Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sanity... and how we get there.

So I got to chair my first meeting in probably over half a year.  I read some pages out of the book pertaining to sanity, specifically from pages 56 and 57, 70, and page 84;

Pg 56 and 57:
Thus was our friend's cornerstone fixed in place. No later vicissitude has shaken it. His alcoholic problem was taken away. That very night, years ago, it disappeared. Save for a few brief moments of temptation the though of drink has never returned; and at such times a great revulsion has risen up in him. Seemingly he could not drink even if he would. God had restored his sanity. .

What is this but a miracle of healing? Yet its elements are simple. Circumstances made him willing to believe. He humbly offered himself to his Maker then he knew


Pg 70:
To sum up about sex: We earnestly pray for the right ideal, for guidance in each questionable situation, for sanity, and for the strength to do the right thing. If sex is very troublesome, we throw ourselves the harder into helping others. We think of their needs and work for them. This takes us out of ourselves. It quiets the imperious urge, when to yield would mean heartache.

Pg 84:
And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone, even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

Then I added a final bit from the end of chapter 6 from page 88;
We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.   
We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined. But this is not all. There is action and more action. "Faith without works is dead." The next chapter is entirely devoted to Step Twelve.

So I shared my recent experience with what sanity is to me and how I've used or attempted to use discipline to remain in that state.

A pretty good discussion ensued and a pretty good crossfire discussion as well.  Considerations were brought up such as;

"Do you feel you can be restored to sanity if you seemingly never knew sanity in the first place?"

"Have you ever worked with "God is my employer and if so, how so?"

"Can you engage in foolish decisions now and if so, will this mean you will wind up drunk?"


  1. Sounds like a good meeting Mac, although most of the people that I have met in AA in this area would consider it "too complicated" for them.
    I remember drawing loud criticism from an AA oldtimer for quoting from the book "The Elephant Man" by Ashley Montagu when I chaired a meeting many years ago. All I was attempting was to illustrate human dignity in the face of suffering, but this was too much for this man to tolerate.
    A little while later, someone else informed me that the man was completely illiterate...

  2. Absolute horror for a Big Book Thumper... anything that's not in the Big Book and for some folks... other A.A. approved literature.

  3. "A little while later, someone else informed me that the man was completely illiterate..."


    Sanity is (among other things) a measure of who we allow to influence us.

    Are the narrow minded Big Book thumpers insane ?

    Sure. But they're not nearly as insane as when they were drinking.

    I like to thump the book myself now and again but I always took the book to be pointing outside itself.

    I see the wisdom of using AA literature at meetings but I've seen more than a few people pull something out of their pocket and read it at the beginning or end of a share.

    The big question is.......so what ?

    You were moved by it and shared.
    Others will be moved by it or not.
    The meeting will be the meeting.

    We all get our feathers ruffled in AA from time to time.

    1. All true Tony! I might add that I have always drawn criticism and resentment for mentioning the slogan "Think, Think, Think" at meetings (it is one of my favorites, since it is a reward of sobriety).
      The usual response is the criticism of "complicating a simple program", and the last person who smugly made it was celebrating his fifth (I think) anniversary. He looked like he dressed out of his laundry hamper, needed a shower, shave and haircut, lived on welfare and drove a $500 car.
      I celebrated my 32nd anniversary last July, am careful about my appearance, and have liquid assets close to seven figures.
      Who do you think the people at that meeting agreed with?

    2. ANSWER:
      The sober bum, that's who!

  4. Insanity I think is harder to overcome then smoking. It became a habit I hid behind for years. Insanity for me was two words "FUCK IT". After I said those two words look out because my world became destructive. This went on for some time even after I put the booze and drugs away.
    Recovering your sanity takes time, at least it did for me as I look back.

  5. I'm just glad that I'm not hearing a bunch of "I'm still sick" bullshit.

    If you take those steps, you get well. You get sanity back... assuming you ever had it, and you heal up. Then you are responsible to give freely what you've received.

    I see so many folks out there living the "Sick" game and they like to roll over and play victim. We are like sand in their ointment. Why? BECAUSE THEY DO NOT WANT TO GET FUCKING WELL.

    Unfortunately... this has permeated A.A. How many meetings do you go to... besides your healthy homegroup... that discusses anything related to steps 10, 11... etc. Step 12 maybe... because we have or did have a bunch of 2-steppers out there?

