Monday, 24 October 2011

Take responsibility

Many AA meetings are desolate places. The sharing can veer between confession, venting, and emotional exhibitionism. The atmosphere is gloomy, and there is little talk of hope, faith, progress, the victory or transcendence over problems, the all-powerfulness of God, and the promises of AA coming true. There is a grim resignation to "life on life's terms" and comfort and relief in discovering other people are miserable, too, as this alleviates guilt.
There are of course many exceptions, too, and many 'in-between' meetings, and individual groups can vary hugely in their atmosphere from week to week.
When I was struck sober in 1993, there were about 550 AA meetings in London. Now, there are 700 or so meetings. That's only a modest increase, and the meetings themselves are barely any larger.
It is rare to see someone with 18 years' or more sobriety in an AA meeting in London. Consequently, the people filling the rooms in 1993 are largely not attending AA any more. Some have died of old age, sober. Many did not follow the programme and got drunk and are now still drinking, dead, or institutionalised. Some now live elsewhere. Some have found other ways of successfully staying sober.
The remainder are those who were AA success stories (worked the Steps, were transformed, developed full, healthy lives) but who no longer attend AA or barely attend.
There should be leaders in AA, according to our Traditions. Our leaders, obviously, are not leaders in the sense of being directors but are, instead, trusted servants. Our role is to make a contribution and lead largely by example, acting also as the guardrails or early warning systems when a breach of the Traditions or Concepts threatens.
It is this element which is often sadly lacking.
AA provided me with a structure in which I built a big, successful life.
I owe a massive debt to AA, and it is my number one responsibility to ensure that everything that has been given to me is passed on constantly and as widely as possible.
I go to at least five AA meetings a week and have service assignments at two, currently. I am an active participant in each of these meetings, and see it as my primary purpose to carry the message that was carried to me, and to reach out constantly to people in trouble, whether they are new or have been around for a long time.
There is no merit in this: it is a simple moral requirement. There is no more merit in this than in paying taxes or refraining from stealing.
There is also a massive shortage of strong sponsors. There are many people with ten to thirty years' sobriety and plenty of experience with the Steps who do not sponsor or sponsor just a couple of people. Women, in particular, find it difficult to find sponsors. I sponsor a number of women who asked up to a dozen 'long-timer' women to sponsor them but were turned down by every one for various not entirely compelling reasons. The slack is mostly taken up by members with two to five years, many of whom have a large number of sponsees and are successfully trusting God to guide them in managing the workload while maintaining their own lives.
I can think of only two women with more than ten years' of sobriety who regularly attend ANY of the five groups I regularly attend, and some of these meetings are substantial.
There is no excuse here:
(1) A few hours a week does not detract from the rest of one's life, and the release of energy and inspiration which flow from this work typically make the remaining hours far more productive. God will always show you how to grow in understanding and effectiveness—artificially imposed limits on God's power are borne of a self-fulfilling fear. Say 'yes', and let God show you how to follow through.
(2) Yes, newer people need to be given responsibility, but not without leadership by example in situ.
(3) Yes, some groups are grim. But why would they not be if people who do have a strong programme stay away or nod off at the back? The non-attendance or non-participation of long-timers is the reason for this, not the consequence.
(4) Yes, you may no longer "need" meetings in the sense of needing to get something FROM them; but there is a need to give something TO them. If this shift in need is not observed and acted in accordance with, a great disservice is done to you as much as to AA.
(5) Yes, your ten-man early morning Big Book study may be cosy, but who are you reaching? Where is the firing line? Where are the trenches? We carry the message TO those who are suffering.
I'm going to be a little coarse here: get off your complacent butts and make AA the cheer-leading rally for the power of God that it was intended to be. WE are responsible for how AA is, and are equally responsible for seeing the vision of God's will for how it COULD be.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Step Nine

Read page 76:4 ("Probably . . .") to 83:3 (". . . anyone") and 98:3 ("Now . . .") to 99:2 (". . . parties").

