I didn’t have tank fulls of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness when I walked into my first AA meeting. Fortunately, only a bare minimum of these spiritual qualities is required to make a start in recovery. I don’t really have to be honest, I just have to have the capacity to be honest. If I can say, "my name is Jeff, and I’m an alcoholic" and mean it, I probably have the capacity. Our program doesn’t require me to believe anything. I can take what feels right and leave the rest. So what is there to be close minded about? And all I have to do to demonstrate my willingness is show up at a few meetings each week, drink coffee and laugh at our alcoholic solutions to life; talk to my sponsor about my favorite subject -- me; and offer mostly parroted advice to people with less time than me. Seen in this light, I need to stop patting myself on the back for my recovery. It’s nothing I do anyways.

Our book asks whether God is everything or nothing. After years of soberly considering this question, I have settled on everything. To me this means recovery is nothing I do and everything God does. I believe whatever level of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness I demonstrate comes directly from the Source. Like it says somewhere in the other big book, “Of myself I am nothing. God does the work.” This idea causes ego to do flip flops.

Ego wants to take full credit for my recovery and all the serenity and happiness I enjoy today. Ego points out, it’s “me” who shows up at all these meetings; it’s “me” who puts a hand out to newcomers, it’s “me” who answers the phone no matter what time it rings; it’s “me” who passes on what little spiritual understanding I have in any given moment. It was  “me” who was one of the first to carry the AA message to mainland China. According to ego it isn’t God taking these actions. It’s me. Ego simply cannot accept the fact that there is no Jeff apart from God, that the “I” is an illusion—an out picturing of old fear-based ideas that we humans have been carrying around since the beginning of time.

Slowly, slowly, practicing the 12 Steps is dissolving these old ideas and opening up a clear channel to God, allowing ever greater levels of willingness, open-mindedness and honesty to flow into my life. I am learning to love more and it feels great!

Will I Drink Again?

I was in a meeting the other day and heard a member wonder out loud about whether, after two years of successful recovery, has changed enough to drink again. Frankly, I’ve never considered this question before. Some members might think it is dangerous to even consider such a thing, but I think it's a great question.

Certainly I’ve experienced huge internal changes over the past twenty plus years in the way I think and react. I’ve come a long way from the anxious, frustrated, angry person I used to be. Yet, I can still lose my spiritual balance at the drop of a hat and act like King Baby. I still carry many of the old ideas I walked through the doors with. I certainly have not experienced the “entire” psychic change the good doctor talks about in the Doctor’s Opinion. I’m much better today but not entirely restored to sanity.

Besides my stinking thinking, I cannot forget that I have an allergy to alcohol in any form. Drinking is not my problem. It’s the inability to stop drinking after a couple that always put me in a ditch. Not only do I say and do things I regret later, but I lose my spiritual compass when I'm drinking. Like the book points out, an alcoholic who drinks is going against his natural state of being. In essence he is committing suicide. Perhaps it is possible to bypass the phenomenon of craving and regain control if my genetic code is completely rewired. I haven’t heard that science has figured out how to do this yet in humans. Maybe in mice.

I have no idea whether or not I will drink again. But I am almost positive I won’t drink today. I say almost positive because I’ve been around long enough to see members come and go by the droves. I’m sure many of them had no clue they were going to drink the day they went out. I heard one man share he just woke up with a drink in his hand—like he was in a trance. Some share they went straight from the AA meeting to the bar. I try to remember that every day I am sober is a gift from God. Sure, I go to meetings and work with others, but my recovery is nothing I do and everything God does. Despite my best efforts, if I am supposed to drink again, I will.

Even if I could drink reasonably, I’m not sure I would. I enjoy being a member of AA too much. You guys are my tribe. I’ve had a taste of the spiritual mystery and I want more. I want to continue to enjoy greater and greater peace of mind, freedom and joy. I’m convinced none of this is possible if I drink again. I’d be giving up too much. It’s just not worth it.


It was my first day of treatment. I sat in a small circle with five or six other newbies. The counselor said, “to graduate from this program you need to attend a minimum of three AA meetings a week. Except for you Jeff, because you are not working, you need to attend a meeting every day.” I was pissed off by being singled out, but I kept my mouth shut. As it turned out going to meetings every day was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I went to over 400 meetings in my first year. It was the first time in my life I felt like I fit in anywhere. Besides I was afraid to sit at home alone with nothing better to do than watch reruns of stupid television programs. Meetings have been the centerpiece of my recovery ever since.

AA is my church. It’s the only place I can stop thinking about me. I get to experience the spiritual love then we alcoholics have for one another. I laugh at your wacky solutions because they make perfect sense to me. Meetings are where I gain the courage to walk through the dark days from those who came before me. There is no were else I would rather be then in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I find a healing power in meetings that I can’t find elsewhere. I like the line in the other big book, “where more than one are gathered in my name, I am present.” Sometimes, when my mind is not racing a mile a minute in judgment, I actually sense the healing presence of God.

I am just now finishing up a three month holiday in a little coastal town in Thailand. Warm  sea, great food and the laid-back friendly attitude of the Thai people is a wonderful combination. But I wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t an AA group and five meetings a week. I simply don’t go anywhere for any length of time where there are not meetings.

I read many spiritual books toward the end of my drinking trying to discover what was wrong with me. One of the books suggested that I live a God centered life. It sounded like a good idea, but I had no idea how to do it. I still do not know how to live a God centered life, but I do know how to live in AA centered life. When I put myself in the center of Alcoholics Anonymous by attending meetings frequently, God is there.