101: Tradition 9 – NA, as such, Ought Never be Organized; but We May Create Service Boards or Committees Directly Responsible to Those They Serve (Sort Of)

Tradition Nine: NA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve. What is the ninth tradition really saying? Are Narcotics Anonymous, and other 12 step fellowship, supposed to be disorganized? Does this apply to meetings and groups, or only to the service bodies? How can a program or fellowship be successful if they aren’t organized? How can we use tradition 9 to better our own spiritual wellbeing inside and outside of the fellowship? We discuss everything about the 9th tradition and even sticky peanut butter and jelly in this episode. Check it out and then check out all the tradition talks we’ve done. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook 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 it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy who is living these traditions to the best of my ability as much as i understand them and i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery and so we’re here today to talk about tradition nine it’s the ninth month it’s september the year is flying by almost thank god from the standpoint of having to do the traditions because they uh they can get dry at times the first few were so wonderful and now it’s like uh i don’t know but anyway tradition nine of course narcotics anonymous specific uh that’s why it says n a in it says n a as such ought never be organized but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve so on the surface for it to say it should never be organized it’s weird right because when i think of things that are organized like meeting times schedules meeting locations like it’s a big worldwide fellowship yeah set meeting format well and and how hard would it be like if it was less organized than it looks like what facebook uh you’d go on facebook that day and you’re like oh it’s tuesday where are they gonna hold that meeting tonight and what time right like oh look it’s at brian’s house at 7 26 like right what that would be weird so for them to say that n a all it never be organized is really strange to hear i mean i don’t think we think about that we read these in a lot of meetings nobody it’s like it’s pretty organized yeah and that because it’s become so big and so well known and and such a worldwide fellowship that’s why there became a need for service boards and committees like because it got so popular that created this need to have these right what organizational structure we try to use so to get into some of the boring background of this tradition it says we must first understand what n a is narcotics anonymous is addicts who have the desire to stop using and have joined together to do so our meetings are a gathering of members for the purpose of staying clean and carrying the message of recovery our steps and traditions are set down in a specific order they are numbered they are not random and unstructured they are organized but this is not the type of organization referred to in the ninth tradition in this tradition organized means having management and control so that’s what they’re saying about n a at all never have management or control which is interesting because i’ve always felt like there’s been like one more than other influential member at every home group i’ve ever been in who seems kind of like the manager yes but over time i would say those managers change yeah most home groups don’t keep the same one for too awful long i don’t know you get one of them old-timers it seems like they stick around forever um it goes on to say on this basis the meaning of tradition nine is clear without this tradition our fellowship would be in opposition to spiritual principles a loving god as he may express himself in our group conscience is the is our ultimate authority and so for anybody that’s not in a 12-step program the idea this is we all each have our individual higher power whatever we choose to call that some call it god some it’s jesus some it’s buddha summits flying spaghetti monster some it’s no god at all whatever that may be right spiritual principles uh the rooms n a like we all have this version for ourselves and then we come together and and supposedly in this group conscience right when the group is the group members come together to decide what the group needs and how to best meet those needs everybody brings their own god into that and like okay well my god thinks it would be good to be more welcoming so we should have a greeter right and somebody else says no that’s a terrible idea for whatever reason like their god doesn’t believe like but the ultimate vote and if we’re all trying to keep the spirit of carrying the message and helping more people in mind as we have these discussions in group conscience the vote happens and supposedly god’s will happens right like the ultimate authority of those meetings is the vote so can i say though in a true group conscience it’s a vote’s not even required that the group is able to come to a consensus based decision making that’s kind of where that idea came from is that yeah when you talk about the group conscience the whole idea was that we all bring our best most spiritual selves to the table and then make the decision that’s best for the group and in a like say in a true group conscience you don’t need to vote so we would all agree everyone comes to the same decision like yes making someone feel more loving and welcomed at a meeting is paramount to what we do here so we’re gonna have a greeter i mean okay but but say you bring in a thing like this uh hey our home group happens to be near recovery houses and 90 of people who come here are early in recovery first six months um my higher power has led me to believe i should introduce the idea that our home group be a one two three step meeting right we should constantly be harping on these first three steps get people in here get them involved in the idea steps have them hear the first three steps where most of them are probably working and different concepts about that i think that would be the most useful for the area we live in and the group we have and somebody else says well i think newcomers get more out of open speaker meetings like there’s no real wrong there right there’s not like oh well this this mode doesn’t support newcomers as well as that mode does like they’re both probably equally useful they’re both good ideas um you know and they might also say hey sometimes new people have some crazy [ _ ] to share like if we have speakers that takes up more of the meeting uh you know you won’t hear as much of the crazy [ _ ] you’ll get more recovery information in the meeting so i don’t know that those people and and the other 10 maybe they’re split pretty evenly people who feel it’s a good beginner step meeting idea and other people who feel it’s a good you know open share meeting i don’t know that you’re going to come to just a group conscience where everybody all of a sudden agrees what’s best for the meeting because either is best for the meeting or you could do both one one week one the other i mean there’s a myriad of options there i mean that’s a specific ruin my black and white example but that’s the idea again the idea is that we will all come open-minded willing you know what i mean and maybe i’m like huh that’s you have a good point you know maybe maybe my idea is not the best maybe your idea we can try that and see what happens let’s try that and see what happens but and it doesn’t happen all the time trust me there’s it’s interesting been through so many discussions where the conscience really means a vote and that just sometimes is the way that it goes but ideally you’ll be able to come as a group and and you’ll continue to discuss ideas like you don’t need to just be like well we got to wrap this up in an hour so we’re [ _ ] coming to the end of the hour so vote yeah we gotta wrap it up okay so what are your concerns what what are you worried about what do you think are the problems maybe we can talk