M(3), 4/28: Kickin’ Recovery Old School!

 

A quick sidebar before I dive into the Monday Meeting Miracles:  I have been elusive in the blogging world for the past two weeks; if you factor in my recent vacation, it’s been closer to a month.  Probably not overly alarming to anyone, but I know when one of the bloggers I follow regularly is absent, I wonder if all is well.  So in case anyone is wondering… all is well.  I have embarked upon an interesting… well, let’s call it an adventure for now, and I’m sorry to sound mysterious, but I will explain more later in the week, when I will be back up and running at normal blogging speed.

Okay, editorial comments aside, today’s meeting was interesting in a few ways.  First, as usual, the number of attendees surprised me.  I fully expected a small turnout, as quite a few regulars had plans that prevented them from attending.  And yet we had 12, several of them new (to my meeting anyway).  It’s always fun to have new perspectives, and I really enjoyed getting to know the newcomers.

Second:  it is the fourth meeting of the month, which, in my literature rotation, is Chairperson’s Choice.  As the sole chairperson, I am finding it more and more difficult to come up with new and interesting selections, but I came across a book in the club house where my meeting is held that I thought just might fit the bill.  For the sake of expediency, I will sum us the book as a format for taking a newcomer through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, but done in a manner consistent with the way the original members of our Fellowship did it.  The book touts using the exact format as was done in 1946.  At the time, a newcomer was introduced to the 12 steps from his (or her) very first meeting, and it took him (or her) exactly 4 weeks to complete the 12 steps.  Anyone familiar with 12-step recovery in modern times knows this is a marked difference from that to which we are currently accustomed, and that is just the beginning of the interesting changes in the Fellowship.

I felt like I stepped a little out of my comfort zone on this selection, as I was unsure what the reception to it would be.  Overall, the response was positive, although the group conscience decided that each chapter needs to be broken down into two-week segments, so there is enough time for everyone to share.  I had one naysayer, but I will get to that story in a minute.  For me, learning about the history of anything is interesting, so I loved the educational aspect of the reading.  I also really enjoyed the streamlined approach our “Founding Fathers” took in presenting the 12 steps to newcomers.  There was no hemming and hawing back then, I can tell you that!  The only thing I found myself wondering, as I read how they introduced the program overall, and specifically, step one (which was what we read today):  if I were brand spanking new, sitting in my first meeting, would I be receptive to this?  The honest answer is probably not, I would have thought these people extremist, and I would have been overwhelmed.  The writers of this format countered my internal argument, and suggest that whether or not you truly believe you are an alcoholic, it might be better to be inside the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous by mistake, than outside the fellowship, drinking and dying by mistake.  Excellent rebuttal to what I might have argued, had I been born 30 years earlier!

So I’m in for continuing with this series, but time ran out before I could take an official vote.  Final interesting component of the meeting:  I had to step out of my comfort zone with an aspect of the meeting other than the literature selection.  A little back story:  a woman who I have recently met has come to my meeting for the past two weeks.  Today, when I asked for people new to the meeting to raise their hand, she raised hers.  I tried to explain this section is for those who have never been to this particular meeting before, she insists she had not.  Curious, because she was actually there before me the week before, and had saved me the effort of making the coffee.  Okay, strange, but stranger things have happened.

We are about 25 minutes into the meeting, each person reading a chapter or two, and this same woman suddenly raises her hand and says she needs to ask a question.  I motion for her to go ahead, and she says, “I think we need to have a break at this point.”  May I respectfully point out that this is, in fact, a statement, and not a question!  For those of you unfamiliar with a 12-step meeting, this is unusual behavior, and she recently made the announcement that she has celebrated one year sober, so I can’t cite inexperience as the reason for her breach of etiquette.  We normally take a break when we finish the literature selection, but, uncertain of what to do, I acquiesce, and we break in the middle of the reading.  Again, not really the end of the world.

We come back from break, finish the reading, and begin the portion where we share our thoughts with one another.  Time is short (the selection was a long one), so I speak of the need to abbreviate “shares” so that everyone has an opportunity to speak.  This woman is the second to share.  She starts off innocently enough, but within 60 seconds begins to share her beliefs, all of which are chock full of wildly incorrect statistics, blatantly false information, and generally anti-12-step rhetoric.  Very, very puzzling behavior, and, while I’m sure she is not the first nor will she be the last to speak against the 12-step program, I felt in a quandary about my role in putting the brakes on it.  As she was launching into her beliefs that all alcoholics should be treated psychiatrically and medicated, I decided I had to put a stop to it.  So as gently as I could, I interrupted and explained that since we were so short on time could she please abbreviate her share so that others may have an opportunity to do so.  This kind of confrontation (or any kind of confrontation, for that matter), is not in my wheelhouse, and I was very, very uncomfortable.  She did wrap it up, and there was no further incident, but it will be curious to see if she returns next week.  I am still worrying that I offended her; at the same time, I need to take my chairperson responsibility seriously.  Right or wrong, it was certainly a learning opportunity for me.  Any readers who are also 12-step meeting attendees, I would love to hear if you have similar stories!

Whew, that’s a lot of info for one post!  I will let everyone know how the group decides in terms of continuing with this format, and I look forward to catching up with all my blogging friends later in the week!

Today’s Miracle:

Stepping out of my comfort zone, I guess, and speaking up, counts as a miracle… at least it does for this timid mouse!

