- Why do we share?

Why do we share?




Topics related to AA Meetings - and alcohol addiction recovery

Why do we share?

Postby HolbrookGriffith » Wed May 23, 2012 11:40 pm

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
from alcoholism.

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.
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Re: Why do we share?

Postby SereneJH4life » Thu May 24, 2012 1:04 pm

I'm sorry..but your post has me laughing out loud....."all ears" it is frustrating when you cant hear ...I agree
perhaps there was nothing in that message for you and its ok that you didnt hear it

I am told that we share for ourself and for others...that there is always something one person can say that will touch another...perhaps a newcomer like myself, and they will "keep coming" . I know when I hear people share I usually identify with something, and the loneliness goes away.

At my home group, after the preamble and before announcements...we are "reminded" that there is no smokingin the building, where the bathrooms are, to secure cell phones and that the room is very large and that everyone wants to hear what you have to say so please speak up....no one has ever taken offense to this.
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Re: Why do we share?

Postby Toast » Thu May 24, 2012 5:01 pm

For me i only learned the truth about myself by sharing all my lies from a top table.

I'd sit there and say this or that and believing it but in the car on the way home i'd think, ' what a crock of s**t you just said, that's all the excuses you used at the time to justify your crazy behaviour, you know that's not the way it was!' But the sad fact is i told myself so many lies when i drank that when i finally made it into AA i thought it was the truth but it was far from it.

Fortunately some great people showed great patience with me and being a decent speaker i was often put up there to get rid of even more lies!

Also the thing's i thought were funny about my drinking were far from it where i heard myself talking about them sober. In fact they were pathetic!

So for me the real truth was revealed layer by layer as i removed all the crap that was covering it. And people like us will never have room for the good stuff in life until we get rid of the bad.

They say this is a talking illness, our sick minds can talk us into justifying the most ludicrous behavour. And its also a talking recovery. If we don't get all that crap out in the open we'll never know just how sick we were.

Today if i want a healthy body i have to be careful what i put in it. And its the same with my mind, if i want to keep it healthy there's no room for crap. To stay well in AA we have to be very wary of our mental intake. That means choosing the right meetings with the right message and keeping sober minded company. If you can do that then everything else in life is just gravy!

God Bless
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Re: Why do we share?

Postby Dallas » Thu May 24, 2012 8:18 pm

Toast wrote:I'd sit there and say this or that and believing it but in the car on the way home i'd think, ' what a crock of s**t you just said


I understand. I did that, too.
Now, 25 yrs later -- I still have to watch out for it! LOL.

Lesson learned? "Don't believe everything you hear in meetings!" :-)
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Re: Why do we share?

Postby HolbrookGriffith » Thu May 24, 2012 9:04 pm

Thanks all, for the interesting recollections and observations. At this point, though, I'm thinking that probably I should have put this part last:

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 know there are places in the literature that say it as specifically as that "Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now." (AA Chapter 5), and in The Preamble that, "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 from alcoholism." But I wonder whether somewhere it's laid out that we talk cathartically in the meetings, or to ask for and/or give feedback at the meeting level.

My guess is that it isn't. But my guess is just a guess, of course.

Where else is it suggested to us with what purpose we talk in meetings?

Anywhere?
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Re: Why do we share?

Postby Toast » Fri May 25, 2012 3:13 am

This being a caring sharing programme if you don’t share then you don’t care.

There are other who get stuck in 'analysis paralysis'. They appear to be so self-conscious they are too scared to speak in case what they say doesn’t sound perfect and doesn’t blow the audience away with there new found wisdom. These types are still looking for ways to shine the spotlight on themselves.

Here we call this bunch ‘ predatory speakers.’ They have nothing original to say but can’t wait to pounce on someone else’s mistakes. Some loved being controversial when drinking and they still get a kick out of it sober. One trick ponies.

Unfortunately some of our members want to be perpetual seekers of the truth and never finders. If they found it they’d have to deal with it and that’s too scary for them so they just hang onto their misery and keep delaying the inevitable. They even intellectualise reason’s to justify staying sick only they are too sick to see that this is exactly what they are doing. Proof positive that this is a true mental illness!

