Central Oregon AA Intergroup

24 Hour Hotline: (541) 548-0440

Browsing Posts in Articles

After working the first step and realizing that I truly was powerless over my alcoholism and my life had become COMPLETELY unmanageable, I was humbled . For some reason I had a feeling of finality . I was hoping that there was something, somewhere that could provide me relief, and give me some “rails to run on”.

When I worked the second step is it then I feel I embarked upon my “spiritual experience” and journey into a different life.

continue reading…

While I was active in my alcoholic disease, honesty was not a spiritual principle I gave much thought to other than “I bought the last round, so this one is your turn” or “I did NOT say that about so and so (when I probably had)”. My actions and behaviors were not honest. While I was hitting bottom and bouncing along I began to get a few moments of clarity – having a true glimpse of who I had become under the influence of alcohol. Life was not working the way I wanted it to, people were not behaving the way I wanted them to and none of it was my problem. DUH.

continue reading…

I spent the month of November being grateful. Grateful for all the gifts that the program and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous has given me. Now that December has arrived, it is time for us to give back what has so freely been given to us. We can give hope to another alcoholic that still suffers. We can offer an easier, softer way. We can suggest steps that build a foundation that allows us to never have to pick up a drink again. We can offer a textbook that has a design for a happy, joyous, and alcohol free life. This all begins in step twelve.

I really didn’t understand the concept of a spiritual awakening when first arriving in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. My awakening, however, started at step one. I was powerless over alcohol, and my life had become unmanageable. My drinking pattern had proved this. The fact is that I was insane by trying to control my drinking. My ego convinced me to continue years of research proving that my will was greater than God’s will for me.

My sponsor suggested that I turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood him. I wasn’t really sure what this meant, but I made a decision to do it anyway. I had nothing else to lose. Taking my inventory made me accountable for my own actions. I could no longer blame others for why I drank, the way I drank, or the ensuing problems directly related to my drinking.

I was awakened by humility. I was far too proud and arrogant in my early days of sobriety to learn anything from Alcoholics Anonymous. After all, I was the one with the right answers. I was wrong. However, I was not prompt in admitting it.

Today, I like to let things happen, instead of making them happen. I no longer worry. I no longer enjoy conflict. I no longer expect things in return. I live in, and enjoy each moment. I feel connected with others. I have no interest in judging myself, or others. And for once in my life, I am no longer afraid to ask for help, I seek it out.

The core principle behind the twelfth step is that once we’ve experienced the benefits of working the steps, we will want to continue to strengthen our own recovery by helping others and by doing service work. We can then continue to practice and live by the principles in our everyday lives. We may not notice the changes in ourselves instantly, but others will.

The fact remains, anyone can do twelfth step work. I doesn’t take much recovery to make coffee, greet people, or to clean up after a meeting. Besides, it’s the best way to get to really know people whether you’re a newcomer, or you have years of sobriety. You can’t really give what you don’t have is not always true. Each and every one of us has a story, and every story is worth sharing. If I can tell my story at a meeting, and reassure a newcomer so they might find a little more hope to stick with the program, and keep coming back. And for me to hear a newcomer’s story in order for me to remember how bad it was, believe it or not, that is twelfth step work in itself.

I remember hearing “you’ve got to give it away in order to keep it.” I didn’t understand this concept either at first. After being in the program for awhile, I began to feel the gratitude, I was overwhelmed by the gifts, and by what others had so freely given of themselves to me. I began to realize how helping others revitalized and strengthened my own recovery. I need to help others as much for my own recovery as for their recovery as well.

A spiritual awakening is very different for each of us. The changes I have finally found in myself after working the steps have been deep and positive changes in the way I look at things and in the way I react to life. I am able today to live life on life’s terms. I have gone from dependence to freedom. I am now able to let go, and find peace even when everything seems to be going in the opposite direction. I no longer have to try and control everything by myself, I now have the help of God and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Brent H. Bend, OR

The following summarizes the description of the 11th Step provided in Alcoholics Anonymous (primarily on pp. 86-88). This is supplemented by some suggestions [in brackets] that have found helpful.

