‘The Positivity of Fellowship’ by Karen Minnis

We asked reporters to look at something positive in their lives. Guest reporter Karen came up with this passionate report about the support she gets from AA meetings. AA, NA, DDA and other support groups can be an important part of recovery. For some it may be something that supports them through the incredibly difficult first months of recovery, whilst for others it may be a life long relationship. Some people don’t do the steps or share much in meetings while others embrace the fellowship wholeheartedly. Here Karen tells us about her experience with the fellowship. Mat Amp [Project Coordinator]

Hi. I been thinking about the past 17, 18 months, and there’s been a lot of failings, there’s been a lot of negativity, worry, chaos, new systems not working. You know, the list is endless. But the one and only thing that’s that’s kept me physically, emotionally and spiritually well is a fellowship that I’m, you know, deeply involved in a 12 step program.

And I’m a recovering alcoholic. So it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which fellowship I’m with. So going back to February 2020,  the meetings began to close. One by one they were shutting down, you know, but I knew that things would be OK. You see, it’s all about unity, love and support this fellowship.

So instead of us falling apart, this unrest has pulled us together more than ever. We set up Zoom meetings and WhatsApp groups and the helpline ran from the homes of the volunteers.

But I just like to say it’s really nice to have the opportunity to talk about something positive, something that works under any circumstances. And I think Covid, you know, proves that, you know, keeping sober and mentally and spiritually well during this pandemic is nothing more than a miracle, really.

But when you think that this was all set up in the 1930s, it’s never changed its format. It’s not had to be brought up to date. And all it is, is a set of moral disciplines. It’s really simple. It’s unconditional love and support. And just by following these disciplines on a daily basis, you can be set free and live life on life terms, something that I could never, ever do. You know, myself and millions of alcoholics across the the world have kept sober and well during the past 17, 18 months. And that really blows me away.

You know, there’s no funding. No one owns it. No one’s in charge, there’s no targets, there’s no profit, you know, it’s it’s just contributions. You put some money in the pot if you can afford it. And if you can’t, we just ask people not to take it out and the whole thing works. You know, my doctor once asked me… I was about three months sober – she she asked me how it worked and I couldn’t really answer. And I remember just saying it’s because people they get you, you know, they understand what you’re going through. They’ve all been there, you know, and it’s my safe place. It’s it’s where, you know, it’s where I can be me, you know.

And there’s no greater feeling than helping a newcomer and, you know, seeing them evolve from a broken suffering alcoholic into a confident, happy and peaceful human being, still alcoholic, but not actively drinking. You know, it’s priceless. And and the more sobriety I get. It Is a very spiritual program. It’s not religious, you know, it’s spiritual and it just opens up the doors. So I went into AA and it did…it saved my life, but it’s actually given me a life. And you learn just so much about yourself. And after nearly five years of good recovery, I’ve enjoyed that, you know, the last five years, I’m actually learning who Karen is and what Karen’s about.

And I actually feel that I’m enough because my whole life I’ve always felt quite downtrodden. I’ve never, ever felt like I was enough. I was always less than and  really when I look back, I have I have battled with alcohol from being in my teens, you know, and, you know, the first sort of decades, twenties and thirties, you know, you don’t have any concept. Well, I didn’t have many consequences.

But, you know, it’s a progressive illness like any addiction. It’s not just alcohol, any addiction. And these 12 steps that, you know, that they help anybody. It doesn’t matter what their addiction is. And I always say to people, it’s a simple program. It really, really is a simple program. And and yeah, I’ve just been yeah, I feel quite privileged that I’ve been able to talk about something so, so important to me, so vital. It’s just so very, very vital. And how it works, I really don’t know. But it works. OK, thanks. Thanks for listening.