from Ottawa Area Intergroup newsletter, Our Primary Purpose, May 2002
A Simple Solution
Copyright © Ottawa Area Intergroup, May 2002
As an individual, my primary purpose is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. As a group, our primary purpose is to help the alcoholic who still suffers. This is pretty simple stuff, isn’t it? But is it too simple? At meetings recently, I have sensed something else going on. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I heard one member say to another, “Yeah, I really liked that validation that we did last night.” I immediately had a sick feeling in my stomach and was glad that I had missed the meeting where everyone “validated” each other. If that had happened at my first meeting, you wouldn’t be reading this now. I’d either be drunk or dead.
What I’m talking about is a tendency to bring other ways of staying sober into our groups. How can I argue if people are not drinking? In this question lies my dilemma. Has our purpose changed from “not drinking”? At another meeting recently I heard someone say, “There are solutions.” This statement struck me as odd. I found myself wondering why BillW. Didn’t write: “There are solutions” instead of “There is a solution.” Just yesterday after the meeting, I saw a brand-new newcomer – I mean first meeting – standing apart while everyone talked about what churches they go to.
Why does this weigh so heavily on my mind? Well, the answer I’ve come up with is this: If I ever begin to believe that there is “another way,”, “a “back door,” I am on my way back out there. It wasn’t easy for me to come into AA. It took years of drinking, lying, cheating (both kinds), stealing, and denial before I picked up the phone and called AA for help. That Friday morning I knew it was over. There were no more back doors. No more cons to pull. No more lies to be told. It was over – period. All of my ways had failed, and I finally had given in to reality. I was an alcoholic and needed help, and somehow I intuitively knew that I would find the answer in AA.
I wonder if we are really helping newcomers when we introduce “other ways” of staying sober in our meetings. I am grateful that when I came into AA there was only one signal coming through at the meetings I went to : Don’t drink. Go to meetings. Get a sponsor and work the Steps. Maybe this other stuff was being discussed back then too, but after my first meeting a guy named Sam came up to me and sort of swayed his bottle of Dr. Pepper under my nose and said, “Don’t worry about a lot of the stuff that was said here tonight, just keep coming back. We’re here every night at 8:30.” Thanks, Sam. Had I heard of personal growth retreats, church groups, or validation meetings, I might have wandered down another path and not be trudging the road of happy destiny today.