Words of Wilson

General discussions related to A.A. History.
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Postby ccs » Mon May 18, 2009 4:55 pm

the conclusion of
A Fragment of History
by Bill W.
July 1953 A.A. Grapevine

12 Steps in 30 Minutes
At length I began to write on a cheap yellow tablet. I split the word-of-mouth program up into smaller pieces, meanwhile enlarging its scope considerably. Uninspired as I felt, I was surprised that in a short time, perhaps half an hour, I had set down certain principles which, on being counted, turned out to be twelve in number. And for some unaccountable reason, I had moved the idea of God into the Second Step, right up front. Besides, I had named God very liberally throughout the other steps. In one of the steps I had even suggested that the newcomer get down on his knees.

When this document was shown to our New York meeting the protests were many and loud. Our agnostic friends didn't go at all for the idea of kneeling. Others said we were talking altogether too much about God. And anyhow, why should there be twelve steps when we had done fine on six? Let's keep it simple, they said.

This sort of heated discussion went on for days and nights. But out of it all there came a ten-strike for Alcoholics Anonymous. Our agnostic contingent, speared by Hank P. and Jim B., finally convinced us that we must make it easier for people like themselves by using such terms as "a Higher Power" or "God as we understand Him!" Those expressions, as we so well know today, have proved lifesavers for many an alcoholic. They have enabled thousands of us to make a beginning where none could have been made had we left the steps just as I originally wrote them. Happily for us there were no other changes in the original draft and the number of steps stood at twelve. Little did we then guess that our Twelve Steps would soon be widely approved by clergymen of all denominations and even by our latter-day friends, the psychiatrists.

This little fragment of history ought to convince the most skeptical that nobody invented Alcoholics Anonymous.

It just grew...by the grace of God.

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Postby ccs » Mon May 18, 2009 5:35 pm

The Next Frontier: Emotional Sobriety"
by Bill Wilson
I think that many oldsters who have put our AA "booze cure" to severe but successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps they will be the spearhead for the next major development in AA -- the development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our fellows, and with God.

Those adolescent urges that so many of us have for top approval, perfect security, and perfect romance -- urges quite appropriate to age seventeen -- prove to be an impossible way of life when we are at age forty-seven or fifty-seven.

Since AA began, I've taken immense wallops in all these areas because of my failure to grow up, emotionally and spiritually. My God, how painful it is to keep demanding the impossible, and how very painful to discover finally, that all along we have had the cart before the horse! Then comes the final agony of seeing how awfully wrong we have been, but still finding ourselves unable to get off the emotional merry-go-round.

How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result, and so into easy, happy, and good living -- well, that's not only the neurotic's problem, it's the problem of life itself for all of us who have got to the point of real willingness to hew to right principles in all our affairs.

Even then, as we hew away, peace and joy may still elude us. That's the place so many of us AA oldsters have come to. And it's a hell of a spot, literally. How shall our unconscious -- from which so many of our fears, compulsions and phony aspirations still stream -- be brought into line with what we actually believe, know and want! How to convince our dumb, raging and hidden "Mr. Hyde" becomes our main task.

I've recently come to believe that this can be achieved. I believe so because I begin to see many benighted ones -- folks like you and me -- commencing to get results. Last autumn [several years back -- ed.] depression, having no really rational cause at all, almost took me to the cleaners. I began to be scared that I was in for another long chronic spell. Considering the grief I've had with depressions, it wasn't a bright prospect.

I kept asking myself, "Why can't the Twelve Steps work to release depression?" By the hour, I stared at the St. Francis Prayer..."It's better to comfort than to be the comforted." Here was the formula, all right. But why didn't it work?

Suddenly I realized what the matter was. My basic flaw had always been dependence -- almost absolute dependence - on people or circumstances to supply me with prestige, security, and the like. Failing to get these things according to my perfectionist dreams and specifications, I had fought for them. And when defeat came, so did my depression.

There wasn't a chance of making the outgoing love of St. Francis a workable and joyous way of life until these fatal and almost absolute dependencies were cut away.

Because I had over the years undergone a little spiritual development, the absolute quality of these frightful dependencies had never before been so starkly revealed. Reinforced by what Grace I could secure in prayer, I found I had to exert every ounce of will and action to cut off these faulty emotional dependencies upon people, upon AA, indeed, upon any set of circumstances whatsoever.

Then only could I be free to love as Francis had. Emotional and instinctual satisfactions, I saw, were really the extra dividends of having love, offering love, and expressing a love appropriate to each relation of life.

