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The Grapevine of India A Monthly Journal of AA India


Sobriety at Sixty Four great stories in this section in English and Kannada .


Letters to the editor

26 SantAA & BantAA




Page 20 Letting go

Just another day in Paradise

Step Twelve

Head Stuck in the Sand

Tradition Twelve

December 2009, Vol. 1, No. 5

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Page 22 The Riddle of Unmanageability ( Part 2 )

Page 12 Skeletons in the Cupboard

Page 9 Back To Consciousness


Page 17

Page 15 Friends Everywhere

To Heart Heart Sobriety at Sixty

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The Grapevineof India Editor’s Note Dear Reader: A neighbour in my hometown died of alcoholism some years ago. He was a lawyer, and his practice once hit a rough patch, when he ―took‖ to drink. His wife had died earlier, and one by one his children left the house as they came of marriageable age. They found their alcoholic father impossible to live with. It was a sad sight to see this once respectable man, in his 70s, tottering down the street every afternoon and evening. It is always a sad sight to see an old drunk. Each time I see one I think: there, but for the grace of God, go I. For I came to sobriety in my 60s. In the Heart to Heart section of this issue, AAs in their 60 plus years share how life is for them in their golden years, some of them with 25 years or more of substantial sobriety behind them. The secret: being proactive in the AA programme. The l2 Steps of AA are not just a programme for LIFE, but a life-long programme. As we grow older, working the programme not just keeps us sober, but makes life richer, fruitful, worthwhile. Growing old truly means living the ―golden years‖, when, but for the grace of God, we could have ended our lives in misery and darkness. These sharing's urge AA readers on to keep working the programme without let-up, and to thank God for saving us from what we could have been. Your truly, Fidelis D. Acting Executive Editor

General Service Office of AA (India) PO Box No. 16958, Byculla, Mumbai 400 027 Tel: (022)-2307-5134 / 2301-6767 Email: Web:,

AA Regional Office (Bangalore) P.O. Box 5438, GPO, Bangalore 560001 Helpline: +91-92417-82341 Email: Web:


December 2009

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Letters to the editor

working with them and they don't know how to help the alcoholic, hence they ignore the problem. Places where lots of people gather together usually would have a couple of alcoholics around. One small suggestion is that the layout of the magazine can be improved before it is given to the press, as presentation means everything these days.

Doctor’s Opinion I am a doctor, in recovery. I have been teaching Medical students for the past 18 years. It is sad to note that the level of awareness, among medical students, of alcoholism as a multifaceted disease is abysmally low. May I suggest that copies of TGI be made available in the libraries of Medical Colleges, in Bangalore, to begin with. Surely it will go a long way in helping a good cause.

Anonymous, Bangalore

Articles I request the editor to include a few more Alanon stories in this journal . Topics such as Codependency, enabling and denial would help the family of the alcoholic understand the disease whereby to help the alcoholic.

J.P., Bangalore

Carrying the message

When awareness meetings are conducted in different places it would be helpful to have Alanon members present there to help with the family .

After reading last month‘s journal I could see that each story was unique in its own way. I noticed that AA is not very well known in a large circle around India. This journal is an ideal platform for you to spread awareness about AA. From a journalist‘s point of view this magazine has enough content and information for me to write an article. This magazine should definitely be given to the editors and journalists of every newspaper. Schools and colleges would benefit having a couple of copies in the library so that even if the students do not have a problem they could help someone else who is suffering.

I have heard that in Chennai during every awareness program Alanon literature is given out due to which awareness of AA and Alanon spreads. Alanon and AA have no affiliation with each other but we can cooperate in carrying the message.

A lot of companies have a few alcoholics  December 2009

Maria, Bangalore 2

The Twelve Steps for Recovery 1.

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.


Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.


Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.


Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.


Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.


Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.


Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.


Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Traditions of AA 1.

Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.


For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.


The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.


Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.


Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.


An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.


Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.


Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.


A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy. 11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films. 12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Steps and Traditions Copyright Š AA World Services, Inc.; reprinted with permission

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Tradition 12 Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Head stuck in the Sand


of my sobriety, I knew nothing nor did I care much about the traditions of AA. I was there for myself. The importance of the group never mattered much, apart from the fact that I just needed it to be there for me. Until I started participating in meetings at the group level, did I start to understand the meaning of not only practicing principles for myself but at a much larger level. OR THE FIRST YEAR

During one business meeting, our general service rep shared about the importance of the 12th tradition. She gave an example that say a famous sports player publicly declared on television that he was sober and it was all because of Alcoholics Anonymous and then got drunk afterward. It could possibly send the wrong message about AA to those in need of help staying sober. AA can't make you stay sober or make you drink. AA offers a solution and through the spirit of humble service do we share this message. For some reason, that example hit home for me. ď‚ž December 2009

Through practicing the steps, I've learned something about humility and what it means. I often confused humility with humiliation. What I learned as I stayed sober was that humility has more to do with becoming right-sized, being right with my assets and accepting my limitations. This realization however came slowly after some actual humiliating experiences with egodeflation at both the group and personal level. 4

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Wanting sponsees to be happy and to succeed, I gave one woman advice who was having trouble with her job. The advice she followed ended with disastrous results. I realized I shouldn't be giving advice on matters I knew nothing about and could only share my experience as it pertained to me. I couldn't afford to be "right" and the wise one at the expense of another.

