One of the axioms that attracted me to Alcoholics Anonymous was practicing the principles of the Steps in all aspects of one’s life and not just in the rooms of the Fellowship. At first this was hard for me but as I worked through my Steps, completed my own inventories and began to rid myself of the character defects I had, I found it to be essential to my long-term recovery.
What astounded me was to find out that not everyone did this. What astounded me even more were people with multiple years of sobriety not practicing these principles in all their affairs yet telling others they should. It’s kind of like the false-prophet who says do what I say not what I do. Tradition 11 emphasizes attraction rather than promotion. When I saw examples of people merely talking the talk but not walking the walk my attraction began to wane greatly.
I first noticed examples of this early on in my recovery. I would be having conversations at coffee shops after meetings and would hear misconstrued communication of comments I had made during a closed discussion meeting. Conversations would go like this, “…I heard you said this the other day…”. This repeating of my shares was worse than a game of broken telephone. It began to make me very careful of what I shared during these meetings. When I first came to Alcoholics Anonymous I was under the impression that everyone loved everyone else and no one wished harm on another member. Sadly, I learned the hard way, that this impression was a false one. I quickly learned what it meant to share in a general way.
I didn’t let this experience bother me for too long as I knew that resentment was the number one killer of alcoholics. I looked at the people who spread this gossip about me and others as spiritually ill people who I should be praying for rather than resenting. This rule of thumb has worked well for me during my years as a person in long-term recovery.
However, this ugliness started to sprout again in the last couple of years. I have had the good fortune to work in an area where many people in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous also work. This usually brings great joy and pleasure. Unfortunately I’ve had the displeasure into running into people who say they are recovered but do not act like they do. First it was just petty things such as spreading untruths and gossip. Or a guy, with over 20 years, swearing at the front of the rooms and telling newcomers that it was okay and not unspiritual all. Eventually it turned into outright malevolence. I even ran into a person who threw out his principals betraying myself (leading up to a dismissal from a job) to the rest of his co-workers when he promised one thing but acted totally different.
As I’ve learned in Alcoholics Anonymous some people are sicker than others and I cannot be one to judge.