We have two things in common: the dis-ease of alcoholism and sobriety. Looks for the similarities; not the differences. ~ Anon
The concept of having a home group in AA is a valuable one to embrace. I have lived in few different states and cities over the years, so setting up and keeping a home group on my weekly schedule has helped me get to know people in AA and my community much easier. As I have mentioned before, I am a bit socially anxious and a loner, so this is as necessary to me as unpacking my boxes after a move. Home groups offer a sense of home, where we have our elders, youngsters, a common bond (sobriety), we have chores to do, and we celebrate birthdays! Ergo, “home” group. For some of us, this is the only family we have in life. I like to call it “my tribe”.
I have moms, aunts,and grandmas in AA that have been my role models and have seen me through life’s ups and downs as a blood relative might have done in past generations. I got to learn how to age gracefully and go through changes in my body and life; that I would have had no clue of what to expect. Over the years, we have shared parenthood, grand parenting, aging, health concerns, deaths, and births, jobs, and retirement. When people wonder aloud how I can live alone, I need only remember the tribe I have around me, to realize that I am never ever alone. They are just a phone call or meeting away. That is the fellowship of AA promised in tradition #8.
When we keep tradition #8’s spirit of fellowship, we discover a beautiful spirit of caring service which becomes a powerful factor in our healing. ~ Anon
Some new members wonder why we bother to send money to district, intergroup, and the General Service Office. We do so to help deliver the message of recovery. We need special workers who are sometimes paid to run the offices, maintain the call-in centers, type up meeting lists, answer calls/emails, read the mail, do the accounting, manage the websites, set up and advertise the events, etc. The work of AA is 24/7, 365 days a year. This dis-ease does not rest or take vacations, and neither do the dedicated recovering folks in AA. We take our recovery wherever we go. We deliver the message of recovery in all four corners of this earth. We must, or we die.
The mainstay of my program is service. I have been consistently involved in some way or fashion for many years. I find the challenge of learning new things, watching others recover, and being involved in AA’s growth and prosperity a healing factor in my recovery process. Each day, I wake up wondering how can I be of service, not how I can feed my own wants and desires. I wake up saying, “thank G.O.D., it is morning!” Before AA, I would proclaim, “good G.O.D.! It’s morning!” Thank goodness for AA, and thank goodness there is AA service work to be done that I can help with. Pitch in. It will make all the difference in the world.
We are human beings, not human doings. ~ Anon
As humans, we have limits. There is just so much we can do and nothing more. We know that to be true when we hit that wall of fatigue and exhaustion. Those of us in service to AA recognize the need to stay in our own lane, do that which we can do and no more, and to share the load when it comes to AA service projects. Most healthy meetings know and practice the wisdom of sharing service responsibilities. Yes, chairs and literature need to be set out. Yes, someone needs to lead, make coffee, get supplies/medallions, represent the group at the intergroup level, be the contact/secretary/treasurer, etc.
How long should we do service work? According to tradition #8, it is customary that most group level jobs are for one year only. This keeps the work from becoming one person’s burden. It also helps the group stay strong, as new people will have a chance to do service, and there will be fresh eyes/minds that may bring new life into the situation. There is plenty to do. Invite new people into service work. Invite them to join you at intergroup meetings, and take them to retreats and workshops. The more they become involved in AA and have things to keep them responsible to their recovery community, the less time they will have to fight this dis-ease. Nice plan, right?
Feel, deal, heal. ~ Anon
We have a 3 part dis=ease that requires recovery on all three levels. Alcoholism is a physical, mental and spiritual dis-ease. In order to recover and regain our health on all three levels, we need to seek balance. The old analogy is the 3 legged milking stool. To have one leg that is shorter or longer would create an imbalance. If we were to attempt to sit on said stool, we would run the risk of falling on our collective keister. One assignment that I give the new person and anyone who suffers a relapse is to do an autopsy: list the 3 things that are causing you the greatest level of pain today…..it could be a physical, mental, or spiritual symptom.
