Issue 1 - September 1993

The Electronic Journal of the Meeting of Minds Group of Alcoholics Anonymous

This is the first issue of the Journal, which was published as a text document and distributed by email. Rather than revitalise it with snazzy graphics we thought we'd show some respect (for a change) and reproduce it entirely in its original format. Enjoy!

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          THE ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF THE MEETING OF MINDS GROUP
                        OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS


                                 O O O
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                            O     /  \    O
                           O     /    \    O
                           O    /      \   O
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                            O  ---------- O
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                                 O O O

                       ISSUE 1 -- SEPTEMBER 1993

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   Alcoholics Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women,
   who share their experience, strength and hope with each other
   that they may solve their common problem
   and help others to recover from alcoholism.

   The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
   There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting
   through our own contributions.  AA is not allied with any sect,
   denomination, politics, organisation or institution;
   does not wish to engage in any controversy,
   neither endorses nor opposes any causes.
   Our primary purpose is to stay sober
   and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
                                                    (c) AA Grapevine Inc.
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On the 19th of July 1993 four Scottish AA members met to discuss the
formation of a new AA group. A fifth member was with us in spirit though
unable to attend the meeting.

Since AA has more than 2 million members and since 40 million people use
electronic mail, it seemed likely that many AA's would have access to
electronic mail, either through their place of work or study, or through
use of a home computer. It was decided to found a group called The Meeting
of Minds group. A private conference on a UK bulletin board was opened on
Monday, 9th August 1993. On Tuesday, 10th August 1993, an entry describing
the group's electronic journal was sent to the ADDICT-L listserver. On
Sunday, 15th August 1993, a notice describing the group was placed in the
alt.recovery usenet news group.

Many AA members made contact in the first fortnight following the group's
opening. Things were hectic and chaotic for a while. Thankfully we soon
learned about the Lamplighters group, a strong and thriving AA email
group that had been in existence for more than three years. We'd like to
dedicate this inaugural issue of the Meeting of Minds electronic journal
to our friends in the Lamplighters who gave us support and encouragement,
shared their experience about email AA, and welcomed us with open arms.

The Meeting of Minds group now runs a 'closed' AA email meeting which is
a Step discussion meeting (at the moment). It also publishes this
electronic journal every two months.

You can contact the group by emailing to...        AA@eclipse.demon.co.uk
Items for the journal should be sent to...    journal@eclipse.demon.co.uk
.........................................................................
Group members of the Meeting of Minds group are...

Alan       San Antonio  Texas          USA
Anastasia  Glasgow                     Scotland
Big A      Cumnock                     Scotland
Bobbi                   Massachusetts  USA
Eddie      Glasgow                     Scotland
Grant M.                California     USA
Joe D.     Glasgow                     Scotland
Joe                                    USA
John       Brandon      Florida        USA
Mike                    Massachusetts  USA
Pat                                    UK
Pete                                   USA
Pete B.    Philomath    Oregon         USA
Ralph      Paisley                     Scotland
Reed                    Texas          USA
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The Lamplighters AA Email Group

In the United States, we have had an on-line AA meeting that originally
met on GEnie, an electronic mail service provided by the General Electric
Company, but now crosses over into many mail systems. It started about
three years ago, with a dozen or so members. It only lasted a few months
because of a lack of participation by members--basically there weren't
enough folks to keep it healthy if everyone wasn't real talkative. a few
months later, Jack sent something to the Lamplighters mailing list by
accident, and the group was reborn. We started off again with a dozen or
so members and have grown steadily and consistently so that today we have
more than 50 members. GEnie only opened up to the Internet a few months
ago, but in that short time we've acquired several Internet-only members,
as well as members from another service, America On Line, and are always
open to anyone who's interested in joining us in staying sober one day at
a time!

We started off small and "nominated" (i.e. voted in while he was on
vacation and wasn't around to object) our most organization-minded member
to be secretary, and trusted him as our chief--and, for about two years,
only--trusted servant. He did just what we needed to keep us alive through
those initial growing pains: reminded us of our responsibilities to AA and
the Steps and Traditions, and kept us talking so we wouldn't die out
through silent apathy (a real concern for email groups). A few months ago,
we finally felt the group was secure enough to expand slightly, and our
first secretary was ready to step down; we elected Jack secretary, Laura
as GSR, and a couple of other folks for jobs within the group, like
helping newcomers with mailing lists, etc. Until very recently, we had to
send group mailings using the 'blind copy' facility of email; an Internet
-wise member recently set us up with a mail reflector address that sends
the mail to the entire group, so we're able to do it with a single
address now.

I guess you could say our basic philosophy has been to move slowly and
not try to grow too fast; we don't want the group to necessarily get so
big that we don't know each other, or that it starts developing the
political problems that sometimes occur with rapid growth. We have a
basic list of group conscience decisions sent out to new members, and to
date we've grown steadily and without any big problems. Any problems that
do crop up generally show us something else we need to discuss and maybe
develop a group conscience on. It's worked out quite well.

