AA GSO Watch
The Big Book Comes Alive --Charlie Big Book Study Transcript - Originally Taped in Mesa, Arizona, February 6-8, 1987
[Joe & Charlie Table of Contents] [Tape 1 Side B] [Tape 2, Side B]
(Tape 2, Side A)
CHARLIE: Very seldom do they ever get too much alcohol. Now let's look at the left hand column. The left had column is the one who does not drink safely. Or, who is at disease with alcohol. That's all the word disease means. It is something that separates you from the norm. Nine people are at ease with it. One person is at dis-ease with it. He's said to have the disease of alcoholism.
For instance, where the normal social drinker can dissipate, get rid of it, an ounce an hour, maybe the alcoholic is doing it three quarters of an ounce per hour, maybe a half ounce per hour, maybe a quarter of an ounce per hour, maybe a tenth of an ounce per hour, depending upon the shape of the body, the enzyme production, et cetera. It varies with different alcoholics.
The phenomenon of craving is more pronounced in some people than it is in others. Now, it is a well know fact today, that acetone ingested into the human system that remains there for an appreciable period of time, creates an actual physical craving demanding more of the same. In the body of the nonalcoholic, it goes through that stage so rapidly that the phenomenon of craving never develops. In the body of the alcoholic that breakdown is so slow, the acetone remains there for a long enough period that an actual physical craving is produced by the acetone itself.
We have three drinks, and then we take another drink, and then we take another drink, and then we take another drink. We end up drunk, and sick, and in all kinds of trouble. We go through the well know stages of a spree. Let's take one of our drinking escapades for instance.
So we get in the bar. We sit down on the stool. We order a drink, and we're setting there visiting with somebody. As we're drinking the drink, the mind says, we've got to get up and leave this cool place, go out there where it's hot, and clean up that yard like we've been saying we're going to.
CHARLIE: Let's have one more before we go. The mind says, well, okay, a third one wouldn't hurt anything at all. We put the third drink in there.
We got most of the first, nearly all of the second, and now we've got all the acetone from the third drink in there. The acetone level goes up, and the craving becomes harder. The mind says, man, I've got to get up and go home and clean the yard, or I'm going to be in a hell of a bad shape with my wife when I get there.
The body says, forget the damn yard.
CHARLIE: Let's have another drink. We take a fourth drink. The acetone level goes up higher yet, and the craving becomes harder. It doesn't make any difference what the mind says. The body overrides the mind, and says let's have one more.
The guys we we're talking to after three drinks, they got up, and they went home. Now, here we are and it's midnight. My God, we're drunk. We fall out the door of that bar. We step out into the street and we get run over by a car. We're laying in the gutter. Our legs are broke, and we've vomited all over ourselves.
Somebody rushes up to us and says, can we help you?
We say, My God yea, give me another drink!
We never get all we want. We get more than we can handle. We get more than we need. But we never get all we want. This craving is so strong, that it overcomes the mind completely.
I think there's two very interesting facts about this information. It's also a well know medical fact today, that acetone ingested into the human body over an appreciable length of time, is an actual destroyer of human tissue. It begins to destroy and damage certain or organs of the body. Usually the first ones that it attacks and begins to damage is the liver and the pancreas . They know today that the enzymes necessary to metabolize alcohol are being produced by the liver and the pancreas. As the acetone itself begins to destroy those two organs, the enzyme production becomes less and less and less and less. Therefore, as we drink over a longer period of time the phenomenon of craving becomes more and more and more and more.
Some of you drank for years without any trouble. But somewhere in there, this damage became so great, that the enzyme production went down so much, that you were no longer able to drink safely. Therefore, we're in the gripe of a progressive disease. It never, never, never gets any better. It never stays the same. It always gets worse.
Also, as we get older, we know that everything that the body produces begins to shut down on us. Now, I wish that were not true, but it is. As we get older, our ability to produce the enzymes necessary to metabolize alcohol becomes less and less and less, whether we drink or not. I haven't had a drink in seventeen years. But if I took a drink today, I would not start where I left off seventeen years ago. Because my body's ability to metabolize alcohol today is less, due to the aging factor, I would be in worse shape today than I was when I stopped seventeen years ago. We are in the grip of a progressive disease. It never gets any better. The medical profession today has absolutely proven The Doctor's Opinion.
Joe and I have looked at and studied countless numbers of studies of alcoholism that's been done by the medical profession. They all point to the same thing. They may use different words to describe the breakdown, but every one ends up with the basic idea that the alcoholic's body is abnormal when it comes to alcohol. Therefore, we are allergic to alcohol. Every successful treatment program for alcoholism in the world today is based upon this idea. We'll never be able to safely drink like other human beings. Therefore, the only relief they offer to us is absolute abstinence. No drinking of alcohol in any form whatsoever.
This is absolutely great to know. I understand today why I can't drink like other people. I understand today why I can never go back and drink like I did when I was nineteen or twenty, twenty-five or thirty. I understand today why I'm different. Now, the only thing that I've got to do then, to take care of my alcoholism, is to just not drink. If I don't take a drink, I can't trigger the allergy. If I don't trigger the allergy, I cannot produce the phenomenon of craving. If I don't produce the phenomenon of craving, there's no way I can end up drunk and sick and in all kind. of trouble. But, you know, I've got something else wrong with me too.
He hasn't talked about that yet, but he's getting ready to in just a minute. I've got something up there in my head that keeps telling me it's okay to drink, when it's obvious to everybody around me that I can't drink, when it's obvious to me from time to time that I can't drink.
But you know that sucker's got something else wrong with him, too. Because every once and a while his mind tells him that it's alright to eat fish. He eats fish, and then back in that hospital he goes. But I bet you every time his mind says, well, I haven't had any fish in ninety days. I'm just going to eat two pieces.
CHARLIE: Or he says, it's them damn crappie I've been eating. I'm going to start eating bas i.
CHARLIE: Or it may say, it's them damn people I've been eating fish with.
CHARLIE: For some reason or other, his mind tells him it's okay to eat fish. He really believes he can. He eats it. It triggers his allergy, and in the hospital he goes.
There's something in my head that tells me that it's okay for me to drink. When it's obvious to everybody, and, at times obvious to me that I cannot drink. There's time that my mind says that I can. Let's see why that's true.
JOE: Okay, later on our book is going to (say where the main problem is centered.) I think we, as alcoholics, need to know as much about (the body as we can.) After all, if we're going to live with this illness we have to make a thorough diagnosis.
Later on, our book is going say it is great to know about the body. Okay, we're allergic to alcohol. But then it says, '...the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body.' (p. 23, par. 2) All the work is going to be done in the mind, because we're going to have to live with this (physical) part. There's nothing we can do about it. It begins to describe this on roman numeral twenty-six.
CHARLIE: Some people are highly offended when you tell them that. They say, oh, that isn't why I drank. They say I drank because I love the taste of alcohol. I wouldn't argue with anybody whether they loved the taste of alcohol or not. Now, I loved the taste of cold beer. I always have all my life. I also love the taste of cold mountain spring water. You know, I never did sit down and drink a case of cold mountain spring water.
