Lois Wilson and the 12 Steps – WOMEN in RECOVERY


 

A Celebration of Women

offers Our Beginning sharing with all Our Women

The HISTORY of the 12 STEPS Spiritual Program” of Recovery




Have I begun my Spiritual Journey?





We begin our Spiritual Journey at different times in our lives but most of us reach the same place eventually where we accept the guidance of a power greater than ourselves, a Power that cares for us and accepts us just as we are. A Power that guides us, teaches us, and grants us just what we need – and, at times, what we want. A Power that helps us cope with our illness each day. A Powerthat never leaves our side, even when we become angry and demanding.  If we have not yet begun our Spiritual Journey, there is still time to do so.

Our Higher Power is there for us.

All that is required from us is the‘Willingness to Begin’….



12 Step Origins

Where the 12 Steps began, in print….


Perhaps some of the more important features of the newer editions are the appendixes, which hold valuable information and points of clarity on the role of spirituality and addiction recovery.The 12 steps followed the creation of A.A. by a few years, and they did not come into being all at once; rather, they developed somewhat organically before coming together in a very short period of time while co-founder Bill Wilson was writing what would become the Big Book in 1938.

He reached the realization that a book was not enough, that they needed a specific program for recovery. A number of the steps had already existed though mostly by word-of-mouth; Wilson’s epiphany was to put what existed under a single banner and add to them what might have been missing. His point was to make the program perfectly explicit through codification. Wilson recollects that writing the steps down required, “no more than twenty or thirty minutes. Seemingly I had to think little at all. It was only when I came to the end of the writing that I re-read and counted them. Curiously enough, they numbered twelve and required almost no editing.”

Those original 12 steps featured the use of God on several occasions, which Wilson reduced down to the minimum. The famous qualifier “as we understood Him” was not added until later. Beyond that, according to Wilson, the 12 steps “stand today almost exactly as they were first written.”

For many of the steps, AA owes a debt of gratitude to the Oxford Group, a Christian organization in existence around the early part of the 20th century that proved influential to early founders of AA. According to Wilson, the Oxford Group “laid particular emphasis on spiritual principles that we needed. But in fairness,” he added, “it should also be said that many of their attitudes and practices” were discarded because they were found to be incompatible.

Since then those 12 steps have been adopted by numerous organizations to deal with everything from narcotics abuse to emotional disorders and more. Each organization typically tweaks the twelve steps only slightly, just enough to emphasize the relevant substance or affliction, and generally—although not always—do so with the approval of Alcoholics Anonymous.


 

 

Perhaps some of the more important features of the newer editions, are the appendixes, which hold valuable information and points of clarity on the role of spirituality and addiction recovery.

The 12 steps followed the creation of A.A. by a few years, and they did not come into being all at once; rather, they developed somewhat organically before coming together in a very short period of time while co-founder Bill Wilson was writing what would become the Big Book in 1938.

 

 

He reached the realization that a book was not enough, that they needed a

Specific Program for Recovery.

A number of the steps had already existed though mostly by word-of-mouth; Wilson’s epiphany was to put what existed under a single banner and add to them what might have been missing. His point was to make the program perfectly explicit through codification.

Wilson recollects that writing the steps down required, “no more than twenty or thirty minutes. Seemingly I had to think little at all. It was only when I came to the end of the writing that I re-read and counted them. Curiously enough, they numbered twelve {12} and required almost no editing.”

Those Original 12 Steps featured the use of God on several occasions, which Wilson reduced down to the minimum. The famous qualifier “as we understood Him” was not added until later. Beyond that, according to Wilson, the 12 steps “stand today almost exactly as they were first written.”

For many of the steps, AA owes a debt of gratitude to the Oxford Group, a Christian organization in existence around the early part of the 20th century that proved influential to early founders of AA. According to Wilson, the Oxford Group “laid particular emphasis on spiritual principles that we needed. But in fairness,” he added, “it should also be said that many of their attitudes and practices” were discarded because they were found to be incompatible.

