Thursday, March 4, 2010

What is your A.A. meeting or group like?

Not what is the state of A.A. in your town or what is the typical meeting in your area like, despite your best efforts to fix A.A.? What I guess I'm asking is, what have you done with the opportunity to "see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends..."

I found a group that is about as fundamental orthodox and by-the-book A.A. as could be found. It's not perfect, for sure. There are some things here and there that seem to go over the top or beyond the Book. But the important thing is I see results. I see that it works... for drunks.

I've also learned that there's plenty of areas of ambiguity or interpretation on what the book exactly says. There's plenty of other literature besides the book and the program of action contained therein to water down or steer the group/fellowship any way a group decides to.

I see what we like to call MOTR or Pop-A.A. lead to problems for some of us and put us out to ridicule. Some of us don't care one way or the other what our detractors say. Some of us say they help us and we ought to lend them an ear. Some of us take it personal and find the need to defend. We've done enough of that lately. The big problem with it is that it casts the shadow of doubt over what we've been doing and making ourselves available to those who may really need our help... inside of A.A. and out.

So some things that I like about my group is that we do steps. If nothing else, we for the most part do what we agreed to do as a group; all 12 steps yearly. We have a guy in our group who is out of synch or on his own in not doing the steps with us this time through. He is rebellious, but he keeps showing up. From time to time, he seems like he is doing ok despite all that. He shows up late, leaves early sometimes, brings food and disrupts the meeting while it's running, seems to be that guy who belches or yawns at the wrong time, gets up and takes a piss... etc. In fact, he's the reason we had to add the "turn your cell phones off" to the format. That pisses me off. It seems so effing childish, but what I hate worse is someone who has the thing ring, they go out into the hall to take the call, and you can hear their conversation... "Yeah, I'm here in my A.A. meeting. Yeah, I'll bring some tortillas on the way home. Bye bye, love you mwooah!" WTFuck!

Anyway. We wrack a disciprine!

So, we've got a pretty structured format and the chair person comes with a prepared topic, we do 3 minutes of meditation, the chairperson calls on people to share, and when sharing is done, we spend the last 20 or 30 minutes in crossfire- anyone can ask anyone a question about their experience on the topic or the step/tradition we're talking about... The proposed topic must come from the 164 or traditions long form.

We, as a group, don't study the book. We don't pontificate on what we think it means, we don't preach. We basically just discuss our current experience on the topic at hand. We pretty much limit our shares to 5 minutes unless we are shorthanded... less than 4 people. If someone rambles, they get cut-off or asked to rap it up. We actually use a timer set to 5 minutes if we have 6 or more people.

We're not big on sponsoring each other... but I guess you could say I sponsor from time to time and I get sponsored from time to time, right there in our group. We all do. Sometimes we bring in someone new and let them see if they fit. Most don't stick around. Sometimes we get someone to our group who's passing through. They seem to enjoy the hour and a half. Some come to our meeting here and there, but don't commit. Some know who/where we are and stay well away and even tell their sponsees to stay well away.

We have a sort of a 'guru' who... leads things more than anybody else. He is the one who got the group started and the one who modeled it to be like the Monday Night from the Denver Group. I've been a part of that group as well. We do a retreat with them yearly. But as a small group, some think it's too controlled.

It's closed A.A. You not only have to be alky, but you have to say you're alcoholic and nothing else. We don't care if you're an addict. We don't talk addict talk at all. If you want to get clean, take a shower. That kind of thing.

The other thing that might put us on the map as a bad group is the fact that you won't hide behind your sponsor in our group. Everybody is game to everybody else. You can't hide behind your sponsor in our group and you can't hide your pigeon or sponsee or protege in our group. Each and everybody is responsible to discuss where they are in the steps, why they're there in the first place, whether they're alky or not, whether they know they're alky or not, whether they're stuck in some mess in their personal life or not like ... causing harm in a relationship, working, carrying your own weight in life and in the group, working with other drunks, doing whatever type of service work that might suit you, seeking God and doing spiritual stuff and what you're getting out of it, physical health, being a good neighbor, citizen, etc. If you got shit in your neck, you're gonna get called out on it infront of everybody. Sometimes, it appears that confidentiality has been an issue. Some have left our group for that very thing. It seems to have caused harm. But in the end, what's important? Truth? Or our feelings? I don't like when people air my shit in front of everybody else in a meeting. I don't like not having secrets. I don't like not looking good. But... in the end, it's like a mother's milk next to Jack fucking Daniels.