CHARLIE: How can we: go out to our car, which has been sitting out in the sun all day. Open the trunk. Reach in there and get a bottle of vodka out, which is probably a hundred and forty or fifty degrees by now. Take the top off. Take a slug of that stuff straight. And we say, ugh, God, ain't it good'
CHARLIE: I could talk to the girls. I got one to let me take her home in the car. I became the world's greatest lover in the back seat of a '36 Chevrolet.
CHARLIE: Alcohol did for me what I could not do for myself. My mind became obsessed with the idea of drinking alcohol. An obsession of the mind is an idea that overcomes all other ideas. An obsession of the mind is an idea that is so strong that it makes you believe a lie. It makes you believe something that isn't true.
I hadn't been drinking three weeks, and people began to say to me, Charlie, you can't drink. They began to say, you ought to leave that stuff alone. My dad would say, Son, we people can't drink in our family. All of us that try to drink, we end up in serious trouble with it. My mother began to say, you got an uncle that's already died in an insane asylum from alcoholism. You can't drink. Everybody could see that, but I couldn't see it. Because alcohol did for me what I could not do for myself.
My mind became so obsessed with recapturing that feeling over and over and over, that I believed something that isn't true. I believed that I could drink. I believed that I could find a way to drink and not get drunk. I believed that I could find a way to drink like other people. I never could drink.
Looking back over my life today, I never could safely drink alcohol, but I didn't know that. I drank until I was forty years old, before I realize that I could no longer drink alcohol. This is the obsession of the mind.
When you find anything that makes you feel as good as it made us feel in the beginning, your mind's going to become obsessed with it. For some people, it's food. For other people, it's gambling. For other people, it's sex. For other people, it's drugs. For other people, it's work. Anybody who's operating with a true obsession of the mind can not see the truth about their drinking, or whatever it is they're doing. They believe it's going to be okay. They believe they're normal. They believe it's everybody else that's out of step. Let's see what the doctor lays about that.
CHARLIE: Even though, once and a while, I could see what alcohol was doing to me. I'd come out of that Jailhouse and I'd say, man, I've got to quit this damn stuff. It's killing me. Within two hours my mind would believe something different. My mind would say, it wasn't the alcohol. It was those people in that bar. Or quit trying to drink vodka, and go back to bourbon and you'll be alright. Or lay off that bourbon, and drink wine. One time it said, drink rum. The only thing I got out of rum was bad dysentery.
CHARLIE: I'm damn sure allergic to it. We cannot differentiate the true from the false.
That's what we got to--if we're going to help the practicing alcoholic-that's what we've got to realize, that the person who's drinking cannot differentiate the true from the false.
They come in the door of an A.A. meeting. We tell them, in our wisdom, everything we know, and they turn right around and they get drunk again. We say, what the hell is the matter with them. What's the matter with them is that they can't differentiate the true from the false. They believe they can drink. That's why alcoholics drink, because they think they can. If I didn't think I could drink, I wouldn't drink. If I could see the truth, and know that every time I drink I'm going to the jailhouse, I wouldn't drink. My mind has got to believe a lie, in order for me to drink. If you believe a lie, that means you cannot differentiate the true from the false.
CHARLIE: Notice the use of the words: phenomenon of craving. Up until that time he is describing the way the mind feels while the person is sober. Then he said, after they have succumbed to the desire again, after they have put two or three drinks in their system, then the phenomenon of craving develops. So craving deals with the physical body, not the mind. It's always used in the context of after we've had one, two, or three drinks. Then we can't stop. Now, Joe's going to go to the board, and he's going to talk a little bit about the other half of our disease.
CHARLIE: We're filled with shame, fear, guilt, and remorse over the things we did on our last drunk.
JOE: These things build up, and they become painful. As we said, we had problems with these things before--I did, as Charlie did-- before I even had my first drink. I felt, out of it. I had these fears, and these little inadequate feelings about myself. ,br> While having one of those... someone offered me a few drinks. And I had a few drinks. I noticed when I had a few drinks...in return I felt a sense of ease and comfort. Alcohol is a downer. When I put alcohol in my system, alcohol suppressed these emotions. As an end result' I felt bettor. So, right at that moment, to some extent, very subtly alcohol became a solution. I had a problem, which I'd had for quite a few years, or months, or period of time. I took a few drinks. A few drinks depressed it. So, alcohol became my answer, my solution. I don't have to feel that way any more. Next time I became restless, irritable, and discontented, I build up to that point, and I remembered what I did the last time. That'. an obsession. I remembered the solution. An idea that overcame all other ideas. So, I began to play that game very shortly...you know, we alcoholics are smart. It doesn't take us long to learn. If you have a problem, and that's the answer, you add those two things together. Plus. That's addiction.
CHARLIE: Mental addiction.
JOE: Mental addiction, not physical addiction. Addiction means to add together. It'. a part of the human process. It's a natural thing. Addiction is natural to every person.
Say...your TV would break today. If you were new in town, you wouldn't know who to get to fix it. You would call a friend or go in the yellow pages to find you a repair person to come over to fix your TV Six months later when your TV broke again, the second time you wouldn't call a friend. You wouldn't go in the yellow pages. You would remember who fixed it the last time. You go to the same beauty shop to repeat success, You go to the same barbershop. You buy the same kind of car. You buy the same product. It's repeating success. It's a part of the human being to do that.
It's great unless we use it on the wrong thing. We use it every day in our lives. Except when we use it on this, alcohol, drugs, or food or something else like that. We build up to this point. (In Joe's illustration, the point on the emotional barometer where it's necessary to drink.) Each and every one of us are unique here. That's why we're going to look at our own build-up. Each and every person has a unique build-up. No two people are the same. No two people have the same tolerance level. It finally reaches this point and triggers. ..this obsession, an idea. All action--the action of drinking is like any other action-all action is born in thought. You can't take a drink, unless it's proceeded by the thought to drink. It's the thought to drink that produces the drink. We become restless, irritable and discontent and it produces the thought to drink. The thought to drink overcomes all other ideas. It pushes out all other thoughts... and it takes over. We take a few drinks. This is the real problem. It's not the drinking, but the thought to drink. The thought to drink makes us take a few drinks. Once we take a few drinks, once the alcohol enters the system, that's the end of our mental problem.
We slowly build up, we have another emotional build-up. We're restless, irritable and discontented. We build up again, it triggers the obsession to drink again. The obsession makes us take a few drinks, and we repeat this again. The doctor said, this is repeated over and over again.
JOE: Okay, now, this is built in destruction because the mind is making us put alcohol into the system. The enzyme deficiency is getting worse. As the enzyme deficiency gets worse, the craving gets harder. As the craving gets harder, the drinking gets longer and harder. As the drinking gets longer and harder, the more emotional problems it creates over here (on the emotional barometer) to set it off.
So, the mind is destroying the body, and the body in reverse is destroying the mind. This is what we're talking about in the First Step. If you have a physical allergy to alcohol, you can't safely use alcohol. And if you have this little game going on with you, in the mind, then the problem over here is: you can't quit. Sometimes I look at this a little different lately. I really don't know--I was pretty good at quitting. But I couldn't stop starting.
JOE: Now, if you can't drink because of the body, and you can't quit because of the mind, then you are powerless over alcohol.