Being that for me alcoholism is a life and death disease, it could mean one person turning away from AA as a solution and suffering an alcoholic end. That's pretty morbid and severe but for me it's the truth and there is no other way about it.

Later on in my sobriety, I helped start some meetings, put on conferences and did my part in carrying the message to alcoholics confined in In meetings during my first few hospitals. I had to remember that it was years, I became one of those that would about the "principles" and not about preach and tell people how they should personalities, not to take myself or work their programs. I would say "we" anyone else too seriously or personally. instead of "I", sharing about what I Remembering our 5th tradition about thought was right to impress people and our primary purpose has always helped puff myself up. I was on straighten the group out that "pink cloud" I wanted ANONYMITY MEANS when we started everyone to know about. squabbling about who SO MUCH MORE Through life's way of should be the leader or THAN JUST HIDING whatever other attempts handing out lumps to teach humility, I ended up at vain glory. It's natural eating my own words and came back to for that to happen but we reminded meetings humbled. I learned that by ourselves of why we were doing what we being an example of what the program were doing, and the significance of what can do, I could help a lot more people the service meant to our own recoveries. rather than preaching and proselytizing to people. Anonymity means so much more than just hiding from public view It's only my ego that wants or being ashamed of my alcoholism. It attention when I get up at a meeting and just means that I don't have to be tell people how it should be done. I don't evangelical or have my head stuck in the know the answers to the riddle of life or sand. As a principle I do my best to how one should keep a job or fix a practice in my daily affairs, I'm reminded relationship. All I have is my experience, to remain humble and in the spirit of strength and hope relating to how I've loving service to all who cross my stayed sober and have worked the path,remembering my primary purpose, program . That experience is shared with using my experience as a guide to share those who ask for help, not to those I the message. think need help. When ego has flared up Jenny,Bangalore in me, it has generally turned people off. 5

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Step 12 Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Just Another Day in Paradise…


on self-will long before I actually became an alcoholic. In fact I was an alcoholic much before I started to drink. I rebelled against anything and anyone who meant good to me. Though this was not prominent on the outside, in my insides the devil was always there controlling me. But when I found alcohol, I found in it a friend, philosopher, and guide who kept urging my rebel self.

hero with the villainous alcohol as a support. Relationships with family and friends [lovers included], finance, profession, and above all my basic moral became the target of my destruction. Selfwill running riot was an understatement. I had gone through life thinking that I was better than everyone else and at the same time being afraid of everyone. I was afraid of me. I had strong feelings about my self that were in conflict – I felt both special and unworthy. I should‘ve been dead long ago as the juggernaut of self-will ravaged through my life.


As I went on to feed the devil inside with more alcohol, I started to slowly destroy everything around me and in fact not being conscious of it. I felt like a  December 2009

I had the good fortune at a very 6

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to go through the degradation and demoralization of drunkeness again. I worked the Program diligently [that‘s what I thought] and when I felt I had learnt enough to have graduated, I started to distance myself from the fellowship. Well, I thought that was it; I had conquered the program. I did attend meetings on and off, here and there, but the demons were there still young age to hit the shores and see the inside me. Skeletons kept tumbling out world. My job also gave me a chance to of my closet; I was over burdened with feed my ego, my fantasies, and of course excess baggage. I was still resentful, my addiction. My idea of paradise was sun jealous, angry, spiteful, cussed, and every kissed beaches, pretty women, lots of trait I had as an active alcoholic includmoney to splurge, and of course enough ing new ones I picked up along the way. booze to last a lifetime. This continued But somehow I was on the wagon for a for more than a decade, when slowly as couple of years. The God of my underalcohol ravaged into standing kept showermy life I started to graces upon grace I FELL OFF THE WAGON ing disintegrate. I do not on me and I in turn DANCING TO THE want to dwell into my kept abusing them. unsavory past but my Well, one day I fell off TUNES OF THE paradise became a livthe wagon dancing to BACARDI SONG ing hell. Ostracized by the tunes of the the society, penniless, Bacardi song. It took homeless, disowned by family and only a few weeks to reach rock bottom friends, unemployable, I still clung to my once again, losing everything I had acfantasies and dreamt of living again in my quired in those years of so-called white so called paradise. knuckled sobriety – job, finance, the woman I loved, home, health, and my Left with no choice but to seek reputation was in the toilet. help when all doors started closing on me and Yes, a classic example of shattered by my Dad‘s spiritual malady. death, I knocked on the doors of AA. When I got I then understood that recovto AA, I was not so much ery is a journey, not a destinainterested in what they tion. I stumbled back into the had, but I damn sure didclassrooms of AA. And yes it n't want what I had. All I did say in one of the ‗Thought wanted at the time was to for the Day‘ that “recovering is just be able to get past the more than abstaining…… craving and not ever have 7

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recovering is a new way of life that involves my entire being.” I believe that even though you were able to keep your life together on the OUTSIDE doesn't mean it was managed well on the INSIDE.

