Wednesday, March 31, 2010


On the book shelf in my bedroom are several big books - among them are the three shown above. My father's 2nd edition big book, the 3rd edition big book I purchased when the 4th edition was released just so I would have a clean copy of the 3rd ed., and a fairly new 4th edition. There was a time when I searched high and low for a 1st edition and would have paid a bit of money for one, but that time has passed.

Last night I attended a meeting that made me feel like I am some kind of AA artifact. Like I am some kind of older edition of AA - and I don't really understand this new edition.

The year my son was in Iraq, I went to this meeting nearly every single day and felt it saved my life. At the end of the year I had enough philosophical differences with the couple of men who felt they "owned" the meeting that I was always butting heads with them. I felt it would be just fine if I left the group.

Last night I was shocked by the difference a couple of years made in that meeting. When did they start chanting? The entire room recited whole portions of the "promises," including dramatically stretching out "sometimes s-l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-w-l-y!"

One woman who had only been sober for a few days was urged to get her 24 hour chip out of her purse and pass it back around the room so that "we can fill it back up."


Is this some new form of AA that I don't understand?

Is this voodoo?

If passing around a chip and putting our "mojo" on it worked, I don't think we would see so many people with such large collections of 24 hour, 30 day, 60 day, and 90 day chips, but who cannot achieve any kind of sustainable sobriety.

I did not hear one word about God (other than some poor soul stating that he was raised a Catholic so had a really BAD idea about God - oh really?), getting a sponsor, working a step, or anything else that might help a person actually stay sober.

Do we think we can keep a person sober by telling them to go to lots of meetings where we pass around magical chips and chant magical words?

Get me to a time machine STAT!

My responsibility? I do go to meetings and talk about what I consider the real deal. I sponsor women and part of my sponsoring them is that they sponsor others. We do the steps as written in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. But I feel like I am swimming against the tide. A tsunami.


Carverlane said...

Omigosh...chanting drives me nuts! When I'm in a meeting where they chant (which is not often), I pretend I'm at "camp" somewhere. Last night I went to an oldtimey Big Book study that meets once a week. They very respectfully say that only those with a desire to stop drinking are allowed to share. Others are welcome as observers only. After the Lord's prayer, there are no cutesy slogans. I remember the first time I went there thinking, "now THIS is real AA".

Kim from sAn Antonio

Ed G. said...

You're not alone.

Blessings and aloha...

Julianne said...

There are many subtle differences in the way meetings are conducted from one coast to another, even within regions, but this must have been very disorienting to have been a meeting you once frequented.

I do like chanting, but it has its place for me. In my daily meditation music or my meditation group. Period.

Are you going back??? ;-)

dAAve said...

The only time I've seen a chip passed around was in California.

Me thinks that may be the wrong meeting for you. It worked for you when it needed to. Try another.

Anonymous said...

The great thing about meetings is that there are lots of them. We change, they change. Sounds like it's time to move on. Have a good one!

Anonymous said...

I would not have lasted through to the "Lord's Prayer" at that meeting--if that is even the custom there.

This is sad stuff--to me.

AnyEdge said...

AA is old enough now that there are dogmatic and structural differences geographically and such. I don't find it troubling, but then, I'm still new in the program.

But I have been to some meetings where things were done very differently, and it's bothered me sometimes. We are about sobriety. All the rest is just stuff.

AnyEdge said...

Sorry to double dip, but that's one of the reasons I love my men's meeting. No bullshit at all. We just say the serenity prayer, have a meeting, say the lord's prayer, and go eat.

marie said...

I like the "old time" AA even though I am not an "oldtimer." Give me the meat and bones...leave the fluff out please! Many blessings,

Syd said...

I had a discussion with an Al-Anon who gets up and shares at AA meetings. She isn't a double winner but feels that it is okay for her to share at AA meetings. I have learned a lot over the time I have been here. And I have great respect for AA and the fact that it is not Al-Anon. I don't think that an Al-Anon is going to help an alcoholic get sober.

Mary LA said...

I would find this problematic too -- a friend of mine in the UK calls for a group conscience whenever changes like handholding or chamting or passing out chips or reciting the Lord's Prayer aloud are proposed -- the UK is far more secular but emtionally restrained, and visiting Americans often bring in their home group rituals with chips or physical contact.

A group conscience means that the group looks at the significance and reasoning behind what they are doing and listens to objections from those who dislike 'magical thinking'.

A group here In Africa that I attended burned citronella candles to chase away mosquitoes and sang songs loudly at intervals to keep the ancestors from getting bored. Which I liked, but it baffled foreign visitors.

Mary Christine said...

I have been to this group's conscience in the past and was so quickly shut down by a couple of men who want the meeting the way they want it. And anything that challenges that is not going to be tolerated. They have always wanted a "free for all" atmosphere - they think it is good for the newcomer. I do not agree.