Saturday, January 15, 2011

Uncomfortable sharing at A.A. meetings?

I'm going to go ahead and "borrow" a topic from a recovery forum that deserves further discussion here.

Someone with about 8 months sober is having a hard time sharing in meetings now and that person wonders if it's pride or fear... assuming there's something wrong with them in this deal.  I personally would appeal to someone in this situation to not assume it's all you as the cause of this situation.

I'll first discuss how my group works.  We don't rely on the new person or the intermediate in the steps to carry the meeting anyway.  Any A.A. group should have some folks in the group who have done at least a set of steps or... at very least... a group of people who are dedicated to following the instructions out of the Alcoholics Anonymous book to complete all 12 of those steps.

Someone who is 8 months in should easily have gone through all 12 steps and should have some bit of experience in them to fall back on in their share.  Their own current or fairly recent experience on any given step may not be the earth-shaking pitch in the course of that meeting... nor does it have to be.  Maybe the topic is on something ... other than... a step or a tradition or concept.  It may be on gratitude or some... stuff like that.  In that case... this is what I do; I try my best to relate that off-the-wall topic to something related to a step or a tradition... in it's long form.

Now, let's say this person with over 3 months of sobriety hasn't done anything like all 12 steps.  They may be "still working on step 1".  In this case, I would blame the sponsor or the group.  If it's the group, that individual can heed my advice now and leave that group/meeting.  Run from it.  You don't want to be doomed to a life of MOTR, do you?  You'd be better served going out and getting some Sudoku puzzles and practicing that and using logic to get and stay sober or to get your drinking moderated.  Some of us "need" the A.A. program of action via the 12 steps to get to a place where we can get and stay sober for 8 months and beyond.  If you can get and stay sober in A.A. just by hanging around and listening and sharing... hats off to ya.  I need something more.  I need a sufficient substitute to booze.  A.A. is the vehicle that brings me to that.  If you are like me, you need to find a group where steps are done and experiences in them are discussed as well.

So, back to my group.  We have a chair picker who is a recovered alcoholic.  They have the very important job of finding another recovered alcoholic from the group to chair the next week's meeting.  That person brings a good A.A. topic with them and decides whom to call on and in what order.  It's their job to keep the meeting up and strong.  If someone brings the meeting down, that's ok;  a good chair person can bring it back on course with whom they select to share next.  In my group, we do the steps yearly.  We are fairly synchronized in what order we do the steps.  When someone selects a topic from where they are at, the others  in the group are pretty much experiencing the same sort of thing..  If someone is new to the group or is not on that particular step, we ask them to share from where they are at.  They may be new to sobriety and new to the A.A. process and that's fine.  We might point them in the direction of looking at where they are with Step 1.  Are they alcoholic or not?  Do they really know what that means?  Do they want to do something about it if they are?  Are they willing to leave and find out where else they fit if they are not?

But just sitting back and telling the new person or quiet person to sit back in listen?  No.  It don't go like that.  If you get called on the share, that's what you do.  There's no passing in our group.  If you want to sit back and listen, go to a speaker meeting.  Passing when you're called on to share brings the whole group down.  If you have to go off topic to share where you're at, what's the harm in that?  We don't need something from you.  We need you to locate yourself and tell us where you're at.  That might be helpful to us too.  You may not have a flipping clue about the topic and that's ok too.  You need  not know everything and sound pretty.  What you could do is ask a question; "So, how do you share from the heart and get out of your head?  I don't understand this.  Maybe I DO analyze too much.  How do I get out of my own head".  That kind of thing.


  1. You know, I remember being terrified to be asked to share very well.

    My opinion : I didn't come to AA to learn public speaking, I came to learn how not to drink.

    Let a shy person alone. They'll share when they feel comfortable. Just my 2cents.

    I eventually joined a speakers group and all that. It's not as hard as you imagine, but when you're new or even at 8 months, you still need to focus on not drinking and working the steps.

    I imagine you couldn't wait to open your yap....lol !!

  2. No, I was scared shitless too... till I learned how to tell the truth.

    I'd rather tell it to my A.A. peeps than to the judge.

  3. I've come to the conclusion that some, if not most A.A.'s don't mind being doomed to a life of MOTR. They seem to be OK with it.

  4. The person with 8 months sobriety needs to understand that there's no magic chair or magic cup of coffee involved in AA meetings. They need to get involved. It's a program of action, not osmosis. They need to be made aware of the promise that no matter how far down the scale we have gone, our experience can benefit others. They may be afraid that what they say will be inconsequential, but what they say may be exactly what another person in the room needs to hear.

    My groups don't pressure such a person to share, but we'll damn well have a "chat" with after the meeting, perhaps with a few "suggestions" as to how this thing works.

  5. Hi Fellow piss heads,

    I'm only sober a month, absolutely terrified, red faced,trembling, sweating wen asked to share, it will drive me to drink, as it did 2006 and 2013,ive been pushing mysethard this time, getting meeting s everyday, got a sponsor,doing a outpatient treatment centre twice weekly, handing it over asking for help.
    Still to embarrassed to share, it's a fuckin joke,our meeting s here in Ireland are pretty chilled,one person shares for 15minutes, then asks random people to share, I'm male ,33 married with wife and kids, wtf is up with me,i want my sobriety.

  6. Some people, with years of sobriety, still find it extremely difficult to share/chair at meetings. Saying that all of them need to suck it up and start yapping, is not good advice. A person will share when they are ready. For some, it truly is a pathological fear.

  7. Some people, with years of sobriety, still find it extremely difficult to share/chair at meetings. Saying that all of them need to suck it up and start yapping, is not good advice. A person will share when they are ready. For some, it truly is a pathological fear.