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I think it's past time to have a series or articles on the women who made a difference in early AA. Henrietta Siberling, a non alcoholic, actually put Bob and Bill together when Bill made that infamous phone call in Akron. They got together for the first time in Henrietta's Gate House and AA was born. There is also Anne Smith who Bill called the "Mother of AA." Of course there are Marty M. and Lois Wilson too.
I am another bozo on the bus. I hope to always be learning how to be a better man today than I was yesterday by God's Grace in this fellowship. I hope to always become a better AA member. With God's Grace I'm coming up on 28 years shortly. I have attended meetings faithfully for almost 41 years and was without a drink in AA for most of the first 12 plus years. My sobriety date is from my last drink yet I do have almost 41 years of experience & observation in AA. I am not a great orator, not a shining example of P.C., not all things to all people, not a social worker or psychiatrist, not a clergyman, not of great education, not even a good schmoozer. None of these things are requirements to be a good AA member. Like Popeye, "I am what I am and that's all that I am". I am a drunk with a great love of other drunks. I have been given a unique gift by God to be of service where other's may not have been able to. As a consequence I've learned something of what it is to be loving, tolerant, patient & respectful in all aspects of my life. The rewards of being an AA member trying to practice this design for living are fantastic. I do not however confuse these traits with enabling other's to think it's ok to practice behavior that is just plain rude, unacceptable or even unsober especially within AA meetings. Technology is a wonderful thing and progressing faster than most of us can keep up with. The abilities that hand held or pocket devices today have are so much more than anyone could have imagined not too long ago. It's hard to find a meeting today that doesn't announce at the beginning for the attendee's to respect the group's wishes not to use these devices, shut them off or silence them during the meeting. What's just as hard to find is group member's [who voted this language into the group's wishes] that will actually stand by this request. Some years ago at my home group we had a young fellow coming back in again. A likable young man, who like me at his age, just wasn't done yet and was pretty clueless as to what AA is & what it is not. Texting had just come on the scene. People were consumed by it. So for the first 2 months this fella was back, he faithfully attended meetings with cell phone in hand & operating the text part of it all thru the meeting using the excuse that he wasn't using his cell phone. Standing outside after the meeting one night this fella laughingly let us know what his friend, who wasn't there, thought of the meeting. We were confused. He then let us know that for the last 2 month's he would text others, not in attendance, what was going on at the meeting, who was there, what was being shared & their opinions on all this. We all looked at each other in absolute shock. I for one felt like I needed a shower immediately. As serious a violation as this was, this fella just couldn't grasp that he was doing anything wrong. He was just too consumed by this new toy & too clueless as to our traditions. I am happy to report that this "still" young man is sober and doing well as an AA member. Our group ended up with that announcement I previously mentioned. Yet there was not a group member aside from myself that would stand by it when it was being violated sometimes ad infinitum. If I did delicately bring attention to a violation during the meeting, I would be excoriated by other's including group member's who voted the announcement in. I have been the speaker at meetings, sometimes out of state, where 4 or more people never looked up from the devices they were operating during the entire meeting. I DO FIND THIS RUDE & DISTRACTING & I think that is a normal response. I've been made aware of countless situations of member's lives being enormously affected as a result of our amazing technology being used at AA meetings. And to this day I don't know who I am more annoyed with. Those who refuse to respect the wishes of the house they're in, or those who refuse to stand by their own wishes for the sake of the group & other's in attendance. I first came to AA in my hometown of the Bronx in 1972 & have attended meetings faithfully since, even with my short periods of drinking between years. Again my last drink & sobriety date being 6/85. With all the smoke that filled the rooms, the smell of bad coffee & the smell of booze coming off the active drunks that were welcome there, an AA meeting was still a place that was to be respected by those in attendance. If you were reading a newspaper during the meeting you would be asked to put it away & it would. If you were talking thru the meeting you would be asked to stop & it would. If you were a constant offender & refused to stop you would be asked to leave the meeting. And whether you wanted to or not, you did. The same for drinking at the meetings. It wasn't complicated & it wasn't a big deal. Many member's were well aware that although the welfare of the individual was of extreme importance, it was a close second to the welfare of the group. And none of these member's were mean. As a matter of fact their love & dedication to the primary purpose of AA & the drunk were astounding. I must say that I truly miss common sense leadership. The poor leadership I often see today most likely stems from poor sponsorship & poor power's of example. I was taught a long time ago that as a group member, whether I'm leading the meeting or not, that I not only have the right, but an obligation to see that the group meeting's stay on track. I for one refuse to be an AA member that will allow an AA meeting to be a place to learn that it's ok to disrespect a meeting, the wishes of the group, the individuals or myself without mention. Yes, there are no AA police, thank God. But if a diplomatic mention or reminder is seen as offensive, TUFF!
Popeye said, "I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam"
Other than that I loved every word of your post. Keep up the good work.
