Big Book Beginnings

Last night I went over to my NEW sponsor’s apartment to start working on steps! We also went over a bunch of guidelines and expectations for our sponsor-sponsee relationship. I will: call her every day, call one person with more sobertime and one person with less sobertime every day, email her 10 things I’m grateful for, meet regularly to read through the Big Book and do steps together, and read two spiritual passages from the Big Book each day. Sounds like a lot! But I know it will be good for me, since I have been pretty distant with my active “work” in the program beyond my service positions and fellowshipping with my friends in the program.

We read through the forwards of the Fourth Edition and ended right before the Doctor’s Opinion. It was nice to sit on the couch together and take turns reading pages – talking in between about what resonates with each of us. There is a part in the foreward from 1979 or something that says 50% of people who come to AA and really try get 100% sober and never look back. My sponsor told me she was told that today, the statistic is more like 15%. Pretty slim odds for folks like us right? But more than 15% actually get sober, just means that a lot relapse on their way to getting 100% sober eventually. I relapsed after 99 days and it took me some dabbling here and there to get 100% sober. I’m not even sure you would call my experience a relapse – maybe I should just say it took me 5 months after coming to the program to finally get sober? Who knows. Whatever you call it, I learned from that experience and it showed me that I definitely have the disease of addiction.

I feel silly having almost 4 years clean/sober and just reading the AA Big Book for the first time. I was working a different program with different literature before, so instead of being late to stepwork, I’m just starting something new. I want to clarify the reasons behind my transition over to AA. NA saved my life. I got clean and stayed clean when I was ready to go to any lengths in NA. I learned a lot from my three NA sponsors and from doing steps 1,2, and 3 multiple times. But something shifted in my recovery which is hard to explain. I felt a strong connection with a group of women in AA and my apprehensions about AA (focused on alcohol) started to slip away. I felt “a part of”, I felt loved, I felt cared for in my new circle of friends. I had NA friends in New York, but it was different than my NA friends from my college town. The relationships in NYC never felt as intimate to me, I felt left out sometimes, I felt different. I still got good recovery and was able to do service and help others, but in the end I didn’t see my life revolving around New York NA. Today my life revolves around my relationships in AA. Everyone has a home, sometimes it just takes work to find it. I know if I continued my journey in NA in New York I would stay clean, but I’m not sure if my heart would be in it as much as it was in college.

I want to be where the solution is. There is a solution in New York NA, you just have to look for it a bit harder sometimes. I wanted to be in a place where people are getting better, one day at a time. And maybe I just didn’t have the willingness to keep looking for it in the meetings I was attending. In the end, there is no right or wrong way to recover. It’s up to you. You have a choice. I know from the experience of others that I can work through my experience with drugs the same way in AA as I could in NA. I have the disease of addiction and that is all –encompassing.

If anything, having the experience of both fellowships will help me to help newcomers even more. It is very hard to find a newcomer in AA who never did drugs…and sometimes when I meet someone at an AA meeting and I hear bits of their story, I bring them to an NA meeting to see which resonates with them more. I would have never gone to an AA meeting at 21. If you told me I was an alcoholic I would have told you to go eff yourself. But something about being an addict…I just accepted that. Years later, I understand that the disease is the same, the principles of the program are the same, and the meetings are the same. I can say I’m an alcoholic and not cringe…to me it is the same as being an addict.

I am grateful that I have a strong, loving woman to take me through the AA steps.

Where has your journey taken you?



Filed under Recovery, Service

6 responses to “Big Book Beginnings

  1. I can easily admit I am addict it was much harder to admit I was an alcoholic. It took me such longer to do.

  2. Interesting you guys…

    I used to work in a treatment program; one of the top porgrams in our nation for meth addictions,, consequently there were many NA patients. While I could never put my finger on it specifically, there was this underlying theme in the discussions I would over hear or partiicpate in that their somehow “better” than alcoholics…

    This whole phenomena really intrigues me and I hope to study it further – just because! . . .

    Not only are our addictions the same – we all consumed drugs/and/or/alcohol and our lives became unmanageable.
    The end..
    Also, though WE are the same – I was given the description of “terminal uniqueness” when I went to treatment ten years ago. Owch – this meant that I thought I was a “cooler” addict that you,, that I would never do “that” act or live “that” way in the midst of my use.
    At the end of the day – nine years later – I had to find out the hard way – while sitting in a holding cell downtown minneapolis – that WE’RE ALL THE FREAKING SAME!! A humbling lesson I can assure you –
    but one, for reasons only God knows, I had to learn the hard way..
    As always,, great post!!

  3. Insightful post, and it sounds like you have found what you need in order to recover. The “distinctions” – that we as addicts and alcoholics – try to make between the two programs, don’t do any of us any favours. My recovery home happens to be in NA, but I love the AA program and its people in my community and if push came to shove, I’d make myself just as comfortable in the AA rooms as I needed to, in order to recover. We are one family, in the end.

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