PP 3-4 Bill's Story (Bill's Discontent)

The book Alcoholics Anonymous, aka The Big Book, is the basic text for the AA program of sobriety. "Alcoholics Anonymous" Copyright 2012 AAWS, Inc. All Rights, Reserved. Short excerpts used by permission of AAWS
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Karl R
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PP 3-4 Bill's Story (Bill's Discontent)

Post by Karl R » Sat Aug 30, 2008 7:41 am

Good Morning,

We continue today with Bill's Story. Is he a business success or is he on the start of a long spiral downward from drink?

I have posted today's reading below.

Bill, like myself, bounced from life event to life event. He was never a total success and often times failed at his jobs and enterprises. He was however successful enough to continue convincing himself that he was functional even after the stock crash of 1929. Enterprises begun-enterprises wiped out by alcoholism. To us alkies-there is always one more enterprise right up until the total bottom and there is always someone to blame for our failures. This is helped along by a wife who picked up the slack.

How many of us had family and friends who picked up the slack in our life situations. What happened when they decided not to pick up the slack anymore?

How many of us became 'lone wolves' due to our condition? When did we realize that we were alone?
My drinking assumed more serious proportions, continuing all day and almost every night. The remonstrances of my friends terminated in a row and I became a lone wolf. There were many unhappy scenes in our sumptuous apartment. There had been no real infidelity, for loyalty to my wife, helped at times by extreme drunkenness, kept me out of those scrapes.

In 1929 I contracted golf fever. We went at once to the country, my wife to applaud while I started out to overtake Walter Hagen. Liquor caught up with me much faster than I came up behind Walter. I began to be jittery in the morning. Golf permitted drinking every day and every night. It was fun to carom around the exclusive course which had inspired such awe in me as a lad. I acquired the impeccable coat of tan one sees upon the well-to-do. The local banker watched me whirl fat checks in and out of his till with amused skepticism.

Abruptly in October 1929 hell broke loose on the New York stock exchange. After one of those days of inferno, I wobbled from a hotel bar to a brokerage office. It was eight o'clock - five hours after the market closed. The ticker still clattered. I was staring at an inch of the tape which bore the inscription XYZ-32. It had been 52 that morning. I was finished and so were many friends. The papers reported men jumping to death from the towers of High Finance. That disgusted me. I would not jump. I went back to the bar. My friends had dropped several million since ten o'clock - so what? Tomorrow was another day. As I drank, the old fierce determination to win came back.

Next morning I telephoned a friend in Montreal. He had plenty of money left and thought I had better go to Canada. By the following spring we were living in our accustomed style. I felt like Napoleon returning from Elba. No St. Helena for me! But drinking caught up with me again and my generous friend had to let me go. This time we stayed broke.

We went to live with my wife's parents. I found a job; then lost it as the result of a brawl with a taxi driver. Mercifully, no one could guess that I was to have no real employment for five years, or hardly draw a sober breath. My wife began to work in a department store, coming home exhausted to find me drunk.
Last edited by Karl R on Wed Apr 15, 2009 4:19 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Oliver » Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:14 am

Bouncing from one life event to the next was my way of being for many years. There was one point where I'd help three posts, at three different places of work in three different countries in less than a year. I was good at doing a geographical and bad at facing the music. I was convinced the problem was outside of me and that it would all be OK if only I could fix X or Y or Z. Never did I consider the possibility that sobriety would be an inside job. In the end, I was lucky to be able to find a post.

Rather like Bill who experience ugly scenes in the midst of a sumptuous apartment, it didn't matter what externals were there - no matter how grand my designs were, whenever alcohol and I mix the scenes were ugly - in the extreme. The programme has given me a means of sorting my side of the street out and dealing with the internal poison that was my resentments, selfishness, self-centredness and self-pity. I quickly had to wakeup to the fact that I could not run away from myself and that the problem was within ME - that I was alcoholic. The only thing that motivated me to get into action was having hit the rock-bottom that you mentioned. I had the gift of desperation and I was willing to go to any lengths to get the gift of sobriety (emotional and physical) that I saw in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I experienced a lot of love and warmth when I first came into the fellowship, even though I felt I didn't deserve it.
Oliver
"In exchange for bottle and hangover, I have been given the keys to the kingdom."

