Alcoholics Anonymous – Big Book by Alcoholics Anonymous
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
WOW! This is going to be a hard review to write.
When I told my husband that I planned to review this book, he laughed.
“Isn’t that like saying I’m going to review The Holy Bible?”
“Why, yes, yes it is.”
In fact, this book is much like The Holy Bible.
Like my daughter’s 6th grade math teacher has his students create A Math Bible with math notes in a composition book, this is a Bible that was written by Alcoholics. It’s not a Bible for math, but for finding peace and serenity.
Funny, the alcoholics familiar with AA, affectionately call this book “The Blue Bible” or “The Big Blue Book”.
This book is jam-packed with wisdom. JAM PACKED! It starts with bits of wisdom from the founders of AA with their reveal of the 12 steps and how to work the AA program. But, the bits of wisdom I enjoyed best were the bits I gleaned from all the personal stories. I was left feeling totally enlightened. The honesty of the storytellers was a breathe of fresh air. They gave me a greater understanding and love for alcoholics and all addicts. They somehow helped me have a respect for alcoholics, especially a respect for the ones brave enough to break free. Most of all, I, now, after finishing the book, have a greater appreciation for human life, and the fragility of the human. It is so vital that we as humans help each other to learn how to affectively deal with our issues.
And, in one sentence, that is how I would describe AA and it’s mighty Bible: It’s a place where people go to help each other learn and deal with issues. Because all people have issues and lots of people don’t know how to deal with them. Unfortunately, instead of learning how to get happy, people give themselves permission to live drunk, which isn’t living at all.
If you think that you could live a happier life, read this book, I promise it will leave you with a greater understanding of yourself and what you need to do to resolve your issues and to have self-respect, serenity, peace, happiness, and joy. I personally feel much more humble yet powerful, peaceful yet productive, happy yet thoughtful and most of all in touch with myself and who I am, who God wants me to be, and how He is going to help me get there.
I decided shortly into the book that in my review, I would just share the bits that I loved. Writing a review is like writing a review of The Holy Bible. You can’t communicate the power by stating your opinion. You can share the verses and hope the reader will feel its power. So, here are the words (verses) that communicated to me in the order I read them:
p. 100 ALCOHOLICS ARE SICK AND SHOULD BE HANDLED WITH CARE “When working with a man and his family, you should take care not to participate in their quarrels. You may spoil your chance of being helpful if you do. But urge upon a man’s family that he has been a very sick person and should be treated accordingly. You should warn against arousing resentment or jealously. You should point out that his defect of character are not going to disappear over night. Show them that he has entered upon a period of growth. Ask them to remember, when they are impatient, the blessed fact of his sobriety.”
p. 178 EVERYONE NEEDS SUPPORTIVE FAMILY MEMBERS “My wife became deeply interested and it was her interest that sustained mine, though I at no time sensed that it might be an answer to my liquor problem. How my wife kept her faith and courage during all those years, I’ll never know, but she did. If she had not, I know I would have been dead a long time ago. For some reason, we alcoholics seem to have the gift of picking out the world’s finest women. Why they should be subjected to the tortures we inflict upon them, I cannot explain.”
p. 180 HERE IS THE POWER OF AA – GLEANING KNOWLEDGE FROM THOSE WHO HAVE WALKED IN OUR MOCCASINS BEFORE US “Of far more importance was the fact that he was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what he was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience. In other words, he talked my language.”
p. 197 DON’T AVOID & PROCRASTINATE – IT BUILDS UP AND MAKES YOU WANNA GET DRUNK “About this period, too, came increasing procrastination and the avoidance of responsibilities. I would put off doing anything that I could until the next day, and consequently, everything would pile up and then there would be this blackout.”
p. 214 ADMIT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM AND USE THE FAITH YOU HAVE TO HELP YOURSELF “The thought simply never occurred to me that through the exercise of what I had I might find the answer to my problem, simply because I wouldn’t admit that I had a problem.”
p. 226 STAY IN TOUCH WITH THIS GLORIOUS WORLD AND FIND YOUR PLACE IN IT INSTEAD OF HIDING ” I wanted help, and I tried to cooperate. As the treatment progressed I began to get a picture of myself, of the temperament that had caused me so much trouble. I had been hypersensitive, shy, idealistic. My inability to accept the harsh realities of life had resulted in a disillusioned cynic, clothed in a protective armor against the world’s misunderstanding. That armor had turned into prison walls, locking me in loneliness – and fear. All I had left was an iron determination to live my own life in spite of alien world – and here I was an inwardly frightened, outwardly defiant woman, who desperately need a prop to keep going. Alcohol was that prop and I didn’t see how I could live without it.”
p.228 GOD SPEAKS TO US “Then the miracle happened – to me! It isn’t always so sudden with everyone, but I ran into a personal crisis which filled me with a raging and righteous anger. And as I fumed helplessly and planned to get good and drunk and show them, my eye caught a sentence in the book lying upon my bed: ‘We cannot live with anger.’ The walls crumpled – and the light streamed in. I wasn’t trapped. I wasn’t helpless. I was free, and I didn’t have to drink to ‘show them’. This wasn’t religion – this was freedom! Freedom from anger and fear, freedom to know happiness and love.”
p. 275 FIGHT THE FEAR “For eighteen years, from the age of twenty-one to thirty-nine, fear governed my life. By the time I was thirty I had found that alcohol dissolved fear. For a little while. In the end I had two problems instead of one: Fear and alcohol.”
