Traditions War: a pathway to peace
History Movement starts in Madison,Alabama
Bill B. Ed C. and others from N. A. Area were main planners. Mainly to start
Bill B. Ed C and Grover N. made the first three and then formed committee.
I have stated from the start and before that the transcripts should be in. Or published as a separate piece. Bo you and I can to the thought for the book on my drive home from Decatur via cell phone. I thank we talked from Florence to Little Rock and beyond.
We were later gifted with the title, but the book was born through that conversation.
I have gotten a little frustrated with the work due to the fact that I feel I feel I am repeating myself and repeating again. So I have felt discouraged. I have to work while inspired, to force it is not working.
There is confusion between Madison and Montgomery. I think some tapes were mislabeled.
Madison Was first, Bo, Joseph, Greg, Grateful, Ed were all there and panel speakers with Tully giving a great opening.
Montgomery, was Father Dan, Betty K, Bill Beck, Cindy D.
Donnie J. Was the chair and I was the Regional History Chair. Donnie had a full committee of great spirited members. My camera was not working for this one. I think I have three pics. Others have some.
This all started with my trip to see Ed C. We met in his home and talked, prayed and Then a trip to see Bill B in Decatur. Upon Bill's yeah vote we started. We went to a Convention in Ga. where we share our vision with Billy A. and others. Billy went home and put together Allen Town and held it prior to Madison. I feel and have always felt this was to upstage the event. I took one member and went to Allentown it was held at a beautiful College. It was small. Greg P and Grateful were there as well as Fawn.
I felt some pain from the upstaging but wrote it off to a start at least. Madison was held and went over great. I have, and have posted pics of the event. People were walking the floors in tears of gratitude and no one I talked to wanted it to end. Bill was the Chair and I took the co chair seat. Wanting to keep my ego out of it.
Montgomery was set at the next committee meeting and we had a ton of willing members. The Committee went to Regional Committee just before Madison Bill Served his term with much shit coming from a chosen few at the region. I took up the gauntlet. Montgomery we allowed Billy A to tape and video tape the speakers. There were interviews behind closed doors and the committee was shut out. We passed it off to anonymity and accepted it besides we would see the tapes and glean the information from them. The whole purpose anyway. We never got a copy of the video tapes. We asked repeatedly for them. TO this day we have not seen the tapes. Father Dan is now gone and Betty is much older. Who knows what golden nuggets they shared. We don't!
Now you combine all this shit, the shit from the Region or I should say one member of the Region and a couple from Florida. Bill B becoming dishearten, The letter from WSO about the Blue books. The lies from all about our intent. It makes me want to scream still. Fuck surrender people just need to grow the fuck up. Ok that is my short serenity prayer, now I feel better.
Florida has now produced a History book, the WSO now has a history display in the lobby I am told. You hardly have a convention that there is not a history workshop, and we still don't have a fourth step as a fellowship done. It is easy to rewrite history. It is easy to dress it up and make it pretty. But people died behind the shit that went down and the fellowship of NA changed forever. So lets tell the truth backed up with the documentation. That was the intent from the beginning. Not to shade for political correctness, or to save someone's feelings. Searching and fearless. Black and white.
Grover N. June 28, 2004
I. The inception
In order to share how the committee started you need to
understand the why.
I got clean treatment centers were flooding the rooms of NA. "People did
not recover in NA alone" was the message; you had to go to AA in order to
have long-term recovery. Going to AA meetings I heard them defend their message.
Neal H. took me to many different meetings in NA, in many different towns, and I
meet many new people that were recovering in NA alone. We always made at least
one H&I meeting during the week. 90 in 90 was the official creed. Early on
he directed me to a member that was doing H&I in a local prison. That
meeting became my regular Tuesday night meeting for 5 years. Through
active service, workshops and learning days I was able to meet BO S., Greg P.
Motorcycle Ed, Bill B., Tully A., Susie S. Mike, Billy R., Rick A. These people
helped to shape my understanding of service. I learned that people did
recover in NA and that NA had a different message. I HEARD IT. WOW!!!!!!!!!
What an awakening.... I heard Larry North share at Cheeha and the 3rd
We Do Recover read. A love affair was born. A love affair with this
fellowship, and our message began. I wanted to share that. Members brought back
the 3rd paragraph as an opening reading to our group and we began to
read it at every meeting.
area service we understood that we did not know everything, so we asked some of
the people mentioned above, and others to come share in workshops about our
message and how to carry that message. We are not addicted to crosses, polyís,
anda's or anything else. I wondered how I would be received, if I said hello, I
am Grover, and I am a welder.... We learned and grew, our area grew and so did
our service committee meetings.
heard about inclusive service, leading by example, how our book was written, and
some of our pamphlets. We heard that addicts could somehow no longer write, the
book was a fluke. Many other things were being done and said in that time period
that threatened what we saw as a Spiritually based service structure and were in
conflict with our Traditions. We took a stand. Anytime someone stands for
something you will have opposition. We saw many members standing for Spiritually
based service and our Traditions as a guide while others wanted to streamline
the process and turn writing over to the professionals. To some of us the very
thing that helped us to fell and be a part of, was sighted for dismantle and
II. The Committee forms
we are hurting what does our sponsor tell us? Write! History cannot be written
from one personís point of view, or it is distorted, and perverted... Orson
Wells 1984 gave us an inside view of this. Only those that fear the light, cling
to the darkness.... Our disease does not want us to recover. I believe it is the
same with the fellowship at large. An addict went to Motorcycle Edís home and
asked, ď what we could do to bring healing, if a Fourth Step heals, could we
not do a Fourth Step in the form of history and heal?" Ed, and the member
prayed in that room, and felt if addicts can recover through a historical look
at their life then maybe the fellowship could find unity after a historical look
at itself. After much prayer and thought, this was taken through the service
structure and approved. Bill B. was given the intent and was asked if he would
chair the committee for NA History. He accepted. I was voted in as Co-Chair.
That trip to Edís house gave us our start. Bill saying yes sealed the deal. We
The intent of the committee was to gather
facts. Interview people, gather documents and make it available for all members.
We knew that many people see one wreck from many different points of view. So to
be honest, fair, searching, and fearless all avenue's had to be researched. The
Basic Text project gave us a perfect tried and proven method of how to do this. There
were many facts to consider, we were an aging fellowship, and many had passed, I
feared many more would before it is done. Time
was important. Below is a picture of first History Committee. Left to right is,
member, Richard and wife from Guntersville Al., member, member, Bill B. Decatur
Al., Grover N. Athens Al. These members worked hard, worked together, raised
money and hosted the first Conference in Madison Al.
The First Celebration Set
The committee was formed and sponsored by two primary Areas
the North AL. and N.E. Al. Areas of NA. Officers voted in and minutes kept. The
first task was to agree on what we wanted to achieve. We envisioned bringing
members together to share archives and to get on tape members that were there
and had first hand knowledge of how things were done and got done. We felt
celebrating our Fellowships Birthday would be the best way to bring members
together. A conference held with its focus on our history.
We decided on the date that we understood at that point to be the
starting of NA. August 17th 1953. We sat a number of goals. We held
several fundraisers/speaker meetings. Artwork was submitted, tee shirts made and
site agreed on. Madison Alabama. The committee was adopted as a regional
committee that same year.
We sat out to contact Greg P., Bo S., Joseph P., and Jim M.
These people that had first hand knowledge of our service structure and how the
book was written. Our Registration packet was give special consideration. We
wanted to give a piece of our History to those attending. So we used a copy of
the first white book and changed the color of the cover as to not offend anyone.
As anyone knows that has helped to organize and host a major event in NA it took
a lot of hours and hard work to keep our areas informed and to be fully self
supporting. We did not want to take money away from our PI and H&I efforts
at the area or region.
IV. Members Gather
200 members showed up from all over the country. There was an archive room set
up. Greg and other members brought lots of memorabilia, and archived literature
no one had seen before. Copiers were also set up for archives to be gathered and
There were more archive tables as well as copiers and
computer tables set up in this room in order to facilitate the work.
Tully A. opened the Celebration with ďIím Tully and
Iím an addict! Hi Family, Iíd like to welcome everyone to the Celebration of
NA History, itís this Regionís first and hopefully we will have many, many,
many more. Before we get started I would like to read the purpose: ďThe
Alabama N.W. Florida Region of Narcotics Anonymous has formed a Committee whose
purpose is to host a Celebration of NA History. Our intent is to bring our
archives and fellowship together for a weekend of learning and sharing and at a
point in the near future to have our legacy in written form through the Spirit
of a loving God.Ē
V. Speaker Transcripts from the Convention
Madison History Conference Opening 1990
The Northwest Florida‑Alabama Region History Committee
Planners: Tully, Donnie and Roxanne, Dickie, Grover N,
History of NA Conference
Friday Opening Meeting
- - - - - - - - -
Hello, I am Tully, I am an addict, hi Tully, hey family. I would like to welcome everyone to the celebration, the NA celebration of NA History. It is this regions first and hopefully we will have many, many more. Keep coming back Dickie. Before we get started, I would like to read the purpose the History Committee purpose. The Northwest Florida‑Alabama Region has formed a committee whose purpose is to host a celebration of NA History. Our intent is to bring our archives and fellowship together for a weekend of learning and sharing at a point in the near future recent history to have our legacy in written form through the spirit of a loving God. The purpose of this weekend is to celebrate recovery not to sabotage to reputation of Narcotics Anonymous. We hope all addicts receive the best message possible while attending our conference. We also hope to make the message obvious to anyone who comes in contact with our fellowship. As a member attending, this conference if you see someone acting inappropriately please be responsible, and that is me too. Take time to do something about it. Notify conference committee members at the registration area. Before I go on any, further this meeting is being taped if you did not know. To the press, 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. If any members of the press are present, please contact someone in the registration area for information. We ask that no pictures be taken during the meetings. If you wish to take pictures, please ask before you click your camera thank you. If you guys will please help me to open with a moment of silence followed by the we version of the serenity prayer. God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference, amen.
