My drinking got me kicked out of school; it got me into trouble with the law; I was put on probation; I was court ordered to counseling and I was fighting constantly with my parents. I hated what I was doing to them and I loathed what I was doing to myself, but I didn’t know how to stop. I finally got honest with my probation officer one day and she suggested I go to a Young Peoples A.A. meeting.
I was recently speaking with a very impulsive Retreat guest who had difficulty maintaining a focus on one thing for very long. I was not surprised that his drug of choice was meth, because at the beginning of his meth use it actually calmed him down. At The Retreat we do Big Book studies that are two hours long at a time, and this was tough for him. He told me “I need something short and simple, that can work for me.”
Recently, I overheard a person in recovery talk about being concerned because he hadn’t had a spiritual awakening like Bill W. He was afraid he had done something wrong. He wondered if he had fallen out of favor with God. He questioned whether he had missed something when he went through the 12 Steps. He thought maybe he had glossed over some vital section of the first 164 pages.
My first attempt at college didn’t go so well. It started off fun, then become fun with some consequences, then by my 7th year of school it was just all consequence. I had been to detoxes, I was failing courses, going to classes I wasn’t even registered for, and drinking myself into oblivion. Life was getting bad and drinking was my only solution. I don’t mean to gloss over my first few treatment experiences but I want the focus of this to be on the importance of staying plugged in to my program.
So you’ve been asked to bring a meeting into a facility. Congratulations! What an honor and privilege it is to be involved in service. As it states on page 89 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous:
“To watch people recover, 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.”
I have heard this wishful thinking many times over the past three years, since I came to work at The Retreat full time in May 2014. Many people who are sober in AA have a sense that their program isn’t all that it could be. They want more, but aren’t sure how to get it. Our Big Book says that it is easy to be vague about the matter of prayer and meditation, and then it goes on to make some “definite and valuable suggestions.” (page 86). The Retreat is all about those “definite and valuable suggestions” that we find in the Big Book.
The Presidential campaign this year may appear to be uniquely trashy. It isn’t that unusual, set against the full sweep of American history. The 1884 campaign of the Democratic President Grover Cleveland against the Republican James G. Blaine was trashier. Blaine was accused of profiting from sales of railroad bonds and Cleveland was accused of fathering a child out of wedlock. Crowds at campaign rallies shouted down each candidate: “Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, the continental liar from the State of Maine” and “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House, ha! Ha! Ha!” Ugly politics is nothing new.