When a new member joins, we send out an explanation letter, which is
actually somewhat of a grass-roots hodgepodge of letters, and has been
authored by many members over a period of time.

The Lamplighters meeting is a discussion meeting and starts each week on
Sunday morning, although it's been known to happen late Saturday night or
even Sunday afternoon. the person who's the chair for the month posts the
week's topic. Then, during the week, everyone replies who wishes to.
There's a lot of great sharing on topic; there's also a lot of other
sharing, since anyone is free to bring anything to the group at any time
for discussion/suggestion/sharing. Cross-talk is not only encouraged, but
welcomed; the best meetings seem to be when we get a big dialogue going
amongst the group. Occasionally, some of us will move to a bit of private
conversation; but generally it's all sent to the entire group, for even
the "lurkers" in the back of the room to read and enjoy. There's room for
just about any discussion here--and it doesn't have to be all serious, it
can include the fun and silly! Having an AA meeting available 24 hours a
day, seven days a week, in our own homes and workplaces is a particularly
wonderful blessing!

We consider ourselves a "real" AA group in every sense of the word: we
follow the Steps and the Traditions, and believe strongly in anonymity--
although not WITHIN the group; any member's identity is known to every
other member. Because of the nature of GEniemail, which was our only home
until recently, most of our last names are known as well. But no group
mail is sent outside the group without (a) the permission of the author,
and (b) the removal of any identifying information, such as names and IDs.
In other words, we operate just like any other closed AA meeting;

        "Who you see here,
         what you hear here,
         when you leave here,
         let it stay here."

We have not worried about money up to this point; because we're spread
over such a wide area, we just haven't come up with a comfortable solution
to the financial stuff. Basically, each person is responsible for their
own email account, and if someday we work out a way to send contributions
to GSO, that's great. Right now, though, we're content to share experience,
strength, and hope, and since that's gotten a lot of our members more
active in live meetings and helped us all to stay sober, that's okay.

Today, we have members from all walks of life, at all ages, with lots of
sobriety (some members have more than 20 years) to just a few months--but
it's safe to say that we all can't imagine life without electronic AA
anymore. Some deep friendships have grown inside the Lamplighters; some
of us have even been able to meet in person. But whether we have met or
not, we're there every day for each other. What a wonderful thing!

The group conscience is that we're a closed meeting for alcoholics only.
However, as of right now, any member can introduce any new member to the
group; we have no screening process other than making sure the prospective
member has a desire to stop drinking before introducing him or her to the
group. We've had several people who had the desire but hadn't stopped
drinking when they got here, just as in any closed meeting. Some have
gotten sober, others haven't, just as in any closed meeting. We have no
sobriety requirements or anything else that would violate the Traditions.
We consider ourselves a closed meeting in the usual sense of the phrase.

Our major concern is how to apply the Traditions in this format, in order
to ensure that we're doing what the wisdom of millions of AAs over the
years has taught us. That's the best guidance we could get. Unfortunately,
in the medium of electronic mail, we have new problems that haven't been
entirely solved to everyone's satisfaction. In a sense, we're helping to
tread new ground. We suspect Bill and Dr. Bob would be thrilled to see AA
spread throughout life in so many new and unique ways!

No rules and regulations have been created just because one person made a
mistake. Our existing closed meeting format was, however, accidentally
violated, which is something we all need to avoid in order not to scare
away people who are more concerned about their anonymity than some of us
loudmouth types. We've obviously learned a new lesson about another
problem with anonymity in this medium that we need, as a group, to solve
through the group conscience. We really do try to act just like any AA
group--which means that all the Traditions apply. It's how to apply them
that gets tricky, when all our names are showing in bold letters in
living color!

We have also agreed to follow all 12 of the Traditions of Alcoholics
Anonymous as best we can, including the 3rd Tradition which says the
only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. The 12th
Tradition is really giving us a problem, though. And we are experiencing
some of the same problems with it the early AA's had. How far do we go?
And to which extreme? We don't know! And we want to do it RIGHT! We are
all alcoholics, after all, still learning how to live sober. Thank God we
don't have to do anything perfectly and can strive for progress rather
than perfection.

The Group has had a tremendous growth in numbers over this past year. And
we have grown closer as a group, too. This group has been, and still is, a
true blessing for us.

AA is the place where misfits fit! The Lamplighters is another of AA's
groups where this miracle continues.
                                                         ## Laura, USA. ##
                                                        ## Murray, USA. ##

This article was compiled from separate articles from Laura & Murray.
Any mistakes are ours, and not the fault of the writers.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The 'ism' in alcoholism stands for "I Sponsor Myself"!
                                                         ## Jack in INDY ##
...........................................................................
Here is a gem.  A member of my group shared last night that he has this
taped to his mirror:

                    Good Morning!

                    I will be working with people, places and things
                    today.  I will not be needing your help, thank you.