Tommy G reads, Who Is
Bob B of Huntsville reads: What is an NA Program
Shalah reads: How
Cat C. reads: 12 Traditions
Susie B. of Birmingham reads: We do recover (third paragraph)
I am Tully and still an addict, hi Tully, hey family. Gosh when we first started out reading there was only about half of us here so we have filled up during our readings. Welcome glad to have you here. Tonight we are having a party in participation and the topic is ďWhat were my feelings when I first saw the bookĒ?
I got clean in 1982, the first part of í82 and we did not have a hard back Basic Text. My first meeting all I had was a little White Book with phone numbers in it. To me that was my book. Then I came across a little sleeky approval form, best seven dollars I ever spent. I do not know about yíall but I took that book with me everywhere, to work, especially to meetings and I am the type of person that has to highlight things because I like to go back and let that magnify in my crazy mind. I do not know where my original approval form is today; I just hope somewhere it is doing somebody some good. I held onto that little book because it was talking about me and I never truly knew what a hug was until I read that book. I guess it was just the best hug I had ever had in my life, because that book was filled with warmth, understanding and unconditional love. I do not know how yíall were brought up but I was brought up within service and there was no way around it. Either you were in service or you were in service, so I chose to be in service, and I am proud of it, proud of it. I am grateful today; I was very excited that we were finally going to have a book. Many of us back then knew that we were having a controversy whether to have the book out or not but by the grace of God, we did. That book talked about me, talked about me. It was like how do yíall know how I feel inside without me sharing in meetings? I felt blessed with that book. I was so proud of it, I am still proud of it. Today I carry a paperback with me, but I guess my precious present to me is my little sleeky, because that was my best friend. I read it, reread it, read it, and reread it. I guess my favorite chapter is Chapter 10, ďMore will be revealedĒ. I do not want to stay up here and talk to long so I am going to open the floor up and the topic is ďWhat were our feelings when we first saw the bookĒ. I am not going to ask that you show hands, just come on up and share if you wish. Love you all and glad to have you here. (Applause)
Hi my name is Frank and I am an addict, hi Frank. You know I guess when we all come into the fellowship, depending on what edition we are on, what book you know that is the one we latch onto. For me it was the Third Edition Revised. Like you mentioned when I first read that book or heard the readings in the meetings, I thought that someone had been following me around all my life with a pencil and a pad and writing down everything that I did. You know it was through that and through the people that I have met in the fellowship that you know I am not a generic freak and I am not no different. You know I have blessed with a person a former sponsor of mine that I got to travel pretty much all over the east coast with. The things that I have learned from listening to you all in different places was that we all share the same feelings and we all share the same experiences and I hope we share what we talk about in the steps especially the commitment we talk about in the third step. You know there have been times especially early on. To tell you exactly why I got clean nothing would work no more. About 8 months before I got clean the only string with sanity the only things that meant anything to me passed away, my grandmother and from that point on the disease of addiction in whatever I did nothing worked anymore. I was always one who strove for attention and when I came to my first Narcotics Anonymous meeting, I found that. You know and I could not be with addicts all the time and I mean there were times when I had to go home and go to sleep or when I use to go to work, I would bring the White Book with me and read it. When things would get carried away, I would go into the bathroom or something and start reading. My favorite chapter is ďJust for TodayĒ. That was one of the things I read everyday and ďWho is an AddictĒ, step one, two and three and traditions one, two and three. I got into that daily ritual. You know I do not want to separate one edition from another. You know that words are there. Some words have changed a little bit here and there but they are all very special. I have a disease that wants to separate them and I am not into that. I know better but every once in awhile I get caught up in some of the things that go on around here. You know I am trying not to do that today. I am trying to accept the book for what it is.
The reason I came here was last year, I think in the early part of the year there was an event in Northern New Jersey. After the event, a group of us went out to dinner and there were a few people there that had a lot to do with the first book being written. I felt a certain energy as they were talking about it a little bit and I knew these people would be here this weekend that is why I am here. The people that I know that were involved, there is one man that is very special to me you know and I reach out. I come from Connecticut but I have no problem having to call Georgia or having to call Pennsylvania or to do whatever it takes to do. You know surrendering to the words within that book that mean a lot to me. You know it is my whole life. My existence would not be possible today without that book. I am grateful to be here and I love you all, thank you. (Applause)
Hi I am Frieda, I am an addict, hi Frieda. I am grateful to be here tonight clean and see all of yíall. The book for me is such a comfort because I am not always willing to call somebody and I am not always willing to go to a meeting and I do not always follow the suggestions that are offered to me. I want to still hold onto my way a lot of the time, hide, and get better before I come around. I know that does not work but I try to keep doing it, but thank God the Basic Text has a message for me that I can always receive a blessing from if I put out some effort to read it. Sometimes I hear things from other addicts that I choose to close my mind to but there are things in the Basic Text that I can read for the tenth time and get hope from what I am seeing in that book and use it. So for me the blessing of our literature is that I do not just have one chance to hear about it. I do not have just one chance to meet that person that is carrying that message, but I can keep it with me and always turn to it. I do not ever have to be with out it. I love you all and glad to be here, thank you. (Applause)
My name is Victor and I am an addict, hi Victor. I am very happy to be here. I had the book for a year and I did not read it because I was afraid of the book. It was given to me by the person that brought me to the rooms and they said read this. I got scared I did not want to look in that book you know and just put it up on the shelf for a year and a month, I finally finished reading it, and I identified a lot with what it had to say. My favorite chapter is ďWe do recoverĒ and it helped me. I just was not ready to read I do not know but it is one of the few books that I have ever finished reading in my life. I have only maybe read five books and that is the one that made the difference you know. It has helped me a lot and I am really happy to be here. I identify with a lot of the stories and like I said they gave it to me, someone just gave it to me the person who brought me into the rooms. In Miami where I am from I went and did my recovery in Spanish, they do not have a Spanish text, and I am trying to get involved in that. You know I am not going to the translation committee because I am slacking off but I am trying to help in other ways to get a book out for people who need it in Spanish. I think that is important for my recovery to help to pass the message in Spanish because that is how I received it. I feel really happy to be here and I am trying little by little to be more and more apart of this great organization that saved my life. Because I would not be here if it were not for NA, you know and there is so much to give back and I am just trying to do my best, thank you. (Applause)
I am an addict and my name is Gayla, hi Gayla. I came around in May of í84, went to meetings every night, and got clean in October, we had a White Book, and that was all we had. That is all we knew about. We did not know they had IPís and all of that and we found an address. My sponsor and I found an address and we knew there were a lot of people that were staying clean with us and we were afraid that with nothing to hold onto besides just each other and going to meetings that we were going to loose a couple. We ordered a box of whatever it is they had out there you know we did not know. We found out they were eight dollars and we ordered as many as we had money for and there was a big box that came, and they came and went because my sponsor and I gave them away. You know it has just been two years ago that I got myself another Second Edition and that was given to me by somebody that knew we had given some away like that. I do not know I think there were twenty or twenty‑five in there.
When I first came around and the White Book was the only thing we had around I was a real dope fiend man I stole a book you know. (Laughter) Then I was in a meeting and I heard them say that they didnít have anymore so I felt really bad then and went and made copies and took the original back in and I snuck it in so that nobody would know that I stole it. It is in my fourth step and it is no big deal now. I love you guys. (Applause)
I am Terry and I am an addict, hi Terry. When I came in in í82 we had this book here, it use to be called the hip pocket program. It fits real good and this book is real special to me too. That was my Bible, I worked off shore, and I do not recommend you do what I did. I went through treatment and I spent seven weeks in treatment and being that I worked out in the gulf the time you spent in you had to spend out so seven weeks out in the gulf you can go kind of crazy. They did not have any telephones and you could not walk to meetings because you were about a hundred miles off shore. This was my Bible and a lot of people did not want to be around me because I was crazy. Anybody that I could grab and sit and ;listen to me for five minutes and I did not care if they understood me or not I shared with them what I was going through. A lot of them did not come back you know because they did not want to hear what I had to say but it helped me.