CHARLIE: And if your life isn't unmanageable, it soon will be, if you keep this up.
JOE: You are powerless. These two things make us powerless over alcohol. Now, this is Dr. Silkworth's work. Once we solve this, this is the foundation of recovery. Once we understand the problem, there is--once you see, I don't care how difficult it is--there is some answer here. There is a way to beat this thing. Obviously, we don't know anything about (curing the physical allergy.) Therefore, (if) we believe that we're powerless the solution would be power, a Power working in the mind. For many years I tried--I don't know if anybody here...did, you probably did--I tried to control my drinking, while drinking. I didn't do much good. I'm going to stop at three or four. But I didn't know this. I realize now...why I failed. After many years, I finally realized that I, couldn't drink. After about thirteen years of trying to drink, I said, I don't believe that you can drink.
JOE: So I decided to quit. Every alcoholic comes to that point. When the alcoholic means to quit, he really means business.. And when he means business, he gets out his number one weapon. He puts a block in here. He puts will. Boy, when he gets will, he means business.
CHARLIE: That's his ultimate tool.
JOE: Ultimate tool. Will power. I was still restless, irritable and discontented, and I still had an obsession to drink, but I blocked them with will power. Finally, one day, one of those little devils got through! and I was gone again.
So, what we're talking about, what we're proposing here, is a solution. He said, once these people '...can experience an entire psychic change.' (p. xxvii, par. 1) It talks about a personality change sufficient to recover. (Appendix II, p. 569, par. 1 third edition)
If we can do some work in here (the obsession part of the disease , if we can make some changes in our personality, if we can live below this tolerance level (on the emotional barometer), which is triggering this obsession, if we can live down here (where it's not necessary to drink), we will never reach this point (where it is necessary to drink). We will never trigger the obsession. We will never take our first drink. We will never set off the craving in the body.
This is what we're...talking about: believing that a Power greater than ourselves, through the application of these Steps, a spiritual experience produces a personality change sufficient, good enough, to recover from alcoholism. But it'. based on: what is the problem? The First Step is the foundation of all the other work. Our book shows us the exact nature of our problem.
We can put more words in: shame, fear, guilt, and remorse. Those are all things of the mind. We run around feeling that way. We don't like to feel that way, and the mind begins to seek relief. It begins to seek that sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks (p. xxvii, par. 1), drinks which we see other people taking without getting drunk. Finally, the relief that we're after, that idea, becomes so strong that we believe we can drink. We take the drink, and then we go through the well know stages of a spree. Unless we can experience an entire psychic change, a different method of thinking, unless we can find a way to live where we're not restless, irritable and discontented, where we're not filled with shame, fear, guilt, and remorse, our mind is always going to go back and seek that relief. But if we could find a way to live where we don't feel that way emotionally, in our head, then the emotions will never build to the level that requires that we take a drink in order to change the way we feel.
He said: (p. xxvii, par. 2) 'On the other hand--and strange as this may seem to those who do not understand--once a psychic change has occurred, the very same person who seemed doomed, who had so many problems he despaired of ever solving them, suddenly finds himself easily able to control his desire for alcohol, the only effort necessary being that required to follow a few simple rules.'
So, even though we have a two fold disease, the disease of the body as well as a disease of the mind, recovery can only come about through the mind itself. They can do nothing about the body. They've been trying to do something about it ever since this was written back in 1939. They're not any closer to it, today, than they were then. The doctors today still tell us: don't drink it. Stay away from it. They can do nothing about the body, so recovery will have to come through the mind.
CHARLIE: People who are obsessed with the idea of eating food, they get something from food that we alcoholics do not understand. Whatever it is, it makes them feel good. They begin to eat too much of it! whatever it might be. They begin to destroy their lives. They begin to destroy the lives of those around them. Everybody sees that they can't do that, and they themselves see it from time to time. But also, from time to time, their mind believes that this time it's going to be different. Anybody (who's) operating under an obsession of the mind cannot really see the truth about what they're doing.
Let's take food out of there, and let's put gambling in. Some people are obsessed with the idea of gambling. The more they examine it and the more they study it today, they know that when the gambler gambles, the body undergoes certain changes. It creates a physical factor in the body, and makes them feel better than anything ever made them feel. They continue to gamble, and gamble, and gamble, and destroy their lives and the lives of everybody around them. Always the mind saying, I'm just going to bet two dollars this time that's all. They really cannot differentiate the true from the false.
Some people are obsessed with sex.
Some people are obsessed with working. They work, and they work, and they work, and the only time they feel good is when they're working. They destroy their lives and the lives of everybody around them. Everybody can see what's happening to them, but they can't see that.
Why, there are some people who are obsessed with the idea of stopping other people from drinking.
CHARLIE: I don't know what it is they get out of it. I certainly don't understand, but their mind becomes obsessed with the idea of stopping another person from drinking. They try everything in the world. They throw away the car keys. They have them locked up in jail. They put their clothes out on the front porch. They bring them back in. They stay up all night looking for them to come home. Then when they come home, they raise hell with them, and throw them out of the house.
CHARLIE: Everybody can see that it's not working, but they believe it's going to work. Anybody (who) operates under an obsession of the mind, whatever it is, cannot differentiate the true from the false. They think that what their doing is eventually going to be what it is they're searching for. Ours happened to be an obsession with alcohol.
Other people's obsession with drugs of different kinds, cocaine, heroin, marihuana, it doesn't make any difference. We do those things because it makes us feel better. Until eventually it turns against us, and begins to destroy us. By then our mind has become so obsessed, we can't differentiate the true from the false.
Now, the only hope that the practicing alcoholic, or that the overeater, or that the drug addict, or that any of us have, is, some way, to find a way to live, and be peaceful and happy and serene, whenever we're not using whatever it is we were using. If we can find a way to feel good and be free from whatever it is we're using, then we don't have to use that stuff in order to make ourselves feel better. And we do that through a psychic change. A change in the mind. A change in attitude. A change in the mental outlook. upon life.
The doctor (Dr. Silkworth) told us what's wrong with us. The doctor told us what we needed to recover. But the doctor could do no more for us, because he didn't know how to bring this psychic change about. The only thing that he gave us was the problem. But for the first time in the history of mankind we saw what the problem really is.
You and I know those three today. If we act upon it as Bill and the rest did, then we most certainly can recover from this hopeless condition of the mind and the body, (p. 20, par. 2) just exactly like they did. Now, the rest of the book will be designed to show us the solution to this problem, and the practical program of action necessary to find that solution. The book now starts a pattern that it will follow all the way through the book.
We're through for the evening. Hope you all have enjoyed it. We certainly have.
CHARLIE: Like I said last night, we love to tell jokes. We love to laugh. We love to cut up. We love to have fun. And we think that's what this thing is basically about. If we can't enjoy ourselves and have fun in A.A., sooner or later we're going to go back to drinking. The story I like to tell...
***(Bus station Joke. )***
JOE: Everybody gets a lot of fun, and they always wonder why I shake my head at Charlie's jokes. You know, I listen to them quite often.