about those i mean that’s again that’s the spirit of a group conscience that’s not how it plays out unfortunately most of the time but that’s the spirit of it it’s interesting man because i in my life experience have not seen that very often right and even when we do all agree we kind of take a vote anyway just for official purposes i guess but it’s always felt more of like the idea was whichever way the vote fell was the ultimate authority of god acting in our lives and that’s called a majority decision not a group conscience just for clarity of definitions that’s fair that’s fair that’s really interesting i can’t imagine i mean i think all the stuff that the group conscience already agrees on is already in place so it’s almost like i can’t imagine any topic being brought up of change and everybody just agree i hate policies because most of the time 99 of the time totally unnecessary oh wow so that’s so interesting well yeah and as we get further in this tradition i tend to agree with you right it talks about simplicity exactly what it’s talking about here like stop with all the [ _ ] rules already we don’t need that [ _ ] it’s already good you just show up have a [ _ ] meeting talk about recovery help each other that’s all we need to do i feel like i can’t get my family to have a group conscience about anything like we all disagree i just i can’t picture having it i don’t know okay so to move on from there before i get too caught up but that is fascinating um the ninth tradition goes on to define the nature of the things that we can do to help na it says that we may create service boards or committees to serve the needs of the fellowship they exist solely to serve the fellowship this is the nature of our service structure as it has evolved and been defined in the n a service manual which is interesting because that’s out of the basic text and i thought the basic text preempted the na service manual but i guess that was added in one of the updates yeah we’re all probably out of the nine six or probably sixth edition yeah so by then there was the early versions of the basic text didn’t have it so yeah when we create service boards or committees which is everything that is not a group to my understanding their only purpose is to serve whatever the groups need uh and this tradition really laid that out specifically billy talked about it before we came on the upside down pyramid idea of our service structure which is like all the many you know it’s kind of like you think of it sort of like a democracy where the people are at the top and the president would be at the bottom just doing whatever they asked him to do this is the same like it’s the groups at the top and then every step of service is beneath that just to do the bidding of the groups like what do you need how can we help one of the things that stuck out to me reading about this tradition was how often it talks about the regular communication in two directions to keep this working right right like the groups constantly need to be informing the service structures they’ve created what they need like this is what we need hey this is what we need every month this is what we need okay what you did isn’t quite working we need it more like this right and then in return the service structures need to constantly be reporting back to the groups hey we tried to do this thing that you guys asked for last month and this is how it worked and this is maybe what might work better or adjust to meet your needs better like this is what we’ve learned but it’s that bi-directional communication regularly that keeps it all flowing right and the the server structure doesn’t lose its understanding of what it’s supposed to be doing right that keeps going so i thought that was interesting just to get a little more basic for anyone that’s never been either involved in the service structure of specifically na i can’t speak for aaa because i’ve never been to any of their service inner group yeah inner group whatever but so within narcotics anonymous um where this service structure comes in is we have outreach efforts we call them h and i hospitals and institutions where you know let’s say here in cecil county we say hey we have the cecil county detention center um there’s also you know a treatment center that serves our county you know there’s a treatment center within the county um we’d like to make sure that there’s you know n a meetings available to these people so we’ll form an h i committee that will organize those things it will be a person to reach out to the facility to coordinate what day and times the meetings are going to be make sure that our speakers are cleared communicate about the rules those sorts of things and that typically shouldn’t be handled by individual groups although i believe in some areas it is some areas actually individual groups will handle those things on its own but like in this area most of our groups are small it would be a big burden for one group to take on that thing but we have 30 groups so between that we should be able to coordinate that effort and organize that effort and so that’s the idea you know we have h and i we have public relations which does outreach into the community for different things we have a literature committee that makes our schedules you know so that the times and dates are organized so that say our health departments and things know where to find us so these are the types of things where you would get you know a service board or a committee you know they’re the needs of the group you know it’s nice to have an organized schedule because if you just have 30 random groups and someone’s coming out of a treatment facility it’s like you want them to be able to find recovery meetings and i’m probably talking out of my ass with this statement but i will say it anyway uh from what i’ve heard in some instances at least a a is more done by the groups like a group will step up and take on these kind of things like one group might decide they’re gonna do lots of events for the members of their group and not that members that go to other meetings can’t come but it’s just they’re it’s not like a special events at an area level they just say hey we’re going to put together a hershey park trip like let’s put the word out and tell people and this group’s going to sponsor uh putting on the h i meeting at this local facility by them because it’s important like i think from what i understood it was a lot more done at the group level like that yeah i’m sure that has a lot to do with the size of the groups and the abilities of the groups you know financially and otherwise you know we have uh events where people come together picnics and things like that and in our area even some home groups host a picnic each year other home groups probably couldn’t afford to put on a picnic each year you know it just it depends on what the group can and is willing to do thinking about like government which is uh you know i’ve forgotten i’ve forgotten a couple of these months and during the traditions to talk about government or how this applies in families but i just thinking about government for a second like i think this is how democracy is supposed to look like we’re supposed to vote people in that do the things we want them to do and if they don’t then we need to like get them out of office and put somebody else in that is doing the will of the people like that’s the goal of it is is that the people have the say i don’t know that it looks like that very often in practice i think representative democracy is even further looking from that than we think but i think this is the idea right so i think at least at an idea level it’s a pretty nice idea that it’s not some big corporation telling us how to do this or what our rules are it’s like hey we’re a group we’re all here together we’re trying to stay clean and this is what we need can you help us with that and if not then we don’t really need you to be a service structure like right it’s not useful further on it says this is n a as such a simple fellowship using a non-professional