Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Fellowship of AA
There is the fellowship of AA and there is the program of AA. The fellowship is meetings and association with others seeking sobriety. The only requirement for membership in AA, ie the fellowship of AA, is a desire not to drink. This means that you can go to AA while drinking despite relapsing and you can go to AA sober or after having had a drink. If you go to AA when you've been drinking you're welcome if you don't create a disturbance and generally people who have been drinking on the day they attend a meeting of AA pass if they're asked to share because really they're there to learn about not drinking. In meetings the membership 'share' their 'experience, strength and hope" regarding 'what it was like, what happened and what it is now'. What it was like was clearly not good or they would still be drinking. That's called the 'bottom'. What happened refers to their decision to give up drinking and how they sought help and what it is like now refers to the improvements that have occurred in their lives since not drinking. Now initially the third part of that equation is often difficult because it takes a while for one to 'feel' good when one has depended on alcohol for 'feeling'. Yet 'carrying the message of AA " refers to this third part which certainly comes easier with increasing sobriety. Some people just 'whine' and 'complain' and that's certainly not what AA is 'all' about. Yet whining and complaining is where alot of people begin their recovery and slowly with exposure to the AA fellowship and certainly following working the program of AA they recognise that recovery is about more about the 'positive solutions' and less about the 'problem'. As one person succinctly put it, drinking I was killing myself, not drinking I'm beginning to live. I like to tell people what living I've done today more than the dying I used to do. The fellowship of AA carries alot of laughter because in recovery we realize that no one was forcing us to drink but we persisted because that's what addiction is. Doing the same thing, expecting different results despite negative consequences. We laugh in the fellowship with each other because the solution, though frankly obvious, "don't pick up the first drink and you won 't get drunk' is often the hardest step any individual will ever make in their life. However it's the first step on a glorious road that begins one day at a time and progresses to a life of recovery 'beyond one's wildest dreams'. No one is ever laughing 'at' you but rather they're laughing with you in the fellowship because frankly, we've been there and 'we don't want to go back'. So being reminded of what it was like, given the nature of denial, is a powerfully strong way of avoiding the isolation and 'stinking thinking' that comes with not going to meetings and too commonly precedes relapse.