Heard At Meetings

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My Character Defects can be Assets

Good for you, an impressive "defect"! Just curious, does it relate to "dying as I burn"? If so I know the feeling well and have to say thank god I procrastinate too!

Heard at a meeting

Friend,please tell me what you are thinking! You do not have a GLASS HEAD so I cannot read your thoughts!

heard at meetings

A young lady told this story at a meeting here. She visited a different country. She saw a sign "Friends of Bill Wilson meet here!"

She entered. She sat down. She was alone. 10 minutes later a young man came in and introduced himself to her. He sat down and they began to talk.

No one else came so he said, "What do we do now?" She was surprised and told him that it was a meeting of AA. He said, "I am not an alcoholic. I was curious when I read the sign outside and I came in to see Bill Wilson, shake his hand and meet some of his friends!"

That is a true story!

Joined: 2011-10-14
Too many years and not enough days

Folks with more than 20 years of sobriety are dropping like flies where I live. One of these people who relapsed after long-time sobriety came back to the fellowship (thankfully) and described himself as having "too many years and not enough days."

Joined: 2012-01-03
too many years and not enough days

Wow! I can relate to that. I had almost 8 years when I thought I knew it all, quit going to mtgs and calling people and in not too long a time, I ended up drunk. It took me several years to find the program and sobriety again. I am gratefully sober now 16 yrs and am reminded constantly that I must take it One Day at a Time.

Joined: 2011-05-21
Heard at Meetings

I say remember what you heard, forget who said it. When my sponsor told me stories about things that happened at a meeting it was always the same 3 people. Jane, John, and Ann that had done these items.

I just could not wait to meet these three! One day I finally asked their last names. Jane Doe, John Doe, and Ann O Nymous the irish drunk.

It was important for me to learn the lesson as I did not have the time to commit all the mistakes! Watch the others he said quite often. But always remember or you will make the same mistakes yourself, and that probably will not lead to a contented, useful sobriety.


When I got here, I was not a vision for you.


Principles do not apply THEMSELVES!

I was not a vision for you.

An excellent one liner. I will share that with my AA friends! Thanks a million friend!


I'm new to aa and this site,
Help me wrap my head around this.
I understand that its not ok to share things heard at meetings. "...whatever is said here, stays here,...here-here" Right? No?
Some one needs to set me straight. haha
No but really, seriously.
I dont get it. Why are we sharing?
Who decides what the exceptions are?
I f someone reads a post that was in attendance at the meeting post being shared in positive light or otherwise, it may attract local attention other A.A.s etc. coments replys to post.
The ramifications ya know? Coulod be ugly, even if our intentions were good!
The risk of precious sobriety being lost here?
NEVER worth risking!
Im falling in love with aa collectivly and well, already said too much.Im rabbling.
This post is prob too risky. In fact thinking bout it is the perfect example of what Im trying to understand/explane/share/say. Knowing there will be replys to this post with opinions.I ask to please try to kind.Honest, even firm, but.....any way....lol
Should we share what was said im a meeting outside of meetings or not?
Please keep it in the spirit of how intended.
If i have offended or exhausted a brain or two,i apologize.Certainly is not ever my intent.
Let me know if poss,
A friend of Bills North oregon coast

About anonymity...

Thanks for your post!

We share our most personal feelings and experiences at meetings. If you learn something from my sharing, it's not a problem to pass on what you have learned, but, with no names attached! I will protect your anonymity, and expect you to protect mine. I have a couple of cautions to add to that, however...

An AA meeting is a public place, and I have suggested to some AA friends that only their sponsors should know their most dangerous secrets. The self-confessed bank robber should probably accomplish her amends without going to prison.

On the other hand, if you tell me that you are seriously planning to hurt someone, or that you have certain knowledge of child abuse, I will be talking with *my* sponsor about calling in the authorities, in a heart beat. Those confessions are not privileged communications, in AA, or in any profession.

Best wishes to all of you!


"...whatever is said here, stays here,...here-here" Right? No?"
This is another of those cutesy-poo things that sneaked into the meetings from another fellowship. If 'what I hear here stays here' it wouldn't do me a bit of good outside the meeting. And outside the meeting is where I need to use what I 'hear here', not inside.
I profit from and sometimes pass on someone else's experience, strength and hope, but I don't pass on who I got it from.

re: hear hear

Actually I think that the ironic toast of which you speak dates back several decades at least, maybe further, and is not a product of treatment centers. But that is my own speculation. However, I appreciate the sentiment of those who respond to the statement, "Who you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here," in that fashion, even though I do not join in the utterance. All hearkens back to the 12th tradition (amongst others), which I highly recommend reading along with the chapter on same in the 12 & 12. The principles I learn in the rooms I take with me, but the identities of those who share, and the specific details of their lives that they may have shared in discussing a topic, I leave in the rooms. That is anonymity at its most basic and fundamental level.

re: hear hear -bringing you up to date

"Who you see here, what you hear here, no beer here,"

Your Questions are Important

Hi Friend of Bill,

No need to apologize there, we've all been there like you are, being unsure and questioning but trying not to step on toes at the same time! I'll try to give you my answers taken from others in the program... First, we share to help eachother. We do this by sharing our experience, strength and hope. We have the unique ability by doing this to save lives through the god of our understanding.