addict-to-addict approach to the disease of addiction we are a fellowship not a lobbying organization or a medical service or a chain of treatment facilities we are non-professional we have no rules no fees no governing bodies and only one membership requirement a desire to stop using that’s [ _ ] interesting honestly i look at we have no rules and i have always thought the traditions were the rules but the tradition says right here we have no rules so there’s no rule that says we couldn’t have a meeting and say that people on suboxone are clean and have them celebrate there’s no [ _ ] rules right wow that’s true and there’s no rules against those meetings that that you talk about that said caffeine and nicotine were used and then you weren’t clean no and in fact when we reached out at that time to world services about those issues they basically sort of came back and said they didn’t have an opinion like that it was up to our area how we wanted to handle that situation and go about you know we had no there was no whatever you want to call it legal recourse for us to go shut them down there wasn’t anything we we could do at that point to shut them around get lawyers and march in there with the police right cease and desist order right you’re not narcotics anonymous right and and that’s the direction from the world is like oh yeah we’re not we don’t do that so that’s interesting so uh anybody who thinks like i used to think before i started doing more of this tradition understanding that the traditions lay out the proper and improper ways that meetings function or things that can be done in meetings uh this right here says we have no rules so you are wrong there’s no [ _ ] rules the traditions are all concepts that hopefully help us think about the positives and situations yeah they’re they’re like they’re like questions that make us think how’s this going to work out for the benefit and how what are the drawbacks of it before we go into making decisions right and then again all of this very idealistically but in an ideal situation you know we’re bringing our best foot our healthiest version to the table and we’re trying to act in you know these common principles what is our common good what is our primary purpose how best are we serving other people like those principles should be guiding our decision making so it’s fascinating because i agree ideally and yet i have rarely been a part of any group conscience or discussion at area level that was that looked like everybody had their best foot forward like it often looks like arguing and and resentment and that’s one of the funny things so my home group is very disorganized we don’t have a lot of structure in place with officials and stuff like that we don’t ever vote on anything and it’s not that we don’t discuss things things come up we have anniversaries we have meetings we pay rent we do all those things we go to area service and get our literature we don’t have a need to take a vote because we just talk about things and then we decide what we’re going to do in the group conscience isn’t there ever a dissenter i gotta join and be a dissenting voice i mean over time we’ve had that and there’s been occasions over years we’ve had to vote on things but for the most part you know and again we are and some people don’t care for it very much we are a very disorganized type of group you know we don’t have positions we don’t have an official you know chairperson and an official this or that person we just we show up and the meeting happens and whoever sits up at the front of the table sits up at the front of the table you know and and it works for us yeah it might not work for you it doesn’t work for everyone because people have come and said this is crazy and quit and left and whatever but for us it works and we have an n a meeting and there’s a bunch of us that stay clean i have gone into meetings uh or joined home groups and definitely tried to be the voice of like this isn’t structured enough we need positions we need more formality we need a gsr we need somebody that goes to area like and there’s a lot of groups that don’t operate under that understanding they do more of what you’re talking about they just show up and [ _ ] have a meeting and and it it goes fine right it’s a [ _ ] meeting and that works and it’s good for some and not for others and i think maybe looking at it now like maybe i was trying to bring my structure into meetings because that’s what makes me comfortable right like i need rules and operating procedures and [ _ ] and the fact is like it really doesn’t [ _ ] matter well it’s not even that one’s wrong and the other one’s right or one’s better and the other one’s worse it’s like that that is the definition of the group conscience you know when you go in and hopefully you’re getting with a bunch of like-minded people and i’m sure there are people that feel way more comfortable in a structured home group with set positions and that avoids conflicts and it makes your responsibilities get handled like there are definitely major benefits to being in a group that’s organized that way so it’s not that one’s right and one’s wrong it’s just well it’s like going to lunch and somebody’s sitting in your seat right right i sat there yesterday that’s my seat right like i want to hug people i’m the greeter god damn it you’re not the greeter right and that’s but that’s the beauty of the fellowship is the diversity and this tradition and and some of the other more kind of boring ones they’re what allows this freedom to take place you know they’re what allows god in as many forms to work through the fellowship so we need the meeting that says that nicotine and tobacco aren’t clean because some people are going to gravitate to that and and find it easier to recover in that environment and we need the meeting where they say [ _ ] yeah you’re on suboxone you’re totally clean you celebrate here i’m welcome yes we need all those meetings right like yeah [ _ ] chair of the meeting talk about it uh that’s interesting god that this is all more fascinating as i learn more man i i can’t wait to go out and tell everybody how wrong they are for having rules that’s the opposite of what i’m supposed to do and it’s hilarious because we’ve talked about this recently so i’ve been involved in our service structure for a long time and and was big on rules and have helped write policies for different subcommittees and all that and now i go back with the time and understanding that i have now be like most of that [ _ ] needs to go in the garbage and we just need to see the situation that’s in front of us have a discussion and make a group conscience about it and then move forward and we don’t need [ _ ] all these rules to dictate how things need to go so you weren’t you didn’t stick around for this portion of it last month but uh we were talking about i brought up the idea that you had given me that you said it was supposed to flip-flop between hartford county and cecil every so often right and i said as far as i understand i was told by a more experienced member that this is how it used to be blah blah and there was push back there were some experienced members who were like there was never an agreement like that i was like i don’t know yeah and i’ll be clear it wasn’t specifically an agreement that’s just kind of how it went right so i was like well look if more of you guys are from harford county this is something you want to explore feel free right if you don’t or if nobody wants to put the time in to find a new church don’t worry about it so this brought up the discussion of what we’re going to do uh the delta variant of covid are we going to get shut down again at the current location how quickly should we find a new location that’s more open to staying open and somebody put an emotion right and they were like look the motion is just that if this church closes down we need to find a way to meet so we should meet on zoom again that was it right people didn’t want to talk about that because they want to meet in person it was a much better turnout in