77: Tradition 4 – Each Group Should be Autonomous Except in Matters Affecting Other Groups or NA as a Whole (Sort Of)

We examine the 4th Tradition, Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or NA as a whole. What does the Fourth Tradition actually tell us? When does Tradition Four say we have crossed the line into what affects other groups or NA as a whole? Is there any clear lines drawn in the sand about what groups can and cannot do? We further explore the idea that some consider virtual meetings to not be actual groups because they do not have a meeting place. Is the internet a place? In the end, we come to an understanding that Tradition 4 is less about setting the rules for what groups can and can’t do, but more about while groups are practicing their autonomy to self-govern, it’s imperative that they remember the second part of the tradition, to maintain the focus of practicing principles to not make anyone else’s life worse. This tradition is all about part two, to keep in mind how our actions can possibly harm others. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back recovery sort of i’m jason a guy in long-term recovery and i’m billy i’m also a person in long-term recovery and we’re talking about tradition four each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or n a as a whole not gonna lie sounds awful boring so bear with us i’m like putting on my super excitement to try to make it not sound as terrible as it does honestly this just seems like the the most ridiculous say nothing tradition on earth because i i mean so each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or n as a whole basically saying every group can run itself and nobody can tell it what to do unless it affects everybody but i feel like i could make a case that everything could affect everybody and so it really does not help me whatsoever about what groups are allowed to do in heart yeah that’s where it gets tricky and we talked about a few episodes back about some groups in the area that were saying that you couldn’t drink coffee or smoke cigarettes or that you were using like actively in this area telling people they need to get away key tag and when we reached out to you know n a world services for some direction on how to handle that they basically sent back a bunch of like snippets of literature that said it was our problem we needed to figure it out like we thought they would come back and be like oh that’s you can’t do that you know it’s clearly a violation of these traditions but they didn’t at all they said well groups are autonomous and you guys need to figure this out yeah and that’s where it doesn’t make any sense so can groups do whatever the [ _ ] they want or are they really bound by some rule and is there a separation for like oh yeah they’re clearly affecting n a as a whole because i could say about anything oh what if that’s the only group a addict ever finds and that’s the only meeting they ever attend and this is the information they get or whatever they this is what they encounter right i don’t understand how you can separate that yeah maybe they don’t consider that n a as a whole maybe that’s just an individual i don’t know but i i am extremely bothered by the lack of clarity in this in this tradition so yeah that’s what we’re going to talk about we got some other stuff to to you know housekeep i guess i hate that stupid word but whatever some other stuff we’re going to talk about after that um but yeah i i know all the traditions are kind of written in a vague way for interpretation and you can kind of apply them how you want but i really feel like this one says nothing nothing at all each group can do what they want unless we decide they can’t do what they want is what this really says all right so looking into some of the reading one of the things i found so this is actually straight out of the reading it says in the reading literally a dictionary definition so i’m not giving you a dictionary definition right this is the reading a dictionary defines autonomous as having the right or power of self-government undertaken or carried on without outside control this means our groups are self-governing and not subject to outside control every group has had to stand and grow on its own so i i listened to that right and i know if people aren’t familiar with the 12 step or the n a type issues that go on i mean we’ve had issues we say oh this home group selling t-shirts that’s not right that’s not in our traditions we’ve said these groups are selling old versions of our literature because apparently newer versions of our literature are owned by any world service and old versions were owned by the fellowship itself and so they’re selling old versions so they don’t have to buy them from world and they’re printing them themselves and that’s supposedly illegal and that’s actually from what i understand n a world services has actually stepped up and said that’s not okay but if you read this thing right here that says people can pretty much do what they want and govern themselves how do they say that’s not okay right what is their well their their argument at least with a lot of the literature stuff has been like copyright infringement and what do they call that like intellectual property arguments you know like that’s they take it to legalese right but i mean if if the original copyrights of the versions these people are using are owned by the fellowship then what’s n a world services so i think that’s the part that’s debatable that’s the part that’s being hashed out in court of who actually owns those copies and who they actually belong to so if every group has the right or power of self-government without outside control we really don’t have the ability to say anything to anybody about what they do in their groups is that accurate to some degree i so for people that don’t know we have different types of meetings in 12-step fellowships you can go to a meeting that’s an open meeting that’s for anyone like anyone can just show up and come into the meeting and you know you don’t even have to be an addict you can come or we have closed meetings where they’re supposed to be just for people that are addicts or think they have a problem we have i’m so glad you said supposed to be i’m like who’s i thought i couldn’t walk in and be like yeah here i am um we have you know speaker meetings where you have someone come in and tell their story you have open sharing meetings tradition meetings all those different things so the idea behind this is that meetings can generally pick and choose things they like or don’t like um in my re in my home group for example we don’t specifically read all the readings you know some meetings they read all the readings and when i say all the readings there’s like five or six of these readings that come out of our basic text it seems to be the format like if you went to most meetings in at least in this area or in most areas you would think there was a format handed down from the [ _ ] higher ups that said this is how a meeting starts this is how it closes because they are so similar and they feel uh the same it feels like it and there’s a comfort in that you know when you go in you have an expectation of what it’s going to be because i’ve been to other meetings where they do things different like whoa what the [ _ ] are they doing here yeah why are they doing this and that’s funny so one of the quotes out of the literature is meeting formats vary widely from group to group some are participation meetings some speakers some are question and answer one you don’t find very often by the way yeah and some focus on special problems discussion which is another one i’ve not run into very often but even though it specifically lists these as being fine and acceptable formats when you walk into one that’s different from what you’re used to it is like oh they’re doing it wrong here yeah well and we have a funny thing called you know double dipping or people that share more than once go to a meeting where they don’t limit that [ _ ] and you get people that share three or four times like i want to jump out of my [ _ ] chair yeah like dude you