Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm too tired...blah, blah, blah and other excuses

I am having my fifth sponsee meeting of the week today.  It has been a week of work, a week of not feeling well, a week of late nights due to evening meetings.  I could go on but feel that I don't need to explain more to you because I'm sure that you are also running to catch up.

I know that I have extraordinary energy and stamina.  I can be robotic in my ability to work long hours.  And I've added to that the extra time that I spend with Al-Anon meetings and sponsees.  And this brings me to an observation: It seems that I am putting my heart and soul into recovery, yet it seems that there are so few of us at meetings I attend that are willing to sponsor, to become GR's, to do service work. 

Ed summed it up nicely in his great post about sponsorship . He said:
"It's puzzling to me why so few people get engaged in some level of AA service.  I heard my wife (also in AA) make a statement today that "...It used to be that you took your AA service commitments very seriously and, as a part of that, you learned to take yourself less seriously.  Today the sentiment largely seems to be that I have to take myself seriously and that the only service I will do is what's fun and easy for me."

The fun and easy part may well be the real issue.  Service work can be time-consuming and tiring work.  I know at the GR level, I see that personalities can clash and disagreements can occur.  There are hurt feelings sometimes. Maybe that is the reason that it is hard to fill positions and that resentments can start to rise when few new individuals step up to help out.

Nonetheless, I tell my sponsees to get into service, give it away in order to keep it. Some get it and some don't. I hear a lot of excuses: I'm too tired, that meeting is too far away, I'm still new--I'm sure that you have hear these and more. I have to resist the eye roll when I hear some of these "reasons" to not get more involved.

For me, service has helped my recovery.  I believed my sponsor when he told me to become involved.  And from working with others, doing jobs at the district level, I have learned so much more about my higher power and myself. I have grown spiritually through doing things that used to bring out my shortcomings of impatience and judgmentalism.

I've learned that I can sacrifice my feeling of how things should go in order to serve the group and maintain unity.  I have kept my mouth shut when I wanted to set people straight. I have practiced humility when I felt I knew a better way. I have paused when agitated.   Essentially,  I have been shown chances to put my will second to something greater than me, and the internal rewards have been well worth it.

Although it may take me a few 24 hours and a lot of prayer, I am grateful for the people who irritate, try to control, or stick their shortcomings right in my face. I have learned through them to do things that I don't want to do and to not do things that I may want to do.

Hope that you enjoy this day.  It is Friday which is all right by me.


  1. What a terrific post. It does seem that some of the best and most well attended meetings around are powered (kept together) by only a few.

    I loved the dog picture. Not only do I sometimes have to lock my eyeballs so they don't roll, but I also have to lock my mouth in place so it doesn't yawn when I hear one of those old excuses.

    Oh, well, my life is wonderful. I try to pass it on. I'm not responsible for what happens on the other end. What a great program we have, right?


  2. I agree with you about service. It's easy to just show up and let others take care of everything, but I think a meeting really starts to become our own when we become more actively engaged. Being a sponsor, doing regular leads or chairing, or simply volunteering to greet or make the coffee, all get us more involved with others and in our programs. Have a good weekend!

  3. Thanks for sharing this! I haven't attended meetings long enough to notice who does what, but I'm going to start thinking about what I can bring. As a new person you do tend to think about what you're getting and that's pretty limited.... :)

  4. It's just not in AA or NA. Service to others is one of the most personally rewarding experinces I have in my life.

    I do not do NA, AA, AlAnon, or NarAnon even though my son is an addict, recovering but only 3 months. My personal service is education through parents and schools about the danger and harm of addiction.

    Two days this week I spent at our local high school talking to students about addiction. The impact on me was fantastic and from what I am hearing even bigger on the students. Self reward is the ultimate reward. If you want to see what I am talking about from this week here is the link:

  5. Maybe it's part of the difference of those who recover and those who stay sick? I don't know.

    I wish you a happy weekend.

    Blessings and aloha...

