My Reward for Reading Alcoholics Anonymous History
Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Why the History of A.A.?
I entered the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous on April 23, 1986. I finally realized from a week’s blackout that liquor and sleeping pill abuse had been the cause. A psychiatrist suggested hospitalization for depression or alcoholism. And thank God, I chose the right door. No hospitalization at all—just going to my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I never heard a word about Alcoholics Anonymous history. Never. I didn’t even know the history of Alcoholics Anonymous had any place in my recovery. But I heard: “Don’t drink and go to meetings.” I heard: “Ninety meetings in ninety days.” I heard: “Don’t drink or use, no matter what.” And I firmly believe that the rat a tat tat repetition of these suggestions was the key to my never picking up another drink to this very day—26 plus years later. I also heard: “Decision. Determination. Discipline.” And maybe it was the discipline of my school years, my Army years, my law school years, my restraint before judges, that produced my experience that disciplined action—properly directed—produced substantial results. And it did for me. It had nothing to do with history. It had to do with unswerving obedience to doing what I was told. Without question. Continually. Or at least as often as I was reminded.
But there was much more to those early years in A.A. I was licked. I had been depressed for months before I got sober. I was in every imaginable kind of trouble when I “joined” A.A.
I really didn’t have a clue as to what A.A. was all about. But some other events propelled me forward. The depression continued. Seizures followed almost immediately. Loneliness had been a plague. Sleeplessness, shaking, mental confusion and forgetfulness, and heightening fear loomed larger and larger in my life. I entered a treatment center because of the seizures in an A.A. meeting and because my doctor suggested it.
But upon release some 30 days later, I faced the wreckage of the past—investigation by the State Bar, investigation by the newspapers, investigation by a District Attorney, imposition of a huge tax investigation and levies that followed. Loss of my law license. Alimony and divorce issues.
Lawyer and accountant fees that surpassed imagination. And fear! Raw fear! Anxiety! Insomnia! Heightened shaking and body pain!
And practically no talk of God at all. With my sponsor and his sponsor telling me that I mustn’t read the Bible because that would get me drunk.
After a month of it, I sought relief in the Veterans Administration psych ward at Fort Miley in San Francisco. Endless talks with a psychiatrist and the nurses. Circled discussion groups. No surcease. But the discipline of A.A. meetings continued wherever I went. Still no talk of God. And sheer terror. I even called in my sons to tell them I wanted to commit suicide. But I didn’t.
And two vital events took place: (1) Every day an elderly member of my Bible fellowship would phone me long distance even though he could ill afford the calls. He listened to my woes. And finally, he asked why I was trying to program my life, and why I was not turning to God for guidance and help. (2) Meanwhile, my older son kept nagging at me to get into “the Word.” Study the Bible. Listen to Bible tapes.
And I did both. The fear and anxiety and pointless planning vanished overnight. I told my attorney I was ready to face the music in court. The VA released me. The attorney counseled me. I asked God’s guidance at every turn—as to taxes, State Bar, police investigations, newspaper publicity, divorce and alimony issues, financial concerns.
And two more results were evident: (1) Though I entered a guilty plea to three felonies, the judge sent me to state prison for 90 days. There I began helping other drunks master the principles and practices of A.A. There I began holding Bible fellowships with fellow prisoners. And there I was given a clerical job in a prison office where I was kept busy doing what I had done for several years as a clerk in the Army. The fear was gone. I read the Bible and prayed every day. And I led several men into accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. (2) My joy in the A.A. fellowship multiplied many times over as I kept busy searching out newcomers, taking on tasks as Secretary, Treasurer, and frequent Speaker at meetings. Working with others and teaching them about A.A. and about the Bible and God were a real and exciting pleasure. In fact, A.A. fellowship outings, feeds, dances, conferences, and meeting themselves were a constant release.
But no God. And an increasing hostility of my sponsor and his sponsor about my Bible study and bringing A.A. newcomers to my son’s Bible fellowships each week.
Then came A.A. history. And in a strange strange way. I had gone to perhaps 1000 meetings, and no God. Then a young man named John approached me and asked me if I knew A.A. had come from the Bible. I responded that I had never heard of such a thing. He told me to read DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. He said I would find the Bible, God, Jesus Christ, prayer, and much more. And that I did.
I realized that virtually none of the AAs I had met knew a thing about A.A. history, the Bible, God, and early A.A.
Twenty six plus years later, having traveled all over the United States, gone to archives and libraries and historical locations, interviewed countless AAs and others, and read literally a thousand A.A. History related books, I awoke to an A.A. I hardly recognized.
I had been delivered from the power of darkness by my Heavenly Father. That happened when I knew neither God nor history as far as A.A.’s contributions were concerned. I had heard unceasing references to some “higher power” that could be a rock or a tree or the Big Dipper. I had heard endless statements that A.A. was “spiritual, but not religious.” I had heard people criticized for mentioning the Bible and Jesus Christ. I had read that AAs could never be cured. Even though I discovered that the first three AAs were cured and said so in A.A. literature. Then came the newer A.A. pamphlets that said you didn’t need to believe in anything at all. This even though a tiny portion of its historical and even some other literature was filled with religious references to the Creator, the Bible, old fashioned prayer meetings, clergy, church, and actual Bible verses.
If there was one thing I learned after working on and publishing 44 books and over 1000 articles on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous, on the Christian Recovery Movement, and on the cure of alcoholism by the power of God, it was that I had been healed and delivered and freed from alcoholism and addiction and a host of life problems by placing myself in God’s hands and by following the incessant advice that I must not drink.
A.A. has changed. It is no longer a Christian Fellowship. But it has tens of thousands of Christians who are baffled at being criticized, ignorant of A.A.’s history, and hungry to let God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible play a major role in their deliverance, freedom, abundant life, and everlasting life option.
That was the reward for learning A.A. history and telling others
I could speak of my own experience. I could report my own findings. I could tell thousands of others. And I have watched a large number of AAs get well using the same spiritual tools that I had used. Using them with a knowledge that those tools had produced healing and prosperity long long before, and certainly at the time of, early A.A.
Though a few have expressed their doubts, you won’t find me knowingly knocking Alcoholics Anonymous History, Alcoholics Anonymous, or AAs. You will find me eager to tell others that I’ve learned that God can do for AAs what He has done for me if they learn and apply the facts.