It’s said all the time, to be of service in AA is to stay sober.
It’s a hard concept to get your head around when you’re new in the program. All I wanted, was to get sober. I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to sit in a meeting and be healed.
I wish it were that easy, but, the truth is if you’re going to get sober and stay sober, it isn’t going to be easy. Many of us AA’s are lazy procrastinators by nature. I’m convinced that the trait of inaction is innate to those who are prone to addiction. We want things to change without changing. And, folks, that’s the definition of insanity. I mean, that’s the actual definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I couldn’t drink my way out of my problems, but, I can’t tell you how many times I tried. And then, tried again. Sobriety is braking the never ending cycle of stagnancy. Yes, it’s changing the behavior of drinking, but, once you remove the substance, something else has to take you outside of yourself, get you out of the space that makes you so miserable. And, in AA, the 12 Steps, your sponsor, and the group will constantly remind you that the best way to get outside of yourself is to be of service to others, particularly in AA.
Sure, you can volunteer at an animal shelter, serve hot meals at a homeless shelter, walk your neighbor’s dog, but, it’s helping another alcoholic that has been proven to best serve the AA community. Since starting my journey in AA I’ve taken several service positions. I’m coffee maker at my women’s meeting, I secretary my Friday night meeting, and recently I’ve been asked to step into the GSR (General Service Representative) position at my Friday meeting as well.
The GSR position is the intermediary between the group of AA and the AA assembly and world conference. Sounds scary, I know. And, it is a little scary. Especially when you have no idea what you’re doing. Which, is exactly where I’m at.
Today, I attended the Area 58 (Oregon) AA assembly. Holy shit people. This thing is epic. Swarms of people equipped with huge thermoses of coffee. All smiling, bopping around in a huge assembly hall on Marylhurst University’s campus. A swarm of smokers, buzzing under a cloud of cigarette smoke off to the side of the building. All of us adorned with blue, lanyard necklaces baring our name, service position, and district, respectively. All the hubbub aside, there was the actual content of the assembly. District reports, Delegate reports, Past Delegate Q&A’s, GSR school, the Ask It Basket meeting where people put all their AA questions in a basket to be picked and answered at random. The experience was completely overwhelming and epic.
I found myself sitting at a table, drinking tea (I gave up coffee for Lent, which has been an epic journey in and of itself!), and feeling completely isolated. While everyone was friendly and kind, I found myself asking, why am I here? I have no idea what I’m doing. I didn’t feel like I was contributing at all. I found myself starting to feel bitter…I mean, how does all this relate to my recovery?
As I drove home after my time at the assembly, I got to thinking. The AA assembly isn’t about my recovery. It’s about the greater good of AA. Which, for those of you who are unaware, is a huge, gigantic, immense, crazy operation. In order for the AA community to function and survive at the level it has since it’s formation in the 1930’s, these assemblies have to happen. AA is so much bigger and widespread than the small groups of which we are all a part. It is a worldwide ‘organization.’ It makes money, a lot of it. And, it spends that money wisely. In order for that to happen, people have to be responsible for making their voices heard. Decisions have to be made. And, while AA is a huge organism, all the decisions that are made, come from the small groups that make it up. Which, when you think about it, is a crazy and super cool thing. But, it’s people like me, a GSR, who show up and make the little voices of each group heard.
That’s fucking service. To this whole, this group that saves so many of us. It suddenly became less important to me that I get something out of the assembly. It’s beside the point actually. I get something out of AA, which functions in conjunction with and because of assemblies like these, so, actually, I am doing something for my own recovery. I’m also doing something for my group, that I represent, and for AA as a functioning whole.
Action at this level is overwhelming. And, I heard it said many times at the assembly today, that, when you’ve figured out what you’re doing in your service position, you’re done, it’s time to rotate out. The action is the experience, the education, and the growth. It’s actually a pretty weighty lesson. But, it makes me feel good. And, wasn’t that the point? Maybe, but, all the lines get blurred. I just know that I’m doing the right thing, and, that’s a good place to start.
I got fired up at the assembly. I’m excited to go to my group’s business meeting this week and get my group amped up about the issues addressed at the assembly as well. Action spurs more action. And, I’m ready to hop into it.