already talked you can’t talk anymore i ran into that in another fellowship and i was like is that not like the common code around here you don’t double dip that’s so icky so even though we don’t have set you know formats there is a general general way that you feel like most meetings are supposed to run and and that does create a type of uniformity or this is just what we do because that’s what everybody else is doing right and i think this tradition reminds us like we don’t have to do that you know what i mean you can have a different type of meeting you can do you know basically whatever you want as long as you’re a couple of addicts getting together to follow the traditions follow the steps you know and try to stay clean that’s really all you need to have a meeting i think my home group’s going to go to a nudist home group i think that’s going to be our new rule and we’re going to bear it all yeah there you go well and to make it current so i know of a group right now um i guess i can say it’s my home group where we meet each week and no one wears masks or i mean you can if you want to i mean you don’t have to not well i mean we don’t make you take it off but when you go in 90 of the people in the meeting are not wearing masks and that if i understand correctly and i’m going to just say i i think that’s illegal i don’t even thought i think we’re i’m not even sure yeah at this point if if that’s legal or not legal but the the point is that’s very rare you know now most meetings that are inside if you go in you have to wear a mask it’s uncomfortable you know what i mean nobody well i think it’s uncomfortable it’s not terrible but it sucks sitting there in a mask can you break a lull and not break a tradition is that possible uh oh yeah i would think so you think yeah i don’t know i mean if you have a uh what’s that like a restraining order or something against you against someone else and you shouldn’t be going to that meeting the traditions aren’t going to tell you you shouldn’t go to that meeting i would think the spiritual principles of the tradition somehow incorporate following one way or another we can make that work out i would think that like you know the spiritual principles would be follow the law of the land but somehow anything i ever read oh man it’s got honesty acceptance surrender like something’s got to be in there i don’t know i ain’t thought through real well but yeah i mean that’s just one that i think of as you know if it’s something that’s come up or you know what like say what about like a [ _ ] fire code where you have a building that’s overloaded with too many people i mean is that violating a tradition is that affecting na as a whole i mean because i’ve been to meetings where there’s way too many not actually in the covent time but before i mean we’ve done some traveling around and we went to meetings out in california where there were like hundreds of people crammed into rooms with you know people standing around all the chairs were full and it was like this can this is not safe there you go if you ever wanted to wipe out n a fires that’s how you do it yeah people would never get out um so i don’t know i just feel like it would fit in there somewhere like that’s got to affect na as a whole if we’re losing our ability to meet if our primary purpose is to help the still suffering addict and that’s the group’s only goal and you lose your meeting place you can’t do that and so i would think following the rules would have to fit in there in order to keep your meeting placed oh you just get a new meeting place people do that all the time if you keep not following the rules you’re going to keep losing it though oh you find a place that doesn’t care the park who knows all right so uh yeah i guess i mean i don’t know you say taking that to more modern problems i’m thinking a group that just goes ahead and says hey uh suboxone’s clean everybody that wants to be on suboxone and celebrate this is your home group like come on in we don’t give a [ _ ] how is that is that okay yeah um i mean is it okay by me or i mean that’s so some of these get specific and what we ran into in our area when we had this years back the direction from world service was basically like that was our area’s issue to work out that there wasn’t really any way that like we had no authority and world service had no authority to go in and shut this group down that the group was there and it existed it was autonomous and that you know what we at the time for us we were trying to figure out what to do ultimately i think what we thought we could do was just remove them from our meeting schedule but we couldn’t necessarily stop the meeting from existing like we had no authority to whatever call the [ _ ] police or go in and revoke their anything you know so i guess in that context what i think would happen is nothing you know it would be up to an area whether you wanted to keep that group on a schedule or whether you wanted to continue to support that group or how you would do that did you have safeties in your elementary school like some of the older kids were these like orange cross-strapped people and they were the safeties i picture like n a safeties walking into that meeting and like revoking their their n a access right you’re not allowed to meet here anymore yeah and i mean well this gets a little off but theoretically aren’t people supposed to be able to come in and look at your books too if they want like isn’t that a thing that you can look at your treasury logs or what you’re doing with it yeah can they uh that’s what i’ve always heard never heard that yeah that’s what i’ve heard anyway it gets into that like who the [ _ ] is in charge you know who gets to decide who’s in charge or who has the right to decide what’s right or wrong all this [ _ ] is just so not laid out clearly this isn’t like uh you wear blue hats or you don’t come right like this is so arbitrary yeah and i think most of our fellowship is so we we generally talked a little bit about this a week or two ago jason and i i don’t think it was on the podcast but i think people are shocked when they find out that n.a is just a bunch of [ _ ] addicts getting together and making up some meetings like we don’t have you know like i mean we have some titles that we give to people but they’re just other addicts like we don’t have we don’t go out and hire professionals on how to do outreach or how to do h and i meetings in hospitals and institutions like we just get together as addicts and we talk about it and try to figure it out and unfortunately that comes with a lot of stumbling blocks you know a lot of mistakes but in that light of like we’re just a bunch of people putting together this crazy [ _ ] on our own and in the light of man there’s no real definitive answers in steps or traditions it’s very much interpretation and how you want to look at it we got some people who argue this [ _ ] like it is gospel and they want to bludgeon each other over it oh yeah and that’s like baffling when you realize how little clarity there is in it like what are you really arguing i was one of those people for a long time and and no i didn’t want to own it i mean yeah right part of it was some obviously self-righteousness because i think that i’m right but there was also a passion and what felt like a responsibility to try to protect you know the fellowship and the program and and what it represents and what it did for me in my life and now i’m just as passionate about what the program does for me in my life but a more understanding of like kind of to each his own like this works differently for different people and if you can come in and not really work steps but stay clean and find a home here and your life gets better who the [ _ ] am i to judge that you know what i mean like why is it my place to tell you you’re doing it wrong like as a guy who likes to be right i argued frequently that i was because i thought my understanding was very very good of all this right and looking at it now i’m baffled at how i could have thought i had there was a right way because all this [ _ ] could go 46 different ways and they all meet the