HI, I have almost 15 mo of sobriety, I went to a business meeting to be approved to chair a meeting, During that meeting I was told we needed a Grapevine chair, I asked what the grapevine chair entailed, they said we will tell you after you accept the position, I did this also i wanted to get into service, What happened after that was, I would go to a older sober from the meeting and ask a question and be told I don't know ask so and so, well so and so would do the same thing, So i went home got on my Comp and found GV guidelines and started going by the book,Come to find out that I stepped on some toes, Going off the Guidelines i cleared the board of anything that wasn't GV approved, the board was full of gym memberships as well as people seeking work, Put up a new background and started adding GV quotes a bunch of different stuff from The GV articles, During this time i repeatedly told these people that Asking for any input, basically i was new and didn't know anything and was teachable,I guess no one had touched the board for 2 yrs, AS soon as i took off all the out side issue's. Well i also added a few sayings such as inspirational saying concerning using your sponsor and stuff we were taught when i first got sober, Some older sobers have been doing behind my back and removing articles, saying its not AA APPROVED,NONE OF THEM AND A LOT OF SOBRIETY BETWEEN THEM AND SAID, HEY THIS IS THE WAY WE DID THINGS OR GIVE ME CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. i'M NOT SURE WHAT i AM ASKING EXCEPT HAVE you experienced older sober thinking they aremsomones higher power? I Asked someone why they put up with this and got schooled on tolerance, and as petty as this sounds and it is, somone has been adding things to the board wanting people to think its me, I use 2 sided tape and these are all put up with push pins, So i know i didn't put it up, I was taught we are here to help the still suffering alcoholic. Thank you for letting me vent, What i do know is no one is going to run me off..I want to help the still suffering ALCOHOLIC.
You remind me of me and that’s good. You remind me of me and that’s bad. Welcome to the zoo. For some reason in AA service work, cause and effect, principle and practice, seem unrelated at times. What other organization posts all of its rules (traditions) on the wall, or needs to? And then have them ignored? Admitting members based on their liabilities rather than their assets might have something to do with it. There are few set answers. Every group is unique (autonomous) and ever-changing.
If the bulletin board is important enough (with the group conscience OK), get a rubber stamp with the group’s name on it and stamp everything that the group conscience regards as OK. Maybe add a permanent sign to the effect that the bulletin board postings are limited to those following the traditions of singleness of purpose, non-affiliation etc. Others will be removed.
Write “My job is to be of service, not to control the outcome” one hundred times. Repeat as needed.
I went to my second meeting about three months after the first with the attitude that if AA wasn't big enough for me and the guy that ran me off the first time, he could leave. That was thirty three years ago and I'm still here.
Thanks for sharing and good luck.
Dear friend, Some members may tell you: Just take it
easy; acceptance is the answer. Accept the things you
cannot change. Personally, I have begun to try to
changs the things I can no longer accept. Hopefully
you wii join me. Don't You Dare Quit!! Rose
Just goes to show that even though a members has been dry awhile, they are not necessarily emotionally sober! They had there chance for input when u asked for it. You did the right thing by following the liturature guidelines. That's why we have them. Keep up the good work!
In our A.A service structure, who gets paid the "big bucks"? The top salary range is
currently $265,000 anually plus benefits. This has been increased from $225,000 to $250,000
and to $265,000 in recent years. Add on insurance and other benefits.
I know that heads of other non-profits are sometimes paid millions. Alcoholics Anonymous is supposed to be different. I have personally stopped donating to those organizations.
I want to know what our ten top paid employees are paid annually. And why this information
is kept secret. Are we concerned that if the membership learns what our leaders are paid,
we might object? Maybe they are not being paid enough. We have the right to know. Not only
the right to know, but we are responsible to make sure that every dollar placed in the A.A.
basket is well spent. Today it is called total transparency and we cannot accept less.
I also want to know how many of our ten top paid employees are past trustees. How many
of these paid positions have given to individuals who elected THEM? Bill warned us about this
practice in the Service Manual. In the POWERFUL TRADITION Bill wrote that this NEVER ought
to be done. Bill explains this in the Service Manual. Page S72 in the 2012-2013 edition.
The trustees elect, (select) their own replacements. These replacements give the paid positions
to the people who chose them. Please, anyone out there; Am I just totally missing something? ANONYMOUS
I suppose one way to get the information you seek is to do what those in charge of it have done. Starting as a GSR and performing good enough in service work for twenty or twenty five years to be recognized as the best person in your area to represent it at the General Service Conference. Then when you get there demonstrate why you have the expertise to be on the Compensation Committee. Considering this screening, I’m satisfied with whatever decision these people make.
Compensation today boggles the mind. My best year likely grossed about one tenth of the figure you posted for AA’s head and he’s getting about one percent of the compensation of the president of Ford or GM. Silicone valley pays more. Mark Twain said that travel is the best cure for prejudice and I am learning to believe him. Most winters we are able to take a short vacation to Florida. See lots of luxury pleasure boats. Some at anchor because there isn’t room to tie up. After they reach a certain size the going price is easy to estimate, $1,000,000 per meter. Need a cruiser half as long as a football field? Lots of people seem to. That will be $50,000,000 please. Cash, check or credit card? If you think trustees are creating fat jobs for themselves at the General Service Office you might want to visit Miami or Fort Lauderdale or one of another thousand ports to see what real money is today.
