Sunday, February 14, 2016

Feeling at home

Happy Love Day to you, my friends.  It is a cold one here, unusual for even February.  We have a good fire going.  And some warm soup on the stove. Nothing too special but some time together.

What I want to write about is my home group.  Sadly, few people attend anymore. We were always a small group, but it seems that over the last 8 months, our numbers have dwindled remarkably.  If you recall, this was the group that my sponsor started over 20 years ago.  It was where I worked my steps and studied the traditions. It was where we did book studies.  And now, it feels like a dying group.

I have driven an hour to this group for nine years. Now, I am tired of driving the distance and have three other meetings within 15 minutes of our house.  The other meetings have from 12 to 25 people.  Yet, I feel sad at the decline in the legacy of the group where I felt most at home.

I am not going to give up and plan to be back in the spring. Hopefully, others may come back too.

Unfortunately, there appear to be a decline in some groups throughout the area. And numbers are down nationwide.  As the population ages, it seems that fewer young people are coming to the rooms.  And men are definitely rarer in meetings than women.

I am not sure why this is occurring.  Perhaps as problems in society increase, people have less time for "self help" and spend more time just making ends meet. As for lack of men, most of us are less likely to seek any help for any problems, both professionally and in a "self help" format.  Maybe it is the mention of a "God of our understanding" that is off putting.

Having tried therapy years ago,  Al-Anon was the place where it all "clicked" for me. It was where I found fellowship and support.  I learned that others had the same problems that I had.  And I learned to not hide those problems, but to share what I felt in a group of strangers.

This was hard at first. But I stuck it out and learned to trust, feel safe and be emotionally present to ourselves and others.  I believe that the fellowship is probably the reason most people stay. The real work of the 12 steps and doing service work seems to be not as high a priority.

No matter how long we go to meetings, family relationships cannot always be transformed.  I have seen individuals transform though, from angry people to those who have learned to be loving even when our families are dysfunctional. We learn to soothe ourselves, and we learn that we need to be close to others. No longer being a victim is empowering.  In the meetings I attend,  I experience patience and kindness, especially when we see traits in others that we have looked at in ourselves. As we truly learn to love and accept ourselves, these traits are seen as a reason to love than as an excuse to persecute.

I will keep coming back.  It is where I feel at home.

Hope that you are experiencing love today.


  1. My love has tilled and worked in the garden and is planting a last row of greens before the cold weather ends.
    The sun is shining and the chickens and cats are happy. I'm having a lot of anxiety but I know it'll be okay.
    I'm glad to hear your voice, Syd. Always.

  2. Happy love day to you Syd. I just nominated 7 of my female blogger friends for a Beautiful Blogger Award. You would have been #1 on the list if it had included males !!!

  3. Drinking seems to have become more normalized with the generation who are in their 20's and 30's now. My peers drank as part of our university social life, often too much, but once we started working and having families it seemed it was much less common. Now young couples are drinking as part of their meals and evenings at home. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fewer attendees at Al-Anon?

  4. My husband never went to an Al-Anon meeting, although I encouraged him to. Honestly, I don't think he would've liked it. I can't really imagine him going through the steps or getting a sponsor. He's been a great support for me when I was going through rehab and throughout my ongoing recovery. However, I think everyone can benefit from a support group. I know I did. It is sad that the group you gained so much from is dwindling.

    My husband and I saw a community theater production of Much Ado About Nothing for Valentine's Day. It was a nice, low key way to spend the afternoon and support a friend who was in the play.

  5. The same thing is happening at my home group. It is so sad. We have had 2 meetings close, due to lack of attendance. The co-dependent in me, wants to promise to go to these meetings just to keep them alive! lol I know of course that I can't and that's not my job. I am secretary in my home group right now, because it makes me have to be there. It is the only group within a 30 minute radius of where I live and it has some really wonderful people who attend.
    Happy Valentine's Day to you too Syd. Nice to see your name pop up here. :o)

  6. Dear Syd,

    Thank you, for your honesty. It helped me know you better. I am learning about your journey in recovery. I see Al-Anon helped you to open up with strangers.

    Al-Anon Family Groups has been a emotional and mental life saver. My home group has more men than women. Always, for more than ten years.

    I'm sorry to hear about the decline of your home group. I have found it helps mine when we do a group inventory. There's an Al-Anon form for that. It helps us to keep our focus. It also stretches us to do things we haven't considered before.

    Doing new things keeps our group fresh. One idea was having a potluck on the last meeting of the month. It helps us to draw close and offers a personal touch. Newcomers like it, too.

    I appreciate the authenticity and vulnerability shared at my home group. It's a bit of heaven. I am grateful Al-Anon Family Groups does not allow crosstalk. I value the anonymity. It makes it possible for us to express ourselves in ways we would never dare to, with others not in the fellowship.

  7. You have guided many, I'm sure. And you have been a good listener to many more. Family members find some relief just in being heard.

    You never know when someone new is going to walk through the door, hopefully a group will be there for them.

  8. Al-Anon was a life line for me. They gave me much needed courage and perspective. It is a safe place to be heard. Things will change. Hopefully people will continue to reach out for help.

  9. It's really consciously to ask help at the therapy. I'v been attending group therapy for 1 year. It was the best decision of my life. the awareness changes everything.

  10. This decline happened in my home group too, but then, to keep it going, a few people from another group started coming. And that seemed to seed it and it started to get really big. We asked the local office to put us in the bulletin as needing support, and members mentioned this in other groups. The only problem is that it may be affecting the strength of other groups.
    Part of this may be the aging population not wanting to go out at night...we do need younger people!

  11. Dear Syd,

    I hope life is treating you well. I appreciate your strong concern for Al-Anon and your insights.

    Al-Anon has provided grace I have not found elsewhere. My sponsor and members in the room give me the space to be gentle towards my weaknesses. In that environment I can look at my character defects, fearlessly. I know I will not face judgment. Instead, Al-Anon provides compassion.

    Regarding attendance dropping, I know having relationships with group members outside of the meeting helps maintain the number of those attending. My home group has a game night once a month, in addition to a potluck. Family members are included when we gather for fun. Our group continues to grow.

    Wishing you a terrific March! I enjoy the style of your writing. Hope to read more from you, soon.

  12. was the same after my favorite old timer died. the home group we all went to dissapated and never really re formed. would have been difficult because was a lot of people. we bump into each other in meetings locally and an impressive contribution to the old timers in this area. Many have moved out of the centre of town. Some still here, some travel in from out of town. We miss the old days with our massive home group, but do not think it will resurface again. Little pockets of home group pals take root in some meetings, but we are different to many of the newer breed who have much less emphasis on service. Having said that I am not impressed with the rate of relapse in the usual meetings. Much less helping the newcomer and much higher rate of relapse.. not much humility as they find it difficult to take suggestion. But I manage to find one or 2 that are able to take suggestion so that keeps me busy. I enjpy seeing the old faces when I bump into them. It sounds like yo make a great contribution there, and there is something on offer there for you, even if it is a long journey. Having said that in theory we are not obliged to do anything and can change meetings if so inclined. Job pressures often mean people have to change meetings nowadays.. Nice to hear of the history you have in that meetings. Each meeting seems to be infused with a slightly diferent energy individual to the group. They are interesting to observe in that respect. The same message but at the same time carries an individual fingerprint in the energy of the room. Thanks for sharing the story of this nice meeting :)


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