' experience is that recovery will bring about dramatic changes in the life of the alcoholic and the entire family. The alcoholic probably was not able to fulfill their role in the family. Others may have stepped forward and assumed these necessary duties. With recovery, this may change.
102. The pioneers suggest that the family be aware of these situations and that they come to a "friendly agreement about them."
103. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 60, starting with the first full paragraph and continuing through the third paragraph, the pioneers share their experience. They say:
"Drinking isolates most homes from the outside world, so the family was used to having father around a great deal. He may have laid aside for years all normal activities — clubs, civic duties, sports. When he renews interest in such things, a feeling of jealousy may arise. The family may feel they hold a mortgage on dad, so big that no equity should be left for outsiders. Instead of developing new channels of activity for themselves, mother and children may demand that he stay home and make up the deficiency.
"At the very beginning, the couple ought to frankly face the fact that each will have to yield here and there if the family is going to play an effective part in the new life. Father will necessarily spend much time with other alcoholics, but this activity should be balanced. New acquaintances who know nothing of alcoholism might be made and thoughtful consideration given their needs. The problems of the community might engage attention. Though the family has no religious connections, they may do well to make contact with or take membership in a religious body.
"Alcoholics who have derided religious people will sometimes be helped by such contacts. Being possessed of a spiritual experience, the alcoholic will find he has much in common with these people, though he may differ with them on many matters. If he does not argue and forget that men find God in many ways, he will make new friends and is sure to find new avenues of usefulness and pleasure. He and his family can be a bright spot in such congregations. He may bring new hope and new courage to many a priest, minister, or rabbi, who gives his all to minister to our troubled world. We intend the foregoing as a helpful suggestion only. So far as we are concerned, there is nothing obligatory about it. As a non-denominational group, we cannot make up people's minds for them. Each individual must consult his own conscience."
104. The pioneers' experience is that the alcoholic and the family will benefit from "developing new channels of activity." The pioneers say that working with others is essential.
105. However, the entire family might want to become involved in so-called "normal activities" such as "clubs, civic duties, [and] sports." In addition, perhaps "they may do well to make contact with or take membership in a religious body."
106. The pioneers go on to share that even those who have, in the past, "derided religious people," will be "helped by such contacts," now that they are trying to live a spiritual life.
107. The pioneers continue to share that they intended these comments "as a helpful suggestion only." They then say, "So far as we are concerned, there is nothing obligatory about it. As a non-denominational group, we cannot make up people's minds for them. Each individual must consult his own conscience."
108. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 60, in the fourth and fifth paragraphs, the pioneers share:
"We have been speaking to you of serious, sometimes tragic things. We have been dealing with alcohol in its worst aspect. But we aren't a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn't want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life. We try not to indulge in cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world's troubles on our shoulders. When we see a man sinking into the mire that is alcoholism, we give him first aid and place everything we have at his disposal. For his sake, we do recount and almost relive the horrors of our past. But those of us who have tried to shoulder the entire burden and trouble of others find we are soon overcome by them."
"So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness. Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. But why shouldn't we laugh? We are the victors, and have been given the power to help others."
109. Someone's problems and behaviors often result in "serious, sometimes tragic things." However, we need to make sure that newcomers can see the joy and fun in our lives, or they will not be attracted to Recoveries Anonymous.
110. The pioneers share that they, "absolutely insist on enjoying life." They say that they, "do recount and almost relive the horrors of [their] past to help newcomers. However, they go on to say they, "think cheerfulness and laughter make for usefulness."
111. Remember what we read back on page 41. The pioneers' share, "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."
112. Then the pioneers go on to make an amazing statement. They say, "We are the victors, and have been given the power to help others."
113. This, of course brings up the question of what the pioneers are the victors over?
114. In R.A., we think we can answer this question by remembering three quotes we read earlier. The first was on page 26. In it the pioneers said, "If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready to follow directions."
115. The second quote was on page 35. In it the pioneers say to remember that, "you agreed at the beginning you would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol. The third quote was on page 36. In it the pioneers say to, "Remind yourself that you have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience."
116. So, now we have gone to any length to work the Twelve Steps by following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions." We have gone to any lengths for victory over our problems and behaviors. We have gone to any lengths to find a spiritual experience.
