44th Annual Western Roundup Living Sober Conference
by Maggie R.
Hi, I’m Maggie, and I’m an alcoholic. I just celebrated six months of sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous. I work with a sponsor, I work the steps, I make the coffee at my home group, I say the Third Step Prayer every morning, and I try to maintain conscious contact with my Higher Power all day. I mess up at all these things and with other people and with myself a lot, and I am learning how to forgive and to make amends.
Shortly after joining A.A., I also joined the General Planning Committee for the 44th Annual Western Roundup Living Sober Conference, the oldest and longest-running LGBTQ A.A./Al-Anon Conference in the country, hosted in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend. This year’s theme is A New Freedom and A New Happiness. Almost every time I go to a meeting or event related to Alcoholics Anonymous, I have the same conversation with myself:
You don’t belong here.
Everyone would be happier if you were not here.
Why did you start going to this meeting in the first place? Why don’t you just leave everybody alone …
I needed a place to go
I want to say that after six months of sobriety and participation in A.A. this choir of voices—“the Committee”—has quieted down. However, the reality is more like, these voices have discovered they can be as loud as they want to be. So if the Committee is going to be there, I need to learn how to manage and ignore it. What have I found to help with that?
To manage my alcoholism, it is most helpful to get out of my head, connect with the program of A.A. and see other people I can relate to. Ways I do this include: going to meetings, working the steps, checking in with my sponsor, and being of service. I was brought into the Living Sober community by another alcoholic who saw I needed a place to go where I could feel useful and accepted. While I still have doubts about my usefulness, the acceptance that I find in this community helps me to step outside of myself, connect with a higher power, and recognize that I don’t know who I am helping or how I am helping by being here.
This community helps me to step outside of myself
I am sure that The Committee is going to have plenty more to say to me when I send this article to be read by more people and when I show up at the Living Sober Musical Team meeting later today (Yes, there is a Living Sober musical at the conference—Don’t you want to come see it? ). When I walk into the next meeting and see a group of faces, I think everyone is judging me. But that is the deal, right? The fear and the voices never disappear completely; we just learn how to deal with them. We continue to “suit up and show up,” share what we are going through with other alcoholics, and find we are met with understanding, acceptance and love.
So, if things are feeling terrible: Go to a meeting. If you can’t find a meeting, call your sponsor or another alcoholic. If you can’t do that, there are online meetings. You can read the Big Book. Call Teleservice: 415-674-1821. Meditate. Pray. Also, John A.’s piece has another perspective on Western Roundup Living Sober from someone with a great deal more experience and history with the conference than I have [which will be in the next issue of The Point]. And think about coming to the conference this August 30th to September 1st: You are welcome here.