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Grapevine : June 2011
I’d formulated my rebuttal and pre- pared my defense. A newcomer’s chip was beneath me, a stalwart member of above-average standing. I opened my mouth to say as much, when she indicated that it was their practice to give newcomer chips to alcoholics with less than thirty days sobriety and those visiting their meeting for the first time. I flushed with embarrassment, grateful I hadn’t (once again) opened mouth and inserted foot. After I settled down, I dis- creetly substituted my four-year chip with a shiny new- comer chip in the small plastic win- dow of my Big Book cover, to remind me that maintaining a newcomer’s humil- ity is essential for as long as I remain sober, whether for 60 minutes or 60 years. I’ve come to appreciate the wis- dom of maintaining humility and grati- tude, just for today. As my friends in Clifton Forge, Vir- ginia are fond of saying, “Don’t get too many years and not enough days!” Ed L. Wrightwood, Calif. gressed, the strangest thing began to happen. I could actually feel the obsession beginning to dissipate, an actual, physical release. When the meeting was over, we went to the diner. I continued opening up and the obsession seemed to dimin- ish a bit more. One of the guys of- fered to stay at my apartment that night. I thanked him, but thought I should be okay, taking his number just in case. The next morning, I awoke and, to my amazement, the obses- sion was gone. I could not believe it. Prior to AA, I had no defense against the first drink. However, as a result of the AA program, I now had something between me and the first drink. My advice to any newcomer, or even someone not so new, is don’t be an arm’s length away from a drink. Instead, try to be Twelve Steps from a drink. Before, I was alone and this dis- ease thrives on isolation and secre- cy. It does not want me sharing with fellow alcoholics. It wants me alone, so it can talk to me, unchecked and unfettered. The result was always the same: I got drunk. That stormy night, however, this magnificent Fellowship saved my sobriety. As a result, I realized that whether the lights are on or off, when two or more are gathered there is always power in the room. Paul McQ . Long Beach, N.Y. I stood there, mortified, not hugging back, as she enveloped me, the newcomer, in a bear hug. aagrapevine.org 51 GRAPE_48-51.indd 51 4/29/11 1:09 PM