person at least twice as many people as we had on zoom um and so they put this motion in and one person you know we had a short discussion one person said they wanted to made a motion to table it a second person seconded it and then it was tabled and i am baffled by that policy i’m like so two people in the meeting can decide that we’re just not going to talk about this and vote on it so right now if delta shut us down before next thursday or whatever it is we don’t officially have a way to meet like we’re going to zoom anyway because i don’t give a [ _ ] what they say but like we don’t we didn’t vote on it so we don’t officially have a way to meet next month if we get shut down oh i say then you just don’t meet well and we might not but it’s just interesting to me the whole policy that two people can just say emotion and second to table and there’s no vote on that or anything like that’s just what happens right and does that feel like a group conscience no that feels like two people could just dislike something and then we can’t talk about it and that’s [ _ ] stupid exactly and it’s a dumb policy i mean for a while back at least i don’t know who i don’t say they but the world service uh had put out a lot of information and was doing a lot of uh pr about this idea of consensus-based decision-making instead of voting on stuff um and and i don’t know if that i’ve got out of the service structure so much in the last several years so i don’t know if they still even talk about things that way but that was a push that came around for a while was that discussions were just supposed to happen and you were again hopefully able to just discuss things until you could come up with a common resolution and a common goal for your area that the idea was not you know you go in and and vote on things and three pros three cons i mean that it’s so again our service structure historically has run off what’s called robert’s rules of order which i only know this because of being involved in service and you would bring up like emotion as like jason said like hey what should we do if this facility shuts down should we go to zoom and then you would get like three pros and three cons then the discussion was shut down and you took a vote and that isn’t a group conscience you know what i mean every member doesn’t get to express their point every person doesn’t get a say and if you have concerns sometimes they’re not even addressed no one even answers your concerns and someone might have thought of something that nobody else thought about that could be a major influence but you had your three pros so [ _ ] it we’re done and you are bringing this up at a terrible time when i am area chair and kind of believe in this idea that you’re giving me but i don’t want to be there all [ _ ] night and i’ve seen these discussions go nowhere for 45 minutes because they’re just back and forth and i’m like so it’s okay not to make a decision sometimes yeah but i don’t want to sit here while these people talk for [ _ ] three hours like i’m here to let’s get this oh baby say hey we have a limit of time yeah i know i don’t know that’s that’s uh i guess for me just i don’t know why the policy would be that two people can make emotion tabled like why is there no vote on that like at least get the consensus right at least get the the majority of what people want not just the what two people want that’s [ _ ] weird and even that idea so the whole idea of tabling it gets misrepresented that the the idea of tabling something is i i believe my understanding is that as a representative of my group i’m there to represent my group and if you bring up an issue that me and my group never talked about how the [ _ ] am i supposed to represent my group because we haven’t had a discussion about that so i don’t know what their opinion is so the goal would be as a member to go back to my group discuss whatever the issue is come back the next month prepare to discuss address concerns vote on that issue you know it’s all part of that communication process but we’ve gotten into a place at least my experience in an area where we feel like these things need to happen in rushed amount of times and that was a little time sensitive right this is and this would be a different case like this is a situation where it could be time sensitive right whereas i’m most [ _ ] isn’t yeah and so i as an area issue you and i have talked about this before i think we’ve talked about the lack of turnout at a lot of the area service committee meetings and and why groups aren’t showing up and to me there’s a question of so is this area service even serving these groups you know and if it’s not maybe we need to end the [ _ ] thing or restructure it in a different way or do something different just because it exists in the way it is now if it’s not serving the groups it’s not supposed to exist i would agree with that but i think my take is a little different just because all the subcommittees run through there like when we talk about the the communication in both directions that is where the groups get informed of what the subcommittees are doing because it would be impossible for the h i chair to go to every meeting in the area and tell them what’s going on and get their input right to give them the feedback of hey this is what we’re doing this is the open spots we have we need help so area is a good place for that so i’m not saying maybe aria doesn’t need to make any other decisions but i think they do need to be held even if people aren’t showing up if [ _ ] five groups show up then great then five groups get the information back from h i and get to take it back to their groups and find the people to help and like i think it needs to exist for that purpose at least just to be the kind of hub for the subcommittees to give the feedback to the groups that want to be a part of it the groups that don’t want to be a part of it [ _ ] it like we ain’t missing nothing i don’t think we just cancel area just because groups aren’t showing up like i don’t believe in that i don’t see how that benefits the the other service structures we put in place like i think there’s more benefit if they have a place to come talk about what’s going on yeah and i was thinking of it more along the lines of if area didn’t exist in its current form it’s almost like because it exists in its current form nobody’s gonna really do much to change it or we can’t envision a way of changing it whereas if it didn’t exist in its current form maybe a new thing could spring up from the ashes but if we don’t have any ashes there’s nothing new to spring up the current will just exist and then we’ll just [ __ ] about how it’s not working right and it’s sort of like the same with literature and all these other things like i was a literature chair person for a while and my term was up i had served two terms and i went to area and i said look i’m telling you now next month when i show up and and no one had stepped up to take the position i said i won’t be here next month this literature will all be here i will not be i you know whatever you guys do is up to you it’s not my responsibility and someone eventually stepped in and took the position and it got filled and a new person came into the role which is how i think all that’s supposed to work anyway but i just kept showing up that has stayed my position unofficially i have seen people do their positions for years and years and years because nobody’s ready i think our treasurer has been there for quite a long time and thankfully i i know who’s taking over for me next year so i am already working my way out um but i think that’s how the group conscience works it’s like god works through individuals and and if the same people stay in the same spots for too long are you allowing right it becomes even indirectly even with the best intentions and the most sincere desires you know it just becomes an extension of of me and you know if i get out of the way and get out of that position and a new person comes in new things might happen things that i was doing might fall away and and you know the way it’s supposed to be will work its way out right right so yeah i i do think that is the idea of tabling is to get your group’s ideas about it it also says in our literature that like when you’re elected to represent the group as gsr they’re trusting not only that you can carry the information back and forth but also that you will make decisions on their behalf at times like they trust your judgment as part of that requirement to get voted into that which i found interesting when i read that yeah well because there are things that are time sensitive like you mentioned there might be an issue with money needing to be spent for a event or a thing that’s coming up that you don’t have three months to go back and forth to groups well and and tabling in this fashion of these two people felt more like the filibuster in the government right that’s what it was just we’ll just create no vote um which was weird i don’t know