***Beginning of session on next day***JOE: As we begin...I think again we can see the importance of Friday night in the Big Book study. It's to lay the foundation for the weekend. Because the whole thing is going to be built on the problem. What is the problem? The First Step, you know, that is the foundation of recovery. That's what opens the door. Once we see the problem--last night we went through The Doctor's Opinion--we went through the problem. We found out that we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable. We found out that the details of this was involved in the fact that we have a disease. That this disease is twofold. That it affects the body and the mind.
Later on we're going to have to bring in the third area of human life, the spiritual, in order to recover. So this weekend ... we're going to be talking about all three parts of a human life. There are three parts to a human life: the mind, the body, and the spirit. We find out that our disease is twofold. We have a physical allergy, which is manifested by the craving. And we have a mental obsession. These two things, coupled together, make us powerless over alcohol. This is the exact nature of the problem.
You know, if you were in a medical school, and you went into a classroom setting, they would probably teach you academically about an illness or a disease. After they (taught) you about the illness, then they would carry you on to the ward, and show you somebody with that illness. This is what Bill's Story does. Bill's Story broadens on The Doctor's Opinion. We can see alcoholism in a human life. We can see it's progression. We can see the allergy, the obsession, and the progression of alcoholism. And it also brings out to me the second part of the First Step: our lives have become unmanageable. We can see the unmanageability of Bill's life as we read and study Bill's Story. This is why Bill's Story doesn't really have a lot of impact on the reader if he starts at Bill's Story. If he has read and studied The Doctor's Opinion, then...Bill's Story has some meaning.
(End of Side A of Tape 2)
Step # 1 Big Book Page # Tape 2B-1 (Tape 2 Side B)
(Tape 2 Side B)
CHARLIE: As Joe says, we learned certain things when we studied The Doctor's Opinion. Based upon that information, as we go to Bill's Story, following the standard textbook idea, we'll be able then to pick up more ideas about alcoholism, to add to what we learned last night.
Another thing we're going to learn in Bill's Story, is we're going to see identification. Back in those day in Akron, Cleveland, and New York City they did there the same thing we do today when they worked with a new alcoholic. They went out to the new alcoholic and sat down with them wherever it might be, hospital, jailhouse, home, or wherever. They sat down with them, and explained to them their own disease of alcoholism. This is the greatest thing that can happen to a practicing alcoholic.
Everybody in the world has been talking to the practicing alcoholic about his or her alcoholism. The wife, the spouse, the husband, the doctor, the police, and everybody else, has been talking to the alcoholic about his alcoholism. The A.A. member sits down and talks about their own alcoholism.
This is a great relief for the practicing alcoholic. In discussing their own alcoholism, they can help the new alcoholics see where they are. In discussing their own disease, they can help the new alcoholic see what the disease of alcoholism is. In doing that, if they do it in the right manner, we make an identification process, one alcoholic speaking to another. They knew, though, when the Big Book was written that it was going to be coming to places like Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska. They were not going to be able to see those people on a one on one, face to face basis.
So the Big Book would have to do the identification process. In putting Bill's Story exactly where it is, the person who has read and studied The Doctor's Opinion, they will now be able to identify with another alcoholic in Bill's Story. They also will be able to, perhaps, get the beginning of belief, believing that what has happened to Bill could possibly happen to them also.
We will see the beginning of hope, hoping that what happened to Bill (can happen to us). We'll see his recovery. If we're like Bill and we've identified, then we can develop hope that maybe that can happen to us also. So Bill's Story fits in here exactly where it should.
Some people say, well, I can't identify with Bill, because after all he was a night school lawyer in New York City. Most of us were not night school lawyer. Or some of us say, well, he was a stockbroker and worked in the stock market, and we did not. (We) couldn't identify with him. And where Joe and I come from we say, yeah, and he was a Yankee also, that's part of the difficulty.
CHARLIE: But if we read and study Bill's Story, I think we'll be able to find all the identification that we need, to identify with Bill, and begin to believe and hope that maybe this could happen to us also. We'll be able to see the progression of the disease in Bill's Story. So let's briefly run though it and look for some points, that maybe would help us identify with Bill.
We usually start on page two. On page two he says: (p. 2, par. 1) 'I took a night law course, and obtained employment as investigator for a surety company. The drive for success was on. I'd prove to the world I was important.'
Well, I already identify with Bill Wilson. That's all I ever tried to do all my life, was lust prove to the world that I'm just as important as anybody else in it.
He said: (p. 2, par. 1) 'My work took me about Wall Street and little by little I became interested in the market. Many people lost money--but some became very rich. Why not I? I studied economics and business as well as law. Potential alcoholic that I was, I nearly failed my law course. At one of the finals I was too drunk to think or write. Though my drinking was not yet continuous, it disturbed my wife. We had long talks when I would still her forebodings by telling her that men of genius conceived their beat projects when drunk...'
I have no trouble identifying with Bill Wilson.
CHARLIE: Next paragraph: (p. 2, par. 2) 'By the time I had completed the course, I knew the law was not for me. The inviting maelstrom of Wall Street had me in it's grip. Business and financial leaders were my heroes. Out of this alloy of drink and speculation, I commenced to forge the weapon that one day would turn in its flight like a boomerang and all but cut me to ribbons. Living modestly, my wife and I saved 1,000. It went into certain securities, then cheap and rather unpopular. I rightly imagined that they would some day have a great rise. I failed to persuade my broker friends to send me out looking over factories and management-, but my wife and I decided to go anyway. I had developed a theory that most people lost money in stocks through ignorance of markets. I discovered many more reasons later on.'
We can begin to see the stubbornness of the alcoholic in Bill Wilson. Bill had developed a theory. This was back in the 1920's. The stock market was on a roll, similar to what it is today. (This was taped in February 1987) Nearly everybody who dealt in stocks was making money. You simply had to buy some stock, hold it a while. They went up in price. You sold them. You bought some more, held them a while, et cetera. Bill began to say, this really isn't the way to invest your money.
HQ began to say, I think we ought to go out and investigate these companies. Find out how much money they're really making, what their assets are, what the stocks are selling for, and begin to make our decisions based upon actual fact, rather than pure speculation.
Bill didn't have the money to do this so he went to people who had the money in the stock market, and proposed the idea to them. They said, no, Bill, we don't need that. We're making all the money we need, and we don't need any of that kind of stuff. Now, Bill, being a good stubborn, hardheaded alcoholic, he said, well, I'll show them. I'll do it anyhow. So he and Lois took what little bit of money that they had, and they decided to go out and investigate all these companies on their own.
He said: (p. 2, par. 3: p. 3, par. 1) 'We gave up our positions and off we roared on a motorcycle, the sidecar stuffed with tent, blankets, a change of clothes, and three huge volumes of a financial (top of p. 3) reference service. Our friends thought a lunacy commission should be appointed. Perhaps they were right. I had had some success at speculation, so we had a little money, but we once worked on a farm for a month to avoid drawing on our small capital. That was the last honest manual labor on my part for many a day. We covered the whole eastern United States in a year. At the end of it, my reports to Wall Street procured me a position there and the use of a large expense account. The exercise of an option brought in more money, leaving us with a profit of several thousand dollars for that year.'