                       Have a nice day,
                                       God
                                                         ## Daisie, USA. ##
...........................................................................
Just a little poem I picked up from a television drama some years ago.
                                            ## Big A, Cumnock, Scotland. ##
A man with too little has never enough
And must always strive after more
And a man with enough has more than enough
And should daily give thanks for his share.

I had too little but now I've enough
And that's more than enough for me.
If you have too little I wish you the same
And a life that is tranquil and free.

But if you have enough and it's never enough
And, fretting you strive after more
Then I wish you well in your restless hell,
But you'll get nothing more from me!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
SPONSORSHIP

Sobriety doesn't bring with it immunity from all the trials and tribulations
that can arise in our day to day lives. As soon as possible after coming
into AA, finding a sponsor should be given a high priority. A sponsor is
usually a person you can feel at ease with, someone you can trust and share
your more intimate problems with. Someone who has several years of continuous
sobriety, knows the value of sponsorship, and is prepared to give freely of
his or her time when called upon. Such a relationship usually develops slowly,
and it is most important that the bond of confidentiality that builds up
between sponsor and sponsee is respected at all times.

The purpose of a sponsor is, primarily, to guide the sponsee through AA's
Twelve Steps, which are suggested as a programme of recovery. It is vitally
important that this be done the AA way, not the sponsor's way. Patience,
understanding, compassion and trust are qualities generally found in a good
sponsor, qualities which take time to acquire.

Having a sponsor doesn't mean that we cannot share some of our problems
with other members of the fellowship, whenever the need arises. We may be
sitting at a meeting feeling down in the dumps after having had a bad day,
and it is understandable that we would want to unburden ourselves. One
thing we should never do, and that is to turn to our sponsor only when HAVE
to. Sponsorship doesn't work this way; the responsibility for keeping in
touch on a regular basis does not lie with the sponsor. This supports what
I have heard said many times at meetings, 'If you want help in AA, all you
need to do is ask for it.' Keeping in touch with your sponsor on a regular
basis, by whatever means you can, will be to your advantage, both in the
long and the short term.

The alternative to sponsorship would simply be more of a hit and miss affair,
reverting to type. You know, the times when you were on your knees after a
drinking session, mumbling all the right words for all the wrong reasons.
Praying to God, 'Just get me out of this mess, and honestly I won't do it
again' was the usual plea. Of course, He didn't and I did.

If we want to bring about change in our lives, we need to know how we can
do this, how we can lead a sober, happy, contented and manageable way of
life on a daily basis. The course is mapped out for us in the form of the
Twelve Steps of recovery, and we can look upon a sponsor as a map reader.
Knowing the course and the direction you want to go in is half the battle.
A good sponsor can help you to avoid the obstacles and pitfalls that can
and do come our way in sobriety. What we do learn is that we are no longer
alone, and that no one else can do things for us. But if we put our trust
in our sponsor, and turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as
we understand Him, good things will come to pass, and we will achieve
things beyond our wildest dreams. Take the first step in the right
direction and find a sponsor.
                                            ## Ralph, Paisley, Scotland. ##
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hello out there other AA's. I thought there must be some other E-mail AA
groups out there besides ours, but I hadn't heard of any beside the one
that we have here, called the Lamplighters, and the new one on America
Online. We have been operating here for several years on GEnie, and just
recently on the Internet. It's good to know that more E-mail recovery is
going on. Hang in there!
                                                           ## John, USA. ##
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 "Thoroughly have we seen a person fail who has rarely followed our path."
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  "A sober man may become a drunkard through being a coward. A brave
   man may become a coward through being a drunkard."
                                                      ## G.K. Chesterton ##
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          .#############.                               SOBRIETY
       .###################.                            ANNIVERSARIES
    .####%####################.,::;;;;;;;;;;,           '''''''''''''''''''
   .####%###############%######:::;;;;;;;;;;;;;,
   ####%%################%######:::;;;;;;;;@;;;;;;,     In the next issue
   ####%%################%%#####:::;;;;;;;;;@;;;;;;,    we'd like to start
   ####%%################%%#####:::;;;;;;;;;@@;;;;;;    recording the
   `####%################%#####:::;;;;;;;;;;@@;;;;;;    achievement of
     `###%##############%####:::;;;;;;;;;;;;@@;;;;;;    members reaching
        `#################'::%%%%%%%%%%%%;;;@;;;;;;'    their AA birthdays
          `#############'.%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%;;;;;'
            `#########'%%%%#%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%,        -that includes 90
              `#####'.%%%%#%%%%%%%%%%%%%%#%%%%%%,        days and 6 months-
                `##' %%%%##%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%##%%%%%
                ###  %%%%##%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%##%%%%%       If you'd like to be
                 '   %%%%##%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%##%%%%%       included, please
                '    `%%%%#%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%#%%%%%'       send a note of your
               '       `%%%#%%%%%%%%%%%%%#%%%%'         sobriety date, we'll
               `         `%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%'           hold onto it until
                `          `%%%%%%%%%%%%%%'             it's time.
                 `           `%%%%%%%%%%'  '
                  '            `%%%%%%'   '             We don't want to
                 '              `%%%'    '              embarrass or upset
                '               .%%      `              anyone by listing
               `                %%%       '             them against their
                `                '       '              wishes, so please
                 `              '      '                send the sobriety
                 '            '      '                  date if you want
                '           '                           to be included.
                             '
                              '              ## Balloons by Murray, USA. ##
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
AA in Japan

