The Los Angeles Intergroup has entered into a year-long group inventory process which asks two simple questions: “Is our group aligned with the Twelve Traditions?” and “What can we do to carry the message to the sexual compulsive who still suffers?”
Of course, If I had titled this entry “The Importance of the Third Tradition” you would no doubt have skipped it with a big fat yawn. But after our Intergroup meeting, I had a discussion with Peter C. about a surprising direct link between the Third Tradition and the SCA program.
Irma Livoni was an AA member, in Los Angeles, who was kicked out of that fellowship by a self-appointed group. Why? In a letter dated December 6, 1941 from the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles Group of Alcoholics Anonymous, Irma was kicked out “for reasons which should be most apparent.” According to Peter, she was sleeping around in AA. Sexually compulsive perhaps?
She received her letter the on December 8, 1941 — the day after Pearl Harbor. Los Angeles was totally blacked out because there was a real fear that the Japanese would attack the mainland. She’s all alone. It’s Christmas time. The end of the world and the only group that had offered any hope to Irma had just kicked her out. Much of this has been whitewashed on the internet sites but according to Peter, Irma went to the roof of her building and jumped to her death. Irma’s sponsor in AA was Sybil Corwin. (Sybil is an important part of AA history herself) Sybil wrote to Bill W about the incident.
No one knows to what extent Bill W. was referring to Irma Livoni when he wrote the Twelve Traditions ten years later.but the phrases seem to apply:
“. . . experience taught us that to take away any alcoholic’s full chance was
sometimes to pronounce his death sentence, and often to condemn him to
endless misery. Who dared to be judge, jury and executioner of his own
Before my conversation with Peter, the Third Tradition was just this wise, yet dryly stated reminder that we have to put up with all the annoying people that show up at our meetings (present readership aside of course!) But when Peter told me this story, it hit me. This all happened not too far from where we were having lunch! I got chills on the back of my neck and the tradition became REAL for me.
A sexual compulsive in Hollywood, acting out, killed herself when she was kicked out of the AA program. The empathy and compassion her suicide brought forth from the good people of AA served as the basis, in part, for the Third Tradition. This is not something we have blindly adopted or cut and paste into our meeting formats
As Peter noted, the sexual compulsive is directly tied to the AA Third Tradition. In fact, I would argue that sexual acting out is one of the reasons the Third Tradition exists.
Why am I writing this now? Because we all have the opportunity to work the steps with Peter! He will be conducting a First Step Workshop in Los Angeles at Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood on Saturday, July 24 from 9 am to 4 pm. The suggested donation is $10. No one will be turned away. Bring your AA Big Book and Twelve & Twelve, a notebook and a pen.
Even better, no matter what you say or do, you can’t be kicked out!