 

 

Posted on April 28, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. That’s really good stuff. I find posts about meetings very interesting. I think it is off great value to write about a meeting experience post meeting, to process what has happened and to make meaning of it. The woman you mention: the word that comes to mind is wounded. I’ve been listening to Jay S. a lot lately, and he says that we don’t shoot our wounded in AA. I think that you are a prime example of that principle. It sounds like you handled the situation as well as you could. And your concern at the end is about whether she will return and if she will be OK. That’s important. We don’t shoot our wounded. If we did, I’d have been full of lead long before I had a chance to begin healing.

    Thanks so much for the post. I very much enjoyed it.

    Like

    • Thanks, Eric, I like the description you just gave, and I agree with it. It will help me to keep it in the front of my mind if and when our paths cross (she did not show up this week, but I certainly hope that I see her again).

      Thanks again for the comment!

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  2. First of all – welcome back 🙂 I figured you were just busy. You were missed – and will be great to see ya out here again soon 🙂

    In regards to the Back to Basics – I have been to one of those meetings, and I wasn’t keen on it. I had worked most of the steps by then, and I went to a 2nd step meeting and it was a lot of basic questions where we had to stand and answer yes or no to (strange, but staying open minded) and in the end, it wasn’t for me. those Back to Basic meetings were originally done because there weren’t enough sponsors out there, and this got people up and at ’em quickly. some didn’t even know how to read. It’s sort of like a mass Moonie wedding…lol.

    But some dig it. Nothing wrong with it.

    As for the woman. Well, I don’t know her, but certainly many of our kind are dual-diagnosed – addiction and mental health. Perhaps she has mental health issues. That is my guess. I’ve seen some odd behaviour in meetings, and it’s not all untreated alcoholism. Some don’t take their meds, and some don’t have meds to take. And some have had incredible turnarounds after getting the right med cocktail going.

    But we can only pray for her and hope she gets the help she needs. You did what you had to do for the group. It’s not like you booted her out or anything like that. We have bells in some meetings that are rung when someone goes too long. It is what it is. We just like to talk about ourselves, eh? 🙂

    Great post, and great to see you again Josie!!!

    Hugs,
    Paul

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    • I do not deserve this welcome back, as: A. I still took another week to GET back, and B. I am still so far behind on replying to comments, and reading others’ blogs! But I thank you anyway.

      The feedback this week was that it was very interesting to study, and that we should continue. I will say, though, we are simply studying how they did it, we are not actually doing it ourselves. I’m with you… it would probably be a little over the top for my taste, but I love studying history!

      I will admit to some pangs when she did not show up this week, but the heart of it is that I am projecting my fears onto her. A long-timer thanked me for putting a stop to it, and that’s was what I needed to hear… it’s not about me, it’s about my responsibility as the chairperson. So I’m letting this one go, and I am praying for her.

      I cannot wait to get over to your blog, Paul, I have missed you much in my absence 🙂

      Like

  3. OMG and this is why I could never chair…… I’ve heard once in a while there is a Difficult or non rule follower at meetings and that makes me so uncomfortable. I can’t handle drama or being uncomfortable. You did the right thing… So proud of you. Me, I would of been like, umm, ummm, someone help he, lol.

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    • I’m telling you, MB, I have been the chair for over a year and a half, and this was the most difficult thing I’ve dealt with, so never say never! I promise 99.999% of the time it is one of the most rewarding things I do in a given week. Thanks for the vote of confidence, I really appreciate it!

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  4. I think this kind of behaviour can occur in any type of meeting. I have witnessed it in the work place among professionals. It sounds like you handled it really well. I am no expert but it might be something to think about if this individual returns and it becomes a pattern. I also wonder if there is more going on behind the behaviour. Isn’t life full of wonderful opportunities for learning, whether we want them or not?

    Like

    • You know, Thea, you are probably right, alcoholics certainly haven’t cornered the market on strange behavior! I could not agree more, there is more behind the behavior, I guess the most I can do is pray for her, and hope that she is well.

      Hope you are well, Thea 🙂

      Like

  5. Sounds like you handled the conflict with grace. Chairing is a big responsibility with challenges that inevitably crop up with the variety of personalities and and even mental health issues of some in recovery. And you’ve always seemed to manage them really well. Glad to hear all is going well for you. A lot of my favorite bloggers have seemed quiet lately, but I don’t take that to be a bad thing at all this time around for some reason.

    Like

    • Kristen! I hope you are well, and I think you are vacation-ing, hope you are having a blast! Hmmm, grace… well, I certainly didn’t feel graceful, but maybe I portrayed it, I’ll take the compliment! I just said in another comment… blogging is like diet and exercise.. once you fall off the wagon, it is hard to get back on, but I will keep trying anyway. Looking forward to hearing about your trip!

      Like

  6. What a great job chairing! i agree with Paul, from your description it would seem she has some mental health issues, and i think you did a great job managing the confusion!

    As someone who has been posting and commenting with less frequency, i’m glad to hear our slowed rhythm doesn’t mean things aren’t going well!

    Like

    • Thanks, Al, that means a lot, coming from a veteran like yourself! I would agree with your theory, and I appreciate the validation.

      Yes, things are well, and I hope well for you! I need to get over to your blog and see what’s doing!

      Like

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