When we got our first Basic Text, the Red Book I sat down and I cried because you know that is real special. You know that was our first one to me. You know we had the Grey Book but I did not have a copy of that. I have had a copy of just about every other one and being the good dope fiend that I am I gave it away. I was told the only way I can keep what I have is by giving it away. I gave all of my books away but I did not give away my Red Book. You know a lot of addictís work a long time on those books, spent a lot of man‑hours a lot of sleepless nights. You know I have been involved in service since I got clean you know it never killed me to sit in a committee meeting and argue with some other people that did not agree with me, it still donít but it is ok. Narcotics Anonymous is my life and that is it. I ainít got no other I am not willing to go out and use again because I do not know if I have another recovery in me and I am not willing to take that chance. I have been going through a lot of pain lately and a few weeks ago, I wanted to use real bad. I was told that if you stay around long enough in the program somebody else will go out and use for you and that happened and the girl came back, shared about it, and said that it just gets worse. My desire to use went away but this was my Bible for a long time until a book came out, thank you. (Applause)
Madison History Conference #3
Friday Night Opening (continued)
Everybody my name is Guy and I am an addict, hi Guy. I have often thought that I was real fortunate in recovery in the respect that kind of the path that I ended up following led me to a lot of different people that were involved with the writing of the text. So I cannot share exactly in like the same type of joy and jubilation of having been apart of the actual process. Most certainly as one of the things that to say maybe around a hundred times I have pondered since I have been clean now, ďdamn if you would have just gotten clean a little bit longer you could have done thatĒ. I heard a long time ago that you do not leave empty‑handed and there are still lots of opportunities for me to be involved today in many different things.
What I can share with you is my first experience of seeing the book. It was not that big a deal to me. You see the reason I bought a book was not because I wanted to read the thing. It was because I wanted to fit in. Everybody that I knew in the meetings had a book you know. The disease wanted me to feel in the worst way that I fit in and I figured what the hell the eight or nine dollars was a lot cheaper than the dope I was spending so I would invest. You know maybe the other thing that before I realized that the help of the book through a sponsor that I got a little bit later down the road that there were actually words in this thing that were meant to be read. It became much more valuable in the sense that what it became for me was a telephone book.
That Third Edition Basic Text and I have a lot of different versions. I do not have them all but I have a few and that one is like ďmy bookĒ. The reason it is like that is because the wear and tear on that one is all my wear and tear. That is the one that has been to all the meetings. That is the one that you can hardly read the NA logo on anymore on the front of it. That is the one with the binding all torn and it is the one with phone numbers filling every blank page of the Basic Text. What makes it so special to me looking at it today is that one thing that I have learned through that whole process is that we are very transient people in recovery, even clean you know. Almost none of the numbers are the same anymore, everybody has moved around. One of the like most significant things for me in there is every now and then as I go looking for somebodyís number as I go flipping through the pages for phone numbers, there are two of them that I always have to stop at and kind of look at and it is not my sponsorís phone number. It is not real good friends; it is addicts that chose to go out and get loaded that are dead now. They are people that NA introduced me to that were apart of my life. That is the reality of the disease and that is real good for me, it kind of like kicks me in the ass every time I stop and look at it. Yep the disease is real it ainít bullshit. It is there and it could have been you.
I can get a little bit grateful you know. Hell I was asking Ed you know I read the newsletters and stuff like that and what was it about six months ago we just went over our millionth Basic Text sold, half a year ago, somewhere around there. I mean the only thought I can think after that is that a few years down the road is ďLook out McDonaldsĒ. Thanks. (Applause)
Hi everybody I am Kevin and I am an addict, hi Kevin. I wish I could say also that I was one of those people that could share these long stories about how it happened. I am grateful for those people because if it were not for that Basic Text from that person who answered my phone call gave me and I opened it up and saw that there was a whole bunch of writing in it and I did not understand it because he scratched all the womenís phone number. There was a whole bunch of lines and highlight is like I heard somebody say earlier in there and I did not understand it. I heard him say later that those were things that stood out for him and maybe you will read it and find something that stood out for you and you can do the same thing, so I did that.
Also, when I first got clean, I think it was about two days after I had got clean this book came into my life. He told me to get phone numbers before I left meetings or he would not give me a ride home and I believed him. So I to used it for a telephone directory and I remember I had lived with the people I used with for the first week of my recovery and it was a real uncomfortable situation when I found myself walking around the dope table and saying that I could handle it once again. I found myself locking myself in my room with the telephone in one hand and the Basic Text next to me. It was really ironic because I looked at the list of the people and there was only one person I felt comfortable talking to and it was the guy that gave me the book but I figured I used him enough and I needed to call somebody else. I called this gentleman by the name of Sam and Sam asked me and one of my favorite chapters in the Basic Text is ďWhat can I doĒ because what can I do has some things in there that I can do. He told me first to pat myself on the back because I did what I needed to do and then read the book and then call him back and I told him that I felt a lot better. You know there are a lot of things I can do.
A lot of the things have come from the people who came before me have made it possible for me. I am not going to knock; I am here to learn what it took to make this thing happen. I really appreciate the turn out and all the people sharing their experience with the little White Book. Even though that was the only thing that I carried around with me to work and I us to run center lines down the middle of highways and I use to talk to God and tell him to kill me, to take my life from me. You know I was one of those people who wished a heart attack type of deal. The insanity that the second step talks about and I found myself running center lines down roads and my party chief and the chairman would walk down marking center lines and I would have the thing out reading a fuckin story. Excuse my language, I apologize.
That is what got me through, that is what got me through, rubbing key tags, reading the text and reading this little book here and it was a nasty little thing. I still got it with all my other nasty key tags in a little box you know. I sat here since everybody, since three people shared I am like ok I will go now, and somebody would get up so I waited and it kept going and going and I was like I canít top that. Somebody said I do not have to be like that I just have to identify with what goes on in the Basic Text. I appreciate all the hard from everybody that put something into it and make it happen for me, thanks. (Applause)
I am Pat I am an addict, hi Pat. Hi family, I am grateful to be clean tonight. For a long time whenever I told my story, I remember the first time I ever told my story it was at my home group and when I got to the point where I shared about the person who shared Narcotics Anonymous with me the message as I know it today. I could not get past that point. That knot would get right here you know and I would say how he gave me the White Book and I would have to just stand there and wait because God forbid that I cry you know. You know I would have to wait until it went away, but I can remember that just as clear if it was yesterday.
My first NA Meeting and I knew when I walked in that room I knew I was where I was supposed to be. They did not have any of the White Books at the meeting so he carried me upstairs to his office and gave me a White Book. I told him that I had tried to quit using but that I did not know how. So he gave me a little White Book and I carried it home and started reading it and I could identify in that book. You know I read it and read it and read it. My ex‑husband was in treatment and when I would go and see him I would get every piece of NA literature they had and read it and take it home and read it. You know it was like I was a sponge, I could not get enough. You know I did not know that there was recovery. I thought that addicts just died or kept on using. It was like the guy who gave me the little White Book said, there is a way out you do not have to die today.
I am real grateful for the people that were here before me and allowed their Higher Power to work through them to bring Narcotics Anonymous to whatever it was when I got here. My first little White Book, my first NA Basic Text you know I did not know if it was approved or unapproved, you know it did not matter to me you knows I was just grateful. I never even knew that there was not a book you know. I was just grateful that there was something that I could identify with and knew that I could stay clean if I did what that little White Book told me. I knew that I would stay clean. There was that little glimmer of hope and the faith that I had that if I would just read my book that I would stay clean and do what it said. I remember a lot of times and I still do this today. I think well, I will open my book to a certain place, and I know that God has got a message there for me. You know and I will just do that, open it to a certain place and there is usually a message there for me. I remember when I first got clean my concentration was real bad and I would read my book and I would not know what it said. I knew if I would just open that book and read it c and it didnít matter if I didnít remember what it said I knew that I was doing what I was suppose to be doing.
They told me the same thing about working the steps or die. Told me to get involved that service work would keep me clean. You know and I have tried to do that. I have tried to give away what has been given to me so freely. You know I am just real grateful for this program and for the people that were here before me and the positive role models that was here to teach me how to live. Love yíall. (Applause)
I am Chris and I am an addict, hi Chris. I will make this short. The first time I saw that book I was in treatment and they gave us a bunch of books. We had step studies on another book and that was the one we had to do our homework on in treatment was that other book. I read that one you know and did the best I could with it. They made us read all these other books but they never said nothing about this book. So I figured that that was the one I wanted to read. They did not say shit about this book and are giving me all kinds of homework on feelings and but they ainít saying nothing about this book you know so I started reading it. They had taken us out to NA Meetings and I remember when I first opened that book and started reading I was like hey I have heard this before. That is when it hit me that the readings that they were reading in those meetings you know. These damn things are chapters you know, there is more to it than what they are reading in the meetings.
