“This is your home group for the next year” he said
“What’s a home group?” I asked
“That means you’ll be at this meeting every Sunday night – unless there is a funeral, and it better be yours.”
That was what my first sponsor told me when I came into the rooms. I took him literally and didn’t miss a single Sunday night that first year – we had a meeting on Christmas day and I was there. I had the flu and had been vomiting and feverish for days, I was there (side note, I always thought once I quit drinking I’d never have the dry heaves again… boy was I pissed). No matter what, I was at my home group… The Sunday after that year was up I was a no-show… that’s how I am, lol
The pamphlet The AA Group, has this to say about the home group:
P-16 The A.A. Group … where it all begins
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.”
For me, picking a home group can be almost as challenging as picking a sponsor – I want the same qualities in both: strong emphasis in the Big Book and the 12 and 12, service, sponsorship, open-minded… and knowledgable about the Traditions and how they serve the group and individuals. I’ve gone without both in sobriety, gone for long periods of time because I couldn’t find a place to call home or someone to fit the mold I carried with me – I don’t recommend it.
Still today, when I find a home group and claim it as mine I won’t miss a meeting if it can be helped. I missed this year already – I was giving my 5th step to my sponsor, I figured that was a good enough reason to not be there, but I still felt horrible about it. I will strive not to miss another, but I think a trip to the Midwest for xmas might mean I have to.
Getting a commitment at my home group was also one of those things I was told would help me, I remember first getting to wash ashtrays and help clean up, soon I was making coffee, a greeter, assistant secretary… They all helped me to meet people and talk to other folks at the meeting and I built friendships doing those things. They said if you can’t make it call someone, ask them to fill in for you, make sure your sponsor knows you won’t be there. Even when I gave my 5th step and missed my home group – someone knew I wouldn’t be there.
Go to the business meeting/group conscience – see what’s going on with the group, where does the money go? What’s going on at GSO? H&I needs volunteers, the local intergroup as well… get and stay involved they said, learn as much about the program as you can, surround yourself with it. Three sides to the triangle of Unity/Recovery/Service – embrace them all and you’ll stick around they said… I believed and try to do that.
It can be hard, for me, to be open-minded to new ideas brought up at GSO, the District or even my home group – somethings just aren’t right, in my opinion. I can’t tell you how upsetting it is – or shall I say, how I let myself get upset – when my sponsees vote differently than I do …. aaaarrrggghhh I think, aaaarrrggghhh… if only they’d do as I want them to do, if only the actors would stand in the right spots.. Yeah, sometimes I still throw little fits and get upset about stupid things like that – but I usually remind myself to be open to other ideas that I’m not always right… maybe 😉 A part of me, deep down, still thinks AA police with tasers is a great idea… a small part, but sometimes I poke it with a stick
When I go to my home group I get a sense of ease and comfort, I’ll see people I genuinely like there. I’ll get to listen to people share their experience with the step in question and maybe I’ll get to meet a newcomer. When I go home after the meeting, generally my life is a little better – all is right with the world and I have another day sober, that’s a pretty good thing.