M(3), 1/5/15: Silence is Golden


Holy moly, that was the first time I typed out  a date with the new year!  I hope 2014 closed peacefully, and 2015 is off to a marvelous start for all of you!

Sad news from my part of the world:  I have an extremely annoying ailment that has me sounding like a seal when I talk too much.  The upside, for me, is that I got to take a seat in the attendee chair at my Monday meeting this morning, and I was able to simply soak in the collective wisdom of the group.

This week’s literature selection comes from the book Alcoholics Anonymous, colloquially referred to as “The Big Book.”  My friend who pinch hit for me this morning selected the chapter at the start of the book, entitled “The Doctor’s Opinion.”  This chapter is the equivalent to medical seal of approval for the fledgling 12-step program, and it was a risky business, professionally speaking, for the author of the chapter (Dr. William D. Silkworth) to give his endorsement to such a revolutionary solution for the disease of alcoholism.

Had I been able to share with the group without embarrassing myself with my hacking cough, I would have talked about the importance of his term “phenomenon of craving.”  Here is what Dr. Silkworth writes:

We believe, and so suggested a few years ago, that the action
of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an
allergy; that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and
never occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types
can never safely use alcohol in any form at all; and once having
formed the habit and found they cannot break it, once having lost
their self-confidence, their reliance upon things human, their
problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to
solve. Frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices. The message which
can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and
-pg. xxviii, Alcoholics Anonymous

Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect
produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they
admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true
from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal
one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can
again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at
once by taking a few drinks—drinks which they see others taking
with impunity. After they have succumbed to the desire again, as
so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass
through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful,
with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and
over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change
there is very little hope of his recovery.
-pg. xxviii-xxvix, Alcoholics Anonymous

I am sure I have said this before, and I am equally sure that I will say it again:  the concept of the phenomenon of craving is a major motivator in keeping me sober.  Anytime I have even the most fleeting of thoughts that I could have “just one, what would be the big deal,”  I immediately consider the idea that I could be opening a Pandora’s box that is the phenomenon of craving, and I consider what my life in active addiction was like, and the mere possibility of that allows me to easily shut down the desire for “just one.”

Most of the rest of the group focused on Dr. Silkworth’s description of alcoholism as a “manifestation of an allergy.”  Apparently there has been some debate on whether alcoholism is a disease or an allergy, and people can become quite passionate about defending their particular conviction.  Most of the group this morning liked the description of alcoholism as an allergy.  After all, the definition of the word allergy is an abnormal reaction of the body to a substance, and most of us who identify as alcoholics can certainly attest that our reaction to drinking, even if it was simply our preoccupation, was abnormal.

One attendee shared that she truly thought she was insane while in active addiction.  She observed that, while hungry, she would eat until satiated, and then her eating would slow down.  With drinking, however, the complete opposite occurred; the more she drank, the more she wanted.  And it seemed like she was the only one in the world who drank like this.  An isolating, anxiety-ridden way to live, until she found this 12-step program and learned that she was not crazy, nor was she alone.  Now, almost 30 years later, she believes that even if someone offered her a way to “drink like a lady,” she would decline, because then she would have to forfeit all the amazing benefits she realizes from her participation in our program of recovery.

A few members talked about dealing with drinkers during the holiday season.  The general take-away from these experiences:  create the boundaries you need to protect your sobriety.   People generally speaking are not considering what you need while they are drinking, so you need to do this for yourself.

As always, there is so much more to share, but it’s time to prepare some hot tea and honey!  Hopefully next week I will be back to normal…

Today’s Miracle:

After a 12-day holiday “staycation,” husband and kids are back to school and work.  The complete silence of the house is today’s miracle!

Posted on January 5, 2015, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I totally agree with today’s miracle! Nothing better than a calm, quiet peaceful house:)


  2. What a beautiful post and gentle reminder about the power and grace of silence. You always have a way of reaching me.
    I hope you’re feeling better soon and that honey and tea does the trick. xoxox


    • Hi Michelle, I’ll tell you this much… it’s teaching me some patience; this is the illness that just doesn’t know when to leave the party 🙂

      I have so missed you, I don’t think I’ve read a post from you since your vacation. I’m sure you’ve written, I’ve just got to get over to your “place!” Hope the trip and the holidays were wonderful, thanks much for the well wishes and kind words, and I’ll be dropping by very soon!

      Liked by 1 person

      • My place is always open, Josie and I’m not going anywhere.
        I’m sorry that the durned crud is hanging on…it starts to work on the psyche after such a long period time.
        In my very best mom voice: drink your fluids, get some rest and take care of yourself, okay?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you. I am in tears, craving a drink after 15 days sober. Instead I’ll have green tea and make it to day 16.


    • Well, then, I’m so glad that I’m in such amazing tea drinking company. I wish you could see the happiness and excitement on my face as I say to you:


      I can’t mean that word more sincerely. 15 days, and over the HOLIDAYS?!? You are the miracle today, forget my silly silent house!

      I know it probably sounds like a load of BS right now, and I remember so well that soul-crushing need for a drink, but I promise you, it absolutely, positvely 100% gets easier and easier, and then it becomes AMAZING.

      If you want to write offline, please feel free to reach out, and I am more than happy to communicate off-blog.

      I am praying for you, and hope to hear from you again!


  4. Oh no, I hope your voice is back or comes back soon! Though the thought of me being stricken with silence is really appealing. Especially if it included the chatter in my head.

    Interesting debate between allergy and disease. I’m not sure where I fall but I can see both sides. Your meetings sound so lively and interesting and affirming.

    Thanks for sharing and feel better soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Many ways to describe alcoholism, depending on where you take your cues. Some see it as a disease, or illness, or a moral failing, or a behavioural issue, or a chemical conditioning, etc. etc. etc. Which one is right? Meh, not sure. But since I am in AA, I just go ahead with the illness / allergy thing. But I am open to other ideas. In the meantime, I love what Dr. Silky says there. Everytime I read it, I say “oh yeahhhhhh…that thing”…lol. he was on to something, and while medicine has perhaps made some small headway on alcoholism research, much of what he says still stands. Perhaps all of what he said.

    Anyway, hope your voice gets back to its perky self soon, and please do enjoy the silence. I have been thrilled that the kids are back at school for selfish reasons, namely that I can start reclaiming my house…ha ha. It’s not completely tidied, but it’s getting there!

    Great post…thanks Josie



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