Monday, July 9, 2007

Some questions and few answers

The birthday celebrations were nice and the information on achieving independence through Al-Anon was good. It was a pleasure to hear each of the birthday celebrants tell about their interpretation of being independent in their thinking through recovery.

There was an unfortunate situation that arose that evening that I have questions about and few answers. The situation was this: I invited a friend who I met at an Al-Anon meeting to attend the meeting on Sunday evening. This lady has been in AA for quite some time; however, I've never asked her about sobriety or any other information about her time in AA.

Anyway, after the birthday celebration, the lady who has many years in Al-Anon and who tends to dominate the meeting said to my friend that she looked familiar. She also asked what brought her to Al-Anon. Now, my friend jumped in with both feet and proceeded to provide more information than was really needed. The lady then asked about my friend's sobriety date and she answered that she had been sober from alcohol for 8 years but had a slip with some pills 5 months ago. I knew as she was talking that she was laying herself wide open for a flaying. I watched the domanatrix as she asked these pointed questions that had no relevance to being at an Al-Anon meeting.

Later, my friend had tears streaming down her cheeks because she felt put on the spot and humiliated. She felt angry at herself for answering questions that had nothing to do with why anyone comes to Al-Anon. I talked to the dominatrix and she said that my friend had no place in Al-Anon but should go to AA or NA. She strongly expressed that Al-Anon isn't for AA's and that my friend needed to go to AA and not be in Al-Anon.

I don't get this. I don't believe this. I think that Al-Anon clearly states its purpose to be for families and friends who are troubled by someone else's drinking. There are many AA's who attend another Al-Anon meeting who are never asked to reveal their association with another 12 step program. There are many Al-Anon attendees who have a loved one who is an addict, not an alcoholic, yet no one ever tells them to not attend. Aren't we supposed to extend the hand of Al-Anon when anyone anywhere reaches out for help? That's what we say at every meeting. I'm wondering now whether that is just lip service at this particular meeting.

These types of things are serenity breakers for me and they could drive someone who needs help away. I'm not even sure how I would cope in this situation. I know that my gut tells me that these are questions that should never have been asked. I'm just sorry that my friend had this experience from someone who purports to have compassion.


  1. My thoughts are that most of us can benefit from Al-Anon. If the program is for friends and families of alcoholics, (well, good buddy) almost all of my friends are alcoholics. Fortunately, most are in recovery these days. But I still have to deal with them each day, as well as deal with myself.
    Maybe that woman needs a big course in humility, but it's not for me to say. LOL

  2. That would be a serenity breaker for me too. I have been encouraged to attend both AA & Al Anon meetings. Both groups work the twelve step program and I thought anyone can attend as long as there was a problem with alcohol in a family and/or friend. I hate to say it but that woman has control issues written all over her. It is funny that you wrote a post about this because at my own meeting yesterday, there was conflict and it lasted the first 35 mins of the meeting which aggravated me because the last thing I needed yesterday was to sit in a meeting where two woman bickered back and forth over the subject of "crosstalk" and what defines it. This has been an ongoing debate now for three weeks. Talk about losing serenity, I ended up feeling more anxiety. Hopefully, it is now resolved between them but who knows. The reason we attend meetings in the first place is because we need peace from the chaos of our crazy lives.

  3. Whoa! In my understanding I think that everyone can benefit from Al-Anon. It sounds like good therapy for me....for whatever ails you. We all have issues to deal with. It seems that the 'dominating one' has control issues....there is no leader in these meetings....there are no hard reveal what you want to reveal. I'm sorry your friend had such a hard time. That 'lady' needs to be put in her place. I think her need to be in constant control could be harmful to the people who attend these meetings.
    Someone needs to remind her of why she is there to begin with...and show compassion to others as well as humility. She is causing havoc where people go searching for inner peace.
    I hope that someone will step up to the plate, take her aside and remind her of what Al-Anon and AA are all about.

  4. It sounds like this woman might be a case of group conscience needing to be brought up. I highly doubt you are the only one who finds her disruptive to the overall group.

    Then again, if she is the self appointed leader, I don't know how you go about having a group conscience meeting initiated...


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.