Magazine Discussion Topic

266 replies [Last post]
Joined: 2011-07-29
Henrietta Seiberling

Henrietta Seiberling's plan did not work. Dr. Bob continued to drink. If Henrietta Seiberling's plan would have worked, we would not have AA today.

did it work?

"Henrietta Seiberling's plan did not work".

Henrietta Seiberling's plan did not work, instantly. From that I wouldn't conclude that it wasn't part of a plan that worked very well.

re crosstalk

Thanks for your well researched and detailed share. I "grew up" in a group where tough love was practiced wholeheartedly. Anyone trying to dish out any crap could be expected to be called on it. I was even nailed on crap that I was keeping quiet about. Ouch! It didn't take long to find out who we were, what our character defects were and what to do about it. Anybody with thin skin was welcome to try a different group. To us crosstalk were private conversations usually whispered when someone else was trying to share.

The first time I encountered a different definition was at a Friends of Bill meeting on a cruise ship. A guy shared in so many words that he was setting himself for a drunk. I pointed the fact out to him. He freaked out and demanded that the meeting close right then. He didn't offer to leave, he didn't ask me to leave, by god everybody had to leave. I simply sat and watched him and those crazy enough to follow him leave. Viva la difference.

Joined: 2013-01-08
Cross Talk

Thank God for the diversity of meetings in AA.

During my first year of AA, I attended a daily meeting in a club that was of the lovey dovey, "thank you for sharing" type. Cross talk was strictly forbidden. I loved it and made many good friends. I also met my sponsor there. I chose him as a sponsor because he talked steps and solutions. I wanted that.

I soon learned where he'd found his solution when he invited me to his home group - a men's step study. The meeting would begin in a large group with a lead on the step of the week. We'd then break into tables of 4-6 members with an experienced chairman at each table. You were to share on the step of the week if you'd worked it or on the step you were working on. Any member at the table could provide feedback during a share. This was always done in a loving way. Group members were encouraged to "deliver your message with love". Even so, we called this "getting nailed". I got nailed early and often. I soon realized that I needed to get called on my BS and that these guys knew me inside and out. There was nothing I could hide and nothing worth hiding. My AA foundation was built in that group that has served me for many years.

There are examples of two meetings that could not be more different; one with no crosstalk and the other built on crosstalk. Both were big and thriving meetings that met the needs of attendees. It seems like there is room in AA for both.

Doing AA the right way

I have 29 years of sobriety thanks to the rooms of A.A. and our 12 steps. Like Jim F., who wrote "There are no must" in the September 2013 Grapevine, I have been criticized for the way that I run my program. I have my experience, strength, and hope and you have yours. If you know me, perhaps you will say that she works a watered down version of A.A. and is killing newcomers. I do understand that my ESH is not going to work for everyone. I get that. But in my own quiet way, I do think that I have some ESH that can help some. I don't come to A.A., either meetings in my town or online, to debate what is the right way to work an A.A. program.

I come because I need A.A. to stay sober a day at a time. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. And I know how to use my feet and find another meeting if one meeting is not working for me.

For those who say, "but you didn't" __________. I'll say that I have 29 years of continuous sobriety, I must of done something right. Or as a couple of my buddies tell me (one of whom has his sponsees go through the BB and underline "must" and "should"): "I want what you have."

I love it when I can talk to some folk I know from the rooms where we have, shall we say, very divergent views of how we work our program. We are having a nice time catching up on our lives and our sobriety.

It send shivers up my spine when I hear and read of some of the intolerance of those who are either verbally or with their body language pointing their finger at me saying: "people like you in the rooms are killing newcomers."

I am often quiet at meetings, and when I share I try to relate my share to how I am working the program to stay sober today. Or to address whatever the topic is. And I know that I am helping people because people will sometimes come up to me after the meeting, thanking me for my share and thanking me for coming to the meeting.

After spending a few years of "dumbing down my shares to " better fit into A.A. meetings", I am working on being honest. And yes, I try to respect our singleness of purpose. Even if being honest goes against the grain of local A.A. If you don't like what I say and you don't want your sponsees to talk to me, well that is your right. But please be nice, respect that we have different ESH and different ways of working our program. It doesn't mean that one of us is right and the other is wrong.

I have a right to be in the rooms of A.A. For the most part, while I can say that some at both the meetings in my town and online don't always like what I share, no one has ever told me that I am not welcome at A.A.

