AA’s Big Tent Covers A Lot Of Ground

Alcoholics Anonymous is a big tent. Despite the emphasis on God and a Higher Power, there´s room inside for atheists and agnostics, as witness the three meetings listed in the Intergroup schedule. It´s a stretch, if one looks closely at what the Big Book says. Even the chapter, “We Agnostics,” is essentially an evangelical statement urging those who have no spiritual belief system to get one. For example, on page 52 of that chapter: “…we had to stop doubting the presence of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did.”

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Holding Sorrow and Joy With the Same Heart

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I used to compartmentalize my life, my days, my feelings. Sober I’m learning to be whole. I am willing to hold joy and sorrow in the same moment. This became possible for me when I stopped numbing, avoiding, and escaping pain, suffering and sorrow because they overwhelmed me. Touching sorrow I found joy. Experiencing fear I found courage. Meditation helps me be aware. Writing helps me find clarity. The first poem, Sorrow, written a few days ago, came from fear, helplessness, hopelessness watching a dear friend suffer relapse after relapse. The second poem, Joy, was written a day after Sorrow, after noticing how much joy the little ordinary and mundane moments of my life bring.

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Florence Rankin

Florence was the first woman to get sober in AA, even for a short time. She came to AA in New York, in March 1937. She had several slips, but was sober over a year when she wrote her story for the Big Book. (Silkworth.net, Biographies, “A Feminine Victory”)

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The Worst Days of My Life (Thus Far)

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I’ve had many worst days of my life. Too many to count. Dark days when I stopped wanting to live and I bought a rope. The death of an old dog that was still too young. A daughter that died much, much too young. A career I thought I’d have forever that changed. The pain that I finally saw in my son’s eyes. Each of those worst days transformed. They had a day after. Because I didn’t use that rope, I’ve had the chance to learn to live.

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Tomas L.

I drank my first beer when I was 16. We had a swimming pool and a sauna that we could use after PT in high school. One day, some of my classmates had brought beer. It was an amazing experience. That buzz after two or three beers was peculiar and exciting. More than that, it gave me a sense of finally finding my place in the world. I recall one of my classmates saying, “Hey Tomas, you’re drunk!” It felt like the nicest compliment anyone had ever given me. I was one of the boys. I had found a place where I belonged.

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When I Lost Everything

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What was your bottom? Twelve years ago, I truly believed that I was losing everything that I valued. Dying seemed a relief from a life I could no longer face. I consciously lost more and more each day. I saw myself for what I had become - hopeless. Hope that was what had always helped me get through the hard times, the pain, the loss - that gave me the will to try. And it was gone. I remember little of what was said at my first AA meeting. But I remember the love and I remember the hope that began growing that day.

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When Want Became Need And I Became Free

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I remember how uneasy I felt newly sober. Consequences still rained down on me, affecting health, relationships, finances and career. And it was my mess, the miserable mess I created and now without the numbing effect of alcohol, owned. It took me two years of trying to stop drinking alcohol with the hope of reducing harm to those closest to me. That was in fact my sole goal of abstinence. A month here. A week there. And just when I would begin to regain some trust and respect from those around me, I would drink, self-sabotaging any gains. So newly sober with consequences all around me, I inexplicably began to feel ok. Peace. Hope. Even free, though I was now held accountable by others, and by myself, for choices past, present and future. I didn’t know if I could trust what I felt. Was this yet another illusion to prop me up? Now looking back, it was real. It came from something I found within when I saw myself, bad, good and between.

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On the night before New Year’s Eve, 1988, Paul Cox and two friends were at a keg party near Larchmont, New York, an affluent suburb north of New York City. When the beer ran out, the three went to a bar in New Rochelle where they continued drinking. The three men then walked toward Cox’s parents’ house where he was living, and on the way, they passed the Larchmont home of Drs. Lakshman and Shantu Chervu. Cox’s parents and their son Paul had lived in this house until they sold it to the physician couple in 1974.

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