There are a few English AA meetings in Japan. Most are in Tokyo, about 1 a
day. In the Kansai area (near Osaka) there's 6 meetings a week: Wednesday and
Friday nights in Osaka, Tuesdays and Thursdays Noon meetings also in Osaka,
Sunday meetings in Kobe, Monday meetings in Kyoto. Due to my schedule and the
distance involved, I usually get to 3 meetings a week, sometimes less,
occasionally more. It's a small fellowship down here, with meetings averaging
3-6 people. Most meetings are 1 hour long, except the Sunday night Kobe meeting,
which is 90 minutes. We usually go around starting with a chairman who asks
people to read from the literature (How it works, Steps, Traditions) and then
usually picks a topic, shares on it and then people around the table share their
experience, strength and hope. If there's a newcomer, it's a 1st step meeting.
About 1/2 of the people have 5+ years of sobriety, and about 1/2 are less
(usually within the 1st year). I'm in between--I'll be celebrating 3 years of
continuous sobriety in December.

There are quite a few Japanese meetings here. I used to go to a few a week,
but I haven't recently. Japanese AA is quite strong. Big meetings, a service
structure, and even institutional meetings and such (going to hospitals,
etc). My Japanese is better than when I came here, but I don't consider
myself fluent. I can get by talking one-on-one with most people but at
meetings, with slang, (and of course, the normal disjointed talks by us
alkies) and the local dialects I often find it difficult. Still, it is AA--
the warm loving fellowship is there, and even if you can't understand what
they're saying, you can see it in their eyes.
                                                         ## Dave, Japan. ##
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I have this poem hanging in my computer room, I like it...
                                                          ## Bobbi, USA. ##
THE TOUCH OF THE MASTER'S HAND

'Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden, good folks" he cried,
"Who will start bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar"--then, "Two!" "Only two?
Two dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three--" But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As sweet as a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, "What am I bidden for the old violin?"
And he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two?
Two thousand! And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice;
And going, and gone!" said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand
What changed its worth?"  Swift came the reply:
"The touch of the master's hand."

And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scattered with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine;
A game-- and he travels on.
He's "going" once, and "going" twice,
He's "going" and "almost gone."
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul, and the change that's wrought
By the touch of the Master's hand.
                                                      by Myra Brooks Welch
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                   From "The Sunday Mail", 28th August 1948

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS COME TO SCOTLAND     ## By a "Sunday Mail" Reporter ##

Six men who met in a Church vestry in Perth this week-end made Scottish
history--when they formed the first Scots branch of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Most unorthodox movement in the world--it began in America--Alcoholics
Anonymous has as its only members people who are addicted to alcohol.

They set out as drunkards to help cure one another, to the extent of being
prepared at a moment's notice to go out at any time of the day or night to
help a "brother" in distress.

"The service might consist of several members sitting up all night with an
alcoholic, sitting on his chest if need be and giving him the small supplies
of liquor prescribed by a doctor - without taking any themselves," a member
of the new branch told me.

"There is no compulsion on members to obey any rules. The decision is left
to themselves, but if any member feels he needs help, all he has to do is
telephone other members and they will come at the double."

== No Subscriptions ==

He told me that the experience of members in the past had shown that there
was nothing that put a stop to alcoholism so much as the opportunity to study alcoholism in others. That put an end to alcoholism in the observer, and the
"patient" who ultimately became an observer was also cured.

"If you are doing your best to get another man out of a pub you haven't much
time for drinking yourself," this AA member told me.

Most unusual feature of the newly-formed Scots movement is that there are no subscription fees and if a hall is chartered for a meeting the cost is paid
by members passing round the hat.

== More Branches ==

Scots doctors and clergymen are keenly interested in the movement and were
responsible for the formation of the Perth branch.

Feelers have been put out from other Scots towns including Edinburgh, Dumfries
and Glasgow, where branches are likely to be formed in the near future.

Asked how often the Perth branch would meet my AA member smiled and asked,
"What do you think? Just as often as we're needed."

There are only two other branches in the area of the British Isles. One is
in Dublin; the other in London, with 60 members.

No member of the AA will attempt to tell you that you are, or are not an
alcoholic. This you must decide for yourself.

