Monday, 29 May 2017


If I’m experiencing difficulties, I lack either information or power or both. Step work provides information and some power but sometimes not enough power. The amount of power I need is in line with the amount of spiritual growth I have undergone. That means that the need for power is progressive and increases over time, provided of course I am growing spiritually and am not stalled because of an active addictive process. Power comes from God, but there are many channels. In addition to step work, I find that prayer, meditation, nature, music, and physical activity are all powerful activators of the flow of power into my life. These alone and in aggregate are insufficient without people, and a relationship with God that does not involve a relationship with people is tenuous if not impossible.

The solution is to surround myself with people with more spiritual power than me. That has meant looking further and wider for accomplices in recovery and in my spiritual development more generally. It is also the solution to emotional difficulties where the step work is complete, at least formally, but the power to change is absent. Whenever I’ve been stuck I’ve discovered the missing element to be fellowship. The reason for this lack is often a resistance to building more or deeper relationships with others, usually due to contempt or disdain for others, combined with laziness, fear, or some other character defect.

Therefore, accessing power generally requires improving relationships with people with an extremely strong spiritual programme, and this in turn usually requires getting over the obstacles erected by character defects. To do this, I plan and execute the requisite action to build relationships, bolstered by Step Seven: lots of meetings, especially those with very strong AAs in attendance, going for dinner or coffee before or after, becoming regular at these meetings, and then finding people to build relationships with in between meetings.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The role of GSR at Intergroup

The role of GSR at Intergroup:
  • The GSR, attending Intergroup, becomes a member of a single spiritual entity. To understand the work of the GSR, one must understand the work of that spiritual entity.
  • Intergroup has three main roles: (i) to act as a link in the chain between AA as a whole and the individual group and its members; (ii) to facilitate public information work; (iii) to run internal AA events and take care of other internal matters of importance beyond group level.
  • Under Concept I, the ultimate authority for AA resides in the groups and their members. Under Concept II, a chain of delegation is established between this ultimate authority and the actual doers, who have delegated authority. This is like the relationship between the brain and the hands. This delegated authority is exercised by the people who perform the actual general service work in AA, whether it answering telephones or performing PI work. The GSR is the first and most important link in this chain, as without a GSR the group is detached from AA as a whole.
  • Preparation for being a GSR: a GSR must be well-read in AA literature, particularly on the Traditions, the Concepts, AA history, and AA service literature; a GSR should be sponsored by someone with extensive service experience; if the GSR’s sponsor does not have this experience, there should be someone further up the sponsorship chain able to provide service sponsorship, or another service sponsor can be taken on; the GSR should be a weekly attendee of the group and know the group’s ethos and its members sufficiently well to be able to make decisions on its behalf at Intergroup, even when the material presented at Intergroup is novel and has not been discussed at group level. There is not always time to refer every detail back to groups, and the GSR has to be able to think on her or his feet.
  • In AA as a whole, the General Service Conference has the final decision respecting large matters of general policy and finance; however, the General Service Board (GSB) has the chief initiative and takes active responsibility for these matters. General policy and finance means ‘what we want to do, and how much money we want to spend on it’. (Tradition VI)
  • The GSB plans and administrates its committee activities, but acts as stockholder to its corporations, so elects directors and then exercises oversight. (Tradition VIII)
  • Intergroup performs all three functions: (i) it covers general questions of policy and finance, akin to Conference; (ii) it has the chief initiative for projects and takes active responsibility for them, akin to the GSB, so that would include Intergroup’s PI activities; (iii) it exercises custodial oversight in relation to separately incorporated entities, e.g. financially ring-fenced conventions, where the actual running is left to the convention committee, and Intergroup merely oversees, intervening only when there is a serious problem affecting policy or finance (e.g. primary purpose, other traditions issues, or over-spending).
  • The GSRs role with these three is to be part of the Intergroup, acting as a single spiritual entity, (i) taking full responsibility for decisions on overall policy and finance; (ii) overseeing PI activities whilst trusting the PI officers to take care of the detail (Concept III—right of decision); (iii) exercising more remote oversight of conventions etc., in relation to which interference should be very rare.
  • Under Concept VIII, individual officers, committees, and directors are appointed by the GSB, and this applies at Intergroup; the Intergroup appoints officers, PI committees (e.g. Crisis at Christmas committees), and financially ring-fenced convention committees; under Concept XI, the aim is to appoint the best possible people to do the work required, with reference not just to AA skills but also to external experience, e.g. financial, management, leadership, technical, or administrative experience. To do this, we need to know the candidates. AA CVs need to be scrutinised, individuals, questioned, and concerns, raised. The best person for the job needs to be chosen.
  • The GSR’s job is also to collate service opportunities based on information learned at Intergroup. Some of these are recurring (e.g. telephone service) whilst others are non-recurring (e.g. particular vacancies). These opportunities could be at national, supra-regional, Regional, Intergroup, or more local level. These opportunities need to be presented weekly or monthly to the group.
  • The GSR can report news of the group to the rest of Intergroup. Such news includes temporary or permanent relocations and special or recurring events.
  • Conference Questions: every year, AA’s General Service Conference discusses questions and topics chosen by a committee out of all those submitted by members, groups, Intergroups, Regions, and other entities within AA. These must be discussed at group level, and the findings must be collated and presented at the London Region (North) Pre-Conference Assembly to the six Conference Delegates who represent the Region at the General Service Conference. At the Post-Conference Assembly, the Conference Delegates then report back to the GSRs the main decisions made at Conference, and these in turn are reported back to Groups.
  • GSRs are the main pool for taking on service at Intergroup. When there is a vacancy for an officer’s role at Intergroup, this vacancy should be brought to the attention of the group but the GSR should also consider taking up that vacancy herself or himself. Directly approaching potential good candidates is an important part of the GSR’s role. Many vacancies get filled in this way, rather than by someone spontaneously volunteering.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Why aren't the promises showing up?