    But go to your local discussion meeting and when they ask for a topic, bring up the 10th step promises or the exercises of the 10th and 11th step. You'll either get, "I'm not on that step yet." or some will gravitate towards, "Daily reprieve" and "Progress not perfection."

    Some folks just don't want to drop the rock... and they are annoyed by the likes of us.

    I don't know why this is... except that some must just have a hard time jumping into the unknown. It's basic fear, if I'm not mistaken.

    1. Mac:
      Perhaps the answer is to go back to the original AA. Start a small, closed and unlisted group and select your prospective members on an individual basis from other groups or meetings. Each new prospect should be sponsored by an existing member of this group. No one else will be allowed to attend the meetings.
      This way, you will keep all the "lemons" out, and you can build a true AA group, the way it was originally done.
      AA has been spoiled by success and complacency, and these factors may eventually destroy it.

  6. AA has turned into one big discussion group. It resembles the Treatment Center circle group. Where one of the staff members (usually AA/NA/CA member)sits at the head of the group and asks Johnny or Janey how there day went today as opposed to how it was on the street.
    They brought this practice into AA. You can't argue that this isn't AA because they look at you like you are speaking a foreign language and are insulting them to boot.
    So as you are doing here on the inter-net Pat many others are doing the same. AA members are also gathering at local coffee houses on Sunday morning and their houses during the week to talk about the steps from the big book. This is what I did and still do from time to time. I don't find AA at the AA Clubs and/or meetings anymore. It is fellowshipping that is going on. I guess this works for many it did not work for me. But then again I am not a big fan of crowds.

    1. I just came from a meeting where two people, prior to the start, were arguing about acceptance and God. They were both making the same points, but one couldn't see the similarities of their arguments, got pissed, and left before the meeting even started. Now, that's insanity.

      To me, sanity is recognizing and accepting reality, then being capable of dealing with that reality in a socially responsible manner.

      I too, am sick of going to meetings to hear "Meeting makers make it", "90 in 90", "Progress not perfection" and all that drivel being spouted by people who have nothing intelligent to say. They hear something at another meeting and regurgitate the next night as if it's a sign from heaven. So I don't go to those meetings anymore. Maybe that's how I try to stay sane.

  7. Nice Topic,
    If these kinds of experiences were talked about more in my local community, I might actually still attend AA.

    My experience with Sanity is ongoing. Sanity and unmanagability are closely related. In the beggining, Sanity was given to me regarding the 1st drink, the mental blank spot, etc....Being in a recovered place of neutrality was sanity for me.

    Continuing to do steps, sanity spread into more of my life's domains, PArticularly relationships, after a 4th-5th and 9th step amends I wrote a "Sane Ideal" regarding relationships. This is a practice that I have worked with over the years. Sitting in meditation and asking for ideals. I have written sane ideals for: Finances, work conduct, internet conduct, being a brother, son, husband.

    Currently sanity in my life looks like dropping all external factors as conditions to my inner peace. I'll be happy if I get a raise, I'll be happy if he or she follows my script, I'll be happy if the weather is nice... you get the point. Dropping this bullshit is an ongoing process but well worth it.

    As far as drinking again if we make dumb decisions, the book gives us several specific warnings as to when relapse will occur. I fuck up daily, that's why I have gotten so good at 10-11.

  8. Thx Rob. This little home group of mine almost disbanded due to my absence as when I stopped attending due to work schedule, they were down to two or three guys. The two solid guys decided to stop meeting and the "or third guy" stepped it up and asked that they keep it going. He's since stepped up his game and did the middle work and shows up on time... pretty much. Now that I'm back, they have a slightly better rotation and some new blood.

    Congrats to your Pats and they should count their blessings this last game. Ravens sort of lost this one instead of the Pats winning it. Good game though.

  9. NO doubt about it, the pats fell into this win, some wild play calls, Brady sucked, etc...we lucked out. I hope Lewis doesn't kill the kicker.

    I watched the game at my parents house with my wife, brother, parents 3 dogs and two grad students that live with my folks, we ate a ton, screamed a lot and had a blast,I never would have thought I could actually have fun and be sober, go figure. Life is pretty sweet.

    goinf to watch the SF VS. Giants game, I'd like to see the Giants win so we can have a chance at redemption, although I won't loose sleep if they don't win.

  10. Yeah, I hope Ray Lewis doesn't murder the kicker either... allegedly.

    I hate when that happens.

    1. Giants and Patriots. Acceptance, remember?