117. Now we "are the victors." God has granted us victory over our problems and behaviors. God has given us "the power to help others."
118. In RA, we think it is interesting to note that in the current Big Book, the pioneers changed "We are the victors..." to "We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.
119. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 60, in the sixth paragraph, the pioneers again share their experience. They say:
"Everybody knows that those in bad health, and those who seldom play, do not laugh much. So let each family play together or separately, as much as their circumstances warrant. We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous, and released. We cannot subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us. But it is clear that we made our own misery. God didn't do it. Avoid then, the deliberate manufacture of misery, and when trouble comes, cheerfully capitalize it as an opportunity to demonstrate His omnipotence."
120. We think it should be noted that in the current Big Book, the phrase, "We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous, and released," was changed to, "We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free."
121. In RA, we also think it is interesting to note that this concept comes from "The Sermon on the Mount" by Emmet Fox. On the first page of the chapter, "GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD," Emmett Fox says, "It is the Will of God that we should all lead healthy, happy lives, full of joyous experience."
122. Later in the same paragraph, Emmett Fox goes on to talk about all the "things that man requires for a healthy, happy, free, and harmonious life."
123. Back In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book paragraph we read on page 60, the pioneers go on to share that they "cannot subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us."
124. The pioneers then share something that often causes confusion. Therefore, we are now going to try to clear up that confusion. The pioneers say, "But it is clear that we made our own misery. God didn't do it."
125. In R.A.'s experience, someone makes him or herself miserable by not trusting God. No matter what the situation, if someone can remember that they are powerless, and that God is all-powerful, they will be able to have some degree of serenity during rough going.
126. On the other hand, if someone does not trust God, if they don't accept that they are powerless, they will make themselves miserable. They will beat themselves up for not doing something they are powerless to do. They will feel guilty for not being able to resolve a situation that they were powerless to manage.
127. Therefore, God doesn't make someone miserable! Their own lack of trust makes them miserable.
128. Someone once said that pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Please notice that they later changed "When trouble comes..." to "If trouble comes..." However, they originally had no doubt that trouble would eventually come.
129. Therefore, when "trouble comes," someone can make him or herself miserable. Or, they can use the trouble "as an opportunity to demonstrate His omnipotence." They can try to be patient, and trust, that an all-powerful, loving God will resolve the situation.
130. In A.A. Comes of Age, on page 63, Bill Wilson writes that after he had his spiritual experience, he thought, "No matter how wrong things seem to be, they are still all right. Things are all right with God and His world."
131. In other words, most of the time things just "seem" to be wrong. Most people eventually find that, despite initial appearances, "Things are all right with God and His world."
132. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 60, starting in the bottom paragraph and continuing through the first full paragraph on page 61, the pioneers continue to share their experience, and their "clear-cut directions." They say:
"Now about health: A body badly burned by alcohol does not often recover overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling. We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restorative. We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health. But we have also seen remarkable transformations in our bodies. Hardly one of our crowd now shows any mark of dissipation.
"But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such a person. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. Try to remember that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and following his case afterward."
133. The pioneers' experience is that someone's problems and behaviors, after years of hurting others and themselves, leave signs on their body. Even after someone stops, the physical signs of their problems and behaviors may take years to disappear. In addition, someone's "twisted thinking and depression" do not "vanish in a twinkling."
134. The pioneers go on to say that they, "are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restorative." They also say that those "who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health."
135. Please remember what we read back on page 29. The pioneers shared that "we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically."
136. However, the pioneers also make it clear that someone should see a doctor or psychiatrist if necessary. They say, "Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and following his case afterward."
137. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 61, in the second, third, and fourth paragraphs, the pioneers share their experience as well as more "clear-cut directions." They say:
"A word about sex relations. Alcohol is so sexually stimulating to some men that they have over-indulged. Couples are occasionally dismayed to find that when drinking is stopped the man tends to be impotent. Unless the reason is understood, there may be an emotional upset. Some of us had this experience, only to enjoy, in a few months, a finer intimacy than ever. There should be no hesitancy in consulting a doctor or psychologist if this condition persists. We do not know of any case where this difficulty lasted long.
