Saturday, October 31, 2009

Clubhouse AA

I recently followed some links around and found myself on the blog of an AA purist. Well, heck, I think of myself in those terms most times. But I found the premise of his blog so very offensive. I will try to be careful not to bad mouth him too badly, but you don't know who he is... he has one of those blogs seldom visited because he doesn't visit anyone else's... you know the drill... you leave a comment and he answers you in his own comment section. Because it is all about his blog. It takes a while for people to realize that blogging is all about interaction, give and take, some never get it, and they are usually quickly gone.

Anyway, I have thought and thought and thought about this whole concept of "Clubhouse AA." You know, that inferior subspecies of AA. Where those people who wouldn't quite fit in at a church basement meeting show up.... like maybe people who don't know their way around AA yet? Or maybe people who have some problems that we don't like to think about. Or maybe people who don't belong in AA at all, but just need a place to hang out or hide out.

I got sober at a meeting in a Club. It was a terrible club. There was every sort of chicanery that goes on in clubs that gives us a bad name... it was all going on in this place, some of which I gladly participated in. People from those nice meetings would tell me that I needed to go to healthier meetings at better places, but it seemed to me that I needed to be where I was needed, and even when I was brand spankin new, I knew I was needed at this club!

When I was sober 5 years, I met a man (at the club) and we moved to British Columbia and ended up finding our home group in a small town in northern Washington. Finally, I could see what was better about meetings at churches! There were no clubs in this small town, just churches, and one "meeting hall." My home group met once a week and traveled together to another meeting once a week. It was really wonderful. The fellowship had a very different quality. We were in and out of each other's homes even when the other person was not at home! It was wonderful.

When I moved back to Denver, my husband had found a wonderful man in AA to sponsor him and we went to his home group. It was also a wonderful group, full of wonderful people. We largely talked about how we had it right and everyone else was doing everything wrong, but those were heady times and I felt that I belonged to something beneficent. When the marriage fell apart, that group became a hostile place for me. Suddenly, I found that I was the one who was being criticized as not doing it "right." I didn't feel at home in my home group.

So, I went back to my old club house and went to the stinky old meetings there, with the stinky old drunks there. I became the GSR of that group for a while. I made sure that people knew the difference between a club and an AA group. I made sure that people became aware of AA Traditions. In other words, I tried to be a responsible AA member. I didn't just walk away from them mumbling about how superior I was to them, I actually tried to be responsible in whatever way I could. As a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was NOT prestigious to be the GSR of that group, but I found it incredibly rewarding. It might have been the best service position I ever had.

Over the last 25 years, there have been times when I have gone to church meetings, and times when I have gone to club meetings. It has largely been a matter of what has been available to me at that time. I can be of service no matter where I go. And frankly, there are already enough gasbag old ladies with decades of sobriety at the "nice" meetings. I can go to the club meeting and just sit and be quiet and be available. No, it is not always convenient. It is not always just the way I want it, but I do believe I have a responsibility.

I can sponsor women when they ask me to. I can take them through the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous and show them precisely how to do what it says to do. And then they can share that with others. This is how I get to be useful to God and my fellows... not by attacking them for not being up to my standards.

15 comments:

Lou said...

It needed to be said. And you are just the one to say it.

I can only imagine how discouraging it would be to an alcoholic to be made to feel they are inferior. Like they don't have enough of that already.

Ed G. said...

Nicely said. I sobered up at a different club in the same city and I'll bet our chicanery out chicaned yours.

A miracle we're such stellar examples today. ;-)

Blessings and aloha...

~Christina~ said...

I use to be one of those *She isnt doing it right* people. Spirutal arrogance is what I call it. I was a al-anon nazi and now I regret it.

I like to think Im middle of the road 12 stepper and focus on MY recovery. Good post today! Happy Halloween!

Hope said...

I never knew there was something called clubhouse AA.

enchantedoak said...

I got sober in a clubhouse and went to six or seven meetings a week there. Found a home group, a 12X12 meeting, at that clubhouse. The old-timers who went to that group taught us about traditions and steps. It was the best home group I've ever had.
Now we've moved and we do both church and clubhouse meetings. I'm grateful for the old-timers who still teach us about steps and traditions.

Madison said...

I'm grateful that you're there when desperate people walk through doors.

Patty said...

Well put Mary.

garden-variety drunk said...

I'm grateful I was so out of it and self-obsessed (kind of the same thing) for the first 6 months or so in AA that I didn't really pay too much attention to where the meetings were. I just went to any meeting that was nearby, usually one or two a day. By the time I became aware of the "nice" meetings and "club" meetings, I had had good and bad experience at both.

Mary LA said...

Nothing odder than elitism in AA

dAAve said...

What works for one may not always work for another.
My experience is 90% (or more) club-related. I love it. It provides me with everything I need. And we have some excellent recovery there. But I know it's not for everyone.

Scott W said...

Like Baskin-Robbins, we have plenty of places to choose for our recovery. In Houston there are over 2,000 meetings weekly. If someone can't find a suitable one then God help them.

Scott said...

I got sober inan AA club in Toledo, along with several man's closed discussion meetings around the city in church basements, lol. And, ym homegroup was a rural small town meeting in a church. So, I have seen it all in AA. For myself, clubs can tend to bring out the worst in AA. However, I have been to some well run, clean, nice sobriety-centric clubs as well. In fact, probably the nicest club I have ever gone to is that one in Houston, the Lambda Club... great place, awesome peeps, strong fellowship and good sobriety...

AnyEdge said...

Wait a minute? What? Clubhouse AA? I'm very confused. I wasn't aware there was any difference or even perception of a difference between clubs and churches or whatever. I feel like I'm missing something, maybe something important? How do I make sure I'm as inclusive and sensitive as possible?

Syd said...

I guess that chicanery is part of what happens in a lot of meetings. But then there are people like you MC who have a bright light to shine that is true.

Drug Intervention said...

Thanks for sharing, I always enjoy reading. You're very inspirational and I hope others are also inspired to get/stay sober!