- How long did it take Bill W. to take the 12 Steps?

How long did it take Bill W. to take the 12 Steps?




12 Steps: Discussions related to the 12 Steps and using them as a treatment to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.

How long did it take Bill W. to take the 12 Steps?

Postby Dallas » Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:39 am

How long did it take Bill W. to take the 12 Steps?

In reading Bill's Story, Chapter 1, Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill describes each of the actions that he took to have a spiritual awakening that removed his compulsion and obsession to drink -- and brought about a profound change in him, that allowed him to live the rest of his life sober -- and never to drink again.

The actions that he took became the basis for our 12 Steps, that were later written down and published in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, providing the instructions so that we could also take the same Steps that Bill took -- and, we could recover also.

In reading Bill's Story -- can you determine how long it took Bill to take the actions, that became our 12 Steps?

How long did it take him?

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Re: How long did it take Bill W. to take the 12 Steps?

Postby Jonah » Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:46 am

Good stuff Dallas, my very un-educated guess would be 36-48 hours? :oops:
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Postby Dallas » Fri Aug 22, 2008 1:43 pm

Hi Jonah,

That's about what I calculated from reading his story!

He didn't wait around to have a Spiritual Awakening that could relieve him of his obsession and compulsion to drink.

Perhaps, this is why he had such a soul-shaking and life changing spiritual experience? :wink:

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Postby Susan » Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:31 am

I read in the history also that you were suppose to do these steps before you ever went to a meeting. The sponsor took you through the steps right on the spot. If you were not willing it was a choice you made. I do not think I could have done every step in 36 hours as I was very sick. But, I did what I was told right quick, and I did 1,2,3 right on the spot.
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Postby GeoffS » Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:09 am

Did Bill W ever actually take the 12 steps?
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Postby Dallas » Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:00 am

Through reading his story -- "Bill's Story" Chapter 1, in the Big Book, especially around pages 13-15, the un-numbered actions that he describes that he took, can easily be identified and numbered, using the 12 Steps that he later wrote down, as to "what they were doing" to recover, and suggested for our own "program of recovery". (Including a written inventory or "list" that Ebby helped him make, as he referred to it then).

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Postby GeoffS » Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:00 pm

Dallas wrote:Through reading his story -- "Bill's Story" Chapter 1, in the Big Book, especially around pages 13-15, the un-numbered actions that he describes that he took, can easily be identified and numbered, using the 12 Steps that he later wrote down, as to "what they were doing" to recover, and suggested for our own "program of recovery". (Including a written inventory or "list" that Ebby helped him make, as he referred to it then).

Dallas


Yes thats true, he did take all the actions (1934) which he later compiled into the 12 steps (1938). My reading would be similar to you guys', that he did these actions in a very short (48hrs or so) period. The history books (Dr Bob and the good Old Timers etc) indicate that the early AAs also did the steps in very quick time, specifically so they could get into the business of carrying the message and passing it on, before large numbers of groups and meetings (and even sponsors!!!) as we know them existed.

So is the question which follows on fromn all of this-

what is the "best/right" time frame for an alcoholic today to complete the 12 steps. When I say complete, I mean go through and do them with a sponsor, for the first time.
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Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:58 am

For me, from reading our history, and the Big Book, and listening to some of the real old talks... I'm convinced that there is only two requirements to the answer to that question.

1. Has the fog lifted? According to many of the Pioneer stories in the First Edition of the Big Book (two of which are still in the 4th Edition), and Dr. Bob's Nightmare, along with AA Comes of Age, Dr. Bob & the Good Old-Timers, and Pass it on... The early 1935 & on many of the "new prospects" were hospitalized to detox, and when they were physically sober they were talked to and asked a question like we have on page 58, Big Book:

2. "If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to
go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take
certain steps."

Do you want what we have?

What is it that we have? We have a program of recovery that will bring about a spiritual awakening... that will remove the obsession and insanity to drink.

