Walking into new meetings the first thing I notice almost every time: OMG they’re so young! Where are the old people? It’s at that point I realize I consider myself old and that my age prevents me from remembering that I was one of the young people when I came into the rooms. Which makes me say out loud, almost every time, “Well crap”. Last night at my friend Cliff’s home group we were talking about that and he said “if they’re lucky some day they’ll be as old as us and still going to meetings” or something to that effect.
Cliff has made that meeting his home group recently and people have been asking me recently where my home group is and I just haven’t decided yet. It was so much easier when I was new to find a home group: my sponsor said “this is your home group” and I nodded and made coffee, set up chairs, greeted or whatever they would have me do. Oh… you might not know what a “Home Group” is …
Excerpted from “The A.A. Group . . . Where It All Begins”, a pamphlet published by A.A. World Services and available online here http://www.aa.org/en_pdfs/p-16_theaagroup.pdf
The A.A. Home Group
Traditionally, most A.A. members through the years have found it important to belong to one group which they call their “Home Group.” This is the group where they accept service responsibilities and try to sustain friendships. And although all A.A. members are usually welcome at all groups and feel at home at any of these meetings, the concept of the “Home Group” has still remained the strongest bond between the A.A. member and the Fellowship.
With membership comes the right to vote upon issues that might affect the group and might also affect A.A. as a whole—a process that forms the very cornerstone of A.A.’s service structure. As with all group-conscience matters, each A.A. member has one vote; and this, ideally, is voiced through the home group.
Over the years, the very essence of A.A. strength has remained with our home group, which, for many members, becomes our extended family. Once isolated by our drinking, we find in the home group a solid, continuing support system, friends and, very often, a sponsor. We also learn firsthand, through the group’s workings, how to place “principles before personalities” in the interest of carrying the A.A. message.
Talking about her own group, a member says: “Part of my commitment is to show up at my home group meetings, greet newcomers at the door, and be available to them—not only for them but for me. My fellow group members are the people who know me, listen to me, and steer me straight when I am off in left field. They give me their experience, strength and A.A. love, enabling me to ‘pass it on’ to the alcoholic who still suffers.”
It was definitely easier when someone assigned me a home group and when I was ignorant about the things that matter so much to me now (Traditions, knowledge, Big Book, steps, history…). Now it seems I start dismissing a groups chance before I even attend a business meeting. I think a part of me will always want the Northside Group to be my home group, or the Eau Claire Pacific Group or the Tuesday Night Big Book Group… Those groups hold special places in my heart and are the model for me to find a new home group where I feel like I belong… All of those groups had flaws, some more glaring than others, but each of them felt like I belonged there.
What I want in a home group isn’t that much, I don’t think…
- knowledgable people talking about the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
- knowledge and working of the 12 Traditions
- regular business meetings
- greeters (this one is just a hope… but it was a part of some great meetings I used to attend)
There will always be a part of me that wants old-timers and big book thumpers to be armed with stun guns to shock people who are off topic and or rambling on and on… I’ve had that desire since I started attending and it’s never going to go away. But really, I want to be at a meeting where they aren’t afraid to call someone on their bullshit and ask them to shut the fuck up.
So, for now I’m still without a “Home Group”, but i haven’t given up looking and I haven’t given up hope to finding one. It took me almost 14 years to find a home group in DC and being the type of alcoholic that searches for loopholes to slip through I’m glad this sentence is the first in the Home Group portion of the pamphlet:
“Traditionally, most AA members through the years have found it important to belong to one group which they call their ‘Home Group.'”
That “most” keeps me looking and keeps me from settling for second best when the right group is probably out there for me to find.