Sunday, September 21, 2014

Be the change you want to see in meetings and in life

Today is the first hint of fall that we have had here.  We awoke to a temperature of 67 F.  Now the windows are open and the whole house fan is circulating fresh air throughout.  The skies are blue and clear of clouds.  It is an invigorating morning.

Yesterday, I attended the district meeting and heard a lady talk about how she is being bullied in the rooms of Al-Anon by "big men and old ladies".  She went on a while with a rant about how she felt unsafe at some meetings. When asked by the chairperson what she wanted to be done, she replied, "I want to feel safe and to go to meetings where no bullying occurs."  I talked with her afterwards and invited her to come to the meetings that I attend, saying that I know they are healthy.  (Even though there are big men and old ladies at some of these). Sadly, I quickly found in my conversation with her that she is a bit unhinged.

People with outside issues (those who have problems other than alcoholism in a relative or friend) are in the rooms.  And some of them need more than the program has to offer.  I know that it's especially easy for me to look for fault in others and in meetings.  But I know that by working the steps and traditions, I have learned that not every meeting is healthy and that sometimes members have emotional and mental health issues that need attention by a professional.  I have been to a lot of meetings in the district and have had only a couple of experiences in which I thought the traditions were seriously being violated.

Everyone deserves to have meetings where they feel safe.  I advocate for being the change that I want to see at a meeting.  I don't hesitate to speak to someone after the meeting if I think that a meeting can be improved.  I do this in as respectful a way as possible.  I don't want to nitpick or be an Al-Anon policeman. However, I do believe that respect and compassion need to be extended to all who attend.  Talking over someone else,  bringing in non-conference approved literature (like the Bible or AA literature), talking about rehab centers, or giving advice (i.e. "You should do ______" or "You need to go to therapy", etc.) are not only confusing to newcomers but break the traditions of the program.

One of the fellows I sponsor is beginning to see that the rose colored glasses he was wearing are not working as well.  He has asked me about feeling anxious in some meetings and finding that some people are rubbing him the wrong way. I think that we all discover that people in recovery have plenty of "warts" and shortcomings.  When I find that a controlling person is irritating me, it's because I have the same shortcoming of controlling behavior.  The old adage "If you spot it, you've got it" applies over and over whether in recovery or not.

I'm going to head outside now, do a bit of work in the yard, and head to the hospital this afternoon to visit my first sponsor who is not doing well.  And then, I'll head to the boat to enjoy the rest of the afternoon doing some varnishing and reading the newspaper.  The day is too beautiful to spend being inside too long. Hoping your day is bright and shiny.

Another year is fast approaching. Go be that starving artist you’re afraid to be. Open up that journal and get poetic finally. Volunteer. Suck it up and travel. You were not born here to work and pay taxes. You were put here to be part of a vast organism to explore and create. Stop putting it off. The world has much more to offer than what’s on 15 televisions at TGI Fridays. Take pictures. Scare people. Shake up the scene. Be the change you want to see in the world. ~Jason Mraz


  1. Whenever any group of people get together, there are bound to be warts. This is just the way it is.
    Wonderful quote by Jason Mraz. I love him.

  2. That Jason Mraz quote is wonderful. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. "If you spot it, you've got it" has been a very teachable phrase in my recovery. It has allowed me to find compassion when I have been unable to do so before. Good post.

  4. What a great post. Very timely, I was sitting in a meeting tonight with a woman who laughed at something in every reading and made fun of the people the reading was about. I wanted so badly to point out after the meeting, that cross talk can take many forms. Laughing, rolling our eyes, a heavy sigh when someone is sharing....
    I decided to keep my mouth shut for now, because I didn't think I could do it nicely, without the edge in my voice that I was feeling. Yes, we all have warts. Including me....the edgy pointer outter. lol Thank you for this perfectly timed reminder.

    1. I agree with Annette, I too have experienced this in some meetings in my area, like Annette described rolling eyes, a heavy sigh by some members when any member is sharing which is a very unhealthy way and not Al-Anon program. Particularly when a new member is sharing it is quite discouraging to that member. For me also it is perfectly timed reminder. Thank you Syd

  5. With Jason Mraz I have to agree. Do it. Take a chance.

  6. re the spot it got it.. its is always interesting to see who shows up on ones radar.. lol thanks for sharing :) irish

  7. Ssyd i somehow can't wrap my head around you have a controlling personality. I'll put you in a room with my old lady and she'll be having you painting the abandoned house next door within an hour. I on the other hand do not control or manipulate I simply do not ask or tell I just do.

    But if asked, and it doesn't even have to be done nicely I will lend a hand, reach out to someone I see distressed but I am tired of being the change i want to see. Dude the odds are seriously stacked against me here.

    Have a wonderful brass polishing on the boat.

  8. Be the change you want to be! Love your end to the post.
    Being present and working a program is changing my whole world around me and the folks I deal with. It's all lessons when I can learn and grow from my life, including the difficult areas......

  9. Good post Syd. The rooms of AA /Alanon should always be a safe refuge. I remember it was one reason I kept coming back in the first was the ONLY place that I felt was safe. Sadly there are members who ruin it. I have a poor young girl sponsee who is confined to bed. Her doctor actually knows how important the meetings are to her and allows her 2 meetings a week but she has to wear a mask and gloves since her immune system is so challenged. We actually had two girls make fun of her and the way she looked and it hurt her very much. You can imagine how I handled that ... I took them aside and told them how sick she is and how it was not the AA way to ridicule for any reason. I doubt it got through their pea brains, however !!!


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