by Rob S

On a bleak November day in 1934, Bill W. was receiving—albeit unknowingly—a gift beyond belief. An old schoolmate, Ebby T., explained how he had found sobriety via ideas from the Oxford Group. Bill was amazed, yet he thought to himself: “My gin would last longer than his preaching” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 9). This holiday season it did not! Bill’s curiosity about his friend’s success eventually led him to the doors of the alcoholic ward of Towns Hospital a few weeks later.

My gin would last longer than his preaching

He was released with a full week of sobriety on December 18, just one week before Christmas. He never drank again. But that was only the beginning. While in the hospital he had a personality change that altered his modus operandi. Previously he had never wanted anything more than to be a rich member of the Wall Street crowd, before drinking ruined that high point of his life. However, before leaving the hospital the thought came to him: “There were thousands of hopeless alcoholics who might be glad to have what had been so freely given me. Perhaps I could help some of them. They in turn might work with others” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 14).

Bill’s real gift was a complete personality change as described by Dr. Carl Jung: “Ideas, emotions and attitudes … are suddenly cast to one side, and [replaced by] a new set of conceptions and motives” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 27). Did Bill go back to Wall Street? No, he did not. He went to Calvary Mission, brought a disheveled wino home to Brooklyn Heights, then fed him and prayed with him. The drunk went back out and got drunk. Still, Bill went back to that same mission again and again through January, February and March of 1935. 

emotional rearrangements

This personality change was a wonderful gift. Not just getting sober, but the strong desire to help others. Today we call this Step Twelve.

Not just getting sober, but the strong desire to help

The unusual 2020 holiday season, with the coronavirus and all, gives us a special opportunity to contact newer members of our home groups who generally rely on lots of meetings—some of which may not be available at this time. An encouraging word via telephone, email or Facebook may be just the ticket. I personally enjoy talking to new members about our A.A. program of action as well as our history. Of course, discussing the steps a newcomer is working on is an important ingredient. I carry my Big Book with me. The motive is: Out of self, into God, and for others.

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