LifeLine Newsletter

2020 February LifeLine

Living “in Community”
“Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on NA unity.”
“Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”

Which do you think is harder?

    • Placing principles before the personalities of people you dislike?
    • Placing principles before the personalities of people you like?
    • Placing principles before your own personality?

There are no wrong answers. All three of these are hard.

I believe my life depends on treating this program in its entirety like the most precious, valuable, irreplaceable commodity because without it, I would not be alive.

Our literature tells us the newcomer is the most important person in any meeting because we can only keep what we have by giving it away. Tradition 7 tells us we are fully self-supporting. Tradition 11 tells us our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion. In other words, the only way we can keep what we have is by being welcoming to all who enter.

And not just all who enter as newcomers but all who enter regardless of newness. No matter how many times they’ve relapsed, how controversial they seem to be, how many detractors they have, how hateful they are, how challenging they are, how full of themselves they are – so long as they are not jeopardizing the meeting space, disrupting the meeting, or threatening the safety of the members – we must welcome them.

Every one of us has a “personality” in front of which we must place principles. It’s not a matter of being polite. It’s a matter of survival. We cannot afford to alienate anyone who walks into a meeting – regardless of how much of an asshole they are. If they’re coming to a meeting, they may need to be there.

If we pick and choose to whom we are welcoming, it won’t be long before we have decimated our ranks, perhaps sent more than a few people to their deaths, and dishonored Traditions 1 and 12 and all the Traditions in between.

And “being welcoming” covers a LOT of ground. It isn’t just saying hello, providing phone numbers and meetings lists, or taking someone out for “the meeting after the meeting”. It is a commitment to a lifetime of treating our meeting places like the sacred spaces they are and treating our fellow members like the precious beloved of a power greater than ourselves that they are, whose presence we need in order to continue recovering from this disease.

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Ask A Dinosaur!

“Dinosaurs” is a term created for “old timers”. This dinosaur is unsure as to the origins of the term because, real dinosaurs are extinct but NA dinosaurs roam the earth searching for protein, vegetation, and recovery. We know a thing or two so, ask a dinosaur your NA-related questions!

Dear Dinosaur, Is it all right for someone who is on prescribed post-operative pain killers to keep doing their elected service while they’re taking mood- and/or mind-altering medication? Signed, Baffled in Brooklyn

Dear Baffled, Great question! The answer is no, it’s not all right. To clarify, just because a person is taking medication as prescribed doesn’t mean they are in relapse. But medication such as pain killers are mood- and/or mind altering chemicals. They compromise our judgment, our thinking is fuzzy on them, we’re not as alert or sharp, and we might make mistakes. Why would we want to do this with our service, which we do for one reason only (to carry our message)? A person who is going to be taking medication for any period of time should inform their fellow trusted servants and the entity they are serving (group, area, sub-committee, etc) and find a replacement until they are done with their recuperation and can return to their service position.

Just because a person isn’t in relapse doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by the medication they’re taking. Our bodies and brains do not know or care about the reasons or motives for the presence of mood- or mind -altering chemicals in their systems. Anyone who is unwilling to temporarily step down from a service position during a recuperative period that includes medication might want to consider examining the motives for the resistance, take a look at our literature on the subject, and find out when and where they lost their humility. ANYONE who is preparing to have surgery or any procedure or treatment requiring prescribed medication should make sure their support system knows what they are taking and lets their support system hold them accountable for taking the medication as prescribed. The disease of addiction wants us all dead. It doesn’t care how it achieves this goal.

We must be constantly vigilant about our recovery and stop pretending we can handle medication on our own. Hundreds of folks have relapsed due to medication. If you think you’re above reproach and beyond relapse, you’ve lost track of the cunning, baffling nature of addiction. Besides, why aren’t you focusing on completing your recuperation? Why would you jump into service when you should be taking care of yourself?

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Living in community means regardless of our personal feelings, the personalities, the drama we have witnessed or created, the mistakes we’ve made, the hearts we’ve broken, the laws we’ve broken, the messes we’ve made – we treat each other with decency, respect, and kindness so that we can all continue recovering from this disease. Living in community means we learn how to maintain and respect boundaries, how and when to mind our business, how and when to speak up, how to extend kindness to everyone.

Living in community means we don’t engage in gossip. We walk away when others are spreading gossip and we don’t fan the flames by spreading it ourselves. You know why people gossip, right? Because, many of us are so broken, our self-esteem is so non-existent, we need to feel special and what better way to feel special than to get a lot of attention from others because we have inside info that nobody else has.

Living in community means we reach out to those who are in pain or in trouble. Someone dies, someone loses a job, someone’s relationship crashes and burns, someone needs professional help – we extend a hand. We make a phone call. We let them know we’re going to such and such meeting and invite them to join us. We let them know we’re here for them.

Unconditional love doesn’t apply just to the people we like. It’s easy to love the people we like. We support each other, we help each other, we show up for each other, we carry this message to each other no matter what. And if we can’t do any of those things, at the very least, we don’t cock block each other in our pursuit of recovery.

Whatever mess any of us have gotten ourselves into, if there are consequences to pay, they’ll be paid but those of us who aren’t part of the mess are not the judge, jury, or executioner of the person with the mess. A meeting should always be a safe and judgment-free space for ANYONE seeking recovery. We do this because we need each other in order to survive, recover, and stay in the solution.

And, don’t kid yourself. At some point during this journey you’re going to find yourself in trouble. You’re gonna be broke or unemployed or grieving or heartbroken or humiliated or terrified or the butt of a joke or the object of gossip / derision and what’ will make it possible for you to take the next breath, to put one foot in front of the other, to weather the storm are those people who reached out to you to let you know you’re not alone, you’re loved, and you matter.

We have a disease that wants every addict dead. We have a program that wants every addict to live. Nobody should prevent anyone from benefiting from this life-saving program. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that everyone benefits from this life-saving program.

Living in community means we protect the program that saved our lives by supporting, nurturing, loving our brothers and sisters whose lives were also saved, whose lives are going to be saved by the same program. We don’t tear them down. We don’t shoot our wounded. We don’t shoot anyone. That’s what it means to live in community.

Disclaimer: Articles submitted for publication are the solely expressed opinion of the author and not that of BASCNA or NA as a whole. The Lifeline reserves the right to edit any article received for print. We will not print anything that attacks another persons individual character or beliefs.

2020 February Lifeline
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