The Meeting After the Meeting
In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us. -Flora Edwards
The title of this post is another common expression in Alcoholics Anonymous, and it refers to the more casual conversation that takes place after a formal meeting. An AA meeting provides the structure and the format for recovering alcoholics to gather and to share, but there are limitations within its parameters. For example, there is a strict policy that there is to be no “cross talk,” which means that you are not allowed to respond directly to a person who has shared. A sensible rule, to be sure, but if someone is sharing something intensely personal, or has a problem you have experienced, it is challenging not to respond. That is the point of “the meeting after the meeting.” You can address someone directly, offer assistance or advice, or simply welcome a newcomer and answer questions they may have after the meeting. It can also be strictly social, and allow for non-recovery conversation.
Mondays are the day I run the meeting I started in October. Coming up on 2 months now, and I can say that I have 3 regular attendees, and about the same number of “walk-in’s” each week. Every week I have held this meeting has been deeply meaningful to me, and fills me with an almost ridiculous amount of gratitude. There is always a span of sober time amongst the attendees, from as much as 28 years, right down to 30 days, so the perspectives shared are always diverse, and there is much to be learned.
But today’s meeting was special in two additional ways. First, a newcomer to the meeting shared for quite a bit of time on different things that were going on with him. He had a really interesting perspective, and it is always good to have a fresh viewpoint in a meeting. At the end of his sharing he told the group that he has been sober for 5 years, but that this is only the second time this year that he has felt comfortable enough to share in a meeting. I felt really humbled, and grateful, that he was open enough to share at all, and that he felt comfortable at this particular meeting.
I closed the meeting in the traditional way, and started to do the post-meeting paperwork, as I typically do. When I finished, I realized that every attendee was still present, and still sitting around and chatting about recovery and non-recovery issues. I couldn’t help but smile to myself… I had my first meeting after the meeting! It was such an amazing feeling, and I am just so grateful to have the opportunity to give back to the Fellowship that has given me so much.
Posted on December 17, 2012, in Recovery and tagged AA, Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, God, Health, Meeting, Recovery, Substance Abuse, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.