That is when I started to get some hope because I was one of those who went to treatment and did not want to go. You know I did not have any problem that shit is illegal but there was no problem you know. That book showed me that there was a problem. I stayed around and I thought I could bullshit my way around the treatment center. You know they would see that I was all right or they could send me with the crazies like the rest of us. I kept reading that book like I said and I saw some hope. It was like when I said before it was like I thought somebody had been following me around you know cause all the stuff like that I thought I was going through that nobody else had ever been through. Well somebody else has been through it and it amazed me you know. You know I was still real sick and I thought well this is why they do not want me to read this because they do not want me to know that I am not crazy you know that I am just sick. You know they wanted me to be another kind of person and all this stuff. You gave me a lot of hope and I am real glad to be here and am real glad to see some of the people that wrote this book. You know it is nice to know that they are still around. It is nice to know that I did not get here before the people that I owed so much to and at least get to meet them. I love you all. (Applause)
My name is Pete and I am an addict, hi Pete. First time I saw the book I was in a meeting and they told me that I needed one of them. First thing I asked of course was how much was it. They told me eight dollars and I said well I do not have it and somebody gave me one and that was real neat. Today I have been able to give a few away myself and that is how it works. You know history has always been written by the winners quote and the winners destroyed what was written before. We have an opportunity to go to the source and I have gotten a lot of phone calls in the past week, he said she said they said, dada, dada, dada. I said well it sounds like rumors to me. Well what are you going to do about it and I said well what do you want me to do about it. I donít know get a butterfly net and catch them, you know I donít know. Here I know we have an opportunity to go to the source. You know most histories are not able to be written by going to the source. You know we have a source and that is really neat. You know that is what recovery is about, sharing experience, strength and hope. You know we have a rare opportunity to go to the source. Where it goes and what we do with it we will find out. You know more will be revealed. Thank you I am glad to be here. (Applause)
Speaker: Little Eric
Hi everybody I am Little Eric and I am an addict, Hi Eric. I am grateful to be here and I just wanted to share my story of the Basic Text is when I was in treatment. I read that line that said, ďWe have found from our group experience that those people who keep coming to meetings regularly stay cleanĒ. You know and I looked up at my counselor and she said ok now define regular. The only thing that I could think of was my grandmother. When she said she was regular that meant everyday. (Laughter) I swear to God. So I told myself that if I would just go to these meetings on a regular basis that I could stay clean because it said so. I really believed it and the process that my mind went through was that these people that had been, you know I was a newcomer a couple weeks clean. These people that had been around for years and years and years found out of habit from going to these meetings over and over and over and they noticed this trend that people who came regularly stayed clean. I grabbed onto that and that one sentence gave me a lot of hope in the beginning. That is my little story, thanks. (Applause)
I am Tully and I am still an addict, hi Tully. Thanks everybody for coming up and sharing and thanks to those who did not come up and share for sticking it out with us. I realize it has been a long meeting but it has been well worthwhile. Let us have Shorty come up tonight and give out our chips.
name is Greg, and Iím an addict. Somehow I ended up on some kind of
literature committee in 1971. A variety of things had happened. We used to have
a taped meeting for the purpose of developing literature. Every Saturday we
would go down to this guyís house and run the tape recorders and have a
meeting. I donít know what happened to any of that stuff. To my knowledge none
of it ever became literature. But it was real interesting, and there was
interest there. I guess that was how I really got involved. Iíve got a letter
I wrote in 72 asking for input for a text. Part of the problem, for me, was that
there was always so much to do and so few to do it. In the seventies you
didnít stay involved in any one thing very long because you were always
fighting fires. There was no service structure; there was no working service
boards and committeeís. Well, there was one. There wasnít any Ďanybodyí
taking care of your service needs. If there was need, you went and did it.
If there wasnít a group somewhere in
some part of town, you went over to that part town and started a group. And then
you went there every week for a year. If there was a need for H&I work, you
didnít wait for some committee to tell you how to do it, you went and did it
and tried to follow the traditions to the best of your ability. If there was a
P1 need, for instance, this was in California, if the LA County Sheriffís
Department wanted an orientation on NA, you didnít go to a P1 committee
because there werenít any. A member who had been around some time grabbed a
couple of white books and went and did it.
Thatís really the way it was, there
werenít to many bodies going around, I think there were maybe half a dozen
live wires. I guess I got involved in the Basic Text before there was really
much effort going. Iíve heard Bo talk about our first meeting, and I know that
during the seventies we were always on the lookout for another live wire. If any
body showed any interest they got encouraged, they got put on a committee, they
got asked to participate but very little was forthcoming. There was some writing
prior and some work done prior to the effort towards the Basic Text. Maybe
heíll talk about that in another section. But thatís how I got here. I felt
like I was here before we started. I got involved the same way the rest of us
Iím Jim and I am an addict. I got a letter in the mail, I think that was the first
thing, maybe it wasnít, but it sounds dramatic so maybe Iíll share it that
way. The letter said "you are the book". It went on to talk about how
"you are the only Basic Text that anybody will read. And unless you write
it down and share it, weíre not going to have one." I think that was what
got me started writing it down. Thatís probably the most important part of my
being a part of. This service effort was actually sitting down with that most
intimidating of things, a blank sheet of paper and a pencil.
When I was about 3 months clean, but
claimed I had a year and 3 months, I went to my first convention. Which was a
world convention because that was the only kind of conventions there were at the
time. It was in Atlanta, I left about ten times, because there wasnít a single
NA speaker. Not that the people didnít do what they thought was right and
shared what they thought was kind of like recovery with everybody. It had a lot
of spirit, a lot of caring love, a lot of love caring concern, they just
werenít NA speakers. They didnít find their recovery here and didnít
perceive themselves as being powerless over addiction. Iím very judgmental,
the more you hear me talk, the more you will understand that. I make a decision
right up about a speaker and even more so then.
At any rate, we couldnít get literature
in our group at home and I wanted to go see why, and fix it. I figured I
couldnít just by jumping up and down and screaming. I heard about Wichita, I
heard about there being a thing for the book, a movement to write the book, but
probably the most important thing was that I went to a club house outside of
Atlanta after the convention and heard an NA speaker, and sat in on this service
committee meeting. I sat up next to this cuddly, pudgy fellow in overalls who
put his arm around me and took me off to the side afterwards and said "do
you need a Tree?" This guy hunted in his house and brought it out after a
long time and I got involved, and I got cared for. I think thatís what Iím
trying to say here with a lot of words. I got loved and cared for, I got an arm
put around me with a lot of love, care and concern and the feeling of "we
want you involved, we will include you whenever you are here, we will spend
whatever time it takes to explain these concepts to you and what you have to say
is important, it doesnít matter who you are or were youíve been."
Thatís the feeling I got and the spirit I caught and the service that I found
in the Lit committee and in world service in 1979- 1980. Thatís what kept me
coming and got me involved and thatís what more than even recovery that
inclusiveness, teaching about surrender is whatís made me who I am today.
I am, out of order again, my name is Bo, and Iím an addict.
Well I feel like I got started on this last night, I donít want to be as dumb
as I am, and repeat everything, but maybe thatís what I need to do. Maybe,
from a slightly different angle. For one thing Iím real glad that Ed and Jim
and Greg and I can be here, and I still hope our other buddy Joe, will drag in
from Memphis, we may try to keep it light but actually weíre sort of like
revolutionaries and the warís are real and the woundís are real and we have
casualties so if Joe canít make it, pray for him. Battles are played out in
these halls and we do the best we can to care and share and occasionally we get
a chance to really do something in service. I guess my personal starting place
was like every other starting place in my life, I was there, wherever it was, I
was there very much before it happened, but wherever it was, I was never around
when it was happening. I was always hearing about it, reading about it, doing
some dope; I kept missing it, whatever it was. I wasnít even sure it was real
or really happened.
Obviously there was a lot of stuff around
so you figured it came from some place but you know, like how to actually be
there. I was always to young or to old or to fat or to skinny or to smart or too
dumb or too early or too late or just out of sync actually. Of course part of
the time in active addiction I may not have been out of sync except I put myself
out of sync with what I put in, and missed chances that way. The last thing I
expected when I read the lines in a book called the Beatís
that Synnanon grew out of some meetings in a building where NA meetings were
held in Santa Monica that I would ever get involved much with NA, because I was
just a sixteen year old beatnik reading a book finding out how to be weird.
Truncating the whole deal a little bit,
in 1971 or so, I called information in Atlanta to find out if there was a
meeting of Narcotics Anonymous in Atlanta, because all that back ground behavior
up to that point it seemed like I ought to be contacting Narcotics Anonymous. At
that point I had just spent two years on the strip down at Atlanta; I was on the
6 oíclock and 11 oíclock news whenever I wanted to be. The mayor came to
Human Improvement Project, Inc. on 10th street in Atlanta frequently. We used to
figure out ways to force him to come down, and if he didnít come down weíd
go down there like one time Mohamed All donated fifty thousand dollars to fight
addiction in Atlanta. And so this rough looking hippy with blond hair like this
leans over this desk and says " how about some of that fifty thousand
dollars Mayor Massell." and Sam leaned back, you know and people were dying
down there, and we interacted with federal, state and local efforts, churches,
do goobers, medical societies. There were Jesuits down there. There were federal
people down there. A lot of people good willed down there. A lot of people came
down there looking for there kids. A lot of times we would develop relationships
with families slash kids. A lot of weird stuff happened.
Towards the end I had to strap on a
loaded six gun every time the sun went down because it was that rough down
there. Just to feel okay, like I could walk to the store and back. The reason
Iím stressing all this is because two year experience like that, working at
night and day, eating, sleeping, breathing it, reading magazines, hearing
whatever people brought, all convinced me that there was absolutely no hope
anywhere on the entire planet for addicts seeking recovery. There was no hope at
all, there was none; there was nothing you could do. You were trapped, it was
over, there was no way out, there was no such thing as living clean. It was like
you had slid into a pit, I guess you got them around here, these creatures that
live in the sand and make a living off of killing ants. The way they do it is
they make a little suck hole for themselves and the ant comes in if it ever
crosses within that circle thatís like a fallen cone then the Ant Lion, I
think is the name of it, kicks up sand so that the ant even though it struggles,
it thinks itís going get out, and gets to the edge. It really doesnít, it
really just keeps falling to the lower and lower circle to the bottom so the Ant
Lion can bite it and suck itís juice out and all that. Kind of like ground
spiders, in a way.
