AA’s First Tradition Isn’t Just a Chapter in a Book

The person next to in the meeting smelled like alcohol – she was shaky and heavy-eyed, too, nodding off in the discussion of AA’s first tradition from the book, The Twelve and Twelve: Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on A.A. unity – not exactly a riveting topic for newcomers. She made me wonder:

I was not primed to learn about recovery. I was mad I couldn’t drink and scared I would. I hadn’t had a drink in 36 hours when I went to my first meeting, so, I may not have reeked of alcohol, but, if fear had an aroma, I emanated it!

I was worried about who would see me at the meeting. I was scared of what admitting I was an alcoholic would mean. I felt I was entering into a group of nameless losers – people who could not hold their liquor, and drink like ladies and gentlemen.

The people who were seated in a circle were smiling –why? Would they make me follow a bunch of rules?

My life was over – and knowing me, I probably would fail at this too.

Fast forward a couple or three decades to this meeting on the first tradition. As I listen to friends in recovery read about AA unity and personal recovery I am grateful nobody forced us into a mold; but I am also glad each of us understands we must conform to the principles of recovery that the twelve steps are.

We know none of us is doing this perfectly – but perfection isn’t our goal; progress is.

Today, I am grateful nobody dictated to me, but shared what worked for them, and freely shared their time, compassion and understanding. They taught me they couldn’t keep this priceless gift of sobriety without giving it away.

Today – the person next to me in meeting on the first tradition got up and left early. I don’t know what she took away. Hopefully, she will remember the way back to the meeting, and come.

Bring the body – the mind will follow!


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AA’s First Tradition Isn’t Just a Chapter in a Book