I don’t know where you got that AA’s compensation for management should be different from other nonprofits. With our disease are we so unfortunate that skilled, educated, dedicated professionals should forego half their salary for the privilege of serving us? I try to keep in mind that we have a disease that is curable with a 201 word instruction sheet hanging on the wall that most think is too hard and die instead. Why would anybody in their right mind want to have anything to do with us?
Are you missing something? You might find an answer on page 60 “…Each person is like an actor…”
When Alcoholics Anonymous finally accepts donations from
the general public and accepts government bailouts, we
will be able to pay salaries like General Motors. We
have headed in that direction for years. We finally deleted
the "in 1986" paragraph from page S74 of "our" Service
Manual. We ignored it for 25 years and then just got rid
of it. It was a warning from Bob P. of the danger of continuing the use of profits from the sale of books and
literature to pay for services. Instead of heeding the
warning we just continue to increase expenses.
Bob P and his friends did nothing about the problem
other than leave us the warning.
Bill W. left us concept seven giving final control
of our fellowship in the hands of the fellowship. Our
current GSB have negated that control by selling books
and literature at increasing profit, totaling about
ten million dollars last year. The sad part is that
most of todays AA membership do not care where
the money comes from. Tradition Seven requires that we
support our fellowship from top to bottom with money
from our own pockets, and sell books and literature at
the cost of printing. ANONYMOUS
My concern is that we are spending money which we
are not supposed to have in the first place. The ten
million dollars earned each year from the sale of books
and literature is earned by violation of our Tradition
Seven. Your message is the epitome of distraction.
My past delegate, area chair, and my current delegate
are unable or unwilling to get that salary information.
Why do I want to know? If I have employees working for
me, do I not have the right to know what I pay them?
Why should it take me 20 - 25 years to find information
which ought to be transparent? ANONYMOUS
Problems presented by alcoholism are unlimited. Our servants need to prioritize. Apparently they don't see your interpretation of Tr 7 as important enough to divert energy from something else. We select them. That's there job. Your obsession with this is not helpful to anyone. Why not get on board somewhere where your effort will be helpful?
I feel it’s strange that even casual reference to our book “alcoholics anonymous” can be considered big book thumping. Even stranger that a reference to a page in our book can get members of a group upset about quoting pages.
I feel there is a huge difference between memorizing a book and having a working knowledge of a manual. A good example is when I get upset over some trivial event. As I go through my 10th and 11th step inventory (big book page 84-88) I often think of page 108 where it talks about the alcoholic living in that strange world of alcoholism where everything is distorted and exaggerated. These days I almost immediately snap out of it while turning my thoughts to someone I can help.
I invariably find those who are complaining about intolerance are practicing intolerance themselves. I know because it’s almost always me!
Who could imagine members of Alcoholics Anonymous talking about the book for which AA was named after! How could they! ;)
Big book "thumping"......an interesting term! Harkens to the days of the old time travelling preachers who hit the lecturn with their bibles to wake up their less than interested members of the congregation. I can still see my dad jolting upright in his seat whenever the preacher did that.....and later suffering the under blistering diatribe of my mother.
Seems that pounding the podium was a rather common practice among public speakers of those early years, and if you have an opportunity to listen to recordings of Bill W (as well as other early members of AA) speaking, you will hear him
Repeatedly hitting (thumping if you will) the lecturn with his hand to emphasize a point.
That said; Let me pass on a suggestion given to me by my sponsor 41 years ago when I was a new member of this fellowship and complaining about this very subject... " Try treating the meetings like a garage sale....often the same old stuff...sometimes a lot of junk...but ocasionally a "treasure" to take with you and pass on"....:)
I am nine months sober and clean. I love meetings and have tried a few on but am now a member of an AA Home Group. I have a question first and a comment afterward.
I would sincerely like to know how others handle Big Book Thumping in meetings.
I have experienced this in a few meetings and have found it quite disturbing and at times a real turn--off.
Don't get me wrong, I love my Big Book, but I certainly feel that someone telling me how I should interpret it and then getting upset when I share my interpretation, is, to say the least, disturbing as a relative newcomber. This is about the only time I have experienced others cross-talking in meetings so I believe that I am not the only one who gets upset with people that insist there is only one way to interpret it and follow the message or carry it out.
simpleist thing I learned when I first got clean over 22 years ago. Was that speaking in meetings was a format of take what you want and leave the rest. thumpers will be thumpers' Just live and let live'
P.S.I was told that any disscusion, opinion or interpitation was to be decussed after the meetings giving me the choice to ingauge or not. Not a big thumper fan myself.
Yes indeed it does happen.
