“Outside” issues

April 19, 2009

Often in AA we hear about limiting discussion of “outside issues”.  We also hear about us having a “singleness of purpose” in our groups.

confusion-outside-issuesBoth of these refer to AA being focused on the recovery from alcoholism as our main purpose and doing our best to set aside any other issue.

I am beginning to get a real grasp for why this practice has come about in the process of recovery.  Simply put, to take on too many things usually means that we end up doing a little of everything but a lot of nothing.  And if we fail to recover and get sober, at best, it means ongoing pain for us and our families.  At worst, we die.

I believe that defining a singleness of purpose is one reason AA has been as successful as it has been over the years.  AA learned the hard way that to divide its agenda too many ways meant distractions that led to failure.

At the same time, my heart breaks when I get to know people in AA who are having pronounced troubles in other parts of their lives and don’t find the same kind of support available that they had in getting sober.

I am specifically referring to a situation I am close to where a young guy is in a relationship and it seems to be on a dangerous pathway.  He is an eager, hard working guy in early recovery.  It appears he connected with a young lady, also in eary recovery, who as far as we know, has never had a regular job.  She has 3 kids by 3 different men and a life story that would shock most of us.

She is now pregnant again by this young fellow who supports her and her 3 kids who he is not the father of.  I shake my head in amazement as to how he handles it.  Yet he revealed to me the other day that he is not.  And he wants to bolt from the situation because he cannot handle how much of the load he needs to carry and how immature and demanding she is.

Now, I will be there for them in every way I can.  As a friend who cares and has travelled the pathways of life a few years longer than them.  Yet, it is odd feeling how powerless I feel in being of any help.  The guy wants to go to counseling with his girlfriend.  She feels it is not necessary.  Yet he is the one providing for her and her kids and she appears to be demanding of him.  I really do not know the whole picture, just what I see.

I guess there is just a huge contrast in the rallying support we find in getting sober versus other life issues.  Yet, to remain effective, organizations like AA cannot divide their focus to other agenda.  This has always faied in the past.

And I look at other organizations like many churches I have experienced who broaden their agenda so wide that they become diluted and corrupt.  It is a strange balancing act.

For me, for today, I just have to make the wisest choices for what is directly in front of me.  And not think or look too broadly.  If I do, I am in danger of taking on too much and venturing into things that I cannot handle for me or anyone else.

I guess this is where trust and surrender come in.  I have to trust that the little input I can afford to offer people like this young couple is all I am supposed to do.  And then surrender the rest of their circumstance and believe that it will be taken care of by a power greater than myself. 

It just breaks my heart to see the kids affected and these two “adults” make a complicated mess of their lives.   

A day at a time is all I can do.





One comment

  1. I get the feeling making a “complicated mess” of our lives is simply part of the human condition. That’s not to excuse what we do, but as a general rule, humans are never happy unless they’re miserable. It beats anything I’ve seen!

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