I have been at a lot of AA meeting now. I have heard a lot of stuff spoken about / shared. Some of it used to drive me crazy, very little ever has that affect now. However last week at a meeting I listened to someone share for about 10 minutes.
The meetings I go to all last for one hour, they are not very busy – about 10 or 12 people – but still 10 minutes is a fairly long time to talk for. I understand when someone is having problems that they are likely to talk for longer, they may feel the need to get something out – but this speaker had been sober for about 3 days. 3 bloody days and he lectured on AA – thank goodness for the way meeting are run that I don’t, (can’t), interrupt and tell him to shut up. Am I being a tad judgmental?
Experience Strength and Hope
Fortunately I have never been one of those people in Alcoholics Anonymous who feels the need to tell the room what AA is and what it is not. In a way I was lucky and met a guy early on who told me some stuff about sharing in meetings.
First thing he said was when sharing talk about yourself to yourself. The second thing was stick to your experience strength and hope. These two suggestions were passed on to me in a kind and gentle manner. I heard, and mostly I have tried to stick to this way of sharing in meeting since.
I understand why this is good for me. AA is not the place for me to go teaching people how to live or telling people what they should do. If that had been the way the message of AA was passed to me I doubt I would have heard much.
I remember the first time I read the Big Book; I started one evening and continued reading till it was done. That book really did speak to me at the time and through-out it told me what they had done – not what I had to do.
I see many old timers who have become really good at managing alcoholics like I was at the start. I remember after a meeting ranting about someone to an old timer – he waited till I paused for breath, (which was a while), and said “love and tolerance is our code” – I don’t know if it was meant to shut me up but it did, and it made me think.
Why stick to my experience? I make lots of mistakes, I have to do the same things over and over and often have many attempts at dealing with very similar situations until I learn.
Any maybe that is why. When someone in a room of Alcoholic Anonymous shares their experience I listen and I identify. I see the same in me. I see that I am not unique. And often as the result of this I feel part of AA and the meetings – I belong. Belonging somewhere was an uncomfortable feeling for me during the first few years and I had to work at it.
When I share my 2 or 3 minutes worth in AA meetings today I talk mostly about what is going on right now. How I still struggle with some problems, how I have learned to live in the grey and don’t need everything to be either right or wrong. I live a full life with a family, a business to run, friends, AA meetings, and how I relate in these areas are important; well important to me at least.
I am quite comfortable talking about my experience, however not so about my strength… I think I can identify a few in this area now:
I have stayed sober for a number of years and I am mostly happy and enjoy life. I am grateful; this is an area that needs constant attention as it has never come naturally, so I work at being grateful, and my life is better the more I work at this.
I run a small business, and have done for a number of years. I have been in a long term happy relationship, and I have had friends for a long time – so in some ways I am fairly consistent.
No police. Yes, since I stopped drinking they have not been in my life. That’s nice.
I still go to meetings a few times each week. I don’t walk around angry all the time – that used to be my usual.
Life has changed beyond all recognition. It really has, and no one is more surprised than me.
I like this definition of hope:
Hope is the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or in the world at large.
A lot of my hope has come around because of just getting on with things and hoping that the outcomes would be better than the past. However the greatest effect on my hope has been prayer.
I need to pause for a moment to confess. I don’t believe in God – though I still capitalize that word… But I pray, I pray everyday. I pray for all the people that bug me, anyone that I feel resentful towards gets my prayers – that I have become willing to wish all the best to someone that annoys me is still startling to me.
I am now naturally looking for positive outcomes and not for me or anyone else to be hurt or harmed. Bloody amazing really when you consider where I come from.
It is strange writing about AA, being in Alcoholic Anonymous, and being sober. I have written about many things over the years but never in this area. I must admit it doesn’t flow quite like I thought it would, maybe it will take time for the muse to speak or my voice to come through, we’ll see.