criteria of the words and the traditions and the steps and i’m like what kind of idiot thinks they know the right way when there’s a billion right ways obviously like then this doesn’t this goddamn tradition doesn’t say anything and it really bothers me i like rules and laws apparently i don’t know i like order and this just feels like chaos to me yeah i a lot of people do i mean we want a clear definitive black and white right or wrong answer on things and you know the more we dig in the more we realize there isn’t really right or you know what helps one person might not help somebody else and like my home group i know it’s not the most popular meeting for a lot of people there’s a lot of people that come there and be like dude that [ _ ] meeting sucks like there isn’t really recovery going on there but there’s a group of people that go there every week that love it like that’s what their recovery is and you can make judgments about whether you think that’s good or bad or right or wrong but those guys are staying clean their lives are getting better they’re trying to follow the program i’m gonna say to the best of their ability maybe you know like they’re trying to live this and apply this in their life and people are there going there staying clean does that mean it’s for everyone no this tradition tells us it doesn’t have to be it can be exactly what it is and that’s okay i don’t even i like it’s not enough for me to choose between what’s the right path forward and the wrong path forward i need the rightest path forward i’m trying to pick where to go to on vacation this summer right now and there’s like 84 spots and i’m like i don’t know which one’s better than the other like they’re all probably great but i don’t know which one’s the best i can find the rightest of the rights and this tradition reads to me hey do whatever you want it’s great no it’s not what the [ _ ] does that mean right it means nothing well we were in a meeting the other day where they’re in their format they said something that was [ _ ] wrong like they said this reading comes out of our basic text and it does not and both of us kind of looked at each other and chuckled because they read something that isn’t in basic text and they said it was and then they read it anyway which is something i don’t particularly care for myself you know but it just it’s amazing and i i don’t know does that group i guess they have the right to do that neither of us went and fixed them so they must be okay well and and not only did they read that but then they used it to mean or symbolize one particular thing not the actual original meaning behind it and they all broke the original meaning behind it nobody cared they were like yeah alcohol heroin whatever like that’s the point of it yeah whatever that’s good meeting yeah but that i guess that group has the right to do that you know do they do they have the right to say that that’s from the basic text when it’s not they did they did but did they have the right to so what hap if you don’t have the right to do something you still do it did you like have the wrong to do it like what the [ _ ] does that mean well you didn’t have the right yeah but the other cool thing for for my experience of recovery has been like traveling around the country and going into meetings in different areas you know and just experiencing different stuff meetings in different places in in different and when i say different places what i mean are facilities or churches or whatever you know there becomes all these weird um you know conditional things i remember here we had a meeting in a uh methadone clinic at one point in this local area and that was like a hot button topic there for a little bit of whether that was some sort of endorsement or how that you know affected na as a whole because you know we’re a program of abstinence but we have a meeting in a methadone clinic and was there conflicts there and again ultimately i guess this tradition won out because the meeting existed there for a long time you know it’s not there anymore that actually that methadone clinic closed or moved somewhere else and you’re meeting a meeting that was scheduled in somebody’s house but that would be weird i have not been to a meeting in a well so it was in a house but the house was owned by a church so it didn’t feel like you were walking into a church though it felt like you were walking into somebody’s basement and that’s what it was it was like the the parish or the rectory house whatever you call it that i guess the pastor or priest lives in it was it that house but in the basement they had like a meeting room right but it definitely felt like it i mean when you showed up there it was a [ _ ] house and you were pulling in somebody’s driveway i mean technically that’s what we’re in right now and they definitely have meetings here and we’ve both been to a meeting in this basement of this house that we were sitting in yeah but i i just think it’d be different if it was somebody’s house yeah well and and that was i mean the [ _ ] people lived upstairs like there was people living upstairs as their home the pastor of the church and stuff and so you had to kind of i don’t say watch your language or anything but it was like hey we’re in someone’s home you know be mindful i’ve met in some weird spaces i can’t think of any super awkward though i’m just picturing the schedule because it’ll say like you know grace beth baptist church this address and it would be like joe’s house so that you remind me there was a meeting that was meeting up in a diner for a while that was pretty controversial for yeah it’s not very anonymous no and the diner place said you had to buy stuff ooh yeah yeah buy something to be at the meeting so and it ended up being a temporary thing it was a case where i guess the meeting whatever facility or church they were in closed or moved or whatever so they were in the process of trying to find a new place and in that process they said well we’re just going to meet at this i can’t even remember the name of the dog but i went there when the meeting was in the [ _ ] diner restaurant like it was it was a little weird you were sitting in booths in like this back room and i don’t know how somebody there knew a manager or knew somebody and you could just order coffee i mean and they didn’t make it wasn’t like a [ _ ] two drink minimum or nothing when you got there it was just you know if you had 15 people sitting around like people had to buy stuff and a lot of people just got coffee and nobody cared i mean it wasn’t a huge deal but it was a little weird that was definitely weird we’d like to welcome you to the sunrise diner meeting with narcotics anonymous there is a two coffee or piece of pie minimum me like i love the autonomy of things i like weird [ _ ] so i went just for the like people were bitching about it i’m like i gotta go check that out so i gotta go be a part of that i mean how could we tell them they can’t because tradition four says they’re autonomous right yeah do they are they affecting n a as a whole is there a tradition that says you can’t be forced to buy something to come to a meeting yeah right i don’t know i don’t think they’re in charge of admission can we do it for conventions we say it’s right whatever not mandatory but we still charge admission oh it’s definitely a mandatory admission you gotta wear that goddamn necklace to tell me about it yeah and then people get into the argument that’s different cause it’s a convention not a meeting yeah i don’t know oh i’m gonna start a home group with the admission price waived for anybody that you know yeah doesn’t have the money but my home group is called the cecil county convention of narcotics it happens every week and there’s a five dollar admission you’re having a necklace

