This weeks HTYH is a continuation of Judy’s story: I’m OK with who and what I am today. Today it bothers me that so many outside influences  have crept into our A.A. meetings-most of those influences are from treatment centers. I am not against treatment centers and A.A. has many faithful members who came to us from treatment centers but we should keep A.A. free from outside influences. Whenever we say the Lord’s Prayer at the end of the meeting and everybody hand pumps and says, “Keep coming back,” that’s an outside influence. And all of a sudden we have group reading and speaking—everybody seems to want to help our reader finish How It Works or the Promises when they all say in unison “Are these extravagant promises? We think not.” Where did that come from, it certainly wasn’t a part of our meetings thirty years ago? We lived by the unwritten rule in A.A. that only one person speaks at a time!” You can believe whatever you want to believe but to me it cheapens something that’s sacred to me. Furthermore, it bothers me to see people writing, sending, and receiving text messages, or talking on their cell phone during meetings. This is not the new people’s fault because it’s the old timers responsibility to educate new people about what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not. Practicing love and tolerance does not exclude the tough love old timers frequently showed me and although they ticked me off–my unjustified ire eventually was transformed into respect. If you are a long time member of A.A. and you don’t have the balls to tell a new person to get off their cell phone during our meetings then you need to take a hard look at your program. We must learn to respect other people–it is not all about us, and what we want to do.

When the subject of drugs comes up I won’t go there because it flies in the face of A.A.’s singleness of purpose. Even though the majority of the people I sponsor did drugs they know better than to tell me that I don’t understand about drugs because I never did them–they know better than to try that line on me. Don’t even think about it. If you came to Alcoholics to get help then I don’t care what you popped, snorted or shot you’re going to work the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and I don’t want to hear about your drugs.

If you remember, I told you about my Momma throwing me out. One day after I finally got sober I picked her up and we went shopping together, we were going from store to store when out of nowhere she said, “You’re a good daughter to me and you’re a good person.” That’s one of the many gifts of Alcoholics Anonymous and it never occurred to me how hard that was for her to throw me out like that. One night I brought home some guy from the bar and she came flying out of her house and told me to get out, she didn’t want her children to see a woman like me doing what I was doing. I took a big slug from my bottle and I wanted to grab her and say, “What’s wrong with you, I’m not going to harm your kids,” and I couldn’t see how I was hurting them. It took the people in Alcoholics Anonymous to teach me what was appropriate behavior. I used to get angry and raise my voice in a profane way and the people in meetings just looked at me—they gave me the look and I knew that I had better shut up.  Most of all, I learned how to act by watching the people in A.A. My first sponsor really didn’t push me much at first; it was more like gentle persuasion.

John Barleycorn

The phantom writer of the column "Here's to Your Health". This writer is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and therefore must maintain anonymity. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer