What do you think?

Topics related to AA Meetings - and alcohol addiction recovery
Molly M.
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What do you think?

Postby Molly M. » Fri Apr 13, 2007 7:16 pm

Hi Guys;

I'm wondering what you think about a topic I heard debated at the "meeting after the meeting" this week. The debate concerned the personal story from the BB "Acceptance is the Answer". The regular meeting is a BB discussion and we were working on "Into Action" and discussing the promises. Anyway, a gentleman fairly new in sobriety (I think he has about 2 years) became very upset during the discussion and demanded to know what he was doing wrong. He said he had finished the steps and still felt an urge to fight everything and everybody and that he was always angry. One of our old-timers gently suggested that maybe he needed to back up through the steps; he also suggested that the gentelman in question read the personal story from the BB "Acceptance is the answer" and quoted the following to him:

Acceptance is the answer to each and every problem I have today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation - some fact in my life - unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being EXACTLY the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in this world by mistake.

Unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.

The debate that occurred after the meeting centered on whether this was an appropriate direction to steer someone in because of the following reasons:

1) the chapter should never have been included in the new edition because it deals with drugs other than alcohol

2) the quote on acceptance is not part of the instructions from AA, rather they are just part of another members drunkalog. The personal stories are not there for instruction.

3) Accepting life on life's terms means that you will not always be serene because we're human and it's dangerous to set unrealistic expectations for the newcomer

I think there was more, but these were the main points. I remember the debate when the new BB was supposed to come out around whether or not that story would be included because of the reference to non-alcohol substances, but some of the other objections are new to me. I personally really like that story and the acceptance quote, it's one I have also memorized and find very helpful. I'm just curious as to other people's opinions.

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Postby anniemac » Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:20 pm

Hi Molly,

Well, I'm certainly no AA Protocol expert, but I have an abundance of opinions! :oops: I happen to love the Acceptance piece, but will try to be impartial here in my thoughts.

1. Dr. Paul's story deals with other drugs in addition to alcohol. He identifies himself as an alcoholic. It's not as if he does not refer to alcohol. His alcoholism lead him to drug use (pills to stop the morning jitters, etc.) Why would a story that mentions drugs be banned, any more than a story that mentions gambling or womanizing or any other "vice" in addition to alcohol? I don't get it.

2. The quote is not part of the Instructions, but it is the ES&H of a sober member of AA. Bill's Story is not an Instruction either, yet it is included in the basic text. Presumably, if it's ok for me to identify with and get inspiration from Bill W., then it should be ok for me to do the same with any other personal story in the book.

That being said, I guess it depends on the group conscience of your BB meeting. Are all discussions supposed to be limited to the first 164 pages?

3. Unrealistic expectations for the newcomer? How about "happy, joyous and free?" What about "we absolutely insist on having fun"? Both in the basic text, both may seem totally unrealistic to a newcomer.

I disagree that accepting life on life's terms means that we will not always be serene. And I think that is Dr. Paul's entire point. When we come to terms with (i.e., when we accept) life on life's terms, to me that means we are no longer resisting What Is. The pain is in the resistence. If I am not resisting, I can be serene. I may not be overjoyed, but I can remain serene in the face of a storm if I do not fight the storm. The entire statement "live life on life's terms" to me is supposed to mean, "live in acceptance of what life throws your way and life won't bother you so much".

Many spiritual books and spiritual masters maintain that the key to a serene and spiritual life is through acceptance. It is our perceptions of life that create the turmoil. I know that that in itself is controversial in the spiritual community (not talking AA now) because, what about children who are abused? Should they just accept it, etc.? I'm not touching that, I'm talking about day to day disturbances for the purpose of this.

I know a guy who argues that if Acceptance were the answer, then the Serenity Prayer would not need the part about "change the things I can". I disagree. I was taught the 3 A's - Awareness, Acceptance, Action. First we need to be aware of an issue, then when we accept that it is what it is, we can then get in to Action and do something about it. But that Action should not occur until Acceptance first.

Alrighty then, now that I've proven how opinionated I am...... :lol: :oops:

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Postby Zanthos » Sat Apr 14, 2007 7:13 am

Hi Molly, hi Annie.

Sounds like that old timer was right on and knew exactly what he was talking about and what passage from the BB to quote from.

What's really weird is that others found the need to debate it and that some people were trying to debunk that story's inclusion in the BB and the importance of acceptance in achieving emotional sobriety. In terms of my own journey towards greater acceptance, I am slowly learning not to invest much time at all in trying to figure out why people are as weird as they sometimes are, and just accept that they are.

But like I said, sounds like that old timer nailed it.

