“We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”
— Alcoholics Anonymous, page 132 —
Here are the beginning and end of our NoNameYet version of “the A.A. Preamble“:
We are an autonomous A.A. fellowship of recovered alcoholics sharing our experience, strength and hope with each other that we may evermore remain sane concerning alcohol, and to help others like ourselves recover also…
Our real purpose in life as we know it today is to “fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us” (page 77) while carrying our message of permanent recovery to still others just like ourselves.
Sometimes we pack a lot of words into things we share, and we do that to share as much as we can with as few words as possible. See, A.A. as we know it, experience it and share it today is much more than an accumulation of catchy slogans or a particular philosophy employing mere mental assent – as if some form of “surrender” is actually somehow a paradoxical form of “winning” – in order to try to keep from drinking. But no, people who have hope no longer need to merely hope…and so we try to help others come to know transformation (page 143) via transition.
The version of the A.A. Preamble known by many people today seems to us to begin okay…
“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may (1) solve their common problem and (2) help others to recover from alcoholism…”
…but then those things and more seem to have been lost by the time it ends:
“Our primary purpose is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.”
What happened to (1) “solve their common problem” and (2) “help others to recover”? Also, what happened to “Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message…” (Tradition Five)? If “to stay sober” and to help others get that way were all we are about, we could replace our Basic Text with nothing but a two-word business card: “Don’t drink.”
What we have done in our group’s Preamble is to first combine-and-clarify the traditional ending at our beginning…
“…sharing our experience, strength and hope with each other that we may (1) evermore remain sane concerning alcohol, and to (2) help others like ourselves recover also…”
…and to then close by offering a glimpse at our individual efforts which make our single group effort or “primary purpose” even possible:
“At the moment (as in Step Nine) we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose (as individuals) is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us” (page 77). And then when “we call ourselves an A.A. group” of recovered alcoholics, we find we have “but one primary purpose – to carry (the A.A.) message (of permanent recovery) to the alcoholic who still suffers.” (Tradition Five)
You might ask, “What does all of this have to do with ‘recovered’?” Let us go back to our opening line:
“…that we may evermore remain sane concerning alcohol, and to help others like ourselves recover also…”
The actions of A.A. – our Twelve Steps – are not about “Just say ‘No!'” to alcohol and/or trying to remain abstinent. No, our efforts “in recovery”, so to speak – our taking the Twelve Steps – are specifically targeted upon being restored to the sanity of reliance upon God to do for us what we could not do for ourselves rather than continuing to be insanely reliant upon alcohol to to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Consider:
Whenever we took a couple of drinks…
1. We were amazed before we were half-way through.
2. We knew a new freedom and a new happiness.
3. We did not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
4. We could comprehend the word ‘serenity’ and know peace.
5. We believed our experience could benefit others.
6. Our feelings of uselessness and self-pity would disappear.
7. We would lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
8. Self-seeking would slip away.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life would change.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity would leave us.
11. We would intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
12. We would suddenly realize alcohol was doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
That might or might not describe all of your own drinking experiences precisely, yet now compare that to this:
Both while and after taking – not ‘working’ – the Twelve Steps…
1. We were amazed before we were half-way through.
2. We came to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
3. We no longer regretted the past nor wished to shut the door on it.
4. We began to comprehend the word ‘serenity’ and to know peace.
5. We learned to see how our new experience could benefit others.
6. Our feelings of uselessness and self-pity began to disappear.
7. We lost interest in selfish things and gained interest in our fellows.
8. Self-seeking began slipping away.
9. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life changed.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity began to leave us.
11. We learned to intuitively handle situations which used to baffle us.
12. We soon realized God was now doing for us what alcohol used to do for us…
…and we did not have to puke “How It Works” back up in the morning!
“There is One who has all power – that one is God.”
“We, who have recovered…are miracles of mental health.”
— “Alcoholics Anonymous“, pages 59, 133 —