Hi fellows. FWIW, this is my first post here since I registered in March.
Anyway, now that I’ve put that out of the way, I just got home from my daily meeting and I'm feeling a little sad due to a bit of disappointment, so I figured I'd throw something out to you guys instead of moping. It's something that I've thought about many times over many years, and it comes down to a simple question:
In meetings, why do we share?
I'm sure there's no shortage of opinions on the subject, but I mean, per AA, per the founders, per the literature... just what IS our purpose when we share?
I was taught that we share to carry this message, as Step #12 says, and that we do that because helping others keeps us sober. I was also directed to the AA Preamble as a definition of what AA actually is:
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who
share their experience, strength and hope with each other that
they may solve their common problem and help others to recover
I've also heard people say that we may share to help ourselves -- that we "get it out," that we "dump it," that we "leave it there." But I was also taught to ignore that as just a “stay sick” invention of the treatment centers. And I have to admit that in my 28-plus years of sobriety I have never "needed" to say anything at a meeting in that sense. So for my own, I'm quite content with what I was taught. But what I’d like to know is, what else, if anything, does AA tell us?
Here’s what happened today. The meeting is an ordinary participation meeting but it’s held in a rather large room – maybe too large. And now that the weather is warming the noise from the air conditioner makes it harder to hear. The format of the meeting is, the leader shares for fifteen to twenty minutes, then we ask for AA-related announcements while we pass the 7th Tradition baskets, after which it’s open for participation. Well, today the leader spoke so softly that hardly anyone in my half of the room heard her. So today I took a notion to include an announcement reminding people of the size of the room and the air conditioner, and suggesting that if anyone has something they want to share, they might, “pretend that someone at the farthest part of the room from you really needs to hear it and speak up, because they probably do.” I had no idea I was saying anything controversial, but the proverbial fit hit the figurative shan.
As I’m writing this I’m aware that it may seem – it may actually BE that I’m only inviting someone to co-sign my perceptions. But during the remainder of the meeting someone shared, let’s say, “in no uncertain terms,” that I had been harsh to the leader who, she said, only spoke so quietly because her dad died recently, and that if anyone didn’t like this particular meeting he or she should just go find another one. And there were others professing to “defend” the leader as well. Hence we have this dilemma: How can people seated towards the back of the room be more sensitive to someone speaking too softly to be heard, specifically because of the nature of what she spoke? To me the answer to that is obvious. We can’t because we didn't hear it.
But I’m more interested in a broader, not so easy question. Why do we share? It seems to me that if we share because we have a need to "get it out," to "dump it," to "leave it there," then it doesn’t particularly matter that everyone in the room hear it. But if we share to GIVE, i.e., to carry the message, then it behooves us to make our best effort to CARRY it to all ears in the meeting if we’re to use a portion of the meeting time to say it at all.
What am I missing?
I’m… well… all ears.
Last edited by HolbrookGriffith
on Thu May 24, 2012 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.