Alcoholics Anonymous Blog & Video | Dec 30 | DonInLondon | Step 12 "Freedom To Choose"
"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs..."
December 30, 2013 Step Twelve Month: "we are not a glum lot in recovery." Well not all the time, sometimes we are glum with good reason. In any meeting of Fellowship, no matter which Fellowship is right for you, you will find people being restored to sanity and in different stages of success other than the obvious one, sober one more day. Some of us took a while to realise that we could be driven mad by life on any given day, and that we could be very out of sorts even without a drink inside us.
Some of the most interesting meetings we can attend in recovery are not particularly well run, sometimes people run amok, sometimes people cross share, sometimes people have fallen out with each other, sometimes there has been romance and now there is no evidence romance at all, simply hateful jibes which inspire mirth in other people. Sometimes they can be so sad we are all crying together, and then the next moment we are laughing so loud our sides hurt. Sometimes we find ourselves in complete silence, sometimes we are stunned, rarely are we stunned actually because after a while we probably have heard pretty much anything anyone can do. But for the newcomer what of their expectations?
One of the good things about recovery is we are all human beings learning what it is to be human again. And the conventions that might apply or be expected within meetings are quite unpredictable, because people will divulge and share whatever is on their mind. We often find ourselves listening to the story of another person's experiences, maybe wishing the less detail, but the truth is people need real to express their truth or their opinions or their beliefs because how else would they see the impact, get feedback, change to the better or worse. If we try to control people in meetings, and produce a sanitised version of how people are in recovery, I doubt many people would be able to stay and find their path back to extraordinary living.
I feel I have missed out on a couple of good meetings, listening to friends who came round and shared time yesterday. There was no malice or undermining going on, but some of my favourite meetings I have missed recently do provide the best of all possible outcomes: outrage, updates on fantastic events, sorrow at people dying, and newcomers dipping their toes in the water and sharing the truth of their experience, strength and hope. Often newcomers are very cross when the Fellowship seems disorganised, does not have any leaders, and in particular does not have a complaints Department! I wanted to write to somebody about my first few days of recovery many years ago to complain that there seem to be no professional people who knew what they were doing and the whole thing seemed altogether a shambles.
Many years later, I can confirm to any newcomer that somehow Fellowship meetings still are shambolic, because we are all in relative states of sanity, disorganisation, regeneration and from one day to the next nobody knows exactly what is going on. And yet somehow the meetings happen, very rarely are they cancelled because of the weather, and nobody takes responsibility other than for their own conduct one day at a time. The early days where we want to complain about the conduct of people in meetings, is replaced by an acceptance that people will behave the best they can, even if it seems to be the worst experience to imagine on that day. In the end, it is a very rare event when a meeting does not happen in the right place at the right time.
Meetings of Fellowship are nothing like rehab and nothing like anything else you are going to experience on the planet. Much talk of God and many believe in God, much talk about there not being a God and many don't believe in God. At the same time there seems to be a higher power available for everyone, just that it's not the same for everyone, each person works out what their higher power is and whatever you do don't undermine it. Being powerless and surrendering to the truth of now is quite complicated in our world of ego and domination. And understanding what unconditional love might be, well that particular subject is ongoing for everyone every day. I'm sure if we could go to the shops and buy half a pound of unconditional love, we would, but then it wouldn't be unconditional, it will be economic or some other form of barter.
I love meetings in all their shapes and forms, in all their ups and downs, in all their chaos and then some with strict rational organisational bits added on until the group conscience speaks and gets back to the only requirement to be at a meeting is a desire to stop drinking. Which reminds me that the UK "where to find" seems to have morphed on its front page to include rules which do not exist and put there by somebody with control issues. I only saw a rule yesterday when I bought a new one a couple of days ago and it talks about open and closed meetings of AA. Every meeting of AA is open and lest I forget, if you invite me round to a private meeting of AA, it is not AA at all, it’s you in your front room with prejudices I would prefer never to have. Inclusion in all aspects is the key to recovery, any form of exclusion is never good and should never be written into the constitution of anything.
Good luck to all the rehabs out there, good luck to anybody anywhere trying to recover and no matter how you do it, hope it works one day at a time. I am not here to judge anyone else's methods, I am very grateful for the anarchic democracy that is Alcoholics Anonymous, and long may it be so.
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