p. 279 ANSWERS ARE WAITING TO BE FOUND – YOU JUST HAVE TO ASK – PERHAPS MY FAVORITE PAGE OF THE WHOLE BOOK “I could no longer relieve the pressure of fear by starting home, as was once my habitual solution to the problem, because I no longer had a home. Finally, and I shall never know how much later it was, one clear thought came to me: Try prayer. You can’t lose, and maybe God will help you – just maybe, mind you. Having no one else to turn to, I was willing to give Him a chance, although with considerable doubt. I got down on my knees for the first time in thirty years. The prayer I said was simple. It went something like this: ‘God, for eighteen years I have been unable to handle this problem. Please let me turn it over to you.’ Immediately a great feeling of peace descended upon me, intermingled with a feeling of being suffused with a quiet strength. I lay down and slept like a child. An hour later I awoke to a new world. Nothing had changed and yet everything had changed. The scales had dropped from my eyes and I could see life in its proper perspective. I had tried to be the center of my own little world, whereas God was the center of a vast universe of which I was perhaps an essential, but a very tiny, part. I have never had a drink since.”
p. 320 BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF AND LIVE FOR NOW “Once I did have a slip – tried drinking again – but the AA’s tell me not to worry about yesterday, because nobody can change it, and not to worry about tomorrow because it hasn’t come yet. Live twenty-four hours at a time, they say. And it works. I’m sober for today. Like I said, I’m a twenty-four-yea-old alcoholic and I’m happy.”
p. 325 HEALING CAN HAPPEN FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES “WE have only been in A.A. a few years, but now we’re trying to make up for lost time. Twenty-seven years of confusion is what my early married life was. Now, the picture has changed completely. We have faith in each other, trust in each other, and understanding. A.A. has given us that. It has taught me so many things. It has changed my thinking entirely, about everything I do. I can’t afford resentments against anyone, because they are the build-up of another drunk. I must live and let live. And “Think” – that one important word means so much to me. My life was always act and react. I never stopped to think. I just didn’t give a whoop about myself or anyone else.
p, 352 POWER COMES FROM GOD AND FROM OTHERS WHO ARE RECEIVING HELP FROM GOD “What is this power that A.A. possessed?? This curative power? I don’t know what it is. I suppose the doctor might say, “This is psychosomatic medicine.” I suppose the psychiatrist might say, “This is benevolent interpersonal relations.” I suppose others would say, “This is group psychotherapy.” To me it is God.
p. 418 HEALING IS UP TO YOUR HONESTY WITH YOURSELF “No one could have told me then that I had not earned all my success, nor could anyone have told me that I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. The only thing that bothered me was a queasy feeling I had in the pit of my stomach. It hinted to me that everything was phony. I had accomplished all the right things that our society expected, and I had no real peace of mind nor gratitude. I was nothing more than a spoiled, indulged, and talented brat.”
p. 504 GOD WILL GRANT YOU PEACE IF YOU SURRENDER “I get out of bed and go to the man’s room. He is reading, ‘I must ask you a question,’ I say to the man. ‘How does prayer fit into this thing.’ ‘Well,” he answers, ‘you’ve probably tried praying like I have. When you’ve been in a jam you’ve said, ‘God, please do this or that,’ and if it turned out to be your way that was the last of it, and if it didn’t you’ve said ‘THere isn’t any God’ or ‘He doesn’t do anything for me’. Is that right?’ ‘Yes,’ I reply. ‘That isn’t the way,’ he continued. ‘The thing I do is say ‘God here I am and here are my troubles. I’ve made a mess of things and can’t do anything about it. You take me, and all my troubles, and do anything you want with me.’ ‘Does that answer your question?’ “
p. 542 LOVE IS EVERYTHING ” For me, A.A. is a synthesis of all the philosophy I’ve ever read, all the positive, good philosophy, all of it based on love. I have seen that there is only one law, the law of love, and there are only two sins; the first is to interfere with the growth of another human being, and the second is to interfere with one’s own growth.”
p. 544 GET TO THE ROOT “The mental twists that led up to my drinking began many years before I ever took a drink for I am one of those whose history proves conclusively that my drinking was a ‘symptom of a deeper trouble.’ Through my efforts to get down to ’causes and conditions,’ I stand convinced that my emotional illness has been present from my earliest recollection. I never did react normally to any emotional situation.
p. 547 DON’T RUN FROM YOUR FEARS OR RATIONALIZE THEM AWAY ” I wasn’t afraid of anything or anybody after I learned about drinking, for it seemed right from the beginning that with liquor I could always retire to my little private world where nobody could get at me to hurt me…..I was immersed in self-pity and resentment…It became more and more necessary to escape from myself, for my remorse and shame and humiliation when I was sober were almost unbearable. The only way existence was possible was through rationalizing every sober moment and drinking myself into oblivion as often as I could.
p.552 BLESS THOSE THAT CURSE YOU – IT WILL GIVE YOU PEACE “‘IF you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want if for them, and you prayers are only words that you don’t mean, go ahead and do it anyways. Do it every day for two weeks and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred you now feel compassionate understanding and love.’ ‘The only real freedom a human being ever know is doing what you ought to do because you want to do it.’ “
p. 560 REALITY IS AWESOME WHEN YOU’VE FOUND AND WORKED FOR PEACE “Above all, we reject fantasizing and accept reality. The more I drank, the more I fantasized everything. I imagined getting even for hurt and rejections. In my mind’s eye, I played and replayed scenes in which I was plucked magically from the bar where I Stood nursing a drink, and was instantly exalted to some position of power and prestige. I lived in a dream world. A.A. led me gently from this fantasizing to embrace reality with open arms. And I found it beautiful! For, at last, I was at peace with myself. And with others. And with God.”
Awesome review. I admire you for doing it. I don't know that I would have. But there is so much information in the book and in dealing with addiction no matter what the addiction is.
Those are good. I wanna read it.