We don't recruit and manipulate or hustle people into our group. What the fuck are people dogging us for baiting and switching and culting people around A.A.? If you're not an alcoholic who wants to seek God... Big White Fucking Bearded God... or whatever trips your trigger... and do the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, then just get the fuck out! We ain't gonna miss you. Go count yourself. How many are you? You're not that important. We're here to do one thing well. You're on meds? Well, don't give us the opportunity to play doctor. Pill away. Go find a more merciful group. You probably won't like us. We might kill your ass. We might hide your meds and piss in your tea. We don't give a shit if you're manic-depressive or not. You're either alky or you're not. If you're not, aire on the side of safety. Maybe your doctor can save you. We're not here to baby-sit you or make you feel better.

What we do have though, is a group of recovered alcohoilcs. We had a guy who wouldn't do his 4th step. Shame too. He got well, got a nice job, a nice SUV, probably got the girl, but... he developed... apart from our group, a plan. He would not submit and do what we do. He drank again and now he can't stop. He will die soon and it sucks. We each talked to him and told him we would miss him and that we won't watch him kill himself. We're not like him. We're sober. We have to do this shit or we'll join him. That's no bullshit. If you're like me, you'll understand that. If not, then we've got nothing to rap about.

We only meet once a week. It's not a big deal. What we do as a group happens outside of the A.A. meeting. It happens in our homes, at a restaurant for lunch on Friday, the half-hour before or after the meeting, here and there on the phone during the week. We go out on 12-step calls with each other as we get calls from the Central Office. Sometimes this means we meet a guy at an IHOP or even the hospital or treatment center. Not so much the treatment center anymore. They have their own alumni who stay well away from us. But when we recently went to see a guy in the hospital, he wasn't too happy to see us. But the nurse and doctor were very happy to see us. I was surprised, acutally. We pitched him and once we got to talking about what an alcoholic is, he backed off. When we talked about the steps, he flat out said he would not be doing Step 4. We told him we once felt the same way. We let him steer the conversation after that and he was pretty much done with us. Maybe we'll see him down the road and maybe not. We won't chase him.

This is what my A.A. is like and I couldn't imagine it any other way. Could I walk away from A.A. now and live a God-centered life and stay sober? Yes. I think I could. But it wouldn't free up my world to get on with life as a "normal" person who would be more productive out in the world. A big part of my life, thinking, psyche, soul, etc. would be dedicated to seeking out drunks, sober and wet, to try to help and bounce stuff off of. A.A. just seems to be a rational channel to operate


What are some of the big arguments we have with our detractors of A.A.? God? Responsibility? Disease? They like to think we label ourselves as diseased so we don't have to take responsibility and we go whining to God to get our way. But, that's bassackwards. We don't have a disease and we do take responsibility. God is a very simple and direct way to get us there.

Just look at our 3rd Step. Do we not take responsibility there? I like what Hawkins says about this;

In clinical practice, one sees the endless parade of the deadly duos of perpetrator and victim. The pattern does not become resolved either experientially, psychologically, or spiritually until the victim takes responsibility for some aspect of their own personality, albeit repressed, that played the role of the provocateur. It is very informative to watch the degree of tenacity by which the victim refuses to acknowledge any responsibility.

He says of the ego;

Rarely is a person willing to look within themselves for the origin of their difficulties because it tends to become projected onto others in the endless game of victim and perpetrator. The self-serving victim positionality of the ego is tenacious, and the ego will play the game even to the point of one's physical death. To protect itself, the ego will go to any extreme.

