From the June 2012 magazine.

June 2012: The Greatest Friendship He Ever Had

An old-timer taught him the beauty of showing up and sharing love

I was less than a year sober and I was determined to go to any lengths. At the time, I had a sponsor and I was chairing meetings. The group that I sobered up at had a custom to transition the meeting to a Step One, Two and Three meeting when newcomers showed up, or when members who had relapsed came back. We did this because we felt that the newcomer was the most important person in the room, so we wanted to focus our meeting on helping them. I signed up to chair the Wednesday night meeting, and a lot of newcomers were coming in. I was serving the group as a trusted servant, but I had no understanding of the Traditions.

Every time I would use the format of the first three Steps for a newcomer, there was an old-timer who would make weird facial gestures. I could tell that he did not appreciate the topic and I was uncomfortable watching him squirm. This happened several times. Finally, I realized that I was either going to stop chairing meetings or I was going to talk to him. I decided to have a talk with him. So, after the next meeting, I walked right up to the old-timer and told him that he intimidated me. He asked me to sit down. Then he explained that though the newcomer is important, he or she is not the most important person. He talked to me about the suffering old-timer and added that each person should share based on where they were at. If the emphasis was on the newcomers, he said, people would aim their sharing at the newcomer. Our common welfare should come first, he explained. Furthermore, he went on, if we lost our old-timers then we would not be able to help the suffering newcomer. He talked to me about Tradition One.

-- Anonymous

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