this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopemaryland.org

and consider donating to our calls this goes on to say yet for all its emphasis on keeping things simple tradition 9 is not an excuse for disorganized service work instead it recognizes that our fellowship does require a certain degree of organization to fulfill its primary purpose rather than recommend that any groups themselves be become organized the ninth tradition suggests that groups organize separate boards and committees to serve their needs just as we are non-professional but may hire professionals to help us so we so we are not organized but may organize boards or committees to serve us this arrangement ensures that n a as such maintains its uncluttered direct approach to recovery while assuring our ability to fulfill service tasks requiring a certain amount of organization so groups should remain cluttered and create or uncluttered from you know organization problems and just focused on let’s just carry the message it’s really that simple let’s show the [ _ ] up open the door carry the message right we complicate the [ _ ] out of that we sure do oh my god but back to the ancient you know the h i example i mean that can become very burdensome on a group that has six home group members to try to carry an hmi commitment you know in a facility like and then it becomes just one person or what if that group closes up or you know there’s all sorts of challenges that a committee that’s organized with some structure can help to carry absolutely uh to maintain the focus of its recovery meetings the group usually conducts its business meetings separately keeping n a as such they keep saying as such there’s a lot of [ _ ] at me keeping n a as such as simple as possible this was interesting right because this was always my experience in my baltimore area right we had a meeting and then you would call group conscience which was also the business meeting but i have been to other areas and at least two i think one was in new jersey and one was in wisconsin where i showed up at the meeting and the first 15 minutes uh like they were doing announcements and key tags and they went over the business meeting aspect of it and granted and they get their treasury reports and stuff yeah and granted these were small groups right so it probably did not hinder the meeting itself on a regular basis but i found it fascinating and i was like my initial reaction was oh this is [ _ ] wrong all right but here it is in our literature saying not that it’s wrong because there’s no rules we get that but that it’s usually not done like that because that’s not the place for it so that’s fat i don’t i wonder if those groups are aware that this exists in our literature probably not uh so it says as the group grows even larger it often sprouts new groups this was in so this to me kind of explained area service and why it came about this is why i found this part fascinating as the group grows even larger it often sprouts new groups to maintain some of the unity and camaraderie that existed when there was only one group in the area these groups select representatives who meet periodically these representatives share information with one another about how their individual groups are doing and help one another find solutions to problems one group or another may be having from time to time they may even organize a joint recovery meeting or social activity gathering the entire n a community together sooner or later the groups realize the potential they have in this committee of representatives through this committee the groups can combine their guidance and resources so that each of them can function more effectively and all together can carry the message farther that to me sounded like where area service came from where regional service came from and i thought it was interesting because as a guy who’s been a group service representative a gsr right learned about it early on wanted to get into it because it sounded like a power position this is never how i have conceptualized it even though i knew it’s not how it feels when you’re there either maybe that’s what i’m trying to say so i knew the concept was hey we’re just there to all you know the groups run this we’re here to vote on stuff it does not feel like we are there like oh this group’s having problems with the trouble member that shows up everything’s like a bunch of politicians and this group has dealt with a troubled member who showed up every week and they know some ideas of what worked and what didn’t they we should help like it does not feel like a spirit of cooperation it feels like where you show up to get literature and argue so you’re the chair well can you put that in the what do you call it the format just read that little couple of sentences before every area right like it it definitely it’s weird it does feel like the spirit of almost government and and being a part of that and and look feeding into it myself absolutely i look at that now and i say well no wonder governments go [ _ ] off the rails and they look like they do because once you get in that environment that’s how it like the feeling is my side’s got to win oh yeah we got to make our power play it’s so weird but yeah all we’re supposed to be doing and so honestly from my understanding of reading this next week at area we should show up the reports from the subcommittees the service structures we’ve created to do work for us that we want done h and i phone line things like this they should give their reports give their feedback to the groups the groups should give feedback to them of if they’re doing a good job or if something they’re doing needs to be adjusted and generally if none of the other groups are having an issue in their group that should be [ _ ] it like we don’t need to come up with all these random new ideas and make new policies and change anything and like that’s what i keep saying that’s exactly it it could be it should be a getting it should be like a [ _ ] pow-wow of the groups like hey good to see you how’s things going over there on the other side of the bridge you know or the [ _ ] meetings is your attendance good you know how’s and that’s what the idea is supposed to be we don’t need a bunch of these [ _ ] rules to try to force cooperation or force groups into answering to you know the area like it’s got it gets weird it gets like some sort of weird power play i will say uh up here i haven’t seen as many weird things happen as i did down in the northeast freedom area down towards baltimore um but a lot of it’s been on zoom and there have been a couple of like argumentative debates but they were about weird [ _ ] about if we should have literature sales while we’re still on zoom and all that and are they even useful there’s like one group that’s actually using it all the rest of them are just buying from n a and having it shipped to their place or whatever so like i haven’t seen a ton of that but i i don’t even know what i’m gonna do when i encounter it or or if i’ll recognize it in the moment right like i think it’s harder to recognize when you’re in area service and the