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Dr. Paul

Postby Dallas » Sat Apr 14, 2007 7:45 am

In regards to Dr. Paul's story -- I'm sure glad that they left it in the book. He was one of the finest examples of AA that I ever had the pleasure to meet. I believe that the key to understanding Paul's intentions when he talked of acceptance... is one of the key ideas that was mentioned above...
When I am disturbed

As I understood him, he was talking about emotional disturbances. When he was disturbed emotionally... acceptance was what he believed and understood... was necessary, to begin the "quieting process." Naturally, I can't speak for him... and fortunately, many of his talks were recorded and are available so that anyone can listen to him tell it the way that he saw it.

In regards to acceptance being the solution to a problem... acceptance is not going to fix a flat tire on my car no matter how much acceptance I have. I can say "hey! I accept it! I've got a flat tire! Getting upset about it is not going to fix the flat either! I can relax, take it easy... open the trunk, take out the jack, jack up the car, and change the tire." And, as far as I know... God has never changed one of my tires either! If He did change one of my tires... I didn't know I had a flat and I didn't see Him fix it!

Also... I can have a flat tire on my car... and not accept it! I can be real disturbed about it!!! I can drive the car until the rubber burns off the rim! And, still not accepting it... if I get out and jack it up and change the tire (taking actions that I'm unwilling to take... but taking them anyway)... my flat tire will get fixed! :lol:

So... the arguments or debates about acceptance become mute... as long as I take certain actions... willing or unwilling doesn't even have anything to do with it.... if I take the actions... changes will get made.

I'm sure glad that Bill W., didn't just accept the fact that he was a hopeless alcoholic who was going to just die or have to be locked up until he died... or, he would drink himself to death (As he heard Dr. Silkworth explain to his wife Lois). Bill got busy. Got into action. Got himself hospitalized and called for Ebby to come and see him and bring him a particular book.... and Bill got some results from his actions. He made the changes that he needed to make rather than just sitting and waiting for God to zap him sober!

I'm also glad that Bill, while he stood in the Mayflower Hotel... looking at the lounge and knowing that he was going to drink and get drunk... didn't just accept his fate and say "What the hell? It must be a God deal! Spritual principle! I accept that I'm going to get drunk... so I might as well get in there and start chug-a-lugging!" Nope. Bill took some actions on the changes that he needed to be making... rather than waiting for God to just zap the desire out of him... he got busy looking for another alcoholic to help.

If Bill had have just accepted his problem and his fate... without blazing a course of actions that could be passed on to me... I wouldn't be sitting here alive, safe, sane and sober to write this!

I've been there... done that... and almost bought the rope... being unhappy and depressed in my sobriety... waiting for God to do something... that only I could do! And, that was to re-take the 12 Steps... and to discipline myself to doing a daily, written 10th Step... along with the "throughout the day" 10th Steps.

Bill writes about this stuff in the 12 & 12 and in the Big Book. There is a spiritual axiom -- that when I'm disturbed... the problem I have is the problem that is inside me... and the only one who can fix that problem inside me is me. I have been given the tools to fix the problem... and God, or no one else can use those tools for me. I can accept the fact when I'm disturbed... but it isn't going to fix my problem. If it would fix the problem... I wouldn't need a spiritual toolkit. I wouldn't need any tools. I could just use my head to fix my head. :lol: (I tried that, too!!!) :oops:

I believe the key to this stuff is what we read, in most every AA meeting (that I've attended)... pages 58, 59 & 60, of "How it works" in the BB. The terms and conditions are on those pages. I can accept those terms and conditions... and take the actions that are necessary... or I can reject it, throw the book away, and/or... look for another solution.

So... I believe that the answers to all the questions posed by the newer guy, or the old-timer, or anyone else can be found on those pages... (58-60).

"If" God could and would... but "I don't"... then, He won't! And, that's regardless if I accept it or not! :wink:

There is a story about a guy... in Chapter 11, A Vision for You... who was unhappy with his sobriety. It's a very dangerous place for an alcoholic to be.... sober and unhappy at the same time. It's also an unnecessary place for a sober alcoholic to be. We have a solution... and, that's the good news! That's what AA has to offer... for those who will "work for it"... and that is to be happy and sober at the same time. Is that not practical? Nope. It's not practical... from the outside looking in... but, from the inside looking out... I know it works! :wink:

For the guy who's not happy? The only one who can do something about that... is him. If his solution isn't working... then, he could try the solution that's in the BB.

We used to have a saying in my old home group... it was "If you've been around here for much time at all... and you're still not happy... then, maybe you're doing it wrong!"


Molly M.
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Postby Molly M. » Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:16 pm

Also... I can have a flat tire on my car... and not accept it! I can be real disturbed about it!!! I can drive the car until the rubber burns off the rim!

