As I’ve written before (twice) in this series, Bill Wilson was a terrible husband, abusive, unproductive, and philandering. This doesn’t simply tell us what kind of man or leader he was. This contempt for the victim of his brutality, Lois Wilson, played a major part in the formation of the AA Bible, the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. Gendered violence was built right into his cult religion.
Bill W. carried on many affairs and preyed on many newcomers. One woman who was flattered by his attentions was Wynn C. A four time divorcée with deep emotional pain, she was young and beautiful. They had a tryst and she begged Bill to leave Lois and marry her. He wouldn’t do that, he said, but he’d include her story in the Big Book. “Freedom From Bondage” is hers, making Bill’s favorite mistress one of the 31 coauthors he stole from when he filed as sole copyright holder.
While Bill was being openly unfaithful to his wife, he was also dreaming up a Big Book chapter of marital advice “To the Wives” of alcoholics. He first offered the writing assignment to AA cofounder Dr. Bob’s wife. She declined. That’s when Lois, the wife who’d supported him and endured years of his drunken abuse, asked to write it. Bill scorned her, saying she’d never get the tone of the writing down. In her official AA autobiography, Lois revealed that hurt her profoundly.
“I have never known why he didn’t want me to write about the wives, and it hurt me at first; but our lives were so full I didn’t have time to think about it much.”
-from Lois Remembers, via Orange Papers
Remember that Bill claimed to be a man “practicing these principles in all [his] affairs”. He claimed he “continued to take personal inventory and when…wrong, promptly admitted it.” He claimed to be in “conscious contact with God” and to be daily “praying only for knowledge of His will…and the power to carry that out.” Bill Wilson was a liar and a hypocrite.
Next up: delving into “To The Wives” and analyzing the text.