Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I Didn't Get That Memo

I was at am meeting tonight and got to talking with a friend who been in the program for 20+ years. He was really pissed about an open speaker's meeting we had both gone to on Monday night.

I immediately thought that he was upset because the speaker gave a rambling drunkalog as sometimes happens. But this wasn't the case. My friend was irate because there's the mother of a (female) home group member who also attends the meetings, although Mom isn't an alcoholic. Don't ask, she just does. Helps with the setup etc. and generally makes herself useful.

It seems that this Mom, not an alcoholic, had the utter gall to join in the Lord's Prayer at the end of the meeting, our normal way of closing. He was fucking incensed that she said the prayer as she had no business doing so and it was a flagrant, wanton violation against all AA's traditions. Blasphemy!

In my usual suave manner, my brain froze into a block of ice; a survival tool I've learned when encountering extreme examples of WTF????

Having thought about it for a while now, I'm willing to concede that maybe I didn't get that memo. Perhaps I've been under the misconception that open meeting were just that - open to everyone. That being allowed to attend an open meeting didn't automatically deny any non-alcoholic the right to join in our prayers.

So can you guys help me here, perhaps send me a copy of the memo? My friend, with his many years of sobriety (er, attendance at meetings), has tried to make me understand that he's a far better non drinker than I am and thus knows what he's talking about.


  1. You ever heard of the Alanon Doll?

    You throw it against the wall and it says, "I still love you."

  2. How many Al-anons does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    None. They just detach and let it screw itself.

  3. Sounds like your buddy should write some inventory, If it's an open meeting, she is welcome, if it's closed, she should not be allowed. If all she is doing is setting up and not trting to sponsor or give advice, I'd leave it alone.

    I might also suggest to Mr. 20 years sober that it must be nice to have life by the balls so much that this is the only thing that is upsetting to him these days. I'm sure he will appreciate this feedback.

  4. But what about the cupcakes??? Am I allowed to eat the non-AA cupcakes she brings to the meetings sometimes? I am soooo confused!

    I guess I should be thankful that I have the guidance of someone who's been in the program for so long to point these things out to me.

    Today I'll have to do a 4th step on my character defect of not watching others pray. After all, it's up to us real alcoholics to make certain that only the elect among us are allowed to pray in the hallowed halls.

    Maybe this could be a new home group responsibility - prayer watcher. Give someone a roll of duct tape and let them walk around at the close of the meeting....

    And you wonder where the little people at ST get their ideas?

    And yeah, Rob, this guy has some serious issues, I guess. I was so fucking stunned when he said it that I was at a loss for words. It was one of those memorable "Huh?" moments in life.

  5. Amazing any female would go to A.A. volunteerily, with all the murderers and rapists.

  6. Now this guy should ask his sponsor about this. Where upon his sponsor should calmly slap him about the head repeatedly for 5 mins or until that stupid duck shit comes out of his ears.
    WTF!!! 20 years.
    Open meeting were started (I was taught) so we could educate the public, wife's, husbands, professionals ect....Nurses in training would come often back in the day. This would never happen today, (can someone say chop liver!!!)
    Anyway, I happen to know many people who have found a home in AA that are not necessarily alcoholic. As someone said above if they are not causing any adverse reaction, either emanating from them or projecting from them to injure others in a judgmental way then I say leave them alone.
    Great to be here guys.

  7. Nice comments fellas.

  8. There is a lady here that is non-alcoholic who I see in a lot of meetings. She is nice enough and is interested in a spiritual way of life and doesn't bother anyone. I did hear her be asked to share one time at an open meeting, which I don't agree with, but ultimately it is the group that decides who can participate. She came to our meeting one time and we explained to her that our meeting is closed and that can't stay. We did it as gently as we could and I think she was OK with it, didn't offer up any argument like some of the addicts do.

    I have a friend whose wife is a friend of mine as well. She is a solid, Big Book Al-Anon. She used to come to a meeting on Friday night up here. The meeting was open and once in a while she would be asked to share. At the time I was a member of that group, and mind you, this lady carried a better AA message than many AA members, but at the same she is non-alcoholic and therefore not a member. I brought this up and the group eventually changed it's opening statement to say that the meeting was open and all were welcome to attend, but in the interest of carrying out our primary purpose, only alcoholics shall participate in the meeting. It was a true test of principles above personalities, because like I said, this lady is solid. After I left the group, they went back to being a fucking free-for-all meeting, which was one reason I left. It was going that way anyway.

