I can’t begin to tell you how important this Tradition was for me, early in my recovery, and how it continues to be of importance even today, many years later.  My path to the tables of A.A. was a long and arduous trip of many years, and when I finally arrived at the doors of A.A., I was still not absolutely sure that I was “in the right place.”  I had many questions, and was only sure of two things, I needed help, and A.A. had helped countless others – so why not me?  Like many others I had a preconceived definition of what an alcoholic is, and I had worked hard to avoid being labeled as such.  My life was a mess, I was full of fear, and I was at the end of the road – there was no place else to turn to.  I am so grateful that not only was I allowed to remain in the rooms but I was welcomed warmly and had no idea why that was but felt an overwhelming sense of “rightness” about being “in the Program.”  It was like being thrown a life raft in a raging sea, after falling overboard. . . I clung on to that “raft” with both hands – and felt the stirrings of hope for the first time in my life.

“The ONLY requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”  It does not matter what my religious affiliation is, or if I have one; it does not matter what my financial status is, it does not matter what my marital status is, it does not matter what my social status is, it does not matter!  What does matter is my desire to stop drinking.  I just love the simplicity of A.A., and am thankful that those who were involved in the early years were wise enough to realize the need for A.A. to be “inclusive” not “exclusive.”  This simple guideline has saved literally thousands of lives, if not millions.  This Tradition continues to challenge the Fellowship in many ways. Today we have many members – some of whom are also addicts, some of whom are also mental health clients, some of whom are atheists, some of whom can also be defined in other ways.  Whatever way we define ourselves the bottom line for me is that I have “a desire to stop drinking.”  That is the only requirement I need to claim a seat at the tables and to say “Hi, my name is Bonnie, and I’m an alcoholic.

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