Preparing for the Day Ahead

1. We ask God to direct our thinking, asking especially that it be divorced from selfpity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.

2. We consider our plans for the day. We can now use our mental faculties with assurance.

3. If we face indecision or we can’t determine what course to take, we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy.

4. We pray to be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of problems.

5. We ask especially for freedom from self-will. [We might also pray for help with specific defects or problem areas, and review our 10th step corrective measures for the day ahead.]

Prayers to be of Use

6. We ask for guidance in the way of patience, kindness, tolerance and love especially within the family.

7. We pray as to what we can do today for the person who is still sick. [We might also pray for specific people in need, or those with whom we're angry.]

Spiritual/Religious Exercises

8. If appropriate, we attend to our religious devotions, or say set prayers which emphasize 12 Step principles.

9. We may read from a spiritual book.

Practicing the 11th Step Throughout the Day

10. We pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.

11. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.”

Questions to think about when working Step 11

With help from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous

1. On awakening, do you think about the 24 hours ahead and consider your plans for the day?

2. Before you begin, do you ask God to direct your thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives?

3. Do you refrain from making requests for yourself only, except in cases where others may be helped?

4. How do you handle indecision? Do you ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision? Do you relax and take it easy, or do you struggle?

5. Do you pray to be shown all throughout the day what your next step is to be, and that you be given whatever you need to take care of such problems?

6. Do you ask for freedom from self-will?

7. Do you refrain from making requests for yourself only, except in cases where others may be helped?

8. Are you careful never to pray for your own selfish ends?

9. If circumstances warrant, do you ask your spouse or friends to join you in morning meditation?

10. Do you attend to your religious morning devotion?

11. Do you pause when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action? Do you remind yourself that you are no longer running the show, humbly saying to yourself many times each day, “Thy will be done”?

I have a drinking problem. While I was drinking I had an obsession of the mind. My alcoholic life seemed the only normal one. I was restless, irritable, and discontent unless I could experience the sense of ease and comfort which came from taking a few drinks. Every time I drank, the phenomenon of craving was reinforced. I had very little hope of recovery. Self knowledge and will power did not overcome my drinking. I couldn’t imagine life with or without alcohol. I came to a jumping off place; not sure I wanted to continue living if nothing was going to change but not knowing how to change.

I also have a thinking problem. I could not see how I could change my life and I hadn’t learned to ask for help. I wasn’t told that I couldn’t ask, but in the environment I grew up in, it was quite apparent that communication was tricky. If I wasn’t careful it could backfire making my life very uncomfortable. Out of fear, I quit trying to communicate early on; I decided that I needed to figure things out on my own and I hid within myself. Then, around age 8 or 9, I began altering my consciousness. I’ve heard that emotional growth stops when we start drinking or using and this seemed true for me. I arrived in AA at age 38, missing 30 years of emotional development. I now have nine plus years of sobriety, which makes me 17 or 18 emotionally. I am early in my development and I’m not perfect; but I’m still learning.

This is not my first attempt at sobriety. I tried many times before reaching AA. I tried drinking beer only, never drinking during business hours, switching from tequila to vodka, swearing it off forever and more physical exercise. The first time I came to AA, on November 2, 1996 at my wife’s suggestion. I went to meetings, and chose which of the 12 steps I liked. I wrote a personal mission statement listing the character traits and principals I wanted in my life, I read the Bible, prayed and didn’t drink.

Life got better, but I did not stay sober. It wasn’t a bad day, it wasn’t a good day; it was just another day. I left work, went to a meeting, left the meeting and ended up in the bar where I used to drink. Page 24 of the Big Book explains the insanity behind our thinking when we choose to drink again despite previous experience. We may rationalize the insane decision to pick up, “Or perhaps he doesn’t think at all.” the big book says. That was my story that evening. “The thought of those almost certain consequences did not crowd into my mind to deter me”. That first day, I just had a beer and went home. I told my wife I had stopped for a beer. I’m not sure what she thought; maybe that AA was working, since I only had one beer! But it’s not about how much I drank, or when I drank, but why I drank. I drank for the effect produced by alcohol. It loosened the knot in my stomach, the knot that had been there since childhood when I learned to hold my tongue and figure things out on my own.