Being an addict was sort of like that.
Once you were over the edge a little to far, you might see the edge again, you
might think you were actually going to get out, but something would always
happen right before you did, and you would be at a lower level to lower level.
Iím sure everybody in this room knows how ridiculously Iím glossing over
actual horror and feeling that goes with discovering that you are that kind of
addict. And somethingís got you and you canít see the motherfucker but you
know itís there because itís doing it to you. Sometimes were struggling to
be nice, sometimes were struggling to do better, and sometimes were struggling
to be a good person, to do the right thing, but as soon we get to the close to
the edge like weíre going to be on our way with our lives something has got
us, something kicks in our face and we fall down, and all we know is we are
trapped and canít get out of it until the last moment. Then we know
somethingís got us but we donít have time to talk about it much.
Weíre clean addicts who figured out
something had them4 and if there going to do any talking, they better
talk quick, mostly because allot of us have seen our friends die, you know,
using, car accident, choke on your own puke, OD, shot, stabbed, you know, there
is just a lot of ways.
This one young lady shared with me and
God I hope sheís here, I hope she hears this and I hope she donít get pissed
at me talking about, but itís just so fucking typical, and this woman was
shooting dope with her girlfriend and the girlfriend had the dope and she had
wanted the dope, so they got off, and her girlfriend went into a heavy nod, so
she took the rest of the dope and shot it and split before her girlfriend had
come out of the nod because she didnít want to get yelled at for stealing the
rest of the dope and doing it, and left the woman there passed out on the couch
with her two or three year old daughter and found out later her girlfriend had
died and the baby had been left with her dead Mom on the couch for three days,
and didnít feel to hot about herself, you know, or maybe, you know, there was
something wrong about the way she was living.
It didnít have anything to do with the
cops, the establishment or all the TV ideas about what drug addiction does to
you. Coming from that background, and the thing we had been doing on the strip
had sort of died out, which was great. Now, I tried to call Narcotics Anonymous.
We held like six meetings and had a copy of, a green colored copy of the white
book but had no idea about anonymous principles or real steps or traditions. The
people who were good enough to provide the green covered booklet were alcoholics
and I couldnít relate to that. I thanked them a lot, you know, and after a
while we stopped the meeting, you know itís kind of like trying to learn the
song, we couldnít quite catch the tune.
So, three years later is my clean date,
and Iíve been going to meetings ever since. Since June 10, 1974. Yeah, I think
I went through a stage, you know. There was, letís see, I got clean in 74, and
there wasnít even the Grey Form until 80 or so, that means I was, staying
clean on the little white booklet for maybe, six years.
I understand how a lot of people feel
real strongly about some of the lines in Recovery and Relapse, some of the lines
in We Do Recover, some of the basic stuff about the Steps. I think I read a
couple of the stories in the back of the basic text a couple of times. The thing
that kept me going was the sincere newcomers, the idea of recovery, all those
discussions, all the phone calls, eventually all the meetings.
When NA started clicking and growing,
there were meetings in nearby states and other parts of the country and
communicating with them, those are the things that really fired my recovery. In
a sense, more because being in a situation that God set up for me, we had more,
like, terrifically sincere newcomers. The questions they asked kept me moving,
and jumping, and calling, and writing, trying to get their answers. You
couldnít do something as simple as go to a book and flip it open to a section
you read, this is even with other material from Alcoholics Anonymous or from
other sources, you know, we were doing the best we could back then. The answers
just really werenít there. There were breakdowns, I mean I was going into NA
meetings and there would be NA newcomers there, sometimes quite upset, sometimes
real pissed off about the notion of having to substitute drug for alcohol, and
problems other than drugs, which was a famous piece. I said, hey, look, I know
some thing about that program and that guy did not ever mean to piss somebody
like you off or make you uncomfortable or kill your chances of recovery. So I
believe if that guy were here today, he would tell you to do what Iím going to
tell you to do, and thatís tear that damn pamphlet in half and throw it in the
trash. The guy was sort of trapped a moment before I said that, but the idea
that he could do that, and plus he had my support and encouragement and
permission, he was suddenly free. That guy is still clean today, right?
But, you know, a lot of people didnít
have somebody there to say no, get clean, thatís the main thing, donít pay
attention to that paper, itíll upset you. It was that kind of fertile land or
something, you know, so much shit there - any seed that dropped there is bound
to grow. I had pressure put on me like that, I hit the NA trail. Itís always
sickening how I read occasionally how phrases like this get turned around.
I headed out to the greater NA, I had to
discover the greater NA. I heard
that line like, abused by someone who quoted is an instance of, like, better NA
was where they were at, or something weird like that. Okay, I mean I donít
know what that is, sometimes I think itís like everybody is born in recovery
somewhere and they got themselves and their locale, and their circle of friends,
and somehow the old human habit of, anybody thatís close, anybody that knows
their name, anybody in my circle of friends itís okay, but those other people,
you know, theyíre out to get you. I mean, even within the fellowship, itís
sort of like weíre all ape men or something, and we got to live by the law of
the fang. If youíre not careful, then somebody will come in and burn your
Itís real weird, itís real weird, I
think something that changed my recovery experience early on was, for being a
hippy all those years, and all the other stuff, was just the idea that if the
most dangerous thing to do, short of actually using was to wish harm to another
member, and itís been extremely to walk the mile of walks and not wish harm to
other members, with the road filled with thieves and assholes and
son-of-a-bitches along the way, but Iíve never wished them harm, Iíve tried
to rationalize it and play down the bad part of it and accentuate the good part
of it. But, I was used to overriding it you know, you donít have a choice of
drugs like LSD without expressing the positive and emphasizing a lot of
inter-direction and being objective.
I still bear marks from that, you know,
maybe theyíll continue to rub out of my personality. But the main thing is
when people like got clean there was no Basic Text, like what Greg said. I saw a
copy of a letter sent out from the office in 1972, maybe that was it, or there
was another one, there was a mock letter saying that an effort for writing the
Basic Text was under way, donít miss out, send you story in today. Nobody went
for it, nobody sent in their story.
When Iíd been in contact Jimmy Kinnon,
and several other people, maybe, but mainly Jimmy, and I wasnít satisfied with
my answers. I mean I actually reached the point where, together with another
member, Iíd sit down and write the letters saying like, where, if there is a
group conscious, where is it, where does it live, what is itís name, does it
have a phone number, does it have a mailing address? I was just short of being
insulting, like, what in hell is going on? Because I was getting dodges on the
telephone. I kept asking, and re-asking the same kinds of questions over about
eight pages, and guess what, I got back a post card. A nice post card. It said,
okay kid, things are fine, keep the faith baby, like, you know, I think
sometimes people in World Service just think they are dealing with little
children, and with my back ground and all, you know, somehow I just happened to
be on this Delta flying west for the World convention you know, coincidentally
You know, they were like knocked back
that somebody was there from the east coast, me and Tommy B., that we actually
flew in for the world convention. They kept expecting that we flew in to visit
family or out there on business or why are you here? For the convention? They
would yell out across the room, ďHey, there is somebody here for the
convention all the way from Georgia!Ē And the next thing, was, there I am at
the World Convention, at the Jack Tar, in San Francisco, walking around, just
enormous numbers of possibly clean addicts who still looked pretty weird and a
little bit street-hard, but nevertheless I had every reason to suppose they were
clean, whatever stage of recovery they might be in. And there wasnít much on
the program that year about the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous. And there
wasnít much in the little display room about where the early meetings were
held, who was working on our little book, and I literally went through about a
dozen people saying things like, nice weather, itís really pretty out here,
whoís working on our book?
You know, itís like, I had to begin
with a couple of lame lead sentences and then Iíd immediately get to that
other sentence, and then it was simple navigation, you know, theyíd say like,
go over there, and Iíd go over there, and theyíd say go over there, and
Iíd go over there. And I kept zinging back, homing in on the registration
desk. They could have just told me at the gate. Thatís where I wound up. And
within about five minutes I met Jack Whaley, Jimmy Kinnon and Greg Pierce, Bob
Barrett and Chuck Skinner and all these guys hanging around this desk. That was
in a way, a big way, effectively world services. I didnít meet any Magdalanos
that time, and there were other people around, as far as the people who were
active at that point and I can still recall the names that played a significant
major roll, like Jimmy really did do some early work, Jimmy really did pick up
the fire, and carry the banner after the early efforts of NA on the east died
out, and did manage to be there and sit there with that one shuddering newcomer
and not give up. And off, on,
maybe, maybe he did it because he is a great man, maybe it was an ego trip. It
donít much matter how he did it, and that does count for something here as
elsewhere and there had been early efforts in literature, the White Book and so
on. It just seemed like they all took for ever. A lot of time passed before
progress started happening, so anyway, Iím asking these people, ďWhoís
working our book?Ē When Iím still getting zinged but the space across which
Iím getting zinged is getting shorter and then I meet ole Greg, and I mean
that was the weirdest thing, because now Iím meeting an NA old-timer who is
young, a young NA old timer who is also the chairman of the Board of
Trusteeís. And like on the outside Iím going, yup, yup, and on the inside
Iím going, oh goody! You know? I wasnít being very indirect, I mean I was
asking pretty straight forward questions for me, not very objective at all.
