The Family Afterward (comparison)

Comparing “The Family Afterward” to the original manuscript for our Basic Text


Comparison Format — Colors appear here only and are — — not used in the actual comparisons. — Words above brackets are from the pre-publication version. < Bracketed copy is from our Basic Text as it reads today. > ~ Format Examples ~
Rarely have we < RARELY HAVE WE > seen a person fail who has thoroughly directions followed our < path >...
~ ~ ~
Now we think you can take it! < — — — — — > Here are the steps we took...
~ ~ ~
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our — — — — — — < conscious > contact with God < as we understood Him >...
~ ~ ~


Chapter 9 < Chapter 9 > THE FAMILY AFTERWARD
OUR WOMEN FOLK < Our women folk > have suggested certain attitudes a wife may take with the husband who is recovering. Perhaps they created the impression that he is to be wrapped in cotton wool and placed on a pedestal. Successful readjustment means must the opposite. All members of the family < should > meet upon the common ground of tolerance, understanding and love. This involves a process of deflation. The alcoholic, his wife, his children, his "in-laws," each one is likely to have fixed ideas about the family's attitude towards himself or herself. Each is interested in having his or her wishes respected. The < We find the > more one member of the family demands that other the < others > concede to him, the more resentful they become. This makes for discord and unhappiness. Any < And > why? Is it not because each wants to play the lead? Is not each trying to arrange the family show to his liking? Is he not unconsciously trying to see what he can , take from the family life < > rather than give? Cessation of drinking is but the first step away from the a highly strained, abnormal condition. A doctor said < > other day < to us >, "Years of living with an alcoholic is almost sure to make any wife or child neurotic. The entire family is, to some extent, ill." Let families realize, as they start their journey, that all will not be fair weather. Each in his turn will will < may > be footsore and < may > straggle.

 


                                                          123 

There will be alluring shortcuts and by-paths down which      
they may wander and lose their way.                           

     Suppose we tell you some of the obstacles a family will  
meet; suppose we suggest how they may be avoided – even con-  
verted to good use for others.  The family of an alcoholic    
longs for the return of happiness and security.  They remember
when father was romantic, thoughtful and successful.  Today's 
life is measured against that of other years and, when it     
falls short, the family may be unhappy.                       

     Family confidence in dad is rising high.  The good old   
days will soon be back, they think.  Sometimes they demand    
that dad bring them back instantly!  God, they believe, almost
owes this recompense on a long overdue account.  But the head 
of the house has spent years in pulling down the structures of
business, romance, friendship, health – these things are now  
ruined or damaged.  It will take time to clear away the wreck.
Though old buildings will eventually be replaced by finer     
ones, the new structures will take years to complete.         

     Father knows he is to blame; it may take him many seasons
of hard work to be restored financially, but he shouldn't be  
reproached.  Perhaps he will never have much money again.  But
the wise family will admire him for what he is trying to be,  
rather than for what he is trying to get.                     

     Now and then the family will be plagued by spectres from 
the past, for the drinking career of almost every alcoholic   
                                                            , 
has been marked by escapades, funny, humiliating, shameful < >
or tragic.  The first impulse will be to bury these skeletons 
in a dark closet and padlock the door.  The family may be     
  obsessed with                                               
< possessed by > the idea                                     


 


 124                                                          

that future happiness can be based only upon forgetfulness of 
                     Such                    quite            
the past.  < We think that such > a view is <     > self-cen- 
                                                    life      
tered and in direct conflict with the new way of < living >.  

     Henry Ford once made a wise remark to the effect that    
experience is the thing of supreme value in life.  That is    
true only if one is willing to turn the past to good account. 
We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and     
convert them into assets.  The alcoholic's past thus becomes  
                                   ,                          
the principal asset of the family < > and frequently it is    

< almost > the only one!                                      

     This painful past may be of infinite value to other fami-
lies still struggling with their problem.  We think each fami-
                                                    which     
ly which has been relieved owes something to those < who >    

have not, and when the occasion requires, each member of it   
 who has found God,                                           
<                  > should be only too willing to bring      
former mistakes, no matter how grievous, out of their         
hiding places.  Showing others who suffer how we were         
       victory,                                               
given <  help  > is the very thing which makes life seem      
so worth while to us now.  Cling to the thought that, in God's
hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the
key to life and happiness for others.  With it you can avert  
death and misery for them.                                    