  6. totally understand this post. you know i started the first Hispanic NA meeting here with another girl i town. we needed each other to start this i couldn't do it alone and she knew nothing of service.
    my HP put me here in this moment because i can teach service to the members, and by teach i mean i ordered all the service manuals in Spanish so they can teach themselves and i am just there to answer questions and help make fliers and really be the bridge between them and the English NA.

    our first meeting had 10 people in it. there was a man there with a folder. in it he had all the NA readings, in Spanish. we had not gotten them yet and another man had a basic text. they were just waiting for NA. they have been waiting for a REAL NA meeting for god knows how long, and they are hungry for recovery in NA. they are eager to be of service so much so that they are already doing flier drives, they just needed to know how to do it!! and i was honored to be here to show them.

    i find myself in awe of the spirit of recovery, and i am basically doing nothing, they are doing the work.

    our area we are always begging members to step up into service, here we have a whole group an army of members so excited to be of service and they are doing it!! i think we find that members simply take for granted what was so freely given to them. these guys who have not had recovery of this sort, they are hungry for it!!

    great post i am still doing a ton of service work and it makes me grateful every day. i even translated our regional newsletter in Spanish!! the first ever Hispanic newsletter in the region!! it is posted on if you want to check it out.

  7. Serving is crucial to a well balanced life. It reminds us that there is a big picture out there. Its not all about us. Thanks Syd for this great post.

  8. I totally agree with everything you said. Service work saved my life. It gave me opportunities to learn how to interact with others, speak up for myself in a positive manner, respect others who have different opinions and it showed me I CAN do it!


  9. I've enjoyed the service work I've done. In recent months, most of my service work is to bring sandwiches to special meetings & either help set-up or clean up -- or both. Sometimes I find myself on the edge of volunteering for another service position that I've already held because no one else is stepping up but have stopped to ask myself the question; When is volunteering a Service and when is volunteering an action of the People Pleasing Control Freak I don't want to be? I've decided to volunteer next for a position I've never held, when it becomes available.

  10. We do tend to learn some good lessons from those people who could irritate us. Learning to let it go and let them do their own thing so they learn what they are supposed to learn is such a freedom.

  11. Friday is alright by me, too, buddy. Love the cute photo of the tired dog.

    Enjoy the weekend.

  12. I led an institutions meeting last. A group of us volunteer once a month to share our experience strength and hope. Every month it seems that I feel overwhelmed on the day of the meeting but I always feel better after the meeting. We are making a difference. Recently I opted to take a couple of weeks off from my usual meetings and feel refreshed. This week I went to 2 meetings that I don't normally attend. I think service work is like anything else if we don't step back and recharge ourselves we can lose our own serenity and not have much to offer. I have to keep things in balance. It is the extremes that got me here in the first place. You are an inspiration to many we all need you to take care of yourself.

  13. Great post, although I do think it's the trifecta with service being one arm of that tripod.

    I agree with PG on this one...I try to pass it on, but won't force it.

    If they want what I have great if not...not my choice.

  14. Service is a great way of learning tolerance and understanding, particularly of oneself. It is also the rope that connects us to the anchor of recovery. AA and the fellowship.

  15. You just be sure to save some of your energy for the other parts to recovery that don't involve anyone - BUT YOU - outside of the meetings,Syd.I think you do know how to seperate the issues at meetings from your own time in life to play on the sea,cook at home,etc.Oh..and to blog too ;)

  16. It seems as if every little thing I do in AA--if it is service with ourulterior motive--tends to strengthen, solidify my sobriety

    Syd, sick or well, on the road or at home, you always hit the mark, at least MY mark.


  17. it makes perfect sense to me that to sponsor another helps one to stay sober too...

    and now that's its weekend, i hope you have a relaxing one!

  18. I love this post..and I too have found giving...helping....stops me from thinking about me me me and even makes me feel good. Have a great weekend....

  19. The people that you help are very lucky to have someone as dedicated as you. I hope you are feeling better today and have a restful weekend.

  20. I was GSR, that took me all the way to being the recording secretary for our service area. I didn't enjoy my service experience very well and when ym son was born, that ended ym AA "official service career. Now I greet newcomers, sponsor a guy and started a men's meeting which I kept going for 5 years.

    It's important for me to give back what was freely given to me, so I still see the need to do some things to help others. However, my service has expanded beyond AA into a few service organizations within my community. That's just how it has gone for me

  21. I don't think service needs to be a should. I believe it first of all needs to be a joy, in order for the hard work not to create resentment and burnout. I am often returning to basics: if my own glass is not full, I cannot spill over....


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