A little ditty on the “Big Book”, Alcoholics Anonymous(How it Works).
Does this chapter explain the whole program?
No, not the whole program. This chapter introduces the twelve steps, which is the whole program, followed by a breakdown of steps 3 and 4. Chapter 5 is very much an instructional chapter. It does start out with some strong statements such as; “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path”. This statement suggests that if you follow the directions you will have success at this thing called sobriety.
The first page states that even if someone has issues other than alcoholism, such as emotional disorders of some type, they can still recover if they have the ability(capacity) to be honest. Then, earnestly “begging” that you be fearless and thorough from the very start. In other words if you decide to try this thing(the twelve steps) you will need to be all in, if you expect to get results.
What steps are in this Chapter?
This Chapter reviews steps 1 and 2, on page 60, the abc’s. Then it explains in detail the instructions on step 3 and 4. This is the heart of the program, other than the first step. They go to great lengths to explain why turning your will(your thoughts) and your life(your actions) over to the care of God, as you understand him, is so necessary to live a comfortable sober life.
Selfishness is at the root of our troubles. Living a life on self will always has us running up against someone or something. Step 3 allows us to move our ego aside and be open to direction from a much higher source than our own selfish designs. This does not necessarily mean we were bad people before, just self centered to the extreme. Turning our lives over to a higher power gives us a new employer. We are no longer working for ourselves. As alcoholics that has never worked well. No longer is it necessary to be the director in “the play of life” trying to arrange things to suit our ideas of how life should be.
Why is it necessary to write all these things down?
Step 4 suggests that we take a fearless and searching moral inventory. The book uses the analogy of a business. If the business is to succeed it must be honest about the stock it has on the shelves. A business that does not take regular inventory goes broke. To take this inventory one must honestly look at the stock-in-trade, this requires physically reviewing what is there in order to find unsalable goods. It is suggested that we do the same with our lives. What are the things in ourselves that are blocking us from the sunlight of the spirit(happy, joyous, free)?
This chapter strongly states that resentment is the number one offender. In dealing with these we set them on paper. There is something very powerful about looking things over in black and white (as in a business inventory) opposed to thinking about it, where justification can cause us to lie to ourselves. When we write down these things we are more able to look at them objectively. We are then able to see what instincts that these grudges provoke. Fear, sex relations, and money are usually involved somewhere. These are simply part of the human conditions. However, if resentments are not addressed, the alcoholic can drink over these things and if you be alcoholic you know where this may end up.
Hard truths about one’s self are not easy to admit, but the results from following through will be very satisfying over the long haul. Diligence in facing our resentments and character deficit can offer us a comfortable life without drinking, or polluting ourselves with drugs or other harmful obsessions.