The spirit of amends

Real purpose: fitting ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us (77:0)
Demonstration of good will (77:0)
Sincere desire to set right wrong (77:0)
Tact and common sense (77:1)
Helpful and forgiving spirit (77:1)
Do not criticise or argue (77:2)
Do not tell others what to do (78:0)
Do not discuss their faults (78:0)
Calm frank and open (78:0)
Quietly (80:3)
Good sense and loving kindness (82:1)
Patience, tolerance, kindliness, and love (83:1)
Lead the way with behaviour as well as words (83:2)
Do not urge others to following a spiritual path or bang on about spiritual matters (83:2)
Sensible, tactful, considerate, and humble, without being servile or scraping (83:3)
Stand on our feet as God's people (83:3)
Do not crawl before anyone (83:3)
Concentrate on one's own spiritual demonstration (98:3)
Avoid argument and fault-finding like the plague (98:3)
Sober, considerate, helpful (99:1)

How to make amends

Say why we are making the appointment to see someone, calling them, writing them a letter, etc. (77:2)
Be direct about the drinking and recovery (77:2, 78:2)
Mention God/spirituality if it would help (77:0)
Admit faults (78:0, 79:3, 81:1)
Frankly analyse the past (83:1)
Confess former ill-feeling (if they know about it!) (77:1)
Express sorrow, regret (77:1, 78:2, 81:1)
Ask forgiveness (79:3)
Ask if there is anything else we have done to harm the person and if they want to tell us how it affected them.
Ask what we can do to make things right (83:2—'our behaviour . . .')

Follow-through with family or other people close to us

"So we clean house with the family, asking each morning in meditation that our Creator show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindness, and love.
The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it. . . Our behaviour will convince them more than our words." (83:1–2)
". . . thoroughly explain to them the new principles by which he is living . . . proceed to put these principles into action at home." (98:3)
"Though his family be at fault in many respects, he should not be concerned about that. He should concentrate on his own spiritual demonstration. Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague." (98:3)
". . . provided, however, the alcoholic continues to demonstrate that he can be sober, considerate, and helpful, regardless of what anyone says or does. Of course, we all fall much below this standard many times. But we must try to repair the damage immediately lest we pay the penalty by a spree." (99:1)

What to do if you cannot see the person directly

Write a letter (83:3).
Other options (not in the Book) for where it is agreed the direct approach is impossible or inadvisable—consult with a sponsor concerning these:
  • Praying for knowledge of God's will as to how to make alternative/indirect amends.
  • Writing an anonymous letter.
  • Writing a letter and reading it to a friend, sponsor, or spiritual advisor.
  • Writing a letter and reading it at a person's grave or a place with significance for the person in question.
  • Sending money anonymously.
  • Giving money or time to an appropriate charity.
  • Making indirect amends, e.g. finding a way to help people in a similar position to those your have harmed but cannot make direct amends to.
  • Considering what changed behaviour patterns are required on an ongoing basis and adopting those new behaviour patterns.
  • Ask your sponsor for further ideas on how an indirect amend can be made.
In any case, place the matter in God's hands (120:3).

When not to make amends directly (because it would harm them or others)

"Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us." (77:0)
"Therefore, we are not to be the hasty and foolish martyr who would needlessly sacrifice others to save himself from the alcoholic pit." (79:2)
If the amend would actually make it harder for us to be of maximum service to God and the people around us, we need to be careful, and consult with others and God (80:1).
Examples could include causing ourselves to be unemployable or costing taxpayers money through court cases, etc., or placing those dependent on us financially in a worse financial position.
If possible, obtain the permission of those who may be affected (80:1).
Do not generally reveal new information (81:1).
Do not involve other people (81:1).

Factors that do not stand in the way of amends

Them having harmed us more than we harmed them (77:1)
Still not liking the person (77:1)
A negative response from them (anticipated or actual) (78:1)
Financial harm to us (78:2)
Personal consequences in general (loss of position or reputation, or jail) (79:1)

When do you make amends?

Now (83:3)

Financial amends                                          

Face the creditors now and arrange the best deal ("Arranging the best deal we can we let these people know we are sorry ... We must lose our fear of creditors no matter how far we have to go, for we are liable to drink if we are afraid to face them.") (78:2)
A practical note: prioritise debts where you will be pursued legally and consider consolidating such debts through an agency. Consider how much you can afford to pay off per month in total and split, if possible, between all your creditors, in terms of an opening offer for how much to pay back. Then you will be able to approach everyone more or less simultaneously and will not have to delay approaching any particular creditor. It may be best to approach and negotiate deals with all of the creditors who can pursue you legally first before entering into any arrangements with people who do not have a legal claim or do not even know you owe them money.
The key priority is approaching creditors promptly.