discussions going on to step back and be like [ _ ] are we even talking about here yeah and that’s so one of the things and i have one of my previous sponsors bring this up to me a lot like one of the first things there’s a few basic questions we can ask when a new policy comes up or something is like well one well how best does this serve the newcomer you know does this have any relevance to the newcomer because if not it’s probably not that [ _ ] important not that it doesn’t need to be discussed but its level of importance goes way the [ _ ] down when it’s not directly helping someone especially a newcomer um two is this is this necessary like do we is this helping someone in some way like you know is this policy needed and most of the time those two questions eliminate 50 of what we waste a [ _ ] hour and a half talking about right whether we need a time requirement on the chair position for how many [ _ ] years they need to have why don’t we just have a group conscience and let god decide whether that person’s fit to be the [ _ ] chairperson of that committee or not and get out of the way 17 years i’ve been around narcotics anonymous and watched these discussions of time limits and people say hey we don’t have anybody with the qualified time that wants to serve in this position but here we have this individual who’s got this much which isn’t quite what we say is the rule right not once have they ever said no right they’re always like well we’ll take a vote and wave the clean time and it’s

like you just make a rule because you feel like you can you know it’s like organization that you don’t even need but do you think not having the rule is better or should it just be changed to be less of a rule and more like when you look at a a job advertisement and they’re like hey we’d like to see this in applicants but you don’t have to have that right equivalent experience is also my understanding and that’s what the policy is supposed to be it’s not supposed to be this set of rules because you can at any time you can vote to alter a policy or change a policy but even that turns into a whole big dog component you gotta make a [ __ ] emotion and

and that’s what i mean it’s all just a way most of the time to circumvent the group conscience that’s what it feels like to me it’s like why we’re here now where all the people that are in this room are the group conscience at that moment that’s god working why do we need to revert back to some previous conscience of a previous group from three years ago like this seems not the way that this is supposed to work i don’t know if you have this up here and i guess i’ll find out as we go possibly but in in the other area i came from we voted on a policy change and then the next month it was tried to they tried to bring it back up to talk about it because like it can’t be changed for three months or something right yeah i think it got twisted or something and i’m like what the [ _ ] you mean we’re stuck with shitty policy just because we did it right it’s crazy and again back to this whole oh well we didn’t think this was going to be a problem when we made this new [ _ ] policy but now we’re stuck with a bad policy because we limited the discussion and rushed to a decision well let’s change the policy that says we’re stuck with it for three months because that policy is definitely in place for three months so we’ll change that policy then we can do whatever the [ _ ] we want yeah that was the craziest thing i think we make a policy that every three years we throw out all the old policy so what do you think about the idea if this says there’s no rules that none of that policy is actually official or able to be held up anyway because there’s no [ _ ] rules according to the text uh i mean does it say that i thought within the service structure there is organization at the group level so none of this affects my group like and and i’ve actually said this a bunch of times i don’t care what they do at area at world at region whatever else i’m gonna show up on thursday night at my home group and we’re gonna have a [ _ ] n a meeting and whatever they decide we’re gonna keep doing exactly what we’re doing you know that’s that’s my protection as a group is that i’m not organized and i’m not bound by any you know if if susquehanna area n a decided you know oh because of kovid we’re just not having meetings anymore well [ _ ] that you don’t have that authority to make that decision on behalf of my group you know my group has the authority to show up and be a group we’re not organized by your rules so uh spiritual principles involved with this they talked about anonymity which is always and i think that’s like in every tradition anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all of ours right well there it is right exactly so uh humility right i thought that was a good one and one that struck me is interesting because i don’t consider it a spiritual principle most of the time in my life simplicity they mentioned simplicity as a spiritual principle and i thought that was kind of beautiful and caught me off guard i was like whoa really yeah i don’t know that i’ve ever thought about that as a spiritual principle right i’m like simple things aren’t spiritual

yes we need to [ _ ] delve into this but of course that’s our our mindsets on a lot of things think deeper about this [ _ ] um but yeah simplicity that’s how could simplicity apply in our lives in a different way spiritually like just i’m trying to so if we wanted to take this kind of concept into our families like i if you look at my calendar i will show you all if you’re watching on youtube uh and i will show billy like this is what my calendar looks like for the month of september i don’t know if you can see that hopefully there’s no personal information on there but i had a guy yesterday that was like that’s [ _ ] crazy dude i have like three things on my calendar for the whole month and i’m like i need my family needs to be organized and i’m constantly going over to plan i will try to plan with my wife the same day like four different times i’ll ask her in the afternoon i’m like well how are we gonna handle this are you gonna take this one to practice and i’m gonna make dinner and then you’re going to come here and then like i need to know the order of all that and she is definitely on the other side of this she’s on tradition the other side of that too she’s like i don’t know we’ll [ _ ] figure it out my wife’s butt heads for this and i hate it i’m like no tell me what’s going on because i feel out of whack when i don’t know the plan right but then we’ll agree to it and then i’ll ask her like three hours later i’m like so this is what’s going to happen right i think that’s what we said i just want to be clear and then she’ll forget what we said and i don’t yeah i think maybe i don’t know i thought you were going to take them and i’m like that [ _ ] me up but i guess i need to be more simple in my practice i don’t know it’s disturbing and again it gets back to it’s hard sometimes to say one’s right or wrong some things are better for different personalities so for me with my wife specifically like she likes a lot of more organization than i do she likes to figure out we’re going to have this for dinner this night and after dinner that night i’m like i just know we’re having [ _ ] dinner and when i get home from work monday i make dinner most nights so i’m like when i get home from work monday i’ll figure out what i feel like making for dinner some nights i feel like making something and some nights i don’t i don’t need to know that we’re having stir-fry on monday because monday might come and i might not feel like making stir-fry and if stir-fry so i’m a perpetual like rule follower like if it’s the [ _ ] rule that’s what we’re doing and i’m not real flexible on stuff so you know like rules don’t serve me you sell all the time sound like a guy that has tacos on wednesday instead of it just depends on how i feel on wednesday if i feel like a taco on wednesday i’ll have it on wednesday tuesdays but you know and just we were just talking about this today she tells me last night oh i’m gonna get up and and i’ll get up and i’ll go to you know do the grocery shopping and then i’ll let you know my daughter take my car because her car’s messed up and you know i’m like all right that’s the plan that’s the [ _ ] rule that’s what we’re doing and then we get up in the morning and she starts wanting to change it and i’m pissed like right if you just said yesterday we need to work this stuff out i’d have got up in the morning and tried to figure out how i was going to work it out but you told me what we were doing and now it’s time to do it and you want to change it [ __ ] that now i’m angry so i struggle with not knowing like i have a thing about knowing i just feel more comfortable more safe um i’ll be eating my not so delicious lunch trying to be healthy and as soon as i get like two bites into it i’m texting my wife i’m like what’s for dinner because i want to have something to a look forward to but b i don’t want to come home if it’s something i i’m not thrilled with right if it’s one of those dinners i don’t want to come home and be like oh yeah it’s dinner time and then find out it’s that and be like