When Bill took this information back to Wall Street, and showed it to the same people, they said, oh, yeah, we see what you're talking about now. This is a hell of a good idea. Immediately, they put Bill on a payroll, gave him a large salary, gave him a large expense account, and Bill had a profit of several thousand dollars for that year. He'd come from nothing, now to a person who had some means, and a person who had succeeded at life.
He said: (p. 3, par. 2) 'For the next few years fortune threw money and applause my way. I had arrived.'
Oh, I don't have any trouble identifying with Bill. You get those goals set. You work and you work and you strive. You finally get there, and damn, it feels good.
He said: (p. 3, par. 3) 'My judgment and ideas were followed by many to the tune of paper millions. The great boom of the late twenties was seething and swelling. Drink was taking an important and exhilaration part in my life. There was loud talk in the jazz places uptown. Everyone spent in thousands and chattered in millions. Scoffers could scoff and be damned. I made a host of fair-weather friends . '
Bill doesn't know that he's alcoholic. He simply knows that he likes to drink. Drinking now becomes an important part in his life.
He said: (p. 3, par. 3) 'My drinking assumed more serious proportions, continuing all day and almost every night. The remonstrances of my friends terminated in a row and I became a lone wolf.'
The business partners began to say, Bill, you're drinking too much. Bill, you're coating us money. Bill, you're making mistakes. Bill, we think you ought to slow down. Bill, we think you ought to quit. Bill, we think you ought to drink like old John over there. Finally like most alcoholics, Bill got tired of that, and Bill said, to hell with them. He withdrew from them, and became a lone wolf, and began to operate on his own.
He said: (p. 3, par. 3) 'There were many unhappy scenes in our sumptuous apartment. There had been no real infidelity, for loyalty to my wife, helped at times by extreme drunkenness, kept me out of those scrapes.'
I've always believed everything Bill wrote, but I'm not sure about that last statement. Lois in some of her writings talks about the time he came home and he had on his shirt, tie, and coat, and shoes and socks but he didn't have anything on in between.
CHARLIE: Maybe he'd been operating in a blackout, who knows.
Page four. (p. 4, par. 2) 'Abruptly in October 1929 hell broke loose on the New York stock exchange. After one of those days of inferno, I wobbled from a hotel bar to a brokerage office. It was eight o'clock--five hours after the market closed. The ticker still clattered. I was staring at an inch of the tape which bore the inscription XYZ-32. It had been 52 that morning. I was finished and so were many friends. The papers reported men jumping to death from the towers of High Finance. That disgusted me. I would not Jump. I went back to the bar.'
CHARLIE: (p. 4, par. 2) 'My friends had dropped several million since ten o'clock--so what? Tomorrow was another day. As I drank, the old fierce determination to win came back.'
How many of us have done the same thing. How many of us have come out of the jailhouse, the hospital, the divorce court, we're low, sad, depressed? We stop in a bar and we have a drink or two. As we do that old fierce determination to win comes back. We say, by God, we'll show them. They're not going to treat me that way. We get up, and we take off again in a different direction.
(p. 4, par. 3) 'Next morning I telephoned a friend in Montreal. He had plenty of money left and thought I had better go to Canada. By the following spring we were living in our accustomed style. I felt like Napoleon returning from Elba. No St. Helena for me' But drinking caught up with me again and my generous friend had to let me go. This time we stayed broke.'
We can see the progression of Bill's disease. Gradually getting worse and worse.
(p. 4, par. 4; p. 5, par. 1) 'We went to live with my wife's parents. I found a job: then lost it as the result of a brawl with a taxi driver. Mercifully, no one could guess that I was to have no real employment for five years, or hardly draw a sober breath. My wife began to work in a department store, coming home exhausted to find me drunk. (top of p. 5) I became an unwelcome hanger-on at brokerage places.'
Here was a guy that just a few months before this, people were following his advice to the tune of millions of dollars. Now he's an unwelcome hanger-on at brokerage places. Nobody wants anything to do with him now. His drinking has become so bad that nobody wants to follow his judgement at all.
(p. 5, par. 2) 'Liquor ceased to be a luxury; it became a necessity.'
Now we're no longer drinking for fun and excitement. We're now drinking to live, because we absolutely have to.
(p. 5, par. 2) '"Bathtub" gin, two bottles a day, and often three, got to be routine. Sometimes a small deal would net a few hundred dollars, and I would pay my bills at the bars and delicatessens. This went on endlessly, and I began to waken very early in the morning shaking violently. A tumbler full of gin followed by half a dozen bottles of beer would be required if I were to eat any breakfast. Nevertheless, I still thought I could control the situation, and there were periods of sobriety which renewed my wife's hope.'
Remember Dr. Silkworth tells us that we really cannot differentiate the true from the false. To us what we're doing is normal. We can see Bill's life going to hell in a hand basket already. Bill can't see that. Bill feels that he can control the situation. There were periods of time when he would sober up, put a few deals together, make a little money, and he thought everything was going okay.
But: (p. 5, par. 3-4) 'Gradually things got worse. The house was taken over by the mortgage holder, my mother-in-law died, my wife and father-in-law became ill.
'Then I got a promising business opportunity. Stocks were at the low point of 1932, and I had somehow formed a group to buy. I was to share generously in the profits. Then I went on a prodigious bender, and that chance vanished. '
This is a story within itself. See "Pass it On", pp. 91-92. Bill had put this deal together. He had sold it to the people (who) had money. They bought into this idea on the provision that Bill didn't drink. They said, Bill, if you take as much as one drop of booze you're going to blow the whole deal. No drinking period. And Bill said, don't worry about it. I'm not ever going to drink again as long as I live. One night just before the deal was consummated, they were setting around talking and somebody passed a bottle of applejack around. It came to Bill, and he said, no thank you, I'm not drinking. The second round it came to Bill, and Bill said, well, I don't believe one drink of applejack would hurt anybody. Bill took a drink, triggered his allergy, couldn't stop drinking, got drunk and blew the whole deal. For the first time in his life, Bill could see what alcohol was doing to him.
The next paragraph he said: (p. 5, par. 5) 'I woke up. This had to be stopped. I saw I could not take so much as one drink. I was through forever. Before then, I had written iota of sweet promises, but my wife happily observed that this time I meant business. And so I did.'
He sang our national anthem. He said, I ain't never going to take another drink of that stuff as long as I live. Now, Bill had an amazing amount of will power. Bill was one of these guys (who) came from nothing. He was a self-made man. We saw him educate himself as a lawyer through night law school. We saw him go from somebody with no financial means at all to actually for a period of time a multimillionaire. Bill had an extreme amount of will power. He assumed that now that I want to stop drinking, all I've got to do is put the will power to it, and I'll be okay. but then:
(p. 5, par. 6; p. 6, par. 1) 'Shortly afterward I came home drunk. There had been no fight. Where had been my high resolve? I simply didn't know. It hadn't even come to mind. Someone had pushed a drink my way, and I had taken it. Was I crazy? I began to wonder, for such an appalling lack of perspective seemed near being just that.
'Renewing my resolve, I tried again. Some time (top of p. 6) passed, and confidence began to be replaced by cocksureness. I could laugh at the gin mills. Now I had what it takes! One day I walked into a cafe to telephone. In no time I was beating on the bar asking myself how it happened. As the whisky rose to my head I told myself I would manage better next time, but I might as well get good and drunk then. And I did.'