Step Nine prayers

"God, please fit me to be of maximum service to you and to those around me." (77:0)
"God, show me whether or not to make these amends directly." (80:1)
"God, let me place the outcome of these amends in your hands." (80:4)
"God, show me the right way to approach these amends; have me keep the happiness of X uppermost in my mind." (82:1)
"God, show me the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness, and love." (83:2)

A way of 'managing' the amends

Split the amends cards/sheets into four piles:
Willing and able
Willing and unable
Unwilling and able
Unwilling and unable
'Willing' means you are prepared to make the amend today.
'Able' means you understand clearly the harm, are clear on how to make the amend, and have the details for how to contact the person in question.
Proceed with the willing-and-able pile (under the guidance of a sponsor) and pray to God for willingness/ability/further preparatory steps to take for those where you are unwilling or unable.
Review periodically to see which amends have shifted from unwilling and/or unable to willing and/or able.

The ego's excuses for not making amends

(1) I'm too emotional—I will drink if I make the amend

If I am an alcoholic (which I am), the chief remedy is abstinence from alcohol. My real problem, however, is a mind that will convince me a drink is a good idea, and, because of the physical craving, if I drink at all, I may be doomed never to attain sobriety once more.
Since my mind cannot be relied on to keep me sober, my number one priority is remaining connected to the power that is already keeping me sober, regardless of the contents of my mind or heart.
It does not take much exposure to AA to realise that high emotion does not lead to a drink any more than apparent emotional balance or normality ensures sobriety. The real question is whether or not I am on a path that re-establishes a connection with others and God—it is that which will ensure sobriety. If I am on that path, over time, my emotions, as a pleasant by-product, will indeed sort themselves out. If I am not, I am more likely to run into extreme negative emotion. There is thus a correlation between emotional state and relapse, but the relationship is not causal—both problems stem from the same source, conscious separation from others, God, and my true self.
High emotional alert in relation to a particular amend is therefore a jolly good sign that the amend is indeed urgently necessary, not that the amend itself is dangerous: this will be a relationship where there is a particular serious rupture, which needs to be mended.
The book 'Alcoholics Anonymous' is clear about the link between unfinished amends and relapse. Shame, unchecked, will lead back to the bottle—which is why amends, which, over time, clear shame, are vital.
"The inconsistency is made worse by the things he does on his sprees. Coming to his senses, he is revolted at certain episodes he vaguely remembers. These memories are a nightmare. He trembles to think someone might have observed him. As fast as he can, he pushes these memories far inside himself. He hopes they will never see the light of day. He is under constant fear and tension that makes for more drinking." (73:2)

(2) In God's time, not mine—I have to wait for the opportunities to come to me

'Alcoholics Anonymous' is clear that we approach the people to whom we owe amends and do not wait for them to come to us.
". . . we take the bit in our teeth." (77:1)
"But we don't delay if it can be avoided." (83:3)
God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. But we need to take action to activate our faith. God ain't gonna slide no hotdog under our door. God certainly does step in where every effort of mine is exhausted. But God is not like Cleopatra's attendants, deferentially feeding her peeled grapes whilst the world revolves around her. I must take the initiative, first!

(3) Attempting to complete amends is just being alcoholically perfectionist—'Alcoholics Anonymous' tells us that it is progress not perfection

This is an underhand argument. The word 'all' appears in Step Eight, and Step Nine refers to 'such people'. There is no suggestion in 'Alcoholics Anonymous' that we should not make every effort to apply each Step to the best of our ability. The 'progress rather than perfection' line refers to the actual results that we obtain rather than the effort we put in. Even if we make a full effort, the results are going to be less than perfect, and there is no cause for self-reproach or dismay. And what is claimed is progress, not stagnation. This means that, if I have any outstanding amends, and I am not making at least stately progress but simply letting them lie, I am stagnating. This is not what the Book encourages.
These lines are much more apropos regarding our approach to amends:
"At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. . . Half measures availed us nothing." (58:3 onwards)
"Simply we tell him that we will never get over drinking until we have done our utmost to straighten out the past." (77:2)
"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development . . ." (83:4)

(4) Making amends just so I feel better is selfish—I have to think about others

It is possible for a good action to have a selfish aim, too. That does not invalidate the good action. The fact we will benefit is irrelevant.
Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us (77:0)—if we wait till all other purposes and motives are extinguished, we may be waiting for a long time.
Step Nine does indeed suggest we be tactful and considerate, etc., but this is with regard (a) to the manner in which we make amends and (b) the caution we exercise should our amends be at risk of causing additional (i.e. fresh) injury to the person in question or others. It is not in another person's interests per se for us not to make amends to them.