And it never dawn’s on them it’s only their own time they’re wasting will all these delaying tactics. If your ill and cant’ find a way to fix yourself you go to your doctor and he prescribes a treatment he knows works. So you just take it, no questions asked, otherwise you wouldn’t have gone to the doctors in the first place.

Only in AA do sick people question a proven method of treatment for sufferers of a fatal illness.

So the moral of this story is, if we’re going to ask questions we make sure they relate to us and our fellows getting better not questions that keep us wrapped up in our phoney perfectionism.

God Bless
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Re: Why do we share?

Postby Frananne » Sun May 27, 2012 7:08 am

I led a meeting the other day. I picked the topic of how step 4 and 8 are related. My objective was to get people who had done both steps to talk about them so the people in the room who had not yet done them would understand the program a little better. Lots of people shared and hopefully it was good for the newcomers to hear the experiences. Sometimes we share to better understand this simple program.

I never talked about really important stuff in my life. I would repress it. I learned that growing up in an alcoholic household. Sharing at AA meetings has stopped me from drinking about what I was afraid of.

Occasionally I share to practice step 10 and immediately tell someone about bad behavior or defects that cropped up .

Lots of reasons to share. Lots of value in listening .
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Re: Why do we share?

Postby Toast » Sun May 27, 2012 4:27 pm

Good stuff Frananne,

Like you i would never share stuff that bothered me but all it done was multiply my fears. In the end i was terrified anyone would find out i was terrified so i just put on a phoney image and fooled no one but myself.

Thank God i don't have to live like that any more!

God Bless
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Re: Why do we share?

Postby Dallas » Wed May 30, 2012 9:30 am

To the original topic "Why do we share?"

I remember reading in Dr. Bob & the Good Oldtimers, book, that in some of the first meetings in Akron, they would encourage the newcomers to come to the meeting and share on their individual problems & struggles that they were having -- and the Oldtimers (6 months was an oldtimer) would comment on the problems and offer solutions.

The concept of "Sharing" for AA's -- developed from the Oxford Group meetings -- where sharing was "giving your testimony" and "witnessing." A telling of "their own personal story of what God had did for them." It was part of a religious doctrine that the Grouper's had adapted from the New Testament. For me, that would indicate that I would share my own story of what AA has done for me -- or, what God, through the program of AA, has done for and to me.

Also, during the early AA meetings in Akron, previous to having the printed Big Book, they would use the Bible, or other religious literature -- for a brief reading, and the lead person would share on that topic, and then open the meeting up for sharing by others on the topic.

Since from the beginning of AA's early history -- "sharing" in a meeting has been different -- according to the traditional AA culture in the different areas.

I guess "why do we share" is something I'll never know. I've tried to stop reading other peoples minds. :-) I can only know "why I share." The reason that I share is: to try to be helpful, for someone else. I don't go to share my own problems. I go to share the solution to my problems. I don't go to meetings seeking help. I go to meetings to hopefully be able to help someone else. Meetings are a place where I can go to get my mind off of me, and off of thinking about me -- by thinking of someone else.

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Re: Why do we share?

Postby Dallas » Wed May 30, 2012 9:41 am

btw: It often becomes confusing to newcomers "what AA is about" and "what we do in AA."

Much of the AA literature describes what AA was like in Akron, Ohio. And, it doesn't account for the different styles of AA that was going on in areas outside of Akron. NY AA and Cleveland AA, and AA that was springing up in different cities prior to the Big Book being published -- does not emphasis how different they were doing AA in places outside of Akron.

This is one of the reasons that I believe that authors about AA, and AA's themselves become misguided in their understandings and their knowledge about AA. They grab hold of "what AA was like" in the area that they were living in, or what they are reading in some books by some authors -- and they hold on to "ridged ideas" thinking "Eureka! I have found the real ANSWER!" -- When, in fact, all along -- there have been different questions and different answers and different styles of AA -- determined by the Fellowships in different areas. This became the primary reason for the need of having an Alcoholics Anonymous text book -- which was the Big Book.

Rigidity in thinking is one of the greatest hindrances to recovery. And, can keep a person in the absolute darkness of understanding and growth.
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