Physical could be cravings, headaches, heart burn, etc. Mental could be depression, isolation, anxiety, etc. And spiritual symptoms could be anger, no prayer life, distrust, etc. I then suggest they ask HP daily for direction on what to focus on first. Somewhere around day 11 or 12, they will be led to what needs to happen. As sponsors, remember Tradition #8 encourages us to not try to fix anyone else. The more we can encourage the person to depend on HP/G.O.D, the stronger their sobriety will become. Consider the very possibility that we won’t be there tomorrow. Each of us must depend on a HP/G.O.D. that is greater than ourselves. As members of AA, we can support each other and offer our experience, strength, and hope. But, that is about it. The rest falls upon the alcoholic to develop a balanced sobriety and a solid relationship with his/her own HP/G.O.D.
The vast good that AA does for alcoholics in this world on a
whole is done as nonprofessionals. ~ Anon
AA suggests that those of us in professional careers or who have degrees or licenses in our given lines of work; to leave our professional hats hung outside the rooms of AA. When it comes to recovery, we are all equals. We have just our experience, strength, and hope to offer the still struggling alcoholics. That is enough. I have some tradition #8 questions that may come in handy to ask of your groups, you as the individual in recovery, and then to see how they may apply to your personal life. You will be amazed.
- Do we try to fix other people in AA with professional advice, or are we content to offer our experience, strength, and hope as it relates to sobriety?
- Do we speak as professionals in AA meetings? (for example: medicine, psychology, legal, nutrition, religion, etc). Are we the Big Book experts?
- When we have a struggle, do we pretend that all is just fine? Do we ask others for help, or pretend we can handle things ourselves?
- Do we set up other AA’s as gurus or experts just because they appear smarter, more educated, or more together than we feel?
- Do we make others (old timers, volunteers, etc.) more responsible for our sobriety or meeting success than we should be ourselves?
- Can we distinguish between the AA workers from the AA members who share their experience, strength, and hope?
- Can we distinguish between the work therapists, psychologists, and treatment professionals do from the sharing of other AA members? These questions will help guide us toward better fellowship with our peers in AA and keep us more sober in our daily lives. Be a part of, not apart from.
Sobriety is a thing of beauty and diversity that rivals my most vivid dreams. ~ Anon
The fellowship that step #8 and tradition #8 offers us is one that is very diverse. This dis-ease is an equal opportunity process. Every belief system, race, creed, nationality, age, sexual identity, and economic level is represented. Alcoholism does not care where you come from or who you are. It will gladly destroy the fabric of your life no matter how big you think you are. In fact, the bigger you are, the harder you can fall.
For the first time in our lives, we learn to show and accept unconditional love, acceptance, and compassion for everyone who shows up at our doors and even for those who are still in the throes of this dis-ease. That is called fellowship. I will tell you that I bristled at the word fellowship when I was newly in AA. I equated that word with church and come to Jesus moments I had see in the past and did not trust. AA taught me that sobriety has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with spiritually supporting the recovery journey of each other without pushing our beliefs upon them. In fact it is the diversity in recovery approaches that makes this a beautiful thing. What a gift we have in AA.
There are two oars of recovery:
The 12 Steps of AA and the fellowship of AA. ~ Anon
Recovery in AA can be likened to being in a life raft. Someone from the bigger ship of AA threw us a life boat. We chose to climb in and not drown. That was the first of many choices that we have in recovery. We were each equipped with two oars for safe sailing. One oar is the 12 Steps of AA. The other is the AA fellowship. Again, we are given the choices of using one or the other oar to navigate the rough waters of life, to use both of them, or to not use either one. It is a choice. We were all born of free will.
I will give you a clue: the folks who choose to not use either oar will drift around and never really ever reach a safe shore. The people who choose to just use the steps, but ignore the help and fellowship of AA will just go around in circles when they try to paddle at all. The same fate befalls those who only want to use the fellowship to keep them afloat. The acronym N.U.T.S applies to them = Not Using The Steps. Nothing looks sillier or sadder than someone who chooses to ignore the wisdom of millions recovering AA’s when it comes to staying sober. Those who succeed in sailing to safer shores and who can enjoy a lifetime of freedom and joy are those who use both oars of recovery. It is your choice. Just get in the boat and keep rowing.