(5) I have not changed yet—there is no point in me making the amends until I have changed

This is rarely entirely true. If you are sober, you are likely not doing drunken things. This particular excuse refers usually to ongoing behaviour patterns, e.g. tetchiness, tardiness, sulking, manipulation, and other unpleasant daily habits.
Many of the people on the list I will never see again once I have made the amend. Whether or not I am displaying character defects in general is irrelevant in these cases.
With regard to friends, family, colleagues, etc., the amends are likely to consist in an admission of (a) big-ticket items (which can certainly be made amends for straight away) and (b) ongoing irritating or harmful behaviour patterns (where we can admit our wrong and explain that we are on a path of spiritual growth which involves ongoing inventory and correction of errors).
If we wait until all character defects have been straightened out until we make amends, we may be waiting for a very long time indeed. People deserve an apology and a commitment to change now.
Amends are about admitting wrong and expressing the wish to behave well in the future and to grow towards such ideals. They are not and cannot be a promise never to do anything wrong again.
It is in fact the clearing away of the past and turning over of a new leaf which is most likely to pave the way for a change in behaviour, because of the stripping away of a whole layer of tense guilt and shame relating to unfinished amends.
Make the amend, and clean up any future mess when you make it. That is what Step Ten is for.

(6) They harmed me more than I harmed them/I still do not like the person

"Though his family be at fault in many respects, he should not be concerned about that. He should concentrate on his own spiritual demonstration. Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague." (98:3)
"It may be he has done us more harm than we have done him and, though we may have acquired a better attitude toward him, we are still not too keen about admitting our faults. Nevertheless, with a person we dislike, we take the bit in our teeth." (77:1)

(7) There is no hurry—it is not a race

Yes there is, and yes it is. It is a race against the ego, and it is one you want to win, if you do not want to drink again.
"We will never get over drinking until we have done our utmost to straighten out the past." (77:2)
"But we don't delay if it can be avoided." (83:3)
"We must lose our fear of creditors no matter how far we have to go, for we are liable to drink if we are afraid to face them." (78:2)

(8) People just want me to be sober and happy—that is my amend

If you follow the amends procedure, admit your harms and express regret, and then ask what you can do to straighten things out, and this is what they say, then marvellous!
But there is only one way of finding out whether this is true—by making the amend first and then asking the question. Often it is discovered that people will benefit hugely from being able to tell their side of the story of how our harm affected them. If they are indeed already healed of the harm we have done, then the amends conversation will, in any case, be painless for them. If they are not, it will have been a jolly good plan to have made the amends and afforded them the opportunity for healing.
Creditors, furthermore, are usually more interested in having their money back than our wellbeing.

(9) It will upset the person to bring up past harms

Bringing up known harms cannot create fresh injury; only the revelation of new information can cause fresh injury.
If someone is still upset at the recollection of the harm, that upset is within them, affecting them 24 hours a day at some level. What better approach than to offer them the opportunity for healing through the conciliatory process of Step Nine? Having been on both sides of the fence with amends, I know the process to be more healing than any other I know.
If someone is indeed 'over it', as indicated above, the entire process will be quite painless in any case.

(10) They (an ex-partner) are or might be with someone else now

I denied myself—and others—freedom for a long time by using this excuse. I had an unmoveable layer of shame and an inclination to repeat old patterns in current relationships. Certain obsessions, particularly with the past, would not leave me. I had unshakeable low self-esteem.
One day I took the bull by the horns and the bit between my teeth.
There is always the option of making the amend in person in public or in the (nearby) presence front of a third party, if there are concerns about propriety, or leaving the amend at a letter and/or phone call where there are other sensitivities.
Stating why I am making the approach (that I will not get over drinking unless I do my utmost to straighten out the past) makes it clear why I am in contact and removes the appearance of ill motives.
In a spirit of tact and consideration, I approached the exes I could find initially by letter, frankly admitting my harms and expressing the desire to meet or talk over the phone (where they were geographically distant) to express my regret. This I did, where they allowed. No harm came to anyone. There was no bogeyman here.
And the problems described above shifted.

