From the October 2010 magazine.

ME & MY BIG MOUTH

A self-proclaimed 'AA geek' learns about Tradition Twelve the hard way

YESTERDAY, I committed a grave error concerning our Fellowship once again. I shouldn't be surprised at myself (though I am!), as just about every single lesson I've learned about AA's Traditions started, at least in part, with me breaking them. You see, I've been sober since 1986 and have morphed into what my friends and I like to call an "AA geek." I'm one of those people who reads not just our annual final General Service Conference Report, but who also reads all the background materials. I've read all of our pamphlets, all of our AAWS books, and most of the Grapevine's books. I've read The AA Service Manual Combined With Twelve Concepts for World Service, and can even explain some of the Concepts. So when I realize that I've cast aside those precepts I cherish so much and have found so helpful to my sober life, I tend to get a little upset with myself, as I am right now.

When I got sober, people were often fond of sharing the following maxim in meetings: "Don't share anything in an AA meeting that you wouldn't want printed in the newspaper." Yet we all knew that what we heard in meetings and whom we saw there needed to stay there when we left. And, for the most part, AA has been what people now call "a safe place" for me. There have been a few times when things I shared in meetings were repeated by other AAs, resulting in minor problems. However, those incidents were unusual, and the injuries I suffered from them were usually negligible. I've also been lucky enough to be sponsored by some excellent AA members, who helped me deal with the occasional inevitable results of gossip about me. Again, most of the harm done was slight, and I suppose I ought to be grateful for the opportunities to practice the 10th Step that those occasions have always afforded me, though gratitude certainly wasn't my first response at the time!

-- JULIET H.

Pinole, Calif.

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