After experiencing many negative consequences, in February of 2000 I was court ordered to treatment which required AA participation. I was not excited and had no real hope of change. My outpatient treatment was on Monday evening, so I drank all week long, stopped on Sunday and went to a Sunday night AA meeting. After treatment on Monday I would start drinking again. Sunday, March 19th I drank most of the day then went to the WFS meeting. For the first time in my life, the illusion that I would get things under control was replaced by the realization that things were not going to get better. During the “burning desires” time, I spoke up. I don’t remember what I said, but afterward God did for me what I could not do for myself. I asked someone to be my sponsor and I have not had a drink since.

My sponsor said he was willing to help, if I was willing to go through the Steps with him. We set a time to get together which was the beginning of my journey in sobriety. My home group is WFS; the format we read at each meeting states that sobriety is freedom from alcohol through the teaching and practice of the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. That is my experience.

Step 10 says we “Continued to take personal inventory…” This suggests that I have learned about inventory taking in previous Steps. One of the differences between my first time in AA and this time, is that I no longer carry the shame and guilt from my past behavior. Taking inventory, sharing it with my Higher Power and another human being, becoming willing for my Higher Power to remove my defects of character, asking Him to removed them, becoming willing to make amends to those I’ve harmed, and making those amends has given me freedom from alcohol. Step 10 helps me make the 12 Steps a working part of my life. It is a commitment to my-self, to my emotional growth and wellness, to honesty and to remaining teachable.

Step 10 is also an active part of Step 9; my decision to make direct amends wherever possible. By applying the AA 12 steps to my life, I’m making a living amends to everyone I’ve ever harmed. Somehow, I had acquired the ability to take YOUR inventory, but prior to sobriety, I did not know how to be honest with myself. I had honed the tools of justification and rationalization, but Step 10 reminds me that I am the problem. Every time I am disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with me. I’ve become better and quicker at seeing my part in things, but I still need an unbiased person (my sponsor) to help me to see my true self. I naturally tend to exist on the negative side of ego. My mind tells me that I am less than, but Step 10 reminds me to include the things that I’ve done well in my daily inventory for a complete and accurate appraisal of where I am at this moment.

The Big Book suggests that I pause when agitated or doubtful, to ask for the right thought or action. It suggests a spot check inventory. I do this when I am feeling something, before acting or reacting, which saves myself and others from a “tornado”. The 12 and 12 says that one unkind tirade or willful snap judgment can ruin a relationship. Before sobriety, I was good at this. I was very afraid and quiet; I hadn’t learned how to tell you what I was thinking or feeling. As I grew older, I learned to mask my fear with anger and rage. I became exactly what I didn’t want to be; loud and intense. I had several disagreements with people about my definition of yelling. I tried to explain to them that I was far from my full volume, that I was just passionate or that they were not listening. Through practicing Step 10, I’ve gotten better about my tone and volume. At times in sobriety, I’ve started falling back into silence or giving the cold shoulder. With Step 10’s continued inventory, I’ve spotted these defects creeping back in and I continue to ask my Higher Power to remove them. I’m learning to communicate honestly, and my relationships are improving.

Step 10 helps me look at myself honestly. I like how George used to say that he did not make mistakes, he just had learning experiences. I don’t need to beat myself up, I just need to be mindful of the true motives for my behavior, and change my actions. I cannot do this on my own. The Big Book says that after making my review, I ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures to take. I see that Step 10 leads right to Step 11. In reviewing my shortcomings, I pray, asking for forgiveness. I then enter my day mindful of the challenges I create for myself and others. This knowledge and a High Power to redirect my thinking; give me a good chance of not running into myself! Practicing step 10 helps me face life without that knot in my stomach. It works-it really does!
Larry M.
Bend, OR