right that expectations we talked about those expectations right so i like knowing so i can kind of get my mind right about what we’re eating right i like knowing so i can get my mind right do i have to run my daughter down to practice today is my wife taking care of that like what’s my responsibilities because when we talk about you know tempering our expectations which again we still don’t know if that’s a real thing but i do much better planning my day around i know i got to take my daughter to practice around 4 20 because that’s what i got to do today then thinking i don’t and then at 4 15 i find out i do then i’m like what the [ _ ] like i was enjoying my day god damn it i was prepared to rest and see that’s where the group conscience comes in you know what i mean it’s like it’s important for you and your wife to communicate and work out a system that works best for you and just because that works best for you too doesn’t mean it would work the same for me and my wife or me and my wife and kids you know we might function in our group conscience a little differently what i’ve found though is the difficulty in that is when people operate differently because it’s best for them like i don’t necessarily that means that people are bad for each other as a couple like i don’t think we’d be better for each other if we were both more like me and i don’t think it’s so much that opposites attract or anything like that some extent but it’s a little different than that but so yesterday i went to there was some pizza in a bag that was laying on the counter and i was like oh was that pizza from dinner i’m gonna heat that up it looks good right i grabbed the bag i take it over towards microwave grab plate the bag’s got like sticky [ _ ] on it drives me [ _ ] crazy right i hate touching things areas that aren’t supposed to be sticky and they are it just really really like i don’t know it’s just it’s awful i like run straight to a sink i’m washing my hands i’m trying to wipe it up it’s just and i’ve said my whole life like you people are just [ _ ] dirty you have babies you people are filthy you people are disgusting you don’t clean up after yourselves like i’ll go to get the the jelly out of the fridge the lid’s half on there’s [ _ ] jelly and peanut butter caked around the outside it’s just [ _ ] gross to me but it’s it’s honestly not so much that it’s gross to me it’s that it does something to my insides like there is a shift in the way i feel right when i touch that and it bothers me so i’ve labeled it you’re gross and disgusting but the truth is it just bothers me right i’m very vigilant about if i make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich i’m gonna make sure i clean off the outsides of these if i spill any if milk spills on the table i’m not going to leave a sticky area because i know how that makes me feel and it’s really important to me my wife and kids they don’t have that reaction it does not make them feel like sick inside to have sticky fingers when they touch something so it’s impossible for them to have the level of vigilance around cleaning up after it that i do like it’s not that i’m such a great guy that i clean up after myself it’s that it [ _ ] seriously bothers me internally that’s why i’m so committed to making sure it doesn’t happen i can’t expect them who don’t have that internal reaction to feel that same way or have that same level of commitment and i guess i’m pulling that into this idea of like planning and structure in our family life like it seriously bothers me internally to not have structure to not know i gotta drive somebody to practice and then have it thrown on me at the last minute the rest of my family they don’t feel that internal feeling so it’s never going to be as important to them and it’s very hard for any of us me or them to go outside of what we feel to do something that’s just important to somebody else that’s tough that’s a lot to ask that’s why it’s called a group conscience and not an individual conscience the idea is that we’re supposed to be able to to build and develop these skills is these principles of like empathy and compassion and understanding and you know maybe it’s not the way that i think it should be but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong and and again these are all where you know the it’s unique to each individual how much am i willing to change how much am i willing to let go of you know am i willing to let go of my [ _ ] peanut butter sticky thing because the kids don’t care or is it important enough where we sit down and discuss it and say look this is a real issue for me and i would appreciate if we could do this and then if they agree to do that that’s one thing if they agree to do it and don’t do it that’s a different thing but you know what i mean if they say yeah we we understand you’re that’s you so we’re going to take care of that and we will commit to that and that’s beautiful and i think from what i found in my experience that is the most helpful thing is to try to sit down and instead of expressing that i’m angry about it or being frustrated that they don’t just expressing the level to which it really bothers me right but i guess for me you’re looking at this as in a sense of what they will or can change and i don’t know if they have the ability to right it depends on the age well age and i also think that some of this the more i understand about trauma or life experience and how that affects our nervous systems and the shifts it causes in us like okay so you are really uncomfortable around large crowds right and not to say that that can’t get a little better just through forcing yourself to be in large crowds but i don’t think it’s really a choice of yours to say oh people think i should be in large crowds i’m just going to will myself to do it better right like you’re going to feel that no matter what and that’s the same thing i feel touching sticky stuff it’s the same thing i feel when i haven’t planned the day out and i don’t know and and i think my family has the opposite feeling right they feel safe in in a little more disor or a little less structure around those kind of things and they get comfort or maybe they feel unrest at cleaning up their sticky me i don’t know like but i don’t think it’s just an option of hey let’s sit down and talk about it and all of a sudden these people can adjust what shifts like i can’t adjust it’s not like i’m like oh it’s really important to me to not touch sticky stuff it’s it’s literally a bodily reaction i but for me that’s been my whole understanding of addiction at least this is for myself i don’t know that i put this on my kids or family but for myself as an addict like what i learn is that whole idea is that first thought wrong and that my best thinking gets me into trouble and i’m not responsible for how i think i’m responsible for how i act and