all right so another uh another thing i really need to use the home group money to hire speakers yeah because that’s what they do at conventions we’ll pay to put them up overnight because they’re out there um yeah so the next reading a narcotics anonymous group is any group that meets regularly at a specified place in time for the purpose of recovery provided that it follows the 12 steps and 12 traditions of narcotics anonymous which all are ambiguous and don’t [ _ ] say anything for a fact so the only thing i found interesting in there was that it says it’s a group a narcotics anonymous group is any group that meets regularly at a specified place and time because there is now apparently an argument in the n a folds of whether virtual meetings are groups yeah and i don’t see where they have a leg to stand on in that argument of course they are i don’t yeah it’s weird and i know some years back i mean before all this pandemic stuff like that was a ongoing debate i mean you didn’t see you couldn’t go on any world service and find zoom meetings or online meetings like they didn’t exist you were not on you know n a dot org slash meeting if you didn’t have a physical place and location like that did not exist three years ago but that doesn’t make any sense because the internet is a physical place it doesn’t and that’s what’s hilarious is like but up until this pandemic people were like well that’s not a meeting because it doesn’t have a place and yeah it was like that’s that was a thing that didn’t exist and i thought about that because we did some traveling and it was very hard to find meetings and i i mean had online meetings back then been like they are now like easy to find and pretty much like a normal meeting like yeah i probably still would have skipped it i mean like i’m too busy i don’t have an hour to sit and look at my meetings are stupid that’s what you just said but uh it’s it’s definitely opened everyone’s eyes to the possibilities you know of of what we can do and people that can be reached and and there’s still a debate like me personally i don’t like online meetings and there’s nothing wrong i don’t think they should be canceled but i just i don’t care for them it’s not for me and that’s okay too it doesn’t have to be i mean my wife joined a home group her home group only meets virtually they don’t have a [ _ ] facility they meet at www that’s the location yeah i don’t know i don’t get the argument i’ll say my home group went back to in person and i went in person this past week and it was nice right once i got there i didn’t want to leave my house i was like god this is so much easier when i just sit at home and you know share my screen with the readings on it for people like that’s my job well will it be better or will it be okay in the next couple years when we have virtual like what do you call like vr meetings where you put on the goggles have you seen someone they’re doing that in like the business world now for meetings like you put on goggles and you [ _ ] walk into a board room and it’s very weird but it’s it’s trying to bridge that gap of like so you’re not doing like a zoom meeting per se you’re right it’s to create a feeling that you’re physically in the presence of these other people it’s very weird yeah i wanted to be like the holograms in the in the the jedis right when they had their little jedi council or whatever it was a couple people in person and then the rest of the chairs were just holograms and [ _ ] i’m down well i just think it’ll be hilarious to see everyone’s like avatar you know i can make myself with big giant muscles see and i was thinking big giant breasts yeah right well if i was a chick chicks with like halter tops and mini skirts so i my work uses uh microsoft teams and we were having a meeting the other day and apparently there’s a view where you can like view together or something and so it had like the six of us sitting in a movie theater together and i was just kind of looking at us and we were all talk it was really weird but it was funny as hell yeah so i don’t know i guess that’s coming i i yeah my son’s got a vr i tell you this i put my son’s vr on it feels like you’re somewhere else yeah i was like doing a grocery store clerk thing or something or convenience store clerk and i threw a mug across the store but it like bounced off a shelf and so it was right there in front of me and so i went to lean over the counter and like lean on the counter to reach it there’s no [ _ ] counter there because i’m in virtual world almost fell over i was like holy [ _ ] how quick my brain forgot that that is not there yeah it’s tricky again i i can’t say what’s right or wrong everybody’s a little different i know for me like not directly in person communication has always been a little bit tough i mean i was never a person that was big into phone call you know before we had cell phones and all that other stuff when you had a regular telephone like you know early in recovery like i wasn’t a person that would sit and talk on the phone a lot or make a lot of phone calls other than to say hey what are you doing can we get together and then i would get together with my sponsor um so for me that form of communication has never been all that comfortable of not like sitting with someone face to face but maybe the technology gets good enough where you can read because there’s a lot of things that go on in interpersonal communication when you’re when you’re sitting in physical proximity to people there’s facial gestures and raising of eyebrows and moving of hands and all those things and and some people i guess you’d caught feed off of that a lot better and for me that’s a big part of communication i like that too but i i started getting better at phone calls when i moved up here and had to drive back and forth to baltimore for a lot so i would call people and it like made the time go really quick and i got to keep some relationships with people in baltimore that i didn’t see so much and now we’ve moved into like virtual calls and so i’ll video call my buddy jack who i never get to really see and it’s a it’s nice like it’s it’s not something that my brain says you want to do this but when i do it i’m like you know it’s really nice to connect with him see his face have it our chat and now i mean i do [ __ ] video therapy for my closet so yeah and i know you can get better at those things too or i can get better at those things i’ve i’ve done it i sponsored a guy that lived in florida at one point and he was i mean he put most of the effort into calling and stuff but he would call and that just became like that was our relationship that wasn’t possible to get together so we would sit and talk for a half hour 45 minutes you know once every couple of weeks and then when we did step work we did always did it kind of virtually through facetime or voice call or whatever you want to call it and and it it worked out it was different it was you know something i wasn’t used to but i did it i was willing and it worked out right

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so let’s hit this next quote it says and this is after the format one so we read about the formats and this says whatever the type or format a group uses for its meetings the function of a group is always the same to provide a suitable and reliable environment for personal recovery and to promote such recovery again doesn’t really tell you how to do that or what that looks like or if that’s only if there’s only five ways to do that and there’s ten other ones that don’t do that like i imagine so for me i think an environment suitable for personal recovery and promoting personal recovery the things i’ve seen that raise my attention to not being that arguments or fights in meetings definitely i’m like not good for my recovery um and the other thing that kind of stands out which is terrible this might just be my own [ __ ] and my own judgmentalness but like i get that some people need to come in and share about whatever it is they’re going through in their recovery house this that any other but when it the meeting becomes a bunch of stuff that i just can’t relate to and doesn’t sound like recovery sounds like