Since then, those 12 Steps have been adopted by numerous organizations to deal with everything from narcotics abuse to emotional disorders and more. Each organization typically tweaks the twelve steps only slightly, just enough to emphasize the relevant substance or affliction, and generally—although not always—do so with the approval of Alcoholics Anonymous.


 

Bill Wilson


Dr. Bob












Al-Anon/Alateen

Al-Anon/Alateen, known as Al-Anon Family Groups, is an international “fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems.” They “help families of alcoholics by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.”



Alateen is part of Al-Anon and is their Twelve-step program of recovery for young people affected by another’s drinking, generally aged 13 to 19 years (varies depending on each group). “Alateen groups are sponsored by Al-Anon members.”

Al-Anon was formed in 1951 by Lois Wilson, wife of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) co-founder Bill Wilson.

She recognized the need for such an organization as family members living with AA members began to identify their own pathologies associated with their family members’ alcoholism. In the USA, Al-Anon Family Groups incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. Alateen took its own name and formation in 1957.

In Lois’s Story, she explained why, as the spouse of an alcoholic, she also required treatment.

After a while I began to wonder why I was not as happy as I ought to be, since the one thing I had been yearning for all my married life [Bill’s sobriety] had come to pass. Then one Sunday, Bill asked me if I was ready to go to the meeting with him. To my own astonishment as well as his, I burst forth with “Damn your old meetings!” and threw a shoe as hard as I could.



This surprising display of temper over nothing pulled me up short and made me start to analyze my own attitudes. … My life’s purpose of sobering up Bill, which had made me feel desperately needed, had vanished. … I decided to strive for my own spiritual growth. I used the same principles as he did to learn how to change my attitudes. … We began to learn that … the partner of the alcoholic also needed to live by a spiritual program.

— Lois Wilson , Lois’s Story in How Al-Anon Works.

LOIS WILSON


Lois Wilson née Burnham (4 March 1891 – 6 October 1988) was the co-founder of Al-Anon, a support group for the friends and family of alcoholics. She was the wife of Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill W.



Lois was the first of six children born to Clark Burnham and his wife, the former Matilda Spelman. Her father practiced surgery in Brooklyn Heights, New York. The granddaughter of a Swedenborgian pastor, she was raised in that faith. She was a 2nd cousin of the architect of the Flatiron Building Daniel Burnham She attended a kindergarten run by the Pratt Institute and later Friends School. She graduated from the Packer Collegiate Institute with a concentration in the fine arts. She had a talent for drawing, and later developed skill in interior decoration. After graduation she worked for the YWCA and later taught at a school in Short Hills, New Jersey.Stepping Stones in Katonah, NY, where she founded Al-Anon.

The Burnham family spent summers in Vermont, where Dr. Burnham provided medical care to vacationers. Rogers Burnham, a younger brother of Lois, became friends with a local boy named Bill Wilson. As teenagers, Lois and Bill fell in love. They married in 1918 when Bill was in the Army, shortly before he was sent to Europe. Lois worked as an occupational therapist during his absence. After his return, the couple hoped to start a family, but after several miscarriages she was advised that pregnancy would be dangerous or impossible. Their attempts to adopt children were unsuccessful.

Her marriage to Bill W. began to degrade due to the combination of a series of miscarriages, his drinking problem, and his marital infidelities. Lois began to work on programs to help families of alcoholics after Bill had gone through rehabilitation and founded AA. These efforts led to the founding of Al-Anon, although this was not the first program of its kind.

Her autobiography, Lois Remembers, was published in 1979.


She died in 1988 at age 97. Without children, she left the home (Stepping Stones) in Bedford Hills, New York that she and Bill had owned since 1941 to the Stepping Stones Foundation. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and has become a tour destination for members of the 12-step organizations.

A 2010 made-for-TV movie based on her life, When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story featuring actress Winona Ryder as Lois Wilson, premiered on Hallmark Hall of Fame on CBS April 25, 2010.



Thought for the Day

Spirituality is a Gift

National Headquarters:   http://www.aa.org/


A Celebration of Women,

sends Our Blessings to LOIS WILSON,



the WOMEN of ACTION behind both Bill W. and Dr. Bob.


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