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Post by jujub » Tue Oct 14, 2008 9:37 am

hey all,

getting back into the big book study to try to glob onto a measure of sanity. my parents were wonderful codependants who bailed me out of many ugly situations. then they died. and i was forced to become a "lone wolf". yes, i lost jobs, filed bankruptcy, spent my retirement money--(laughed it off with the excuse i was going to retire in the middle of my life!!)--but hey, i got other jobs, still had my home. but inside i've always had the suspicion i was one employer away from homelessness. not to mention my extreme isolation.

that did nothing to stop my drinking. in fact, i just got promoted in june--i must be okay. i realize today that my talent and charm will only get me so far. people like me and have given me break after break. but somewhere along the line reliability supercedes talent. and i haven't been reliable even when sober. the attitude of privelege--i deserve special consideration--has been with me drunk or sober.

i've been blessed and cursed with people who have looked the other way my entire life. ignored my drunkeness because they cared and i'm good at what i do. what do i do with that? develop resentments because life hasn't given me what i "deserved". it's never been enough--i'm always due more and more and more. because inside i feel so unworthy and something--anything--has to fill that blackness.

thanks for listening,
judi, alcoholic

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Post by ann2 » Wed Oct 15, 2008 1:56 pm

I'm an exceptionally lucky alcoholic because my parents didn't interfere at all -- and refused to consider drinking a problem. Because of their letting me work things out myself, I got to AA at the age of 26 -- they never stepped in and bailed me out, basically. How lucky I was!!

I tried to get by on my looks and my Ohio college-bred freshness. I was hired because I could interview well, and then the personality conflicts with bosses would set in, and I found I had to quit or go crazy. Always the fault of the person I worked for, of course.

Did I ever have anything real to offer an employer, besides my cynicism as to how little work the job would actually be for me? Did I ever look for what I could contribute, rather than what I could get by with, and how quickly I could get through the next unwanted task?

I think I realized I was "alone" in the sense I understood it -- not being able to sponge off someone else's emotional support -- after I got to A.A. and was told to stop whining and to start doing whatever it took to stay away from the next drink. That wasn't my idea of A.A. -- I thought A.A. was there to pat my hand, to say "poor you" and to offer soft words.

No, the A.A. I found was ready to drop kick me out of my self-pitying attitude and show me that making it on my own was possible, as long as I could get to meetings and pray. And that was the cure for my lone-wolfism -- not other people, but fellowship and a higher power.
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

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Post by Karl R » Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:49 pm

Ann,

Thank you. Now you've got me thinking about parents and other family again. Funny the multiple sides to our resentments. In my fourth step I found out that I had resentment because my parents and sisters didn't step in and stop my downward spiral. At the exact same time I had a resentment toward them for interfering with my life. In truth it was all me working on my downward spiral alone. My family didn't interfere in my life. In fact, it must have cost them some resentments of their own to watch me from a distance and not step in. Definitely more ammends to make there for me.

cheers,
Karl

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Post by martin08 » Wed Oct 15, 2008 5:20 pm

Judi,

I was shown what was behind the the sense of unworthiness. But the inadequacy would still remain buried had I not been willing to take the Steps in order.

The second inventory of the Fourth Step put it on paper. The Fifth Step brought it out in the open. And the Seventh Step, and God, made the fear disappear.

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Post by jujub » Wed Oct 15, 2008 6:43 pm

freedom from fear, i don't know what that looks like. maybe i should get off my butt, work and live these steps and find out. thanks guys.

judi

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Post by Karl R » Sun Apr 12, 2009 11:28 am

Lonely, alone, isolated-even in the midst of the world stirring around us. How many of us found ourself in that situation? Then...12 steps later-an entirely new situation mirrored in the passage below from "A vision for you"

cheers,
Karl

"The remonstrances of my friends terminated in a row and I became a lone wolf."(p. 3 BB)

and

"Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.
"How is that to come about?" you ask. "Where am I to find these people?"
You are going to meet these new friends in your own community. Near you, alcoholics are dying helplessly like people in a sinking ship. If you live in a large place, there are hundreds. High and low, rich and poor, these are future fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. Among them you will make lifelong friends. You will be bound to them with new and wonderful ties, for you will escape disaster together and you will commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey. Then you will know what it means to give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life. You will learn the full meaning of "Love thy neighbor as thyself." p. 152-153 BB

