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article was published in the June 1980, issue of the Akron
Inter-Group News. As noted, it is a reprint of an article
Bill W. wrote for the Irish newsletter "The Road Back."
The article is undated. One note of interest is that sentences
from this article can be found in the January 1958 GV article
by Bill titled -The Next Frontier: Emotional Sobriety.
GIMMICK TO GET US OUT OF THE DUMPS
following was written by Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics
Anonymous for "The Road Back", a bimonthly publication
by the Dublin, Ireland, group, and is reprinted therefrom.)
By Bill W.
think we oldsters who have put the A.A. booze cure to such
severe tests, yet still find we lack emotional sobriety,
are probably the spearhead for the next major development
in AA - the development of something like real maturity
and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations
with ourselves, with our fellows and with God. Those adolescent
urges for top approval, perfect security and the perfect
romance, urges quite appropriate to age 17, prove to be
an impossible way of life at 47 or 57.
AA began, I’ve taken immense wallops in all these
departments because of my failure to grow up, emotionally
and spiritually. How painful it is to keep insisting on
the impossible, and how painful to discover that we have
the cart before the horse. Then comes the final agony of
seeing how wrong we are, but still finding ourselves unable,
seemingly, to get off the merry-go-round.
of Everyone. How to translate right intellectual conviction
into right emotional results and so into easy, happy, active
and good living - that’s not only the neurotic’s
problem. It’s the problem of life itself for all who
have got to the point of willingness to hew to right principles.
Even then, as we hew away, peace and joy still elude us.
That’s the place so many of us AA oldsters have come
to. How shall the unconscious - from which our fears, compulsions
and phony aspirations still stream - be brought into line
with what we actually believe, know and want? How to convince
our dumb, raging and hidden "Mr. Hyde" becomes
the final task.
recently become to believe this can be done. I believe so
because I began to see many benighted ones, folks like you
and me, commencing to get results.
fall, depression, having no really rational cause at all,
took me to the cleaners. I began to be scared that I was
in for another five-year chronic spell. Considering the
grief I’ve had with depression, it wasn’t a
kept asking myself, "Why can’t the twelve steps
work to release depression?" By the hour I stared at
the St. Francis prayer….It’s better to understand
than to be understood…It’s better to love than
be loved….It’s better to comfort than to be
comforted…" Here was the formula. But why didn’t
I realized what the matter was. My basic flaw had always
been dependence, absolute dependence, on people or circumstances
to supply me with prestige, security and romance. Failing
to get these, according to my still childish dreams and
specifications, I had fought for these things. And when
defeat came, so did depression. There wasn’t a chance
of making the outgoing love of Francis a workable and joyous
way of life until these fatal and really absolute dependencies
were cut away.
I had undergone a little spiritual development the absolute
quality of these frightful liabilities had never before
been so starkly revealed. Therefore, reinforced by what
grace I could secure in prayer, I found I must exert every
ounce of will and action to cut off these emotional dependencies
upon people, upon A.A. - indeed upon any set of circumstances
whatever. Then, only then, would I be free to love as Francis
could. Emotional or instinctual satisfactions, I saw, were
really the extra dividends of having love, offering love
and expressing love appropriate to each relation of life.
Offer Love To God. Plainly, I could not avail myself of
God’s love until I was able to offer it back to Him
by loving others as He would have me. And I couldn’t
possibly do that so long as I was victimized by my dependencies.
For dependencies meant demand; demand for possession and
control of people and conditions.
the words "absolute dependency" may look like
a gimmick, they were the ones that triggered my release
into my present stability and quietness of mind which I
am now trying to consolidate by having love and offering
love, regardless of the return.
is the primary healing circuit; our outgoing love of God’s
creation and His people, by which we avail ourselves of
His love for us. But the real current can’t flow until
our dependencies are broken at depth. Only then can we have
a glimmer of what adult love really is.
calculus, you say? Not a bit of it. Watch any A.A. of six
months working on a new 12th step case. If the case says,
"the hell with you," the 12th stepper smiles and
turns to another case. He doesn’t feel frustrated
or rejected. If his case responds and starts to give love
and attention to other alcoholics, but returns none to the
sponsor, then the sponsor is happy anyway. He still doesn’t
when his case turns out in later time to be his best friend
(or romance), then the sponsor is joyful. But his happiness
and joy were by-products, and no more. The real stabilizing
thing was having the offering of love to that strange drunk
on the doorstep. That was Francis at work, powerful and
practical, minus dependency and minus demand.
my first six months of sobriety, I worked hard with many
alcoholics. Not one responded, but they kept me sober. It
wasn’t a question of their giving me anything. Stability
came out of giving, not of receiving.
I think it will work out with emotional sobriety. If we
examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we can
find at the root of it some sort of unhealthy dependency
and consequent demand. Let us hack away at these chains,
begging God’s help. Then we shall be set free to love.
We shall then be able to 12th step ourselves and others
into emotional sobriety.
haven’t offered you a single new idea - just a gimmick
that has started to unhook my several "hexes"
at depth. My brain no longer races compulsively in either
elation, grandiosity or depression. I have been given a
quiet place in bright sunshine.