Today, I have a very simple way of understanding Spirituality - it is concerned with my ability, through my attitudes and actions, to relate to others, to myself, and to the God of my own understanding. Every day as I wake up and say the Serenity Prayer, with not a thought of the first drink to ward off my hangover, without the breath smelling like a sewer, my mind clear, I look forward to another day in Paradise.

But often I still go back in time and feel remorse for my past actions, and still angry at the actions of others. I‘ve still not forgiven many in my past drunken life. And as I pity-party, my serenity gets affected. As long as I believe that someone else‘s actions are the cause of my misery, I am powerless to change. Letting go of blame allows me to take responsibility for my life. But at least now I am constantly reminded that I have to talk about anything and everything that might affect my serenity so as to ward off that natural-to-me desire to escape into the bottle.

Today, things seem to be slowly transforming as I stop and look at myself every time I falter. I discover with relief that choices can be made. I choose to admit that dependence upon a Higher Power is a necessity and I choose to try for a life of honesty, integrity, & humility. I learn to admit when I am wrong and to build bridges instead of walls….it‘s just another day in Paradise.

In A.A., I learned the difference between religion and spirituality. It is really quite simple. Religion is for those people who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those people who have already been there.

Now I pray to God to grant me the wisdom to know the difference between Will-Power [which has failed me before] and Willingness to seek help for my dependency, PEACE CAN BE ENJOYED through Him and I seem to be through others who BY ME TODAY, at peace with myself as are also recovering. REGARDLESS OF I move from fear to Peace can be enjoyed trust; from self-pity to by me today, regardCIRCUMSTANCES gratitude; from resentless of circumstances, ment to acceptance; and from dishonesty if I shift my perception ever so slightly. to honesty. This "Higher Power", My Boss that I work for today, handles Step by step; day by day; I rethings a whole lot bigger and more commain, in recovery, forever. It‘s Just Anplex and more wonderful than any huother Day in Paradise. man being or group of human beings can even begin to define. All I really KNOW Baba A., Bangalore. is, "IT LOVES ME and I LOVE IT."  December 2009


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Heart To Heart: Sobriety at Sixty BACK TO CONSCIOUSNESS


AVING COMPLETED almost six years of sobriety, I have often reflected on what AA has given me. Four years ago, a senior member asked me what I had got from AA, and I answered pat: ―Sobriety‖. He smiled and said that he would have given the same answer in his first years of being sober. But if he were asked that question after seven years in sobriety, he would answer that he had discovered ―GOD‖.

private drinking several times a week, and then daily. Though I continued with my work and did it fairly competently, I noticed that my performance was going down, sometimes my hands would start shaking just while celebrating the Mass (Christian puja), and at the times I should have been available to my students for consultations, I wasn‘t. I had a major alcoholinduced accident in January 2000 when I sustained some head injuries and a hip fracture. By then I was more than convinced that I was an alcoholic and had to stop drinking. I knew something of the AA ―teaching‖ about alcoholism; I had even taken some alcoholics to AA meetings. But, when it came to dealing with my own alcoholism, I wanted to do it on my own, without going to a Rehab or to AA, because then others would come

When I came into AA and into recovery end January of 2004, I was already 64 years old. As far as I could reconstruct my past, I began drinking alcoholically somewhere around 1985 – progressing from occasional private drinking in between social functions, drinking at inappropriate times, gradually increasing to 9

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to know. The story went the same way as for many others: I tried to reduce my drinking, then to stop, started again, and repeated the cycle of addictive behavior for the next four years.. Finally, one morning in January 2004, I got up in a very sad plight – retching and with the shakes, and in a dark and frightening despair. I begged God to take that mood away from me and promised him that I would stop drinking completely. But he told me: ―Fidelis, I‘ve heard you say that many a time. Yes, this time you are going to stop, but I will show you how.‖ And he indicated to me a Rehab centre just outside Mangalore, called ―Friendship House‖ -- a centre exclusively for religious and priest alcoholics. (Yes, I am a priest, if you have‘nt guessed that by now).

out of Rehab I kept going for regular AA meetings in Mysore and now in Bangalore, worked the programme on a daily basis, and even got involved in service work. All this has contributed to my sobriety, but they have given me something more than just abstinence from alcohol.