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Re: PP 3-4 Bill's Story (Bill's Discontent)

Post by leejosepho » Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:28 am

Karl R wrote:We continue today with Bill's Story. Is he a business success or is he on the start of a long spiral downward from drink?
The spiral has begun, but Bill has yet to discover he cannot manage his own life successfully. Some folks see "job hopping" as a symptom of alcoholism, and Bill's drinking certainly is a factor there. However, Bill had long ago turned away from "the law" as a stable option in favor of a more speculative "drive for success". Hence, and whether drunk or sober, some of us move around a lot.
My drinking assumed more serious proportions, continuing all day and almost every night.
Our "allergy" causing one drink to demand another seems to be kicking in.
The remonstrances of my friends terminated in a row and I became a lone wolf. There were many unhappy scenes in our sumptuous apartment ...
"Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one." ("The Doctor's Opinion")
There had been no real infidelity, for loyalty to my wife, helped at times by extreme drunkenness, kept me out of those scrapes.
Been there, done that! ;)
In 1929 I contracted golf fever. We went at once to the country, my wife to applaud while I started out to overtake Walter Hagen. Liquor caught up with me much faster than I came up behind Walter. I began to be jittery in the morning. Golf permitted drinking every day and every night. It was fun to carom around the exclusive course which had inspired such awe in me as a lad. I acquired the impeccable coat of tan one sees upon the well-to-do ...
Searching for *something* of comfort, the illusion of the golf course now presents as a bit of delusion for Bill.
The local banker watched me whirl fat checks in and out of his till with amused skepticism.
Other folks wonder when the bubble might pop.
Abruptly in October 1929 hell broke loose on the New York stock exchange ... I was finished and so were many friends. The papers reported men jumping to death from the towers of High Finance. That disgusted me. I would not jump. I went back to the bar. My friends had dropped several million since ten o'clock - so what? Tomorrow was another day. As I drank, the old fierce determination to win came back.
Still running on that "alloy of drink and speculation".
Next morning I telephoned a friend in Montreal. He had plenty of money left and thought I had better go to Canada. By the following spring we were living in our accustomed style. I felt like Napoleon returning from Elba. No St. Helena for me!
A "geographical cure" many of us have tried while still trying to be successful in life.
But drinking caught up with me again and my generous friend had to let me go. This time we stayed broke.

We went to live with my wife's parents. I found a job; then lost it as the result of a brawl with a taxi driver. Mercifully, no one could guess that I was to have no real employment for five years, or hardly draw a sober breath. My wife began to work in a department store, coming home exhausted to find me drunk.
As we will see in the next page or so, the allergy of one drink demanding another now renders Bill's spiral irrecoverable.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Re: PP 3-4 Bill's Story (Bill's Discontent)

Post by PaigeB » Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:36 pm

The spiral has begun
In the book (somewhere Joe? Karl? do you know what page?) it says something to the effect that we KNEW, but few of us wanted to quit even if we could.
(unable)... to differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one
Doubly hard because I drank with people who drank like me. If they didn't drink like me, I thought they were the odd one. And I didn't keep them around. Their very presence made me uncomfortable because I was forced to look at my drinking as different. I never really looked... a brush with that discomfort was enough!
the illusion of the golf course
Or the bank account or the geographic cure... Chapter 3 list many more ways that we tried to control & enjoy our drinking. It was my life's work. Everything else just got in my way.
Other folks wonder when the bubble might pop.
Now sober, but I still know & love a few drunks... I wonder when the bubble will pop for them, or if they will die. And I see clearly that when I was drinking the only one I was fooling was myself! In fact, I was completely BLIND as to all the factors of my life. And I mean ALL.
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. page 124 BB

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Re: PP 3-4 Bill's Story (Bill's Discontent)

Post by Karl R » Sat Mar 10, 2012 2:59 pm

somewhere Joe? Karl?
Right after the carpet slipper story...pp 32-33.

:-)

K.

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Re: PP 3-4 Bill's Story (Bill's Discontent)

Post by leejosepho » Sat Mar 10, 2012 3:02 pm

Karl R wrote:
somewhere Joe? Karl?
Right after the carpet slipper story...pp 32-33.

