Service is the rent we pay to be on this earth. ~ Anon
Let’s look at how we are doing when it comes to Step#12. A personal review now and then is healthy for even the most seasoned AA member. Here are a few questions to help you:
- Have you been able to reach out to another recovering addict? If
so, describe the situation and how it feels to you.
- What kind of approach would you like to have had when you first started the program? How can you implement that type of approach in your life to others now?
- What would you say if someone asked how the 12 Step program has worked for you.
My experience in reaching out to another alcoholic has been inspirational to my recovery. I would say that the more I give, the more I get back 10 fold. And, the words I say to someone come back to me at the very time I need them the most. We give freely what we were freely given.
When I first started in AA, the people I met were very loving and accepting of me. Of course, the hugs hurt, and I was suspicious of their motives. Their humor was much needed. I felt a part of; where I had never felt that way before. These days, I usually give new people my number, a meeting list, and a copy of the Big Book. I ask them to call anytime. Beyond that, I do not push or pull them in any one direction. I firmly believe HP has got this!
When asked how AA has worked for me, I can testify to:
31 + years of sobriety.
A whole cadre of loving friends that I call family.
Service/serenity/recovery on all three levels: spiritual, physical, and emotional.
A life of useful purposefulness.
For these and many other things I have found in AA, I will be forever grateful.
The 11th tradition is based on a faith in the program and in an HP greater than ourselves which guides suffering alcoholics to our doors. ~ AA literature
You know, there is a very good reason why we do not use our faces, last names, career titles, resumes, etc. to promote AA. We know that we are just one drink away from being deep in drunken doo doo. And, we do not want society to see AA as just a bunch of unreliable and unsavory active drunks. At the end of each meeting, we announce that the “opinions expressed were that of the individual, and not AA as a whole.” We also say, “who you saw here, and what you heard here, stays here when we leave here.” Does this mean certain members don’t heed those suggestions? Heavens no. We are just sick human beings trying become better. That is why we come to the meetings day in and day out. The best advise I have is to not hitch your expectations and recovery process on anyone else’s hat hook. We are bound to be human. And, as Shakespeare once coined, “to err, is to be human.”
So, we do not go on TV or radio, etc. to announce we are alcoholics and have all the answers. We do give service. And in doing that service, for the sake of communicating, we may give the service body our personal contact information and last names. They are kept confidential. We do not sell that information to ad agencies or businesses. As secretary to an intergroup, I know keeping those records made doing my job easier. I did not have to haul out my phone to look up a contact. Emailing was made easier, by keeping email “lists” to send to, instead of individual postings. Everyone could get the same information in two minutes, that in the past would have taken hours to type and send via snail mail, etc. AA in the 21st century is the same as it was in the 1930’s, except we are now all digitalized and computerized. It makes getting the message of recovery out there so much easier. Remember: attraction not promotion.
Swallowing your pride is better than eating your words. ~ Anon
I tell you that one hit me right in the face today. This year and all of next year, I am involved in the running of two 12 step conventions. I have off and on over my years done just about every position on convention planning boards and committees. Each year, I try to do something of value for each of the two programs I am a member of. That keeps me busy. When my hands and mouth are busy doing productive things in service to others, I find that I have no energy left to get in trouble with those around me. Yes, even after all these years, I need to have G.O.D. = Good Orderly Direction. I get in trouble with unscheduled idle time. I enjoy resting and relaxing, but then after a few hours, I get antsy.
I appreciate that there is plenty of work to be done in the 12 step program. I feel needed and I feel productive. But, I do have to watch that I do not get too prideful in my work. I also have to guard against feeling as if that service position is my career or my job. My personality can get way too enmeshed in the title, the responsibility and the outcomes of my service work. So, working with others on a committee or a board stretches me. I get to learn how to take criticisms, let others take the lead, and most importantly teach others how to do the work I am doing. The concept that we share responsibility in the work of AA is so important. It does my heart good to see those who are new in the program get up, go greet the newcomers, give out their contact number, and and offer to be of help. Let’s keep AA alive and well for the still suffering alcoholic. If you are not sure what to do, ask.
The 10th step begins with the word ‘continued’, our first clue that perserverance is about to become a key aspect of our recovery program. ~ 12 Step Literature
I thank goodness every day that I am a stubborn woman. Stubbornness used for good purposes is called perseverance. I will not give up once I start something. I refuse to let go of the way I work this program. I stubbornly put AA first in my life. I continue to do the same things that have kept me sober over 30 years because they work. I adamantly stand for the traditions in my meetings. I stubbornly insist that I will not let persons or personalities run me out of AA. I must of I will die.
Today, I had the honor to work with a new person. What I heard was, “Yeah, I am willing, but but but but”. The “yeah buts” are what stand in the way of recovery. They are the excuses, the interferences, and the reasons why we plan to fail. Believe me when I say, I have heard it all, seen it all, and done it all. My stubbornness almost cost me my life, my sanity, and my livelihood. So, if you find yourself saying you are such a stubborn person, consider turning that defect into an asset. Reframe your statement: I am absolutely persistent enough to recover. Or: My perseverance is finely tuned. It works when you work it; and you are worth it.
How can AA sit by and say nothing about the many social evils which seem to go unchecked in the world? ~ Anon
The key word in Tradition #10 is neutrality. We stay in our own lane = alcoholism and sobriety because we are uniquely qualified in just that. Nothing more and nothing less. When we are tempted to bring our political, religious, or any other special interest into the mix, we need to stop and think: Does this keep me and others sober? Is this improving upon the silence? How important is this when it comes to offering the new person the solution to sobriety? Emotional and spiritual sobriety means acceptance of life on life’s terms. Nothing less and nothing more. Does this mean we must be in sheep-like agreement and not have a passions in life? No. We are welcome to our opinions and our feelings. They just do not belong in an AA meeting. Goodness knows, I sure have them!
Here is how tradition #10 worked for us at a recent business meeting. We are coming up on elections, and as always there are openings but not many applicants banging at our door to be of service. This drives me bonkers. But, somehow people end up stepping up for service every single time. The process changes each year, as the people making decisions are different each year. It is much like herding kittens…..they are all over the place and each going its own way. Staying in neutral, not having a vested interest in the outcomes, and staying calm helped a lot. Staying on topic when others less experienced kept drifting off topic also helped. We got a lot done. We came to a consensus about how to proceed, and everyone’s voice was heard. Our personal beliefs, feelings, and political stances would have kept us apart. We need neutrality so that we can remain united in the interest of our sobriety. Stay calm. Stay in your lane. Enjoy neutrality.
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.