I have no trouble identifying with Bill Wilson.
Last paragraph page six: (p. 6, par. 3; p. 7, par. 1) The mind and body are marvelous mechanisms, for mine endured this agony two more years. Sometimes I stole from my wife's slender purse when the morning terror and madness were on me. Again I swayed dizzily before an open window, or the medicine cabinet where there was poison, cursing myself for a weakling. There were flights from city to country and back, a. my wife and I sought escape. Then came the night when the physical and mental torture was so hellish I feared I would burst through my window, sash and all. Somehow I managed to drag my mattress to a lower floor, feat I suddenly leap. A doctor came with (top of p. 7) a heavy sedative. Next day found me drinking both gin and sedative. This combination soon landed me on the rocks.'
We talk today as if dual addiction is something brand new. Bill had a problem with this way back in the '30's. So did Dr. Bob, and so did many of the first one hundred people.
(p. 7, par. 1) 'People feared for my sanity. So did I. I could eat little or nothing when drinking, and I was forty pounds under weight.'
Now we see the progression of the disease to the point where we're beginning to die from alcoholism. We can't eat anymore. Malnutrition has got us. Unless something happens pretty fast, we're going to die from our disease. Bill was very fortunate.
He said: (p. 7, par. 2) 'My brother-in-law is a physician...' This is a fellow named Dr. Leonard Strong. (p. 7, par. 2) '...and through his kindness and that of my mother I was placed in a nationally-known hospital for the mental and physical rehabilitation of alcoholics. Under the so-called belladonna treatment my brain cleared. Hydrotherapy and mild exercise helped much. Best of all, I met a kind doctor who explained that though certainly selfish and foolish, I had been seriously ill, bodily and mentally.'
This is the summer of 1933. We're now in the Towns Hospital, and Bill has been talking to Dr. Silkworth.
JOE: Dr. Leonard Strong placed Bill in the Towns (Hospital) under Dr. Silkworth. He was a great part of this in Bill's life. He Step # 1 Big Book Page # 7-8 Tape 2B-7 actually put him in the Towns (Hospital), and he actually paid for it every time he was in there. There he met Dr. Silkworth. Dr. Silkworth explained to Bill what we talked about in The Doctor's Opinion last night. He explained to him, Bill, I believe that you have this allergy. I believe that it has nothing to do with will power. I believe you have a disease.
Bill said: (p. 7, par. 3) 'It relieved me somewhat to learn that in alcoholics the will is amazingly weakened when it comes to combating liquor, though it often remains strong in other respects.'
Because Bill had been trying to use will power. Once he talked to Dr. Silkworth, this is when he saw where it wouldn't work.
(p. 7, par. 3) 'My incredible behavior in the face of a desperate desire to stop was explained. Understanding myself now, I fared forth in high hope. For three or four months the goose hung high.'
Now, that's slang. Young people might not understand it. That means he was doing pretty good.
JOE: The goose hung high. (p. 7, par. 3-4) 'I went to town regularly and even made a little money. Surely this was the answer--self-knowledge.
'But it was not, for the frightful day came when I drank once more. The curve of my declining moral and bodily health fell off like a ski-jump. After a time I returned to the hospital.'
Bill returned to the hospital the next time in 1934, the summer of 1934, about a year later.
(p. 7, par. 4) 'This was the finish, the curtain, it seemed to me. My weary and despairing wife was informed that it would all end with heart failure during delirium tremens...'
Bill overheard Dr. Silkworth talking to Lois, telling her he probably wouldn't live too much longer.
(p. 7, par. 4: p. 8, par. 1) '...or I would develop a wet brain, perhaps within a year. She would soon have to give me over to the undertaker or the asylum.
'They did not need to tell me. I knew, and almost welcomed the idea. It was a devastating blow to my (top of p. 8) pride. I, who had thought so well of myself and my abilities, of my capacity to surmount obstacles, was cornered at last. Now I was to plunge into the dark, joining that endless procession of sots who had gone on before. I thought of my poor wife. There had been much happiness after all. What would I not give to make amends. But that was over now.'
Bill, remember, had gone through the whole thing. He had talked to Dr. Silkworth once. Now here he was back again, the second time. He was beginning to accept, really, his predicament. Listen to the next paragraph very closely.
(p. 8, par. 2) 'No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found in that bitter morass of self-pity. Quicksand stretched around me in all directions. I had met my match. I had been overwhelmed. Alcohol was my master.'
CHARLIE: Now surely this is when Bill took Step One. There was no Step # 1 Big Book Page # 8-9 Tape 2B-8 Step One written in those days But surely this is when Bill admitted defeat. He had admitted that he had become powerless over alcohol--that his life had become unmanageable.
Alcohol had become his master. It had defeated him in a fair fight. If that should happen to you and me today, chances are we would leave that hospital and we'd say, well, I guess I'd better go to A.A. But there wasn't any A.A. in those days. Bill had nowhere to turn. Even though he had admitted complete defeat, and admitted that alcohol had become his master. He left that hospital with no place to go.
(p. 8, par. 3) 'Trembling, I stepped from the hospital a broken man. Fear sobered me for a bit. Then came the insidious insanity of that first drink, and on Armistice Day 1934, I was off again.'
(This was November 11, 1934) Again that's a story within itself. It's in "A.A. Comes of Age." ("Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age," pages 56-57) If you haven't read it, you really ought to read it. It's a very interesting story. His mind, his obsession became operative, and told him it would be alright to take a drink. Bill took a drink and triggered the allergy, and, of course, he couldn't stop.
(p. 8, par. 3 p. 9, par. 1) 'Everyone became resigned to the certainty that I would have to be shut up somewhere, or would stumble along to a miserable end. How dark it is before the dawn. In reality that was the beginning of my last debauch. I was soon to be catapulted into what I like to call the fourth dimension of existence. I was to know happiness, peace, and usefulness, in a way of life that is incredibly more wonderful as time passes.
'Near the end of that bleak November, I sat drinking in my kitchen. With a certain satisfaction I reflected there was enough gin concealed about the house to carry me through that night and the next day. My wife was at work. I wondered whether I dared hide a full bottle of gin near the head of our bed. I would need it before daylight.
'My musing was interrupted by the telephone. The cheery voice of an old school friend asked if he might (top of p. 9) come over. He was sober. It was years since I could remember his coming to New York in that condition. I was amazed.'
This old friend was a guy named Ebby Thatcher. Bill knew Ebby way back from the time they were really children. They went to school together, various different places and times up in Vermont. Ebby drank like Bill did. Every time Bill saw Ebby, especially in New York City, Ebby had always been drunk. Here is Ebby in New York City. He's calling Bill, and he's sober. Bill is absolutely amazed by this. The last thing he'd heard about Ebby (was that) Ebby was about to be committed to the state insane asylum in Vermont for alcoholic insanity. That's what they used to do with people like us. They didn't have the treatment centers like they've got them today. If you knew somebody, or you had enough money you could get into a place like the Towns Hospital. But the normal old drunk like most of us are, about the only thing they could do for us was drag us in front of the Judge. The Judge would commit us to the state insane asylum, wherever it was, for alcoholic insanity. Bill had heard that was what had happened to Ebby up in Vermont. But here he is in New York City. Not only is he not in the insane asylum, but he's sober.