i don’t know i hate to say bitching or complaining because i think we all have a right to voice our concerns about things not going well but i to me there’s like a recovery way to do that and a not recovery way to do that right and and the not recovery way is like avoiding any personal reflection or or like how did i contribute to this or what can i do about it or any of that it’s just oh my god life treats me terrible and that’s somebody should fix that for me and i’m like yeah i can’t really i don’t know what that is but when i hear like a bunch of shares like that in a row i’m like this meeting ain’t helping my recovery like i don’t know if this is conducive to a recovery environment yeah but i mean maybe it helps those people maybe you know i don’t know that this tradition means that every me you know we get into this with a couple of these traditions i don’t think it the traditions are meant to say that every person that ever walks into the door needs to feel this way or you know what i mean needs to agree with these things it just needs to create an atmosphere and an atmosphere of recovery for you might be different than an atmosphere of recovery for me might be different than an atmosphere of recovery for the guy in the recovery house and for him that like-minded experience of that [ _ ] [ _ ] that’s won’t clean the bathroom at the recovery house you know like that could be the thing that helps him get another day clean and and find his way and of course you hope as people grow that they’ll outgrow some of the self-centeredness and some of the uh more focusing on themselves but i know my i mean i’m sure when i first came in i shared some completely dumb [ _ ] you know that probably made not a lot of sense with no personal responsibility well and i think so that’s okay a couple things to pick out of what you just said there i i agree right i don’t think every meeting should be for me or or suit my personal tastes and i do believe there’s a wide variety right i guess i’m thinking more along the lines of the home group that is run in a way where we just let the atmosphere go out the window right so so a home group that’s not really i guess i’ve always read and thought that my job as a home group member is to kind of keep the topic on recovery and that doesn’t have to be anything mean i don’t have to shut anybody up but after maybe like two or three not so recovery oriented chairs maybe i should just speak up and share something recovery oriented to try to get us back on track or or to at least provide a counterpoint to you know i don’t know maybe somebody share and i still use and it’s great like whatever it might be shared in a meeting so if there’s a home group that’s not stepping up and like changing the the the climate of the meeting or something if nobody’s changing that and that is the home group members too and everybody’s just blaming the world at some point five six seven eight shares deep i’m like oh man like does anybody want to make this a recovery meeting and then to go further from there yeah it’s not it doesn’t have to be for everybody and not every meeting is going to be for me but at what point do we say and i have no idea how you would figure this out anyway uh yeah 99 of people think this meeting is some [ _ ] right like yeah it doesn’t have to be for everybody but if 99 out of 100 people walking in that door say oh my god this meat makes me want to get high maybe that’s there’s something to be said about that meeting not being a suitable and reliable environment for recovery like this tradition says yeah but shouldn’t we have a place for that one percent i mean maybe that one percent goes into those other meetings and goes what these [ _ ] guys are uptight and too serious and [ _ ] this is [ _ ] i don’t get any of this i don’t function in this i mean because i immediately think back to my home group there are people that would legitimately say that is not an atmosphere of recovery you know like and i don’t know that i would 100 disagree you know what i mean like i’ve had my doubts of like what are we doing here and i try to do my part to make sure it’s focused on recovery but again i’ve come to believe that that’s our right and there are people that come there and get something out of that meeting and it keeps people clean and gives them a place to be accountable keeps a door open for you know and obviously i say all that a little bit in jest because typically you know my home group has some guys that have some time in there and when newer people come in it we can get a little more serious and a little more recovery focused and if someone is hurting or suffering it’s definitely you know people respond to that well but in general like it’s a group of people that don’t really take themselves or recovery or any of this entirely seriously and in fact there’s a lot of sarcasm and sort of dark humor and bad jokes that sort of fly around and there’s a lot of people that find that very off-putting in me at times i mean i’ve been offended to the point where i’m not i’m not [ _ ] coming back here these guys don’t you know they don’t want to they don’t even like the program i don’t even know what the [ _ ] we’re doing but again you know people are there staying clean that meeting’s been there a long time and and you know i don’t i don’t know i feel like this tradition gives us the right to do it so the last reading i had and it’s a long one uh it would seem that we in our groups can do whatever we decide regardless of what anyone says this is partly true each group does have complete freedom except when their actions affect other groups or n a as a whole like group conscience autonomy can be a two-edged sword group autonomy has been used to justify violation of the traditions if a contradiction exists we have slipped away from our principles if we check to make sure that our actions are clearly within the bounds of our traditions if we do not dictate to other groups or force anything upon them and if we consider the consequences of our actions ahead of time then all will be well i started reading that and i was like oh finally they’re going to address this problem and they didn’t no no no say [ _ ] so i i guess as long as you aren’t violating the very clear points that are made throughout the 12 traditions of which there’s like two there’s like two clear points like nobody can sponsor n a right the church can’t give us money to fund n a as long as you ain’t doing that you’re good i don’t know we do it all the time but if you’re paying rent at a facility that’s 20 a month the church is [ _ ] sponsoring you right but that’s a side point that’s yeah that’s for tradition seven oh i’m ready for that one i was a member of a home group that didn’t even know about the reason why we had to pay rent and didn’t pay any rent say oh yeah we gotta change that well i think i told you recently there was a meeting that was passing a basket for an outside facility oh yeah but you know the intentions were good but clear violation of traditions i’m going to pass this basket for jen’s lymphoma anybody that wants to donate to jen but uh yeah it’s there there really aren’t rules you know they’re really you’re hoping that people that are living a spiritual path are going to try to the best of their ability you know to to be here and live by the code of the 12 traditions but as i’ve learned and i think you’ve learned through your experience that even that understanding of the traditions changes over time you know what i think is okay now might be different later so things that i might have thought were okay or thought weren’t okay before i’ve learned you know that’s not necessarily true so how do i know today what i’m doing is right i mean the understanding i have today is it’s free for all anything goes do whatever you want well you have this guideline of the 12 traditions like you shouldn’t be passing out baskets for other facilities there’s like two traditions that lay out actual guidelines the rest of them are all like huh think positively and good things will come like that’s what i get out of it yeah but they’re i mean so with the other traditions you would definitely say a meeting should not be telling people that if they’re on methadone they need to leave or you know [ _ ] like that like that seems pretty clearly spelled out does it i think so it’s autonomous that can be a no methadone group of narcotics anonymous yeah but then you completely violate the fifth tradition the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using isn’t that the third tradition is it the third oh i might have got them out yeah did we do yes i can’t even remember um yeah but that’s a complete you know what i mean like the only requirement for membership is that group says that’s the only requirement for membership of the program not the fellowship and definitely not this group you can be a member to fellowship good i would almost bet those meetings exist i would absolutely guarantee it and at this point i’m like i guess it’s legal yeah i don’t know and maybe that’s the idea is that that is for them like if that works for that group if it’s if it’s to go back to your god’s will thing like that if that meeting’s existing and it’s got a n a people showing up having an n a meeting it’s god’s will like it’s the way it’s supposed to be i’d like to welcome you guys to the suboxone isn’t sober meeting the narcotics