I have been in AA for 31 years+.
I like the parts of the big book which tell stories of fellow members.
They were sober at the time who knows if they still are. Nevertheless the sharing of experiences is so valuable. What I do not like is the rules at the beginning of the book. I get so bored when "How it works" is read. Being an atheist I also find
the chapter on the Agnostics so condescending.
HigherPower and Spiritual awakwnings are not for me
There many subjects, topics and people which, shall I say, could try my serenity.
I left meetings many times.
If a God Believer is tolerant of the fact that I do not believe in return I am tolerant to the fact that if it helps him or her to stay sober , it is just great.
I stick to meetings where tolerance is practiced. I have not given up the "dictature" that alcohol had and still has dormant on me to replace it by the " dictature" of a higher " whatever".
I try to concentrate on what makes me stay without a drink and there are enough people and I hear a lot of honest and sincere sharing to keep me out of trouble.There so many good things in AA.
I never heard of any different ways of interpreting the Big Book (Except into foreign languages) Until an operator of a treatment facility and his partner began selling tapes telling what the Big Book really says. Using that as an example, everybody and his brother began writing 'Big Book Study Guides" which, I assume, are supposed to break the secret code hidden in the book.
When I was new nearly every speaker commented that at first he/she was going to rewrite the Big Book but found out that it was fine the way it is. Now anyone who wants to rewrite it does so, then travels around the country, all expenses paid, sharing their wisdom with the unenlightened.
Another thing we used to be told was to "read only the black parts." Now we tell ourselves we can read the white parts too, since they're more interesting.
I can imagine the uproar if a child came home from school and told his parents that his teacher said one and one are two, but it's perfectly all right to interpret it as three if they are so inclined.
When I was a Loner without meetings available a gent suggested I use my Big Book and a Higher Power. He said nothing about simply reading it, or studying it, or discussing it, just use it. That advice has worked for millions of us for many years.
Jim, could you be a little more specific? Just how do you
"use" the Big Book? I believe it is meant to be read,
studied and discussed. I gave a copy to a newcomer years
ago and he used it to hold the window open. How do you use yours, and what do you use it for?
I believe the third edition of the Big Book is the
second greatest book ever written. (for those who suffer
from alcoholism and the families and friends who also
suffer). I could be wrong but I do believe there is
much written "between the lines". Bill explains these in
his later writings. ANONYMOUS
In my opinion, every member of Alcoholics Anonymous ought
to own a copy of the Big Book. I prefer the third edition,
but the first part of the fourth edition is the same and what is now more
available. All members and potential members ought to read,
study and use the Big Book. Every person ought to be
allowed to develop their own relationship with it, keeping
in mind that the entire book is meant to be suggestive.
Also, keep in mind that Bill himself was sober less than
five years when it was written. At five years sober, I
could barely tie my own shoe laces. Bill wrote that more
would be revealed. The Big Book was a good beginning.
I try to remember that the purpose of the BB was to
spread the message that recovery from alcoholism is
possible; the story of how the first alcoholics recovered.
I don't know how it could be described as a work book. If
an individual member considers it a personal workbook, fine.
But we have no right to impose that concept on anyone else.
I agree with you.
I agree with you.
I have the benefit of enough time and practice of the AA program that it is incorporated in my life. Big Book thumpers and cross talkers don’t make me angry. My expectation that people will act halfway decent still does though. I’m in a room full of people who are required to be nuts to be there. I expect them to act not only sane but polite? Who’s nuts now? WE ALL ARE. At meetings (like everywhere else) things happen that I don’t intend to let happen and things that I intend to have happen don’t. It’s called unmanageability. Surprise! So what’s different? I can disconnect my emotions from my thinking and my action. Example: Emotions tell mind “THAT JERK HASN’T GOT ANY BUSINESS….BLA, BLA,BLA… Mind kicks in. “Yea, the guy’s a jerk; it’s probably the best he can do. Glad I’m not him.” EMOTIONS DON’T CARE. Override them. “Body, stay in chair.” Get through it. Go home and regroup with Higher Power and/or sponsor. Do my homework. Write IN AA NO ONE HAS ANY SENORITY ON ME a hundred times on the blackboard and start believing it. Is crosstalk and advice allowed or not? If he’s wrong rehearse my speech for next time. Take the chairperson aside quietly before the next meeting starts. State my problem. Remind him of policy. Get an ally.
Why is it that I was tough enough to live through crashing three cars and one bike but can’t say the words “Would you please shut up, I’m not finished?” We’re funny people aren’t we? I prayed for courage and waited and waited to be made fearless. Eighteen years of education and I needed a grade school dictionary. We will always be given the courage to uphold the highest ideal.
Hang in there and report back. I’ll be looking for you.