Bill said: (p. 9, par. 1-5) 'Rumor had it that he had been committed for alcoholic insanity. I wondered how he had escaped. Of course he would have dinner, and then I could drink openly with him. Unmindful of his welfare, I thought only of recapturing the spirit of other days. There was that time we had chartered an airplane to complete a Jag' His coming was an oasis in this dreary desert of futility. The very thing--an oasis' Drinkers are like that.
'The door opened and he stood there, fresh-skinned and glowing. There was something about his eyes. He was inexplicably different. What had happened?
'I pushed a drink across the table. He refused it. Disappointed but curious, I wondered what had got into the fellow. He wasn't himself.
'"Come, what's all this about?" I queried. 'He looked straight at me. Simply, but smilingly, he said, "I've got religion."'
I'm damn glad that didn't happen in my kitchen.
CHARLIE: I have no idea what I would have done. But here's what Bill did.
Bill said: (p. 9, par. 6-7) 'I was aghast. So that was it--last summer an alcoholic crackpot now, I suspected, a little cracked about religion. He had that starry-eyed look. Yea, the old boy was on fire all right. But bless his heart, let him rant! Besides, my gin would last longer than his preaching.
'But he did no ranting. In a matter of fact way he told how two men had appeared in court, persuading the judge to suspend his commitment. They had told of a simple religious idea and a practical program of action. That was two months ago and the result was self-evident. It worked!
(Note that here is the phrase that Joe and Charlie use: practical program of action.)
JOE: Now we can see this is a very integral part, where we can see the ideas coming together that produced the Big Book, the three things we're talking about. (problem, solution, practical program of action) Remember that Bill has already been to see Dr. Silkworth in 1933, and he has gotten the problem. In the summer of 1933, Dr. Silkworth explained to him the exact nature of the problem. In 1934, that summer at the Towns (Hospital), he really accepted Step One. But he didn't have any other program. He didn't have any other thing but Step One.
About the same time that summer Ebby, who came from a good family, was kind of down on his luck. Booze had Ebby. Ebby had got in a little difficulty that summer too. It seems that Ebby was driving his father's car down the road. His father had passed ... and his family had given him one of the cars. He was driving this car down the road. It seems like he ran off the road, and ran into a lady's house. Even more importantly he actually ran into the kitchen of the lady's house. The lady was in the kitchen. Ebby got out of the car right in the lady's kitchen, and said, Madam, how about a cup of coffee.
JOE: It seemed like some narrow minded judge didn't get the humor out of it, and wanted to put Ebby in the nut house. (See "Pass It On", pp. 114-115)
Rowland, who we'll talk about a little bit later, who had been to Dr. Carl Jung. Dr. Carl Jung had told him about the spiritual experience, had told him about the solution, in Zurich, Switzerland. He heard about Ebby. He had come back and got in the Oxford Groups, and used their program, their planned program of action, to find the solution that Dr. Carl Jung told him about. So they had this information.
The judge turned (Ebby over to Rowland). Rowland took Ebby to his home and kept him for a couple of weeks. Then he took him in to New York City to Sam Shoemaker's mission which was at that time really the headquarters there of the Oxford Groups movement. There were some Oxford Groupers that hung around the mission, and took care of the people that came in there at night, ten or twelve of them. Ebby had about three months sobriety. He was one of the disciples in the Oxford Group there at the mission who worked with people at night. He had been on Wall Street before, too, during the day. (He) decided to go down on Wall Street. When he got down there, some of the people told him about Bill, and what kind of shape he was in. Ebby said, I believe I'll call him and see if he's interested in this new thing I've found through the Oxford Groups.
Bill had the problem. On (page) eight, he had taken Step One. (p. 8, par. 2) And that's all he had. But Ebby brought him a simple religious idea, which is Step Two, and a practical program of action, (p. 9, par. 7) which became Steps Three through Twelve, the recovery Steps. Ebby brought him the other two pieces of the puzzle. I've always said, when Ebby walked into the kitchen, it was where the problem found the solution, and the planned program of recovery.
He said: (p. 9, par. 8 p. 10, par. 1) 'He had come to pass his experience along to me--if (top of p. 10) I cared to have it. I was shocked, but interested. Certainly I was interested. I had to be, for I was hopeless.'
See he had taken Step One.
(p. 10, par 2) 'He talked for hours. Childhood memories rose before me. I could almost hear the sound of the preacher's voice as I sat, on still Sundays, way over there on the hillside; there was that proffered temperance pledge I never signed; my grandfather's good natured contempt of some church folk and their doings; his insistence that the spheres really had their music; but his denial of the preacher's right to tell him how he must listen; his fearlessness as he spoke of these things just before he died; these recollections welled up from the pact. They made me swallow hard.'
Remember when Ebby came to Bill's kitchen it was not the message of "Alcoholics Anonymous." It was the program of the Oxford Group, it had religious connotations and religious expressions. It was a very harsh thing for Bill to hear. Bill...like most alcoholics had a lot of--he didn't like religion, he didn't like this thing. It came from the way his grandfather...raised Bill, his background. He didn't like Ebby's solution. He immediately bristled at what Ebby told him. He did not like it.
CHARLIE: Bill said: (p. 10, par. 4; p. 11, par. 1) 'I had always believed in a Power greater than myself. I had often pondered these things. I was not an atheist. Few people really are, for that means blind faith in the strange proposition that this universe originated in a cipher and aimlessly rushes nowhere. My intellectual heroes, the chemists, the astronomers, even the evolutionists, suggested vast laws and forces at work. Despite contrary indications, I had little doubt that a mighty purpose and rhythm underlay all. How could there be so much of precise and immutable law, and no intelligence? I simply had to believe in a Spirit of the Universe, who knew neither time nor limitation. But that was as far as I had gone.
'With ministers, and the world's religions, I parted right there. When they talked of a God personal to me, who was love, superhuman strength and direction, I became irritated and my mind snapped shut against such a theory.
(top of p. 11) 'To Christ I conceded the certainty of a great man, not too closely followed by those who claimed Him. His moral teaching --most excellent. For myself, I had adopted those parts which seemed convenient and not too difficult the rest I disregarded.'
Now, I have no trouble identifying with Bill Wilson.
(p. 11, par. 2-4) 'The ware which had been fought, the burnings and chicanery that religious dispute had facilitated, made me sick. I honestly doubted whether, on balance, the religion of mankind had done any good. Judging from what I had seen in Europe and since, the power of God in human affairs was negligible, the Brotherhood of Man a grim jest. If there was a Devil, he seemed the Boss Universal, and he certainly had me.
'But my friend sat before me, and he made the pointblank declaration that God had done for him what he could not do for himself. His human will had failed. Doctors had pronounced him incurable. Society was about to lock him up. Like myself, he had admitted complete defeat. Then he had, in effect, been raised from the dead, suddenly taken from the scrap heap to a level of life better than the best he had ever known!
'Had this power originated in him? Obviously it had not. There had been no more power in him than there was in me at that minute and this was none at all.'
