Sense of Belonging

I heard a speaker say that she was so cold when she arrived in AA that she was frozen. That describes me. I was frozen and I've been spending all these years just thawing out. In my 30 years of drinking I had erected a huge ego wall that separated me from you, God and everything good in life.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I wanted so much to fit in to AA to belong to the group, but my insecurities kept me posturing on the outside looking in. I stiffened up like a board if you wanted to give me a hug. I acted the part of a happy camper, but I was not.

I was showing up at a lot of meetings but not really feeling connected. Then at 90 days sober the 70 men of my home group elected me the doughnut guy. Looking back this was one of the truly significant events of my life. For the first time I felt like I belonged somewhere. I felt a sense of usefulness. I was part of. Not only that, I got to scarf down 2-3 freshly made doughnuts right out of the oven on my way to the meeting. What could be better than that?

I learned through this experience to make sure the newcomers in the meetings I attend regularly have opportunities to be of service and I give them a push to volunteer.

Asking for Help

I grew up with the idea that asking for help was a sign of weakness. I believe this was the most dangerous old idea I walked through the doors with. This idea separated me from you, God and truth. Help is what I needed when I was still drinking. Help is what I need today — more than ever.

Self sufficiency was killing me from the inside out. I couldn’t let anyone know I had a problem I couldn’t handle. I wouldn’t be a “real” man if I did. So I kept to myself and suffered in silence. I acted like a know-it-all, but inside a was a shivering wreck. Finally, my inability to ask for help had me all alone in my messy, darkened apartment getting drunk twice a day. I was running out of money and awoke every morning in a pit of fear. I lived in the delusion that as soon as I found another big-pay job life would be grand. Thankfully, God had other ideas.

I believe today that help always comes every time I sincerely ask for it. It may not come in the form I expect, but it always comes. I wasn’t looking to quit drinking when I reached out to a therapist for help, but that’s exactly what happened. She said she couldn’t help me, but maybe the treatment center up the street could. A few days later I signed up for treatment because I didn’t know what else to do. The obsession to drink was removed immediately. As a newcomer, I could not pick up that 500 pound phone and ask for help. Fortunately you guys didn’t wait. You knew I was in dangerous territory. So you pulled me into the center of Alcoholics Anonymous with your phone calls, invitations to coffee and pats on the back. I’ll be forever grateful for the men in my first home group.

Like the good doctor says in his opinion, I cannot change me. The old ideas and painful memories are too deep for self-help. I do not have the power to pull the weeds out of my psychic garden so that new growth may flower. But God wants more than anything to change me. God doesn’t want to stand on the sideline of my life. He wants to get fully into the game. My job is simply to allow God in by demonstrating the willingness to be changed. Asking for help is the most powerful action I can take to show my sincerity to grow and change.

Everything I do in Alcoholics Anonymous is me asking for help. I ask for help every time I show up in a meeting, work a step, and say a prayer. I ask for help every time I put my hand out to a newcomer. I ask for help whenever I am of service both in and out of the rooms. I ask for help every time I answer the phone or dial another member. I heard in a meeting yesterday that “figuring it out is not an AA slogan.” The willingness to ask another alcoholic for help with a particular issue saves me needless struggle and suffering. It’s simply a wonderful way to live.