31 05, 2024

Step 6 . . . All These Defects

By John W.

The scope of this step, “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character” seemed pretty innocent at the time. I had made the decision, discovered my defects of character through an inventory and then admitted my shortcomings to the entire world. OK, it had been actually just to myself, my Higher Power and my sponsor, but at the time this seemed like the whole world. As it turned out, these admissions at that moment in my life were most certainly made to just about the only person on earth who seemed to care anything at all about me or what I was doing as I took that step.  

Because the words of the step seemed plain and simple, after several hours of talking to my sponsor about a long list of resentments, when we separated, I believed for the first time I was actually doing something positive about my drinking problem. Sober at the time for 6 months, with the divorce on the ever-nearing horizon, the bankruptcies not far behind it, the estrangements of three young children comprising the sky above, it still seemed in that moment, as I took the Book down from the shelf, as though I was progressing. I looked at the previous steps. I tried in earnest to ensure that I had applied them to my life as it had been in sobriety and honestly considered how I could integrate what I was learning into my daily life. These twelve suggestions and the Fifth Step just completed helped me develop a plan. It was a good plan. It was a plan that seemed to work for many. It was a plan I wanted to have in my life. 

In the years that followed with the help and guidance of that same sponsor, I was able to maintain my sobriety. I was faced with challenges, tackling Life On Life’s Terms, because even when you are sober life happens.  But things seemed to be on a relatively even keel. The woman whom I had met on AA campus and I were getting along, overcoming rough spots as we encountered them, experiencing together Life On Life’s Terms. Business reversals had been rude, but even they all eventually resolved. Sitting in the cockpit, in the copilot’s seat of course, looking down from 36,000 feet, life looked pretty good. And that was what I thought.

Ironically despite this progress, I later discovered I had not really understood the full meaning of the phrase “entirely ready.” As time passed, I realized I had actually not been willing to be entirely ready to have all of my defects of character put into His hands. In my alcoholic fashion I had rationalized to myself that since I had completed Step 6 a long time before and held nothing back in that process, I was good to go. While it is fair to say on reflection I had done the best I could do at the time, the brutal truth was that there was still work to be done. I admitted to my sponsor at our first meeting that I was ready to go to any lengths, but did that mean I was “entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character?”


Early on in my sobriety I heard the observation that if you get a drunken horse thief sober, you are still left with a horse thief. Thus, to overcome the defect of stealing horses, one has to work on that defect. I was warned such work could take time, sometimes even a long time. So it was for me. My stubbornness and arrogance, though tempered by my sobriety, had by no means been washed away such that I was as white as driven snow. This was my state of consciousness when, in another setting in advance of an important spiritual season, I heard the message being conveyed of the value of the gift of forgiveness. Although I had participated in this yearly event for as long as I could remember, for reasons I cannot explain, this time I heard. This time I listened. This time my arrogance in my conviction that I was not at fault, that she was to blame, did not prevent my ears from hearing. This time my stubbornness that blame clearly laid at the doorstep of another, did not prevent me looking into the mirror where I really saw for the first time the cause of the problem. I was finally truly owning that the wreckage of my past was caused by my alcoholism. It was in that moment of clarity, after over a decade of coddling my “Resentment Numero Uno” that I turned to Him. I had become, finally,  “entirely ready.” This cherished resentment, that my ex-wife had “stolen” my children from their father by divorcing that drunk who was finally sober, this tarp that had kept the sunlight of the spirit from being able to envelop me in its warm and healing glow, had to go. Cast off, and in the sunlight which then revealed it for the poison it had become, I was able to ask that this shortcoming be removed. I could forgive my former spouse for doing that which she had thought was necessary to protect herself and our young children. The separation had been ugly, the divorce far from détente, the youngsters were now all adults, but still I had blamed their mom for it all.

Only a few weeks after I finally took ownership of my shortcomings and found forgiveness for the object of my anger, Life happened when one of my sons called to tell me of the unexpected and tragic death of his mom, my former spouse. I had a long drive to her funeral and during it, in the privacy of my thoughts, I realized  I was going with a clean and open heart. Although I made my amends to her years before, I could now say without reservation  I had forgiven her and the timing of that forgiveness could not have been more beneficial. Certainly, I had squandered time harboring this resentment, but when I became “entirely ready” to work the steps upon it, the principles of the steps worked as advertised – and then some!  I found that I was able to proceed with the healing my children needed following their mother’s death without reservation because I had become willing. I had finally become entirely ready to ask that my defect, my long-protected resentment, my shortcoming, be removed.  