You see this is where the identification process is so important. Bill knew about Ebby. He knew how Ebby drank. He knew Ebby was just as powerless as he was. Yet here's Ebby in his kitchen, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. He's saying, Bill, because of this God that I have found through this practical program of action, I don't have to drink anymore. Bill could see that something had taken place in Ebby's life, that Ebby had certainly been powerless, and that it had to come from a Power greater than Ebby was. Over on page twelve, even though he recognized that, he still didn't like the idea.
He said: (p. 12, par. 2) 'Despite the living example of my friend there remained in me the vestiges of my old prejudice. The word God still aroused a certain antipathy. When the thought was expressed that there might be a God personal to me this feeling was intensified. I didn't like the idea. I could go for such conceptions as Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind or Spirit of Nature but I resisted the thought of a Czar of the Heavens, however loving His sway might be. I have since talked with scores of men who felt the same way.'
Now apparently Ebby got tired of this mess. They're sitting there and they're really arguing about this God idea and about religion, et cetera. Apparently, Ebby got tired of doing this. Finally, Ebby said to Bill--and notice the next statement is in italics. We call that squiggly writing. When you see squiggly writing in the Big Book, stop, and read it again. Usually it's very, very, important.
Ebby said to Bill: (p. 12, par. 3) '"Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"'
In effect, he really said, what are we arguing about, Bill. What difference does it make whether we call Him God, Universal Mind, Czar of the Heavens, Spirit of Nature, Yahweh, Mohammed, Buddha. He said, why don't you just choose your own conception of God. Now, the moment he said that, he changed it from a religious idea to a spiritual idea.
You see, religion says, this is the way you've got to believe. Spirituality says you can believe any way you want to. The main thing being that you believe in a power greater than you are. Immediately the idea (changed) from religion to spirituality. This began to make sense in Bill's life.
Bill said: (p. 12, par. 4-5) 'That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last.
'It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning. I saw that growth could start from that point. Upon a foundation of complete willingness I might build what I saw in my friend. Would I have it? Of course I would!'
Now surely, surely, this is when Bill took Step Two. Step Two had never been written. But surely Bill began to believe in a Power greater than himself, that could solve his problem, that could restore him to sanity, that could do whatever needed to be done. He said it was only a matter of being willing to believe. You don't really have to believe. Even the atheist can become willing to believe. The people who were agnostically inclined like I am, we always did believe. We just acted as if we didn't.
I look back in my life today, and don't think there's ever been a time in my life that I did not believe in a God of some kind; some Power greater than human power. Ebby said, Bill, that's all you got to believe. You don't have to worry about religion. You don't have to worry about somebody else's ideas. Why don't you choose your own conception of God, as you understand Him. Immediately, that made it spirituality rather than religion.
JOE: Okay, at this point, Bill was able to, believe, or take Step Two.
He says: (p. 12, par. 6) 'Thus was I convinced that God is concerned with us humans when we want Him enough. At long last I saw, I felt, I believed. Scales of pride and prejudice fell from my eyes. A new world came into view.'
Through talking, and looking at Ebby, seeing Ebby, Bill was able to come to believe. Remember though, he began drinking on Armistice Day. Remember the sequence of events. He got out of the hospital that summer of '34, started drinking on Armistice Day, early November. Now it's the...end of November, when Ebby comes to see him. It's the end of the month, and he's been drinking probably three weeks. He was in pretty bad shape. He tries to-although he has taken the Second Step--he tries to start working the program of action. He tries to start going to some meetings with Ebby, to start working the program. But he's in the grips of active alcoholism. Remember, he's chronic at this point. He can't really stop drinking. He goes to some meetings with Ebby. Once there was a story about how he was on the way to one meeting with Ebby. He had to go through Twenty-third Street where there were a lot of bars on the way to the meeting. He got bar hopping. He met this third drunk in the bar, this Finish sail maker. He was setting on the bar telling him about what a great thing he had found. Drunk. You know what I mean?
JOE: This guy said, oh, that sounds good. I believe I'll go with you. They both went down there, and Ebby had some problems. Ebby had to take them and talk to them. He said, Bill went out--after Ebby gave them some sandwiches and coffee in the kitchen--Bill went back out into the meeting. He said, he made the damnedest talk you ever heard. You know, he just took over. For some reason or another, he said, that night on the way home Bill didn't stop at the bar. He went on home, and he went to bed. This was about three days... before he got down so bad that he had to go back to the Towns Hospital to be gotten off the alcohol for the last time.
(p. 13, par. 2) 'At the hospital I was separated from alcohol for the last time. Treatment seemed wise, for I showed signs of delirium tremens.'
Now, Listen' This is a very important page of the Big Book. Let's go very carefully.
(p. 13, par. 3) 'There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost.'
CHARLIE: Now surely, this is when Bill took Step Three. It had never Step # 4-12 Big Book Page # 13 Tape 2B-14 been written in those day. But surely, this is Step Three.
JOE: (p. 13, par. 3) 'I ruthlessly faced my sins'
CHARLIE: Surely, this is when he took Step Four, a searching and fearless moral inventory of himself.
JOE: p. 13, par. 3) 'and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away p root and branch.'
CHARLIE: He must have taken Steps Six and Seven. He became entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character, and humbly asked him to do so. Surly this is Step Six and Seven.
JOE: (p. 13, par. 4) 'My schoolmate visited me, and I fully acquainted him with my problems and deficiencies.'
CHARLIE: This has got to be Step Five. Admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
JOE: (p. 13, par. 4) 'We made a list of people I had hurt or toward whom I felt resentment .'
CHARLIE: This has got to be Step Eight. Made a list of those we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
JOE: (p. 13, par. 4) 'I expressed my entire willingness to approach these individuals, admitting my wrong. Never was I to be critical of them. I was to right all such matters to the utmost of my ability.'
CHARLIE: This has got to be Step Nine.
JOE: (p. 13, par. 5) 'I was to test my thinking by the new Godconsciousness within. Common sense would thus become uncommon sense.'
CHARLIE: This must be Step Ten.
JOE: (p. 13, par. 5) 'I we. to sit quietly when in doubt, asking only for direction and strength to meet my problems as He would have me. Never was I to pray for myself, except as my requests bore on my usefulness to others. Then only might I expect to receive. But that would be in great measure. '
CHARLIE: Golly, this has got to be Step Eleven got to be Step Eleven.
JOE: (p. 13, par. 6) 'My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator: that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems.'
CHARLIE: This has got to be Step Twelve. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps.
JOE: So we can see even before the Steps were written, Bill recovered as the results of taking the Steps. You have to remember now, when this chapter was written. Bill's Story was written exactly twelve months before the Twelve Steps were written. But actually we can see that Bill recovered as a result of the Steps. Latter on when he wrote that night he was able to recall what he had done and put these Steps down for us. But he recovered. He did not have this thing, bang, and then write the Steps for us. He recovered as the result of the Steps, in the Towns Hospital, with Ebby and with, Dr. Silkworth.
CHARLIE: This is why he was able to say in How It Works, that these are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery. On page fourteen.
He said: (p. 14, par. 2) 'Simple, but not easy...'
(End of side B of Tape 2)
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