29586 Days at a Time: 81 years of AA’s Big Book

A first edition print of AA’s Big Book

How my perception of "God" changed in recovery

No matter how you look at it, 29586 days or 81 years is a long time. Published on April 10th  1939, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous has helped millions stay sober by promising a simple 12-step approach to recovery. 

For a relative newcomer to recovery like myself, I was overwhelmed by the use of the word ‘God’ which was so prevalent in the text. My entire life experience to that point, growing up in a boarding school and being forced to go to church every sunday, I’d built up a big resentment that, as I experienced addiction and despair throughout my adult life, made me wonder if God had abandoned me. How could I believe that if I put my life in the hands of god that things would improve? 

When I decided to seek treatment, I came to Together We Can in Vancouver, and it was my first real attempt to get a handle on my out of control life. I went to my first meeting of a different fellowship, got a sponsor, and followed the suggestions because I had nothing left to lose. But the words and message although slightly different were still based on the same ideas that were proposed in the AA big book. The big book’s promises were a hard pill to swallow for someone like me, and in my addiction I’d swallowed a lot of pills, but that single word stood out every time I looked at the book, the steps and heard people use it at meetings. As I write this morning, my perception of the Big Book and it’s reliance on God no longer leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Perception changes as you go through the process of the 12 steps, perception of our past, our experiences, and our perceptions of the world around us evolve as we realize that maybe, just maybe I play more a part in my addiction than what I used to blame on everyone else. As we go through the Big Book and the steps, we gain insight into how our defects, fears, and insecurities impact the world as we see it, and we learn the valuable tools to change how we respond to our perceived injustices. 

81 years after the Big Book of AA was published, it is the basis of many fellowships and it’s 12 steps are used across Narcotics Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Families Anonymous, Gambling Anonymous, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and has contributed to the recovery of millions of people who navigate a multitude of addictions. 

Today I am 240 days (or 8 months) sober, the longest I have ever had of continuous sobriety since I was 16, I no longer suffer from hopeless despair, I’m connected to people around me, I have solid connections to a community and family larger than myself, and that, is my evidence that God, and AA is working in life. I am grateful for those first 100 men and women whose path laid out in the Big Book of AA is working in my life. 

– David P

David Penny

David Penny is Together We Can's Marketing and Media coordinator. Learn more about him & read his articles here.

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