At the AA meetings I heard sharing‘s of a wide variety of people from different religious backgrounds, many of them not It took alpracticing in the religTHE BLACK DESPAIR most three hours that ion of their birth – morning for the shakpeople with no temple LASTED ing and the retching to or church culture, no FOR SOME MORE stop. (The black detraditional rituals or DAYS spair lasted for some prayers. But it struck more days). Then I me that these very took a decision: the very next day I people were now talking about their incalled up my Superior, asked for three ner spiritual lives -- how they had dismonths‘ leave from my teaching job, and covered and were still discovering God a week later I was in the Rehab. From on a daily basis, through his power workthe moment I made that phone call, my ing within them . They had developed a urge to drink disappeared , and God has God consciousness by seriously followkept me sober ever since. After coming ing the l2 Steps‘ Way of Life.  December 2009


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Listening to these sober alcoholics, has led me to reflect on my own personal spiritual and religious life. Having been brought up in a religious milieu, and then going through several years of seminary training and priesthood, I had always maintained, even during my drinking days, a regular religious discipline of daily prayers. This had surely helped me and shaped me. But it is possible to keep to an exterior religious discipline without any interior spiritual journey, without growing in what the 11th and 12th Steps refer to as ―a conscious contact with God‖, having a ―spiritual awakening‖. In fact, this is specially a professional hazard for priests and religious people.

sobriety . All this becomes possible, it says, ―so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition‖.

I count this as the greatest blessing I have received from AA. And it has become for me a precious tool in my priestly work. Being a priest, I have many opportunities to preach and counsel. My own experiences with alcoholism and being liberated from it by my Higher Power, has become a very potent means of inspiring and guiding others in the problems and addictions of their own lives. And my growing consciousness of the God in me sheds its light around me over others. I have considered it a great compliment when people who have not known that I am an alcoholic and have come into recovThanks to ery, say to me: TODAY I AM being in the AA pro‖Fidelis, I don‘t 70 YEARS OLD, gramme and thanks to know WHAT it all those who shared is, but there is a AND PEOPLE HAVE their spiritual journeys tremendous NOTICED AND REMARKED change in you at the meetings, I now began to strive towards and your behavON THE a spiritual goal which ior since I last CHANGE IN ME should have been my met you about goal as a priest from ten years ago.‖ the very beginning. Today I am 70 years old, and people have noticed and reI tell them what the change is marked on the change in me – not just in and HOW it came about. Through my my prayer life, but in many other aspects Higher Power and his gift to me of the of my life and relationships, ―in all our AA fellowship. affairs‖ as the Step says. The Big Book on pages 84 and 85 lists the promises of Fidelis D., Bangalore. 11

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Skeletons in my Cupboard ―


ES, YES, this is AA,‖ the person who met me at the door said. ―Come right in.‖ My God, is it so obvious? - I wondered.

friends (non-alcoholics) that I was giving up my drinking from 3rd of May l981. All of them had a good laugh at my expense. They had heard and seen me break these resolutions ‗n‘ number of times. Anyway, they had their laugh. I could not find fault with them. Why, I was not sure myself.

This was on the 2nd of May l98l. I was drunk. Yet I said that I had come not for myself but for Gopal. He is an alcoholic; I am not. (Disease of denial?). There were a lot of people seated around in the room. At the meeting I met Harish and Sally, the ones who brought AA to Mysore. But who the others were I cannot recall. My mind was too foggy then. All that I remember was that they kept on saying that alcoholism was a cunning, baffling and powerful disease. How very true! At the end of the meeting all of us were given the questionnaire. I had answered YES to l5 or more of the questions.

For an alcoholic like me nothing sounds more musical or harmonious than a free supply of alcohol. A friend of mine was going to get married on the 9th of May. He would leave Mysore on the 5th of the month for his wedding. From the lst to the 5th all the liquor expenses were on the (his) house. And I made merry. Oh God, what a binge it was!

I guess that there comes a time in every man‘s life when he has to sit back and think, reflect. I did. I had heard all these brave (yes, brave) young men and women who had dared to look at alcoholism in the eye and overcome the habit. If they could do it, then why can‘t I? In all earnestness I told my dear  December 2009


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Soon AA began growing in Mysore. We held meetings at Hardwick High School, Mission Hospital, Rotary School and Railway Hospital. Bangalore AA always helped. AA Mysore owes its grateful appreciation and thanks to them all.

I made the second meeting on Friday 5th of May l981. It was held at Hardwick High School. I remember only Harish and Sally of those present. I dared not look at the faces of the others. I was sober, but I was too jittery. Anyway, I managed to hang on there, and today I have completed 28 years of sobriety.

Sally often confronted me with practicing the Steps and Traditions, specially the 4th and 5th Steps. But I could not see the purpose or usefulness of doing them. As far as I was concerned, sobriety meant keeping away from the bottle. I was doing that fine, wasn‘t I? All other aspects were academic. Then, one fine day, Sally would not let me go. She confronted me and said, ―Out with it, Tom. I want to see the dreadful skeletons in your cupboard.‖

I am almost 64 years old. Often I sit back and think about how and why I became an alcoholic, and how and why I got the programme. I had two very great sponsors, Harish and Sally. Harish (may his soul rest in peace) was my sponsor whenever he came to Mysore. Sally was my regular sponsor the rest of the time. She looked on me as her little brother. She trusted Kumar and me completely. We could call on her 24+7+365 days. Both Sally and Harish were resourceful. They foresaw that I was heading for the bottle, promise or no promise, resolution or no resolution. They gave me a bag of literature and a flask. I had to keep the meeting place and tea ready. How could I let them down?