For myself, I thought of it in terms like "If I was bleeding to death... how soon would I want to get sown up?" And, "If I was drowning... how long would I want to wait... to have me pulled out of the water?" :wink:

I also believe there was a primary purpose (reason) that was part of the formulated 12 Steps that required rapid action... and that was the pain.

Pain is a great motivator to action. Lessen the pain, and less reasons for the actions.

Dr. Jung and William James (Varieties of Religious Experiences... the book that Bill had Ebby bring to the hospital) referred to "conversion experiences"... (similar to what Carl Jung was trying to produce with Roland Hazard... the man that carried the message to Ebby) when they referred to "religious experiences." Those normally, according to James, were very rapid, and required a spirit of broken-ness and pain.

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Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:14 am

an add on to my message above to keep the original message shorter... :lol:

Reading the Appendix in the back of the Big Book, titled "Spiritual Experience" sheds some additional light on the subject.

Bill had what he got chided about as his "Hot Flash White Light Experience." In Akron and Clevelend, similar experiences were taking place... but, in New York, they were not as frequent.

Why? They were doing it a little different.... and taking longer to take the 12 Steps. And, the alkies in New York were assimilating it with "religion."

I'm trying to locate a correspondance that Bill wrote (a letter that I've read) where Bill indicated that in New York, they were trying more of a psychological approach... rather than the strong spiritual approach that he had taken, and as was practiced in Akron and Cleveland... and he indicated in the letter... that the approach was not as successful. (Bill's first experience with trying to sober up drunks in New York, before his additional meeting with Dr. Silkworth & then on to meet with Dr. Bob, had been fairly unsuccessful... so he was trying to go softer on "the God stuff" as suggested by Dr. Silkworth).

In New York, they were not taking the Steps in the same way that they were in Akron and Cleveland, so their experience was "different"... it was more of what William James referred to as the "educational variety." The results would be similar... but the time frame would be different.

There were fights about this in regards to getting the book to print, between New York and Akron and Cleveland. And, many of the "non-alcoholic friends of A.A." became frustrated because they felt like Bill was watering down the spiritual angle, with less emphasis on God's role in the program of recovery.

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Postby garden variety » Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:22 am

GeoffS wrote:what is the "best/right" time frame for an alcoholic today to complete the 12 steps. When I say complete, I mean go through and do them with a sponsor, for the first time.


Hi Geoff,

I agree with Dallas when he cited the quote "If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps." - and also being "out of the fog".

For me, the BIG BIG BIG word in there is "willing"

To me, it wouldn't make any sense to want what we have and to be HONESTLY willing to go to any lengths to get it - and not get started as soon as possible. But maybe there's a little more - look at how Dallas said this:

Dallas wrote:"If I was bleeding to death... how soon would I want to get sown up?" And, "If I was drowning... how long would I want to wait... to have me pulled out of the water?


Now look at what it says in the book:

"We, in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men."

So I believe one of the things in a protege' that we can "sense" when he is willing and ready is desperation. For me, that's an ingredient that made the whole idea of 12 steps more meaningful. I knew that I was going to drink again, and that would mean to die, so I was desperate just like the book says.

But maybe, just maybe, there's just another thing, that if its there I can be sure the protege' is ready, willing, desperate enough, and able.

"When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet."

That quote pretty much says in "there was nothing left for us" that I've hit THE bottom. It doesn't matter where that bottom is located, high or low or in-between, it's just a question that my heart answers for me. It was when I knew I had no other choices left but to "be done" with alcohol. It's when I arrived at that "jumping off place" where I knew "lonliness such as few do".

But that passage also refers to us, the "menotrs" or "sponsors" - the men and women who have had a spiritual awakening and now have a message to carry - that there is a solution to the problem of alcoholism.

Now this is just my interpretation, and might not work for anyone else. When I see not only willingness in a protege', but also sense the desperation of hitting bottom and having no where to turn, then that's a pretty good time to get started in the steps. I also think this is when the sponsor and protege' will be best able to get all the way through the steps in one shot - you know - very little procrastinating at step 4, or no vacations after step five, and no waiting 'til the cows come home before getting started with amends.
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