The reason I came out here to share about Alcoholics Anonymous is not to dazzle you with information. It is not to dazzle you with my vocabulary, and it is not to dazzle you with my knowledge of this process. The only reason I am here is to let the newcomer know that there is a way out. The reason I came out here is to talk to the still suffering alcoholic, the man that has lost everything and is a shell of his former self. You know, right now, there is probably a woman waiting a bus stop somewhere waiting to get the next drink, but is torn up inside. There is a father waiting to show up in his life and a family waiting to be reunited. So that’s why I’m here. That’s why I don’t play games. I don’t trip off all that stuff. In the chapter, “working with others” the directions are clear cut. That’s the twelfth step. It is what you do after you have had a spiritual awakening. You never graduate from this; working with others is a continual thing.
You’ll see that very early in our literature that my well-being is tied to my constant thought of others and how I can meet their needs. The Big Book talks about if the alcoholic doesn’t enlarge and perfect his spiritual life how to self-sacrifice and working with others, he won’t be able to survive the low spots that will most certainly come up. That is such a key part in recovery. I am powerless over alcohol and I need this. When I drink, I fall down, and when I take one drink, I cannot tell you the amount I’m going to take. I could have two more or twenty more. My experience has proved that I can’t control that. When I sincerely don’t want to start the cycle up again, I’ll do it again anyway, to get that relief from the first drink. I believe this probably makes me alcoholic, and if that’s the case, I’m suffering from an illness that only a spiritual experience will conquer. I don’t believe that because it’s written in the literature, it is true in my experience. I also see it with the men and women that I work with.
You know, I tried everything in the world to stop drinking before AA. That’s why I believe I’m suffering from an illness that requires a spiritual experience to overcome. Working with other alcoholics is part of this process. Somebody once said, “You can’t talk about step one without talking about step twelve.” For myself, it was the working with others aspect that really opened up the spiritual side of the program. I’m so glad it did because I was a skeptic. It was a hard pill to swallow because I grew up in the church but always felt like spiritual stuff was a myth. But when I saw a Higher Power working in others’ lives, it was very moving for me.
Note: Like many people who come in to AA with a religious background, Ralph experienced a great deal of doubt and skepticism about the program and its spiritual aspect. The great thing about the twelve steps is that they are based on action, and by taking action, something will be revealed. For some people, this may be a realization of their beliefs in a Higher Power, for others it may be the closeness of the fellowship and seeing a group of people being able to achieve sobriety. No matter how the spiritual experience manifests itself, if someone works the steps as outlined in the Big Book, they will achieve amazing results.