Iím making jokes, I get criticized for being objective and indirect and all
that, and really I got knocked back for asking so hard that I guess I still am
in difficult situations where Iím trying to be nice and then I wind up being
criticized for being indirect and objective when really it my only way of
handling very difficult situations, so Iíll stop laughing at them and wasting
all this time and get back to this story, and I do love them, but itís hard,
So me and Greg is talking and the
funniest thing happens is that I stopped zinging because he had to go do
something so I tagged along and I had to do something and was amazed to find him
tagging along? Wait a minute, heís supposed to be real busy and say yeah,
check with me later, go see so and so. Suddenly, I ainít zinging - plus
weíre talking about mutual interests and so like I was, whatever it was, check
on my luggage or something like that I hadnít really had to do it. And when it
got done, I went wherever he was going and we wound up going around the building
and somehow we werenít too good at catching on that day but the inevitable
happened. We went up to his room and he pulled out some cases with some
documents in it and started going through paperwork like we were going through
till five-thirty last night, and see? Once an addict, always an addict, right?
Love that paper work. I liked it because I thought it was cool stuff but I also
thought about members back home because see, theyíre had no way of going to
San Francisco themselves and this was the way to take home something and give
pieces of it away and let them know that it was really happening and because
without the evidence in those days, I mean a photo copy was a valuable
instrument because it was a way to let the people back home get encouragement
and hope and itís really happening and here look at this and look at that and
let them know the whole goddamn thing was real because back then, you know,
youíd hear things about the sister fellowship thinking itís bigger than we
are and better off and more meetings and all that, I mean it was hell back then
and we needed the evidence bad, they did know for real that our program worked,
that our Traditions meant something that the Twelve Steps were valid principles
of recovery as practiced by NA members in NA meetings. I mean all that of, by,
for, NA stuff, a lot of that has become reality in the last ten or fifteen
years. It didnít come easy, it took low blows, you know, within the fellowship
and from external forces, and I guess whatís happening is like itís easier
to come out front and just talk about this because now, youíre all Narcotics
The days in which we got clean ten
percent of the room might be real NA members so we had to watch our step, think
about that, I mean it was fucked! and it was hard to do something about it, and
there was no way to judge them, there was no way even if I got to talk to you or
you or you or spend time with you I couldnít really tell because youíd lie
to me, you probably wouldnít even half know. You might act and talk and
express things to where youíre not and then ten years later here you still are
and then there are a lot of people that seem like theyíre NA members but they
wouldnít do nothing for the fellowship they were supposed to love and care
about so much. Let somebody else do it was their philosophy, you know one of the
best tributes to the disease of addiction something like eight or nine years ago
and this is the first time I had a place where I could pass on that material by
request because of people asking for it so it might have been never, but it
wasnít it was today, thank you.
an addict from Memphis, my name is Joseph. Hi yaíll, I donít really know
whatís going on, I always walk in on Bo it seems like and I can never figure
out whatís going on but, of course my mind picked up on the sons a bitches,
and thieves and assholes that are around the program, thatís certainly true.
I sometimes get caught up in the negative
and isnít and whoís not doing what and first one thing then the other but I
take it that from what Ed told me that we were kinda sharing about how some of
us got involved in how the book was born and got evolved that and to add to what
Bo said, and what Jim said, is I got clean in June of 79. I got clean over the
phone, there was no Narcotics Anonymous in Memphis and I found the number of the
World Service Office in the public library there, it was in Sun Valley, so I
called collect and talked to Jimmy Kinnon, one of the co-founders and called
collect every day for a while and he sent literature and said start meetings and
donít do any dope and try to care about yourself and everybody else and give
hugs unconditionally and that was in June of 79. And then he sent a flyer about
the World Convention that was coming up in Atlanta that year. He said somehow
you got to get down there and meet some of these other folks, that he wouldnít
be there but Bo would be there and Greg and Chuck Skinner and so like, Bo, when
he went to San Francisco a couple of years before that, I walked in and it
looked - whatever the term used - looked pretty street rough. People were all
around that hotel in Atlanta and they were hugging and laying on the floor and
it was pretty, thatís the first clean addicts Iíd been around and I wasnít
sure these people were clean, so I spent a lot of my time up in the room pacing
At that time I used nicotine, so I
inhaled a few packs of nicotine and just wondered what the hell was going on,
somebodyíd hug you and they wouldnít let go of you and Iíd go back up to
my room and freakout. I didnít know what Iíd gotten myself into, but I
roamed around and found Bo and found Greg and sit back and listened, I asked
about the same questions and they asked my how long Iíd been clean about 3 or
4 years? I didnít say anything I just said yeah, of course it had only been a
couple months at that time but I didnít want to feel not a part of or that
these guys wouldnít talk to me and wouldnít share with me, I just kinda went
along with it.
Down there Iíd heard about the book
being talked about and that these fellows were working on it and that was where
I wanted to get involved because there was no literature, just these five
pamphlets and the little white book that was in the starter kit at that time in
79. I still today donít do very well transferring my thoughts in to paper but
I knew I could help out and be a part of somehow by just being there and I was
told about the first World Literature Conference that was coming up a few months
later that was coming up in Kansas? Up in Kansas. Iíd arranged for Bo to come
through Memphis to pick me up and go up there, I didnítí know what it was
going to be about and on the way talked about a lot of things and we talked
about we were going to write this we book and we got up there and I like to fool
with the copy machine and go out and get people food and clean up ashtrays and
things like that. Thatís the kind of role that I could do in my diseased mind
and my emotional debilitating self and they kept talking about for days about
this we book we were going to write and all this information that Greg had and
other people had getting piles, and the copy machine was running and I
couldnít figure out how they were going to get all this material in a small
book and it went on and on and on and what I finally figured out after that
convention was that the We book, is that, we, together, and not small, but I
Thatís where I was, but about this
clean time and about this we book we were going to have and how small it was
going to be so I just kind of hung around and did what I could and volunteered
and at the end of that World Literature Conference, the first one, they were
going to set up a time to have the next one and of course me being the assertive
self good controlling addict that I was, I wanted to volunteer Memphis and so I
did of course I was the only clean member in Memphis. But things worked out, we
had that Literature Conference at the, the Grey Book came out of, is that
correct Bo? If I remember way back then, whatís that, eleven years? Yeah, a
year and a half after Wichita, and ended up being about a eight or ten day
conference and then people left and people like Jim and others came back and Bo
stayed on and we finally, I think Boís got all the tapes of that whole, we
taped the whole conference that year and all the group conscious and like he
says he wanted to know what the address was of the group conscious was and what
the phone was and at that conference we really started to develop what, in our
mind, what was spiritually attuned to what we thought group conscious was is
writing in committee and writing in groups and letting everybody who wanted to
be a part of and not limiting anyoneís participating for any reason and it
seemed to work, I think that Grey book came out it was, we mailed it, I think we
printed twelve hundred of them and we didnít have that many addresses of
groups and areas and individual members around the country. I think we had a
total of about seven hundred addresses of addicts or groups or churches that NA
used to be at all around the world. How many? 663? Okay. Close, and we mailed
them out and got a lot of them back and Jim took a lot of pictures of that
Conference I donít know if heís got a set of them but I brought a set of
them with me. Itís pretty interesting seeing all these addicts sitting around
and laying around.
There also a few in the pictures that
arenít with us today, Roger T, who has since died of AIDS, was a big help. He
typed about ten days straight without rest, he could type about hundred and
forty words a minute accurately and he was a member of the other fellowship. He
just happened to be at the State University where we had the Conference and
wandered into it and became addicted to NA and recovery and writing the book and
his thing was typing and so he played a big part in this book being written and
developed. And there were others, Gina H from Nashville, who is not here today
thatís since died of AIDS also. She was one of the early members of NA in
Tennessee. I think with fourteen years clean she died, and one of the phrases
that made it through all the processes of the book that I really liked, was part
of her words, was everything is subject to revision especially what we know of
the truth and that continues to be the true for me of what changes of what I
think today or what I thought three months ago or three years ago and about
myself about life about recovery about other addicts about the world and how I
used and live the steps in my life today and try to apply the principles on a
moment to moment basis, and like Bo said, I too have a difficult time today,
seems like more difficult today than the past in dealing with personalities
within the fellowship, particularly when it comes to our literature and the
Basic Text as it is today and the other literature thatĎs coming out and such
as that is whatís going on. So Iíve been involved and all my recovery has
been in Narcotics Anonymous since June of 79 and Iíve started meetings and
Iíve shared and do what the next thing is to do. I guess thatís all I have
to put it in a little nut shell. Thanks a lot.
family. Iím Motorcycle Ed, and Iím an addict. You know that one of the things
that Joe has opened up the door is the different talents, it was so amazing to
just show up at one of the conferences, my self worth was at the level that what
basically I could do was tote tables and give back rubs and I believe at the
second one they, that I showed up at the real treat for me was getting to do
what all the other people had got to do in kindergarten that I didnít get to
do cause I didnít get to go to kindergarten was little bitty scissors cut up
little pieces of paper and get to paste stick them on the back and paste it on
another piece of paper and the kid in me just went berserk, you know, hot
diggedy doggy dam! Twelve hours of this, you know, itís like somebodyíd walk
up and start rubbing your back and all this and one of the things that did
happen in Memphis was, how long was the conversation with the phone call? Two
calls totaling over nine hours and a little gal sitting there and they take
turns typing, you know, one person would hold the phone to their ear and they
would type and another person would rub their back so they wouldnít cramp up
and just over and over and over times again the selflessness.
