There are many things that you’ll hear in The Rooms. Most of them will sound absurd(at first), but be true. Some of them will sound perfectly legitimate, yet they will be wrong. For instance, I was told more than once that there are “no musts” in the Book. Nope. False. (They said if you want to hide anything from an alcoholic, put it in the Big Book.)
I was just looking through my copy of the 1st manuscript of the Big Book, (which I love) and noting all of the things that had been changed almost before it went to the printer.
For example, here are some excerpts from the 5th chapter:
“If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it–then you are ready to follow directions. At some of these you may balk. You may think you can find an easier, softer way. We doubt if you can…
Remember that you are dealing with alcohol–cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for you! But there is One who has all power–That One is God. You must find Him now!
Half measures will avail you nothing. You stand at the turning point. Throw yourself under His protection and care with complete abandon.
Now we think you can take it! Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as your Program of Recovery: ”
There are subtle changes throughout the original manuscript, including a few of the steps, themselves, and if you’ve not had the opportunity to check it out, I encourage you to do so. I know a lot of the Old(er)timers are fond of that version, but younger folks, not so much.
I prefer the Original manuscript, and I’ll tell you why:
When I came crawling into The Rooms, I didn’t have any idea how to face the world sober. I really didn’t want to, but the alternative to getting clean/sober was definitely going to be much worse. I appreciate that the earlier version of the Big Book is clear, direct, and to the point. A little further down in the book there’s a line that says “If you’re not convinced on these vital issues, you ought to re-read the book or else throw it away! ” See what I mean? There’s no question as to what they’re trying to say. As a newly sober person, I heard about a few meetings around town that were known to pass around a hat to collect money for the guy who wasn’t ready to quit. “Belly up to the bar!” was the idea. The Book says that if the “God” talk runs you out of the Rooms, “John Barleycorn” (booze) will run you right back in. It’s true, from what I’ve seen. Until our ego has been beaten down enough to admit defeat, there’s usually nothing to convince us that we’re drunks, except more of the same. I guess I’d had enough a**-whippings by the time I’d gotten here. I was absolutely willing to go to any lengths to make the pain stop. So, when they told me to do X, Y, Z, my only reply was to ask for clarification as to exactly how high they wanted me to jump.
I needed directions! My absolutely best thinking got me sitting in a hard chair in a smoke-filled room, with a bunch of of drunks. And don’t get me started on the coffee!
Anyway, I wanted to learn as much as I could, as quickly as I could, but my Sponsor wasn’t giving up the answers! I’d say “What should I do?” And she’d say “What do you think you should do?” DANGIT!!
So, I learned by sitting in The Rooms (on a daily basis) whenever possible, and by going to Big Book study meetings, and 12 & 12 book studies, and by using the phone whenever I couldn’t get to a meeting. My Sponsors never ONCE made me feel stupid asking them something, no matter what it was. “Should I go to the store now, or wait an hour?” “Would it be ok if I wore this to the meeting or should I wear this?” Most of the time, it came down to “What are your motives?”
I was being taught to think. Wow.
So I do believe the answer to alcoholism and addiction is in The Steps. I do believe the Big Book was Divinely inspired, and I am POSITIVE that my Higher Power used the 12 step Program to give my Dad back to me for several years before he died. Some people say it “doesn’t work” for them. Ok. I’m really sorry to hear that (because of the transformations I’ve seen in many of my family member’s -and my own- lives), but if there is another way that you can manage to get clean/sober, and find PEACE & JOY, then ROCK ON!
It wasn’t until I was in Recovery Coach training that I was able to really wrap my mind around the idea of there being other ways to get sober. My Dad was a Big Book Thumper, and, well, I was Daddy’s Girl. But I understand now that there are as many ways to get and stay sober as there are people trying to figure it out. And that’s a beautiful thing.
After all, isn’t it about learning to walk in love, and finding the freedom to grow and be healthy…?
Posted from my hut in the forest.