My AA birthday is always a time for reflection for me. Each year, I am amazed that so much time has passed. And each year, I am so grateful that through the Grace of my Higher Power whom I choose to call God I have been blessed with so many 24 hours without needing to pick up that first drink. Each day is a pearl to me, a gem as it were. And I string them together one by one, day by day, and the light of my Higher Power becomes reflective through me, as I adorn myself with His gifts One Day At A Time. I ask myself, how exactly did I do it?
AA, my sponsor, and a willingness to take suggestions and/or direction. I tried to do this AA thing all on my own when I first came through the doors. (I was fiercely independent, and I did not need your help.) Never mind that my life was a mess and I was a mess, I was convinced that I was not as bad (that’s some twisted thinking!) as you, and I could control and manage my drinking. I did what was suggested: I went back out and “controlled and managed” my alcohol consumption until I was down on my knees some years later asking God for help. I was lost when I got back to AA, and I needed a guide.
When I walked back through the doors of AA, I made a pact with myself to do this differently. I agreed to follow direction this time. That meant that I needed to attend regular meetings and to find a Home Group and a Sponsor. My “Home Group” was the local AA Fellowship that I made a commitment to. My commitment was to attend the same meetings each week. (I was able to attend twice a week where I lived in La Paz, Mexico.) It was suggested that I get a Service commitment in my Home Group. That could be making coffee, leading a meetings, unlocking the door each week, or simply greeting people at the door.
I picked a Sponsor in my Home Group that I could relate to. (There were only two sober women in my tiny English Speaking Fellowship, so I picked the one that did not remind me of my mother.) Well, as God would have it, the one I picked ended up moving, and so I was left with the only other woman in the group, Sylvia. She “plugged me in” at times, as she was so much like my Mom in my eyes. But in the end, Sylvia became my sponsor, and I love her so much today. (My God apparently wanted me to work through my “mother stuff,” and He picked Sylvia for me is how I choose to see it!) She did not have any strict protocol for me to follow, but she was a gentle guide for me – not at all what I expected.
I have heard it said that for the newcomer, the soul searching that we are asked to do, is a bit like going 10-42 on a jungle safari. A safari can be a dangerous place, and it is best to go with a knowledgeable guide. So, that is what Sylvia was for me. She had traveled the dangerous and tricky waters and dry deserts of the mind and was able to guide me as I ventured in between my own two ears. (I have heard it said that if my mind did not need me for transportation, I would probably be dead by now.) So, you see my mind is out to get me. It will tell me that this time is different, one drink won’t hurt, etc. etc. My sponsor became my sounding board. She did not tell me what to do. She would offer up suggestions now and again and support me in finding my own truths. She was careful not to bombard me with her ideas but let me find my own way. In all honesty, she loved me until I could love myself.
Through my relationship with my sponsor, I learned to be of Service to others. At first that began with some sort of service commitment in my Home group. I learned to participate in business meetings, be part of a group conscience, take a position such as secretary or coffee maker, etc. I learned to be accountable by committing to a service position at the group level. By learning to do for others in AA by participation, I learned that I could also be of service to others outside of AA. It has made all of the difference in the world. I have learned over the years to think of myself less and others more. Baby steps. It began by sharing my story at an AA meeting, and it has grown from there. It was suggested that if I was asked to be of Service in AA, that I should never turn that opportunity down. I have carried that into my personal life outside of AA, and sometimes I get creative with it. I got to know one of my neighbors years ago, and I would take her meals on occasion. She lived alone and never cooked for herself. It was “the next indicated thing” to me. We are very close today, though we live a world apart.
I had two small children when I first came back to AA so many years ago, and while it would have been easy to use them as an excuse to not attend, it was imperative that I figure out how to get my butt into the rooms of AA. I think if this online venue had been available to me at the time, I might still be drinking, as to me this would have been a place that I could have hidden and not given 100% of myself. My life was all about what was convenient for Alison, and I had to do the opposite of that in order to stay sober, heal, and get well. AA has given me my life back and so very much more. I like to think I am the happiest woman in the world today. Thank you, ladies. I could not have done it without you and your service and commitment to the program we like to call Alcoholics Anonymous.
What benefits have you found from being of service in AA, and how has that extended into your daily life?