We hear often in meetings how, in the lives of others, God works in mysterious ways. This became true for me and played out in real time as I was simply practicing the principles of the program in my affairs. My unexpected experience helped me more vividly to begin to see life in that Fourth Dimension which our founders described so long ago.

< < <     < < <           > > >     > > >

For Mary, 07/16/1960 – 05/24/2022 : RIP

31 05, 2024


By Christine R.

HOPE equals Happy Our Program Exists. Are you happy our program exists? After hearing the following, I sure am. 

While at a meeting, a member took the microphone to say, “Let me remind us we have a life-and-death disease.”  She went on, “We need help with the chairs today and you know why? Because the guy who has the break-down commitment was drunk in a car crash and killed two days ago. He let the life AA gave him get in the way of his AA life.”

She continued, “Yesterday another friend of mine was remanded into prison for 4 years starting on Monday. He was in black-out and could not remember what he’d done wrong but the paperwork against him was a mile high.”

As she spoke, memories came of the women I work with in prison who are usually there for involuntary manslaughter. Drunk drivers who killed people. Still they won’t read the Big Book, little realizing if they work the Steps, their biproduct is hope.

This little four-letter word plays a crucial role in our Program. On a larger scale, hope can be the difference between giving up and holding on. Hope keeps us going. Hope helps us believe and work for a better life. Hope is for the future what Faith is for the present.

Hope keeps us hopeful. The more we use it, the easier it gets. Hope orients us to keep our commitment to recovery, especially in our early days. Here is an example: 

Two young fathers sat side-by-side at a meeting. The first to speak was entirely Happy Our Program Exists. Recently back from Las Vegas, so thrilled not to pick up. A milestone to stay sober in Vegas. Spoke of arriving home on time to see his boy play little league and enjoy the company of his wife and family. Brimming with hope was this guy. The second father said, “I was in Vegas, but mine was a totally different experience. Thanks to you and your share I have hope, and now the courage to say what happened to me….” Drunk and overslept, he missed his flight and the opportunity to enjoy his son’s winning track meet; now at odds with his spouse and about to lose his job. Brimming with shame, disappointment and fear was the second man. Two fathers on the same weekend in Vegas. The difference? One worked the Steps generating hope and peace. The other, on his own, nothing but heartache, hopelessness and disaster. 

Meetings provide hope.  When I sloshed into my first meeting, I hoped to find answers to why I could not stop drinking, in the face of car crashes, lost jobs and family. Had we stopped on Step One and the powerlessness over alcohol, I would have continued drinking and die like the guy at the Alano Club. I had already long passed any other choice. With hope came an optimistic state of mind I had not known in years. When my pain met purpose, I began to have hope.

Members provided hope as living proof by their restoration to sanity, homes, and work. From the tenderloin and a bottle of vodka to our home group – with birthday cake and candles, singing to celebrate our sobriety – I saw, and see today, firsthand we are walking, talking miracles. 

“In any meeting, anywhere, A.A.’s share experience, strength, and hope with each other, in order to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.”*  Hope is part of the triumvirate to keep us sane and sober. My hope is readers find fellowship, relief from alcohol, and hope as their silent partner for a better tomorrow. 

Instead of a hopeless dope fiend be a dope less Hope Fiend.  Here’s to HOPE!

* BB Foreword to Fourth Edition, p.xxiv

31 05, 2024

To Let . . .

By Anonymous

At times the story of the Titanic was so real,
Imagining the wells and the ne’er-do-wells alike
Having to confront their reality that this was the deal
Their end was at hand, they had lost this fight.

As with so many he had heard, on the “Wings of Victory”
He had not arrived into “these rooms” on “his day.”
Instead the Road to Perdition was his path, harmful, delusory,
Strewn with wreckage and foreboding, all these his toll to pay.

But the Solution, for there was a solution, was free
For the taking, literally, only to be had one step at a time.
This path his – to become the man he had always wanted to be.
The Decision made, the lode of defects had been ahead to mine.

With a guide’s help, that work got done, the threshold was there.
His to have, if he was willing, entirely, To Let . . . . .
Entirely ready to let . . .  Let Who?  Do what?  When? Where?
Remove traits he had lived with, lived by for years without regret.

