Big Book Club – Chapter 5: How it Works

The language on the first page of Chapter 5 is dire.  It is filled with ominous worlds like ‘Will not completely, constitutionally incapable, naturally incapable, chances less than average, suffer, grave emotional disorder’. Whew!

These grave phrases may seem melodramatic to a non-alcoholic but to me they described the final years of my drinking perfectly.  I had been constitutionally incapable of being honest to myself, let alone my loved ones.  I suffered from grave emotional and mental disorders. I was a mess and I wanted out.

As I continued reading, the chapter summarized that I would need to hold nothing back. This was it. I could continue acting as I had and slowly dying, or I could face the music and live as the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is laid out.

That is the beauty of Alcoholics Anonymous – the words read in the Big Book and uttered by other alcoholics in meetings made sense to me because I had lived those words.  Those stories were my story.   To outsiders they may be interesting, amusing and horrific, but to me they felt like pages ripped out of my diary.

This chapter opening may read like a downer to a person who has not suffered the ill effects of alcoholism, but it doesn’t to me.  I feel it summarizes what I had been through, the rough and utter hopelessness of being an alcoholic in the midst of my disease.

It also offers hope.  If I am willing to take the ‘easier softer way’ of Alcoholics Anonymous, I will have a life beyond my wildest dreams. For me this means I like myself, I am sober.

-Mike W.



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