Joined: 2013-09-05
Doing AA the right way

"I have 29 years of sobriety thanks to the rooms of A.A. and our 12 steps. Like Jim F., who wrote "There are no must" in the September 2013 Grapevine, I have been criticized for the way that I run my program."
Please, help me on this because I'm totally confused. Where in the AA literature does it say there are no musts? I'm sure it must be somewhere or I wouldn't hear it from so many different members, yet in my forty-two continuous of sobriety in AA I haven't come across it.

Joined: 2012-05-30
re musts

there literally are no "musts " in the big book or 12x12. literally zero! the word "must " is written 134 times in the big book and 12x12. it's .like a big practical joke Bill W is playing on us. I think Bill would say stop the semantics and work with a newcomer.
in AA comes of Age, Bill wrote AA has 2 authorities. God who is waitin for u to do his will and alcohol who will kill you if you don't.
If you really want sobriety, there are actions you "must " take. if you don't and you don't die in the meantime, we will be here to help when your ready to take those 12 actions.

RE: noduis

Shame on you and me and anyone else with 42 years sobriety
who has not read LOTH, AACA and the other sources filled
with information. I finally opened these books (and my mind)
when I discovered that our fellowship had nearly collapsed
in the 1990's. Bill wanted AA to be available to alcoholic
sufferers for the next thousand years. We made it to 1992
helping hundreds of thousands every year. For the past
twenty years we have only been helping ourselves. ANONYMOUS

Joined: 2012-03-04
Re: Doing AA the right way

I think you can find the answer to your question in Tradition One, the Big Book and elsewhere in A.A. General Service Conference Approved literature.

“Our Twelve Steps to recovery are suggestions; the Twelve Traditions which guarantee A.A.’s unity contain not a single “Don’t.” They repeatedly say “We ought….” but never “You must!” (Tradition One; The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions p. 129

“Alcoholics Anonymous has no “musts.” – Bill W. (Tradition One, The Language of the Heart p. 76; AA Grapevine December 1947)

“Our book is meant to be suggestive only.” (Big Book p. 164 )

For me there is no “right” or “wrong way” in which to work the AA program. What is the "right" way for me may be the "wrong" way for other alcoholics and vice versa. If an alcoholic hasn't had a drink of alcohol today, then he "must" have done something "right" even if he or someone else judges him to be doing it "wrong." I try not to judge myself or other alcoholics. My experience of judging myself tells me that sometimes when I have judged myself as doing things "right" I have found this attitude to be nothing more an ego trip, painful to others who have had the displeasure of being in my company. Eventually this attitude ends up in being painful to myself, but only when I am willing to admit that my behavior towards others has been "wrong." I think it is what's called making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself in Step 4 and when I am "wrong" promptly admitting it in step 10. And, therefore, not taking others inventory for them with the conscious or subconscious purpose of inflating my own ego at the expense of deflating their spirit.

Joined: 2012-05-30
re right way

glad to read you have long term sobriety. the key to long term sobriety is, don't ever drink and don't die!
my point is that all alcoholics are drunks, but not all drunks are alcoholics. it's been my experience that drunks can put the plug in the jug, attend AA and be reasonably happy and sober. alcoholics who attend meetings and put the plug in the jug without working the steps progressively get worse until they drink again or find another addiction.
this is my personal experience as an oldtimer.

Joined: 2011-12-20
re: Doing AA the right way

I don't like it when people stay sober the wrong way ; )

You have a right

You do have a right to attend AA meetings. Absolutely.

It also sends shivers up my spine when you say that you’ve heard or read, and even experienced, the intolerance of those who are saying “people like you in the rooms are killing newcomers.”

Unfortunately, many still suffering alcoholics are now starting to avoid AA because many AA groups no longer seem to be “spiritual, but not religious.” Instead of practicing openness and tolerance to agnostics, like in the old days, there seems to be a new AA culture determined to force feed religious beliefs and practices down every newcomer’s throat.

Please continue not to dumb down your shares. You mentioned that people will sometimes come up to you after the meeting and thank you for your share. There are lots of intelligent and open minded people in AA who appreciate an intelligent message. Honesty can be achieved while at the same time being respectful of others personal beliefs and how they practice their program. Newcomers need to hear your message. They, like you and me, need acceptance and peer support to stay sober a day at a time. That is what AA groups have been able to provide in the past. Let’s try to keep that intact for the next generation (and ourselves).