:-)

K.
"Though there is no way of proving it, we believe that early in our drinking careers most of us could have stopped drinking. But the difficulty is that few alcoholics have enough desire to stop while there is yet time." (page 32)

I do not believe that is actually true, however, and because "none will really want to stop, and hardly one of them, because of the peculiar mental twist already acquired, will find he can win out." (page 33)

So, and as possibly indicated by his use of "But" (a reversal of thought), I suspect Bill might have just put that in there to avoid the debate!
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Re: PP 3-4 Bill's Story (Bill's Discontent)

Post by WHO » Sat Mar 17, 2012 1:21 pm

Pg. 4
a) Did Bill’s feeling of disgust, and over-high self-esteem drive him back to the bar? Yes
b) Did Bill have a sense of empowerment once he began to drink, that gave him the ability to think and do what he couldn’t before he drank? Yes
c) Did Bill’s alcoholism and the first drink follow him everywhere he went, even when where he went gave him a sense of freedom and victory (Self-Esteem, Ambition, Security)? Yes


1) When alcohol was the solution, would it empower me to think and do things I couldn’t do with out it? Yes it did
2) Have I taken the first drink, even when I didn’t want to, feeling free and content after having made a change of geographic, professional, and/or financial environment? Yes And was I able to control the amount I drank? No
3) Did I become unemployable? I finished work because I was pregnant; I suffered from untreated alcoholism for a long time in AA and I did become unemployable, driven by fear of being inadequate, incompetant not good enough, fear that I was not intelligent enough
4) Did I go years with hardly drawing a sober breath? No (Essentially a craving that lasts for multiple years)
5) Did my friends often see me drunk? Yes People would always tell me about how drunk I was and what I did

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Re: PP 3-4 Bill's Story (Bill's Discontent)

Post by leejosepho » Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:29 am

WHO wrote:1) When alcohol was the solution, would it empower me to think and do things I couldn’t do with out it? Yes it did
In their Big Book seminars, Charlie & Joe (Charlie) used to show that in this kind of way:

"Whenever I took a couple of drinks ...
1) I would be amazed before I was half way through.
2) I would know a new freedom and a new happiness.
3) I would not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
4) I would comprehend the word serenity and know peace.
5) I would see how my experience could benefit others.
6) My feeling of uselessness and self-pity would disappear.
7) I would lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
8) Self-seeking would slip away.
9) My whole attitude and outlook upon life would change.
10) Fear of people and of economic insecurity would leave me.
11) I would intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle me.
12) I would suddenly realize alcohol was doing for me what I could not do for myself."

And then in relation to the Steps and "half measures", someone else has shared this:

1. If you are casual about this phase of your development, you will be drunk before you are half way through.
2. You are going to know a new imprisonment and misery.
3. You will regret the past and wish to shut the door on it.
4. You will comprehend the word conflict and you will know pain.
5. No matter how far down the scale you have gone, you will sink even lower.
6. That feeling of uselessness and self pity will deepen.
7. You will gain interest in selfish things and lose interest in your fellows.
8. Self esteem will slip away.
9. Your whole attitude and outlook upon life will suck.
10. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will multiply.
11. You will intuitively know how to run from situations that used to never bother you.
12. You will suddenly realize that God would never have done to you what you are doing to yourself."

And to be sure no one gets confused, here are the true "promises" of A.A.:

"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development (Steps Four through Nine):
1) We will be amazed before we are half way through.
2) We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
3) We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
4) We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
5) No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
6) That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
7) We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
8) Self-seeking will slip away.
9) Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
10) Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
11) We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
12) We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves." (page 83-84)
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Re: PP 3-4 Bill's Story (Bill's Discontent)

Post by BillW15 » Fri May 23, 2014 8:17 am

"Next morning I telephoned a friend in Montreal. He had plenty of money left and thought I had better go to Canada. By the following spring we were living in our accustomed style. I felt like Napoleon returning from Elba. No St. Helena for me! But drinking caught up with me again and my generous friend had to let me go. This time we stayed broke."

I never understood the St. Helena line until today. I had Turner Classic Movies on early this morning and they were showing one of those old newsreels between movies, this one about St. Helena, an isolated island in the South Atlantic. Napolean was kept there by the British after he had been defeated. He spent the last six years of his life there. He was buried there, with no marking on his stone, then later the body was moved to France.

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