Friday, March 5, 2010

The Only Requirement for Membership.

Syd wrote in his post today, of an AA meeting he attended, at which a young woman was asked to leave, because it was a "men's" meeting.

I asked an alcoholic what would happen at the "men's meeting" he attends, if that were to occur? He said that has happened -  they make room at the table, and in the spirit of AA, do whatever they can to help her feel welcomed and appreciated.  As I am, he was disturbed at the prospect of an alcoholic who needed a meeting being turned away because they were the "wrong" gender.

What if that young woman had been working up her courage for ages to attend an AA meeting, and having finally managed it, got there, and was asked to leave? Where would those men be now, if they had been turned away from AA? Isn't this putting recovery as a poor second best?

It seems part of human culture to want to form exclusive groups, include some people, and keep others out, but this clashes with the principles of Twelve Step. The risk is far too great. Rejecting someone who is trying to attend a meeting, for whatever reason, could be condemning them to untold misery. Who knows if they will ever be able to make it back?

I pray for that young woman who was rejected from the meeting. I pray for an open heart, to make room for everyone who needs the wisdom and love of this program. I cannot imagine where I'd be now, if I'd been told I wasn't welcome at my first, second,  one hundredth Al-Anon meeting because I wasn't _____. I'm deeply grateful for the loving hands extended to me, when I was in such desperate straits.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more. You verbalized the very feelings that stirred up in me as I read Syd's post today.

  2. I know exactly what you are talking about, and find it very offensive. I was at a meeting with a newcomer, who was so exicited to be there and to share, and she was so full of hope. It was her first time, and when someone else expressed something she adamantly identified with them (crosstalk), and rather than waiting until the end of the meeting to explain and go over the rules, one of the old-timers called her out in front of the entire group of about 30 of us. She turned beat red and apologized, and then waited until a couple of other people shared and then tip-toed out, never to return. IMO,there is never a need to humiliate a newcomer.


  3. I've been at a few meetings where this happened. Sometimes a vote was taken to open the meeting and sometimes someone would help that person find another meeting close by.

    Whenever anyone reaches out for help
    I want the hand of AA to always be there
    And for that, I am responsible.

    *can't guarantee I got all the words right*

  4. Thanks for writing about this Cheryl. I was glad to be there to go talk with her and make sure that she got a ride. It was difficult for me to see her basically turned away. I was a guest there at an out of town meeting so there was little that I could do, other than make sure she was okay.