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October 1994

Your Move

A Change of Heart

Responses from young readers on the topic of singleness of purpose

I am a twenty-four-year-old AA member. I have always considered myself on the liberal side of many things, and AA is no exception.

When I first began hearing about what I considered rigid Big Book thumpers asking people not to stray too far from alcoholism in their sharing during meetings, it was one more thing to rebel against; more of the old-time fundamentalism I abhorred in so many other things.

This stage of "Whatever I've got to talk about and whatever is hurting me, I'll talk about in a meeting!" was about a year ago in my first ninety days of sobriety. This was a time when I was fortunate enough to have a sponsor who reminded me that while I was perfectly entitled to my opinion, this was a subject that was better discussed by people with more experience in the program.

He had given me a stack of past Grapevines which I read frequently to help with the restless times of early sobriety. I never read a whole issue, and rarely did I even read two consecutive stories; just higgledy-piggledy picking what sounded vaguely interesting.

Out of all the Grapevine stories I read during that period, the only one I remember very clearly was by a young person discussing singleness of purpose.

The author described attending a meeting predominantly attended by other young members who shared freely about being dually addicted and any other "life issues," when an older man anxiously entered and identified himself as a newcomer. The old guy listened intently, but exited quickly afterward. The author shook the man's hand on the way out and asked how he liked the meeting. The man replied that he had enjoyed it, but he had never done any drugs. He didn't identify with many of the experiences he had heard shared. The author went on to describe his efforts to reassure the man that one needs only a desire to stop drinking, but found it difficult to reverse the initial impression left by the group.

After reading this, my puffed-up, anti-fundamentalist attitude shriveled; I was deeply saddened by the thought that because of my selfish need to talk about everything in my life I might turn someone off who needed the AA message.

The longer I sincerely strive to grow in the AA program, one remedy I have found that meets my personal commitment to our singleness of purpose is the development of a network of close friends with whom I can share those non-alcohol related "life issues" without putting newcomers in jeopardy of not being able to identify and possibly missing the help they need.

I have decided to avoid fanaticism at either end of the spectrum and, using the example of my home group, hold personally dear to my heart our Third Tradition and adhere to it as best as I can.

Thank you Alcoholics Anonymous, for my freedom to change beliefs and to live life!

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