     It is possible to dig up past misdeeds so they become    
a blight, a veritable plague.  For example, we know of        
situations in which the alcoholic or his wife have had love   
affairs.  In the first flush of spiritual experience they     
forgave each other and drew closer together.  The miracle of  
reconciliation was at hand.  Then, under one provocation or   
another, the aggrieved one would unearth the old affair and   
angrily cast its ashes about.  A few of us have had these     
growing pains and they                                        


 


                                                          125 

hurt a great deal.  Husbands and wives have sometimes been    
obliged to separate for a time until new perspective, new     
                         ,              rewon                 
victory over hurt pride < > could be < re-won >.  In most     

cases, the alcoholic survived this ordeal without relapse,    
                     our rule is                              
but not always.  So < we think  > that unless some good and   
                                                     are      
useful purpose is to be served, past occurrences < should >   

not < be > discussed.                                         

                                           have               
     We families of Alcoholics Anonymous < keep > few         
           secrets                            all             
< skeletons in the closet >.  Everyone knows <   > about      
           everyone else                                      
< the others' alcoholic troubles >.  This is a condition      
                                                      .       
which, in ordinary life, would produce untold grief < ; >     
  There would                                                 
< there might > be scandalous gossip, laughter at the expense 
of other people, and a tendency to take advantage of intimate 
information.  Among us, these are rare occurrences.           

This paragraph break appears in the manuscript only.

     We do talk about each other a great deal < , > but < we >

almost invariably temper such talk by a spirit of love and    
             We discuss another's shortcomings in the hope    
tolerance.  <                                             >   
 that some new idea of helpfulness may come out of the        
<                                                     >       
 conversation.  The cynic might say we are good because       
<                                                      >      
 we have to be.                                               
<              >                                              

                  rule                                        
     Another < principle > we observe carefully is that we do 
not relate intimate experiences of another person unless we   
are sure he would approve.  We find it better, when possible, 
to stick to our own stories.  A man may criticize or laugh at 
himself and it will affect others favorably, but criticism or 
          of him                                              
ridicule <      > coming from another often produces the con- 
trary effect.  Members of a family should watch such matters  
carefully, for one careless, inconsiderate remark has been    
known to raise the very devil.  We alcoholics are sensitive   
people.  It takes some of us a long time to outgrow that      
serious handicap.                                             

       Most                                                   
     < Many > alcoholics are enthusiasts.  They run to        
extremes.  At the beginning of recovery a man will take,      
as a rule, one of two directions.  He may either plunge       
into a frantic attempt to get on his feet in business, or     


 


 126                                                          

he may be so enthralled by his new life that he talks or      
thinks of little else.  In either case certain family problems
will arise.  With these we have had experience galore.        

         pointed out the danger he runs                       
     We <      think it dangerous      > if he rushes headlong
at his economic problem.  The family will be affected also,   
pleasantly at first, as they feel their money troubles are    

< about > to be solved, then not so pleasantly as they find   
themselves neglected.  Dad may be tired at night and preoccu- 
pied by day.  He may take small interest in the children and  
may show irritation when reproved for his delinquencies.  If  
not irritable, he may seem dull and boring, not gay and affec-
         ,                                                    
tionate < > as the family would like him to be.  Mother may   

complain of inattention.  They are all disappointed, and      
   soon                                                       
< often > let him feel it.  Beginning with such complaints,   
a barrier arises.  He is straining every nerve to make up for 
lost time.  He is striving to recover fortune and reputation  
      thinks                                                  
and < feels > he is doing very well.                          

             Mother                                           
     < Sometimes mother > and children don't think so.  Having
      wantonly                                                
been <        > neglected and misused in the past, they think 
father owes them more than they are getting.  They want him to
make a fuss over them.  They expect him to give them the nice 

times they used to have before he drank < so much >, and to   
show his contrition for what they suffered.  But dad doesn't  
give freely of himself.  Resentment grows.  He becomes still  
less communicative.  Sometimes he explodes over a trifle.  The
family is mystified.  They criticize, pointing out how he is  
falling down on his spiritual program.                        

                          must be stopped                     
     This sort of thing < can be avoided >.  Both father and  
                   wrong                                      
the family are < mistaken >, though each side may have some   
justification.  It is of little use to argue and only         


 


                                                          127 

makes the impasse worse.  The family must realize that dad,   
                                         a sick man           
though marvelously improved, is still < convalescing >.  They 
          thank God                                           
should < be thankful > he is sober and able to be of this     
world once more.  Let them praise his progress.  Let them     
remember that his drinking wrought all kinds of damage that   
may take long to repair.  If they sense these things, they    
will not take so seriously his periods of crankiness, depres- 

sion < , > or apathy, which will disappear when there is      
tolerance, love, and spiritual understanding.                 