RE: You have a right

They, like you and me, need and peer support. Not peer
pressure, PEER SUPPORT. Love and tolerance must again become our code. Spiritual, NOT religious can be
confusing. I believe spiritual growth is necessary for
recovering/recovered alcoholics. I see the four Oxford
Group absolutes as measuring sticks. Strive to be more
honest, more pure, more loving and more unselfish. Of
course these are goals of the religions. I would like to
see Alcoholics Anonymous become an altruistic society
once again. The ship can be turned around. ANONYMOUS

Right way, left way

I was at a small meeting (five of us) last night. I guess I had shared something about my observation that "whatever works best is best" in the context of AA, that I am glad others have found what works for them, glad they share that with me, but noting that I stop listening when anyone starts suggesting what I need to do (other than "don't drink). The two newer folks, both less than a year sober, shared that what they appreciate about this meeting is the absence of proselytizing. We read from the 24 Hour a Day book, notwithstanding the fact that it is a pretty a-religious bunch. I will attend another meeting tonight, where our "fearless leader" is in his sixth decade of sobriety, but has never read the big book, has never done the steps. My observation is that he has more serenity than some of the big book and Bible thumpers I encounter in the rooms, but then who am I to judge. I worry about those who have "found the answers," as my own experience has been that yesterday's answer rarely works on today's issue. Paraphrasing Pope:
For means of sobriety let fools contest - whatever works best is best...
In faith and hope the drunks will disagree - but all AA's concern is charity.
Speaking of proselytizing...


If I drink I will get drunk- therefore I MUST not pick up the first drink. The program and the fellowship has taught and continues to teach me that there is price to pay for what I want and need. All it costs me is a desire not to drink today, to be honest with me so I can be honest with others. But mostly is to share my experience, strength and hope with the people who cross my path. I have not had to drink since May of 1989. Since then I've gotten married to a fellow member, buried 2 of our 4 children, had a heart attack. Never mind the normal crap that happens to everyone, everyday. Yes I wanted to drink, but I refuse to pay the ultimate price. IF I DRINK, I WILL DIE! Just for today, I CHOOSE not to die.Today I have the choice. All because Bill and Dr. Bob met. And for that I am grateful. My name is Mary and I am an alcoholic.

reply to there being no musts in aa

my name is don r my sobriety date is 12/22/1990 i have been around aa since 1982. that being said i understand the comment about there being no musts or rules in aa, however without the musts there would be no aa. The reason i say this is on page roman numeral xvi half way down the page is the very reason for our recovery. I dont work with others to help feed my ego, or make me feel omnipotent, i work with others to help me stay sober and paas on freely what was passed on to me by my sponsor. this is the first must in the bigbook of aa. there are several reasons when i sponsor people i use the word must as a means to gauge my new prospect because for some it is a boring book but looking for a specific word and then asking them about why that word was used was how i became interested in reading the bigbook. as for no rules in aa i believe requirements are rules and the only one being a desire to stop drinking which leaves me to ask. how can we get sober unless we stop drinking? maybe we must stop drinking first.

AA and Addicts

Exclusitivity in AA. The word "Clean" to describe an addict is just a newer version to describe sober. A pop culture term. Please think about it. I was clean for 33 years and one afternoon my world fell apart. I found myself buying my drug of choice. I text a friend who is an AA member. She called me immediately. Said what are you going to do. Said I didn't know. There was no NA meeting that night she said you have time to get to an AA meeting. I walked in with trepidation to that meeting after all I wasn't an alchoholic. That meeting put me back in a place I knew I could walk away and never touch that drug again. As I walked away knowing drugs were not the answer I found myself wanting to drink to ease that pain. Didn't even think about I was going to trade my being "clean" for alcohol instead. Trading one addiction for another. I have a AA sponsor now and am thankful to God everyday for that. But that AA meeting saved my life and yes I am a recovering addict and a potental alcoholic addiction is addiction. So when you get annoyed by one of us saying we are clean and sober at at AA meeting. We might just be at that meeting because we didnt have a NA meeting to go to.

Joined: 2012-05-30
re clean &sober

i am greatful for your sobriety. please Google NA bulletin 13. NA asks that members not use the phrase "clean and sober". from what i understand they beleive a drug is a drug including alcohol. AA is only concerned with alcohol. the reason for hyper focusing on alcohol only is that alcoholics deny their alcoholism. if AA is allowing problems other than alcohol in AA, we are actually killing the alcoholics. there are 200 12 step groups. i know because i qualify for about 150 of them.
please read the AA pamphlet "problems other than alcohol for further clarification.
if you feel you need NA meetings daily, simply start them. don't. try to change AA to what you want.

