Unlocking the Group Conscience – Grapevine Article February 1992 by Toni F.

I have often heard it said that all you need to start a new AA group is a resentment and a coffeepot. Resentments had kept me drunk for many years, and in 1987 I was literally dying from alcohol and drug addiction, fueled by resentments. I sobered up at a group close to my home. The people there welcomed me and loved me and told me to keep coming back. By the grace of God, I did. These folks loved me through that first year. They hugged me and honestly shared their experiences, strength, and hope. The group had broken up about a year before I came in, so we had lots of newcomers as well as just a few old-timers, and through that first year we grew in size and I felt comfortable and at home. When my first birthday arrived they all celebrated with me. It was the best feeling I ever had. I felt loved and “a part of.”

When I was sober about eighteen months, we elected a GSR (i.e. General Services Representative) from the group. Up to that point we hadn’t had a GSR, and because none of us had too much time in AA we decided to allow anyone with one year of continuous sobriety to be eligible to run for the job.

I was elected. I’m sure my ego was out of control; it seemed like another popularity contest and I had won. But I decided to do my best at this position and to follow through and return to my group with a monthly report from area meetings. I fought my pride and ego before that first area meeting, and prayed for some humility. I did the best I could at the time. At the first area meeting the other GSRs welcomed me, and they talked about giving money back to central office and GSO. We didn’t do that in my home group, and they told me to take it to our group conscience and to explain the need for helping on these levels. I told them we had no regular group conscience meeting and they were all amazed. We had never had elections for any positions other than GSR and alternate and a central office representative. They suggested that as GSR I call a group conscience meeting to pass on what they told me. After that meeting, I made a sign, picked a date, and posted the announcement on the board at our meeting place. The next day the sign was gone. I was told by the man who owns the building–he was a recovering alcoholic–to not put up any more signs; he said we would have no group conscience meeting unless he called one. I did try to explain what I had heard, and that as GSR it was my responsibility to pass it on. Then we argued over the telephone for a while. I said many things that day and I was in a rage by the time the conversation ended.

I cried and screamed, went to meetings, and shared my feelings. My true feelings were hurt. My ego told me I was in charge and that surely everyone would see how right I was. The man who owned the building very seldom came to meetings, so there was never any direct confrontation.

After one week of sick rage and bad feelings, no sleep and name calling, some people asked me to have the group conscience meeting anyway. I had decided before this to leave the group and find a new one, but now I decided that I was not alone, so we scheduled the group conscience on a Saturday afternoon. Once again the man called me and told me the doors would be padlocked.

At this point, I was sick and eaten up with resentment. I felt like getting drunk for the first time in a long time. On that Saturday morning, I woke up to a beautiful day that I couldn’t see, and I got on my knees and prayed for courage and guidance and for God’s will not mine to be done. I was scared, and I felt I had created yet another crisis, and wanted everything to be okay again. “Please God, give me what I need in order to know your will.” After I got up off my knees the phone rang and it was the delegate from our state whom I had tried to contact earlier in the week. I felt calm and serene as I spoke to him. The fear and the anger had left and I felt God’s presence near me. We spoke for almost an hour, and he told me to hang in there and not to forget our primary purpose–staying sober and helping others.

We had our group conscience meeting–another group offered us their building as the doors were indeed padlocked at our meeting place. I knew I was okay when I accepted the locked doors. I didn’t like it but I accepted it.

From that first conscience meeting, a miracle happened. We now have a new group that we love and members who care about a group conscience. I pray for the man at the other group on a daily basis, and although the resentment can be refueled from time to time, I work on my part of the resentment, and feel that this was part of my spiritual growth. Our group is small but we have been there for other newcomers who need us as much as we need them. I am sober today, thank God and AA, and my Higher Power is with me, and reveals more to me each new day.

I can remember the people who loved me back to life, and I can feel content with my choices. I can’t forget where I got sober, but today, I choose service, unity, and recovery. I have learned a little more of the meaning of “Live and Let Live.”

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