== Questionnaire ==

Here are test questions:

  Do you need a drink the morning after?
  Do you lose time from work due to drinking?
  Is your drinking harming your family in any way?
  Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?
  Do your nerves suffer as a result of continuous drinking?
  Have you less self-control after drinking?
  Do you drink to obtain social ease?
      (In shy, timid, self-conscious individuals).
  Do you drink for self-encouragement?
      (In persons with feelings of inferiority).
  Is drinking affecting your peace of mind?
  Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
  Is drinking jeopardising your business or job?
  Is drinking affecting your reputation?

Alcoholics Anonymous are not a reform society and do not want uninvited to
"save" anyone. Above all they do not want to interfere with the majority to
whom drinking is a pleasant and harmless recreation.

An alcoholic is one who repeatedly drinks more than he intends or wants to,
although knowing by past experience that he cannot control his drinking.

Finally, he becomes aware of a pattern or habit in his drinking problem
which he is powerless to change with any degree of certainty or permanency.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
There are two things that are bad for the heart;
                                running up stairs, and running down people.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Stick with the winners!

AA has only three 'official' slogans--they're listed on page 135 of the Big
Book--but it has many other sayings that have embedded themselves into the
fabric of our Fellowship. Some have come from AA literature, some have come
from the historical development of AA (the 'four absolutes'), some are used
commonly outside AA and have been adopted because of their helpfulness, and
some seem to have been passed on by word of mouth alone from the very early
days of the Fellowship.

I think the saying, "Stick with the winners!" is probably an adopted phrase
because I've come across it in so many places outwith the Fellowship. Whether
my guess about its origins is right or wrong, it was a saying that troubled
me a great deal in my own early days. It was frequently used by an old timer
in my first group for whom I had enormous respect. He had taken me under his
wing and took me to meetings for months. I was mostly silent and he talked a
lot. Although he was not formally my sponsor, I recognise now that he was my
first and wisest sponsor. ńStick with the winners!î was one of his favourite
and most repeated sayings. Before he retired he had been a bookmaker and
perhaps this was the appeal of it for him.

It upset me because it seemed to put you in a different category from me.
You were winners and I wasn't. I was therefore a loser. At that time I was a
real loser because I couldn't stay away from the drink, despite doing three,
four, or five meetings every week. But I didn't like to be reminded that you
sober members had something I didn't. I had been promised that I was no longer
alone, but I felt isolated because I wasn't one of the winners.

If there were winners, I thought, then this is some sort of race. I couldn't
compete; I had come to AA because I couldn't cope with just about everything,
so I certainly couldn't cope with competition„I could only lose. Every meeting
held hope for me, but there was also despair when I gazed into the winners'
paddock at the joyful sobriety of„it seemed to me„everybody but myself. At
that time I didn't understand why I couldn't stop drinking and felt it was
lack of effort in applying the lessons being taught to me by other members.
Today I know differently; effort is only part of the process and the secret
is surrender. But then it was different. My life was a wasteland. In the
distance, the very far distance, was hope of recovery; in the foreground
there was the desolation of the last drink, the devastation of failed
promises and broken dreams, and the terrible presence of pain and hurt in
my egg-shell relationship with my wife.

"Stick with the winners!" is not something that I say at meetings, simply
because I remember the confused mental wreck that I was. I never discussed
how I felt about that saying with anyone at the time. I bottled it up and
drank liberally from the bottle. If I had asked about it, if I had talked
about, I know I would have put my mind at rest more quickly. What I did was
tussle and gnaw and poke at it until I found a way of understanding the
saying that helped me. I'll share that understanding in case anyone else
is going through what I put myself through.

There is no competition within the Fellowship because we're in this together.
The Twelve Steps are written in the plural; it's 'we' and 'us,' not 'I' and
'me.' We share triumph and failure; I am strengthened by your triumph and you
are saddened by my failure.

There is a race in the Fellowship but it's called the human race. When I
joined the Fellowship I left the rat race and rejoined the human race. In
my opinion I was never a loser after I joined the Fellowship, I was simply
limping towards recovery. The other runners--far swifter than I--frequently
came back to pick me up when I stumbled and support me on my way. Today I'm
still limping along; the difference is that I haven't actually fallen over
for some considerable time. Sometimes I need you to wait for me, sometimes
I have to crawl, and sometimes I need carried when my strength runs out.
But I know now that speed is unimportant, only progress on the journey.
And whatever progress I seem to be making--even when I'm being carried--my
heart is flying. The only winners' paddock in this race is made of pine and
six feet under ground. The Fellowship isn't a competition, it's a way of
coping with our common problem, it's a way of travelling together.

By thinking this way, I'm no longer upset when I hear the saying, "Stick
with the winners!" but am reminded of some of the things that are important
to me in Alcoholics Anonymous. I know that when I think this way I'm doing
some of that 'sober thinking' we talk about at meetings.
                                                     ## Eddie, Scotland. ##
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------Recovery Bulletin Board Systems---------------------
-------------------------------------------------------------------------

The following is a list of recovery Bulletin Board Systems taken from
the Black Bag Medical BBS List © Edward Del Grosso M.D. The complete list
(which is very long) also contains medical, fire/EMS, science, AIDS and
disABILITY related bulletin board systems.