Unnacceptable/Sept 2013

When I first came to the rooms of AA in 2008, I was extremely emotionally and mentally ill. I had no boundaries and had to learn how to create them. I had zero self esteem and very codependent. The only way I thought I was an human being was though a relationship or a job title. I am attractive woman and was in my mid thirties. Slim build with strawberry blonde hair. When I first came around it was like I was fresh meat for the predators in the rooms. All I wanted was to go to a meeting and not have one man come on to me or hug me to feel my breasts. When men approached me for hugs, I would freeze out of terror, and just allowed them to hug me even-though I was dying inside. For at least the first year I was unable to use my voice. I had lost it during several traumatic events that took place during my childhood. That was one of reasons why I had drank was to get tough and cocky.But it stopped working. Nobody would intervene with known predators, I never felt safe in the rooms for a long time. My sponsors husband attended meeting frequently and he acted like a bouncer, for me. He became upset with other members when they would cross the line, with my personal boundaries. Many many people in the rooms of AA state" it is none of my business" and they turn a blind eye and don't say a word. I don't understand how hard it would have been to tell me a little bit history of these certain men. Today I tell my sponsees" You see that guy over Not be left alone in a room with him" and I leave it at that. Many woman have been sexually assaulted by men who claim they are great people because they are sober!!!I have wonderful boundaries today. I can be assertive and teach other woman how to be also...I have also suggested with home groups to create protocol around 13th stepping. The traditions need to be taken more seriously. Safety is a huge concern for many woman in AA,in a northern part of a province in Canada. Today i make it my business.

Unnacceptable/Sept 2013

I am glad that you stuck around in spite of the predators that attacked you. I remember a guy saying, "Hey! Why don't you come to my house and we can watch a spiritual video together." to me. The answer was, "No." because I had a year's sobriety but I wonder if anyone new has been victimized by this person.

I think it is the job of every A.A. "veteran" to look out for newcomers and protect them from predators. I applaud you for doing that today :-)


Thank you so much for sharing your experience regarding this very
serious matter. I admire your courage in standing up to this most unacceptable behavior. Women and young people need to feel safe on our meetings or they will in fact leave and yes they may
die. I presented on the topic of Safety in AA - Our Common Welfare at the Northeast Regional Forum in June of this year and was overwhelmed with the response I got. From that presentation I have
been asked to allow part of my talk to be printed in the GV issue, asked to allow the talk to be posted on area websites and asked to be part of a distinct workshop on the matter. In addition, my home group has adopted the concept of a newcomer committee to help match up men with men and women with women at their first meetings. A group inventory is a good way to get this discussion going and I also have found that when a light is cast
on this kind of behavior, it lessens the chance of reoccurrence. Still as I write this I think that one occasion of predatory behavior is one too many. Thank you again for your candor and for your courage - your experience is helping others



Predatory behavior

While living my 25th year sober,I also have seen a lot of predatory behavior by both men and women. We don't come in as Saints and we don't change right away. I do tell women it is best if they avoid the men and any relationship until they get some health back. The pretty ones really get hit on all the time. Some women are able to turn away from the men and some are not.
I have found that my message needs to contain the idea that the Big Book points out 3 areas of problems that often lead to drinking again...resentment, fear, and sex. That is what I need to say...not necessarily what people want to hear.
When a woman decides to stay involved with the men, I often have to back way off because I get too many resentments when they get hurt.


We are only sick as our secret's right? AA's 13th step dirty little secret keeps on happening because we keep trying to act as if it isn't going on.
Shame shame hmmmm rigorous honesty sure is falling short.

re: unacceptable

Safety - I don't think it is any less of a concern for the women anywhere else. One wonders how many woman have turned around and walked out of AA because of the initial reception you describe. You are correct, that more people need to make it their business to warn newcomers of predatory practices of both men and women, and to call older members on their behavior - because ultimately for the newcomer it is a matter of life and death. Thanks for the thought-provoking subject and comments.

Joined: 2013-07-03

I downloaded the Dec 2011 issue and heard many similarities in Tony C's "Deep-seated rage." You don't hear adult children's unique issues talked about much. His story meant a lot to me; particularly the abuse, isolation, and growing up in books and with solitary hobbies that just barely got me out alive.

