You're right on.
What I think sometimes causes the confusion is: Some of the Pioneers who were contributing w/ Bill in writing the book actually thought they were "cured." Bill had even referred to them as ex-alcoholics. And, Bill notoriously kept a bottle of whiskey on Dr. Bob's fireplace mantle to show "the power" of God and his "cured-ness." Anne, Bob's wife, finally convinced Bill to take the bottle down -- especially after one of the prospects who had gotten cured -- got drunk again, and chased some people around w/ a knife. LOL.
So, even in the beginning, there was a lot of misinformation about "recovered" -- and the misinformation continues to this day.
It has been my experience that every alcoholic I've known that proclaimed themselves "permanently recovered" and/or "cured" did go back to drinking. So, there is a long standing hesitancy in AA about using the word -- because most AA's do not understand what "recovered" means -- so they are always "recovering". And, they are wrong, too. LOL.
Initially, recovered was on the same level as "they are staying off the juice" -- they were physically sober -- and that was all that "recovered" actually meant.
I don't believe Bill even understood much of what he wrote in the Big Book. Which is why I personally believe in some sort of "Divine Guidance" that came to him to write the book, a book, and a program, that even he, did not fully comprehend.
We got to remember that Bill was only 3 1/2 years sober -- when he wrote the book. They had less than 100 recoveries (estimates are that there were actually between 60 and 70 staying sober) when the book was written.
I also believe that this is why Bill went through many of his major manic and chronic depression spells. They were related to emotional inebriation. The opposite of Emotional Sobriety.
This is a long story -- and I don't know if it's appropriate to write it all here in this post. LOL. It could take all night.
So, let's move up in time to now -- and look back on the history of Bill & the early AA's and what Bill wrote (that I'm not sure he fully comprehended at the time of writing the book).
Let's look at the 12 Steps.
Step 1 = On my own -- I'm screwed. (The problem centers in my mind -- alcoholic insanity = "someday I can drink again."
Step 2 = There is a solution. (Restored to sanity)
Step 3 = I have to make a decision to work the Solution, which will be Steps 4-10. I say 10, instead of 9, because in reading the book, it's clear that "after we are in the 9th Step" making amends = when we "enter the world of the spirit" pg 84 BB.
So, Step 3, really is ONLY a decision. Nothing more -- even though some will say that they applied more meaning to it. Just because they applied more meaning to it -- does not change what the Step says... "we made a DECISION"
And, the decision is to take Steps 4 through 9 (completely) -- because "4 through 9" = How... we "turn our will and our lives over to the God of our understanding." We haven't actually turned it over yet -- until the end of Step 9.
So, IMMEDIATELY after our decision, we launch like a rocket into Step 4, and we don't hesitate one iota in getting through to Step 9.
Why? Our book tells us why. "Though our (Step 3)decision
was a vital and crucial step, it could have little
permanent effect unless at once
followed by a strenuous
effort to face, (Step 4) and to be rid of, (Steps 5-9) the things in ourselves
which had been blocking us." ~pg 64, BB.
So, I'll pause there and jump to Step 10... what happens as a result of 1 to 10? The book tells us "we are restored to sanity."
So... what does RECOVERED actually mean? "We are sober AND restored to sanity" as THE results of "TAKING" the Steps.
At Step 10 -- we "enter the world of the Spirit" -- which means we've had a vital, transformation in our thoughts and attitudes towards life, towards each other, towards God, and towards alcohol.
But, Bill reminds us "why we have to daily do 1- through 12" 12 is the Foundation of our recovery. (many think that Step 1 is the foundation -- but, that's NOT what the book says) "Helping others" is the foundation, and this is the principle of Step 12.
Yes. We start helping others on DAY ONE, and the first paragraph of Chapter 7 tells us -- "this is what KEEPS us sober." So, we start helping other alcoholics on day one -- IF we want to stay sober.
If we want to "be restored to sanity" (recovered) -- then we take ALL the Steps.
So, that's how we get from and to: physically, mentally, emotionally sober. The Steps (which REQUIRES working w/ others).
Step 12 talks about "the Awakening" that we've experienced as THE result of THESE (12) Steps.
Basically, this IS the message of AA, "the 12 Steps", which is THIS message that we carry.
However, the message has gotten lost in the Fellowship -- and now, the Fellowship is afraid -- "to recover." So, they go to meetings -- instead of "taking" the Steps -- with the HOPES that someday "they'll stay sober and get some of the promises." LOL.
It's entirely up to us -- what we do, what we get, and what we experience. That's the cool part of this deal. No one can keep it away from us. No one can take it away from us. Our sobriety is ours. Our peace, and comfort and serenity is: Ours. We worked for it -- using God's tools -- and that's how we got it. It wasn't just dished out to most of us by praying & meditation and making promises and pledges to God.
btw: Thanks for letting me share!