Friday, September 14, 2007

One Alcoholic, Reaching Out to Another Alcoholic...

I do believe that is why AA has worked where everything else had failed. We are just a bunch of drunks who have found a way to stay sober and hope to pass that along to others because it helps us to stay sober. (here's the disclaimer, I slept too late this morning, I didn't run this morning, and I have a lingering broken heart - this might be where the leakage into my life is showing....)

So, last night I went to the 5:30 meeting, they have declared the Thursday night meeting a "newcomers" meeting in the last few months. I liked it at first. Last night it just hit me all wrong. Very wrong. At the beginning of the meeting, they ask for the usual... anyone at their first, 2nd, or 3rd meeting since their last drink?... clap, clap, clap. Anyone in their first 30 days? clap, clap, clap. Anyone celebrating 30, 60, or 90 days? clap, clap, clap. Anyone celebrating an anniversary of a year, or multiples thereof? clap, clap, clap. (This is what my friend Larry calls the Academy Awards.) Then they go on with this meeting and ask all of those in their first year to raise their hand. Most of the hands in the room go up. This is where they lost me. Then the format is that the "new" people, in their first year of sobriety, share in the first half of the meeting, and then the experts will respond in the second half.

Hmmm. so why not rope off the room in the middle. Or get color coded tee-shirts. People with 30 days or less get red tee shirts, 30-60 days get yellow, 60-90 get green, 90 days to 60 months - blue... etc.

AA works because we are all in the same boat. Any time you cut that up, you cup up our chances for recovery. I really believe that. We all start by saying "my name is ____, I am an alcoholic." I do not hyphenate my alcoholism. I don't say I am a GRATEFUL alcoholic, a HAPPY alcoholic, a RECOVERING, or RECOVERED alcoholic. When I do that, I separate myself from you. I divide our commonality. I say I AM SPECIAL.

Does it make us feel better on some level to believe that once I have achieved x amount of time of sobriety that I will be immune from drink or insanity? Does it make "new" people feel better to believe that we have rankings in AA? I looked around that room last night and realized that I was sober longer than anyone there. What the hell kind of honor is that? I just want to be one of the drunks. I just want to talk to a new lady and show her that I care, that I understand, and that I have found a way to stay sober. I don't want to sit on one side of the room and be set up as an expert. An expert what?

I won't be going back to that meeting. I can go any other day of the week, and most of those same people will be there, but I find the format on Thursday extremely offensive.

SO THERE!

"As sobriety means long life and happiness for the individual, so does unity mean exactly the same thing to our Society as a whole. Unified we live, disunited we shall perish." -- As Bill Sees It, p. 229

9 comments:

dAAve said...

Yes maam.

Scott W said...

If one were an expert wouldn't that mean one had graduated and had no need for the program of AA? Today I am not attending the noon meeting because the leader for this month has decided to change all the rules and make it her meeting. No serenity prayer, she sharing about or at the person that just shared--commenting after each one. Bleh.

Katia said...

I've been shopping around for a home group. Some felt comfortable (well as comfortable as anything can possibly feel right about now). At other meetings I just wanted to run....and far. I still dont know where I am going on Mondays and Saturdays (Wed and Thurs are hit or miss since they are school nights)...so, I am still looking.

Kindly,
Kathrin

Syd said...

There are "separated" meetings around here as well in which the newcomers leave the room and then come back. Why? I think that newcomers and old timers can benefit from each other. I'm glad that Al-Anon makes no distinction and I don't think that it does AA any good to divide the room or send the newcomer out. If people would just read the book and go by that, instead of inventing some other stuff that is driven by self-will and ego.

green3 said...

I have no expertise in this area, but wouldn't the new people benefit by listening to the "old" people, and slowly they would get more comfortable? I can't imagine a "new" person walking in the door and spilling their guts. I envision them sitting back and taking it all in. But what do I know...

Mark said...

I just had a couple of very long paragraphs written and then it dawned on me - Traditions!

From what I read you sound like you're not a member of that group.

With as much time as you have, this is my thought - fetch up some of the oldtimers you know in that group and determine with them what Traditions apply to this situation. Then "suggest" they return to their group's business meeting with that info and see if the meeting warrants being changed according to Traditions.

There is a pamphlet from GSO that explains how to conduct a beginners meeting. Seems there is a "bit" of self-will involved here in that group.

Or... you could figure out why last night, all of a sudden, it "hit you all wrong." :)

Pam said...

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Pam said...

Oh by the way....on this post. I AGREE WITH YOU ABOUT EVERYTHING!

Namenlosen Trinker said...

"AA works because we are all in the same boat. Any time you cut that up, you cup up our chances for recovery."

Amen!