"The alcoholic may find it hard to re-establish friendly relations with his children. Their young minds were impressionable while he was drinking. Without saying so, they may cordially hate him for what he has done to them and to their mother. The poor children are sometimes dominated by a pathetic hardness and cynicism. They cannot seem to forgive and forget. This may hang on for months, long after their mother has accepted dad's new way of living and thinking.
"Father had better be sparing of his correction or criticism of them while they are in this frame of mind. He had better not urge his new way of life on them too soon. In time they will see that he is a new man and in their own way they will let him know it. When this happens, they can be invited to join in morning meditation then they can take part in the daily discussion without rancor or bias. From that point on, progress will be rapid. Marvelous results often follow such a reunion."
138. We don't have anything to add to the pioneers' experience, and "clear-cut directions" that they shared in these paragraphs.
139. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 61, in the fifth, sixth, and seventh paragraphs, the pioneers share more of their "clear-cut directions" and experience. They say:
"Whether the family goes on a spiritual basis or not, the alcoholic member must. The others must be convinced by his changed life beyond a shadow of a doubt. He must lead the way. Seeing is believing to most families who have lived with a drinker.
"Here is a case in point: One of our friends is a heavy smoker and coffee drinker. There was no doubt he over-indulged. Seeing this, and meaning to be helpful, his wife commenced to admonish him about it. He admitted he was overdoing these things, but frankly said that he was not ready to stop. His wife is one of those persons who really feel there is something rather sinful about these commodities, so she nagged, and her intolerance finally threw him into a fit of anger. He got drunk.
"Of course our friend was wrong — dead wrong. He had to painfully admit that and mend his spiritual fences. Though he is now a most effective member of Alcoholics Anonymous, he still smokes cigarettes and drinks coffee, but neither his wife nor anyone else stands in judgment. She sees she was wrong to make a burning issue out of such a matter when his more serious ailments were being rapidly cured."
140. First the pioneers share their "clear-cut directions." They say, "Whether the family goes on a spiritual basis or not, the alcoholic member must. The others must be convinced by his changed life beyond a shadow of a doubt. He must lead the way."
141. Please notice that the pioneers repeat the word "must" three times in the first paragraph. They say the "the alcoholic member must" go on a "spiritual basis" regardless of what the rest of the family does or does not do.
142. The pioneers then share that the family "must be convinced by [the alcoholic's] changed life beyond a shadow of a doubt." The alcoholic "must lead the way."
143. In the current Big Book the pioneers changed the first "must" to "has to if he would recover."
144. Remember that after years of broken promises, most families will be skeptical of an alcoholic's motives and actions. The alcoholic will have to prove him or herself by demonstrating that they are living on the new spiritual basis.
145. It is important to note that, when the Multilith Copy of the Big Book was written, no one knew about the medical impact of smoking, or the effects of too much caffeine. Some people objected to smoking, over indulging with caffeine, and even drinking alcohol, on moral grounds, not for medical reasons.
146. The pioneers' experience was that nagging and intolerance did not work. That is why the pioneers repeatedly remind someone that patience, love and tolerance, is the ideal way to treat others.
147. For example, on page 30, the pioneers wrote that someone should "Ask God to help you show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that you would cheerfully grant a friend who has cancer."
148. On page 32, the pioneers share that, "You have begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even your enemies, for you know them to be sick people."
149. On page 38, the pioneers go on to share that someone should "clean house with the family, asking each morning in meditation that your Creator show you the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness and love."
150. Of course, later on page 38, the pioneers state that, "Love and tolerance of others is your code."
151. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 61, the pioneers end this chapter by sharing their mottoes. They say:
"First things first! We have two little mottoes which are apropos. Here they are: "LIVE AND LET LIVE" and "EASY DOES IT."
152. Fortunately someone noticed that "First things first!" was also a motto. Therefore, in the current Big Book they changed this passage. It says, "three little mottoes," with "First things first!" at the head of the list.
153. In RA, we believe that the first of these mottoes refers to thoroughly following the pioneers' "clear-cut directions." The second means that someone needs to treat others with love and tolerance in all matters. The third motto suggests that someone finally learn to forgive him or herself for being powerless.
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