Though I was very apprehensive in the beginning, I came out with what I thought at that time were my shortcomings. She assured me that those were shortcomings, yes, but if I wanted any relief from the pain, the hell I was in, then I had to go back to my childhood. I had to search and find out why I indulged in the things I was doing, especially drinking ….why?

Hardwick High School 13

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Initially I could not see anything wrong with the child Tom. I was a well-behaved boy, neatly dressed. But I also noticed that I was much too timid, too tongue-tied, and very uncomfortable in the presence of females. Why? … Why?

that), I boldly proclaimed that I wanted to become a Tongawallah (horse-carriage driver). All of them began to laugh and howl. I stood there, wondering Why. With that ―Why‖ the alcoholic in me was born. I became secretive, stubborn, resentful, jealous. You name any deadly sin, I had it. Now I knew and understood why I did the things I did. And with that came release, freedom, ongoing recovery.

The ―why‖ brought me to the very cute, innocent child, Tom. In those childhood days all of us cousins would play together – jump, sing, dance, and especially enact I OFTEN FEEL all kinds of stories. Today I am AROUND MY HEAD We were a large at peace with my family, and all the TO SEE IF THERE IS A Higher Power, and cousins would join try to carry the mesHALO THERE. in. One fateful sage to the alcoholic day, some adult who is still suffering. Have I become a asked each of us what we wanted to saint after 25 plus years of sobriety? become when we grew up. While all said they wanted to become doctors or engiI often feel around my head to neers (and got a pat on the back for see if there is a halo there. I have never found one. I am grateful that there isn‘t one. One St.Thomas will do. My shortcomings still keep coming up. I am happy they do, for they remind me that I am still an alcoholic, that I still need the programme. And that I need to continuously give away what I have got, because on this depends my sobriety.

Tom C., Mysore.  December 2009


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HE EDITOR requested me for an article with this question: How is AA working for you in your 60 plus years? I was tempted to give an answer I had heard a long time ago at an AA meeting to the same question:. How is AA working for you? The answer given was: Fine, just fine. Likewise for my sobriety.

Before I came into AA I often thought that everyone was against me. Now that I have been sober in AA for more than 48 years, I know that I have people on my side everywhere in the world where there are AA people. I often quote, ―Whenever you go to a meeting that you haven‘t been to before, you are going to see friends that you haven‘t met before.‖ But the people at AA meetings are already your friends if you are an AA member. How did I get to become an AA member? I drank, I insulted people, I fought with people, I got in trouble with the police, with my wife, with my family, with my friends, I wrecked cars. and finally I even fought with myself. So what did those AAs tell me at my first meeting: ―You are the most important person at this meeting tonight.‖ I never quite figured out what they meant by that, but I certainly did enjoy hearing it.

So how has sobriety been working for me in my seventy plus years? Sobriety has first of all given me a firm base in reality. It has given me the 12 Steps which are practical and spiritual guides I use to run my life. Perhaps it is more correct to say the 12 Steps gave me sobriety, and the members of AA (whom I call God‘s imperfect helpers) have modeled those Steps.

They told me at that meeting that ―you never have to take another drink again if you don‘t want to.‖ Now, there you had what I thought was a revolutionary thought. They also asked: Can you stay away from a drink for one day? 15

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cannot drink normally and today I am very happy about that. By following the 12 Steps of AA my life has changed radically. I came to AA primarily to get out of trouble. I never thought of another radical AA idea -- to help the still suffering alcoholic. But eventually I have helped other alcoholics to recover. What a blessing, what a power beyond estimate. Sobriety through AA has given me the power to turn my alcoholic drinking into being able to help another alcoholic to quit drinking.

Sure, I answered, and I did. The whole AA program is revolutionary and spiritual. Revolutionary at least to me, because I had never heard that alcoholism was a disease that you are not responsible for contracting, but you are responsible for your MY SOBRIETY recovery. RevolutionIS THE RESULT OF ary, by the fact that no ME GOING TO THE one can throw you out of AA. It states that BEST UNIVERSITY right in the 12 and 12. IN THE WORLD Magnificent.

So today I think of sobriety as a gift of God given to me through the 12 Steps program and through the AA members. The 12 Steps are the words and the AA members are the music that have given me 48 years of sobriety. I am no longer two people, one who says one thing and the other that does the opposite of what he says.

