Almost from the beginning of my recovery I’ve been inspired and impressed by the fellowship I’ve discovered in Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ve seen this at work within my face to face group and later also in the fellowship as a whole as I learned about how the program and fellowship got off the ground. All throughout the last seven and a half decades men and women gave of themselves not expecting anything back in return except maybe only to keep themselves sane and sober.
I’ve come to love and be very grateful for this spirit and have often wondered if I could possibly display this attitude myself. I am so self-centered and egotistic I often find it difficult. I ask my Higher Power to take these character defects from me and I take time to be grateful as I can see them lifted. But I remain a work in progress…
What I find useful to ponder as I try to display a positive attitude in an A.A. meeting are the following questions:
Am I honest? Honesty is so important for me today. In relation to my A.A. fellows I try to be as honest as I can be both with regards to my own experience as well as with regards to they themselves. If I am asked for my opinion I try not to hold anything back nor to pretend anything about what I understand. I must try not to polish away anything either for if we turn from dealing with small issues when they are small they are allowed to grow. I have found situations in which I know what I want to say but would bite my tongue while I watch a member’s life fall apart. A wise man said: An honest answer is a sign of true friendship.
At many times I found that honesty cannot be expressed by itself. I can be brutally or brazenly honest and dead wrong all at the same time! At those times I need to ask myself: Am I being humble enough? I know that stubbornness and pride can destroy friendship and fellowship. Humility can build up fellowship. I try my best to show humility by admitting my own weaknesses and by having an open mind to be corrected at all times. I need to show more interest in others than I show in myself. This, after all, is not only good for the relationship but also good for myself. My own ego has to take a back seat.
Another question I like to keep in mind is: Am I putting the fellowship first? This important principle has been a cornerstone for my recovery. I know that the moment I put my own self first it has to go at the expense of something else. At those times I cannot possibly show my fellow his value, I only try to impress my own upon him. This principle, I found, is not only applicable within the group but in any other relationships I have, those of my family, those of friendships and with associates.
Last, but not least, I need to ask myself at all times: Am I a person of confidence? My fellowship with my group or with any individual within the group is of no value if I cannot keep information I receive. We often hear: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. In my experience there is no bigger act of treason I can perform than breaking the anonymity or confidentiality of any relationship. Just as I feel free to express myself, my faults, weaknesses, fears, so should every fellow member in this group. It is the bedrock upon which our fellowship is built. If I chisel away, even a little bit, I will not only lose a friendship or damage the group. No! I damage A.A. as a whole. Such a burden is not something I can carry. This organisation has saved the life of millions over the last seventy-odd years and it is my responsibility for the hand of A.A. to be there for future generations as well as for the alcoholic still suffering.
By asking myself these questions I have been able to overcome my fear of giving back to this fellowship which has so richly and freely given to me. As I learn more every day I want to build on these and get through this day. If I can remember them tomorrow morning it will give me a better chance.
“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen