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Most Important Piece of Paper
afternoon of December 11th, 1934, at the age of 39, Bill
Wilson staggered up the steps and through the doors of Charles
R. Towns Hospital, 293 Central Park West, NY, NY for the
last time as an inebriated drunk, waving his last bottle
of beer at Dr.
"Silky" Silkworth as he was met in
the hall. He had been there two times previously to dry
out. Bill was admitted at 2:10pm, and so began the history
of Alcoholics Anonymous in Sobriety. From that moment Bill
never took another drink of alcohol. That beginning is recorded
for all time on this piece of paper.
Towns Hospital Record of Admission and Discharge
of Wm. G. Wilson
also records for posterity the time frame of Bill's spiritual
awakening that began the process of Bill recognizing the
importance of carrying the message of sobriety to other
drunks in order to stay sober himself.
Thatcher, an old drinking buddy, now sober,
had visited Bill in his kitchen in November 1934, had explained
Group teachings to Bill, who was drinking at
the time, and planted the seed that would grow into Alcoholics
Anonymous. What Ebby conveyed to Bill is the basis of what
we know today as the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
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 I ought to practice the kind of giving that has
no price tag on it, the giving of myself to somebody.
Now, I know you are going to gag on this, but they taught
me 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. And you know, Bill, it's a queer thing, but even before
I had done all this, just as soon as I decided that I
would try with an open mind, it seemed to me that my drinking
problem was lifted right out of me." - AA Comes
of Age, 58-59.
now, a few weeks later, Bill found himself once again in
the hospital for alcoholism, totally inebriated and helpless,
suffering through the barbiturate and belladonna "purge
and puke" treatment of that day for drying out a drunk.
had been in bed a short while he heard the doctor talking
to Lois by the door, saying that if her husband came out
of this episode and did drink again, he did not honestly
believe he would live six months. When he heard these words
he was immediately carried back to his talk with his friend
Ebby and could not dismiss the idea that although Ebby might
be batty with religion, he was sober and he was happy. He
kept turning this over in his mind, in a mild delirium,
and came to a vague conclusion that maybe Ebby did have
something in a man's helping others in order to get away
from his own obsessions and problems.
his second day at Towns, Ebby, still sober, visited Bill,
once again laying out what he had previously told Bill,
then left. Struggling with his helplessness and his ego,
sinking into a deep depression of incomprehensible demoralization,
Bill finally surrendered the evening of the 14th, and the
occurred, freeing not only Bill from the grips of Alcoholism,
but countless millions of us down through the years to the
following day, Ebby brought Bill a copy of William James'
of Religious Experience and Bill devoured
it, discovering the answer to, and significance of, his
Spiritual Experience. Complete hopelessness, deflation
at depth, and total surrender to a Power that none of us
understand, and then it happens! The result of One
Alcoholic talking to Another! The carrying of the 12th
Step Message! That without each other, without continued
surrender to our Higher Power, without continued practice
of the Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, we are doomed
to insanity, incarceration and death! There is no reprieve
through our own will power!
was released the morning of the 18th of December, immediately
associated himself with the Oxford Groups, immediately began
the practice of the steps and working with other alcoholics,
a practice that continued for his lifetime, until his death
January 24, 1971. He carried the message to my prime sponsors,
Tex R., Cliff W., Chuck C., in the process, so that I too
would hear the message and would recover from the alcoholic's
seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.
many times since then recovered alcoholics have repeated
this message to newcomers:
power and ways are given to us to be passed on to others.
To think or do anything else is pure selfishness. We only
keep them and get more by giving them away, and if we
do not give them away, we lose them. What I have done,
you can do too . . . if you live as I have lived in sobriety
and do as I have done, applying the 12
Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to my life in all my
that is a most important piece of paper, for from it, nearly
40 years later, began my life in sobriety, February 28,
1974. A wonderful sober life of 12331 One Days At A Time
'til today. I am most grateful.
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