Sharing in a Foreign Land
I often think about the importance of Step Twelve and Tradition Five and how I can improve the opportunities that I have to carry a message of recovery to the still-suffering alcoholic. I am sober today only because I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and heard other people sharing their experience of how they had recovered from the disease of alcoholism. Carrying the message of recovery to the still-suffering alcoholic is of vital importance – it can literally mean the difference between life and death to the alcoholic that is still entrenched in this fatal disease.
Having had my life restored to one of peace and wonder as a result of doing the Twelve Steps, it's only right and fair that I should make the effort to share my new found joy in sobriety with the new man and woman who walks through the doors of AA. After all it may be my own particular experience that could tip the scales of decision for someone at their first meeting. This is why I have my hand up to share at every meeting of my home group right from the start of the meeting until the end. I also share at other meetings outside of my home group.
But then I nearly made an exception to this rule that I have regarding Step Twelve and Tradition Five. I am so glad that I didn't. I wanted to go to a meeting in France when I visited my dad and step-mum. As there weren't any English-speaking meetings near where they lived I spent a couple of hours on the internet and found a French-speaking meeting about fifteen miles from my dad's house. I thought I would just turn up and say, "Bonjour" and sit there silent for the rest of the meeting. I thought that there was absolutely no way I could share from the floor in French even though I spent five years learning French at secondary school. I was simply not prepared to make a complete fool of myself because of my feelings of pride and self-centredness.
As time went by the thought of not putting in some Step Twelve action troubled my mind because of my defects of character and because I wasn't willing to brush up on my French. Then I had a flash of inspiration. I thought I could write out a little share and that way I could still share without saying utter nonsense and still keep my reputation as an Englishman intact! I didn't even have to get a French dictionary and phrasebook as all I had to do was go to a translation website, type in my share in English and then the website would translate it into French for me – perfectionner (perfect in French)!!!
I made my share about two minutes in length, packed my bags and looked forward to going to a French AA meeting.
When I was at my dad's I went to the town where the meeting was to be held the next day and saw that the town was very small. I assumed that the meeting would probably be small as well; just like my home group's Thursday lunchtime meeting. I thought as it would probably be a small meeting then there would be plenty of time to do a share so I got on my dad's laptop later that day and made my share about five minutes long. I printed it off and practiced my pronunciation ready for the next evening.
The next evening I arrived at the meeting and introduced myself. There were three women, another man and myself there. They bombarded me with questions and I explained that I was English and could speak a little basic French and found it difficult understanding their questions as I had forgotten most of the French I had learnt at school. Fortunately there was a lady there that could speak a fair bit of English, so she helped with translating and I made the effort to reply in French by getting out my dictionary and phrasebook. I showed her my share and she read it through and then passed it to the secretary. The secretary read it and consulted the other woman there and then turned to me and asked me if I would like to do the main share. I thought to myself, "Steady on, this is not what I had in mind!" I could feel myself starting to break out in a sweat and looked over at the Serenity Prayer in French and thought what the heck. "Yes," I replied.
My share lasted for about seven minutes and I was very nervous the whole way through. I spent about two minutes sharing on my drinking and about four minutes on how I miraculously recovered. Afterwards they all shared back and I could understand little bits of what they were saying. But it was plainly clear from their body language and tones of voice that there was a lot of moaning going on. The lady that could speak a bit of English did her best to translate each share for me which was really kind of them. Sadly there wasn't a strong message of recovery.
After the meeting I stayed for coffee and the other man that was there said that I had convinced him that he needed to get a sponsor and do the Twelve Steps. He was very eager and said that he would go to a convention that was being held in Bordeaux at the end of the month to find himself a sponsor.
I felt really happy on the way back to my dad's as I thought maybe, just maybe I've helped this man to the extent that he will do the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and have an amazing life just like I have today, all because I put my pride and self-centredness in my pocket and carried a message of recovery to a still-suffering alcoholic.