Recovery Connect (102/541)  310-322-2745  V32    CALAN  QUICKBBS 03/04/93
Steps of DC West (102/402)  310-436-9535  1200          FIDO     03/01/93
LifeLine Home of RecoverNet 310-823-6686  HST    CAGLE  WILDCAT  03/06/93
24 Hours a Day (143/302)    408-448-1126  2400   CASJO  REMOTE   03/05/93
Higher Powered              408-737-9447  HST    CAPAL  PCBOARD  03/05/93
Recovery (125/9)            415-255-2188  V32b   CAOAK  REMOTE   03/19/93
12 12 New Beginn(125/1212)  510-834-6906  V32b + CAOAK  REMOTE   03/05/93
Recovery 1 BBS (202/905)    619-523-1961  V32b + CASDI  EZCOM    03/19/93
Feel Heal Ordeal (102/484)  818-952-5157  2400 + CAGLE  REMOTE   03/05/93
Quick Facts                 202-289-4112  2400   DCWAS  GALACT   03/04/93
Venice Recovery (137/408)   813-492-9592  HST  +        RBBS     03/18/93
Easy Does It (132/131)      603-228-0705  HST           OPUS     03/09/93
The Right Place (107/818)   201-947-8231  V32b +        RYBBS    03/08/93
The Diner                   908-418-4354  V32b   NJNBR  PCBOARD  03/10/93
The Recovery Room (2613/207)716-461-5201  V32b          REMOTE   03/03/93
Recovery NorthWest (105/62) 503-231-3852  V32  + ORPOR  REMOTE   03/02/93
The 4th Dimension           503-236-5068  2400   ORPOR  CUSTOM   03/19/93
Promises  (116/3000)        615-385-9421  V32b          OPUS     03/05/93
Stepping Stones (3615/14)   615-977-7359  V32b          OPUS     03/09/93
EM LEPC                     713-341-4437  2400   TXHOU  TAG      03/19/93
Recovery Corner (130/911)   817-447-1619  V32  +        REMOTE   03/04/93
Navy Drug and Alcohol       703-693-3831  2400   DCWAS  WILDCAT  03/18/93
Adult Child of Alcoholics   703-821-2925  2400   DCWAS  RBBS     03/20/93
Seattle Recovery            206-646-2854  2400   WASEA  QUICKBBS 03/20/93
Olympia Recovery            206-923-1457  2400          QUICK    03/09/93
Spokane In Recovery (346/22)509-325-1058  HST           GALACT   03/01/93
Addictions (342/22)         403-460-8357  V32b          MAXIMUS  03/14/93

NOTES: BBS software used

    Socrates   SOCRATES             Total Communications System    TCOMM
    Opus       OPUS                 The Bread Board System         TBBS
    Wildcat    WILDCAT              Rybbs Bulletin Board           RYBBS
    PCBoard    PCBOARD              RemoteAccess                   REMOTE
    Spitfire   SPITFIRE             GT Power                       GTPOWER
    QuickBBS   QUICKBBS             Fido                           FIDO
    Maximus    MAXIMUS              Tag BBS                        TAG
    Image BBS  IMAGE                Simplex                        SIMPLEX
    Telegard   TELGARD              Remote Bulletin Board System   RBBS
    Auntie     AUNTIE               Galacticom                     GALACT
    Super BBS  SUPER                Feather                        FEATHER
    Ultra BBS  ULTRA                Custom or Unknown              CUSTOM
    Red Ryder  RED

NOTES: Modem Codes

1200      1200 Baud
2400      2400 Baud
V32       CCITT V32     9600 bps full duplex
V32b      CCITT V32bis 14400 bps full duplex
HST       USR Courier HST

   The numbers following some of the board names are network addresses
   for those boards participating in the International Fido Network.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
...24...24...24...24...24...24...24...24...24...24...24...24...24...24...24
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Twenty-Four Hours... Twenty-Four Hours... Twenty-Four Hours...

    "We are never satisfied with the present. We anticipate
     the future as too slow in coming, as if in order to
     hasten it on its way; or we recall the past as though
     to arrest its too rapid flight. So foolhardy we are that
     we go wandering about in periods of time which do not
     belong to us, and give no thought to the only one that
     does. So frivolous we are that we dream of those times,
     which are no more, and thoughtlessly overlook the only
     one that exists. The reason is that the present generally
     hurts us. We hide it out of sight, because it distresses
     us; or, if we happen to enjoy it, we regret to see it
     vanish. We try to make it endurable by looking to the
     future, thinking to create a situation from things beyond
     our control and in a period of time which we have no
     certainty of reaching.

    "Let each man examine his thoughts, and he will find them
     all preoccupied with the past and the future. We scarcely
     ever think of the present; if we do it is only to obtain
     the light wherewith to organize the future. The present
     is never our goal; the past and present are our means;
     the future alone is our objective. Thus we never live,
     but only hope to live; and as we are for ever preparing
     to be happy, we shall assuredly never be so."

