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Old 05-12-2013, 12:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Is this going to hold me back?

I'm totally and utterly petrified of speaking at meetings for any length of time.

I will share at my home group because it is small and close knit. Even so, I have a great deal of anxiety and usually stammer my way through the minute or so that I'm actually talking.

I am approaching my year anniversary and have already decided not to collect my coin because it will involve talking in front of a different larger meeting. I was due to lead a meeting a few weeks back which was thankfully called off, but last week the share didn't show and my sponsor asked me to step in. I just couldn't do it. I refused and I feel really guilty about that. She is insistent that I need to do this. I don't think she understands how I'm not just nervous but petrified.

I realise this sounds ridiculous as I'm actually a teacher! Put me in front of a class of kids and I'm well within my comfort zone. But this is different.

It is becoming such a huge obstacle that I'm even thinking of stopping my meetings. I love AA, I love the way my life is changing, everything is going well. I'm working the steps, I help newcomers. But if I have that expectation to lead a group on my shoulders the whole time, I'd rather give the whole thing a miss.

Is this really such a big deal if I just say no to the public speaking part? I trust my sponsor and have followed her lead in everything. But I just can't with this one.
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Old 05-12-2013, 12:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Jeni, I don't consider it a big deal, but you go with you gut. I'm rootin for ya what ever you do.
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Old 05-12-2013, 01:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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If you do eventually decide to speak, while doing so you might want to imagine how each person in the room would look, think and behave as a 4th grader.
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Old 05-12-2013, 01:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I never heard of a speaking requirement to collect your one year coin; a symbol to the rest of the group that the program works!! You've earned the coin through your continuous sober time.

As far as public speaking, are you referring to be the main speaker at a speaker meeting, or just briefly sharing at an open meeting? Remember you aren't doing a public 5th step, that's not necessary. It's just "what it used to be like, what happened, and what it's like now." You shouldn't feel compelled to share anything you are uncomfortable sharing. Ask God to "put the love in my heart and the words in my mouth." And use you to say something someone else needs to hear!!
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Old 05-12-2013, 01:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm totally and utterly petrified of speaking at meetings for any length of time.


Is this really such a big deal if I just say no to the public speaking part? I trust my sponsor and have followed her lead in everything. But I just can't with this one.
Only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.Someone needs to remind ur sponsor of that.

What a lot of people do here in Florida on their Anniversary is have one or two people share on a certain topic. Like maybe one shares on Honesty and another shares on Service, then they just open the floor up to others.

Some people will never be public speakers no matter how hard they are pushed and they shouldn't have to be.
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Old 05-12-2013, 01:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I never heard of a speaking requirement to collect your one year coin; a symbol to the rest of the group that the program works!! You've earned the coin through your continuous sober time.

As far as public speaking, are you referring to be the main speaker at a speaker meeting, or just briefly sharing at an open meeting? Remember you aren't doing a public 5th step, that's not necessary. It's just "what it used to be like, what happened, and what it's like now." You shouldn't feel compelled to share anything you are uncomfortable sharing. Ask God to "put the love in my heart and the words in my mouth." And use you to say something someone else needs to hear!!
At our meetings, people collecting year coins as opposed to monthly ones have to stand in front of the group which is huge as people bring friends and family, and they have to speak. I've already decided that just isn't happening for me. I'm ok with not getting the coin. I will celebrate in my own way.

I already say a few words sometimes at my home group, when I have something to add to it, but I don't find it easy. And it doesn't get any easier the more I do it either.

But it's taking the lead...that's the biggie. That's what I can't do. I know it isn't a 5th step. I know what I want to say. I just can't do it.

And that brings me into conflict with my sponsor and what she feels is right for me to do. She says my fear is self-centred. She says I need to walk through it to get over it. She tells me that the way I feel isn't important, it's what difference it could make to someone listening to me. I know, I know, I know.....but still...

I can't do it.
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Old 05-12-2013, 02:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Jeni, I can totally relate to you. I am in sales, and sales involves talking to people on the fly, and having a conversation with people you do not know. But put me in an AA group or meeting, or in front of people in AA, and I become totally speechless and petrified myself.

I am working through this by doing exactly what I am afraid to do. Walking through the fire. I am chairing meetings, which involves giving a short lead in front of the group of usually 15 people or so. I think the way to overcome this is by facing the exact thing we are afraid of. As simple as this is, I know how hard it is, too.

I believe confidence in this regard will only come through experience. All will work out. If you're anything like me, we need to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves and just do it. We're not any big deal, anyhow.

I wish you well,

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Old 05-12-2013, 03:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I can't add anything to the great advice you've been given here Jeni.