I was thrown out of a lot of bars and parties, but never yet have I been thrown out of AA. Revolutionary. because I can say anything that I want to and I am still accepted. Why do I say that it is spiritual? I say that because from start to finish the Steps talk about what I think of as an inspired phrase, “God as you understand Him”. Who can argue with such a term? As far as I am concerned AA, and consequently my sobriety, are the result of me going to the best university in the world, ―Alcoholics Anonymous‖. Sobriety has given me the good sense to admit that I  December 2009

Sobriety has given me a job that I love. Sobriety has given me lots of friends. Sobriety has returned my lost self esteem. In short, SOBRIETY HAS GIVEN ME LIFE.

Tom G.,USA. 16

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December 2009

The Grapevine of India

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The Grapevine of India




AA Preamble Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Reprinted with permission of The AA Grapevine Inc.

Responsibility Declaration I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that I am responsible. The Twelve Steps for Recovery


December 2009

The Grapevine of India

Letting Go


shackled and and have kids, lead a ‗normal life‘, do all manacled with a dead weight, the things that I had only imagined, in floundering at the bottom of the short all the things that illusions and deocean, dark and eerie with no audilusions are made of. However, as time ble sound or vision, fighting and dragprogressed and I found myself still stuck ging your way through those dark murky in a quagmire, and things were not going waters and constantly worrying about the way I had planned, I stopped for a what you would encounter at the end of minute and thought what was hindering each struggle. Having to be constantly on my happiness path? the lookout for dangers lurking in the water and wondering when you could I was still trying to figure out just exhale for one what normal was, I had teensy second without so many plans that were I HAD SO getting terrified and not being followed MANY PLANS THAT fearful about losing through, I still couldn‘t yourself or that weight. relax or have fun, I was WERE NOT BEING That was what I felt still seeking approval FOLLOWED like, to put it mildly, and affirmation from when a sibling was everyone, I was unable drinking non stop and I could just watch to handle changes over which I had no on hopelessly and pray for some delivercontrol, I still had major intimacy and ance. Then miraculously hope arrived in relationship problems and, most importhe form of AA and I seemed to be free tantly still, continued to be super responof my weight!. sible. I even resorted to some binge drinking to stop the old familiar voices in Some years my head. I felt I was back when my sibling being dragged back sobered up and got into the ocean that I into recovery, I was in had managed to claw Seventh Heaven. I was my way out of. By this absolutely joyous and time I knew enough over the moon beabout what recovery cause it meant that was from Al Anon to finally my ship had set recognize that this was sail and I could go certainly not it but it and explore the world, made me start to think find a job, get married deeply about my MAGINE YOURSELF

 December 2009


The Grapevine of India


many instances that could have served as cursors to that problem I prayed for guidlike when we were travelance as I was unable to ling overseas and my faunderstand why the old ther would drink and stagfamiliar feelings of desperager out of the plane and tion and depression were into Customs but I would coming back. When a vetalways chalk it down to eran AA member and I tiredness or jet lag and take were chatting about spiricare of the Customs and tual recovery and he casuImmigration formalities ally mentioned about an myself not being any wiser. online help site ACOAAs the years progressed I Adult child of Alcoholics got so wrapped up in tryand how he got some perspective about ing to get my sibling sober and protecthis own childhood, then something ing my mother‘s health that the absoclicked inside of me. An epiphany oclutely irony is that I was totally oblivious curred-that light bulb and blind to this fact and I IMMEDIATELY moment. I went Online to became aware about it the web page and immeIDENTIFIED WITH SO just a few short years diately identified with so back, that I was and am MANY TRAITS AND an adult child of an alcomany traits and characteristics of an ACOA. Now holic-ACOA CHARACTERISTICS came the really tough OF AN ACOA. part and that was to acThe toughest knowledge that there was part of recovery for me another alcoholic that had all along exwas letting go of what could have been isted and shaped my entire life namely and starting to live and accept with what my father. I have for the moment. My recovery started with my While discovery of my father cannot ACOA, and with be labeled an alcothe help of my holic in the strictHP and some est social sense as wonderful On he continues to be line members I a productive have been able to member of sociunburden a bit of ety, he has an exmy past and have treme personality now the courage change after the first drink. As a result he to do my steps without feeling paranoid has made a lot of decisions that has enoror ashamed. I know I have miles to go mously affected the quality of our fambefore I heal, but I am getting there! ily‘s life and which was certainly not in our best interests. There have been so Ms Anon, Bangalore. 21

December 2009

The Grapevine of India

The Riddle of Unmanageability Part 2 Caution: Dear Reader, the discussion that follows can become abstract and conceptual if you indulge in a commentary about what‘s written. Instead, to keep it simple, you can ask the question ―How does this apply to me/my life‖ and not ―does it apply?‖. This basic barrier we AAs have is covered by the quote from Herbert Spencer on page 570 of the Big Book (end of Appendix II - Spiritual Experience).


to discovering how my unmanageability was always playing out was my omnipresent

and happy life. I finally confronted the question: ―Am I NOW having a full and happy life?‖ The answer was, again, first a denial camouflaged and couched in ifs, buts and counter questions.



