Working Context of the Big Book

Step Five Timetable
February 26, 2018
How the A.A. Cleveland District Office Began
March 2, 2018

After several months of sobriety and several marbles were spinning in the same direction, it was suggested that I read the Big Book all the way through, stories and all. Then, go back and begin a serious study of the directions offered in the first 164 pages. After so doing, I began to develop a better understanding of the Big Book wording context that Bill W. was trying to convey, rather than my oft-mistaken previous conception[s] – case in point:

The word – sanity: At first, I considered this term in context of the confused mental state of my early sobriety, or those seemingly bi-polar rollercoaster emotions, etc. or perhaps the legal definition of being a danger to self or others. But today I realize that Bill used this word more in the context of drinking booze, e.g.: He speaks of the insanity of “Jim” pouring whisky in his milk (p. 35-37), or the opposite: Fitz Mayo’s sanity, who “seemingly he could not drink even if he would” (p. 57).

I now think of alcoholic insanity as the inability to see and act on the truth in drink, and sanity as the ability to do so. Although, this is not always the case, this new insight serves as a handy learning tool.

The word – cured: A bit of confusion arose when I read Dr. Bob’s Nightmare and he wrote: “…but had been cured” (p. 180), or where Bill D. wrote: “…curing me of this terrible disease.” (p. 191) There are other examples in the Story Section of the Big Book. Confusion arose when I read on page 85: “We are not cured of alcoholism.” A contradiction! But, by studying this book I learned (p. 29) that the clear-cut directions are in the first 164 pages, but the story section of a different ilk. It does not contain the clear-cut directions! These members words are not necessarily in conjunction with the instruction pages.

Page 85 tells me “The problem has been removed.” Does this infer that I can now drink like a gentleman? Well, not if I have studied the Big Book! If so, I will realize that the physical allergy is chronic – it will never go away. Consequently, this is not the mentioned problem… so, what is left? Of course, it is the mental obsession which has been removed.

But, hold the phone! It has not been destroyed, eradicated or beamed to outer space. It will be ever lurking just waiting for me to exit from my fit spiritual condition. I maintain that I am a fully recovered alcoholic. This means that if I throw AA and God under the bus, I would likely be drunk by next Thursday, or sooner.

By Bob S., Richmond, IN

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.