Each Step in the Big Book is associated with promises. The promises come true, always. Sometimes they don't appear to show up.

There are three reasons:

(1) Not being painstaking or sincere with the Step.
(2) The promises are lost in the post; they'll arrive, but there may be a delay.
(3) The Step in question has been worked so slowly the joy is drip-fed. If someone gives you one thousand pounds, you'll notice it; if someone gives you one pound a day for three years, you won't notice anything.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

A sorry tale

Friend: “Good morning. You look a bit down.”
Alcoholic: “Yes, well, I’ve had a bit of bad news.”
F: “I’m sorry to hear that. What is it?”
A: “Well you know the people who helped me stop drinking?”
F: “Yes?”
A: “Well, I was happy to go through their programme to get me off the sauce; that was a few months ago now, and I’ve got my life together, my job’s going well, my girlfriend’s come back, and I’m having a great time.”
F: “So what’s the problem?”
A: “The problem is that that they say there’s more I have to do, to stay sober forever.”
F: “That sounds rough! What do you have to do?”
A: “It’s just awful. I’m not sure I can bring myself to say it.”
F: [stares blankly]
A: “I suppose I have to tell you. They say I have to spend time with people, for the rest of my life.”
F: “What do you mean, ‘spend time with people’?”
A: “Just that. I’m supposed to go to these places a couple of times a week where there are people, and they take turns talking about their lives and discussing things. They actually want me to participate, and talk. And then I have to spend time with individual people, where I talk about myself, and they talk about themselves, and then we discuss things. Can you believe it?”
F: “That does sound rough. I mean, you really don’t like people, do you?”
A: “Actually, I do. I’m scared this is going to detract from my social life.”
F: “Your social life? What does that consist of?”
A: “Oh, spending time with people.”
F: “And what does that involve?”
A: “Well, we get together in groups and talk about our lives and discuss things. Sometimes I hang out with just one person, and we take turns talking about ourselves, and then we discuss things. See?”
F: “Erm … so what’s the problem? Don’t you like the fact that these people are also sober?”
A: “No, of course, I’m glad they’re sober. Sober people are much easier to be with than drunk people.”
F: “So what is the problem then? Are the sober people fundamentally different from the ‘social life people’? Is it that you have to spend time with particular sober people?”
A: “Well, firstly they’re just like the social life people, except firstly they’re sober all of the time rather than most of the time, and secondly they, like me, are condemned to having to spend time with people just to stay alive. On the second point, no, I can go where I want; in fact there are tens of thousands of people to choose from, and over nine hundred different places I can go in London, many in walking distance from my office and home.”
F: “So what you’re saying is, you have recovered from alcoholism, and all you have to do to stay sober forever and maintain the wonderful life you have been given is spend time with people?”
A: “Yes.”
F: “My heart goes out to you, mate.”