This is meant to be reflections on my modern-day experience of being a longtimer in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. The title comes from some cryptic advice on how to become an oldtimer. Much of what is written and findable on the web and in books, etc, deals with the experiences of the early oldtimers. Much of that deals with their thoughts and concerns about the ways in which they saw AA changing.
I went to my first AA meeting in 1978, and I had my last drink to date in 1984. I was just under 22 years old at that time. I have lived more than half of my life sober in AA, and all of my adult life has been spent this way. I feel beyond a doubt that it is the AA program and people that have enabled me to live to any good purpose, and that I owe it my very life.
I’ve grouped the posts under several categories. My Story is the very long version of, well, my story. That is a “lead” in AA, and it tells “what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like today.” Step Six is where I’ve worked my way through the step line by line over a five month period. This being the third time I’ve undertaken a formal reworking of the steps, I thought I would start out in a different manner, because my reworkings before have started with Step One and ended with Step Five. I work the other steps, but I haven’t formally looked at them in a long, long time. I’ve now worked through Step Seven and Step Sight in the same way, and am working on Step Ten. Step Eleven has my recent thoughts on prayer and some of the newer prayers I’m experimenting with in my new quest for serenity. This Day is where I’m trying to comment on the day in a more bloggy fashion. Words to Live By has the quotes, poems, verses and things I’ve collected over the years that don’t come from AA but that help me reframe my life in the quest for serenity. Everything Else is where everything that isn’t my story, step six, step seven, step eight, my day or step eleven is going, for now.
Many people come here seeking information about AA Meetings. I urge all of you to contact AA. You need not fear doing so. I am no expert or authority, but I’ve written what I know to be generally true of AA meetings in a special page AA Meetings, Meeting Formats, Kinds of Meetings.
I’ve set out to gather some other lists. I’ll keep adding to Discussion Meeting Topics as I discover new ones. This is the most popular page in my blog, which surprises me. I’ve been writing on most of those topics in turn, and, for me, it’s filling the role of sort of gathering my thoughts and understanding on these important concepts at this time. A list of Character Defects is difficult to write. Maybe that’s why people search for one so frequently. It’s my understanding that there’s no definitive list, and really all lists are tools to help us get to the bottom of what’s wrong with us. Sometimes a different wording of the same thing strikes a chord within us when before we couldn’t understand. With that in mind, I’m trying to keep the list from being repetitive while at the same time including as much as possible. It’s most definitely a work in progress. For some times I’ve been collecting Prayers and Meditations that I’d like to learn and so be able to use them when I need to, kind of like the prayers I memorized as a child. I rotate one in the sidebar and it helps me to write it out and look at it when I look at the blog. I’m also keeping a page of them. These are only prayers that appeal personally to me, seen in the light of my AA program. The Menopause Chronicles details my journey down that path. It has a huge impact on me right now, but I understand that not everyone will want to know about it
Anonymity: The June 2008 issue of the AAGrapevine published guidelines for anonymity on public web sites. It says in part that
“Someone using their full name and/or a full-face photograph would be in violation of the Eleventh Tradition ……. our [last] names and pictures as AA members ought not to be broadcast, filmed or publicly printed.”
I will stick to those guidelines. The names I use are chosen by a random name selector, and have no relation to the actual names of the people I write about. Of course people who know me read this blog. If you know who I am, please feel free to share the link and my name, as I do not think that violates the tradition.
“Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”
I wrote about this here, but I think it’s important enough to put on the “about” page. I understand that some bloggers take this tradition to mean they should not voice opinions on religion, politics, or anything else. I disagree. If I come to see that I’m wrong about this, I will remove those topics from the blog. I would never jeopordize AA, it has saved my life. I believe that the tradition speaks to AA groups, not anonymous individuals. Here are some quotes from The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions:
- nations and groups torn assunder
- others fell apart
- the members of Alcoholics Anonymous, now restored as citizens of the world, are [not] going to back away from their individual responsibilities to act
- when it comes to A.A. as a whole . . . we do not enter into public controversy
My religion and my politics are very important to me, and they are a big part of my story. Anyone who has not experienced AA needs to know that AA in no way tells us what to say or what to believe. In fact, it’s often in the rooms of AA that I learn to take a kindly view of people I disagree with. We are more the same, after all, than we are different.
I welcome comments and I even welcome comments that are critical of AA. I am happy to participate in meaningful discussions about AA, including discussions about what’s wrong with AA, and I do publish those comments. Comments that simply bash AA, though, are useless and I trash them.