I think its ok to talk about meetings outside of meetings, and often the subjects are helpful and interesting. We try to stick to our own stories. We as people stay anonymous, and wouldn't want to possibly hurt one another by telling someone else's story and identity to others. There really is no one who decides what the exceptions about sharing are. There are no leaders, only trusted servants in our fellowship.

I don't really understand what your question is about the posts, but in all of our interactions we try to stay honest and thoughtful of others and their feelings. Of course mistakes are made, people get hurt. That's when the steps come in handy, lol!

I am glad that you asked these questions. Many, possibly all of us do. Once I walked around during a meeting handing little notes to people asking them to call me because I didn't understand what was going on :oP

I too have fallen in love collectively with AA. It is the best part of my life. Peace and love in yours,

A friend of Bills in British Columbia.

Hello SHHHH!

Yes you exhausted a brain or two, (certainly not offended).
Most alcoholics, if not all, love to talk drunk or sober.
Don't share anything at a meeting that you would not want
to be shared in another town, or another meeting. Who do you think we are? We certainly are not saints. AA meetings
are full of sick people. Imagine that! We share in a general way what we were like. If AA has helped us to change, we share that with other alcoholics. I don't believe
we are here to talk about "issues", other than the way they
relate to our alcoholism. HERE! HERE! is another cult like
chant, which groups have adopted or is it adapted? Simply remind the group to respect the anonymity of all other
members. Anyone who doesn't know the definition of anonymity, please see the chairperson after the meeting.
Tradition eleven and twelve concern anonymity. They are
not laws, because we have no AA POLICE to enforce them.
We are all individually and collectively responsible to
protect our fellowship. ANONYMOUS A friend of Bill W
from the east coast.

Joined: 2011-07-10
Reply to: SHHHH - What stays at the meetings

Think of the Golden Rule. Would you want someone talking about you behind your back?

That's what leaving what's said at the meetings, "at the meetings" is all about.

Use a little common sense if someone is planing or admitting to, or conspiring to do grave wrongs. I'm sure there is a line, from sharing at a meeting to a police matter. This forum isn't the best place to figure that out.

Re: Shhhh - What stays at the meetings

Meetings aren't supposed to be group therapy sessions, though that's what many have become. They aren't supposed to be public confessionals, though that's what many members have turned them in to. Meetings are where the older (longer sober) members teach the newcomer how to get and stay sober.
Anyone can stay sober in a meeting--it's outside that's tough. We need what we learn at meetings to live in the world, and we can't do that if we 'let it stay here, hear, hear.'


It seems to be a secret, but meetings are not classrooms where longer (sober members) teach anyone anything. Sober
members talk about how they drank and how they got sober
through coming to AA. If the new person gains anything
from listening to us that is wonderful. If not, we thank
them for coming and listening to us, because that is how
we stay sober. All members in an AA meeting come together as equals. We are not teachers, preachers, advisors. I
believe that the AA sponsor concept of today has become so distorted that the title ought to be abandoned. Todays
sponsor along with the incessant chanting makes AA a cult.
Even cults work for some. The other six million suffering
alcoholics have been pushed away. ANONYMOUS


I agree with you all the way BUT for me My Higher Power and the meetings which I attend keep me sober and sane. I can learn from the newcomer, listen to the old timer, and come away with a sense of peace and serenity. I do not have to participate in the chants, if I do not want to, because once I say Amen that is the ending of the meeting, for me. I usually clap after the meeting because it is my way to show my appreciation for the people there who have kept me sober one more day.

RE: Agree

Take a closer look - It is important to discover where and what the outside sponsorship system was for before it became an institution injected in A.A.- It was once useful outside
of A.A. before local spin dry's took over - Take a closer look


Dr. Bob was quoted as saying: Don't applaud me. Don't applaud any alcoholic. FROM: "Doctor Bob and the GOOD OLTIMERS" anonymous

RE: Clapping

The Traditions are simple plane and clear we are never to praise our-self's but the outside sponsorship system has too.
Many are IN A.A. a few are OF A.A

Hello I think you're wrong

Very funny post...

