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Audio Version

My name's Bill and I'm an alcoholic. My sobriety date is 6th October 1997.
My home group is Hanham Hall, where we meet on Wednesdays at 8pm. I'm reminded of something I heard many years ago and it's this ....

"AA may not necessarily be a ticket to heaven, but it also doesn't have to be a ticket to hell. But it will keep you alive long enough so that you can decide which one you want to go to."

I suppose active alcoholism ends in either of those two ways. I knew that going to hell and dieing wasn't what I wanted, but I also knew that my self-will, feelings of being special and different, and my inability to listen to advice would almost certainly mean that the heaven option would not happen for me.

I joined my home group after a few weeks of sobriety and I was given the tea making commitment at about 6 weeks' sober. Like everything I've done in my life, making the tea was going to get 110% commitment from me. Not to put too fine a point on it, I was going to make the best tea AA had ever seen. Perhaps I may even get a write up in the AA magazine. I was quite sure my tea making skills, the lovely unbroken biscuits, the sugar without lumps in, would surely boosts the numbers attending our home group. 

Over the course of the first few weeks of making the tea, the person I'd replaced, told me every week, jokingly, that his tea tasted better than mine. After a few weeks of this criticism, public humiliation, and what I saw as a personal attack on my tea making skills, I did the only thing a real self-respecting alcoholic could do, and I called and said I was leaving the group. I just didn't know what else to do. All my waking hours and also some of my sleeping hours were consumed by anger, resentment, a desire to retaliate and total disbelief that someone could treat me so unfairly and criticise my tea making. 

I was told something that day by the guy who started my home group, something that was to go on to change my sobriety and save my life. It was the start of the journey to heaven. These were the words I was told: “Bill, you are not leaving this group. If this group isn't the best home group in the world, then you stay and make it the best. If you leave now, you'll only join another group where someone else will say something to upset you and you'll leave there also." I was told to stay and, for the first time ever, deal with my resentment. I didn't like being told what to do but I knew they were right.

I had to dig very deep and agree to stay. 

I'm happy to say that I did stay and deal with my first resentment in AA and it was a lesson that saved my life. Running away from things was something I'd done all my life; never dealing with problems. As my sponsor pointed out years later, I'd never ever had any good endings.

AA, my home group, my Programme and all the service I do is helps teach me how to deal with life's problems, how to find a sober way through difficult feelings and how to stay on the journey to heaven without picking up a drink. 

Thank God for good home group members, thank God for tough love and above all thank God for my rock bottom, without which I wouldn't have found that first tiny bit of humility that day and listened, stayed and dealt with the most painful of emotions, criticism.