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May 1988

PO Box 1980

Fear, suspicion, distrust

I got sober in a small town of 30,000, and for the first year I had a sobriety filled with fear, suspicion, and distrust. I am gay, and although I was uneasy in AA, fearing rejection, I also wanted to live and so made the choice to do the best I could with what I had. As I passed my first year, however, my fear and its sister, resentment, swelled to unbearable proportions. I joined World Hello (international correspondence group) looking for a "safe" place to dump my rage, and dump I did!

My outraged article was published in the newsletter, and within three weeks I was receiving letters from all over the world, begging me not to give up, encouraging me to extend my trust and assuring me that I was loved and accepted "as is." The overwhelming amount of caring given to me melted my walls, dissolving me into a flood of tears of relief and remorse. I came to realize that I was practicing with a vengeance the very sort of prejudice I had accused my home group of (not bothering to check the facts). I had been ready to scrap AA and all its people over the opinions of a very few. I was practicing the wholesale condemnation that I arrogantly claimed to hate in others. I began to examine my motives and came to the realization that I came to AA for help in staying sober--period--and I had been given that help, without a price tag, without having to change my beliefs. Who am I to demand that others see things "my way"?

Since that time, much has changed for me. Once I stopped expecting others to rearrange their feelings just for me, I was able to risk sharing more honestly, with surprising results. Many people at home accept me as just another recovering person, and I am grateful and content to have it so. I feel respected and a part of my home group and I'd never felt I belonged anywhere on earth before. What a great gift I was willing to throw away (along with my life) for the sake of self-pity and resentment!

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