ACA EC 4th European Meeting in Madrid – debriefing/meeting minutes

Saturday September 16th 2017

  • Jan 2018 marks ACA’s 40th anniversary – how will ACA groups/countries consider celebrating it
  • History of EC was given
  • A BRB in Castilian was donated by Prague fellowship to the Madrid University in honour of Father Antonio who did service in ACA and recently passed away.
  • Panel of speakers about sponsorship/service
    • Veronica from Zurich, Switzerland
    • Tanya from Prague – small with 2 meetings & two events in last 12 months.  Events = PI/MPS = awareness = growth
    • Mikkel from Copenhagen – ACA started in 1988 with only 3 meetings.  Now there are 50 meetings nationally and 20/week in Copenhagen.  Strong recovery with a good service structure with every group having a GSR and they hold 4 meetings/year around the country and they have HOPE!
      • If something is missing that might be where you fit in or where you are needed
      • Service is asserting yourself to hold your own space and to be equal
      • I can only keep what I give away
      • Service has meant a lot – giving a deeper relationship with co-travellers despite conflicts but in this Family of Choice (FOC) (Tanya’s words) we are able to deal with conflict different from our Family of Origin (FOI)
    • Hesse from Denmark – many different committees –
      • PI
      • Website committee
      • Mtg list
      • Book sales
      • International rep
      • Email replies
      • Contact and coordination for outreach
        • These attend other open 12 step conventions (eg AA) by taking brochures and having a stand to carry the message of ACA
    • Sponsorship
      • It’s like a marriage getting a sponsor
      • A list of questions for sponsors to qualify –
        • Have they achieved emotional sobriety
        • Know trauma
        • Done inner child work
        • Know how to pass on the ACA message
        • Understand the value of face to face contact & being seen
        • Know the traditions not to fix others because it would rob them of their spiritual growth.
        • We are hoping to be able to make a forum with sign in on our website once we have a questioner for those who want to become sponsors.
    • Messages from Majbrit:
      • we are born as love, shit happens and I thought I had to give love and care for everyone but it’s like a bank a/c; if you give everything away you will go bankrupt.  Yet, when I love others I remember to love myself.
      • Love is not selfish or demanding; it tolerates differences.  What’s true for me isn’t necessarily true for you.  My perceptions and yours may be different and this helps me to grow by accepting that.
      • If you dare to be vulnerable and trust one another you will share your ESH and grow from it
      • Encourage the phone bridge – check out the phone meetings on the WSO Meetings page, Telephone meetings, join, listen, there might be someone who has what you need.
      • I have to get out of my comfort zone if I want something new.  I drove to different cities to  find a sponsor and listened for someone whose recovery inspired me.
      • If we keep on doing the same, expecting new results but not using the tools I will stagnate – the biggest tool in my mind is the COURAGE to change and the need to do something different to get our needs met
      • A sponsor is not someone “above” me; they are a kindred spirit.
      • I can’t sponsor if I don’t have a sponsor, who has a sponsor, as it triggers my CD and I need to speak it through. The cain of sponsors need to be unbroken
      • Doing service triggers, so I have a service sponsor.
      • There are never wrong sponsors – we learn what is necessary at that time
      • Be mindful of your self talk and become your own loving parent
      • Implement the program, the tradition, crosstalk daily. Remind yourself what you need to learn. I write on my mirror, paint a picture, have a huge blackboard, read the daily texts in the MB.
      • Self-worth (where one gives oneself self-love) vs self-esteem
    • Mikkel – sponsorship took him four years and he had co-travellers with the relationship being based on desire for recovery
      • Step study Workshops with the Yellow Workbook with 2 old-timers (male/female) sponsoring the group with a plan to little by little give responsibility to the group to take over.
      • Meetings of 40-50 pax who divide into smaller family groups then regroup and share/report to the larger group, thus replicating the problems of a smaller family and being able to speak to the larger family.
      • Sponsors/guides visit each family group as a loving parent.
  • Barcelona – have co-travellers and an open list of phone numbers and now are all doing Step 4
  • Pat from UK – co-travellers.  12 step/spiritual process is all the same just the context is slightly different
  • AA sponsors who say “I can’t tell you anything you don’t already know about yourself inside.  The important thing is making contact and having a connection with your own spirit.
  • “Sponsor” reeks of authority and if you get a sponsor you invite authority – it’s also your perception of that.
  • Sponsor is someone whose recovery I admire
  • In meetings it’s important to have enough time to share and 16-18 participants may be too many and thus a sponsor helps with things not shared.
  • I leave you free to do what is right for you
  • Airline metaphor – take oxygen for yourself first
  • How important is it?  Do I want it?  Therefore is it important?
  • Try to do/be the best I can
  • Relive myself of worry and don’t sweat the small stuff
  • Acting out is creating pain and pain is what we are addicted to
  • Philip Larkin’s poem This be the Verse – https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48419/this-be-the-verse 

Program provides tools for self-love – use them!

Afternoon English Program

Chair from Paul – USA/Spain

Spoke of his bottom and coming into 12 step programs and on feeling empty, discovering ACA and gaining more emotional growth through the program.

Music session from Beryl – UK

Using music, visuals of her own childhood in South African and some very strong recovery work through the Laundry List workbook, Beryl’s rap share really touched some hearts in the room.   Questions were answered that may have helped evoked others curiosity in The Laundry List Workbook (available in English in Amazon – somewhere)

Journey to self-love and dealing with Burn-out – Tanya – Czechia/Australia

I spoke of accepting the baton to give service as a challenge to really practice self-love in the last few months, mindful of being unmanageable in my time management which causes me pain.   Lessons I’ve learned through ACA on Skype meetings, in the rooms and through doing service:

  • outreach – the level of recovery depends on the length of your phone list – when you feel bad, start with the ones you feel most safe with and call until you get heard.  If you don’t reach anyone, start at the top of the list and call, call, call until you get heard.
  • Use the phone – when you’re good and when you’re bad … (as a people pleaser I have a tendency still to go outside my hula hoop/arms length)
  • Moderation – I was gung-ho and many days I over-did it by doing 3-4 meetings and up to 11 meetings a week and was emotionally wrung out

I parroted the ways to get well – go to meetings, get a sponsor, do service and work the steps.  WTF?   I did the best I could … and learned from others around me …

So I set about doing that …

Learning how to self-parent myself by being gentle, learning slogans AND

Listening to ACA material – The Promises, ACA Affirmations and Prayers in MY voice on my phone – affirming my self worth.

And joining WhatsApp groups to get such marvelous messages as:

 “Just for this day I will refrain from comparing myself to others.  I will honour my own unique gifts and experiences.
The more time I commit to LIVING my talents and passions, the less room I have for comparing and despairing”

That message even had a guitar, flamenco and sunrise – perfect for my arrival in Spain and a new beginning of a new chapter of my recovery

I feel a renewed energy and commitment to service .. I know service = recovery and I WANT THAT!

The English program concluded with small groups of people working together.

We discussed tools for self-care and self-love we could take away from the day.

The Spanish program concluded with the completion of an Intergroup being formed and GRs taking responsibility for literature to take back to their group meetings.

A European WhatsApp group was also formed.

Noted by Tanya M, ACA English group Prague