Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It does matter

I am going to do something today that I have never done before.  I am going to coattail, piggy-back, and otherwise keep going with the topic on a couple of other blogs.  I think it is that important.  

It is our beloved fellowship's third tradition which states:
"Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism.  Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover.  Nor ought AA membership ever depend upon money or conformity.  Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation."  Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 563

And here I am going to do something else I have never done before. I am going to cut and paste a snippet from someone else's comment:
"If I decide to go to an AA meeting and discuss my food problem, they'd damn well better listen!  They don't know who they are messing with ;0)"

Well, sweetheart, you have just stated so very eloquently why the 3rd tradition is so very important.  They indeed do not know who they are messing with - and therefore cannot help you.  And you may damn well kill a few folks while you are killing yourself.  

Our singleness of purpose was born out of experience of another fellowship that came in the 1800s.  They were called the Washingtonians, and they had tremendous success with alcoholics.  Until they decided that their program could be applied to every problem, just as you hear folks say about AA.  Before long, they were embroiled in politics and religion and their fellowship, along with the hopes of thousands of alcoholics, were destroyed.  

You can chose to hide out in the wrong program - if you don't want to get well, and if you don't mind killing a few others.  You do have that right.  And I do believe it is hiding out.  The reason AA works is because we understand each other.  No one else understands me.  I really believe that I am different on a cellular (and I don't mean phones) level from my non-alcoholic brothers and sisters.  When I got to AA I knew I was home... for the first time in my life.  

Here is the illustration I use.  I have an eating problem.  I am an alcoholic.  No one in Alcoholics Anonymous cares if I have an eating problem.  I qualify to be in AA.  I am an alcoholic.  If I am seeking help for my eating problem in AA, some nice, well-meaning alcoholic may hand me a donut, coffee with sugar and fake cream, ask me to sit down and tell me "just don't drink and you will be OK."  That is reasonable advice for an alcoholic.  But if I am seeking help for an eating disorder, that will be very very bad.  So, if I need help for my eating, I can go talk to someone in another fellowship who may actually understand that I don't need a donut and coffee with sugar.  

People new to AA are usually quite befuddled, and it is all the more dangerous because about 99.9% of the time they don't realize it.  We need to have a message in Alcoholics Anonymous.  And it needs to be about understanding what it is to be a drunk and being able to share our own stories of our alcoholism and the recovery we have been so miraculously blessed with.   My sobriety would be meaningless if it wasn't in stark contrast with my life of active alcoholism.  We need to be able to share these stories.  These real stories.

I drank like a pig.  I did things that were shameful and disgusting.  I felt like the worst person on earth.  Then, out of desperation, I came into a fellowship full of people who understood me, and I was able, with the help of God, to quit drinking and doing shameful and disgusting things.  Why would you want to mess with that?


Pam said...

birds of a feather flock together...and that's what I've got to say about that little speckled robins egg.

dAAve said...

Here, here!
I know this much ...
I would never go into a meeting of Overeaters Anonymous and announce myself as an alcoholic and further expect help with my drinking problem.
In the definitions of open and closed meetings, it closes with the phrase that our sharing should be limited to our problems with drinking.

AlkySeltzer said...

Gosh, MC...you go cuttin' and pastin' (my trick? Don't remember.) I gotta be careful what "goes down" here! -grin- Actually, I need to read EVERYTHING which "goes down" here. Especially when from YOU.
Few days ago I commented (wherever) with this URL which really laid out for me defining 'arguments' FOR 'Singleness of Purpose': http://www.aa.org/en_pdfs/f-13_fall-winter02.pdf That was enuff for ME!

Scott W said...

Please do not stop talking about this subject.

Anonymous said...

It matters to me too. Thank you for writting about the traditions!

Hope said...

Thank you for this reminder. There are several people in my home group who have both eating disorders and are alcoholics, myself included. We talk about the food issues after AA meetings or on the phone. I can't expect understanding from an AA member about my food issues just like I can't expect a non alcoholic to understand why I can't have just one drink.

Lou said...

I'm glad you mentioned that many people don't understand. The lines have gotten blurred. My son, the heroin addict has been court ordered into AA.
So the misinformation goes all the way to the top. Or maybe it's just easier for the courts.

Banana Girl said...

I second that emotion and all of your conclusions. I especially like the declaration about hiding out in the wrong program. Denial is such a powerful form of ego and pride. Don't know who they are messing with--my foot! We know exactly who you are! You are the time- and oxygen consuming body snatcher who spends other people's currency of sobriety and then dares to demand to be understood. Love you MC! A hale and hearty here-here! J

hpydstny said...

Yup! _ Head nodding here. Singleness of Purpose.... How very important.

Anonymous said...

It's like going to a dentist to get your feet looked at...I wholeheartedly agree. I think the traditions are more important than the steps; without the steps I get drunk; without the traditions we all do; because aa is not here for any of us.
"shoemaker stick to thy last. Better to do one thing supremely well than many badly..." I believe are the first words in the tradition 5 write up in the 12x12.

You're right on topic MC.

-Dave from Maryland

Mary LA said...

Great post Mary Christine -- I have also posted today on my experiences in South African AA. Conflating addictions does not help anyone.


Mary LA