The ego's excuses for not working with others

(1) No one wants someone as old/young/new in sobriety/old in sobriety [fill in the blank] to sponsor them

I have heard all of these excuses, and used some of them myself. I believe God is of limitless power. Do any of these 'limitations' really stand in the way? A glance at one's broader acquaintance will reveal people sponsored successfully in matches one would never have anticipated.
"Outward appearances are not inward reality at all." ('Alcoholics Anonymous', 48:3)
The ability for two people to connect derives not from any external factor but from an inward identification which initially surprises—yet how often have we heard people describe how, at their first AA meeting, they heard someone with diametrically opposed biographical circumstances 'tell their story'. I have seen people successfully sponsor people twice their age and half their age; I have seen old-timers successfully sponsor newcomers, relative newcomers sponsor people with many years, and people successfully sponsor near-peers.

(2) I'm willing, but no one asks me

There is an old picture of 'The Land of Cockaigne' by Breugel the Elder, Cockaigne being a mythical land of plenty, where pigs run around helpfully furnished with knives stuck in their side so you can carve yourself a slice with ease.
Only rarely will sponsees throw themselves willingly onto the silver platter of sponsorship from a standing start. AA is not Cockaigne.
When I was new, I did not understand what my problem really was or what was on offer through sponsorship or the Steps. I was nervous and hostile and did not, initially, approach people with ease. The phone weighed a ton, and I was nervous of addressing people I did not know.
Like Ebby Thatcher approached Bill Wilson, and in line with the suggestion on page 25 regarding those with a solution approaching those with a problem, I was approached by people who actively wanted to help.
Obviously, sponsorship cannot be forced. However, the opportunities can be created. When I was a couple of years sober (and not sponsoring anyone), I resented my friend Melody, who was sober the same time and had five or six sponsees. Not coincidentally, she was usually to be found shepherding some bewildered newcomer to a meeting or to coffee afterwards. She did not force sponsorship, but she created the conditions in which people felt comfortable enough and familiar enough to ask her to take them through the Steps.
Even if sponsorship per se does not arise out of such attempts to be of help and use to newcomers and anyone, in fact, who is struggling, this activity and the relationships that arise out of it are equivalent to sponsorship in the opportunity they afford to be of service and practise the Twelfth Step.
The service structure also affords opportunities to encounter newcomers or people who have not yet found AA. People who engage in this sort of work will have no difficulty acquiring people to take through the Steps.

(3) It is obviously not God's will, or I would be sponsoring; if God wanted me to sponsor, he would put someone in my life

This is a variation on (2) above and has about as much validity as sitting at home expecting God to push a job offer or a boyfriend through your letterbox.
An old Jewish story tells of a tailor who was good at his work but slow and lazy. He repeatedly fails to complete a tailoring job for a rabbi by the agreed deadline, each time telling the rabbi, "God willing, it will be complete by next Thursday." Eventually, the rabbi becomes impatient and snaps back, "and if you leave God out of it?"
Similarly, a passer-by ingratiates himself with a monk tending a beautiful monastery garden, saying, "isn't God's bounty magnificent?" The monk, stony-faced, replies, "you should have seen it when he had it to himself."

(4) I am not cut out for sponsorship

The only qualification for sponsorship is having been through the process of the Steps yourself.
"Having had the experience yourself, you can give him much practical advice." (96:2)
"Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now." (124:2)
We do not need to make anything up; we share the experience and insight we have gained.
If we do not know how to deal with a situation, there are instructions in Chapter Seven and elsewhere and many people who can help us.
In AA, there is a screw for every nut. Anyone who has been sponsored can sponsor.

(5) I travel a lot

Luckily, since the invention of the letter, the telephone, email, the Internet, and Skype, this is no longer a difficulty. You can even see your sponsee eyeball-to-eyeball when you are thousands of miles away. Writing sponsees emails or having them call you will give you something to do whilst you are on long train and plane journeys, waiting in airport lounges, and bored in foreign hotels. Just thing of how their little faces will light up when you return, too!
You can also sponsor by post people who are in prison or live in remote places.

