Friday, March 5, 2010

Heading home

I'm heading back home this morning.  I enjoyed seeing my colleagues. It is a strange feeling to not be invested in work plans for the next five years.  But I realize that's okay and will just have to let this go.


The above photo is of my dinner last night: American lobster, clam chowder and a lot of soft-shell clams (steamers).  It was quite a feast. And there was a lot of joviality during and after the meal. 



It is still snowing this morning and the snow is accumulating.  What a treat it was to wake up and look out the window to see snow coming down and the ground covered.  I had breakfast looking out over the Eel pond where there are many snow covered sailboats and powerboats bobbing at their moorings. It was indeed a picture postcard scene.

This week I went to an open men's meeting.  Before the meeting began, a young woman walked in.  After she sat down, one of the members walked over and told her that it was a men's meeting. She then got up and went outside.  No one among those regular members got up to talk with her.  So I went outside and asked her whether she had a ride.  She said that she would call her ride to come back and get her. 

This seemed to be one of those situations where "How Important Is It?" would apply.  Was it really necessary to oust someone who came for help from a meeting? What about the idea that limiting the message may also limit my own recovery?  I think that in this case it would have been good to let this young woman stay.  I like the idea of including those who need the message and not excluding them.  Tradition Three seems to be the guide here in which the only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.

I would be interested to hear your viewpoint on this, both from the point of AA and Al-Anon. 

26 comments:

  1. Syd,
    Positively perfect pictures to share with us of your time in Woods Hole. Hope you are feeling better.

    PG

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  2. hi, good home and good blog

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  3. It doesn't seem like a very tough decision to flex a little and invite the woman to stay. It seems like pretty basic civility.

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  4. I've attended the Women's Meeting here off and on for a few years, every once in a spell we'll have a guy show up, we take a quick group conscious and usually they stay, now there are a few who have said NO to anyone other than, but it seems that the younger/newer to AA usually say, it's AA and we're here to carry the message, now usually the men will leave and apologize so it's no big deal, but we do try to remain open.

    Your dinner looks delicious, the snow looks just how our winter has all winter so I am happy today as we have SUN!

    Safe travels.
    G

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  5. Syd, lovely pictures. You have me jonsing now for New England Clam chowder and "piss" clams.

    When I was first getting sober, I went to a 24 hour club. I would arrive there about 7 am, often still in my jammies or sweats, and my favorite blanket, and would stay there in donated laz-z boy type chair for the entire day. I was living in my car at the time. The people there fed me, and I sat and listened to AA meetings from 7 or so in the am til midnight.

    Some of the meetings were mens meetings. The men did let me sit in, but I would also leave when I felt uncomfortable and wait in the hall or go outside with the smokers. But they never told me to leave.

    In fact the third sponsor I ever had was a male, a retired Rutgers professor a generation older than me. He would take me out every Sunday for Chinese and stayed my sponsor until he died. Lovely man. I sorely miss him.

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  6. in one group in town there is a womens meeting, but no addict is turned away, though one time the men showed up and decided to stay, big mistake we had two ladies in their 8th month of pregnancy so our discussion was pretty graphic for women. they chose to leave, it was not a men bashing meeting it was about women stuff, these girls were new to recovery and first time mothers and we were sharing what they needed to hear, which would not have been done in a meeting with both men and women. it was quite funny. the men promised to look at the schedule a bit closer before coming next time, and they didn't mind. there is another group that hosts a womens meeting and they kick out the men as they walk in, very territorial. i don't like it, they also host closed meetings, which are very rare in town any more but they do kick people out when they come in with children. i don't agree with it, but i respect that they hold their word that it is a closed meeting. personally i would not kick someone out who needed a meeting, so i probably would not be a good candidate for a closed meeting leader.

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  7. Sometimes it seems to me that people get going in a certain direction and cannot slow the momentum if there is a curve in the road. Recovery is recovery. We go to meetings to be around others who want recovery. We get a sponsor and work the steps. That to me is recovery. It is sad to me that if a mistake is made and someone comes to a meeting to be told it is for men only, the biggest mistake is to send someone away who needed that meeting.

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  8. I DO NOT attend meetings that discriminate. I think this goes against everything we stand for. The only exception is open vs closed meetings.

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  9. in that neck of the woods it's "lob-stah" and "chow-dah".
    either way, yummy.

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  10. I would have let her stay! Glad you enjoyed your trip - snow is beautiful and lobster is deeelicious!

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  11. Syd, welcome home! and I too, LOVE the sight of a fresh new snow cover, a rare sight for me--because it seems always to be accompanied with COLD!

    I would personally NEVER chase a Peep away from a meeting because they didn't meet certain standards

    And, me being a long timer, when that situation arises, I can usualy bend the group conscience to allow the "errant" suffering soul to STAY.

    Had I wandered into a "women's only" group for my first meeting, and was asked to leave, I SHUDDER to think where I'd have ended.

    I agree with you--again, dear man!
    PEACE!

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  12. I am glad you went to speak to her. Your hand was there..just to let her know you acknowledged her. Pffftt to the guys..they could have made a better call. Your weekend sounds lovely..I hope you are feeling better.

    namaste

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  13. Syd - glad you're over your "bug."

