By Steve V. – Byesville B.Y.O.Book Group
Today I am both grateful and thankful to be able to call myself a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. I had attended AA on-and-off for 14 years and had ten different sponsors in those years without ever getting a 1-year coin. I often felt like a “loser” and often thought that my time attending AA was wasted. But today, I see that I was wrong, as usual. The sponsor that took me through the book 8 years ago told me that if I was not an active member of a homegroup, then I was homeless. Now this even I could understand. He also turned me to page 20 on the first day we met together and helped me realize that “my very life depended on constant thought of others and how I could help meet their needs”. I believed him and believed the Book, and that day I committed to being a lifelong, active, daily member of a homegroup before feeling called to help start a Big Book Group in my hometown. He also taught me about the AA Triangle and told me the story of a bar stole that cannot stand on 1-2 legs. That Recovery, Unity, and Service all needed to be practiced if I were to have any chance of actually staying sober. I have been blessed to be able to serve my God, my homegroup, my local community, and “AA as a whole” through what I now call Service Work. And what a difference this has made for the last 8 years of sobriety compared to those first 14 years of “auditing” AA while attending meetings.
Back in 2011, I walk from a jail cell into a noon meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was at this time that my new sponsor, along with several Old-timers, gave me a few things to do in order to give back to AA. In Harrisonburg Virginia they have a lot of meetings at The Club. My sponsor told me that I should straighten up all the chairs after the meeting instead of quickly sneaking out the back door, like I was accustomed to doing. So, my first “job” in AA was straightening chairs so that The Club looked better after the meeting than it did before it started. The great blessing about this job was that many of the men that attended those meetings to help newcomers started talking to me, which made me feel part of something good and accepted. Not many people at the time wanted much to do with me. I had burnt most of the bridges in my life and my self-loathing was very high. When I look back now, I see that their efforts really helped me feel part of the group. However, they kept giving me new “chores” like cleaning the coffee cups and mopping the floor on Saturday mornings. So, I did what any good, untreated alcoholic would do… I copped a resentment and went back to my drinking ways. I was too hardheaded, arrogant, selfish, and ignorant to see the value of what they were trying to do for me at the time. Today I see…. Today I am grateful for their help… Today I know from experience that the only way to get out of my selfishness is to help and serve others. And for the record, today I still straighten all the chairs after the meeting, as a show of gratitude to those good men from the Harrisonburg AA group.