I download three or four issues a night, as I go to bed, so it's ready in the morning. I wish the grapevine was setup more so that you could type in the issue, year and month you want, as I'd like him to know what must have hurt him greatly mattered to someone else. I'd also like the capacity to bookmark or delete individual files in the issue, as I've run out of space a few times already, and I'd like to keep things that mattered to me, while getting rid of things that I don't need.

I think I would like to be able to distribute audio grapevines at doctor's offices and other relevant places. What spoke to me might speak to another desperate person.

Joined: 2012-01-18
Re: acoas

Maybe the Grapevine should publish a regular ACOA story, it already publishes NA stories. Perhaps we should also get an OA story or two, and a few GA stories. Soon we'll be able to change the name from Alcoholics Anonymous to Assorted Ailments.

Joined: 2012-02-09
blackouts, signs of needing help

In the July issue the GV discussion topic was at the end of an article entitled Birthday Blackout. Here are my comments.

First, I experienced blackouts several times. During these dramatic affairs I became violent, once causing harm to myself. I didn't hurt anyone else luckily. Other times I came to after blacking out at a football game, where I remembered being inappropriate with a friend of my girlfriend. Another time it was at a faculty party. These blackouts occurred five or six years before I got to Alcoholics Anonymous. I was incredulous that these things happened. They were embarrassing. They led to my being in jail, being ostracized by my coworkers, and causing problems for those people who were close to me and to the authorities.

When I got to AA I did have these signs to look at. But, what signaled to me most was when my wife invited me to dinner, then drove to an AA meeting. I probably would never have gone by myself. I couldn't admit defeat, couldn't show weakness.

Even then it took six months of in an out to finally sober up, and this because I had a court appearance for a DUI I had gotten on my first relapse during that half year.

One thing that helped me admit defeat was sharing at meetings my thoughts about my life being unmanageable.
The people laughed when I said that I didn't quite see my life as out of control. They had seen me for those months, and knew my story by then. That laughter broke through. I felt something like a release of pressure, maybe a not- alone moment.

Almost thirty years later now, I am grateful for those AAers who couldn't help themselves, when they heard their own stories coming out of my experience. That happens still. At meetings I share and hear things that are the bridges that lead me back into sanity and my life, where I can participate with others through mutual understanding and care. What a priceless gift.

Grapevine will not publish poetry

I have always written poetry as a means of expressing myself. The poems that I have written in the last few years that I've been sober tell my story and express the great things AA has done for my life. On this website, it is clearly written that they do not accept poetry or songs as a submission to the Grapevine magazine. Photos and artwork are allowed, but not poetry. I am very personal with my poetry and most people that know me don't even know that I'm a poet, but I thought Grapevine could be a great way for me (and other aa poets like myself) to share their story this way and reach out to fellow members in the same way that the regular "story" writers do. Any thoughts on this?


Difficult to imagine a good poet that couldn't write good prose. Nothing in step twelve says carry the message in the way I want.

I hope, you will find the correct decision. Do not despair.

Yes, really. I join told all above. We can communicate on this theme. Here or in PM.


Poetry is a very different art form. The problem, of course, is that modern poetry tends to be so formless and undisciplined that all folks think they can do it ... which means that The Grapevine would likely get overwhelmed with submissions. Too bad, though. For many of us, reading and writing poetry is nothing less than outreach to our Higher Power. It is most truly a form of prayer, and to exclude it in such a categorical way seems to undermine our form of 12th Step work.

Church Bashing

In response to the article on ''Church Bashing'' I have seen both sides of this since my move from the Northeast to the South. Juat for reference, I am not a Christian.

In the Northeast I found the tolerance for church bashing pretty darn high. It was OK to say "My Higher Power, who I choose to call 'God'" but woe betide the poor who admitted his HP was Jesus...break out the silver bullets folks, it's Religion rearing it's frightening head! Often people mentioning the ''J'' word in this context would be politely reprimanded after the meeting or ignored as if they had some bizarre contagion. Those who did openly disparage their church experiences were encouraged, but it was not acceptable to mention that A.A. opened the door to a better practice of any formal religious belief as part of sustaining sobriety.

After my move to the South, I found the complete opposite! Scripture was quoted in meetings, Sponsors gave out Christian literature and pointed out Bible verses which needed to be studied as part of working the program. It was strongly suggested to me that I could not possibly have a spiritual awakening unless I accepted Jesus as my savior, after all, I was smugly told, the 12 Steps are based on Christian teaching. Wow, I was now the scared one wondering if I should pursue a different form of recovery, as A.A. appeared more religious than spiritual. I hung in there though and continue to do so, gently reminding over zealous Christians that it is a Spiritual program and demonstrating through speech and actions that a working Higher Power truly can be a God of OUR UNDERSTANDING.