People said how did you learn to give
like you give and it was through the conferences and watching time after time
after time and you know, just stepping out thinking you know, well, I really
donít have the money to go, but Iím fucking going anyway and called the boss
up and said I got to have two weeks off next week and if you want to fire me you
can. And the boss saying, okay, you can go, come back when you get back in town,
come back to work. Alright, and leave running and you know the encompassing the
coming to believe process you know where the phrase of this is one family goes
to the bone. You break the bread and you cry and you suffer and you sit and
wonder why and how and as Bo mentioned why did they say that or you know, why
did they do that and you know, donít they love NA and yes, maybe they do and
you try to be open minded and all that stuff because really I got tired of being
run out of the institutions because I didnít have the proper credentials. It
was like well, weíll go get some tell me I canít get it, youíre in
I got tired of seeing people dying for
lack of hope, you know come in and try it and we offer them a white book and
this was there more? Well, if you got time to listen we can talk to you and then
the joy of getting the chance to, yeah thereís a little bit more over here and
pull out a book and give it to them and watch the life come back and to some
people thatís not valuable but to me it is. WeĎre going go on a little bit
more about the conferences and maybe share some overcoming, I know we got this,
if you havenít gotten in the room at one thirty maybe after this you can go
there and look at some of the stuff and it will tie it too, there is some of it
laying up here and you know because it is hard to conceive sometimes why do I
get tears in my eyes when I see this flyer? Five years worth, thatís why and
the other people this flyer said yeah, okay big deal, so they didnít know how
to do it artistically then. Which ever one of the gentlemen wanted to go next?
name is Greg and Iím an addict, and I donít know. I look around and
weíre all a little teary eyed, maybe thatís from a lack of sleep - weíve
been there before. For me, part of what was such a big impact for me, you know,
this is the first time we all sat down together in years. This is certainly the
first time the four of us, the five of us have ever done this and thatís
amazing because you see we were really part of each others lives for a long time
and I think that some of that stuff is the stuff that never gets talked about,
that it wasnít just work, it was sharing each others lives. We used to ride
busses across the country.
Joseph visited me in Oregon on a
Greyhound, twice from Memphis. I visited Joseph in Memphis on a Greyhound then
swung up and rode from Memphis to Pittsburg and Jim picked me up and went to the
farm and went to Warren for the Lit Conference and then, Oh, we went, drove
across Pennsylvania to New Jersey so I could talk at the East Coast then we came
back and went to Warren for the Lit Conference and somewhere in the middle of
that we went up to start the Ohio region, I mean we lived with each other this
was not just about getting together to put together a book.
One of the things, an awareness that
Iíve come about really in the last month or two, one of the things that is
very real, the process is part of the magic. The only way we could learn about
recovery, particularly the folks who are here, was through involvement in
service. There wasnít any place to go. There werenít any old-timers.
Particularly in the east. And the way you learned about living clean was by
getting involved in service and traveling from Ohio to Georgia on a wing and a
prayer and putting up with some crazy - I mean we put them in the back of the
truck that didnít run and drove them to the airport.
I remember, you know, or traveling to
here or there or wherever and showing up and becoming part of the process and
the process and the process was about stretching the limits of knowledge of
recovery. I really believe when people started discussing the Basic Text, itís
obsolete because the awareness is grown and the awareness grew. A lot of, I
believe the way NA is perceived today grows right out of the process of the
Basic Text and discussions, itís obsolete now, the awareness of recovery and
the fellowship in NA has moved past the Basic Text. Itís one of the reasons we
originally talked about, never wanting anything that became a, you know, ďThis
is the Bible!Ē sort of thing. We wanted something that would be reviewed every
five years and updated as our understanding and awareness recovery grew.
I think the actual process started, in
this attempt, in San Francisco, the things that led up to that, the writing
letters, the looking to people, encouraging people the phone calls and
everything else, those were all setting the stage. I really believe the actual
process started in San Francisco in 1777 at the 7th World Convention. And it
grew from there. I want to read a letter that I think is real indicative of,
that Bo sent me. In December of 1977, this follows when we first met at the
World Convention in San Francisco, Bo came down with me and spent a few days at
the house, several of you have done that. I visited the fellowship in Marietta.
Iíd been in a situation where I was in Washington, you see, I used to do
triangle flights. I started traveling in NA in 1976 wherever there was some
groups and when I did some business, what Iíd do - I donít think you can do
it any more - they used to be able to tack on another leg for like 30 or 40
dollars. So if I was doing business or something from LA to Washington, what I
would maybe, in fact this is a real trip that happened. Instead of flying, I had
business in well, Bethesda actually, just outside of Washington. What I did was
fly from LA to Washington, go to an NA meeting, meet an NA member, have them
drive me to Washington, take care of my business, run around Pennsylvania for a
couple of days, end up back in Philadelphia and then fly to Atlanta and then
back to LA.
Or another trip was, there was one I was
setting up a plant in Toronto and I flew from LA, there was a stop, there was a
change of planes in Chicago so I stayed overnight and went to a meeting in
Chicago in 77, had pizza and went on to Toronto and on the way back I worked it
out where I could stop in Wichita and visit with some of those folks on my way
back to LA and that was the way I traveled. Iíd almost built that in and for
very little money you could add a leg to a flight and I was traveling and so on
one of those trips, coincidentally, Bo chuckles about it and says,
ďCoincidentally two months later Greg dropped in on my local meeting.Ē and
you know, but thatís the way. I mean, that was not anything bizarre. Thatís
a description of the nature of the relationship. We participated in each others
lives to a much greater degree than we have since, you know, we were part of
each other, and I was struck to, on how well we complimented each other because
we all got different strengths.
I could not have done what Joseph or Bo
or Jim did. Bo could not have done what Joseph or I or Jim did, Joseph could not
have done what Bo or I or Jim did, Jim could not have done what Bo or I or
Joseph did we each had our own strengths, and thatís something really. We
havenít, I donít think we ever really looked at, but itís true, itís
really true. I donít really know what they really are, but they were very
Anyway after that trip, and when Iíd
dropped in and I donít know, sometime in 77, hereís the letter, and I think
the letter really speaks to some of the spirit of the Basic Text of the process.
I also think NA grew as much from the process as it did from the product see,
because an example of that, now Jim mentioned coming down to Atlanta in 1977,
and then he went back, there really wasnít any NA, he started an NA meeting.
In 1980 there was like one or two meetings. In 1981 there were one hundred
meetings in Ohio. You know, thatís the sort of things that happened and that
was because the process and because of the awareness. The moving to a higher
level of conscious because of awareness that took place in the process.
Dear Greg, Well we all wear glasses now,
do you wear glasses? Did any of us wear glasses before? My first pair of
glasses! I donít think any of us wore glasses, that was like one of those
weird a, yeah, nun of us needed to we all have to now. I donít know. That was
one of those weird things, well I can remember at Warren, the 4th the 5th,
whatever, World Lit Conference, the 5th, one of the things that struck me was
the percentage of people with light colored eyes, I donít know why that struck
me, but there was something there. Anyway
Guess who bought a typewriter? I hope you
have a nice Christmas, this is December 16th 1977, please say hi to Lois and the
baby, hope to see you next year, Iíve gotten off to a rolling start with the
writing. Iíve started umpteen pamphlets and a few notes for the NA book. My
friends here know of my efforts and I hope to get a few of them together real
soon for input and discussion. Hopefully this will take place here and
elsewhere. Thank God itís begun. At this point I feel we have to involve as
many as possible to make sure we cover all points of view. Involving people
might struggle the effort and controversy but I really trust the spirit and
believe weíd be poor servants if we leave them out.
Somehow if we could get our best minds
working on this in harmony I just know it would strengthen the gut of the
program. In my thinking it has occurred to me what weíre up against, is NA a
cure for addiction, how to help doctors treat or react to addiction.
We would hate to see any valid point of
view left out, also I would hate to see any great length of time elapse without
some progress. Please write to me, my friend.
I didnít get to attend the first World
Lit Conference in 79, that and Iím sure Bo will talk more about that, or
somebody, that was about planning the plan. We always planed from a, you always
plan the work and work the plan process. That was a rule of thumb. You plan the
work and then you work the plan and you review the plan, you probably do it over
2 or 3 times. You plan the work and work the plan and Wichita was about
developing the Literature process, writing the directions, stuff that had never
been tried before, I can remember a lot of phone calls and a lot of letters.
We were going now what the hell should we
do next? We checked things out with each other we were in real close
communication. I think it really began for me in Wichita, in Lincoln, after the
10th World Convention in Wichita. Kermit brought a mug from that convention;
heís sitting in the room over there. The following week was the second World
Lit Conference just a state away. We didnít think nothing about it ĎS just a
state away from the 10th World Convention was the second World Lit Conference
and thatís where the work on the book began.