                                            ## Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) ##
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Birthday

     I do not know how pain and fear
     Have somehow brought me safely here;
     Nor can I say why terror's tree
     Has thrown a shade to shelter me.

     How is it that where silence grows
     Its silent storms I find repose?
     And after breaking quite apart
     Why is it that still beats my heart?

     I do not know whence came such power
     To search my rage and find a flower;
     Nor can I guess how then from me
     It drew a note for harmony.

     But sparks like these have found a way
     To fuse and light another day
     Wherein I step to seek that friend
     Who yearns, like me, this bright day's end.

                                          ## Anonymous Member, Scotland. ##
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  _    ,
 ' )  /                     Hello, my name is Herm, I am an alcoholic.
  /--/ _  __  ______        I began my recovery on April 2nd 1990,
 /  (_</_/ (_/ / / <_       and this is how it happened.

I began the drinking stage of my disease back in late 1965, stationed
in Vietnam. From there to Japan where, in less than two years, I was
full blown alcoholic.  I had gone from a beer or two a day to quite a
bit of whisky every day, along with beer.  Sometimes a quart or more
of booze. Blackouts. I thought they were a part of drinking, and
everybody got them.

I came home in July of 1968, loafed for a few months, then began a job.
I missed a fair amount of work, due to drinking.  This continued for the
next 22 years. I got other jobs, but the drinking remained a major part
of my life. By 1990, my marriage was in bad shape, my job was not going
well, and my health was going bad. My mental health was gone.

Enough background. April 1, another normal Sunday, drinking, among other
things. And at night, as usual, another argument with my wife.  Nothing
serious, but I was annoyed at how often this took place. When all had
gone to bed, I stayed up, glass in hand, and tried to puzzle it out. What
was wrong in my life?  I did not actually believe in God, nor did I
actually pray that night, more like I sought out whatever was there, and
pleaded for an answer to the insanity I saw taking place. I did not know
the insanity was in me.

Monday morning, and up for work, but not for this lad. My wife went into
her job, I stayed home.  I called in sick.  As soon as she had gone, I
started drinking.  In a few hours, I was very drunk, and I could see
it.  I could see myself exactly as I was.  One time happy, laughing,
then a mood swing, and crying.  I was also scared.  I had never seen
myself like this, others had, but this was new to me.  Well, I had
seen my father drink himself to death, I had seen the insanity he went
through right before he died, and I saw I was the same.  I determined
to end it all, and what better way, but by an overdose of alcohol?

Not to happen. I tried, but a Higher Power was at work. I distinctly
heard a calm voice from within, telling me I did not have to do this,
there was a better way, and I already knew what.  At first, I did not
know this better way, then the voice continued, and I heard the word AA.
Ok, doctors and others had talked to me about AA, but I was not one of
them.  I now saw that I was. I did a couple of things. I called my
doctor, told him I was alcoholic, and would go to the rehab. I called
work, told them what I was, and where I was going. And then I went.

I am sober today, by using the steps, working the program, doing what
I have to do, and doing it one day at a time. I cannot yet claim
complete happiness in all things I do, but my worst day sober is
better than my best day drunk.

I love email groups, I am in a couple, Lamplighters is one, and a very
good one.  I consider it my home group.
                                      ## Herm in Pennsylvania, USA. ##
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Q--How many alcoholics does it take to change a light bulb?
A--Just one, but the whole world has to revolve around him/her!

                                                      ## John, USA. ##
----------------------------------------------------------------------
I have a poem that my cousin sent to me when I was at a very low point
in my life.  I had just gone into a detox and thought at the time that
this is the end. Little did I know (at the time) it was just the
beginning of a new way of life. Somehow this poem made a difference to
me, so I share it with you. Maybe it will make a difference to someone
else.                                                ## Bobbi, USA. ##

I'M SPECIAL

In all the world there's nobody like me. Since the beginning of time,
there has never been another person like me.  Nobody has my smile,
my eyes, my hair, my hands, my voice.  I'm special.

No one sees things just as I do.  In all of time there's been no one
who laughs like me, no one who cries like me.  And what makes me laugh
or cry will never provoke identical laughter and tears from anyone else,
ever.  No one reacts to any situation just as I would react.  I'm special.

I'm the only one in all of creation who has my set of abilities.
Oh, there will always be someone who is better at one of the things I'm
good at, but no one in the whole world can match the quality of my unique
combination of talents, ideas, abilities, and feelings.

Like a room full of musical instruments, some may excel alone, but none
can match the symphony sound when all are played together.  I'm a symphony.
I'm special.

Through all of eternity no one will ever look, talk, walk, think, or do
like me.  I'm special.

I'm rare.  And like all things rare, I am of great value.  I need not
attempt to imitate others.  I am special, and precious, and of great value
JUST AS I AM!  I am beginning to realize that it's no accident
that I'm so special.

