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