“Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” – AA 12th Tradition
In our area we have a lot of people who live at the halfway house, some new to recovery while others are back again, attempting to get a hold of an understanding of a 12 Step program. A major taking point for many is their trouble dealing with “personalities” inside and outside of the rooms. Despite my own understanding of this tradition, I struggle with this on a daily basis. Yet I’m always reminded, it’s not about them, it’s about me.
As you stick around you begin to develop relationships with others. Some you like while others you just can’t stand. However, I learned early on, no matter what, you go to a meeting for yourself despite what is said or anyone who is attending. Something may be said which might save your life (as did happen on several occasions) or as many point out, “Don’t leave before the miracle happens . . .” Do I follow this consistently? Nope, I’m not a perfect human being. I try to follow the Steps and Traditions to the best of my ability on a daily basis.
“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
-Bilbo Baggins, The Fellowship of the Ring, A Long-expected Party
For instance, I avoid a particular meeting on Monday night because of one person. He wants to control every aspect of a meeting he sits as the chairperson. You’re chastised for coming late. You’re expected to sit through the whole meeting (no bathroom breaks). Don’t get up in the middle of the meeting for a cup of coffee, otherwise you get the “evil eye”. Most of the time, it’s he who talks the most because “..I want people to understand …”. Alright, I get it.
But there are nights like last night which just send me in a tail spin. I only went to this “Big Book Study” meeting because my Sponsor asked me. Last week I didn’t go, I got reprimanded (in a nice way), so I promised to go this week. I consciously left my own difficulties with this person at the door, breathed and sat down quietly. But it didn’t last long.
As we began reading, “There is a Solution” (Chapter 2) he asked we all participate with reading a paragraph (or two if short) and then passing the reading to another. However after a few paragraphs he would stop us asking, “Does anyone have any questions? Do you understand, ‘…[X}..’?, “This means …..”. Needless to say, we only got through less than half of the chapter.
It was painful for me to sit through. I was sitting on my hands for a while literally gritting my teeth. My roommate said to me afterward, “Damn might, you were breathing heavily through that meeting.” Another person literally grabbed me pulling me away to speak to me after the meeting, “What the f**k was THAT all about?” I felt like I was five years old again.
This is how the program works. I left the meeting pretty quickly afterward. As I’m walking home, venting to my Higher Power, a car pulls up right beside me. It’s my Sponsor, “Mike get in, I know something is bothering you!” So we talked, we agreed on a few points but I was asked to “try” and “be willing” to attend next weeks session. He reminded me, its not about HIM, its about us and our experiences which might help those newcomers at the meeting.
There are three reasons I go to a meeting every day. First, to stay sober. If I’m not connect with AA, I’m closer to a drink. I know this from recent experience. Two, by sharing my experience, strength and hope I’m not only helping another suffering alcoholic but its helping me stay sober today. Lastly, because there is no other place in the world you can go, where people who typically wouldn’t talk to each other, to talk about your problems and get answers. They care for your well being every day.