How funny, in my first year of sobriety I was rushing to get somewhere that I thought was important and one of my front tires went flat. I was so sure that the tire went flat just to spite me, that I decided to teach it a lesson by driving on the rim all the way to my appointment. Boy did I turn some heads, sparks flying and all :oops: :oops: It's probably a good thing that I kept coming back. :D :D

Anyway, I really appreciate all of your feedback. I should also say that K. W., (the guy who recommended the accepance story) is generally a very content serene individual, whereas the gentleman who was objecting is generally pretty crusty about life. So I guess that tells its own story.

Anniemac: Keep on being opinionated :D I always learn from your opinions and I feel honored when you share them.

I hope you guys have an awesome day--I'm on vacation YAHOO!!! :D

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Postby Dallas » Sat Apr 14, 2007 6:11 pm

My message above seemed a little long for me... :oops: And, now that I've gotten over my guilt feelings for being so wordy ... I'd like to add a couple of thoughts about acceptance. After all, it might appear at first glance that I might be anti-acceptance. :lol: But, I'm not. I practice it often... whether I like it or not. :wink:

Two quotes from the Big Book that I often refer to:

"These were revolutionary and drastic proposals, but
the moment I fully accepted them, the effect was electric.
There was a sense of victory, followed by such a peace
and serenity as I had never known." page 14, Bill's Story, Big Book
My note: Immediate emotional relief

"About one year prior to this experience a man was
brought in to be treated for chronic alcoholism. He had
but partially recovered from a gastric hemorrhage and
seemed to be a case of pathological mental deterioration.
He had lost everything worthwhile in life and was
only living, one might say, to drink. He frankly admitted
and believed that for him there was no hope. Following
the elimination of alcohol, there was found to be no
permanent brain injury. He accepted the plan outlined in
this book
. One year later he called to see me, and I
experienced a very strange sensation. I knew the man by
name, and partly recognized his features, but there all
resemblance ended. From a trembling, despairing, nervous
wreck, had emerged a man brimming over with selfreliance
and contentment. I talked with him for some
time, but was not able to bring myself to feel that I had
known him before. To me he was a stranger, and so he left
me. A long time has passed with no return to alcohol."
page xxix THE DOCTOR’S OPINION, Big Book
My note: Accepted as used in "followed the course of actions outlined in this book"

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Postby anniemac » Sun Apr 15, 2007 1:46 am

Dallas, by "accept", do you mean "approve of"? Because in the flat tire scenario, I can understand that you could not approve of having a flat tire, yet still go ahead and change it anyway. However, if you didn't accept that you had a flat tire, that would mean that you were in denial about having a flat tire -- so you wouldn't change it anyway, because you wouldn't believe that you really had a flat tire to begin with. Hence, you would have to first accept the reality of the flat tire before you could get in to action to resolve the situation.

In my humble opinion, of course! :lol:

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just my $0.02...; My name is Anne, I'm an alcoholic

Postby musicmode » Sun Apr 15, 2007 4:34 am

Wow! A little spice to the meeting, huh? It sounds as though that the newcomer is feeling "stuck", still's got a lotta diggin' to do to rid himself of all the junk. We didn't become alcoholics over night. There are those who believe, and rightly so, that here is a solution (AA), still though, after 2 years, or 6 months or whatever, "why am I not fixed?" It's about progression, not perfection.

I was taught a few key things when I first came in--promised, in fact...that I wasn't gonna get better over night; that I am not cured just because I put the plug in the jug; that, yes--even in sobriety...happy, joyous&free? Guess what, it isn't going to be a bed of roses/walk in the park ALL the time, and especially the first while, it was gonna get damn messy. My first few years, I was promised that there were going to be times when I would wonder what the heck I thought I was doin' here in AA...it'd be a rough&tumble road ahead, but...if I was willing to stick it out, it'd be worth it. We gotta be patient--with ourselves AND each other...we gotta give ourselves, and others a break. I still felt like kickin' in any old door any old time after 2 years...I was told, keep doin' your steps, do them over and over...and over. When I wondered why I was still feelin' this way, I was told that it was because I was an alcoholic, and that I was doing something completely unnatural for an alcoholic..I wasn't drinking. I wasn't gonna "get it" over night, it was gonna take time, we first learn to crawl, then baby steps...etc. I know that for me, I was gonna be the exception to the rule where AA was concerned, I was gonna get it right&perfect the first time. :roll: ...ya, right :wink: . We put our bodies and our minds literally thru the wringer. There were 2 words that would melt away all those feelings of anguish and anger and impatience...those 2 words were, "It's okay." Those 2 words would just somehow diminish everything else. We just gotta give it time...give ourselves time to heal.