Faith without works is dead

Faith without works is dead AND works without faith is dead.

RE: Faith without works is dead

Why don't people have faith in the free God given program of A.A as they think they need to sponsor people already here?
No faith I can only guess.


there are two very important chapters in the BB for the non believers like i used to be ( there is a solution)and (WE agnostics) in those chapters i found what i needed to find to get sober and find relief from this hopeless state of mind and body. i had to have a VITAL spiritual awaking and where to find the great reality deep down inside me and the fact that i didnt have to believe i just had to become willing to believe to make a start and that my higher power(GOD) would do the rest and slowly he has revealed himself in my heart and the obsession has been lifted that is all the evidence i need


TRUST IN GOD, GET READ OF THE OUTSIDE SPONSOR - then share your unsuspected tapped inter resources with another.

Hello can I post this here?

Completely I share your opinion. In it something is also to me it seems it is good idea. I agree with you.


Sure am glad I'm not anyone keeper got tired taking Gods job.

It's proper for ANYONE to help someone across the street - It is a sickness not to be able to let them go.

Loneliness can take you to some strange and sponsored places

I LOVE this step!

There's just something so sweet that strikes me funny about this. After we read the step and people are sharing on it. Not that I'm arguing about that step or what they say. I'm fond of them all. It's good to hear someone feel love for the wisdom of the people who reach out to us from the past.


U want to talk about feelings? Go home and put on a barry manilow album


In my early days I heard members say, "

I always FELT different!

What makes sense to me is to say, "I always THOUGHT different so then I FELT different.

I changed my thinking by working the 12 steps, thank God.


I'm at meetings to reach the next suffering alcoholic. Being alone with a Barry Manilow album would probably get me drunk. Ditto Barbara Streisand, Frank Sinatra...

New guy

Hey everybody, just thought I would say hi there and also introduce myself.

Our primary Purpose

I arrived at a step book meeting 20 minutes early recently and noticed an attractive unfarmiliar young lady sitting by herself. She looked like a newcomer. The 8 tables were arranged in a square and she was the only one on that side and was sitting in the middle of the side. She appeared noticibly anxious. There were 5 other ladies at the meeting and 12 men. I was sitting closest to her and could feel her uneasyness. Next to me were 2 ladies with about 25 years each. Another lady with 7 years, one with 6 months and one who was struggling. None of the "sober" women attempted to welcome her. They were busy texting and chating well into the meeting. After the reading the young lady shared she was new. I welcomed her to AA and appologized for the group not being as welcoming as other AA groups generally are. I suggested she sample other meetings. I have been coming to meetings since the 70's. In that time I have whittnised a sad trend. I believe we are loosing sight of our primary purpose, our insurance for immunity from alcohol. It also seems when someone points out the incivility of texting at meetings or snubing nercommers they are labled as BB thumpers, nazzis, AA cops or guru's. Attempting to call these matters to light in a kind and loving manner is an ardious task. I strugle with the question; am I a bleeding deacon or am I a concerened AA who just can't sit quietly with the other "oldtimers" and watch AA continue to morph into something other than what our founders had in mind?

Joined: 2012-01-03
Our Primary Purpose

God bless you and you are right, unfortunately I find the same thing in the mtgs I go to, where oldtimers don't get off their fannies and offer a word of welcome or a hug to someone new. I went to a new mtg the other day and the only one who came up to me was a man who (I found out later)has been around for many years, God bles him too, but none of the ladies said a word to me. They had no way of knowing whether it was my first mtg or my 1000th. I always try to welcome anyone that comes thru the doors, maybe if we pass the word we can keep up the tradition, otherwise we're all in trouble.

Our Primary Purpose

Random acts of kindness and spread the love. Makes me want to go to meetings and then again . . . maybe not.

Our primary purpose-anonymous

Thank you for addressing this! When I was new, I was that woman sitting there alone and nervouse, while others chatted in their little cliques, and laughed and talked. If I hasn't been court ordered I wouldn't have returned. I found this at several meetings to be the same. And I never got sober for the longest time. I barely am now-three months, and it is still the same. Except I go up to the newcomer. I know how it feels and some of them don't have the benefit of being forced to attend. How many of us have been left behind, just because we are too busy socializing and catching up? So maybe it was good that I went through it. I cannot let another newcomer go through the same. I hope others see this and start to hold out their hand to the newcomer. It's a lonely, scary, place to be. And I am new enough to remember that, and hope I never am 'old' enough to forget.