I'm beginning to see that God made me special for a very special purpose.
HE MUST HAVE A JOB FOR ME TO DO THAT NO ONE ELSE IN THE WHOLE WORLD CAN
DO AS WELL AS I. Out of the millions of applicants only one is qualified
for this special job, only one has the right combination of what it takes.
THAT ONE IS ME.      BECAUSE...... I'm Special.
                                                        Author Unknown
----------------------------------------------------------------------
               |  Human Brain Not Yet Obsolete       |
               |                                     |
               |  I have a spelling checker,         |
               |  It came with my PC;                |
               |  It plainly marks four my revue     |
               |  Mistakes I cannot sea.             |
               |  I've run this poem threw it,       |
               |  I'm sure your please too no,       |
               |  Its letter perfect in it's weigh,  |
               |  My checker tolled me sew.          |
               |                     Arthur unknown  |
----------------------------------------------------------------------
I am a Native Texan. Ever seen a cowboy movie? That's some of my unique
ancestral history. I guess I am the first in a long line that wants to
put an end to that kind of life. I am in Dallas, actually Irving, home
of the Dallas Cowboys--Superbowl Champions.

My wife and I are in our mid 20's with 2 boys under 3. She attends her
program (Alanon) too! This is my second marriage. Kind of goes with the
territory is what I've learned. I also developed insulin dependent
diabetes or was diagnosed 5 days after my last drink. I always wondered
why I felt like shit after a good drinking binge. I've challenged with
both of these diseases for the past 3 1/2 years. And I'm pretty sure
with the way things are going that I'm gonna live to over 100.

Our meetings in Texas are 1 hour long. Lately they've been getting kind
of structured, more so in the Dallas than in Lubbock, Texas, where I
sobered up. Lubbock is way out in West Texas. I'll try to tell you more
later. Anyhow, gotta stop, I need to put a young boy in the bed.

A departing thought on anonymity...

     Anonymity humbles me and is a form of humility, ever reminding
     me to place principles above personalities.

This is way I asked THE question.
                                                      ## Reed, USA. ##
----------------------------------------------------------------------
My name is Arthur. I am an alcoholic who came to his senses, at least
partially, more than 17 years ago. My drinking had started in the small
town of Alloa (pop 14,000) in the centre of Scotland. I had practically
no choice but to become an alky because Alloa had at least 4 breweries
and two immense whisky bonds. So you see I had to give them the benefit
of my thirst and try to drink them dry.

In the fullness of time I moved across Scotland to Cumnock (pop 5,000)
in Ayrshire, the heart of the Covenanting movement in the 17th century,
and which is surrounded by innumerable graves of the brave martyrs who
died for the freedom to worship in their own chosen fashion. Robert
(Rabbie) Burns was born 16 miles away and, although he had the name of
a boozer, was a very caring individual who tried in his own way to
benefit mankind.

There are about 14 pubs and clubs in this small village and I proceeded
to destroy my job prospects immediately by getting to know each and
every one of them on a very intimate basis. Eventually, a small spark
of reason remaining in my sodden brain led me to AA and I am trying my
very best to repay, in various ways, the debt I owe to my family and
society in general by sticking to the precepts and principles of our
God-blessed fellowship.

Then my heart gave out suddenly, in l990. I found that my mother Group
suddenly became inaccessible because I couldn't climb the stairs
involved and I joined a newly formed Group in the neighbouring village
of Auchinleck, where I have been the elder statesman for three glorious
years.

God Bless all who are, like me, still trying to improve the quality of
their life by keeping up their membership of AA.

                     ## Big A, Auchinleck Saturday Group, Scotland. ##
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Fellowship VapourWare Inc. announce the imminent arrival on the market
of the StepIt Lite Mailer package for email AA members. Features...

 => a send button with built-in delay feature that does an automatic
    eighth and ninth step if you don't abort your message in time;
 => automatic blind copy of outgoing mail to sponsor's email address;
 => resentment detection parser with emotion level configuration
    and smilie insertion option;
 => Bleeding Deacon macros for speedy quotations from the Big Book,
    12 & 12, Conference Guidelines, and the World Service Handbook.

Currently under development, and due for release in the coming months
are specialised 'sobriety stage' versions...

 <> StepIt Pro, with automated Fourth Step archiving and a resizable
    Fifth Step buffer for autobroadcasting the archive.
 <> StepIt Thumper, with the full text of the third edition of the
    Big Book and a cross-indexed quotation seeker.
 <> EgoTrip Mailer, with talk-you-down autoflames in multiples of 100K.
      (This software requires StepIt Thumper and co-processor.)

/ All 'sobriety stage' mailers will feature the new Guideline parser \
\ heuristics developed exclusively for Fellowship Vapoureware Inc by /
/ Spiritual Logic Associates. We can also upgrade your hardware to   \
\ 11th Step power by the installation of our HP protocol suite card. /

           Contact us NOW be emailing to...
                                           ...balked@easier.softer.way


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