So another point our detractors make is that we have no business messing with other sick individuals lives and it should be left to the professionals. But this is the beauty of the simplicity of the steps. In the doing of them, we just bypass all the bullshit and go straight to the solution. We piss the philosohers off because we come across Truth in the midst of all the shit. We piss off the clergy members because we get to experience God in the midst of all the shit. We piss off the clinicians because we get healthy and well without insurance and an ambulance ride to the ER and amongst all the shit. The 3rd Step IS about responsibility! We do summon God's help. If there was an easier softer way, we'd be on it like stink on shit. It's all about shit! Get your shit straight.


Why do we choose the spiritual path in A.A.? Why not just take a pill? Well... nothing else worked and a doctor with some balls fessed up. So they tried the spiritual thing, got some other advice from another doctor as to how to present what was given to them and low and behold... sober drunks.

"All spiritual progress is by invitation and free choice, which are consequences of prayer and spiritual intention, for these gaps are hidden gifts. God forces no one to choose Him."

So we pray and meditate and that creates a space for us to "choose the right thing in the right nanosecond"... to choose mercy over cruelty, to choose life over death.

A.A. is merely a spiritual pathway up to enlightenment. Jesus had it, but was dealing with a bunch of clowns. He couldn't even talk to the people amongst him about karma, which is the same thing as ego. Bad karma is sin. Good karma is striving for unconditional love and spiritual virtue. Fate and destiny... all karma, but we all know that sin adversely affects our soul. But why didn't Jesus talk about karma? Well, He did acknowledge reincarnation as he stated that Elias had returned as John the Baptist (Matthew 11:7-14 and 17:10-13). And the Buddha was obviously reincarnated multiple times and was at a level above 600 and showed how to achieve spiritual enlightenment (700 and up). Jesus... as a Teacher was merely in the business of our Salvation, and did not reincarnate, but come straight from Heaven. But those seekers who are above 600 seek or choose virtue or Heaven not out of fear or guilt, but out of the love for God. Now, if sin is primarily "ignorance plus animal instinct", it is counter-productive to "hate" it and thereby become entrapped in an additional ego positionality."

Now... why don't we better entrust our care into the realm of medicine? Well I for one, would have more respect for the medical society if they could do something in my own lifetime; like maybe something simple. Solve the common cold, the flu, AIDS, Cancer, CHAGS (cancer, herpes, AIDS, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis), that kind of thing. I worked in the medical industry for a while and what I learned was that it's a business. Elective surgery for example; why? Stupid!

So we are told by our very detractors that A.A. has no plan or method to get a drunk sober. That's bullshit. A.A. offers total abstinence. First of all, finish your drinking and come see us. When you're done drinking, we'll help you dry out or maybe even take you to a hospital to do that. They can help. Once your head's clear, we'll talk about a program of action. "One road in, a thousand roads out."

So you can make fun of these spiritual principles all you want, but they are designed to give us a life that we had never dreamed of... one on which we can have freedom to move about and operate... like everybody else... and maybe we can help out someone else like us in kind. It just makes sense to me.


Snake oil! We get accused of selling snake oil, even though we charge a buck... just enough to stay broke and we are using it on ourselves.

It's easy to sell a lie to the world... a world which has all of an energy of consciousness of 200. All the talents and money have to offer... 200. It's no wonder why famous athletes with hot and cold pouring women... have to smoke a stupid doobie. Why they have to snort coke, beat their spouse, etc. Some have integrity and don't do this, but they didn't get that from their 20,000,000/year paycheck.

The world don't offer much. The great thinkers of our day... 499! That's all Einstein, Freud, Newton, etc. ever achieved. To go from 499 to 501 takes an act of the heart. A true man of God can do it. You can't think your way there.

A.A.'s corny 12 steps will get you to 540. Your local church... may... take you to 540 and beyond.

I can understand why people drink, do drugs, kill themselves. Do you?


Upon request, my particular Home Group meeting format:

How It Works Group Meeting Format

1. “Welcome everyone to the How It Works Group of Alcoholics Anonymous. My name is ___________ and I’m an alcoholic. We ask that you please turn off your cell phones.” Open the meeting with a moment of silence for the still suffering alcoholic, followed by the Serenity Prayer.