Church bashing

It takes a while for folks to experience spirituality. Sometimes AA folks never experience the difference between their religion and spirituality...but they do stay sober.

I often point out that people around the world belong to AA and use the steps. It seems like the Higher Power doesn't care what you call it or what position you pray in. HP is much more tolerant and loving than any of us, no matter what we believe.

Church Bashing

In response to the article on "Church Bashing" in the Feb. Grapevine.
I am a Christian and live in Lexington, North Carolina. When I came to AA in 2005 I believed in God, but did not agree with God. AA brought me to a place to where I could accept God for who he is. Jesus is in my heart and soul every day, but it was not always this way. With that being said, I know for this Alcoholic, though it's very hard, I have to let people find their own way. I will NOT stop going to meetings because someone stepped on my toes! I have stepped on too many in my drunken and sober days. I know how I came to God, and I'm sure others in the program will experience it too. If I run from meetings because of another person, I'm already drunk and don't know it.

Grayson L

Joined: 2013-03-19
to the new comer

I am fairly new myself,a little over 3 yrs this time.I really enjoy listening to the so called old timers for two reasons.First they know what it was like and how to stay sober one day at a time.And second and probably the most important is in reality we as a whole are only sober today.When I have a problem on my mind,(this is only a suggestion) I will grab one of the old timers before or after the meeting and talk the problem out.A sponsor is always good to.Remember we are only sober for one day at a time.Keep coming get active (make coffee,
set the meeting up,clean up after,ext.Do all these things and you will become the old timer..
TIME TAKES TIME So keep coming just one day at a time

re to the new

Anyone can become an expert on recovery from alcoholism as quickly as they can learn what is in the Big Book. No one gets a PHD though. I was most helpful at two or three years. Do you think I can recall the feelings a newcomer has after over 30 years, besides being a different world? As a newcomer I could look at somebody with three weeks or 90 days or a year and think "Maybe I can do that". Thirty years? Couldn't fathom the idea, nor wanted to.

You, not me are someone's solution.

The Big Book is filled with

The Big Book is filled with stories of how sobriety does not cause sobriety. A program of recovery causes sobriety.

The new comer

I am fairly new to AA and have been a daily blackout drinker for nearly thirty years. I had always had the impression that AA was for those people who just cried about the proplem they had to live with. I was content to handle my problems on my own. I found that I really enjoy and have come to need AA as a part of my daily recovery. I have been sober now for almost six months, which has been by the grace of god and working the program, one day at a time, and mostly one minute at a time. The only downfall I have is being in a meeting and wondering why the oldtimers always get the chance to speak first, and I am left to speak last if there is enough time. Sometimes there is really something on my mind, and by the time it gets to me I have lost the urge to speak. I have also noticed that alot of them think they need to tell you how you are suppose to stay sober instead of talking about their own sobriety. I myself am there for myself, and my sobriety is mine. When I share , I speak of myself, for myself, to keep sober. Has AA become a class instead of a members helping others stay sober ? I also see thise who I believe just like to here theirselves talk. So to all of the oldtimers , please let the new comers speak and be a part of the group, because thats how we all stay sober and clean, one day at a time.

Joined: 2013-08-06
newcomers speaking in meetings

I remember when I was about 3 years sober. I attended meetings where usually the same members spoke night after night and it did get a little boring to hear the same members share night after night even though they had more sobriety than me. But I remember that I was too scared to speak in front of the other 60 or so members that were there because when I did it felt like I was in a spotlight in front of the rest of the meeting. I called the local AA Central Office here once and the member who spoke to me told me how important it is for me to go to different meetings from time to time instead of my home group all the time. He said that if I got bored with AA that I might not come back. It is important for me to keep things interesting by attending various meetings and being around new people on a regular basis. Thank you for letting me share. Samuel, alcoholic

Joined: 2013-06-03
old timer

1st ... congratulations on being where you are and however you got there.I liked what you had to say and I too have experienced listening to some folks who seem to enjoy hearing themselves talk .... well I let them talk and I listen,with that said , please try to speak when you have a great desire to share ... I know I would admire someone who had the courage to speak rather than sit and fume and not hear the message of Alcoholics Anonymous ....
good luck
Charles (12-08-83)

Joined: 2013-01-08
New Comer

Dear New Comer,

Keep coming back and try to have patience with we old farts. I have found that people who go to a lot of meetings tend to like to go to meetings and share a lot. That's ok. Part of my deal is to grow in acceptance & understanding & patience. There is always the option to talk to a sponsor or AA friend before & after a meeting or go to the meeting after the meeting at coffee. I also have to remember that meetings are NOT the program. They give me a place where I can share my experience, strength & hope with others and they with me. It's also a place where I can be of service and help others. Sharing is only one part of the deal. There are also lots of different meetings with different formats. I always have the option of attending one of the smaller meetings in town where I'm nearly guaranteed the opportunity to share.