Plainly, I could not avail myself of God's love until I was able to offer it back to Him by loving others as He would have me. And I couldn't possibly do that so long as I was victimized by false dependencies.

For my dependency meant demand -- a demand for the possession and control of the people and the conditions surrounding me.

While those words "absolute demand" may look like a gimmick, they were the ones that helped to trigger my release into my present degree of stability and quietness of mind, qualities which I am now trying to consolidate by offering love to others regardless of the return to me.

This seems to be the primary healing circuit: an outgoing love of God's creation and His people, by means of which we avail ourselves of His love for us. It is most clear that the current can't flow until our paralyzing dependencies are broken, and broken at depth. Only then can we possibly have a glimmer of what adult love really is.

Spiritual calculus, you say? Not a bit of it. Watch any AA of six months working with a new Twelfth Step case. If the case says "To the devil with you," the Twelfth Stepper only smiles and turns to another case. He doesn't feel frustrated or rejected. If his next case responds, and in turn starts to give love and attention to other alcoholics, yet gives none back to him, the sponsor is happy about it anyway. He still doesn't feel rejected; instead he rejoices that his one-time prospect is sober and happy. And if his next following case turns out in later time to be his best friend (or romance) then the sponsor is most joyful. But he well knows that his happiness is a by-product -- the extra dividend of giving without any demand for a return.

The really stabilizing thing for him was having and offering love to that strange drunk on his doorstep. That was Francis at work, powerful and practical, minus dependency and minus demand.

In the first six months of my own sobriety, I worked hard with many alcoholics. Not a one responded. Yet this work kept me sober. It wasn't a question of those alcoholics giving me anything. My stability came out of trying to give, not out of demanding that I receive.

Thus I think it can work out with emotional sobriety. If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God's help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety.

Of course I haven't offered you a really new idea -- only a gimmick that has started to unhook several of my own "hexes" at depth. Nowadays my brain no longer races compulsively in either elation, grandiosity or depression. I have been given a quiet place in bright sunshine.

(c) Copyright, AA Grapevine, January 1958

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Postby ccs » Mon May 18, 2009 6:22 pm

Bill W's Last Message
Presented at The New York Intergroup Association annual dinner, Oct 10, 1970 ( Bill past away on Jan.24 1971 )

in honor of Bill's upcoming 36th anniversary, Dec. 11, 1970
Bill was under hospital care for acute emphysema and was unable for the first time to attend the A.A. banquet at which his "last drink anniversary" had been celebrated annually. His greetings were delivered by his wife Lois to the 2,200 A.A. members and guests at the New York Hilton.

My dear friends,
Recently an A.A. member sent me an unusual greeting which I would like to extend to you He told me it was an ancient Arabian salutation. Perhaps we have no Arabic groups, but it still seems a fitting expression of how I feel for each of you. It says, "I salute you and thank you for your life."

My thoughts are much occupied these days with gratitude to our Fellowship and for the myriad blessings bestowed upon us by God's Grace.

If I were asked which of these blessings I felt was most responsible for our growth as a fellowship and most vital to our continuity, I would say, the "Concept of Anonymity."

Anonymity has two attributes essential to our individual and collective survival; the spiritual and the practical.

On the spiritual level, anonymity demands the greatest discipline of which we are capable; on the practical level, anonymity has brought protection for the newcomer, respect and support of the world outside, and security from those of us who would use A.A. for sick and selfish purposes.

A.A. must and will continue to change with the passing years. We cannot, nor should we turn back the clock. However, I deeply believe that the principle of anonymity must remain our primary and enduring safeguard. As long as we accept our sobriety in our traditional spirit of anonymity we will continue to receive God's Grace.

And so -- once more, I salute you in that spirit and again I thank you for your lives.

May God bless us all now, and forever.

Ever Yours Bill

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Postby Dallas » Tue May 19, 2009 5:50 am

Thank you, Cessie.

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Postby Tim » Tue May 19, 2009 10:11 am

Bill's piece on Emotional Sobriety is a masterpiece of wisdom. Most of us chased happiness as an end in itself, and found it to be something we could not grasp hold of, a mirage. We became frustrated, disillusioned and bitter.

We find happiness as a byproduct of right actions, a surprise gift when we behave in ways that get us out of ourselves. We find happiness where we never imagined we would find it, in love and service to others.

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Postby DiggerinVA » Tue May 19, 2009 3:48 pm

Thank You so much. I'm very interested in the actual history and the way things were done. I really don't see them being done that way where I live. I knew something was wrong. I see so many of my answers in Bill's writing.

Thank You


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Postby Jools » Wed May 20, 2009 12:00 pm

Thanx for sharing this piece on emotional sobriety, Cessie. It really spoke to my heart.

