[Extracted from the monthly ECO NEWS - June 2020]
The Hurt Becomes The Help
When coming into AA, I did not know what to expect. I was different than you people and I knew it. After quite some time I got a home group but always kept a distance. Just like the defense mechanisms I lived by when drinking (humour, anger, gossip, or deflection) anything to keep you from getting too close to the real me - was still quite active in this alcoholic.
As time passed, I learned to stay around and help tidy up the rooms. The conversations were good, but I still had a great wall. I too, listened, and repeated and I was a master at regurgitating things in my own words, so others were not to recognize it was someone else’s message from last week.
I sat in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous for 8 years and to quote one member, “Brad was the sickest alcoholic I had ever seen with 8 years in the rooms”. Now that was something to be proud of wasn't it! I looked and sounded great on the outside, but I was dying on the inside.
I went to meetings where you were not asked to share, for example: The Henwood Treatment Center. A group was being of service one evening and had several members come and share. They instilled in me a desire to move beyond fear and to look in the mirror, a hard look and this was when I realized I was truly dying. They invited us up after the meeting to talk. I knew right there and then, “I had been standing knee deep in a river and dying of thirst”. I approached the members and was invited to a fourteen-week, 12 Step Series. They were gracious and took me to other meetings in between the weekly step series…obviously to help me stay sober.
“The feeling that I’m going to be ok washed over me like nothing I have ever felt -- thank God!” I started to get well, and they introduced me to this thing called “Service”. I had not even finished the steps and we would all go to detox, hospitals, jails etc. and talk a little about what we were learning about ourselves.
Wow, I finally had something real to say, it was my experience, strength and hope and not a regurgitation of someone else’s. My life, my perspective on life and my purpose took on a new meaning. I had a reason to get up, be present and be alive.
The service pieces kept coming. I started to read the pamphlets as was suggested through the gift of sponsorship. As a result, I had more to share. I was becoming an informed Alcoholic and carrying the message as laid out in the literature.
I almost sounded like I knew what I was talking about, an outcome of practicing what I was learning. My sobriety was measured in, being comfortable with me, with you and with a higher power of my understanding. I had grown more in nine months than I did in the first 8 years… there was so much more to sobriety than just Recovery.
I was evolving into the Legacy of Service. My role had a whole new meaning. I was watching people change as a result of the change in me. How is that for “a new pair of glasses.”
My service journey took on momentum and when an alcoholic of my type finds something good, I certainly know how to overindulge. It was not so much the positions I was holding in service as it was the kindness, caring and love I had developed for others to get well too.
Covid 19 is a blessing in disguise. Hold on now, I know you are thinking maybe that guy was right, he is the sickest we have seen with 20 years in the rooms, but it is. You see we no longer have geographical boundaries; the Area is a smaller place. As a result, we are experiencing other meetings we may have not attended. We just had an Area Committee Meeting in Yellowknife. Some members have never been to Yellowknife physically, but they were there last week in spirit and it was strong. The Area Committee Chairs gave presentations on their respective committees and I said to my wife, “I think I am in the wrong Area Committee meeting – these are not the same people who started as Committee Chairs 4 1/2 months ago.” These people are laughing, having fun, quoting literature, digging into archives, reaching out to other service members for support-- All in an effort to carry the message to the fellowship with the desire to reach the still suffering alcoholic or those yet to come.
I shed a few tears of joy to see these members grow so much, in such a short period of time. To witness the transformation from one AA Legacy to another is a gift I will always cherish and for that I thank you. Just to be part of the most outstanding Area in all of AA is beyond my wildest dreams. I would not have missed this for the world.
Your Area Committee Chairs want to hear from you. They wish to invite the fellowship to help them in their new roles and their new lives. While their contact information was posted during the ACM, they can also be found at area78.org. So, reach out!! They are “your trusted servants” and they understand the role and responsibility bestowed upon them.
Now that geographical thing. All of your Area 78 Committee Officers can ‘Zoom’ into your Gratitude Night, District and other functions and provide support, info sessions, speaking engagements etc., while maintaining social distancing. Alcoholism does not take a vacation and neither do your trusted servants. They are currently planning service functions and information sessions for all to attend. The enthusiastic response at the ACM was both motivating and enlightening.
Ask yourself (while maybe feeling a little cheated, or “pity potting” about the Covid19 shut in): Am I making any progress in my sobriety?
- What am I doing today for the suffering alcoholic?
- How have I grown in Alcoholics Anonymous today?
- Am I living in the problem or the solution?
- Am I around AA or in AA?
- Do I understand my responsibility as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous?
Am I like the old Brad, standing knee deep in a river of AA knowledge and dying of thirst?
Pick up the tools of the Legacy of Service and relieve that parched feeling.
You only have to look in the forwards of the big book to find the answers. My personal favorite is in the foreword to the 2nd edition which states: “This seemed to prove that one alcoholic could affect another as no non-alcoholic could. It also indicated that strenuous work, one alcoholic with another, was vital to permanent recovery.”
We encourage you to reach out to your Area 78 Committee Chairs. Ask how you can grow by being of service to your fellows and society as a whole? Become a committee representative for your Home Group or District. Alcoholic Anonymous has given me an amazing life. I am glad I was spared an alcoholic death and given the privilege to share our way of life with others. I hope and pray you too find this treasure. God Bless you as you trudge the road to a happy destiny.
Your trusted servant,
Delegate Area 78, Panel 70
Please join the AA grapevine in its newest initiative, “2020 Carry the Message Project” at aagrapevine.org/carry-the-message