Glad to hear you are reading and using the big book. My suggestion would be to have some fun with it. If we all had the same interpretations, this deal would get boring. the steps and book are spiritual in nature. everytime I go through the book and the steps out of the book I see them a little differently. If my interpretations change, how can I be upset with you if yours are different from mine? If they are different, next year they might be the same. I know when yours are wrong, because you die or end up in jail. AA is like show and tell. you say what you do, I say what I do. If you are happier than I am, I'm gonna change and do more of what you do. If you are miserable, I know not to do what you do.
I think this saying fits here, "it's not what you dont know that will kill you in aa, it's what you know for sure that just isn't so.
remember rule 62-let's not take ourselves too damn serious!
I was wondering what peoples experience is for getting Grapevines, into Prisons.
Does our AA population in Prison find the Grapevine magazine and books useful?
Would people be willing to sponsor a Grapevine subscription if it was being sent into prisons?
"In keeping with AA's singleness of purpose, we confine discussion as it relates to alcoholism."
I've been an active, successful member of Alcoholics Anonymous for a number of years and I have never been exactly what this means. Say there is a meeting room full of alcoholics with no one wanting to talk about religion, politics, sports, drugs, gambling, overeating, over-sexing, codependency etc.
Is talk about problems with one's spouse, job, finances, car trouble and other living problems that they think are driving them to drink OK?
our traditions state we have no opinion on outside issues.We should not be talking about religion,politics,drugs,gambling,over eating,over sexing,or codependency at an a.a. meeting.Our primary purpose is to carry the message to the next alcoholic.What message?If you have been around a.a for a while you would know all of this is in our big book,it tells us what we talk about at meetings.We share our experience, strength and hope.So we talk about how it was,what happened,and what it is like now.
I understand Tradition one gives every A.A. member the right to talk in whatever manner they choose. At some of our meeting formats we include "please refrain from the use of profanity at the meeting", but if someone uses vulgar language we say nothing. I think the real problem (and
there is a problem), is asking if anyone has a burning
desire. All alcoholics have burning desires IMO. We are
at meetings to talk about drinking and how to stop
drinking, not to talk about the paintings on the wall.
We do use self-control and do not discuss politics or
religion, as they are too divisive. ANONYMOUS
Could you please elaborate on tradition one? I don't understand how the group comes first allows anyone to talk about anything without violating the unity of a group, or trade 3&5.
"We do use self-control and do not discuss politics or
religion, as they are too divisive."
Don't forget Drugs !!!
To me, the singleness of purpose is to hyper focus on alcoholism. If we stay focused on sobriety, freedom from alcohol through the teaching and practicing of AA’s 12 steps, we have a good chance of continued sobriety. If we apply the program to our alcoholism and practice the twelve steps, usually our other problems take care of themselves and at least clear our minds enough to seek outside help when needed. In our book “Alcoholics Anonymous” it says selfishness is the root of our troubles. The program of AA, to me is a spiritual program of action, designed to change us from self-centered to God centered. To me, my shortcomings are all variations of my self-centered ego, and left unchecked my shortcomings will lead me back to drinking. In our book, the shortest list of shortcomings are: dishonest, selfish, self-seeking, and fear. All my problems today boil down to one of those four wrongs.
AA’s singleness of purpose is designed to break through our denial of alcoholism. My ego constantly wants me to focus on other mistakes. I think It’s my ego using smoke and mirrors to trick me into thinking alcohol really isn’t my problem. Now if my ego telling me to forget about my self-centered alcoholic mind is coupled with meetings discussing our inner child or flavor of the week psychobabble, yours and my chances of continued sobriety are less. More importantly, the newcomer attending their first few AA meetings doesn’t have a chance at all! I think that’s why we have traditions 1, 3, and 5 so we remember what we are here for. It says in our book, “We meet frequently so newcomers can find the fellowship they seek”.
What really helped me to decide what is appropriate or not for meetings was to use our big book and 12 x12 and try to share along those lines.
Hope that helps?
I sincerly want to understand what you are asking.
"alcohol present/drunkdness not an issue", with your self ?
The "Struggle" is what? Do you get a desire to drink?
Very briefly;my experience has been different.
I order what I choose.I don't explain myself. I live and let live.Focusing on others I smile, use eye contact and act socially appropriate. I get out as soon as it is reasonably polite to do so because I find in settings of booze it seems things always deterioate. Like I find they turn stupid and boring often.
I set myself up to call my sponsor and or go to a meeting,something A.A. of my choice.
Initially my Old TIM.suggested I "stay out of slippery places."
I would love to hear from those of us who honestly struggle in group settings and parties when alcohol is present, and drunkenness isn't the issue,
To bc1976....16 mths sober here and honestly could not wait to go to a Christmas party at a beautiful home knowing alcohol would be there. Of course my husband did not drink so he was my support. If someone was drunk I did not notice for amazingly I found some old friends who were drinking bottled water just like me.Wow...what a blessing.
What I have an issue with now is going out w/family members who always drink. So, am starting to NOT go out w/them. I just don't enjoy being around people who drink. A waste of my time.