Thanks for sharing.

Joined: 2013-06-22
To the newcomer

I often point folks to page 18 of the Big Book and tell them that is our benchmark for behavior. When discussing the fellowship with new folks it always comes up "Why are some of the oldtimers a bit grumpy" I ask them:

" How many funerals do you think we have been to?"

I am a career military man. In my work I have met many men and women who suffer PTSD, which often results from being around a lot of death. As much joy as there is in AA (watching people recover is wonderful) it does not take away the sting of attending funerals of sponsees, friends, and just folks you see in the rooms.

One of my dearest friends relapsed after 15 years and to this day cannot (or will not) make it back. It is sad and tragic. Sometimes in meetings I hear things he used to say, it can be easy to drift into remorse.

The newcomer becomes my salvation in this regard. Chapter 7 of the Big Book gives me my marching orders. So I always ask the new guys to pray for those of us who have been on the firing line awhile longer. Lord knows we need them!

re: the newcomer.

I can hear some of our oldtimers exclaim: You are only
six months sober; what could you know. Well, I believe that
you have described about 10% of what is wrong with today's
A.A. Stay with us and maybe we can pinpoint the remaining
90%. I really enjoy A.A. too. and want it to be even better. A
warm light where everything was so black and dark. Rose

RE: The New comer.

I hope your message is read by the multitudes. Simply
going around the room "round robin" would solve the
problems you write about. And they are problems, although
most A.A. members today will say "no problem here". We
ought to encourage newcomers to participate, without requiring them to do so. We ought not make a spectacle
of the newcomer, nor allow a newcomer to make a spectacle
of himself/herself. But try to take away some oldtimers
right to dominate and control the meeting and the ire
shows up.
When the opportunity presents itself, introduce the topic at a group conscience meeting. If there is no such thing call one and vote to change the format. You may meet some resistance at first, but just explain it the way you did here. Don't run away, insist on being heard. In the
meetings I attended in the decade of the seventies, we
always just went "around the room". Every member was
treated as an equal. Equality is a vital ingredient in
recovery. That is how A.A. was born. ANONYMOUS

Joined: 2013-02-14
the newcomer

i felt, and sometimes still feel the same way. and then i got a sponsor, worked the 12 steps and stayed sober. then i went in the opposite direction, it was painful to listen to people really new. i have more patience and tolerance now. if there is something i really need to say, i have a sponsor, a spiritual advisor, and a support group. i don't presume that what i have to say is any more important than what anyone else has to share. if nothing else, i learn patience and tolerance. what you are getting is priceless, a good dose of humility. the book tells us what to do, and no alcoholic likes to be told what to do, and yet it persists, my life is better so its all to the good. my lesson is that i know what i don't want to do, God-willing, should i become an old-timer

re newcomer

I greatly appreciate your comments on AA meetings.
As with all issues there are at least two sides. My first meetings where open speaker meetings. The group conscience of that group elected a chairperson who would choose speakers for the meeting that week. This was highly effective. The meeting never had the opportunity to become a group therapy session, as so many newcomers from rehab believe AA is.
The group shared experience, strength, and hope with each other before the meeting, during the meeting as the speaker spoke, and after the meeting. All the group members were encouraged to read big book(where we can see precisely how to recover), get a sponsor and talk to that sponsor, and join a home group that met at the same time and same place each week.
From what I recall the group required you to be a year sober before you were asked to speak at the meeting. This way the newcomers had a chance to work the program before speaking. In this way the integrity of the AA message was somewhat preserved. The newcomer had every opportunity to share with their sponsor or others before and after the meeting, but the meeting was preserved to carry AA’s message or recovery, something the newcomer is not well equipped to do prior to working the program of AA.
I was told and still believe it to be true, that I was given two ears and one mouth for a reason. I did not care for that phrase then, but heck, I didn’t like any true statements then!
The preceding it just an example of how one group chose to run it’s own affairs. As the 4th tradition states, each group is autonomous.
Us as a newcomer, as long as we have a big book and a coffee pot, we are free to start our own meeting run as we see fit. We ought to 12 step some alcoholics newer than us and start a group more to our liking. When we complain about how our meetings are run outside of our group consciences, violates our tradition of unity – tradition 1. The other 11 traditions are how we maintain our unity.
Good luck to you and God as you understand him bless you

