Hi. My name is Jeanine, and I’m an alcoholic. Thanks to AMOT for allowing me to “guest blog” on this site. As a topic, I’d like to talk about the important part that speaker meetings and recordings have played in my recovery.
My sobriety date is 1/3/1986. I was 31 years old when I came in, and barely knew up from down. I was terribly shy (the bondage of self) and couldn’t say much more than my name in a meeting without bursting into tears. I practically lived in meetings, because that is where I felt safest, but often sat in terror with the fear of being called on.
And then, someone suggested we attend the big monthly speaker meeting that weekend. Speaker meeting? Awesome. I’d hear a good message and be off the hook for sharing! At one of those early speaker meetings, someone shared that “Listening is as much a part of this program as sharing.” I needed to hear that it was ok that I wasn’t eloquent or particularly in touch with my feelings, because there were plenty of people who were – people I could learn from.
Back then, we’d buy cassettes of speakers we enjoyed, playing them over and over again on various road trips to conferences and out-of-town meetings. I got so much out of the “big” speakers who came in from various parts of the country, but especially enjoyed the locals who shared from the podium. It was so helpful to learn the details of “what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now.”
One of my favorites was an old guy named Leonard C. “Boxcar Leonard,” “Sterno Leonard” – I came to know his story almost as well as my own. We shared a home group, and often he’d start his spiel with, “I’m sorry if you’ve heard this before, but I’ve only got one story.” I’d sit, riveted, as he talked about being shanghaied from a bar, coming-to three days out at sea, or riding the rails. While still drinking, he was hanging out with a crew of what we would’ve called winos, at a park near the Long Beach convention in 1960. Some AA member rounded them up and into the big meeting where Leonard was privileged to shake hands with Bill W. When there were newcomers in the room, Leonard always shared what Bill said to him – “I hope you’ll find what I’ve found on this program.”
Leonard died, probably 20 years ago now, but I never forgot all that he taught me via his shares. Imagine my delight when a meeting friend and audiophile, transferred the cassette of Leonard’s talk to CD. I literally cried hearing his voice again, saying, “Will power will not keep you sober, but want power will!”
These days, my husband and I listen to speaker CDs in the car while traveling, or I’ll plug one in at home as I’m doing Step work. Technology gives us many options these days, but at its core, it is about the men and women of AMOT and others like them (T-Mar in Oregon, for example) who do the often-thankless work of recording our speakers. I so appreciate that I can listen to our legacy – Bill W, Dr. Bob, Chuck C and so many others, as well as those ahead of me and behind me on the path. Thank you, recorders, for all that you do to protect our heritage and carry the message.
I’m not a sound person. I write, and so will give a plug for my offering to the world of recovery literature! Each Wednesday, I post a blog related on www.soberlongtime.com, exploring the joys and challenges of long term 12 step recovery, including a link to a workbook I’ve written with the long-timer in mind (“I’ve Been Sober a Long Time – Now What?”). My needs as someone with decades of sobriety aren’t that much different than the newcomer. I don’t drink and go to meetings. I attend speaker meetings and conferences (online these days), listen to downloads and CDs, and follow other sober writers. It is a wonderful life.