He had come this far, made such progress, now he had only
To Let . . . . To become:  Entirely ready to let . . . . .
He remembered the Decision, how he now no longer felt lonely.
The promised freedom had come too, like a matched set.  

So if the Decision could be made, couldn’t he be ready
To be done with his limitations? Entirely ready to let that Power
Greater than he, remove these shortcomings? Entirely ready
To have them taken and in the rain of a new life shower?

No Hobson’s choice here nor need with Solomon to consult.
The Power of the Decision made surged within him . . .
From a source unknown, a resolute “yes,” the silent result.
The logic of the Decision made compelling that choice within him.

31 05, 2024

The Road to Mental Freedom

Understanding Steps Six and Seven

By Rick R.

Since the day I entered the A.A. program, I have had an insatiable appetite for learning all I could about the disease of alcoholism. Having completed very thoroughly the fourth and fifth steps,  and examining my motives for everything I did with steps six and seven, it occurred to me that most of my problems in life involved my interfacing with, “Those Other People.” As I got further into the steps and started to process every one of these interactions, it became apparent that the basic cause of my discontent was low self-esteem. Until I resolved that, there would be very little peace of mind. I had to get right with everyone.

They say understanding is the key to right living, and I read just about anything I could get my hands on about these issues to reinforce the principles we learn in the AA program. Books like:  Emmet Fox’s Sermon on The Mount, , Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled, Ernest Kurtz and Kathleen’s Ketchum’s The Spirituality of Imperfection, Max Ehrmann’s poem “Desiderata”, and the like. This kind of reference material helped me get a better perspective on how to reduce the obstacles standing in the way of my ability to solve these problems.

I should be willing to get right with “every human being I know” as suggested in step eight. (12 & 12) Scott Peck describes the word love as: “Caring for and nurturing another person’s soul.” Now I look at love as a verb and not a noun. You can love someone who doesn’t love you back when you use this definition. As a result, I truly wish the best for every human being I know and offer help and guidance when I can. I become their best advocate. If I want to heal, I must look deeper and try to understand the other person and be strong enough to rein in my ego; then to realize the other person may be reacting to my adversarial position.

Finding ways of removing my own judgmental attitudes opens the door to love and compassion. Today, I can love everyone by simply giving them the respect and acceptance I would want for myself. After doing my best to adopt this plan of action over the years, I can only say nothing  I have ever done, with respect to Those Other People, has been more rewarding than this approach. I have stopped, to the best of my understanding, judging others by their outside behavior and have the strength to look deeper. When I do, I usually find a person not too different from myself, trying to protect himself from his fears. I can’t bring myself to pile on and compound his pain. My heart goes out to him, and I don’t have to deal with regrets later. My ego is neutralized as I come to understand his troubles. The greatest gift I receive as I apply this to all Those Other People, is I seem to allow myself the same latitude without even expecting it because at one time, I was That Other Person. Self-forgiveness and peace of mind seem to be the natural result of my efforts. I can accept everyone just as they are and not mess with God’s work.

31 05, 2024

“AA Recovery Interviews” Podcast: Paying Forward a Debt of Gratitude to AA

By Howard L.

To pay forward my debt of gratitude to Alcoholics Anonymous for 36 years of sobriety, I launched the “AA Recovery Interviews” podcast in December 2020. Since then, over 150 AA members from around the world have shared with me their stories of experience, strength, and hope to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. Each hour-long interview focuses on what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now. Most importantly, my guests share what it’s been like during their years or decades in recovery. We discuss the challenges and gifts, as well as the tragedies and triumphs, experienced during sobriety. Each story is a beacon of hope and proof-positive that AA really works.

In creating the “AA Recovery Interviews” podcast, extraordinary care was taken to adhere to AA’s Twelve Traditions and all General Service Office guidelines for maintaining anonymity online. No videos or images are shown, and all names are anonymized using the initial of each guest’s last name. Further steps are taken to edit out the names of treatment centers, hospitals, sober living houses, and AA club and/or meeting names. Assurance that no guest can be identified by name, job, or other affiliation allows each AA member to speak frankly about their own journey in sobriety. What’s more, I pay all podcast production costs and no outside advertising is allowed so the show’s integrity is rock-solid. To date, no requests to withdraw a story have ever been received from interviewees.

