December 10 How It Works

Topic for the week: How It Works

“Rarely have we seen a person fail…” At this stage in my sobriety, I find these words so comforting and reassuring. This was not always the case – for the longest time, not only did most of How It Works scare me, I also found a lot of it offensive. Looking back, I can see how that kind of thinking was a symptom of my disease. I realize now that I was fighting the idea that I truly was (and am) an alcoholic. Until I admitted, on a cellular level, that I am an alcoholic, I couldn’t truly begin to reap the benefits that AA has to offer. It is the first step, after all …

What is the “It” of How It Works? For me, it has changed over time. In the early days, I thought “it” meant I was supposed to get the entire program all at once, which was quite overwhelming. I was terrified by the demand for rigorous honesty, the threat of failure, the willingness to go to any lengths, the need to let go of old ideas absolutely, being fearless and thorough – all in pursuit of the mysterious and elusive “it”. I knew AA folks had something I wanted, but what was it exactly? I suspected it was more than mere sobriety – I already had stopped drinking but was more miserable and nasty than I’d ever been in my life. Then the chapter says, “Do not be discouraged.” Actual people were reaching out to me with all the earnestness at their command to bring me into the fold. And they offered help, the kind of help I didn’t even know I needed. God saved my life by removing the obsession to drink, but thank heavens I didn’t get my old life back. You AA folks gave me the means to a new life by sharing your experience, strength and hope and being there for me and with me through thick and thin.

One thing you had was patience…and I sure needed that!

I chose this topic because I realized the other day that I’ve been skipping right over How It Works in the weekly lead and going right to the chair’s share. If I were in a face-to-face meeting, I would listen as How It Works was read aloud. It occurred to me that I was doing that thing again – that thing where if something is working, I stop doing it. What’s up with that?? I’ve been missing the main part of the instruction book!

A few years ago, when I traveled abroad without my husband or family and couldn’t find any meetings I could attend, I made it a point to get up early, take a walk, and recite How It Works to myself. I’ve started doing that again, whenever I take a walk – I find it meditative and soothing. Those words work along with other recited prayers to keep me centered and focused on what really matters.

I don’t want to take anything about sobriety and recovery for granted. Skipping over any part of the program is a slippery slope for me – I could lose it all in a nanosecond. So I think I’ll be sure now to read every word of the weekly topic, starting with a moment of silence and the Serenity Prayer and going all the way through to the Promises and anonymity statement. Oh, and respond to the topic!

For me, “it” really is the whole program and all the people in it. One step at a time, it leads to a life I didn’t know was possible. No matter what “it” means, I’m pretty sure it works when I work it.

Please feel free to share what “it” means to you, or anything else that you may be going through. We are all here for you!

Thank you for the honor of chairing and for letting me share.