Topics related to AA Meetings - and alcohol addiction recovery
Absolutely, Carol, I need to vent at times too. Keeping it in does me no good. My lesson, though, which has been difficult for me to learn, is to determine when and where it's appropriate to vent
. I have a bad habit of having hissy fits when I share at my homegroup's Big Book meeting, instead of calmly discussing my thoughts with my sponsor or something.
Still the Drama Queen, I guess!
And, yeah, sometimes I do find that I hold AA members to a higher standard. I will say that I get quite irked when folks leave their coffee cups sitting around after the meeting and don't throw them out. What - do they think their mother is going to come in and pick up after them??
Sheesh. Lots of times, though, I look around and see that they jumped up to go catch the new guy who was sharing about his pain, or some such thing, and probably simply forgot they had a coffee cup at their feet. Imagine that.
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I think I sometimes invite some of the negativity that I hear at meetings, but I do prepare for it. Lately I haven't honestly had hurt feelings or resentments about it.
Over the years, I would find myself getting "disturbed" when I would hear an N.A. or C.A. lead at an A.A. meeting. One of the longtimers I talk to told me that if I felt the way I did, I probably wasn't the only one who felt that way. Instead of talking to him about it, he suggested that I comment about it when I hear a lead like that. He went on to tell me that addicts have other meetings they can go to, to identify with the same kind of addictions. But if an alcoholic goes to an A.A. meeting and hears a message about drug addiction, he is lost and has no where else to go.
I did some reading and finally got a grip on the "Singleness of Purpose" statement. There was a last straw lead that I heard at a meeting I go to all the time. It was a woman who intentionally got herself pregnant from her "dope dealer" so that she could live with him and have free cocaine, heroin, and other non-alcohol chemicals. Talk about being unable to identify!
All I had to do was go to the corner store or bar to get my poison of choice. I am not an addict, and I never found myself having to rob someone's house and sell the things I stole to get up enough cash to "do what I had to do to get what I had to get". Hell in the early days I only needed $1.79 for a bottle of "Ripple" - and you drunks know exactly what I mean. In the last days of my drinking, I would still have money left over from a paycheck because I bought cheap beer and whiskey. Not much money - but I could still eat or throw it away on something else foolish.
So after that lead, I started commenting on "Singleness of Purpose". The main focus of my comments are the need for alcoholics to identify - you know the 5th tradition. And the other is so that A.A. doesn't try to do things it can't and fold. We're in business only for the one thing we do best and that is to "stay sober and help others achieve sobriety." I don't comment in a mean or personal way. But boy at the nerves my comments touch with folks who use drugs.
What ends up happening, almost every time, is that a good bunch of addicts (who could also be alcoholics - who knows?) they get so defensive. They don't really hear the comments I make. They just automatically assume that myself, and like-minded alcoholics don't want them around and they go on and on about not feeling "welcome".
I know this is their problem because they don't call me aside and ask me for help or why I say what I say. They don't ask me what should they do. Because if they did I would politely tell them something they might not be expecting. I would tell them I can only speak about their alcoholism and how to achieve sobriety, but they could talk to one of my proteges', one is an alcoholic who is also addicted to crack cocaine, and another is an alcoholic who is addicted heroin. Those guys helped me a great deal to understand a lot more about cocaine and heroin addictions, but I still CAN'T carry the message about those drugs like they can.
They understand and have been there and they can identify. But they are also alcoholics. I taught them if they lead an A.A. meeting they have to keep their leads focused on our "common problem" which is alcoholism. If they need to mention their drug use as it relates to alcohol, I suggest they keep it limited in time and not get into the specifics, but to also mention that if anyone wants to talk about the other substances they should see them after the meeting. This works fine at A.A. meetings. And if any lead talks like that, I don't comment on Singleness of Purpose. It's just when they get carried away with the criminal activity and what happens when they inhale crack, or shoot up heroin, or using rusty needles - that does not belong at an A.A. meeting and you can count on me commenting about it.
But like its been said, there are a lot of raw nerves about this, and drug users get mad and hostile.
Now I don't consider commenting on Singleness of Purpose as "venting". But the "return comments" definitely are venting and a little more. Even if they are personal and directed at me, I don't walk away mad or "disturbed". I'm doing what I was taught to do which I believe is the next right thing. There were a lot of things that were the right thing that I did not want to hear either when I was new. I know I vented and had resentments too.
But I believe with time and practice, anyone can do as many of you said - most importantly asking ourselves "what is true" about what they are saying. Then I turn it over to God and ask Him to show me where my own defects are playing into the matter if I get to feeling disturbed. But I don't think there is a need to apologize for commenting on Singleness of Purpose, or if you are suggesting to someone to not use foul language or talking about things that don't have anything to do with sobriety.
But it is also important for me to remember to show everyone the same respect. I also remember that if I am pointing a finger, there are three other fingers pointing back at me. Boy did I EVER used to hate to hear that "sound byte". But today, I welcome that saying because it makes me take a look at myself and where I might be going wrong. I need to hear it whenever its said.
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On the singleness of purpose problem - the way it was explained to me is that there are a lot of folks today in AA that have other addiction problems - be it drugs, sex, gambling, eating, shopping, internet games, etc, etc. Along the same lines, some of us have children, some don't, some are rich, some are poor, some believe in God, some in Allah, some are atheists - got the picture?
But, the one thing we all have in common is alcoholism. It is the one thing that we can all identify with. You might have a problem with cocaine and alcohol - another might have an eating disorder and drinking too much alcohol - another might never have used coke or ate too much, but has a problem with gambling and drinking. But, the one thing that we all can identify with is our alcoholism.
Alcoholics tend to get caught up in comparing their situation with others, so if we hear someone going on and on about their drug problem and we didn't have that problem - we're out the door - at least we leave mentally and miss out on getting help for what we came through the doors of AA.
So, we keep it simple and confine our discussions to what we all have in common - alcoholism.
But, you know what - not everybody sticks to that. Sometimes people get off on a tangent about some other problem they are having. That is why we hear expressions like - "identify - don't compare" and "take what you want and leave the rest".
It doesn't help to get (and forgive the expression if this offends anybody) - to get our pantalonies all in a twist over these things. Just smile and realize that some are sicker than others - some haven't caught on to the AA principles and way of life quite as good as we think that should. Gently guide them when it seems appropriate or just sit back and smile with the knowledge that we are not in charge. We don't have to straighten every sick and suffering alkie out today. Somehow they'll catch on - even without our two cents. That will give us time to figure out why we are so bothered by what others are doing - which brings us back to the "three fingers pointing back".
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