Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Seeking Recovery.

At one time in my life, I drove an hour and a half once a week, to attend an Al-Anon meeting, and then an hour and a half to get back home. I'd get astonished commentary on this from newcomers and old-timers alike - nobody but the woman who became my sponsor could relate to my wanting a meeting that badly.

Living here, I've been wanting to attend another meeting earlier in the week, but the one available on the evening I've got free, is not what I consider a healthy meeting. There's a lot of complaining goes on, but not much discussion of the Al-Anon program, and how it helps us to recover. There's a group of people who mostly talk to each other and ignore everyone else in the room. I've attended this meeting many times (in the triumph of hope over experience,) and increasingly, have been walking out to my car afterwards, wishing I'd stayed at home and read program literature or called a program friend.

I was speaking to a friend last night, and she asked, why didn't I try a meeting in the small town which is on the outskirts of this city, a half-hour drive down the highway? I decided to do this, and it was an uplifting experience, as a good meeting is.  The people were warm and welcoming, the topic was a page from our Fourth Step Inventory book, "Blueprint for Progress" and the discussion thoughtful and honest.

What a contrast to the first time I attended the one (what I consider unhealthy) meeting here in the city -  I was completely ignored. That in itself spoke volumes, as those people didn't know that I wasn't a newcomer. As we lived here for a while, time and again I heard people say that they didn't attend that meeting, because they'd either had an unpleasant experience there, or it might be a meeting, but it wasn't an Al-Anon meeting.

Yet I've continued to attend, knowing what I know, hoping that this time, it would be different. (Isn't that the program definition of "insanity?")

In a healthy meeting, newcomers and visitors are warmly welcomed, and when it's a newcomer's first meeting, members speak about what it was like for them when they were new, and also talk about our First Step:

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable."

In a healthy meeting, members use program literature to spark discussion, and talk about what works for them. The focus is on us, not our alcoholics, and how we use this amazing resource of Al-Anon to make our lives not only manageable, but also joyful.

A healthy meeting is inclusive, not exclusive. A healthy person is able to learn from her mistakes. I guess I'm relatively healthy, even if it does take me a while on occasion to accept that things are what they are, not what I'd like them to be.


  1. Thank you so much for this post. I had a similar experience when I first started attending Al-Anon. I went to a meeting where I felt very uncomfortable and didn't come back for months. When I got desperate enough, I tried again, and kept trying until I found two meetings that warmly welcomed me and had the kind of discipline I needed in my program. That was two years and many steps ago....and I am so grateful that the pamphlets tell us to try a number of meetings until we find our place. It takes all kinds, and though I don't feel comfortable in every meeting, there's definitely a meeting for every one of us.

  2. well I know my sponsor would tell me to make the meeting more healthy by practicing what you've written at those meetings. Perhaps your purpose there is to bring it back.

  3. Those healthy meetings are precious. I have been in some that were not so healthy.