The Responsibility Declaration
I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that I am responsible.
By Roger C.
I had a hard time in my early days of sobriety.
Most of us do, I know.
It was hard for me partly because I didn’t feel at home in the rooms of AA. You see, Alcoholics Anonymous in the city where I got clean was pretty “old school.” There was a lot of “my higher power” talk. And every meeting ended with people holding hands and reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
It was difficult sometimes to muster the enthusiasm to attend another meeting.
I decided to be “rigorously honest.” I didn’t rant or rave or anything like that – I was pretty quiet in those rooms – but I refused to hold hands and say the “Our Father.” I would just stand back of the circle of hand holders and stare at the floor while the others prayed.
I have to tell you the truth: I wasn’t really appreciated. I got a lot of funny looks. One time I was “kettled:” they wouldn’t let me outside of the circle of hand holding because, as one woman put it: “We want to pray for you.”
I felt spiritually abused.
It became more and more clear to me that I wasn’t welcome in those rooms.
And then, during a visit to Toronto, I found Beyond Belief, the oldest secular AA group in Canada.
I was saved!
It was such a relief to know that I could go to a meeting and be honest and not feel disrespected. Or threatened. Because, you know, it was always implied at those other meetings that if I didn’t find God I would never be able to maintain my sobriety.
I go to a lot of meetings still, of all kinds. But my home, my anchor in sobriety, is Beyond Belief.
And if you want to talk hard core, I believe Beyond Belief fulfills the sole mission of AA. Because AA is first and foremost about helping the suffering alcoholic.
Beyond Belief expresses its primary purpose very well: “Our only wish is to assure suffering alcoholics that they can find sobriety in AA without having to accept anyone else’s beliefs or having to deny their own.”
It’s like a burden has been lifted, and I can work on my recovery. I feel grateful.
Beyond Belief chooses to end its meetings not with a prayer but with a commitment, a declaration: the responsibility declaration.