Traditional Recovery-Joel_July 2017

Traditions often get overlooked by sponsors who tend to focus on the steps, which are the core of the program. But the traditions are what keep the core going. The steps saved alcoholics from alcohol; the traditions saved AA from the alcoholics. Grandfather Bear, Vancouver, WA, Circa 2007. Tradition 5 states that “Each Group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.” The steps kept me from committing suicide; the traditions kept me from committing homicide. Grandfather Bear, Vancouver, WA, Circa 2008. There are two main reasons that we spend time reinforcing primary purpose: 1. History has shown us that when a group’s purpose gets diluted by outside interests, the fulfillment of the group’s mission suffers and often becomes lost, and the group can falter or fail. 2. Carrying the message is the biggest thing that keeps us sober, and in turn helps others to become sober. And then they go out and carry the message and help others to become sober. There are a lot of ways to carry the message: -Being a member of a home group and talking to others after the meeting, doing service tasks for the home group -Talking to wet drunks in bars -Being involved in service work such as a Bridge the Gap committee -Being a greeter at a meeting -Washing coffee cups and ashtrays after a meeting (ok, that’s an old one) I was 33 years old when I got sober, a relatively young man compared to many in AA. I farted around on the outside of the program for two years before I got serious about getting sober. I stopped hanging with the guys I’d spent years drinking and drugging with and got involved with a home group, attending it five days a week. I also attended other meetings and started going to AA social functions. And my sobriety began building in time and quality. One of the things I realized in sobriety is that nature will not tolerate a vacuum. If you take something out of your life, you have to replace it with something or nature will choose for you. At first I replaced drinking with a lot of AA meetings; sometimes three or four a day, and occasionally, five. After a few months I was able to cut down on meetings when I returned to school and started reinventing myself. After I finished a two-year program I got back into the workforce. But through all of that, I kept going to meetings and being involved with a home group. I became more involved with service work as my meeting attendance lessened. I used to be chair of the Activities Committee for the district Central Office. That was a way to carry the message by making social gatherings available for our members or prospective members. I still attend my home group and when I go home to Washington, I stop by my home group there. Saturday, May 18, 2017, I hit 33 years clean and sober. I’m a person who couldn’t put together 33 hours when I got started so I do consider myself an AA success story. I’m 66 years old now so I’ve been in recovery half of my life. That would have sounded like purgatory to me as a young stoner/drinker. But now, I find that living sober is a blast. I have fun and don’t feel like I have anything to hide. I can act just as crazy as I like and I don’t have to figure out why everyone is looking at me and laughing the morning after a night I don’t remember. Best of all, following the creed given us in Tradition 5, I can share this feeling with other members, beginners, or prospects of AA.

-Joel

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