Thereíd been writing before that,
thereíd been input put in, thereíd been a number of people who sent stuff
in. There was old stuff drug out of boxes and closets and other peopleís
closets. From World Service office and wherever. There was these stacks of paper
and I didnít know what to do with it. Some of the things that happened at that
Lit Conference, we talked about what had happened before that, the history up
till then and that would be a very interesting thing. That tape exists.
We made a decision and one of the basic
premises we worked on the text from was that all the significant points that
needed to be included in the Basic Text, were included in an outline called the
White Booklet. The White Booklet would serve as the outline for the Basic Text.
We actually wrote a different outline, and we cut up material.
Ed was talking about the 12 hour sessions
with the scissors. What he didnít tell you was when you get done with the
twelve hours of scissors you go somewhere and crash for an hour or two and you
come back and do it again. You sit in a session with everybody involved doing
all these different tasks and you read and people cry and you can feel something
happening, you can feel the process, you can participate in the process.
I want to read a little bit of that first
cut and paste. I donít know how much but it started out
As addicts we have a common bond, we have
all felt pain, we felt the numbness, gnawing inadequacy, aching loneliness,
separateness from our fellows and feelings of uselessness and self pity.
Weíve surly had enough of
Somehow in a moment of clarity we were
able to look at the whole scene and all its insanity. We stopped fighting and
something inside of us said no more.
We lacked real information on what
addiction is, what recovery could mean to us. We were in a poor position to
judge whether or not we were addicts, each of us faced a dilemma.
We remember going through a lot of pain
and despair before considering the possibility the possible connection between
drugs and misery.
Eventually drugs ceased to make us feel
We tottered on the brink of
All our attempts to stay clean failed.
In our isolation we had lost the things
in our lives that were most important to us. We lost all hope and freedom.
We were sick and tired of being sick and
From the start, the theme of NA meetings
We all knew how to use drugs.
We knew the effect they had on us.
The primary thing we were interested in
was how to stay clean, how to cope with life without drugs. How to handle
unpleasant feelings and emotions, in other words, how to recover.
This is why we suggest attending
meetings, the same way we used drugs, as often as possible.
Going to NA meetings provides a period of
time where we could talk to other addicts about the nature of our addiction, the
addict and recovery. We learn weíre not alone.
Few of us set out to become addicts, it
seems that we were born that way or at some point in our using crossed an
invisible line in to addiction expressing itself in our obsessions, compulsions
Our addiction overrides reason,
experience and perception.
We can see a little of our self in every
Addicts are scared; they feel they must
be something they are not. They canít stand the future, they canít stand the
past and they canít stand still.
It is the addictís nature to perceive
and precipitate crisis, adopt a style of living from crisis to crisis.
Many of us are dependant upon people to
carry us emotionally through life, we are often disappointed and hurt when such
contacts have other interests, friends and loved ones.
Addiction is a disease not a moral issue.
The addict reacts to drugs in a distorted
behavior and compulsively seeks more.
The addict is past the point of no return
and must have help in order to gain a normal life without drugs.
I can remember the first time I heard
that read, which was at the close at the Lincoln Lit Conference and there were
fifty people there crying because, you see, this was real. This had some
cohesiveness. This was the beginnings for a book, you could touch it, you could
hear it, you could see it, you could read it, it was real. Before that it may
have been just stacks of paper, bits and pieces that didnít make any sense.
Maybe the biggest thing that happened for me in Lincoln was that I began to
believe that it could work. I think Iíll cut it off there and let other people
share about those first couple Lit Conferences. The one after Lincoln was
Memphis and maybe this go round should be through Memphis.
Iím Jim and Iím an addict. Maybe it should be through Memphis, What I feel like is
that Memphis is where I really got started, where I really got involved that
first time. When I come to some thing like this Iíve a tendency to stand up
here and do my best to put me back there and say well how did you feel? Okay?
Probably less so now then five, six years ago. How I would have felt back there
is hey, lets get at it.
I want to hear about this history right
now, all of it. So put it down, so tell me point by point what happened. Letís
not any more of this cosmic bullshit, letís hear it. I think we learned about
three things in our literature committee experience as a fellowship, if we
communicate and are inclusive, if we let everybody know whatís going on and
weíre willing to take everybody in, something really special can happen, and
that was what happened, Iíd seen that and wouldnít go, but then somebody
came out with one that was good enough for me, these guys finally stumbled along
and came up with one good enough for my standards. They discovered that there
was something called an offset press machine and then could I get on a plane?
Iíd read this and hammered everyone around me to do it and hadnít done it
myself and on the plane down there, I did it: wrote my story. That was the first
time I wrote anything. I was harangued, I was challenged into participating, I
wasnít kept away, I wasnít excluded, I was included, thatís really
important. I had something to offer.
I think spirit of recovery picks the very
sickest, the most objectionable of us to share some of the deepest parts of the
message, to teach the rest of us about anonymity so if we need the message we
ignore the messenger, we donít consider the vehicle, but whatís being
carried in it and Iím pretty objectionable. Iím pretty pedantic, Iím
pretty hard, itís hard to hear what I have to say because of who I am. Because
of how I act. Anyway I think that we learn about anonymity, not let that get in
our way. I think we learn that if the spiritual purpose of a project is right
the talent and the money is always going to be there. Always. If we do something
for NA, and our purpose is right, everything that we need is going to be there.
What we did was acceptable to the fellowship, it got approved by the fellowship
because we were inclusive we practiced functional anonymity and the fellowship
did it, we didnít do it, weíre nothing, we donít mean a dam thing. The
fellowship wrote the book. We didnít write the book and donít every accuse
me of being part of writing any book because I didnít you did. The third thing
is that the biggest part of that which is what happened among us was much more
than the sum of our talents. You couldnít take our credentials, everybody that
ever participated in it and add those up and say that this could have been the
result of that, it couldnít have been possible. There was something more that
happened. Now Iíll get cosmic.
I sat down after 18 hours of no sleep,
sitting in a group and I saw my hand move without any effort of my own. I even
questioned that. Something happens. Memphis, I went down and Bo taught me how to
work with him for about three days ahead of that and we delivered an order so we
could get there and learn how to work together. It was great, he never got paid
for it because he let us work on it. It was shit, Bo was done. But we went to
Memphis and sat down and we had our first group conscience. I read this. I
didnít know about five other people in the world who could read. It says
addict in here. It doesnít say drug addict or alcoholic. It says recovery in
here. We went around the room and introduced ourselves and everybody was
different. I got angry and slammed my fist on the table - wanted to anyway.
Somebody had to be the son of a bitch to
talk about getting the words right and because of my background and a lot of
real sick shit about me I took that role, it was extremely important to me that
the words were as very precise as they could be. Itís a good thing that there
was somebody there like that. For the very first time in the world mankind
addressed recovery from addiction. In the written form starting in Memphis.
Mankind addressed the topic of recovery
from addiction for the very first time ever. No matter what else had been
written with modifiers on it. I thought that was kind of important because I
couldnít, when you said you were a drug addict I couldnít hear you. When you
said you were an alcoholic I couldnít hear you. When you said you were
powerless over a chemical I couldnít hear you. Because I knew that you
didnít know. When you called recovery sobriety, and used the terms
interchangeably I couldnít hear you because I knew you didnít know. I knew
you didnít understand, I knew you couldnít understand. Its not that I
rejected you, I didnít reject you, your recovery was just fine whatever you
had was just fine it just wasnít recovery.
VI. Archive Search and Define Goals
The archive room was a bustle of activity and was left open
for all waking hours. The podium was an open microphone on a subject line. There
were several members that hardly ever left the archive room. The copiers were
kept humming and many thousands of copies made. This was the place of many deep
discussions of times past and things yet to come. Many hugs and tears were
traded. This was a place for both the newcomer and the old timer alike.
Planes were made for the next event as well as work to be done in the
In the course of this weekend a hotline call was taken at a
members home while returning to get supplies. The person was picked up and taken
to the hotel and stayed the weekend. A couple of years later when seen he was
members found it hard to leave. Two ladies from Michigan come to mind. They
cried rivers of tears, they were two of the last to leave they just did not want
to go home which was the case for most of us.
VII. The Trouble Starts
While the intent was read and many came in an attitude of
service and giving some came to decent. For short time the microphone was used
to discredit some and the effort. This in no means rained on any ones parade and
did not dampen one spirit. It seemed as to be like water on a ducks back. It was
there and then it was gone. Yet, looking back it is the first seed of disunity
for the committee and its efforts. It would prove to grow and flourish.
A full set of the tapes from this event can be heard or down
loaded at www.na-history.org
hits in 2004!
Reprinted from the
N.A. FELLOWSHIP USE ONLY
Copyright © December 2001
Victor Hugo Sewell, Jr.
NA Foundation Group
6685 Bobby John Road Atlanta, GA 30349 USA
All rights reserved. This draft may be copied by members of Narcotics Anonymous for the purpose of writing input for future drafts, enhancing the recovery of NA members and for the general welfare of the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship as a whole. The use of an individual name is simply a registration requirement of the Library of Congress and not a departure from the spirit or letter of the Pledge, Preface or Introduction of this book. Any reproduction by individuals or organizations outside the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is prohibited. Any reproduction of this document for personal or corporate monetary gain is prohibited.
Last update January 12, 2006