    I've learned from direct experience to never second guess a group conscience but, generally, I've seen it put out to the meeting to change the format or the requirements and move toward inclusion. I probably would have followed her out and would have tried to help - I'm glad you were there for her.

    Blessings and aloha...

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  14. Syd,
    I agree with you about the young woman. You did the right thing.

    Your dinner is making me VERY HUNGRY right now. Laugh.

    Sending love,

    SB

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  15. A couple of weeks ago a guy showed up at our all women's AA meeting. He was a little embarrassed. We recommended an open meeting close by and he was on his way. Another time a homeless man showed up wondering if we were having food. I still feel bad about not offering him a cup of coffee that night before he left. He kind of scared the crap out of us. In your case, my heart goes out to the woman, especially if it was her first attempt at going to a meeting. If it is an open meeting what is the harm? Someone could have told her she was welcome to sit and listen for the night. I don't feel right kicking anyone out that is looking for help. Thanks for bring up this topic, it may be something that our group conscious needs to look at for the future, being an all women's meeting. I think if someone looked disparate enough, we would let him stay.

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  16. We often face the same situation when we travel. My wife is AA and I'm Al-Anon. It's not always easy to find Open AA meetings (particularly on the road) and we sometimes end up at a closed AA meeting together. I have never been asked to leave a meeting and am often even encouraged to speak. I think showing up at a "one off" meeting is a lot different than expecting to be there all the time. Someone once said that noone ever finds their way into our rooms by accident. I think it's important to remember that!

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  17. Beauriful and I once walked in to the wrong AA meeting in Rome without knowing it. We thought it was the english speaking meeting, but it was a normal standard Italian meeting. The english meeting was the same time but across town. A man came up to us and welcomed us, he was Italian, but had an american wife who was also a member, and we had seen him at meetings, so we never thought anything of it. He went away and started to talk to the other members and then came back to us. As you are here, he said we will hold the meeting in English for you. I suddenley realised what we had done. We had time to get across the the english meeting so we apologised and left. But the thought they would hold their meeting in a foreign language just so we could stay, has always reminded me that courtesy speaks far louder and last far longer.

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  18. Nice of you to go talk to her Syd.

    I am having the same feelings about work. I will miss it after all.

    Why couldn't they let her stay for this one meeting? Then she could find another for the next time.

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  19. A few times when this has happened at my noon AA women's meeting, we have just taken a quick group conscience as to whether the person could stay or not. Those few times we have always agreed to allow the person to stay.

    BTW - I plan to blog my Six Word Saturday in your honor. It will be "Life in six words" as you suggested the other day.

    PG

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  20. I agree with you completely, Syd. The way we handle it is to have an inpromptu group conscience when that sort of thing occurs. Just recently a husband (not a drinker) brought his wife to my Home Group, which is a closed discussion. Since it was her first time at AA she was petrified to be left without him so we explained what closed meant and then voted to have him stay with her for the first meeting. We all agreed on this or we wouldn't have done it, but by having the group conscience we covered all bases.

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  21. I will try very hard not to launch. I don't think people seek help in recovery without a lot of courage. To think that anyone at the door would be sent off to stand outside to wait for a ride leaves me far from speechless. I'm sorry, sometimes compassion rules. But for the grace of God, where would anyone who shooed her off be today?

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  22. dunno about the traditions, but considering she came and its cold outside, bending the rules just once surely wouldn't hurt?

    but never mind that, care to share your lobster???

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  23. 5 and a half years ago I left my old home group and began a men's closed meeting in the small town where I live. In a group conscience (and often time later on to remind ourselves) we decided that if a gal ever showed up at our meeting we'd welcome her with open arms that evening. It only happened once and we welcomed her in. We would NEVER turn away someone looking for a meeting. That (accoring to the 12X12 I have) would not be good AA.

    The sad thing is that many cynics in the AA meetings around the area (lots of small towns) made me out to be some sort of chauvenist, saying that we were discriminating lol. Whatever, let them talk. Ironically, there have been a few women's meetings around the area and no one ever had a problem with that.

    Recently they decided to change it to an open meeting from a men's closed. I was disappointed but I can hardly ever get there anymore due to my teaching schedule. It ran it's course and that's that.

    I "grew up" in men's closed meetings in Toledo when I first came around. It's not that we don't like women (quite the opposite), it's just a different dynamic in a same gender meeting. But, some folks can't handle that and I get that.

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  24. I love that photo.

    I am not entirely familiar with the rules of AA, but if it had been up to me, I would have let her stay. When people need help, they need help. I understand why seperate meetings exist, but who knows...maybe she *really* needed that meeting.

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  25. From your description of what happened at the meeting I'm not clear if the woman was asked to leave or was it explained to her that it was a Men's meeting and she chose to leave, perhaps not wanting to be the only woman in a room full of men. Personally, there's no way I'd have wanted to stay had it been me, first time or not & would've appreciated the heads up so I could find a more appropriate meeting.

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  26. You're making me hungry Syd!

    I agree with you on this one. Feel sad for this girl and hope that your approach helped her in some way. It takes courage to come to a meeting. She might have left on her own after realizing she was the only woman there, but telling her to leave does not seem in the spirit of recovery.

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