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[ Opinion ]

My Favorite F Words Are “Freedom From Alcohol”

To swear or not to swear, that is the question.

Every once in a while I get into a debate with someone on whether it’s okay to swear in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting when you’re sharing your experience, strength and hope. I’m of the belief that one should not swear.

What part of "keep it simple" don't you understand?!
What part of “keep it simple” don’t you understand?!

Practice What You Preach

I was taught, by those who went before me, that when I share my story at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (or any other fellowship) I am representing AA and if a newcomer sees me swearing up a storm I’m not representing the fellowship very well.

Another reason I don’t swear when I’m at the front of the room (and try not to in my day-to-day life) is that swearing is negative and anti-spiritual. I expressed this to someone recently and they ripped into me with a giant tirade, accusing me of judging their spirituality.

I didn’t think I was judging the person. I just know, for myself, that what it says in the Big Book is true: “a spiritual awakening is a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from [addiction].” I acted and thought one way prior to recovery. I act and think differently now. The old me swore left, right and center. The new me tries not to, especially when sharing my story or leading a 12-Step meeting.

I'm not judgy, I'm just judging you.
So if nothing changes, nothing changes? What gives?

I’m Not The Judge And Jury

My friend was perfectly correct. It’s not up to me to tell someone not to swear when they share (except for my sponsees). However, this debate always brings back the memory of a meeting I rarely attend these days. I was at an open speaker meeting and the speaker was doing a great job. I thought he was great, until he suddenly said, “and then I found my fucking Higher Power.” As soon as he dropped the F-bomb, I realized that I didn’t want the kind of sobriety that guy had.

I understand it’s “progress not perfection.” The odd swear word may slip out once in a while, but when someone’s doing it on purpose, I have to wonder what the point is.

Recovery is about change. If hold on to my old ideas that swearing is perfectly okay then I remain stagnant. I’m not challenging myself, so I do not change. As I was taught when I entered recovery, if nothing changes my sobriety date will.