From the September 1991 magazine.

A Beacon in the Dark

The power of our primary purpose

The first time I sneaked my fearful, bewildered self into an AA meeting, I was struck by the seriousness and singlemindedness of the meeting and its participants. The meeting was a somber, pain-filled beginners meeting. These were the first real alcoholics I had ever seen, and unsure whether I belonged there, I listened for weeks until I found that their pain and bewilderment was the same as mine. But mostly I remember my astonishment as I compared these meetings to the committee meetings I had become accustomed to in my outside life.

I was used to free-wheeling discussions, often flying off the subject and into the personal agendas of those present, the jockeying for position, demands for attention and the ego driven clamoring for the upper hand. I had been a "leader" in my community, and had learned well how meetings worked. You determined how an issue was to be resolved (according to your own knowledge of what was best), convinced others of your point of view beforehand, and generally intimidated the rest to go along. Meetings like this dominated my days for years before I came to AA. I was an expert at running meetings, solving problems, and convincing others of the superiority of my point of view. I had no understanding at the time that this was a symptom of my "self-will run riot." And as long as I was willing to take care of all the details and follow through on the decisions, others seemed to be quite impressed with my command of the organizational structure and personally I thrived in the leadership roles that I later discovered had become my way of covering up my growing insecurities and my increasing sense that I was losing control.

-- Nadene S.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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