Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Step Groups - Why Join One?

Before I forget, here's the link for Al-Anon podcasts on the 12 Steps - great resource.
I love Step groups - the intimacy which results from an in-depth look at ourselves and the 12 Steps, can be powerfully uplifting. I've noticed that when many members of a meeting join in working the Steps together, the regular meetings will seem to take a leap forward in depth of sharing.

It never ceases to amaze me how I can be in a Step group, and working the Steps with one or two or three sponsees all at the same time, and get something different from each encounter. I once had a newcomer ask me if it didn't get boring, reading the same things over and over again? How could I stand it?  I did go through a stretch when I was new and very impatient, when I used to tune out at the beginning of a meeting when the opening, Steps and Traditions were being read. I didn't see how I could possibly get anything from listening to something I'd heard dozens of times already, so I'd sit and daydream through it.

My first sponsor  asked me after a while of this, if I was finding it irritating to have to listen to the same opening words, and preamble? I admitted that I was, and asked if she'd ever felt that way? She said that yes, she had, but over time, that changed. She turned the topic to something else, and I quickly forgot that conversation.

A long time later, I found myself at a meeting, listening to the opening readings and really hearing them again . Without my realising it, they'd evolved from something I just sat through, to a calming, comforting, centering reminder of why we were all in this room together. They've remained that way ever since, doesn't matter how many meetings I attend in a week, I sit in gratitude to hear those readings.

I've gone off-track here - I'd started on the topic of Step groups. It has been my experience, that they may start with 10-15 people, but within a few weeks, people begin to drop out, and soon we get down to those who are serious about it. That core group of people who show up each week to work the Steps, gain a bond which transcends all the cultural, or traditional differences between us.

I've heard newcomers speak of the way their understanding and ability to work the Steps improved considerably after they participated in a Step group. Another aspect of them that I adore, are the laughing fits that ensue when we are bluntly honest about our character defects, and how they effect our thinking. Insane thinking, which has been the cause of untold amounts of private pain, when hauled out and plunked down on the table for shared examination, can reward us for our willingness to be honest, with the kind of laughter that leaves us all gasping for breath, and each inspired comment from another member sets us off again.

When we can laugh like that at our own craziness, we can never again take it quite so seriously. It opens us to a more reasoned view, of that which may previously have had an iron grip upon our emotions. It seems much easier to go on to detach, once we can laugh at ourseves.

Once we realise that the monster in the darkness is nothing but a raincoat on a mop, we never again feel such fear to see its shadow.


  1. I want to come to your group ;) I love step studies when the whole room is women. The bonds can be life long when forged in this kind of setting.

  2. The step group that I helped lead dwindled as you wrote until there was a core group who really worked at it. We did the steps, traditions, and concepts and then began reading How Al-Anon Works. Through a group conscience, it evolved into a Book Study group (CAL). We still go back to the do the steps about every six months. It is a great group.