As for the others' wrapping up in a debate over what should or shouldn't have been said or read?? Where was the newcomer at that point? :? I love the oldtimers, man :wink: . There is wisdom and compassion and understanding of which I can never get enough of. Oldtimers give me hope, and they give me strength to keep on keepin' on.

Don't ever give up. Hold your face up to the light, even when you do not see it; it's still there, just believe it.

Easy Does It, kids,

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Postby Dallas » Sun Apr 15, 2007 7:39 am

Anniemac wrote:However, if you didn't accept that you had a flat tire, that would mean that you were in denial about having a flat tire -- so you wouldn't change it anyway, because you wouldn't believe that you really had a flat tire to begin with. Hence, you would have to first accept the reality of the flat tire before you could get in to action to resolve the situation.

Is there only two definitions of accept? To approve... or to do whatever the second definition of accept is?

And... do I really have only two options of what I can do? ... To accept or deny? If I don't have only two options... of something else I can do... what would prevent me from picking option three, or four, or five, or six?

To accept or deny... in my un-humble opinion :lol: only leaves me with the same as "black or white" ... "right or wrong" ... "left or right" ... "up or down." Some of the old ideas that I worked hard to absolutely let go of... were concepts and ideas of "only one right answer." And, even if denial was the direct opposite of accept... I would still find it difficult (based upon my own history and experience), that I would only have those two choices. :wink:

I would also find it odd... that "if" there is only two options of... to "accept" or "deny"... why would there be at least two different definitions of "accept"?

I hope that I don't sound as though I'm trying to argue... or that I'm trying to prove a point. My mind is definitely always open to learning something new.... I love to learn. And, I am open and willing to look at anything from a different angle.

Perhaps, I should have broken down the quote even further... because... another part of the logic that I would have difficulty with... is:

Hence, you would have to first accept the reality of the flat tire before you could get in to action to resolve the situation.

My question is: "Why do I have to accept the reality... before I can get into action"? I didn't accept my reality of a Higher Power when I took Step 2. I didn't even believe that AA was going to work for me. Or... doesn't that count? I was willing to become willing to become willing to become willing to believe in something. And, that meant, to me... that I was just confused and it wasn't based on my reality. You see... my reality in Step 2 was... there is no Higher Power, and... If I'm wrong, and there is a Higher Power... and if the Higher Power is God... God hates me, anyway. ... so (in my reality)... I'm screwed.

One thing that I've definitely learned, in my adventures and my experiences... and that is "my reality is seldom based on facts." I'm not speaking of anyone else here... just me and my experiences. :wink:

Back to Step 2, and Step 3... I didn't know what the heck I was doing taking Step 3... other than just making a decision to take the actions of Steps 4 through 12.... and I didn't allow my reality or my acceptance of my reality to stop me from taking those actions. After I took those actions it changed my reality.... and it changed everything else about me! :lol: My acceptance came "after" I took the actions... not before.

Perhaps, that's why I have difficulty with discussions about "acceptance". I seem to have "done it backwards"... and took the actions first. I'm sure glad that I didn't know that I couldn't do that!!!! If I had known that I would have to have acceptance before I could take the actions... Well, I would have never acquired any acceptance! :lol:

At least the book indicates that... some of us "are not at fault... (meaining me) ... we're just born this way!" :lol:

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Postby anniemac » Sun Apr 15, 2007 5:26 pm

I checked Dictionary.com, and they list these definitions:

ac·cept·ance /ækˈsɛptəns/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ak-sep-tuhns] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1. the act of taking or receiving something offered.
2. favorable reception; approval; favor.
3. the act of assenting or believing: acceptance of a theory.
4. the fact or state of being accepted or acceptable.
5. acceptation (def. 1).
6. Commerce. a. an engagement to pay an order, draft, or bill of exchange when it becomes due, as by the person on whom it is drawn.
b. an order, draft, etc., that a person or bank has accepted as calling for payment and has thus promised to pay.

I think we can agree that Dr. Paul was not referring to #6. #1 & #5 are the same, and they don't seem to apply to his usage of the term. #4 doesn't seem to apply either. So, to me, that leaves two options - to approve of, or to believe. In one of Dr. Paul's talks, he specifically states that his use of the term acceptance does not mean to approve of. So, based upon the talks I've heard by him, my belief is that he uses the term acceptance to mean belief of (which to me is the opposite of denial of). Soooo, that is why I said what I said in my last post.

No, I didn't think you sounded like you were trying to argue, and I hope that I don't either...but I am kinda rushing around and am not spending as much time as I usually do, chosing my words. So, hope I don't sound abrupt!

Maybe tomorrow I will reread and take more time to reflect....see ya then!

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