I Am Responsible

I don't know if you are a bleeding deacon OR a concerned AA! I was shocked in reading your post - not so much by the behavior of the women at the meeting, as by yours. Judging only by what you shared here - the women were ignoring her and you were 20 minutes early and sitting closest to her - I can't understand why YOU did nothing, except to complain and apologize for the other people's behavior.

In the same situation, I would have sat next to the new young woman and introduced myself. "Hi, I'm Ian. Is this your first meeting, or are you new in the area?" This is a proper and appropriate approach to seeing a new face, of any gender. It usually precipitates a nice or painful little chat, after which you might suggest that she hang around after the meeting and you can introduce her to some of the women, who might be able to help her. How could you sit next to her for 20 minutes and say nothing?

Yes, the women were at fault - selfish and self seeking - but weren't you, too?

Joined: 2012-03-19
Right on!

I think the original poster was a male who didn't want to seem like he was moving in on the new, vulnerable female. I can relate to that.
You're exactly right, though, about the way he could have best handled that situation. This is my first day on this site & I've learned from these posts.

Joined: 2011-10-03
Our primary purpose - reply

as it says in the foreword of the BB, few realize how sick the alcoholic is. i sometimes forget that people, in the room, can be in drastically stages of spiritual health. when i see someone behaving like an unsocialized german shepherd, i try to deflect whatever is going on with humor and do what i believe god and the oldtimers would have me do (as you did).

i suspect the face of AA has changed but it's a sign of success - we're getting a lot more people in who are "low bottom" drunks... they don't have the same desperation that someone does who went through detox in a bathtub of ice in someone's house becuase the hospital wouldn't take them.

when the low bottom drunks come in they are, like i was, actively hunting for anything external that releases some of the internal pain they're feeling as they come out of defrost. i think the accessibility of shiney things on smart phones is an easy out for people... like little emotional micro-drunks.

that said, it drives me insane - i think it's really disrespectful and selfish. sometimes i mention it to the person, sometimes i don't... i try to do it in a way that doesn't make me feel like a selfish dick. the group and the universe will take care of it, one way or another.

Joined: 2011-08-22
Welcoming the Newcomer

Primary Purpose,
I've heard it said and I believe it to be true, "AA is like an all-purpose wrench, it adjusts to fit every nut that walks in the doors.

I can't say that I'm perfect at welcoming newcomers 100% of the time. Step 6 asks me to ask God for the willingness to let go of my self-centeredness (which I label as "objectionable"), and I usually remember to ask God for help; but as I already pointed out, I am not perfect yet. I still have character defects that get in the way of my usefulness to my Creator and my fellows.

At times when I'm more spiritually fit I do what my sponsor suggests (she has 35 years of sobriety and I only have 15 yrs, so I listen) and that is to "be the change that I want to see in others".

One of the other things my sponsor points out as the way to be most effective at being the change I want to see, is by following the instructions on page 18&19 of the Big Book:

"But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours (sometimes within the time frame of a meeting)...That the man making the approach has had the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about, that his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer, that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou, nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful; that there are no...people to please, no axes to grind, no lectures to be endured--these are the conditions we have found most effective."

If I had been "welcomed", I'm not sure I would have stayed. I came five minutes late and left 5 minutes early (so I didn't have to talk to anyone). My sponsor came with me to one of my regular meetings to make sure I took a 6 month chip! Up to that point I had not raised my hand as a newcomer, I did not take a 30 day chip nor any of the others. I got to know other AA women and had 3 close AA buddies and they did all my talking at meetings for me! It was great!

I must say though that taking that 6 month chip and sharing briefly (I thanked God, I thanked my sponsor and I thanked AA) was the beginning of my emotional sobriety.

I believe we get what we need in the rooms of AA, maybe not what we want and I trust that my HP can and is holding the newcomer in the palm of His hand, just like I was held, though I didn't know it at the time. I do my best to be sensitive to the needs of others and I find that many times my HP uses me in spite of myself and my shortcomings; so as warped as I am, I still try to be the change I want to see in others.

Lydia V.

Joined: 2011-10-26
welcoming the newcomer

I go to a large meeting on the west side of Los Angeles and part of our format is to ask newcomers to raise their hands. This is not to embarrass you but so that we may get to know you and give you our phone numbers. At the coffee break I make it a point to introduce myself to these newcomers. I was able to get one enthusiastic sponsee that way and we are going through the book together one on one. So by being welcoming to the newcomer, I am helping myself more than I am helping the newcomer. If I don't freely give away what was given to me I will surely go out again.

Longtimers NOT welcoming the newcomers.