I dont really know what you are asking either.First,not everyone in the world drinks and uses.There are alot of people not in recovery that dont drink and use.How long have you been sober?The big book covers this topic in detail,you might want to ask your sponsor where it is in the book and read it.I have been sober 20 years and go to family functions and go out to eat with family at restaurants and sometimes bars.I choose most of the time to not be around people who drink because it is not part of my life.I got married in sobriety and had children in sobriety so my wife and i do not choose to subject our children to a drinking life style because that is not part of our lives.If you are not comfortable being around people who drink stay away from them.It took me many years to be ok around people who drink,i still dont like to be around them but it is part of life.We do not allow liquor in our home and people who are drunk are also not allowed in our home.It is our home so it is our choice.My friends understand this and respect this,it has never really been an issue.My family and in laws also understand this and have never had an issue with it. So it is really a choice on your part,again if you are not comfortable that is ok,stay away from those situations until you are more comfortable in them.Hope that was some help,dont drink and go to meetings!
I am committed to sobriety. I have been sober for decades, going to AA religiously, have divorced my birth family because they are so dysfunctional and still recovering emotionally myself. I am a survived of rape and have bouts of PTSD. I would love to hear from other sober women like me
I, too, have been sober for going on 3 decades. I am dealing with a mother who will be moving on to the next part of her journey. This has involved a great deal of family interaction with my brother and sister who are caught up in their own greif. A great many feelings from my past are arising. Lots of anger, self doubt, fear.
I find myself going back to pick up the tools I used in early soberity to deal with things that are occurring at present.
One thing my mother use to say to me when I was trying to flush a lot of toxic throughts from my head was "Most people suffer in silence".
I was not silent then and won't be now.
No this doesn't mean whining or feeling sorry for myself.
It is all about transformation and growth.
Stay stong, stay sane.
When I came to AA in 1981, at most of the discussion meetings I went to the person chairing the meeting sat in front and when someone finished talking they picked the next person to talk. They usually thought to focused on making sure everybody got to talk once in awhile. Sometimes we sat in a circle and after one shared on the topic the person next to one had their turn. Being that I am a shy person even if I was sort of reluctant to talk being called on gave me opportunities to share and seemed to help a lot with getting over my shyness.
A few years later maybe in the mid 1980s I noticed that at all my meetings the chair did a thing of asking the person who just talked to pick the next person to share. Around that time I had some group therapy where I noticed that that therapist in charge did the same thing.
I think that when I first came to AA the percentage of AA folks who came to AA after being in a treatment center was less. It maybe that the idea of having the person who last spoke call on someone else was learned in treatment. There are probably advantages to it. I would think that for one thing to be asked by a therapist to speak represents approval of what you are likely to say. The therapist may want to avoid that and asking the patients to do that instead solves that problem. When I was first in AA and the chair called on the next person, there was no feeling he or she was supposed to discriminate in that way. The only requirement for participation was a desire to stay sober it seemed like to me.
The change that seemed to occur a few years later seemed to include having the ask if anyone had a burning desire to share but normally I would not call what I had to to share that special. I went to a noon meeting that had lots of folks there and the same few people called on each other all the time. I was not one of them. There was not time for everybody to say something. Some talked a long time and some went on about if you do not go to meetings and do not share at meetings you cannot have very good sobriety and are likely to get drunk. They tended to be very eloquent and convincing and what they said seemed true but the same guys always got to participate and others seldom did.
I tried some smaller meetings and found that because I was not an important newcomer and not friends with them yet, I did not get called on much. I worried they what I had to say was not very good. I got depressed about it. I felt rejected.
It made me feel better to observe that those who did the most talking at meetings were not the necessarily the winners. Many were people who had been around AA for years but had slipped many times. Some of what they had to say was influenced by anxiety about what they were doing wrong that caused the most recent slip. They attributed their slips to things they did not do that I seemed to not be doing either. They were for example not sponsoring a lot of people. They were not telling their stories to other groups at speaker meetings. I have a panic disorder that acted up if I tried to get behind the podium to speak. Not only that but now that I can do that folks find me hard to understand and don't ask me to. I should have had speech therapy in kindergarten to help with my pronunciation I was once told.
Either those who say it makes one sick to not share at meetings should pipe down about such talk or they should make sure everybody gets to participate. Also the fact that the same folks get called on a lot can seem to elevate what they have to say to the kind of professional status that the group therapy professionals in treatment centers are avoiding when they get the patients to choose who talks next. When I was in school I do not think that being popular with your peers always meant you understood your lessons too
I've been sober since 1981. 32 1/2 years.
Thanks for a warm informative message. We are certainly
of like opinions. When I came in in 1970 almost all the
meetings I attended were speaker discussion meetings. The
long smoke breaks annoyed me, but after the break we
simply went around the room for sharing. Recently I have
heard it called "Round Robin". The meetings were almost
all one and a half hours. We sat in complete silence as
each person shared. It was reverence at its finest.
It was around 1980 when I first heard a chairperson
state that we will go by "show of hands". I was more
than a bit puzzled. Why are we doing this?
