(I have the desire and am willing. I am powerless over alcohol)

The only requirement for membership in AA is a desire to stop drinking. But sometimes it is hard to feel sure about that. At the meeting I attended yesterday a man shared about his home group in the Midwest. Everyone in the room is required to stand up, one at a time, and state his name, sobriety date, what step he is on, and his sponsor’s name. I have heard of other meetings where everyone must share if called upon by the secretary. More common are restrictions on the content of shares. No cross-talk, no discussion of drugs other than alcohol, no discussion of medication, no mention of other 12-step programs, and so on. Someone else at my meeting yesterday said that everything contained in the first three minutes of anyone’s share is “from God” and everything after three minutes is “inappropriate”. There may also be restrictions on how people in a meeting introduce themselves. “Addict and alcoholic” may not be allowed, but “hopeless gutter drunk” may be acceptable. There are often things that annoy me in meetings, but I try to get over them real quickly. If I resent everyone who does not do AA my way, I will find myself alienated from the central support system in my life. Sometimes all I can do is remind Newcomers to put principles before personalities, and to try lots of different meetings. Even if the path is a bit cluttered, the gate is open for all of us.

Photo courtesy of MX

Photo courtesy of MX

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