Jesus, Take the Wheel: The Follow-Up
This story just keeps getting… well, I won’t say better and better, I guess I’ll choose more and more interesting.
I’m just going to jump right in (if you are new, please read Jesus, Take the Wheel). I get to my meeting this morning, usual time, about 30 minutes before it starts. I will be honest here: when I got in and saw I was by myself, I breathed a sigh of relief. I recognize this is probably not the most charitable attitude, but there it is. So I set up, make coffee, and settle in to select a reading (usually I do this over the weekend, but I wasn’t sure what to expect with this woman, so I didn’t bother. Also, the second week of the month is the easiest book from which to select a passage, so I knew I would be safe either way). I had just finished reading what I knew would be a perfect subject about which I could share, and zooming into the parking lot, at “club car” level audio, is my mystery chair person from last week.
Damn! Again, uncharitable, but honest.
So I sit in the chairperson’s chair and wait for her to come in. She breezes through, and says, “Oh, I’m so glad you’re here and you made coffee, because I’m running late.”
Side note: I am getting annoyed all over again just typing this story.
I say, “I will always be here, because I started this meeting, and I have been the only chair up to this point.”
She says, “Yes, well I’m here now, and I signed up to chair this month.”
Okay, at this point, I would imagine anyone who is not familiar with AA tradition is possibly jumping up and down, ready to scream at me in frustration. Why didn’t I just put her in her place?!?
Here’s the answer: AA has 12 steps and 12 traditions, which are the closest thing our group has to by-laws. Tradition 2 states:
For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
What this means is that even though I started this meeting, and I am the only member who has chaired, does not make me the dictator of the meeting. All decisions made for a meeting should be done with group conscience. So, if this woman wants to chair the meeting, and I don’t think she should, the correct means for me to go about “dethroning” her would be to take a vote of all the attendees. Which, of course, I am not going to do.
Plus, practically speaking, I am hoping to increase attendance at my meeting. So the last thing I want to do is alienate someone I don’t know, and have her badmouthing her experience.
So I do what I told myself I would do if she showed up: I sit down in the “spectator” seats, and I wait for her to start the meeting.
She begins, has no idea what book we are reading from, I fill her in (she has to ask my name twice), and we start reading. She shares first, which is traditional, at least in the meetings in my part of the world.
Spoiler Alert: this is going to get a little catty.
She announces that she just celebrated 16 years of sobriety, and passes around her coin for all of us to see. Which is awesome. But then she starts to share what is going on in her life as it relates to the passage we had just read. The story starts out relevant, but quickly and terrifyingly devolves into impossibly hard-to-follow stories from childhood. Stories that include, but are not limited to: pagans, warlocks, organized crime, and holding people at gunpoint with a shotgun.
As good an imagination as I have, I promise you I could not make this stuff up. Truthfully, I am leaving a lot out, because some of it is not fit for this blog.
On the one hand, I am always happy to lend an ear for someone who needs to talk. She actually admitted that she did not speak at meetings for, and I quote, “the first 18 years of her sobriety” (yes, if you are paying attention, she did say 18 years, even though she passed around a 16-year coin. Frankly, by this point I wouldn’t have asked for clarification even if I wanted to). She clearly needs to get things out, and that is what meetings are for.
On the other hand, as the one who started this meeting, as the one who has something invested in it, and as the one who really, really wants to increase attendance, this kind of stream-of-consciousness, frightening sharing worries me. All of the other attendees at today’s meeting are older, some retired, and consistently conservative. Will this kind of sharing turn them away? I just don’t know.
Two bright spots: first, this month only has 4 weeks, so we are already halfway there. Second, I have gotten close with one of my regular attendees, a woman with 28 years of sobriety, and more wisdom than I could ever hope to achieve. I am going to email her and ask for her advice, as she is a witness to this madness, but has been around for a lot longer than I have, so will probably had some sage advice on where to go from here.
No matter what happens, I have been planning on doing another “media blitz” to re-market, I am definitely waiting until this situation resolves itself!
That I don’t have warlocks or pagans as part of my recovery story. That may sound sarcastic, but I am serious, I am grateful!
Posted on June 10, 2013, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged 12 step program, Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, God, Jesus, Jesus Take the Wheel, Reading, Recovery, Sobriety, Substance Abuse. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.