I have had many discussions about this topic here
on the forum and in personal contact with friends.
Bill W. often said "Sometimes the good can be the
enemy of the best. He also said that sometimes the
temporary SEEMING good can be the deadly enemy of
the permanent best. When it comes to A.A. only the best
Every person present at an AA meeting is of equal
importance to everyone else. We need the new person
as much as they may need us. Every one is treated as
an equal. (in theory). Some of us just got here sooner.
At a recent district meeting about 80 members were
present. We had a "Round Robin" sharing session, and
every member had the chance to share. We still ended
the meeting on time.
Going by "show of hands" creates all kinds of EGO
problems. And members like us are likely to feel left
out. I still HATE having to raise my hand to share, after
over thirty years. I feel like I am back in grade school,
asking the teacher for permission to speak.
I am trying to write shorter messages. Lengthy messages
are often ignored. I do think this issue ought to be
discussed at a group conscience meeting. But that takes
a lot of courage. I always wanted someone else to speak
up. Be that someone. We need to be the very best we can
be. A.A. is different from group therapy. Let us keep
it that way. Again, thanks for the message. ANONYMOUS
I began sobriety in a big meeting in a big city that did the round robin format. It amazed me that no matter how many people were in the room, we always seemed to end on the hour. If someone shared a bit long, others kept it short. I live in a small town in the west now and have never seen that format used out here. I sometimes wonder if it would work.
Love and Tolerance. One is not much good without the
other. Together they are of great value in the life of
the alcoholic. We understand if someone needs to share
at length. After five minutes they take a deep breath
trying to find another topic, saying "I will end with this".
and ramble on another five minutes. We get no resentment.
We acquire more tolerance. We love each other enough to
continue listening. I Have come to believe that the "cure"
for alcoholism is found in the listening that takes place
Round Robin is best, I am convinced. Everyone gets to
share, whether they want to or not. And I believe that everyone
ought to at least identify "I am Joe and I am an alcoholic".
I have found that some chairpersons think they have to
comment on everyone else's share. I was told firmly by an
A.A. friend: As chair, you only share once like everyone
else. Don't try to give advice to others. That is not your
job. Keep your mouth closed, not matter how burning the
desire is to share again. ANONYMOUS
I'm puzzled by someone with three decades in AA talking about what "They" do. Concerns such as yours (all valid to me at least) are regularly brought at group conscience meetings, tuned up, brought back on course and announced at meetings. On-line meetings are an excellent place for those of us with communication problems to share.
I would not approach the business meeting of the AA group about not being called upon at meetings to share because it would cause me more problems than it would solve. The person who suggested it probably would succeed at getting support for that it is a problem but I do not seem to have that kind of charisma to my personality or the gift of gab or friends in the group who will maybe get mad if my concerns are not handled with respect. .
I post the problem on this anonymously because I do not want it to be about me specifically. I feel there maybe others who have left AA because the sort of thing I experienced upset was something they were not emotionally up to either.
I could not help but worry I was not asked to share because folks disapproved of me or did not like me or thought me dumb. I experienced similar problems during my childhood and had low self esteem because of thinking I was not as good as the popular kids.
There has been an opinion in the air and back when i was growing up it was a belief in psychology I read about that introverts are inferior to extroverts. My Mom was an outgoing natural leader who looked down on me for it.
I dealt all my life with an expectation that it would be just as easy for me to be like more outgoing siblings if I would just pull myself up by the bootstraps and start doing it. My shyness and nervousness was something I was powerless to change instead. It is a panic disorder and according to some statistics I have read found in 20% of the population. It is considered to be an instinct and not to be associated with such things as being too dumb to not know there is not reason to feel shy or not having an AA program that is as good as more smooth talking folks. .
It is not a type of insanity. People who imagine that get a frightened expression on their face when I start to say something and cut in before I get a chance to say anything. They then do not get to know better.
When I am around folks who accept me as I am I seem to get over a lot of it.
At a business/group conscience meeting I made a motion that
we stop chanting at the meeting. I don't think it was even
seconded, but we discussed the topic anyway. Out of the 10
members present, I was the only one who thinks it is stupid.
But we have to start somewhere. Today I find a lot of members who do not think we ought to chant at meetings.
The minority opinion is of great value. Bill often said
we must pay attention to the minority opinion.
You may not be a great speaker. But you have the ability
to write to express yourself. At the next group conscience
meeting (you are fortunate if you even have one), take a
three by five card and write exactly what you want to say.
And say it or read it. Air the concern. There are others
who will agree with you. They may remain silent, for the same reason you remain silent. There are just too many
of us who are afraid to speak up. The power driven personality will try to silence you. Refuse to be silenced.
This condition is connected to my own EGO. I am so concerned about what others think of me, that I am willing
to sacrifice my own beliefs just to be liked. I am so
afraid of making a fool of myself. Today I am willing to take the chance appearing as a turkey if I have to.
