Tradition Three – The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking
For as far back as I can remember, I never believed I belonged anyplace. When I was growing up I didn’t feel I belonged in my family, in the little town that I lived in, in the church I attended, or in the schools where I was educated. I was never chosen for a team or for membership in any group.
My name is Mickey and I’m an alcoholic. When I make this simple statement in an AA meeting, I seldom think about what a profound truth it expresses. I’m saying I belong, and I’m choosing to be a part of this Fellowship.
Thanks to Tradition Three, I’m the only person in that AA meeting who can make that choice. Only I can know if, in my innermost self, I have a desire to stop drinking. And because this desire is the only requirement for membership in AA, I’m the only person who can say whether I meet that membership criterion.
When I first became aware of Tradition Three, I realized it made it possible for me to stay in AA. No one had to approve my application–in fact there was no application. It didn’t matter whether others believed I was an alcoholic or had a desire to stop drinking. They may have had an opinion, but only I had that inner knowledge.
It was unimportant if I had other problems or other abilities–these things might be significant to me, but they had no bearing on my membership in Alcoholics Anonymous. And the things which might affect my ability to belong to other organizations–age, sex, race, religion, marital status, profession, etc.–had no value here. In fact I didn’t even need to reveal these things to be accepted in AA.
It was only much later that I began to glimpse the reverse side of this coin–that being accepted with no conditions other than a desire to stop drinking imposed upon me the responsibility of accepting others equally. I saw that having no requirements placed upon us gave each of us the freedom to become what our Higher Power intended, without artificial restrictions.
In developing the ability to freely accept other alcoholics, I’ve discovered that the similarities that bind us and make us a part of this Fellowship mean far more than all the superficial differences that always kept me from that feeling of belonging. Today I thank my Higher Power that I finally know where I belong. I belong in Alcoholics Anonymous.