The process of preparing each AA member’s story has been both gratifying and uplifting. While there are many similarities among them (e.g. the average age of the first drink/drunk seems to be 14), the differences between the stories still create a captivating listening experience. From the very first interview I conducted with Adam M., each succeeding story seemed richer than the last. To me, that’s a demonstration of a higher power present within each personal testimonial. After 150 interviews, I’m still amazed at the impact of every single story.

Since there is no online promotion of the “AA Recovery Interviews” podcast, growth in listenership has been largely organic and mostly word-of-mouth. Nevertheless, there have been over 300,000 downloads, a reasonable indication that the podcast is touching many lives around the world. While 5-star reviews and ratings are appreciated, it is those people I see in meetings whose comments mean the most to me. They tell me they regularly listen in their cars, on their walks, during their workouts, and whenever they want to be uplifted and inspired by their fellow AAs. 

Occasionally, I hear about someone who decided to try AA, or return to the Program after a relapse as the result of hearing the podcast. When I hear that this little weekly podcast has become an important part of anyone’s program, I am both humbled and gratefully reminded that service to others is a gift my higher power has given me to pass on to my fellow AA members.

30 04, 2024


By Christine R.

As a newcomer to the Program, commuting by bus into San Francisco to a stress-filled office, I would jealousy keep the last remains of the Cabin coffee in my cup. Certain that even the home group’s drops of coffee would keep me sober. In a way – they did and still do. Here’s how.

Looking into the one dark eye of my coffee cup, I could recall the Cabin. The knotty pine walls. Who said what. What the reading was. Who attended. “Maggie sat there. Barbara over here.” The entire session would replay in my mind’s eye. In a way, I had what you’d call an “Insta-Meeting.” Now playing in theaters and coffee cups near you. Savoring the good-luck-drops from my home group keeps me sober even now. Not just a travel-mug, a meeting-mug. Sobriety and love travels with me.  

Speaking of coffee comes the Coffee Commitment. You know the one where you have to arrive early? To keep a Coffee Commitment at a 7am meeting like mine, you have to get up and out the door by 6:30. Heaven help us if the coffee is not ready by 6:45am, fifteen minutes ahead of time, for a gathering of happy alcoholics. 

As a newcomer, I couldn’t understand how making coffee enhances sobriety. I wanted an easier, softer way than the early morning sprint. With time came the awareness of undiscovered benefits. First off, comes the enjoyment of my home group itself. A beautiful antique cabin by a running stream in the woods. Arriving early I enjoy the quiet morning hours. The hooting of the owls. The freshness of the trees.

From here, I learned to think of others. As one would do for guests at home, there’s creamer, sugar, and spoons. Table cloth, plates and cups make the place cheery and inviting. Arriving early I began to talk with people, the last thing I wanted to do when I was new. Got their numbers and shared mine. I learned where the great meetings are.  

Eventually, like the line we cross from being a problem drinker into an alcoholic, so comes the line we cross from being an outsider looking in to an insider looking out onto that “host of friends” they talk about in our literature. A “host” meaning more than one. 

“We can be the ones who take on the unspectacular but important tasks of good Twelfth Step work arranging for the coffee…where so many skeptical, suspicious newcomers have found confidence and comfort in the laughter and talk.”  Some of the best twelfth step work comes from get-togethers with a sponsor or sponsee before or after a meeting at the local coffee house.

In olden days they used to say, “All it takes to create a meeting is a Big Book, a resentment, and a pot of coffee.” There’s something about a warm beverage that keeps body and soul sober and sane. Admittedly there are times when the coffee smells better than it tastes. If that’s the case – take up the Coffee Commitment. Come learn how to make the best out of Maxwell House. 

The Coffee Commitment, the Clean Up Commitment, the Butt Can Commitment (mine for years) are among countless commitments to support sobriety. You may have heard, “We go out when we stop going to meetings, we stop going to meetings when we stop having commitments.” Meeting makers make it. Make some coffee and make it.

30 04, 2024


By Dede H.

Grounded in true core values
Alcoholics Anonymous was new
Among sick unprincipled drunks
Love, courage, and honesty?
We know how low they’d sunk
Sure, we come in crawling
On our knees—not dancing
Not laughing and not singing
Nasty bottoms horrible things
Nowhere to go but up?
No, we have a choice!
One is alive so yes we do
Not just noise we’re poised
To experience happiness too
Hot coffee and a ride or two
Joy, friendship, and laughter
People really learning to cope
Sisters sweet brothers sharing
Experience, strength, and hope
An inclusive path to recovery.