Today at meetings I sometimes will chant as loud or louder than the loudest of them. If I have to look like
an idiot to get my point across, so be it.
20 % of the population may suffer from the fears
you describe (your estimate). I had to become an alcoholic
and come into Alcoholics Anonymous, to even begin to
recover. I am nowhere near perfect, but each time I take
a chance and speak out I feel stronger. Try it. We have
to start somewhere.
I believe that hundreds of thousands of alcolics have
left A.A. for the reasons you write about. Many who could have been saved have died. Others may just stay dry and
miserable. So stand up and speak out. No one is going to
strike you. Believe me, it will become easier. ALSO ANONYMOUS
"I would not approach the business meeting of the AA group about not being called upon at meetings to share because it would cause me more problems than it would solve. The person who suggested it probably would succeed at getting support for that "
Sorry, I'm the guy that posted it and I RARELY get what I want at business meetings. I have thrown out ideas that I KNEW and still KNOW are good and might as well have thrown a dead skunk on the table for the reception it got. Any time I dust off my crystal ball and decide ahead of time "what i'll say - what they'll say - so what I'll say..." it has always proved wrong. ALWAYS.
I used the serenity prayer for years and waited to be made fearless. Wait a minute, I didn't ask to be made fearless, I asked for courage - taking action even if I feared the outcome. I tried it. It worked. My Higher Power thinks it's a slap in the face to be asked for courage and assume He won't provide it. He does provide it. He cannot not provide it. He's God. Sometimes I feel anger when I don't get my way. Sometimes its rage. God didn't make me a robot, he made me a human. But I've learned something about feelings. Although they aren't wrong they aren't right either. They aren't any reason to take unproductive action, they don't control me. They go away sooner or later. The fact that I tried to do a better thing, improve our group, remains. When I was drinking I lived in a would have, should have, could have world and had a long list of why I didn't, couldn't, shouldn't. With the help of the Alcoholics Anonymous program I have had a lot of that garbage removed and the promises that seemed past impossible are part of my normal life today.
Don't make a motion that "You" be called on. Make a motion that the system be changed so that everyone has a chance to share sometime - draw straws or numbers for 3 minute time slots, divide the meeting, chair the meeting. Alcoholics, drunk or sober, are the most self centered people on earth. Left to their own thinking they are incapable of behaving fairly. With a desire to stay sober and trainer wheels we can do better. Meetings need those trainer wheels.
A group therapy therapists defence if someone complains they do not get to participate would be that he or she always asked is anyone had a burning need to share.
That does not solve the problem of feeling not included and seemingly not supported about what one has together by the group as a whole.
I am continually amazed at the wisdom shared on this forum and in meetings: the same folks that only a short time ago could not distinguish their heads from their hinders now have the answer for the newcomer, as well as for AA worldwide. Last night a newer person came back to our small meeting of what I would call "laid-back" members, and said he had been to several other meetings, but was turned off by all the people telling him what he "had to do" (the usual: 90 in 90, get a sponsor, find THE God, work the steps, read the 1st 164 pp, etc.). It wasn't so bad during the meeting itself, he said, but afterwards he was literally beset by well-intentioned but misguided AA's who were quite convinced that he needed to do exactly what they did in order to stay sober. Personally, if asked, I tell people what I did when I came in, and what I am doing now, quickly adding that my program remains fluid, meaning what kept me sober yesterday may not kept me sober today, so I need to remain open-minded enough so I hear or see whatever it is that is going to keep me sober today.
At a meeting earlier this week the topic of resentments came up. quickly the meeting turned to forgiving yourself for the resentments against yourself. I have seen this from time to time and usually use it as an example of what not to do. From my experience with AA literature what comes to mind is selfishness is the root of our troubles. It seems contrary to the AA program to be self centered enough to focus on forgiving myself instead of how I set the ball rolling with my resentments to others and the amends I need to make to those I have caused harm. I feel I have always put my needs ahead of others during my alcoholism, wet or dry. I think that was really my problem.
My suggested topic is this, can anyone find or suggest a source in any AA conference approved literature( besides a Grapevine article) That suggests making amends to or forgiving oneself? I can’t seem to think of or find any. I have always felt my main problem in life was really too much self thinking.
Looking forward to some great suggested reading!
I have always questioned the "putting myself at the top
of the list" in Step Eight. Did not Christ get into serious
trouble by claiming to have the power to forgive sinners.
The belief was that only God can forgive sins. The only
thing I can do is to accept that forgiveness. We forgive
each other but we do not usually forget. I believe that
God wipes the slate clean, when we come to Him.
I appreciate the (Besides a Grapevine article). That
would be only the opinion of the writer and the person
who selected the article.
My goal is to become more concerned about the feeling
and comfort of others than of my "poor self". To become more honest, pure, unselfish and loving. I think these
are the principles Alcoholics Anonymous is built upon.
Thanks for your devotion to our fellowship. ANONYMOUS
Topic for help, support, tricks, etc...