what the hell and you could just do that and you could say and they’ll say oh the third tradition you’re breaking it you remember when you say you are or the only requirements of desire and you say yeah okay you’re a member to fellowship don’t come to my meeting yeah good for you remember yeah i mean i i there’s just so many interpretations of this there’s nothing these traditions say nothing well what’s amazing to me is like i’m at a point in my life where i’m like i don’t know i i mean i probably wouldn’t go to that meeting but if it opened around here i wouldn’t go out of my way to shut it down anymore there was a time in my life where i would have went out of my way to try to shut that [ _ ] down yeah i’d have been at the area upheaval we can’t let this happen with the pitchforks yes torches and pitchforks showing up dirty deep trying to [ _ ] all right we’re all going to join and change it through group conscience we’re spiritual yeah yeah and now i’m like huh i don’t know i don’t want to support it so i’m not going to go but if other people support it and it goes well who knows 12 traditions that say absolutely nothing and we just wrote a whole book about it apparently i haven’t read it but well i don’t think they say nothing i think they teach us about spiritual principles and we start looking at these principles and how to apply them so you know we’re talking a little bit about like this tradition and you think well what good is this to me like what do i what as a person what can i take out of this and what we learn is some i you know personal freedoms like i have the freedom to be whoever i want to be with an awareness that i don’t want to hurt other people you know and i can go out and you know if i want to have crazy hair or wear crazy clothes or you know drive some big giant jacked up truck like i should be okay to do those things in my life i don’t need to live this life of conformity or uniformity or whatever i can have the freedom to be and express myself in any way that i want as long as i look at how that’s affecting other people around me you know okay and so here we are we hadn’t talked any bit about this going outside of the n a program fellowship uh dynamic and i i was hoping we would a little but i noticed we do get a little like it just seems like it relates to government so it always goes into a political realm but you here you go you bring this up right so the guy who doesn’t wear a mask but doesn’t believe in coronavirus or doesn’t think it’s all that bad or just thinks it’s like the flu and doesn’t think we should do anything different in his view he is thinking about other people he’s just thinking all right i don’t wear a mask every flu season i’m not gonna do it now it’s hard to not think from the other side of people who have worn masks because we were told that it was you know beneficial for all of society as a whole to not think of that guy as selfish or not following the rules or guidelines but this tradition kind of does lay it out like you said like [ _ ] it if he doesn’t want to wear a mask because that’s he doesn’t believe he’s hurting other people then he just doesn’t wear a mask yeah but i use the traditions more as a reflection on myself not as a reflection on others and i guess what i mean by that is i’m looking at like what i really only have control over is myself and what i’m doing and is my behavior affecting other people around me is what i’m doing you know impacting my community as a whole like that’s all i really have power over well i was looking at it from my viewpoint of the person like there’s definitely a point in time when i’ve been like why can’t you just do what the people say is good for everybody right and now i’m like i guess if this tradition is more accurate and that’s that person’s interpretation that the mask isn’t necessary and he’s not harming anybody i guess he’s all right like i don’t need to [ _ ] worry about judging him or thinking about him i guess that’s okay and and maybe this is wrong or maybe it’s a coping mechanism for me but i start to look at a lot of people like that as like almost and this might seem arrogant but i almost feel sad for those people because i feel like they’re uneducated or misinformed you know and that there’s way too much distractions and [ _ ] out there that have them focused on completely the wrong things like they’re they’re so kind of lost on their path that they don’t see you know how a minor inconvenience of wearing a mask out in the [ _ ] walmart can help people and it really can’t hurt people i don’t even look i am not 100 sold that the mask is really doing anything especially when they came out with studies early on that said the gator type mass and that’s basically all i wear because it’s way more comfortable i don’t know but i i guess to me just the chance that it’s positive is worth it right i don’t know and so that’s i guess back to what you’re talking about is like i if i’m focusing on me and my behavior and what i’m doing i mean obviously we look at other people and we can’t help but have feelings about what other people are doing i mean if a guy’s standing out on the corner with you know a racist sign obviously i’m gonna think what a [ _ ] [ _ ] or you know what i mean if if there’s a person that’s whatever you know doing some other horrible thing cussing out a lady in the grocery store obviously i can’t help myself to think like that is a terrible human being i mean those things are going to happen but again i can just have that thought and kind of move on with it i don’t need to take it to the point of self-righteousness where i feel a need to correct or i need to fix or i need to go out and go against and i guess with back to the traditions like that’s what i learned in n a is that you know these groups can do that stuff and if i don’t agree with them then maybe i just don’t support that you know maybe i just don’t partake in that now if it gets to the point where there’s real harm against other people maybe that’s a you know indicator that i need to do something i can get involved in a group or take action against someone but for some minor offensive differences of opinion you know is it really worth getting all upset and angry about i thought about this last night we had a little fire out back in my house it’s been a while my kids were running around being kids i ended up yelling kind of loudly at my one of my younger ones um and it hurt his feelings but i was just picturing thinking a little bit about this tradition like the autonomy that i’m allowed to do that and i was wondering like what neighbors would think if they heard it and if one of them would think to come say something to me about it like it wasn’t brutal or nothing it was just a loud a loud correction of his behavior after he didn’t listen a couple times and that was the end of it for the most part but i’m like how many times have i seen someone in public do this and thought damn am i supposed to step up and i’m not trying to diminish that children are abused and neglected and all those things right i i don’t think that’s necessarily what happened in my backyard last night but that is the concern when i think about do i need to intervene in somebody else’s autonomous parenting right