30 04, 2024

The Principle of Integrity

By John W.

It was difficult for me to see how that small untruth was hurting anyone, it was just helping me to keep peace around the homestead. The lie was after all only allowing me to enjoy a small repayment for why I was working so hard in the first place. I had seen “Dallas” as a kid growing up, the stars always had a drink in their hands. They would walk into a room and the first thing they did was go to a fancy looking table, get a nice looking crystal glass and put some brandy in it. Then they would talk of all manner of life and problems and solutions, always it seemed with a drink in hand. I figured if it was good enough for the stars on TV, it certainly would do me no harm.

So as a young married man, starting a family, when the question was posed: “Did you stop for a drink on the way home?” I always told just a little white lie, responding wholeheartedly: “No.”

Like Dover’s White Cliffs eroding over time, I was losing my Integrity little by little and there was nothing I could do about it. I could not stop the conduct which necessitated the lie, despite my best efforts to try. I had already learned the hard way that the trouble that came with my drinking lessons kept me locked in my hidden past. That’s why these little falsehoods were harmless. I could take a gentleman’s pleasure after a hard day at the office before returning to the home that hard work sustained. It was just another of life’s delicate ecosystems, one activity bolstered another, was sustained by a third, so that a fourth could persist, and so on, and so on.

But the erosion of my soul was occurring, just like those White Cliffs. The first time the Truth intervened, at that couple’s session with the ill-fated marriage counsel, when I volunteered out of the blue that I drank the way I did because I was an alcoholic, that was quite a show stopper.  Almost two decades later I still don’t know from where that nugget of Truth emerged. But the admission was a game changer, no doubt about it. It did not save the marriage and has not yet patched things up with the children, but it unlocked a Truth that had been hidden until that moment by the blanket of my denial for all of my waking life until then. So too it was the first time I admitted I was a Newcomer to the 7:00 am group I had been attending for months, each morning still bent from the night before. The lie not told, the lie of omission, had been just as damaging to my Integrity, as I was later to learn. After I embraced sobriety, I found that not only had these lies taken their toll, but the marks they had left on me became the signposts on the path I was to follow to become the man I always wanted to be, they were the signposts on my road called “Change.”

I had to be searching and fearless with my inventory, and my Decision had given me the courage to accomplish that. But then I had to “admit” this inventory. First an admission to my Higher Power, who I could not see any way, so that was no big whoop. Then to myself, but I had penned the inventory, so no surprises there. But the admission to another human being, this was raising the bar quite high indeed. I had to be honest with this guy, my sponsor it turned out, face to face, about everything. As if it was necessary to underscore the value and need for this, I heard the horror stories about how those who did not employ Integrity in this admission, that often a drink, a slip, was their dubious reward and for me, to drink was to die.

So here it was, put out all my cards face up, no tricks, nothing up my sleeve, nothing, nothing at all, held back. Otherwise, be prepared to pack it in and let my disease do what it wanted to do, take everything from me until I had nothing more to give, then take my last breath too. As I had lost my Integrity, one white lie at a time, so too I gained it back by the daily halting of that practice. Although it had been daunting and difficult, that first Fifth Step (there have been others over the years) gave me the tool I needed to speak the Truth.  As the challenges have come since, that tool of Integrity has been often used and it has served me well. I learned in its use, that it was the Willingness to try that put my Integrity into the space it needed to do its work, a space the Courage I had found in taking my inventory had made for that very purpose.  

30 04, 2024


By Judy R.

For J. L.

By day in a tower
with windows frozen shut
I breathe dry, canned air
preserved in steel and glass
where I ascend at high speed
for the boardroom to suffocate
while our heads untethered
from their suits pronounce
words like “objectify”
or “systematize.” In Human
Resources a sign says feelings
need not apply. Day’s end I leave
feeling less visible than dust.
By night in a basement
with doors swung open
to characters of my
own kind, we tell stories
of our broken ways, like
a tribe around a campfire–
a circle where love is breathed
not always spoken. I share
the day another boss said, “Go,
go right now.” We laugh, again.
Then someone gallant and intent
as Inspector Clousseau glides across
the room, takes my hand, kisses
me on one cheek, then the other
and without a spoken word
makes me feel seen and heard,
makes me feel…

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