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Why We Celebrate Sobriety Anniversaries in Alcoholics Anonymous
Sometime in the spring of 1991, I was at a meeting. Now mind you, I had been to many meetings during this time, but this particular meeting gave me a whole new meaning. You see at this point I started to understand what people were reading, at the beginning of the meeting. How It Works, Peace Prayer, Promises and so on, started to make sense, only in plain English. Before that, I could only hear words repeating themselves, which did not make sense to me. Over the years of alcohol and drugs, my brain was so damaged that I thought. Sometimes people can say, “Chuck, maybe this is as good as it gets.” The fear of getting worse and passing out like one of those guys, was enough to keep me from drinking. However, sometimes I think what work is and I want to quit, but I don’t. No matter how hard I felt or how hard life was, I never gave up. I knew deep in my heart that this was my last journey into a life without alcohol. I didn’t see myself as a non-drinker, but at the same time I knew that alcohol would make me more likely to die than to die. You see my last drunkenness I wanted to die, my wife left with our son. Life as I knew it, because living hell. I arrived the next morning. even if they drink enough alcohol to knock a normal person unconscious or kill them. I knew that drinking alcohol wouldn’t make the pain go away. It made things worse. Somehow, I had to keep going. I should be better than I am now. If I could see something that would show me, there is something better in not drinking than not drinking. Yes, I felt better in the morning. Yes, I didn’t bring an alibi where I was staying last night. No tickets or accidents either. I wanted to feel wanted, and useful. I wanted to be loved. I wanted friends, but most of all I wanted someone to tell me if I was okay and doing well, because frankly, I didn’t know!
Meanwhile, while I was thinking about all this, the meeting started and was going on. It was time to announce it. Oh boy here we go again blah blah blah blah, about Open Talks, and sports events that I dread going to. The old man stood up and walked to the front of the hall, near the podium, taking a deep breath. It seems that he is trying to distract himself, as if announcing the death of his mother or another close relative. No, instead, he stared at the stars, this big smile crossed his face and he said, “I remember when this guy joined Alcoholics Anonymous, he was broken. He was scared and angry, he was hopeless. We worked together through the Steps. of Alcoholics Anonymous, and he is a reformed man. So it makes me very happy, and can you help me congratulate Steve P., who is celebrating One Year of Alcoholism! my jaws dropped, and my eyes were wide open. I heard something in that hall, which I have never heard before. I have never seen anything like that in my life. Steve was smiling like an old man, his assistant, and tears were falling. He was holding this bronze badge in his hand like it was a gold medal from the Olympics. Everyone was holding his hand and hugging him. I heard Steve tell his story. meetings in the past and to me they were very bad than me. The first thing that came to mind was, if Steve can do it, so can I. He said that not only did his assistant guide him through the Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, but he made coffee and helped set up a home group meeting. His aides added that he was the Chairman of the group. Well the gears started turning in my head. If I want to get what Steve has, I have to do what Steve did.
The next Sunday I got to my group early and asked Ray and another guy if I could help set it up. He said of course! I felt less important, because I thought that only certain people were allowed to be coffee makers and organize meetings. After all, it seems that anyone willing to help clean up could. On Thursday in the same meeting hall, Ray and another guy were making coffee, and I asked if I could help them again. Ray showed me how to make coffee and set up the place where we put the coffee, cream and sugar. This went on for several weeks and when I was finally given the keys to the hall, Ray and Bob said I was ready to handle the big responsibility. I was able to handle the responsibility myself. I looked at the keys and felt a sense of dread and pride at the same time. He told me to pray and ask for GOD’s help and I will do well. Before my first meeting as a coffee maker and setup person, I did what he said and everything went well. Ray was the chairman of the meeting at that time, and I watched how he did it, because I hoped to be chairman one day. Waving the gavel, asking for a moment of silence for those who are suffering, choosing people to read “How It Works”, Pledges, etc. You know it’s a big responsibility.
A few months passed, and Ray came to me and told me that he was going out of town to visit his mother, and I was going to fill in as chairman until he came back. I was proud and nervous when I got the job. I did as Ray did. I gave the readings, called the meeting to order, which meant I asked for a moment of silence for all those who are suffering and began the Serenity Prayer. I just stood there nervous and proud, thinking to myself “I feel like somebody.” The next week Ray called and said he couldn’t make it to the meeting, because he was still visiting his mother and needed me to do a favor for her. I think to myself, here I am the one who makes the coffee, let the boy sit, what do I do now he is now the secretary and treasurer and now what do he want me to do? I know I’m a big fan with unlimited energy, but come on now, that’s enough! Ray’s voice was different even this time. He said, Chuck, this is a very important job and a great honor. I want you to give Danny his 9 year mark. Danny, he was a guy whose wife had died because he had gone back to drinking and he almost drank himself, but somehow he managed to stay sober. Danny, he said things that the meetings helped me with, and I just thought it would be awesome to be the one to give him a sign to commemorate his anniversary, after all, I hadn’t even passed a year. What about Gary B., I said? Chuck, it was Gary’s idea to give Danny his badge. You will do well
On Sunday, I made coffee. Plan the whole AA meeting, all the while rehearsing my talk. I wanted this to be as perfect as possible, and I was getting the best possible sound.
The meeting went as usual. He asked for a moment of silence, and I had to shout to the guys in the back to be quiet, so we could start the meeting. After reading, I repeat my speech, in my head for the umpteenth time. Finally it was time to announce. I held the sign in my hand and wiped all the sweat from my shirt. I said, getting choked up, “It gives me great pleasure to give Danny F. his nine year mark.” People stood up and applauded. Heck I didn’t think I was that good. Danny came to me. I gave him a sign. He hugged me! Oh my God! Why should men hug each other? Yes. Someone shouted, “What did you do? He left me. I thank GOD. He said, by the Grace of GOD, the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, my Sponsor Ray, and you people. I stood there with tears running down my face and I didn’t care. Giving someone, a sign of Anniversary is like, letting them know that you are there for them, and giving a pat on the back that most of us need from time to time, thank you and thank you, all at the same time.
Another month or so ago, it was March 3rd, next week would be my One Year Anniversary, provided I don’t drink. Every meeting I went to, people asked me how I was doing. He must have known, I was afraid I wouldn’t make it. In the past year, I had been divorced, and I had not seen my son, who was now 3 years old, all the while trying to stay sober. I was in so much pain from all of this. I continued to make coffee, set up meetings in my community, and lead them as well. Ray, was treasurer and secretary. Amazing, how it turned out that way. I was sure there was some kind of conspiracy. I thought about Danny. He didn’t give up and he didn’t get weak. I thought of Steve P. He never gave up and never gave up. I thought about how I gave my little brother a 5 year mark. Finally, March 10 arrived and how long was it until the meeting started. What I did that day was just thinking and looking at the time. Finally it was 6pm and I arrived at the meeting hall earlier than usual, because I couldn’t stand up anymore, doing my AA work would help pass the time and I was safe there. I made coffee, set up the coffee place, laid out the meeting books, before I knew it, I was in front of the meeting and I asked, “Are there any good announcements about AA? A famous elder, just ask the lawyer, he stood up with a big smile on his face, he stood up and started talking to me , “It gives me great joy, to give this little boy, who has grown. this program is a fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, its One Years Token.” People stood up, cheering, shouting “How did you do it? “He hugged me. Why do these guys keep hugging me? I just said, ‘Thank you.’ I didn’t, we did! “
I will never forget that day for the rest of my life. It’s been over twenty years since that day, and I haven’t felt the need to drink since I joined Alcoholics Anonymous, and if I had, it wouldn’t have been necessary.
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