but i guess the part the neighbors didn’t see even if they heard that i don’t know if anybody heard it or not but the part they didn’t see was like an hour later when him and i hugged and we both apologized to each other and it was like a really fitting end to the situation right and i wonder how often i that’s the part i don’t see too and i’m not saying that that look i don’t know how many families have the the loving hug and the apologies from each direction right i just i don’t know it made me think a lot more about the whole autonomy and when do i think i need to intervene and why do i think i need to fix everything and what’s right and wrong and and how do we even as a society like when there is cases of abuse or emotional abuse or verbal abuse like how do we prove that and when do we think it’s okay to step in and like remove children from homes and it’s complicated man that’s some like really big [ _ ] hard questions that i don’t think we have the answers to yeah for sure i definitely think our society right now is at a place where it’s it doesn’t feel okay like my kids go to a school where they’re taught that hey guess what it’s okay to fail at things if you try stuff and you fail that’s fine you know what i mean i mean they don’t breed failures but they like that’s a part of learning and growing is making mistakes falling short you know you think you put in enough effort and you didn’t and you learn [ _ ] you know what do i do now do i beat myself up and feel like a piece of crap that’s what i always did because i felt like society was telling me you’re stupid if you fail you’re stupid if you do you know that’s the message i got but you know my daughter yesterday went and took her driving test and she didn’t pass you know and she was a little upset and of course as a parent i want to swoop in and say some things and try to make it better and and all that and then i have to sit i choose to sit back for a minute and i’ll give her some encouraging words she’s gonna take it again monday and you know whatever but you know part of that’s like a life experience that we can try to just let her go hey man you know you tried and it didn’t work out you know it’s life you know yeah right now what do we do how do we pick ourselves up move forward try again you know we don’t give up we keep moving but you know you want to oh that [ _ ] test is stupid and they ask dumb questions and it’s all their fault you know like it’s not your fault you’re perfect you did everything right it’s all their fault like that’s what you want to do and i think there’s too much of that right now in our society but you know i can choose to like just let other people be themselves and make mistakes and and just try to be a good example you know in my life like that’s where the freedom to be me we there are a lot of people that would think the school that we send our kids to is not healthy it’s not good it’s it should you know not exist because it’s not really a school we have the autonomy to do that i mean i’m not 100 sure it’s right or wrong it’s right for us you know i we like it our kids are great you know they’re functioning fine in the world just as good as any other kids out there you know if not better um but you know that’s that is a gift of this program has been being able to look for things that are so i’m a conformist i’m a person that looks for the rules like you said i want rules give me rules give me boundaries and i’ll thrive inside of those boundaries i know what i’m supposed to do i know how i’m supposed to do it but when you start telling me hey you can do whatever you want you can be whoever you want to be like i don’t know how to function in that [ _ ] i i question myself a hundred times what are my values i don’t even know what my values are but through this you know tradition and and some of these concepts like i begin to figure out all right this is something i think is important all right well i don’t think what traditional school teaches is really all that important according to my morals and values but yet i’ll send my kids there because that’s what everybody else is doing that’s what you’re supposed to do that’s what the government tells me to do so that’s what i do no i do it because it’s free but you know i’ve learned that i don’t have to do stuff just because that’s what everyone else is doing and we’re not harming anyone else you know we’re not hurting anybody so we have the freedom to go explore this different thing yeah i don’t think this tradition translates well into life but mostly because i don’t think this tradition says anything i don’t know how i would relate to anything else be yourself do what you want and let other people be themselves and do what they want i guess well there is a another encouragement in there to take some personal responsibility on how is what i’m doing affecting other people right you know and hopefully again hopefully if we’re in narcotics anonymous and we’re practicing this program and we’re in a home group that wants to rattle some cages or do something different or push some boundaries we are sort of also looking at the bigger picture of like how am i affecting n a as a whole how am i affecting my recovery community you know am i creating an atmosphere like those are questions that we should be asking ourselves it’s i don’t believe this tradition says yeah you’re a meeting you can do whatever you want it says you can do you whatever you want but you really should try to stay within these guidelines and boundaries you know what i mean when you’re making those decisions it’s like you shouldn’t just throw that [ _ ] out and hear the i’m free to do whatever i want part you should hear it you’re free to do what you want but really try to stay within these boundaries and i feel like just the last thing i want to say about this is that reminds me of the australian dude online that i saw writing about how americans look at freedom different than how australians look at freedom and it was kind of like the idea of americans look at freedom of how far can i take doing whatever the [ _ ] i want and you can’t step on my rights whereas australians look at the idea of freedom as how can we come together and do what’s best for all of us in the spirit of freedom to keep our freedoms and it that kind of reminds me of that right yeah and i think maybe that’s a little bit of where america is out of i don’t want to say out of whack but definitely a little off from my ideas like my primary purpose and goals and probably taught to me through this fellowship i don’t give you know the n a steps and traditions enough credit sometimes i’m like oh yeah i was just born this way and i came this not really like i was a self-centered guy who would steal anything from you to get more drugs like that’s who i was and now a lot of my life kind of got up by these traditions is like let’s make decisions that are best for all even if they’re not best for me at the gas pump or even if they’re not best for me in taxes like if i’m doing a little better cool take it do do something for people who ain’t like my ultimate goal is usually about the whole i think yeah sort of there’s a lot of selfishness still too i don’t know i don’t wanna actually creeps in all over the place yeah i’m not like some saint don’t get me wrong here but there is a lot of guidance towards what’s good for us right and i don’t feel like i see that from everyone in the world a lot of it is what’s good for my myself what’s good for my pocket i’m mad gas prices went up i’m mad they’re thinking about raising taxes i’m mad they’re like it definitely seems a lot about what’s good for me and that it doesn’t seem like there’s any consideration of the second portion of that is what’s good for me that also doesn’t negatively affect everyone else right and that’s where i believe that traditions you know translate into my life is like what person do i want to be do i want to conform to what everyone else is doing or do i want to try to live closer to my own morals and values you know in the church i’ve used the traditions in my life to kind of steer me more in that direction because again my nature is the same