If All Else Fails – Read the Directions by Chris Swanberg


Each time I went out I had to ask myself “why can’t I get this thing? Why are other people staying clean and sober and I can’t? They’re worse than me.”

Each time I would find another excuse.

“Well, they only drank beer and wine. Well, they didn’t drink all the time just binges. Oh I’m dually diagnosed.”

Much to my bewilderment was the surprise that I didn’t know about. When they weren’t in the rooms of AA they were doing something that I never did. They were taking action to keep their sobriety dates. I knew nothing about this.

Oh sure I had a sponsor each time. One of those token ones that I would use to talk a good game. But I didn’t know I was supposed to use him. I didn’t really know anything.

Someone told me once to “read the very first page of the Big Book.”

I told him “there’s nothing on it.”

He said “Exactly, that’s how much you know about AA- NOTHING.”

To my surprise they were right. Just going through the motions and just going to meetings did not keep me sober. I found out that it didn’t keep a lot of people sober. I found out the hard way. I am not one of those that could ‘fake it till you make it. ‘

One day someone gave me a big Book and said read the first three words on the top of page 112. It says, “Read this book.” OMG! I have to read it! It doesn’t make sense. It was written in 1939 how can it know about the times now.

Most of us will try to put something together first, thinking we know how to do it. After a few failing tries, we pull out the instructions then read them. Well to my dismay that is just what The Big Book is:  instructions to stay sober. Then I found out the hard way that just reading The Book does not keep you sober. You have to actually follow the instructions with action.

Just going through the motions and just going to meetings did not keep me sober.

I have read The Book many times over and new things keep popping out at me as my sobriety time keeps getting longer. So I keep doing new things to help me make progress. I only have to do it to the best of my ability. I like that.

If you have tried several times with your ideas and they haven’t worked. If you have tried to do this for someone else besides yourself and it hasn’t worked. In fact, if all else fails read the directions. Remember, you never fail until you stop trying.

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