     The head of the house ought to remember that he is mainly
to blame for what befell his home.  He can scarcely square the
account in his lifetime.  But he must see the danger of over- 
concentration on financial success.  Although financial reco- 
very is on the way for many of us, we found we could not place
money first.  For us, material well-being always followed     
spiritual progress; it never preceded.                        

     Since the home has suffered more than anything else, it  
is well that a man exert himself there.  He is not likely to  
get far in any direction if he fails to show unselfishness and
love under his own roof.  We know there are difficult wives   
and families, but the man who is getting over alcoholism must 
          they are sick folk too, and that                    
remember <                                > he did much to    
           worse                                              
make them < so  >.                                            

     As each member of a resentful family begins to see his   
shortcomings and admits them to the others, he lays a basis   
for helpful discussion.  These family talks will be construc- 
tive if they can be carried on without heated argument, self- 
                          ,                                   
pity, self-justification < > or resentful criticism.  Little  
by little, mother and children will see they ask too much,    
and father will see he gives too                              


 


 128                                                          

little.  Giving, rather than getting, will become the guiding 
principle.                                                    

                      now                                     
     Assume < on the other hand > that father has, at the out-

set, a stirring spiritual experience.  Overnight, as it were, 
           changed                                            
he is a < different > man.  He becomes a religious enthusiast.
He is unable to focus on anything else.  As soon as his sobri-
ety begins to be taken as a matter of course, the family may  
look at their strange new dad with apprehension, then with    
irritation.  There is talk about spiritual matters morning,   
                                                         for  
noon and night.  He may demand that the family find God <   > 
 themselves                                                   
<          > in a hurry, or exhibit amazing indifference to   

them and say he is above worldly considerations.  He < may >  
  tells                                                       
< tell > mother, who has been religious all her life, that she
doesn't know what it's all about, and that she had better get 
his brand of spirituality while there is yet time.            

     When father takes this tack, the family may react un-    
favorably.  They may be jealous of a God who has stolen dad's 
affections.  While grateful that he drinks no more, they      
   do                                                         
< may > not like the idea that God has accomplished the mira-

cle where they failed.  They often forget father was beyond   
                    do                                        
human aid.  They < may > not see why their love and devotion  
did not straighten him out.  Dad is not so spiritual after    
all, they say.  If he means to right his past wrongs, why all 
this concern for everyone in the world but his family?  What  
about his talk that God will take care of them?  They suspect 
father is a bit balmy!                                        

     He is not so unbalanced as they might think.  Many of us 
have experienced dad's elation.  We have indulged in spiritual
                                  prospectors belts           
intoxication.  Like < a > gaunt < prospector, belt > drawn in 
       our                                                    
over < the > last ounce of food, our pick struck gold.  Joy at
our release from a lifetime of                                


 


                                                          129 
                                       sees                   
frustration knew no bounds.  Father < feels > he has struck   
something better than gold.  For a time he may try to hug the 
new treasure to himself.  He may not see at once that he has  
barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends    
only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on   
giving away the entire product.                               

     If the family cooperates, dad will soon see that he is   
suffering from a distortion of values.  He will perceive that 
his spiritual growth is lopsided, that for an average man like
himself, a spiritual life which does not include his family   
obligations may not be so perfect after all.  If the family   
will appreciate that dad's current behavior is but a phase of 
his development, all will be well.  In the midst of an under- 
standing and sympathetic family, these vagaries of dad's      
spiritual infancy will quickly disappear.                     

     The opposite may happen should the family condemn and    
criticize.  Dad may feel that for years his drinking has      
placed him on the wrong side of every argument, but that now  
                                 ,                            
he has become a superior person < > with God on his side.     
If the family persists in criticism, this fallacy may take a  
still greater hold on father.  Instead of treating the family 
as he should, he may retreat further into himself and feel he 
has spiritual justification for so doing.                     

     Though the family does not fully agree with dad's spirit-
                                     assume leadership        
ual activities, they should let him <  have his head  >.      
Even if he displays a certain amount of neglect and irrespon- 
sibility towards the family, it is well to let him go as far  
as he likes in helping other alcoholics.  During those first  
days of convalescence, this will do more to insure his sobri- 
ety than anything else.  Though                               


 


 130                                                          

some of his manifestations are alarming and disagreeable,     

< we think > dad will be on a firmer foundation than the man  
who is placing business or professional success ahead of      
spiritual development.  He will be less likely to drink again,
and anything is preferable to that.                           