2. Ask if there are any A.A. related announcements.

3. “This is a closed meeting for alcoholics. We ask that you introduce yourself as alcoholic only.”

4. Ask, “Is there anyone here for the first, second, or third meeting since your last drink?”

5. Ask, “Is there anyone celebrating a sobriety birthday?”

6. Welcome any visitors from out of town or other groups.

7. Introductions

8. “The How it Works Group is dedicated to the first 164 pages of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the long form of the A.A. traditions, sobriety, helping the alcoholic who still suffers, health, happiness, prosperity, and taking the 12 Steps of A.A. on an annual basis.”

9. “The purpose of a Group Conscience is to ascertain the will of God for our group. Anyone can call for a Group Conscience at any time. A Group Conscience meeting will be held following the scheduled meeting on the last Monday of each month.”

10. Read How it Works.

11. Select a topic from the first 164 pages of the Big Book or 12 Traditions long form and begin discussion, sharing your experience from it. Discussion to continue until 8:15, then break into crossfire. We use a timer for 6 or more people and limit our shares to 5 minutes. Crossfire: Anybody can ask anybody in the group a question about the topic. One minute limit on the question, five minutes on the answer. If not done by 8:15, ask if anybody wants to speak; when done, break into crossfire.

12. “It is our Group Conscience that all participate when called on. If you’re not acquainted with the topic, discuss where you are at in the steps.”

13. Ask for 3 minutes of silent meditation before the Group discusses the topic.

14. Call on members for discussion.

15. At 8:45 pass the basket in the spirit of the 7th Tradition.

16. Close the meeting with the Lord’s Prayer.


  1. Well, let's see. Where do I start?
    I hit 3 meetings here. Two weekly and one about once a month.
    One is great, one is mediocre and one sucks.
    One good one is going on right now but I don't get to that one.
    One I go to is 100 percent book AA. We're in that book down to the last punctuation mark and we figure out why it's there. It's more History and Traditions related but it varies.
    Second meeting is an open meeting but it's genuine AA with a few side tracks. We usually focus on the topic which is usually read from Daily Reflections. I think it's bullshit but they're all alcoholic only and they have all taken the steps. Except one and he's been riding a pink cloud for years now. No Sponsor, No Steps and he prefers an Alano Club so he can hear and tell war stories along with chasing women.
    This meeting I get to is 100% bullshit. No God, No Steps, No Sponsorship. When I do they go around the room and look at each other. Nobody really has anything to share. When I talk I carry on for a half hour. When I'm done they all look at each other. I pipe up and ask if they want to hear some more.
    I've only seen one person sponsored in there and it was by a woman that never had a sponsor. She sponsors with hugs and pats on the back. She then sends them home with pre printed Hazelden workbooks. I think it's how N/A does it but I'm not sure.
    Talking to a mentor about meetings and messages that are carried he pretty much told me that AA is AA and Meetings are Meetings. Don't expect to get sober in meetings he said.
    Sadly enough we hear things like "That's a good meeting" and not things like "Those guys are a strong group"
    It's easy to explain the difference between Meetings and Groups
    You really won't find much in meetings here in this area. Of the hundred or so listed only five of them are closed and only two are available when I'm not working.
    So I'm pretty much stuck with MOR meetings in this area.
    I might take a trip up to Cheyenne and see what's up there.
    Until then I'll practice these principles in all my affairs and not just talk about it in Meetings and I'll believe AA is 164 pages of instructions on how to live my life.

  2. Pretty normal boring meetings around here.

    I have one really strong men's meeting where we study the BB. It's great. Alot of crossover between drugs and alcohol but the message is pure BB.

    Mostly the people who do the steps mix and mingle with the MOR people and talk the program up. If anyone is interested they know where to go or at least what to do.

    MOR has it's uses I guess, fellowship and comfort for a perso who is on the fence. They can come in and see what AA is all about. I'm glad I was taught the BB method though.