This Way of Living

Working Steps 10, 11, and 12.
Building a personal practice.
Creating a small group practice.

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Beyond human aid
What does that mean?

To understand this, it may help to look at Step 1. This says We admitted that we were powerless over [our addiction] - that our lives had become unmanageable.

Does unmanageable mean partly unmanageable or completely unmanageable?

The first one hundred members of AA seem to have believed that their lives were completely unmanageable - unmanageable by them, unmanageable by family, friends, or anyone else.

So what does "beyond human aid" mean?
What the AA Big Book seems to mean is that they were beyond the aid even of human experts. They had visited with experts in the treatment of alcoholism, they had been institutionalized and placed under the supervision of doctors and psychiatrists. Yet once they were left to their own devices, they drank again ... to the point of total desperation.

But when they surrendered completely, and surrounded themselves with other people who had faced the same, perhaps fatal, problem, not only did they stop drinking but they found they could become happy, joyous, and free. Certainly they had help, but that help came from other, once hopeless alcoholics - not from experts.

The Big Book tells us why this was so. Their problem was not their alcoholism - that was merely a symptom. Their problem was their fear - fear that frequently showed itself as resentment, fear that prompted them to become dishonest and selfish.

The situation today
Today, most 12-Step meetings consist mainly of people who want to solve their core addiction problem. They may consider their lives to be unmanageable, but not completely unmanageable.

So most members of these meetings would not believe themselves to be beyond human aid. All they want is to stop acting out in their addiction, and in their 12-Step meetings they find that they can do this - not infrequently with the help of counselors, therapists, motivational literature, and similar resources.

But we can't. We've tried, and it doesn't work for us. We may be alcoholics, addicts, Al-Anons, ACAs, codependents ... it doesn't seem to matter. Our lives are completely unmanageable. Like those first one hundred men and women in AA, we're beyond human aid.

Are you beyond human aid?
So for us - a tiny minority of members of a variety of 12-Step programs - dealing with our core addiction is only the beginning of the story. We are beyond human aid; and unless we adopt the way of living outlined in pages 84-88 of the Big Book, we find ourselves at best anxious and afraid, and at worst back in the depths of our addiction.

This site describes how we practice this new way of living, alone and in small private groups.

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