The problem is that denial usually means overt and forceful negation. However that‘s not the way denial plays out in life. This denial operates all the time in a far more subtle way and is rarely apparent to or seen by the person himself - especially ―in the moment‖. It typically manifests itself as better ideas, alternatives, and equivalents in its most innocuous form. The prime driver of such reaction is a drive to dominate or avoid being dominated….. the other side of the ―avoid losing face‖ coin.

Slowly, I realised I was just fooling myself. When I finally got that, I actually got I need to ―leave my intelligence outside the AA door‖ and listen. Yes, LISTEN. Without having to respond or react; just GET IT. Then I could use my God given intelligence to see how it applied to me rather than how to improve, better, increase or modify the suggestion or try an alternate. This penchant to re-invent every single wheel I came across was the prime manifestation of my unmanageability in operation.

For every suggestion my sponsor made, I had a better way. Forgetting that those very better ideas were the ones that kept my unmanageability in place; forgetting that if I knew the answers, I didn’t need help to stay sober, let alone building a full

My journey in learning to listen had started. Then, my progress became apparent to me and to anyone who cared to look. No wonder one of the first things my sponsor said to me was: learn to listen.

 December 2009


The Grapevine of India

In my forays into other work/ courses/programmes etc, I found the hurdle in learning to listen in a sustained, stable and reliable manner. I saw that up until then, I was always listening with an ―in order to‖ operating in the background or sub consciousness. It‘s commonly passed off as perception. Or point of view.

denial operates. ―Logical‖ from a limited perception and ability to deal with reality. Result: Successfully resist change. My denial was equally insidious - born of ―logic and intelligence‖. Any answer had to meet the test of ―another, better, easier, quicker, less costly, more enjoyable, better feeling‖ way! Obviously, this perception effectively made me chase my own tail till I realised I was trying to re-invent the wheel. That‘s when ―Just do as I am told by my sponsor‖ became real for me.

Let me take an example from recent experiences. One of the people I know thinks his life is only about serving in AA. To him, ―primary‖ purpose has actually beI DON’T LISTEN. come ―only‖ purpose. Back to this barI NEVER HAVE. The AA fellowship is his rier for listening: I am never ‗only‘ family. This in turn listening to the other. I am I NEVER WILL. brings an un-said and unalways listening to the chatter disclosed attitude/view/ in my mind, about the perception that anyone else who suggests other. that there is more to life than what very same AA programme offers, lands as My sponsor gave me a mantra: inconceivable, utopian and idealistic or am―I don’t listen. I never have. I never bitious, and immediately follows denial will.‖ What an astounding discovery! I of the most subtle kind there is. practiced this mantra ever since. Every day, three times a day. Especially when Thus he is listening not to the I‘m upset. For a few moments after suggestion being made but to his own chanting the mantra, I could be free of perception or view of what ―God‘s‖ will the chatter and actually listen. is for him. ―God‖ is the ultimate defense we can give since it invokes a Higher The truth of this mantra Power against which there is no argudawned on me when I took this mantra ment left. Except perhaps to ask how into a spiritual plane. Then the ―internal God speaks to him. With this he can exdialogue‖ or chatter became loud enough plain the ―feeling to actually differentigood‖ that is the sole ate from what my ears payoff. It‘s no longer heard. The difference ―I have this view‖; it‘s between hearing and become ―the right listening became apview‖. From then on, parent. As long as I he becomes the cuspracticed the mantra todian of absolute earnestly and ardently, truth! miraculously most of my problems vanThis is how ished! 23

December 2009

The Grapevine of India

I have long been a student of Deepak Chopra. His writing grips me. Like other AAs, I inevitably start reading his books at 1 am and forget to sleep till 5 am. Such is his sharing of experience - I‘d like to call it his knowledge - that it serves to share one example here to illustrate the ‗unmanageability‘ of human life.

outwit each other in hopes of getting more. The students were told they would be in separate rooms so they could not see their partner - this was to prevent them from signaling or showing their feelings as the game went on. The game commenced and after the allotted time each student emerged. ―On the basis of this game,‖ they were asked ―can you tell what kind of person your partner is?‖


