Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

[fa icon="calendar"] May 18, 2022 8:00:00 AM / by Maj Donovan

Where Have All The Flowers Gone


There was a popular song in the 1960’s entitled “Where have all the flowers gone?” by Pete Seeger. The chorus went:

“Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago.”

Whenever I’m listening to the radio and this song comes on, it reminds me of Al-Anon in my hometown.

I started going to Al-Anon shortly after I completed treatment for substance use disorder in 1978. At that time, I was living with two alcoholic parents and one drug addicted brother. To say the least, it wasn’t a home environment that was conducive to recovery. Although I was staying sober, many of my struggles in early sobriety were family related. After hours of conversations with my A.A. sponsor about my family situation, he finally suggested I start going to Al-Anon meetings. He said while the A.A. program could teach me about recovery, the Al-Anon program could teach me about recovery in an alcoholic family. Thus, I started going to Al-Anon meetings in addition to my A.A. meetings.

When I started Al-Anon there were 12 meetings a week from which to choose. The one I settled into was the Tuesday night 6:30 pm Al-Anon Family Group. The people there were so nice, compassionate, and caring. They gave me Al-Anon literature, their telephone numbers and they told me if things got crazy at my home, I could always call them. This group became my home Al-Anon group for the next seven years.

In 1985, I left my hometown to join the U.S. Army. After my initial training I was stationed overseas. I remained outside the U.S. for the next thirteen years. Although, I could always find A.A. meetings, Al-Anon meetings were a different story. They just weren’t as prevalent outside the U.S.

I returned home in 1998 only to find that Al-Anon meetings in my hometown had gone from twelve meetings a week down to three. That was a 75% decrease in Al-Anon meetings over a thirteen-year period. I was dismayed. I thought, “How could this happen? How could there be a decrease in Al-Anon meetings, when there has been an explosion in treatment and recovery options?”

Shortly after returning from my overseas assignments, I was talking with my A.A. sponsor. I was going on and on about how my A.A. homegroup. I told him they weren’t doing this, and I wasn’t getting that, and he suddenly cut me off and asked, “JD, when are you going to stop going to meetings to get something out of them and start going to meetings to put something into them?” This hit me like a like a shot to the solar plexus.

On page 85 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous it reminds us, “It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do…, What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. "How can I best serve Thee - Thy will (not mine) be done."

I had forgotten that my task and purpose in life was to be of service to others. I had forgotten that I keep this gift of recovery by giving it away. I had forgotten that part of my responsibility as a homegroup member was to ensure that the meeting was there for the newcomer that may come behind me. I had forgotten that part of my responsibility as a homegroup member was to ensure that this solution to the alcohol problem was there for others. I had forgotten that I was, “responsible when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there…” I had forgotten…

“Where have all the flowers gone...
Oh, When will you ever learn?
Oh, When will you ever learn?” – Pete Seeger

Topics: Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, AA meetings, 12 Traditions Of AA, Alcoholism Treatment Program

Maj Donovan

Written by Maj Donovan

Maj Donovan is a person in long-term recovery with over four decades of sobriety. He is an author, blogger, lecturer and teaches a monthly workshop at “The Retreat” on the 12 Steps and Sponsorship.

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