Hey Geoff & Mike, thanks for sharing your experiences. It's always great to hear from you and to read your messages of experience, strength and hope.
As I was reading of the successes of your Home Groups, and what you wrote about them, I could see three defined basic and predominant principles that both of your Home Groups appear to share in common.
3. And, Sponsorship.
And, a fourth one, that Geoff, mentioned in his message:
Taking his Steps WITH his sponsor -- while they used the Big Book and the 12 & 12.
One day when I was reading on Step 10, in the 12 & 12, the first paragraph that Bill wrote turned a light on for me and really made sense.
As I read the first sentence: "As we work the first nine Steps, we prepare ourselves for the adventure of a new life." -- I began to see why myself and many others that I had known, had experienced such a difficult time in our early attempts at living sober.
I hadn't taken the first nine Steps -- so, I was still unprepared -- for the adventure of a new life, even though I was trying to live it "one-day-at-a-time."
I had been busy with a lot of A.A. Activity instead of a lot of A.A. Action. Specifically, in taking the actions and learning to take the actions -- to prepare myself with a transformational and foundational change in my mind, that Dr. Silkworth was referring to, when he wrote about the necessity of a psychic change.... and, then, with that psychic change, having the necessary structure and discipline of knowing how to use the basic tools of our program so that I could make a good beginning on a "new adventure of life."
I had been so busy trying to learn about the program of action -- instead of actually learning by doing it.
Following up, on what Bill wrote in the rest of that first paragraph, gave me another glimps at what my previous problems had been:
"But when we approach Step Ten we commence to put our A.A. way of living to practical use, day by day, in fair weather or foul. Then comes the acid test: can we stay sober, keep in emotional balance, and live to good purpose under all conditions?"
When I read about Step 10, in the Big Book, I learned what had happened to me -- as a result of doing the first nine Steps. The obsession had been removed. The insanity had been removed. My head had been cleared enough to feel as though that I really had "entered the world of the spirit."
My house was getting clean. I had learned to trust in a God of my own understanding -- as a result of the first nine Steps that I had actually taken (instead of thought about taking) .... rather than having an intellectual experience as a result of intellectual activity -- which always ended up with more intellectual pride -- that always kept me in a state of mental misery -- I had finally achieved a momentary freedom from my alcoholic mentality that left me feeling at ease with the world and with my life.
Now, if I could just continue getting my life in order, so that I could keep my life in order -- I might have a shot at trying to be helpful to someone other than myself -- and I might have a good shot at staying sober during that new adventure in life!
If I hadn't actually taken Steps 1 through 9, I would have been unprepared. Our book talks about being "fit to serve."
I've can learn a lot about physical fitness and losing weight -- by watching the exercise and weight-loss videos that are sold on late-night TV, but watching those videos and learning what to do -- will not make me any more physically fit or weigh less -- than what I was when I first started watching them! I know... I've tried that, too!