Monday, January 5, 2009

Keep coming back?

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.


  1. Hi Syd:

    I heard of meetings as you say about people doing what you said... and that is good advise you are giving the Newcomer.

    I go to 3 wonderful f 2 f a week at different locations I can walk to from my home.

    The only time I see anything inappropriate is when people keep talking about AA when they were told repeatedly to keep the focus on their Al-Anon and not keep referring to their AA meeting (when they are on both sides of the coin). (they were told privately after the meetings and they still do it). I think personally they are on too much medication and in a bit of fog and have empathy but they do spoil the meetings theme.

    I'm sorry you were made to feel uncomfortable. I'm glad you did not stop going or sharing your story.

    I do as I say go to 3 meetings; and they all are different. I do have a favorite; 2nd favorite and least favorite.

    There were a few women that were a bit intimidating at first.. they seem too Snobby and Cold ..but when they shared they admitted that they learned to put on that act to hide their feelings in front of neighbors. Always get Dressed up and all make up on; and be thin and perfect looking and hold you head up; even after the neighbors saw their spouse coming home 3 times a week smashed. They said they really felt insecure on the inside.......and that shocked me. But when I first wondered why they were coming; if they seem so detached and above everyone else; ... I then saw they needed the program more than most.(they really needed others to share and not feel judged) I always had close friends all my life to share... so I was blessed that way..

    Thanks for this post....I'm sure others will find it useful.

    Betty Ann

  2. meetings seem to vary a LOT really so i'm glad i looked around. i still haven't found the 'magic' one but being that i'm perfectionist, doesn't mean much. hehe.

    i listened to this bit recently on criticism and it helped to hear the examples she gives:

    the download is further down the page. it also has a download for 'honest no's.

    have a good day !!

  3. I have found that meetings like people are all so very different - and ya just gotta keep on looking into one feels like it fits.

    Happy Monday to you Syd!

  4. Hi Syd! I live in a small town and we only have two different Al Anon meetings a week, frequented by mostly the same people. I enjoy them both and look forward to trying a meeting in Tennessee during my visit there over the next 10 days. It's going to be nice to get a different perspective out of state? Maybe? I've been to a couple of open AA meetings and throughly enjoyed the speakers...regardless of how they told their was inspiring. Blessings to you for your service! Lisa

  5. That one dominatrix had around 20 sponsees? Something about that doesn't strike me as very well balanced. I think you were better off for making that meeting add to your recovery whoas.

    Meetings really do vary from room to room. Sometimes they are weirdly competitive (I found this to be true with a few in NJ - I ended up liking the more ragamuffin crowd to the snootier crew). But at any given time, a different sort of meeting might suit better. It's nice to have options.

  6. I agree with VR.Different meetings suit at different times. I'm glad for the choices where I live.

  7. This was a good post for me. I've recently started attending our local Al-Anon meetings. Being a small town, there is only 1 group here unless I want to drive further and that would be for only 1 other group. So far I'm happy with the more local group but they only meet 2 nights a week and one of those isn't so great for me. But, I'll keep going back as often as I can.

  8. I understand this, my first home group was a pretty hard core group and they are great, but controlling and there are some big personalities. My first sponsor had over 20 sponsees and even I felt that wasn't what was the best way to be of service, so I prayed about it, turned it over and let god show me the next steps. I found my new sponsor who isn't so new now, and some great meetings, I appreciate your honesty and sharing on this topic too.

  9. Appreciate your thoughts. jeNN

  10. this is helpful to hear since I am such a newcomer that I have not even been to my first meeting yet....but i am going soon.

  11. I read Mary's blog too and found what she said about accolades very interesting. I'd never thought of it from her point of view and agree with what she meant. I go to meetings where I am the most comfortable, where I can share openly and I get my best recovery but I also heard someone share tonight that personalities in meetings are just a microcosm of what we have to learn to deal with in the "real" world. Food for thought for me.

  12. Ooh, that's tough to get over, Syd. I know how sensitive I can be, sometimes to a fault. Somewhere I heard give it a 6-meeting try.

    I was while Steven was in rehab. Saturdays family was allowed to visit. Everyone in the rehab group came to visit their family in the cafeteria. They had speakers there like one of the patients and the other speaker was someone from Alanon. Great idea for them to do that.

  13. yes, it's about the principles that work, not the people as such. although they do play a huge part too.

  14. It's good that we develop a little tougher skin in recovery.

  15. Great post Syd. I found it took several different meetings before I found one that I really fit in. Now there are several I go to and really like.

  16. Hi Syd,
    Back at work at last but for some reason I cant sleep now.
    Oh I love my meeting, it takes me ages to get to know people but now i feel part of the family, when I came back from last nights meeting I felt really good, to me its like a battery recharger is for batteries.
    When I first started it was a meeting everyday all over the place but now i just go to my favourite one once per week.
    The guy sharing last night claimed to be doing 9 meetings per week!


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