This was one of the reasons I DIDN'T STAY in the rooms of AA! I was scared to death when I went to my 1st meeting. I wanted to be sober. Detoxed at a local Rehab. Got into IOP as suggested. Went to 3 meetings a week as suggested. got a Home Group, 2 as a matter of fact. The WOMAN'S meeting was where I thought I get the most support, WRONG! I faithly arrived at 6:00pm for a 7:00pm meeting. I helped the Sec. set-up and did WHATEVER needed to be done. I could not talk much, I hoped that since I was the newbe, she would strick up a conversation at some point, NOPE! I was TOO AFRAID to say I was afraid. I didn't dare share with my sponsor my FEAR. Here I am, look like a woman, dress like a woman, act like a woman. REALLY what I was, was a LITTLE GIRL in a woman's body. Arrival at EVERY meeting, the DOORS were HUGH and frightening, then having to walk up to them and open them (not knowing what and who was on the other side), ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED! Having to go up to a STRANGER and introduce myself - OMG! Rarely, if at all did anyone approach me. I went there KNOWING I wa different and the LACK OF ACTION, by the longtimes proved to me that I was different and didn't belong there. But I kept going, staying fearful the entire time and never sharing with anyone MY FEAR! Not IOP, not sponsor or even my therapist. I was (I felt) expected to be a BIG GIRL. This lasted all of 15 mos. then I was GONE. Went to a discussion meeting on a Friday night and of the the same question was asked, "does anyone have a sobriety threatening issue", I was too afraid to speak up. It was then I realized that,(my opinion) I WASN'T GOOD ENOUGH. When the meeting was over, I went directly to the store and bought my beer. Then became a bigger nightmare. In and out of the rooms for the next 3 years. God BLESSED me with a window of opportunity (woke up one morning and no cravings, no withdrawls, so no need to drink! I, went back for the forth time with very little fear. Was I BLESSED? Absolutely! Am I HUMBLE? Absolutely! GREATFUL, indeed. After 2 and 1/2 years, an AWESOME CONSCIENCE WITH MY HIGHER POWER, a WONDERFUL SPONSOR as well as my THERAPIST and a TOTAL BLIEF that GOD & JESUS BLESSED me with sobriety (1 day at a time). Do I go out of my way to WELCOME THE NEWCOMER - ALWAYS, at any meeting I go to, even if it's my 1st time there. NEWCOMERS, PLEASE "Keep Coming Back", find your higher power, now that you are POWERLESS over any mind altering substance. Trust me, when you once find your HIGHER POWER, you will NEVER BE ALONE & YOU WILL ALWAYS BE LOVED! Bless You.......

Thank you for your concern

As I started reading your chat, I thought you were speaking about me (yes, my ego is still that strong!). It happened and still happens that I am that women, not feeling welcome, but I feel AA is so rich, sometimes I tell myself: oh well, «there is always litterature» and I hope for the best. Fortunatly for me I had wonderfull sponsors (one men and one women) and a group that help me «stick» to the program on my first days.

This phrase heard at a meeting helped me through rough «cold AA rooms» time:
-The real grace is not to arrive at AA it is to stay in AA.

Our Primary Purpose

I feel it is always up to me to introduce myself. No not like in freakishly weird demnted way; But in as genuinly and kind a way as possible. I am not the friendliest person normally. My social skills lack sorely most of the time and after a polite hello I am Monica; I am ready to move on. I attempt to introduce folks around the rooms to the other folks and pull the other long timers off of the texting and reading and what have you. I am surely no champion at it but I try . I keep in mind that the groups I attend are no hotbed of mental health and that we all forget that getting out of ourselves is the very thing that saves us.

"Summer People"

I was recently reminded of something my sponsor said to me when I first got sober in Massachusetts. He apparently saw me talking to someone who, well, really wasn't serious about sobriety—or perhaps had other things on their mind... if you catch my drift.

So at the first opportunity, he pulled me aside and said, "You know, sometimes I might walk up to you and say, 'Oh, I see you've met so-and-so. They're one of those Summer People!' That," he continued, "will be your clue to end the conversation nicely, and stay away from them, because Summer Sicker Than Others!"

LOL. My sponsees still get the same advice, although I don't have to use it very often.

Funny what we can learn from Summer People!

Summer People

One summer I was vacationing in Massachussets. We went to a local meeting populated by about 3 other people. I made some sort of comment about how small the meeting was. The reply came that they were glad that we were there, because it was just the three of them for most of the year, and they could get bored of hearing each others' stories repeatedly. My point is the responsibility declaration.

Summer people

How lucky i am to live in Southern California where there are so many meetings and so many events in AA

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