     Those of us who have spent much time in the world of     
spiritual make-believe have eventually seen the childishness  
of it.  This dream world has been replaced by a great sense of
purpose, accompanied by a growing consciousness of the power  
                                                God           
of God in our lives.  We have come to believe < He > would    

like us to keep our heads in the clouds with Him, but that    
                                              , nevertheless  
our feet ought to be firmly planted on earth <              >.
That is where our fellow travelers are, and that is where     
our work must be done.  These are the realities for us.  We   
have found nothing incompatible between a powerful spiritual  
            ,                                                 
experience < > and a life of sane and happy usefulness.       

     One more suggestion: Whether the family has spiritual    
convictions or not, they may do well to examine the principles
by which the alcoholic member is trying to live.  They can    
hardly fail to approve these simple principles, though the    
head of the house still fails somewhat in practicing them.    
Nothing will help the man who is off on a spiritual tangent   
                                   the self-same              
so much as the wife who adopts < a sane spiritual > program,  
making a better practical use of it.                          

                    still                                     
     There will be <     > other profound changes in the      
household.  Liquor incapacitated father for so many years that
mother became head of the house.  She met these responsibili- 

ties gallantly.  By force of circumstances, she was < often > 

obliged to treat father as a sick or wayward child.  Even when
                             ,                                
he wanted to assert himself < >                               


 


                                                          131 

he could not, for his drinking placed him constantly in the   
wrong.  Mother made all the plans and gave the directions.    
When sober, father usually obeyed.  Thus mother, through no   
fault of her own, became accustomed to wearing the family     
trousers.  Father, coming suddenly to life again, often begins
to assert himself.  This means trouble, unless the family     
                                                  come        
watches for these tendencies in each other and < comes > to   
a friendly agreement about them.                              

                                                           ,  
     Drinking isolates most homes from the outside world < . >
 so the family was used to having father around a great deal. 
<                                                            >
     He                                                       
< Father > may have laid aside for years all normal activities
– clubs, civic duties, sports.  When he renews interest in    
such things, a feeling of jealousy may arise.  The family may 
feel they hold a mortgage on dad, so big that no equity should
be left for outsiders.  Instead of developing new channels of 
                                              may             
activity for themselves, mother and children <   > demand that
he stay home and make up the deficiency.                      

     At the very beginning, the couple ought to frankly face  
                                                      ,       
the fact that each will have to yield here and there < > if   
the family is going to play an effective part in the new life.
Father will necessarily spend much time with other alcoholics,
but this activity should be balanced.  New acquaintances who  
know nothing of alcoholism might be made and thoughtful consi-
deration given their needs.  The problems of the community    
might engage attention.  Though the family has no religious   
                       do well                        ,       
connections, they may < wish  > to make contact with < > or   
take membership in a religious body.                          

     Alcoholics who have derided religious people will        
 sometimes                                                    
<         > be helped by such contacts.  Being possessed of   
a spiritual experience, the alcoholic will find he has much   
in common with these people, though he may                    


 


 132                                                          

differ with them on many matters.  If he does not argue       
 and forget that men find God in many ways                    
<               about religion            >, he will make     
             ,                                                
new friends < > and is sure to find new avenues of usefulness 
and pleasure.  He and his family can be a bright spot in such 
congregations.  He may bring new hope and new courage to many 
a priest, minister, or rabbi, who gives his all to minister to
our troubled world.  We intend the foregoing as a helpful sug-
gestion only.  So far as we are concerned, there is nothing   
                          a                        group      
obligatory about it.  As < > non-denominational < people >, we
                    people's                                  
we cannot make up < others' > minds for them.  Each individual
   must                                                       
< should > consult his own conscience.                        

     We have been speaking to you of serious, sometimes tra-  
gic things.  We have been dealing with alcohol in its worst   
aspect.  But we aren't a glum lot.  If newcomers could see no 
joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn't want it.  We abso- 
lutely insist on enjoying life.  We try not to indulge in     
cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the   
world's troubles on our shoulders.  When we see a man sinking 
                                                    and       
in the mire that is alcoholism, we give him first < aid > and 
       everything                                             
place <   what   > we have at his disposal.  For his sake, we 
do recount and almost relive the horrors of our past.  But    
those of us who have tried to shoulder the entire burden and  
                   ,                                          
trouble of others < > find we are soon overcome by them.      

     So we think cheerfulness and laughter make for useful-   
ness.  Outsiders are sometimes shocked when we burst into     
merriment over a seemingly tragic experience out of the past. 
                                  are the victors             
But why shouldn't we laugh?  We < have recovered >, and have  
been given the power to help others.                          