Hierarchy and Patriarchy

Thanks for this message. It explains an elementary
principle of equality. We come together in Alcoholics
Anonymous, newcomers and all others, on an absolutely
equal basis. (in theory). Today's sponsor will
vehemently reject this idea. To do so would remove all their
power and prestige.
This is one area where a simple solution exists. Simply
go around the room for sharing, allowing every group
member time to share. Share the message and share the time.
Sharing by "show of hands" is EGO building, at a time
when EGO deflation at depth is essential. This practice
started around 1980 in meetings I attended. For years I
silently questioned this practice. I did not understand
why it bothered me. Today I consider it an awful blunder
and has harmed A.A. at its core.
Yes, A.A. has become a Program of teachers, preachers,
and advisors. But this mistake can be corrected. You
have done A.A. a great service, by pointing it out from
a newcomers point of view.
Today, the newcomer, fresh out of rehab, is the first
one with a hand up. This is what he/she has been told to do. The person sitting in fear and sweat will be the least
likely person to put a hand up. Every member is an equal.
Allow everyone equal time. ANONYMOUS

Joined: 2012-01-18
Hierarchy and Patriarchy

Typical treatment industry psychobabble. Tradition Five states that an AA group's purpose is to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers. The pamphlet "Problems other than alcohol" goes into more detail by stating that sobriety, freedom from alcohol, through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps is the sole purpose of an AA group.
I wish more of our local groups would call on the oldtimers first. We used to be told that we should first learn to listen, then we could listen to learn. I don't know how anyone can expect to learn when he's talking.
Newcomers are her to learn how to stay sober, not to teach us what happens when we drink or let us know how their day is going.
Perhaps if newcomers wouldn't wait until the last minute to come to a meeting they could talk to someone before the meeting starts. And if the didn't dash out as soon as it's over they could talk to someone afterward.

Joined: 2012-02-04
Hierarchy and Patriarchy

Ado10416, I absolutely agree with you. When I first got sober, it was the Oldtimers who spoke and showed us newcomers with their Experience, Strength and Hope how to stay sober and to work this simple program of AA's 12 steps....and most of our AA group stayed sober and passed on the message of Hope, because we keep it unless we give it away, and we can't give away what we do not have.

So yes, we are all equals when it comes to the disease of alcoholism... we all have Untreated Alcoholism when we first come to AA. AA has a solution that works, when we work it.

When I was a newcomer, I NEEDED to listen to those who HAVE the Solution and passing it on ...because without them....I would have left AA and died DRUNK.

Untreated Alcoholism KILLS, whether we drink or not!

There are many discussion meetings today that start off by asking if there is anyone with 24 hours who would like to speak! Then anyone with 30 days or less. What are WE listening to when WE do that...The Mess....Not the Message of Hope or how to stay sober, that's for sure.

Its our responsibility as AA Group members, who have worked this program and who have ES&H to share, to pass on what AA IS and what AA isn't. To be accountable to our AA groups as informed AA Group members and who ought to be unafraid to Take Back Our AA group meetings. AA is NOT a therapy group, AA is not a place to complain and whine about our day, our way. Sobriety, freedom from alcohol, through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps IS the sole purpose of an AA group. How True!

I see so many newcomers today coming in and going out repeatedly. I have attended the funerals of so many who had no clue HOW to stay sober and live a life second to none, one step at a time, one day at a time.

I just want to thank you AD010416...for sharing the truth. Oldtimers need to pass on what was passed to them, and not have to sit and listen to anyone go on and on and on about the MESS! If we do not change the person we bring through those doors of AA by working, applying, practicing and passing on the 12 steps... then we stay absolutely miserable and eventually get drunk.

It is OUR RESPONSIBILITY to put into practice every one of our AA Traditions to keep the AA Group focused on why WE are gathered together: “Sobriety—the freedom from alcohol—through the teaching and practicing of the twelve steps is the sole purpose of an AA group.” — Bill Wilson

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