My First Convention Surprised Me

Apr 25, 2019

Sandra R. shares her first Convention experience. She had recently moved to Philadelphia and though she had been in Al-Anon over two years, recovery was still elusive for her. She went to the Convention simply expecting to reconnect with old friends from Harrisburg but found so much more. The experience invigorated her recovery and led her to service, ultimately leading her to be this year’s Convention Chairperson.

My first Convention wasn’t what I expected. I was really surprised, actually, because I thought I was just going to go and hear a bunch of speakers. I didn’t realize that the workshops were just like mini-meetings on different topics. Each workshop had a key speaker and then you would get an opportunity to share.

When you’re in your own area you tend to meet with the same people in meetings over and over and you’re always learning from them — but at the Convention, it was an opportunity to learn from different people who have a different perspective and come from a different way of life. It allowed me to see recovery in a new light.

The speaker that year — I believe on Friday night — was from Atlanta. I remember her so vividly because her story was just so powerful. It really touched me. That was my first time hearing a circuit speaker. She gave me so much to think about.

The Convention is filled with this energy

I also remember the dance — the DJ dance on Saturday night. The Convention is filled with this energy — you’re surrounded by people in recovery and there’s a vibe to it. Combine that energy, that vibe, with music and movement and it’s truly indescribable. That energy stayed with me a long time after the Convention.

But the thing I remember most was something unique they did that year — it was like the AA Clean-Time Countdown, but it was a count-up of how long you had been in Al-Anon. There was someone who had been in Al-Anon for over 50 years. Being new to Al-Anon, I still had that mentality — I’m going to come to this for a couple of years and fix myself and graduate. It was during that count-up that I realized this is a lifetime program.

It was amazing to hear her story — the fact that she stayed in recovery for 50 years. Her husband brought her into recovery and he had passed away a long time ago. She just epitomized the program, how it worked in her life, and how alcoholism had affected her. Even after 50 years, she realized she still needed Al-Anon whether he was still in her life or not.

I felt really invigorated by that first Convention. While filling out the survey I got to the question, “Do you want to serve on the Convention Committee?” and I remember thinking, “I think I’d like to, but I’m so young in recovery and I’m just so young in general. Everyone has a lot more experience.”

So I didn’t check it off on the survey, but I remember thinking, “It would be so cool to do that some year.” And even though I didn’t check it off, the seed was planted. Soon after, I was asked to serve as secretary for the Convention — I just couldn’t say no. Energized by the Convention and working in service, recovery finally started to gel for me, and ultimately it led me to be this year’s Convention Chairperson.

Yours in service,

Sandra R