     Everybody knows that those in bad health, and those who  
seldom play, do not laugh much.  So let                       


 


                                                          133 

each family play together or separately, as much as their     
circumstances warrant.  We are sure God wants us to be happy, 
             released                                         
joyous, and <  free  >.  We cannot subscribe to the belief    
that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just    
that for many of us.  But it is clear that we made our own    
misery.  God didn't do it.  Avoid then, the deliberate manu-  
                    and when                                  
facture of misery, < but if > trouble comes, cheerfully capi- 
talize it is an opportunity to demonstrate His omnipotence.   

     Now about health: A body badly burned by alcohol does    
                             ,                                
not often recover overnight < > nor do twisted thinking and   
depression vanish in a twinkling.  We are convinced that a    
spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restora-   
tive.  We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are      
                                         also                 
miracles of mental health.  But we have <    > seen remarkable
transformations in our bodies.  Hardly one of our crowd now   
shows any mark of dissipation.                                

     But this does not mean that we disregard human health    
measures.  God has abundantly supplied this world with fine   
doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds.   
                                                      a       
Do not hesitate to take your health problems to such < >      
   person                                                     
< persons >.  Most of them give freely of themselves, that    
their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies.  Try to remem-
ber that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should  
never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist.  Their services 

are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and < in >     
following his case afterward.                                 

This next paragraph does not appear in the original.

     One of the many doctors who had the opportunity of       
reading this book in manuscript form told us that the use     
of sweets was often helpful, of course depending upon a       
doctor's advice.  He though all alcoholics                    


 


 134                                                          

should constantly have chocolate available for its quick      
energy value at times of fatigue.  He added that occasionally 
in the night a vague craving arose which would be satisfied by
candy.  Many of us have noticed a tendency to eat sweets and  
have found this practice beneficial.                          

The previous paragraph did not appear in the original.

     A word about sex relations.  Alcohol is so sexually      
stimulating to some men that they have over-indulged.         
Couples are occasionally dismayed to find that when drinking  
            ,                                                 
is stopped < > the man tends to be impotent.  Unless the      
reason is understood, there may be an emotional upset.  Some  
of us had this experience, only to enjoy, in a few months,    
a finer intimacy than ever.  There should be no hesitancy     
                                            this              
in consulting a doctor or psychologist if < the > condition   
                                any case                      
persists.  We do not know of < many cases > where this        
difficulty lasted long.                                       

     The alcoholic may find it hard to re-establish friendly  
relations with his children.  Their young minds were impres-  
sionable while he was drinking.  Without saying so, they may  
cordially hate him for what he has done to them and to their  
              poor                                            
mother.  The <    > children are sometimes dominated by a     
pathetic hardness and cynicism.  They cannot seem to forgive  
and forget.  This may hang on for months, long after their    
mother has accepted dad's new way of living and thinking.     

      Father had better be sparing of his correction and      
     <                                                  >     
 criticism of them while they are in this frame of mind.      
<                                                       >     
 He had better not urge his new way of life on them too       
<                                                      >      
 soon.                                                        
<     >  In time they will see that he is a new man and in    

their own way they will let him know it.  When this happens,  
                                                     ,        
they can be invited to join in morning meditation < and > then
they can take part in the daily discussion without rancor or  
bias.  From that point on, progress will be rapid.  Marvelous 
results often follow such a reunion.                          


 


                                                          135 

     Whether the family goes on a spiritual basis or not,     
                                  must                        
the alcoholic member < has to if he would recover >.  The     
                          by his changed life            a    
others must be convinced < of his new status > beyond < the > 
                     He must lead the way.                    
shadow of a doubt.  <                     >  Seeing is belie- 
ving to most families who have lived with a drinker.          

     Here is a case in point: One of our friends is a heavy   
smoker and coffee drinker.  There was no doubt he overindul-  
ged.  Seeing this, and meaning to be helpful, his wife commen-
ced to admonish him about it.  He admitted he was overdoing   
these things, but frankly said that he was not ready to stop. 
                                               feel           
His wife is one of those persons who really < feels > there   
is something rather sinful about these commodities, so she    
nagged, and her intolerance finally threw him into a fit of   
anger.  He got drunk.                                         

     Of course our friend was wrong – dead wrong.  He had to  
painfully admit that and mend his spiritual fences.  Though   
he is now a most effective member of Alcoholics Anonymous,    
                 cigarettes                                   
he still smokes <          > and drinks coffee, but neither   
his wife nor anyone else stands in judgment.  She sees she    
was wrong to make a burning issue out of such a matter when   
his more serious ailments were being rapidly cured.           

      First things first!              two                    
     <                   >  We have < three > little mottoes  
                                    "LIVE AND LET LIVE"       
which are apropos.  Here they are: <                   >      
 and "EASY DOES IT".                                          
<                   >                                         

< First Things First >
< Live and Let Live >
< Easy Does It. >   


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