  9. I agree there Jim, sharing is an entirely different matter. I'd have a problem with that too, as "...we ask all those who participate to confine their discussion to their problems relating to alcohol." I've personally never heard an non AA share at a meeting.

    We have nursing students attend open meetings as part of their curriculum, too. But I don't have a problem with them joining hands at the end of the meeting and saying the Lord's Prayer, either.

  10. You know, I am starting to believe that maybe the real firing line in Alcoholics Anonymous isn't so much the windup joints and the hospitals but A.A. meetings themselves, especially motr meetings. Think about it, on Saturday I go to a meeting I can't stand and can hardly sit through. Last time I was there I swore I wouldn't go there again. I've walked out of it a few times. But for some reason, I was moved on Saturday to go there. I don't know why, maybe it was just because it poured down rain all that day and I didn't want to sit around the house. It doesn't matter. I end up sitting next to a guy that is just like it says, a trembling, despairing, nervous wreck. When they asked for new people, he said he had twenty-four hours sober and it was his first meeting in fifteen years. I spent some time talking with him and arranged to meet him that night at another meeting in the same hall. When I got there, he was there, but I had forgotten that it was a speaker meeting that night. Now, I've probably told you that I don't like speaker meetings unless I'm the speaker (I am only saying that partially tongue-in-cheek). We sat the through the first speaker, who was actually pretty good. The second one was good too, as I knew him, but I was hungry, and besides my whole idea had been to take this guy to Denny's and 12th-Step him per Chapter 7. We didn't stay for the second speaker and left and went to Denny's. Guy is broke, so I buy him dinner and we spend an hour and half talking. I qualified him and he is the real deal. He says he is desperate and will do anything. I said we'll see.

    Last night, I met him at yet another meeting I hadn't been to in a while, another motr type meeting. I see some people I haven't seen in a while, which was good, and I manage to sit through this one and actually listened with an open mind and heart. I have been practicing a Buddhist loving-kindness meditation and maybe it is working, because I was not sitting there with an attitude of thinly veiled disdain, but one of openness and attention.

    Tonight is my home group meeting, which is definitely not motr and tonight he'll get to see an A.A. group. I intend to sponsor him into the group if he demonstrates some willingness. We'll see.

  11. I've become pretty fucking turned off by some meetings that I have to force myself to attend sometimes.

    Like you, Jim, there's a certain amount of disdain that clouds my openness and attention. So I close my eyes, forget where I am, and just listen. I've found that I miss a lot if I concentrate only on the messenger.

    At one of those meetings I had experience similar to yours a few weeks back. A woman just out of detox/suicide watch was there and was asking for help.

    After the meeting the rest of the women ignored her, so I walked over and talked to her for about 30 minutes. I steered her to my home group meeting and there hooked her up with a bunch of women who have taken her under their wing.

    Had I not come up to her, she says that she would probably not have gone to another AA meeting. Who knows? So I'll keep going back there, like Cuda says, fishing for the newbies. And when someone speaks, I just close my eyes and listen.

  12. Jim, your timing was probably more critical to the situation than you could imagine. A second later, and the guy could have been swept up by a MOTRer... though well-meaninged, and been given false hope.

    When we get a 12-step call, we like to team up with them too. Take them to Denny's like you say, and hear their story... try to qualify him. If we think he's the real deal, we next focus on whether or not he's ready... whether he sees the severity of his situation AND wants to do something about it. But, like you say... whether they do or not... you just have to wait and see.

  13. I just finished rereading Vaillant’s “The History of Alcoholism Revisited” and one sentence keeps jumping out at me.

    “For Alcoholics Anonymous to be effective, the alcoholic must believe.”

    This sounds like sort of a no shit! statement to us, but it’s a good question pose to the new guy. I usually concentrate, as you guys do, on whether he’s the real deal or not, whether he’s willing, etc. Then, as you said, it’s a wait and see game.

    I think from now on I’m going to focus a little more on not just what he expects to get out of the program, but why does he think he’ll get it. Like the man said, “Ya gotta believe….”