AA Inspiration in Berlin

 AA Inspiration from the

12th Annual International Berlin Convention

I am Carina and I am an alcoholic. Just recently in August, I attended the 12th Annual International AA Convention in Berlin and am eager to share my experience with you. First of all, I am so grateful that there are people who were willing to do an enormous amount of service work to put this convention on. Having been on a convention committee myself before, I know how much work this undertaking entails. I also know how tremendously one’s own sobriety benefits from this service work and how powerful such weekends are to carry AA’s message. The enthusiasm of the Berlin AA members for carrying the message to newcomers, taking people through the Steps, and doing service is truly contagious. Equally inspiring were the guest speaker’s personal stories of recovery. While I got a great deal of identification, I – more importantly – heard loads about our common solution. And not only did I hear about it, but I saw it in action and was given plenty of opportunities to get into action myself.

For me, this convention came just at the right time. The last few months were quite turbulent in my life. Before sobriety and a faith in a Higher Power, found through the 12 Steps of AA, it would have been unthinkable for me to face the many recent challenges and changes. The only way to deal with my life then was through alcohol. Especially during times like these past months, I need to be reminded that my primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to recover. All I need to do is to get out of myself, away from my “problems” and find a way to be of service and all will be okay. That’s why I did not need to think twice when asked if I could share my story at a Young People’s meeting.

The call to service had me leaving home at 3am to catch my flight to Berlin. (I was often out at this time of night for completely different reasons.) I got a good reminder of what my life used to be like when I passed some shady nightclubs that used to be my second home. That drunk girl, held up by two guys (who were probably debating over who would take her home because she couldn’t walk on her own any more) used to be me. And as it says in the Big Book, “they cannot after a while differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one.” (xxi) I once thought that mine was a completely normal life and that it was as good as it was ever going to get. And so I continued to believe, until one day, alcohol stopped working for me. It could not take my pain away any longer or ease that feeling of being restless, irritable and discontent.

How grateful I am that, by the grace of God, I found the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous open to me. Now I was on the other side of that sidewalk. Instead of being drunk and ending up in some stranger’s bed, I could travel to Berlin to be with other recovering alcoholics who have found a common solution. I could be an example of a young, sober woman who has been given a new purpose in life. Today I can reach out my hand to that newcomer who feels as lost, hopeless, terrified, and broken, as I once did, and I can show her the same simple steps I took to find recovery.

There really is a way out, and the last couple of years of experience have proven to me what I once heard Sandy B. describe,: “God helps those who help others”.

Carina H.