I concur with Tim, the piece on emotional sobriety is a masterpiece of wisdom.

Love ya girlie

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Postby ccs » Sat May 23, 2009 12:17 am

16Q - Do alcoholics as a class differ from other people.

16A - Some years ago the doctors began to look at Alcoholics Anonymous and they got about thirty of us together and they said to themselves "Well, now that these fellows are in A.A., and they won't lie so badly, and maybe for the first time we'll get a good look at what the interior of a drunk is like." So a number of us were examined at great length by psychiatrists, and all sorts of tests taken, and the object of this particular inquiry was to see whether alcoholics as a class differed from other people, and if they did, just why and how much.

A number of us were invited to attend the conclave, and a number of learned papers were read, and finally one of these physicians (a very noted one - the meeting took place at the New York Academy of Medicine) began to sum up what he thought the conclusion which they had arrived at was this: that the alcoholic is emotionally on the childish side. That the alcoholic is a person who is more sensitive emotionally than the average person. And then, they ascribed another quality to us - they used the word "grandiosity," they were grandiose (meaning by that that as a type we were what you might call "All or Nothing people.") Someone once described it by saying all alcoholics hanker for the moon when perhaps the stars would have done just as well. As a class, we're like that, said the doctors. (Memphis, Tenn., Sept.18-20, 1947)

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Postby ccs » Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:22 am

., September 1947 Guideposts Magazine
Bill's first nationally published magazine article

Simple, these principles, yet a large order indeed. When one tries to apply them he is bound to collide with a most heavy obstacle. That obstacle is one's own pride.

Who, for example, cares to admit complete defeat? Who wishes to admit to himself and others his serious defects of character? Who relishes forgiving his enemies and making amends to people he has harmed? Who would like to give freely of himself without ever demanding reward? How many can really bow before "the God of their own understanding" in real faith that a Higher Power will do for them what they cannot do for themselves?

Yet A.A.'s find that if we go "all out" in daily practice of our 12 Steps we soon commence to live in a new, unbelievable world. Our pride yields to humility and our cynicism to faith. We begin to know serenity. We learn enough patience, tolerance, honesty and service to subdue our former masters - insecurity, resentment and unsatisfied dreams of power. We find that God can be relied upon; that our strength can come out of weakness; that perhaps only those who have tasted the fruits of dependence on a Higher Power can understand the true meaning of personal liberty, freedom of the human spirit.

For us of A.A. these are not theories; they are the prime facts of our very existence. The average A.A. member feels that he deserves little personal credit for his new way of life. He knows he might never have achieved enough humility to find God unless he had been beaten to his knees by alcohol. He was once that egocentric, but in the end it had to be God.

Yet we of A.A. cannot but feel that great things certainly await those who earnestly try our 12 Steps substituting their own distressing problem for that of alcohol. Nor do we think everyone needs to be so completely beaten as we were. To us, grace is an infinite abundance which surely can be shared by all who will renounce their former selves enough to truely seek it out. We often feel like shouting this ancient charter of men's liberty from the rooftops of thousands of our homes - A.A. homes that would never have been, but for the grace of God.

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Postby ccs » Wed Jun 17, 2009 3:40 am

part of
The Links In The Chain
Address by Bill W. in 1956, before the National Committee On Alcoholism

Some people say that destiny is a series of events held together by a thin thread of change or circumstance. Other people say that destiny is composed of a series of events strung on a cord of cause and effect and still others say that the destiny of good work is often the issue of the will of God and that he forges the links and brings the events to pass. I've been asked to come here to tell the story of A.A. and in that story, everyone here I am sure can find justification for either of those points of view.

But, I want to tell more than the story of A.A., this time. I was beset, I must confess, by a certain reluctance, and the reluctance issues out of this fact, of course everybody is fairly familiar with the fact that I once suffered from alcoholism, but people are not so wise to the fact that I suffer also from schizophrenia, split personality. I have a personality say as a patriarch of A.A., founding father, if you like, and I also have a personality as an A.A. member and between these personalities is a terrific gulf.

You see, a founding father of A.A. has to stand up to the A.A. Tradition which says that you must not endorse anything or anybody or even say good things about your friends on the outside or even of Beemans chewing gum lest it be an endorsement. So as the father of A.A. I am very strictly bound to do nothing but tell the story of our society. But as an A.A. member like all the rest, I am an anarchist who revels in litter so I'm really going to say what I damn please. So, if only you will receive me as Mr. Anonymous, one of the poor old drunks still trying to get honest!

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