Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Only Requirement for Membership

My 12-Step Program, in addition to it's 12 Steps, also has 12 Traditions. In a Program that really doesn't have any rules or regulations, our Traditions lay down the groundwork under which we operate. Each of the Traditions has equal weight, and each is equally important.

Part of our Program's lore has it that "the Steps keep us from killing ourselves... the Traditions, however, keep us from killing each other."

Boy, ain't that the truth.

Oftentimes meetings dedicated to the Steps (cleverly entitled "Step Meetings") will reserve one meeting a month for a discussion of that month's Tradition. March, for example, being the third month would be reserved for Tradition Three, "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking."

Period. That's it. There are no other admission requirements to the Program. You're a member if you say you're a member, and nobody can throw you out or blackball you as long as you have a desire to stop drinking.

The Traditions have their genesis in the early days of the Program, when we were a far more secretive (and frightened) society than we are today. Some groups didn't want blacks as members. Or Catholics. Or Jews. Our literature (in a book we call the "Twelve and Twelve" - the Steps and Traditions) even mentions that in the old days groups would (or wanted to) bar "beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners, queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women..." (yes, this is a direct quote -- one which usually causes gales of laughter in meetings today).

Even a loose reading of that paragraph would've probably disqualified most of our membership, way back when. I, personally, qualify in several of those categories!

Tonight, at a meeting here in New York, I'll be speaking on the subject of our Third Tradition.

Apparently, the mere act of not picking up a drink, one day at a time for 10 years, qualifies me to hold forth at length on this subject.

What they don't know is that I'll be lucky if I don't throw up on the first three rows of attendees.

And this is how we keep each other sober (with a healthy serving of God's help along the way.)

God, please give me strength and inspiration to a.) not make a complete ass of myself and b.) to actually have something worthwhile to say.


Aerten said...

Speak from your heart and you won't have to worry about (b). And ya know what... you probably won't have to worry about (a) either.

JoyZeeBoy said...

Just because I have complete faith that things will be okay doesn't necessarily mean that I won't barf... just in case.

Thank you for the vote of confidence. You'd think by now that I'd stop fishing for compliments, but I guess I'm like Knut the Polar Bear, a real attention-whore.

Aerten said...

I think most people go around fishing for compliments. Some are just more honest about it. :)

I never worry about barfing when I have to speak in front of a group of people. That's only because I'll do just about anything NOT to barf. Now, hyperventilating and passing out... that's another story. But come to think of it, over the past couple of years, I've even given that up. Now the only time I tend to complete freak out is when I sing solos. Maybe I'll get over that by the time I'm 60.

Bev Sykes said...

I always suspected you were a fallen woman.

Aerten said...

LOL Well, I don't think I've ever completely passed out to the point where I've fallen (not that I remember anyway, but that WOULD be something I'd choose to forget). The need to sit down quickly is fairly common, though.