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I Don't Feel As If I Belong Anymore

Copyright The A.A. Grapevine, Inc., September 2000


Some time ago, I was shocked to hear a few old-timers say they didn't feel as if they belonged to AA anymore. I was shocked mostly because I felt the same way. I had to ask myself, whose responsibility is it if I don't feel I belong?

Upon reflection, I recalled that when I first joined AA in 1976, I didn't feel like I "belonged" for a long time - not until I worked through the Twelve Steps with a sponsor. To this day, that same sponsor still works with newcomers and participates at the "entry level" in the AA program.

When I first came in, I was willing to go to any lengths for my sobriety. How did I feel about that now, in my twenty-third year?

I realized that maybe I wasn't as willing as I used to be. The thrill of early sobriety was gone. Could it be recaptured? Was I willing to make myself available? When asked, would I do anything requested from an AA member?

I soon admitted that even though I still went to meetings and sponsored people, my attitude had changed from the zeal of a newcomer to the complacency that comes with not participating to the extent I needed to. I realized that just because I was an old-timer of sorts, I was not giving at the level I was capable of. I was participating on a qualified basis at a level convenient for me. Maybe it was time to change my attitude and become more open to the things I'd found so satisfying in my early recovery.

With this new attitude, I was soon blessed with several new people to work with. I found much more enjoyment and enrichment at meetings. I began to reread the AA books about our co-founders and the Traditions. I tried my best to provide my experience, strength, and hope in those situations I'd been leaving up to others. I tried to truly participate.

Now I feel connected again and am enjoying AA every bit as much as I did as a newcomer.

Chances are every old-timer goes through this. When it happens, the best solution is to seek humility and realize we are only one drink away from a drunk, no matter how long we have been in the Fellowship. Numerous old-timers have paid the price for complacency. If we feel out of touch, let's take a personal inventory, not about what we are doing or not doing, but about our attitudes, motives, and especially our First Step. We are either alcoholics or we are not. If I am an alcoholic, have I slipped out of recovery into complacency? Alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful. It can strike no matter how long we have been in AA if we become spiritually unfit. And besides, the Fellowship needs us. I often ask myself the question, Where did all the old-timers go?

Bruce T., Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Copyright The A.A. Grapevine, Inc., September 2000

In practicing our Traditions, The AA Grapevine, Inc. has neither endorsed nor are they affiliated with Silkworth.net.
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