Last night, we were musing over the format of sharing. This is a large meeting with sometimes 40 people. And the format has been one of going around the room. So sometimes those to the left of the person who has the topic get to share and sometimes those to the right. This is the only meeting that I attend in which there is a "go around" way of sharing. In the others, people share when they feel like it (or God directs them).
Because the meeting is so large, the chair always asks that people limit their sharing to 3 minutes. Well, that doesn't happen most of the time. As was mentioned last night, there are "repeat offenders" who share for 15 minutes. In some cases, those who share longer really need the time because there is something heavy going on. In other cases, there is just talk and some of it is not really relevant to recovery.
I don't let this drive me crazy (see Mr. Sponsor Pants great post) because I realized a long time ago that not everyone will get to share anyway with such a large crowd. But I guess I also believe that one's share needs to come from the heart and not just because it's your turn in the line up. I like the idea of saying "ditto" to what so-and-so said when I'm next in line unless I have a rare original thought after 20 shares.
I enjoy the ice cream group, but I also don't want it to become an opportunity for bashing meetings or people. That starts to feel a bit like a clique or even a trial without a jury. I had enough of the clique stuff when I was in high school. Plus, it doesn't seem to be placing principles above personalities (you're probably already got me pegged for a clique).
What I like about Al-Anon is we all have some kind of deep seated wounding that has occurred because of alcoholism. We pretty much all have this. And we are doing what we can to offer help, kindness, a smile and a phone number to anyone who needs it. We also have a bunch of character defects that are bubbling right under the surface. And those may cause us to partition ourselves into little cliques.
So here are some of the ones that I have noticed in Al-Anon:
- The Traditionalists--I qualify as one of these--you probably guessed that. I feel a bit of incredulity when someone reads from the Big Book or other non-conference approved literature, introduces themselves as "Hi, I'm Joe and I'm an alcoholic", or cross talks all over the place.
- The Experts who haven't worked a single step but lead step studies or who have a thousand years in the program but still struggle with Step One.
- The Sufferers who beat up on themselves at every meeting and want to compare their suffering with others. They share their pain with each other after the meeting. They often refuse to get a sponsor or work the steps.
- The Uber-religious who raise their eyebrows at curse words, references to confusion about God or faith, and who often quote the Bible.
- The Gossipers who are immediately on the phone to chat about what was said, who was there, and what a mess they are.
Maybe it's just natural that when a group of people get together there is going to be a herd mentality. I have a train wreck curiosity about some of this. But mostly I just go for the ice cream.