i am naturally self-centered if i don’t set up my own setup sort of guide posts like i easily revert back to self-centeredness you have just completely convinced me that this tradition is the best tradition ever like that quick i’ve changed my mind you know what this tradition is great it’s not about the rule of what you can and can’t do that was never the point and now i get it and now i love it i do the the point is while you’re thinking about living your best life don’t forget part two which is hey as long as that doesn’t affect others like don’t go rushing into what’s best for you until you consider how it affects everyone and that’s beautiful i think we do forget part two often i i always forget part two i’m like what’s best for me [ _ ] my family where do i want to go today great you know they’re in my way of getting to where i want to go instead of what can i what’s the best thing i can do maybe the best thing i can do that also considers my family’s well-being isn’t number one on my list maybe it’s number three but if i consider part two of the statement right then i can say okay well number three is still cool to me still the third coolest thing i could do yeah let me skip one and two and do this three because that’s good for all of us oh yeah i love it now all right done with that um so we uh we don’t ever talk about this but we have a little paypal donation button on our website and i was never going to bring it up because i saw no reason to because i’m not a beggar but uh julie julie has given us a recurring payment because she believes our podcast is a good deed to society i guess or something thank you julie so this episode was brought to you by julie yay thank you julie that’s awesome um i also wanted to bring up that a long time ago i told you that oakland was like crushing it and listening to us like for some reason we’re big in oakland i guess um and as an update to that there’s some other places that are starting to pick up some some listening traffic and so i wanted to shout out to philly seattle columbus ohio and new york wow that’s [ _ ] amazing i just odd places even columbus cares enlisted is columbus a big city i don’t i don’t think it is right columbus ohio i mean i’ve heard of it but i don’t think it was like big i went to a ufc fight there one time yeah if they got ufc fights they must be big i mean it’s a city definitely a city but yeah and then i mean you know there’s a lot of other places too obviously v-a-p-a delaware maryland that’s all the local spots i don’t know why i expect the local spots to listen more especially when i do it too i don’t know anybody in virginia so all i think is that people in elk didn’t listen to us and that’s it elton’s

and probably anyone that knows me doesn’t want to listen to me they hear me babble on too much right i think people that know me definitely don’t right i’m like oh he oh yeah i would listen to that if it wasn’t for him right um but yeah and then you know some people in england and stuff they’re noticeable too so thank you everybody i just wanted to give some acknowledgement we did get a thing of feedback from austin uh he said it was about the humor episode he said hey guys i love the new episode especially because i love humor and think life is too short to not be funny with that being said i also know i have hurt people’s feelings before and had to make amends because my sense of humor may be different from theirs so i have to choose my audience wisely so that i don’t have to make an amends if i can avoid making an amends i’m going to but i will make an amends when it’s due it took me a lot of time to think before i speak because i used to just spout off anything i thought was funny which ultimately ended up hurting people’s feelings so the moral the email is to make sure you know your audience before the jokes and i think that fits in a lot with kind of where we came to a lot about the situation right um i’m with austin i do i think i’m filtered enough to where i will never offend people obviously not because i’m the one that brought up that topic after i offended someone but i do think where i’m at now is a whole lot different than where i started which was just [ _ ] you if you don’t like my jokes right and that’s what i was gonna say i think what i take away from that episode as well was you know i can make a joke and i can think it’s funny but if it hurts someone i you know said it to it is it really a big deal to go oh i’m really sorry i didn’t mean to offend you i was just trying to be funny like or do i need to defend my right to be funny i heard you say that in there and i felt like we completely ignored it during the episode but i did hear it i didn’t miss it uh also one other thing that we got some feedback um stephanie stephanie is actually the person who created our logo oh yeah i think she created our logo our old logo too awesome uh because she saw it and just felt sorry for how terrible the original looked and she did that one just she was like hey look take this because what you got is rough um and then you know we went back to her when we were actually ready to like purchase a lugo yeah and we we love that too so but funnily enough i’ve known stephanie for years now um and she her company is okay logo she does logos for people hi i just like the way she thinks logo wise i’m like that’s not the way i think so i’m like in awe every time she does something like wow that’s cool um so i’ve known her for years and i mean you got to think or the logo she did when the [ _ ] was rough looking was like last june or july maybe july so what’s that like nine months ago yeah so she messaged me yesterday hey i just listened to the podcast for the first time

you made the logo like nine months ago um but she she did say she was like uh i listened to the podcast for the first time today it made me laugh feel angry and do some self-examination we’ll be listening again oh and i was like oh that’s pretty sweet even though it took you nine months welcome but no it was nice uh beyond that i think that’s all the catching up i have to do yeah and i had some feedback from a friend steve he mentioned that he listened to the episode on uh the sex addiction and found it you know really informative and and useful and insightful so thanks for listening steve appreciate it see you’re thanking him for listening i was going to make a joke about how you must be a sexist steve the sex addict that’s awful i don’t know who steve is but thanks steve um yeah i think i think that episode was uh both the ones we did about sex addiction i think were pretty informative and it’s something that i don’t think in many areas we talk about a lot as drug addicts i guess it’s almost like we look at it like oh man hey at least i ain’t using drugs no more right whatever happens on this side anything else right and i think there is a lot of still acting out using type behaviors that keep us and look it’s not about like how awful are you behaving it’s like man that keeps us from freedom yeah it keeps you trapped right it keeps us from the peace and serenity of like not having that stuff so yeah if you got sex issues uh listen to them or seek help or do whatever it is you need to do to to try to find relief any issues just find relief relief is nice yes now i’m babbling all right you got anything no cool uh great episode tradition for go out and don’t tell anybody else how to live their life unless they’re [ __ ] your life after something not really go out and every time you think about what’s best for me think about part two does that do well for everyone else as well right okay see you next week bye share this podcast with people in your life who might enjoy it check out recoveryswordup.com to find our episodes and link up with us on facebook twitter and instagram we’re always looking for new and interesting ideas for topics sort of if you have any ideas for episodes or think you have something to come on and talk about reach out to us


3 responses to “77: Tradition 4 – Each Group Should be Autonomous Except in Matters Affecting Other Groups or NA as a Whole (Sort Of)”

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