The Center of Alcoholics Anonymous

Hi everyone! My name is John G. and I’m an alcoholic. My sobriety date is the second of July 2014.


From my earliest days in A.A., I have enjoyed listening to alcoholics tell their stories. Back in October of 1989, I attended a young people’s conference in Arkansas. I was less than a week sober and had been attending meetings around Fayetteville, Arkansas for three or four months. I listened to every story that weekend and was hooked from then on.

In the telling of and in listening to recovery stories, we experience many thoughts and feelings that help us connect with other people in A.A. Both hearing and speaking are important, each in its turn. Having a sponsor, working through all the steps, and later becoming a sponsor is very important in the cycle of recovery. We receive and then we give. All through the process of recovering, we can see the ebb and flow of receiving and giving. Last night, I heard that our spirit is like a bucket. Recovery is poured into us like fresh milk. It can only hold as much as it can hold, right? So, if we do not pass this on to others, then it goes sour and is no good to anyone. We need to share it. That is what Karl M. does and it is what I am doing.


I receive and then give.


Over this past weekend and pretty much every weekend, I spend time in my mancave piddling around. While I piddle, I listen to A.A. speakers from all around the globe, and on Saturday, I listened to Karl M on the Sober Speak podcast. It is a good habit for me to attend this meeting between meetings.


In the teaser for his talk, Karl shares one very crucial element to good sobriety. This element positions us to begin the process of stringing ODAT’S (One Day at a Time) together as the steps rearrange things in each of us that need to be rearranged. He describes being in the center of A.A. I was told early on in my sobriety about getting into the center of A.A. The analogy that was used in my case wasn’t the same, but I took the message to heart. If you are standing on top of a tall building and do not want to fall off, stay in the center. Simple right? But when we refer to staying sober just being instructed to "stay in the center" isn’t enough. I need details. I was desperate when I got here. I was scared and confused.


Looking back on these early revelations, I found humor in one of my observations. I gradually became aware that I am self-centered. Very self-centered. I noticed that I physically placed myself in the middle of things. Sitting in a room I would be right in the center. Walking with friends I would be right in the center (depending upon the number of friends). Even in conversations, I found myself right in the center. I said it was humorous because it was in seeing how self-centered I was that allowed me to gain a little humility to change my physical position. Then I could change my spiritual attitude and humble myself before my Higher Power and continue working the steps. Later, I found myself in a better orientation with those around me as I occupied my rightful space in the family of A.A.

I acted my way into thinking differently just like Karl did.


And Karl provides details on these actions. Being in the center of A.A. means having a sponsor, a home group, being committed to working the steps, and crossing the invisible bridge by working with others. I need this to recover. I need specific details on how and what you experienced and what actions you took to get better. Left to my own devices, I’ll overcomplicate things and end up suffering from analysis paralysis. When you have a sponsor, know their phone number and call them regularly. You know them and they know you. Truly having a homegroup in A.A. is demonstrated by regular attendance. Be there every time the door is open.


Folks, this was just the intro. Two minutes in and I was hooked. I wanted to hear more, and I encourage you to listen to his story. Listen to it twice. I did.

If you are like me then there are many reasons we listen to other people’s stories. First off, many of us love a good story. We can laugh. We can cry. We can hope that everything will turn out well. We can see ourselves in the situation and wonder how we would handle it. AA literature puts it like this, “We seek progress, not perfection.” That is what we find in the stories we are most inspired by.


When I relate with Karl, I am looking for similarities rather than differences. However, even in the differences, I can easily relate. You see, when I am working the program and am in the center of A and A, it is easy to say that I am like this guy or that girl, it is just that I am not exactly like that. When I am in the middle of AA, I can simply be a part of the group.

Karl told us about the ‘Christmas Letter’ and that situation really touched me. Of course, I respect his parents for being honest when they touched on his accomplishments for the previous year. There was a time in my life when my parents couldn’t have pinpointed my location on a map if their lives had depended on it. I’m sure that each of us has a similar tale. I personally knew that the way I was living would be a disappointment to my mom and dad. I found comfort in telling myself that they probably didn’t care anyway and if they did care then it was better this way.


As this story continues, I see so much of me in him that it is astounding. He and are really about the same age. I sobered up (initially) at 25 and stayed sober for nearly 19 years. We were both in the military. We both had experienced projectile vomiting, although his was a direct experience and mine was as an observer.


In our stories, we aim to relate what we were like, what happened, and what we are like now.

The part that comes after what happened is the part that I love the most. This is where we relate in specific detail what has changed about us and describe the miracles that are so commonplace in Alcoholics Anonymous.


God as we understand God leads us to the jumping-off place. If we also have that moment of clarity then we launch into this fourth dimension and find ourselves in the position of serving God and others.


You and your sponsor might be racing to a bridge that a friend wants to jump off of, thumbing through the chapter “Working With Others” seeking inspiration.

You might find the AA group that proclaims itself as the best A.A. in the nation. If you don’t find it then you need to start it.


You will experience amazing things in serving others as Karl M. talks about.

And all you need to do is suit up and show up to A and A.


Check out Podcast #180 and see for yourself.

Thanks for letting me be of service.