If I am looking at the dawn and am feeling depressed, my mood seeps ―He‘s very devious!‖ came the into the dawn, making it look sad and reply. ―At first I pressed 1 all the time so lonely. If I am joyful, the same dawn rewe both could benefit, but he got greedy flects my joy back at me. This fusing of and after only a few moves he would ―me‖ and the ―things press 0 just when I JUST BY LISTENING, out there‖ is what least expected it. So I makes the lens of started pressing 0 LOOKING, SMELLING, perception magical. too.‖ ―But you both TASTING AND FEELING, Just by listening, got nothing,‖ the looking, smelling, I TURN THE WORLD INTO experimenters tasting and feeling, I pointed out. ―What MY WORLD. turn the world into could I do?‖ the stumy world. dents said. ―He was trying to cheat me. I had to teach him a Nor is there any limit to how lesson.‖ much sense we can read into the data we are interpreting. It is entirely possible to Every subject had a tale to tell have a love-hate relationship with a string of treachery and greed, of brief lapses of random numbers, as a Harvard psycholback into cooperation followed by a ogy team proved. They asked students to streak of vengeful behavior or sheer play a gambling game with a partner. The irrationality. You have guessed by now rules of the game were simple: ―You and your partner will be given two buttons to push, marked 1 and 0,‖ the experimenters said. ―If you both press 0, you will both be given nothing. If you both press 1, you will both be given one dollar. However, if you press 0 while your partner presses 1, you will win two dollars and he will get nothing.‖ The point of the game they said was to see if people will cooperate* to gain a small reward rather than trying to  December 2009

*On AA Unity depends our own recovery. 24

The Grapevine of India

that there was in fact no partner. Each student was playing against a sequence of random 0s and 1s spouted by a computer. No one caught the trick, however. Instead, each player emerged with a full blown psychological portrait of a partner whose behaviour was everything from ―sadistic‖ to ―brilliantly manipulative‖. Up to this point I have done everything I can to make ―perception‖ seem highly personal, changeable, illusory, arbitrary and untrustworthy.

Addiction is the only disease where the patient is in full blown denial. Thus the programme says that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking/using. This is the slightest of admissions an addict can succeed in making. Whom am I talking about? You and me. But we are exceptions, right?!

I‘ve read these pages from Deepak Chopra‘s book DISEASE WHERE THE often, since it‘s so easy to forget that my own PATIENT IS IN is, by the very FULL BLOWN DENIAL. ―reality‖ design of being human, prone to being faulty. While in good balance these very Perception, we must conclude, powers of perception are my strength, is infinitely flexible, serving the mind in when rusty, rickety and damaged, they any way the mind chooses. We create are my worst enemy. That‘s why I have new worlds inside our private universe, often heard in our class rooms, that ―I worlds that the five senses then confirm am my worst enemy.‖ as real. So how does my AA proUnquote. gramme help in healing this ―malfunctioning‖ of my otherwise God We addicts, whether to alcohol given instincts? This was just the first or any other substance, have gone to barrier to listening. Listening was and is a great lengths to damage our brains literpre-requisite to the next preparatory step: ally and otherwise. The mind is warped. The way to ―thoroughly, fearlessly & Our ability to listen, see and feel is badly honestly‖ was the key concept of impaired. No wonder our programme Integrity: To Thine Own Self Be gives us this tool: True.


JS, Bangalore.

Learn to listen.

Credits We thank all the contributors for the articles and images provided at short notice that made this publication possible. We thank Shrikanth and Gopal for invaluable printing support. 25

December 2009

The Grapevine of India

By the River A man is stumbling through the woods, totally drunk, when he comes upon a preacher baptising people in the river. He proceeds to walk into the water and subsequently bumps into the preacher.


The preacher turns around and is almost overcome by the smell of alcohol, whereupon he asks the drunk, 'Are you ready to find Jesus?'

'For the love of God, have you found Jesus?' The drunk wipes his eyes and catches his breath and says to the preacher, 'Are you sure this is where he fell in?‘

The drunk shouts, 'Yes, I am.' So the preacher grabs him and dunks him in the water. He pulls him up and asks the drunk, 'Brother, have you found Jesus?'

Look whose driving A sober alcoholic and a wet drunk are sitting at the table before the meeting.

The drunk replies, 'No, oi haven't found Jesus.' The preacher shocked at the answer, dunks him into the water again for a little longer. He again pulls him out of the water and asks again, 'Have you found Jesus, me brother?'

The sober one says, "I feel terrible. I just hit a squirrel driving my car." The drunk says, "Why'd you let him drive your car in the first place?"

The drunk again answers, 'No, I haven't found Jesus.'

I’m Different

By this time the preacher is at his wits‘ end and dunks the drunk in the water again --- but this time holds him down for about 30 seconds and when he begins kicking his arms and legs he pulls him up. The preacher again asks the drunk,  December 2009



Nobody knew I drank until they saw me sober.


The Grapevine of India


John quickly opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."


Gifts A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary.

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke up, very softly, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to 'clean up' the bird's vocabulary.

A Doctor’s Opinion

One day after a few beers, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed.

An E.R. doctor was speaking with a young patient who was complaining of a terrible headache and vomiting. "I can't seem to find a cause for your illness," the doctor commented. "But to be honest, I think it's due to heavy drinking." "Well, if that's the case," said his patient, "I'll come back tomorrow when you're sober.‖

Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, 27

December 2009

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In the Next Issue Theme for ‘Heart to Heart’

Highlights in Sobriety Stories from AA members on important moments that have graced their sobriety. Plus Vision 2010 by Dr Denzil Pinto

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TGI December 2009 Issue