I was reading Mary Christine's blog entry "But what if you were a newcomer?" It's a great post about what each of us takes away from a meeting. And that people hear things differently. She told her story at a meeting and was greeted with a lot of praise afterwards. I like what she said about not liking the praise because it isn't about accolades or how great a public speaker a person is. For me it's about sharing my experience, strength and hope from the heart.
I have told my story several times at various meetings. And I've been asked to tell it at two open AA meetings. Each time has been different. And each time I've talked more about recovery.
I felt very awkward the first time that I told it at an Al-Anon meeting. It was my first anniversary. I was finding that this group, where I had first come to a meeting, was mostly filled with over 20 sponsees of one person. I wasn't one of the sponsees.
My sponsor thought that it would be good for me to share my story at this meeting. Call it karma or my gut feeling, but I really didn't want to share my story there. I had seen evidence of personalities dominating over principles and felt uncomfortable. But I decided to put my feelings aside and do what I've done for much of my life--please others.
The story I shared still had a lot of pain in it. I hadn't finished with the steps. And at the end I shared something that I thought summarized what I was working toward.
I caught some eye rolls between the "leader" and others. I was asked to provide the summary part in writing. I later heard that the "leader" said that what I talked about came from the Big Book.
All of this was painful. And yet it strengthened my resolve to work the program. It made me more aware of Traditions Two and Twelve. And it made me see something in me that didn't like criticism, control or surrender.
I think at that point though, I made a decision to go to other meetings. I went back a few more months but eventually stopped going to that meeting all together. I see people from that meeting, and they are glad to see me and ask me to come back. Maybe I will go again some time.
The message here though is that if you are a newcomer (or someone with any amount of time) and you aren't comfortable about a meeting, try others. It's not a reason to give up on the program if you don't like the meeting. I'm glad that I kept going to meetings, worked on what I was feeling, made a decision to look at my character defects, and learned to appreciate every story that I hear.