through the practice of meditation the practice of spiritual principles the practice of you know not just reacting to my feelings like i learned to do things differently to be the best version of myself but i don’t wait for the thinking to change for the actions to follow i gotta start with the actions and then maybe the thinking will change maybe the thinking’s never gonna change my impulse to keep the [ _ ] extra change when the lady gives me you know at the store that impulse to keep that shit’s probably going to be there the rest of my life you know what i mean to stick it in my pocket and walk out and be like [ _ ] them you know but the behavior is now that no that’s not the person i want to be so i in a sense i i agree with that like the behavior has changed like it’s i’ve been able to recognize that it’s not them right my reaction is something that goes on in me so i don’t need to yell and scream at people in my house for not cleaning up the peanut butter and jelly or the sticky stuff or whatever like okay maybe they didn’t recognize it have no idea maybe they’re lazy whatever like the problem is more the way i feel inside when i touch it meditation has helped to not react but i still don’t know that that’s healthy that i have to be in an environment that makes my body react that way and i can’t yeah i can work on changing actions and stuff like that i can’t change the internal sensation i feel like that doesn’t just change because i do something different i don’t think i think that’s something that gets changed through like i don’t know some kind of deep healing experience i’m still not completely entirely sure how that works what do they call that where you just expose your therapy or you just keep throwing sticky [ __ ] at people we’ll go back to our last episode pain just enough pain and you’ll feel better and lollipops and lay them down you got to keep picking them up

[ _ ] but and that’s a minor one right that’s not a an overwhelming feeling but it is a it’s a definite internal shift in the way my body feels and i think that’s where the like for me the the big groups thing like i i don’t again i don’t try to say something’s wrong with me or whatever i either decide i want to deal with it that day or i decide i’m not you know and i came to a meeting the other night and there was a lot of people crammed into a small room besides just a covered factor it was very uncomfortable and and i wanted to leave i convinced myself to stay and i don’t know that staying was the right thing you know it just was you know hey i’m faced with this for me it had more to do with i wanted to challenge myself to sit through that uncomfortable situation i don’t think that’s ever gonna change for me what can change is that i don’t have to allow that to limit my experience or i can and that i don’t i don’t put a judgment on myself either way if i had left that meeting and went home i’d have been just probably as okay with it it’s not like one was the right thing to do and one was the wrong thing to do it’s just you know i’m gonna try to face life and i guess from a therapy perspective it’s like is that challenging yourself a healthy version of moving forward in life or not right like or is it going to inspire growth is it just like hey i proved that i can do this if i force myself and it still feels [ _ ] up or is it actually like oh okay well i did this and next time i feel a little better about it yeah there’s a lot of variables in there and if it’s not feeling better next time and you just keep forcing yourself i don’t know that that’s healthy so here’s and i don’t know this sort of ties in we’re way off topic but um peanut butter and jelly tradition makes sticky messes so you know my son went to the doctor the doctor told him he was overweight you know so he had made a decision that he wanted to go to the gym with my wife and i go pretty regularly every day and he had decided he wanted to try to do that and my questioning to her was how much do you want me to enforce that because i get up every morning at five o’clock and go to the gym i [ _ ] hate it i’ve been doing it i think it’s been like two years now there isn’t one day maybe one day that i wake up and go oh yeah this is [ _ ] great i love it it’s yeah no every day it’s like [ _ ] man i’m just sleeping in today i’m not going i’m gonna lay back down i just just i’ll just i’ll go tomorrow it’ll be fine and then i [ _ ] start to wake up like all right just get up you [ _ ] [ _ ] let’s just do it you know you can do it i gotta stop you right there anytime your self talk involves you a it’s not good self talk but but that’s and and this is what i talked with my wife and i don’t know if that’s healthy or not and in today’s standards i don’t know if that’s good but i get up and i go and i show up and i do it and most days by when i’m done i feel good that i’ve been able to have that discipline and that ability to push through and i’m going to say hard thing and i almost want to put that in some air quotes hard thing like it’s getting up and going and exercising it’s [ _ ] hard in this society right it’s way easier to lay in bed in the covers and sleep but it’s and that’s where i i don’t know like i don’t know if that’s good for i don’t even know if it’s good for me let alone to [ _ ] push that on my son right you know to be like get up and come on i know it’s uncomfortable but you got to do it push through this hard [ _ ] have you ever been playing an organized sport and thought i don’t feel like like it it’s too much work to go play this organized sport like generally and i’m thinking if you’re like me when there’s a game going on around the exercising it’s fun right it’s now entertaining it’s skill it’s practicing it’s so i i mean i don’t know just looking at it from an outside standpoint a little bit and saying i think it’s great that you have that discipline to get up and go every day but if it’s miserable why not try some activities that might actually like be exercise and be fun for you like hey there’s soccer games at 6 00 a.m every morning let’s go play soccer and this is where i think the variables with a lot of this stuff come on and for me it’s just being disciplined at anything like i am the least disciplined [ _ ] person i know like this has been one so don’t see that you things that i have like been like committed and stuck with and now and that’s trans so that actually started with meditation meditation became one of the very first things where i had like made a commitment and then stuck with it for longer than a few weeks a few months right you know while i was inconvenient so for me and this is again for the the variables part it’s like yeah i can be disciplined in certain things so then i can take that and build on that like hey guess what you can probably be a little bit disciplined in your diet too is it going to be hard yeah is it going to be what you want to do no probably not but you can you know you have the ability to do it whether you choose to or not it’s a totally different thing but i have the ability to do hard things and stick with them for long periods of time even though i don’t want to i know that i can do those things now i still been doing my diet since i think march oh my [ _ ] god i’m tired of it so over but i’ve held it up pretty well and i’m like oh god all right so uh anything else about tradition nine no get involved in service if you’re in a fellowship and see what you can do to to bring less organization to that yes no agreements or god no rules a real thorough group conscience that’s not a vote like yeah if you’re in a home group don’t feel like you gotta enforce rules and enforce all this stuff yeah [ _ ] it whatever go seek the good orderly direction of your group conscience all right have fun and we’ll see you next week

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2 responses to “101: Tradition 9 – NA, as such, Ought Never be Organized; but We May Create Service Boards or Committees Directly Responsible to Those They Serve (Sort Of)”

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