(6) I carry the message through my behaviour: I am a walking Big Book

This is one of my personal favourites. Beware of any interpretation of any steps whose bottom line is: do nothing beyond what you are already doing.
Moreover, this is like the "I make amends by staying sober" argument—if it is only the grace of a Higher Power that is keeping you sober and removing your defects of character, then God is left to make your amends and, apparently, do your Twelfth Step work for you, too.
Whilst the principle holds that our behaviour is testament to the values we adhere to, the chief value of the Steps as a way of life is not being nice but being useful. If we really are to be a walking Big Book, we must be not niceness personified but usefulness personified, and back we are at the starting point:
One of the most useful tasks we can perform is to carry actively the message of AA to people who will die of or with active alcoholism unless they are shown a way up and out.
The Big Book is about fitting us to be of maximum usefulness to others (77:0)—which, presumably, means actually getting off our arses and being useful. And who can do that but us?
"Both saw that they must keep spiritually active. One day they called up the head nurse of a local hospital. They explained their need and asked if she had a first class alcoholic prospect." (156:2)
The best example of a walking Big Book is an active sponsor—not sponsoring means you have not actually taken all of the Twelve Steps.

 (7) I carry the message by going to meetings and sharing

Good! For how long? I go to around five meetings a week and share for 4 minutes or so on average. This gives me 20 minutes. There are 10,080 minutes in a week. That is around one-tenth of one per cent of my time.
Compare:
"Faith without works was dead, he said. And how appallingly true for the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that." (14:6)
"Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics." (89:1)
"All of us spend much of our spare time in the sort of effort which we are going to describe. A few are fortunate enough to be situated that they can give nearly all their time to the work." (19:1)
If this suffices for you, great! If you're anything like me, your murderous self-centredness is not going to be smashed by 20 minutes a week. I am the kind of alcoholic that needs to be turned outwards to be useful to others on a daily basis to maintain my connection with God and the universe. Perhaps you are too.

(8) I do other service instead

I do other service too, but not instead of sponsorship. This is a diversionary excuse—a way of distracting attention from the real issue, which is the reluctance to engage in one-to-one work. Whatever your particular experiences, they will be useful to someone—it is just a matter of finding whom. Anyone can make a cup of tea. But your experiences are unique to you and uniquely fit you to be of service to a particular poor soul who will be lost without you.
The mistake is to believe that we were sobered up and straightened out for our own sakes. I do not believe this to be the case. Individuals can transform the lives of hundreds or thousands in AA. Who is to say you are not one of them?

(9) I do not have time

It is true that many people have heavy commitments, in terms of work, study, family, etc.
If you are anything like me, active alcoholism stripped me of these things. The reason I have these areas of my life back is because of other people giving their time freely to me. "I've got mine; thanks for everything; I'm off now," is a sign of ingratitude and tends to augur badly for the future.
I have become overly absorbed in my concerns and found I had little time for sponsorship. I discovered, to my dismay, that I had plenty of time for upset, anxiety, self-obsession, sleepless nights, unproductive long hours at work etc. When I have been working 70+ hours a week, I really have had to ask myself why I am doing it. Usually (though there were exceptions when I was training) I was concerned chiefly with me and my success (in turn an attempt to overcome a gnawing sense of uselessness).
I have a new employer (p. 63)—and He's not me. There is such a thing as excessively focusing on AA duties and ignoring the other occupations and affairs of my life. But the reverse is just as dangerous for my state of mind.
Twelfth-Step work has removed entirely any sense of uselessness or lack of fulfilment, and ambitions in other areas are now healthy (or healthier). The Twelve and Twelve aim of being a worker amongst workers (on the principle that not everyone can be a leader) is achieved not so much by aiming for that attitude per se but by being of service in this most crucial way and having one's values and perspective brought automatically into alignment.
Furthermore, work for a Higher Power who is, well, all-powerful, you would be amazed at how much more efficient not only the Twelfth-Step work but other activities become, and how the 'reckless martyrdom' in other areas gets tamed as you stop co-dependently doing for others what they frankly should be doing for themselves.
I have stopped being a people-pleaser and become, instead, a God-pleaser, on the grounds that there is only one of Him and His yoke is light, so the job is infinitely easier.
As my AA duties and obligations have mushroomed, my efficiency and effectiveness in other areas have equally burgeoned. God is unusually skilled at scheduling and time management.

(10) I do not enjoy it

This is typically short-sighted argument. The quality of enjoyment lies not in the activity but in the actor. Enjoyment—and joy—are the natural states that are revealed when everything that blocks them is removed.
Fear, resentment, self-pity, self-seeking, a desire to control, and numerous other character defects can render sponsorship an unpleasant experience. It is a mistake to attribute these to the nature of sponsorship itself—when these blocks are examined and let go of, enjoyment—and joy—invariably result, as you see God working through you to achieve in your prospect—and in yourself—what you never could have achieved on your own unaided strength.