I just got back from a speaker meeting where the woman who spoke was very entertaining. I can’t help it, I wish I could be entertaining when I speak. Again, with AA lingo, where I am, “speaking” is telling your story of “what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now.” We tell about our childhood, what made us finally stop drinking, and how sobriety is going. In the lingo we would also say that “speaking,” or telling your story, is “sharing” your story. So sharing can be commenting on something or telling your whole story at a meeting.
I’m amazed at the miracle of AA in my life, that by telling my story and hearing that of others I and they can stay sober. Again, my favorite symbol is “the man on the bed” because it represents to me an image of the birth of AA that flourished and was passed on until I needed it.
My feelings about my story have changed. When I first came to AA, I didn’t have much of a story. I had started drinking at 16, and almost immediately fell into the pit of alcoholism. I made my first meeting before I was 17, and shortly after that I achieved sobriety for 18 months. During that time I told my story a lot. Where I got sober, people tell their story at 90 days. Where I am now, a year is almost a “rule.” I firmly believe that 90 days is better than a year. I also believe that any, almost any excuse someone or someone’s sponsor gives for a person not telling their story at all is just wrong, and jeopardizes sobriety. I especially don’t like to hear that someone isn’t “ready.” If I had waited to be ready, no one would have heard from me yet.
I hate doing it, but I do it when I’m asked. Mostly, I hope to help someone, especially people who relapse again and again the way I did. These days I’m also really glad to “represent” old oldtimers. But oh it would be so nice to entertain as well!
Of course telling my story reminds me of my more harrowing adventures. I’ve tried recently to think of different examples from my old favorites. Last time I told my story, someone commented that she liked one of the anecdotes I had left out in favor of another.
I’ve read that Bill W’s story changed over time. I’m sure mine has also. Recently, Carole and the kids and I listened to an NPR report about false memories, how memories are influenced by time and images and different information. The story used the example of people talking about September 11. Even such a recent thing was influenced by what they saw and what they heard, and their stories changed over time. For me and I guess for Bill W, the stories we are telling happened when we were drugged, to boot.
It’s very important for me to remember where I came from, what brought me here, and how the road of sobriety has changed as well. What a miracle that by telling you, you and I can both stay sober.