But I do want to agree that public speaking is not a requirement for attending AA as Deeker said, so please please do not let this stop you from going to your meetings.

Just take that coin and say Thank You...you can even say "I'm speechless".

As Billy said, maybe work on it by taking small steps and not putting so much pressure on yourself.

I hope your sponsor learns to be a little more understanding.

Love Venus xx
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Old 05-12-2013, 03:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I first want to say that whatever got you the year, keep doing that. And by no means is my opinion fact. That being said...

Fear - False evidence appearing real.

Fear is one of the big things I identified in my 4th step as my bar to growth and change. I was afraid, and am still afraid of so much that it disables me from doing anything that I am not already comfortable with. So I remain me, with all my insecurities, fears, comfort zones, and prejudices. By doing that which I do not want to do I learn that which I do not know. By having new experiences I am able to go to the next person, who is disabled by that same fear that I had, and relay my experience in the hope that it will somehow be helpful.

Hope this helps,
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Old 05-12-2013, 05:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think there are things that we do in AA that everyone has a fear of in one way or another, at some point or other. I enjoy talking in front of small and large crowds (teaching, AA, work, etc), but I was petrified when I sponsored my first guy. It's a piece of cake for me to chair a meeting, but being treasurer gives me willy nillies. But, if asked, I would do it - as long as someone helped me. There are a lot of things I sometimes don't want to do, but I do it, because I know it will help me grow. I spent my whole life doing things I didn't want. Selfishness, self-centered. So I have to walk through some of my fears - and find they aren't as bad as I thought they were.

You aren't forced to speak if you don't want. But I think it would be a shame to skip your medallion and even stop going to meetings. I think that fear, in another guise, is going to rear itself up again. The more I walk through fears (small and not so small), the less fearful I am the next time I face something unsavoury.
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Old 05-12-2013, 05:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Is this really such a big deal if I just say no to the public speaking part? I trust my sponsor and have followed her lead in everything. But I just can't with this one.
I know of people that didn't even speak at meetings for several years when they first got to AA. One is now a big name speaker. Put it on your 6th step list of defects, give it to God and just wait and see what happens.
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:13 PM   #12 (permalink)
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no one has to do anything, just have someone speak on your behalf

get your coin anyway, it's to show the newcomer it works

Hugs
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:25 PM   #13 (permalink)
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It's just a fear. Handle it like you handle other fears.

Give it to your higher power.
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:34 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Hi Jeni,

I relate a lot to what you're saying. I'm a very shy person in general and the idea of sharing my story in front of my home group members plus other visitors is extremely scary to me as well. I have a hard enough time even calling other people in the group or sharing what is actually going on in my head with my sponsor. I still have yet to give a lead at my main home group meeting as well and I'm coming up on 9 months sober. Every other person in my group has given a lead at one point even if they were only 60 days in or whatever. Of course, I projected that on to myself and it made myself feel inferior to everyone else. I guess all I can say is that I get what you're going through. I know what my sponsor tells me is right but of course I don't want to do it - he says you just have to do it at some point.

Put it this way ... were you afraid to even attend a meeting when you were first trying to get sober? Eventually, you walked into the rooms anyway even though you were nervous. And now you're comfortable being in there every time even if you don't share a whole lot. At one time, you were not even comfortable doing that, right? Well, now you take that leap again with giving a lead.
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Old 05-12-2013, 10:49 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I don't believe we need to overcome our fears by dominating them and warring with them.

Our fears offer us an education. Maybe you can get up and acknowledge that you are too scared to speak, so you aren't going to make a long speech. THAT would help a newcomer, to know that they can be introverted and not smooth public speakers and still have continued success. Or ask your sponsor to speak on your behalf and acknowledge your fear.
My experience with speaking has been that it's a skill, and the more practice I have, the less I worry, b/c I have some competence. But I'm still an introvert, it'll never be my favorite thing to do.
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Old 05-12-2013, 11:00 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Thanks all. I have overcome a great many fears in my life. I used to be frightened to answer a phone, speak to a shop assistant or ask for help with anything.

I guess that's why this on-line community has been such a big help to me because I don't need words.

I'm thinking all this through. I'm meeting my sponsor and going to a meeting tonight. I may speak to her again about it. She has lead me out of the darkness and shown me so much. But this is a huge deal for me and I'm not sure it's as simple as 'just doing it'. Maybe it's easy to forget what it's like when you've many years of solid sobriety behind you.

Thanks for your advice x
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Old 05-13-2013, 04:22 AM   #17 (permalink)
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But this is a huge deal for me and I'm not sure it's as simple as 'just doing it'. Maybe it's easy to forget what it's like when you've many years of solid sobriety behind you.
With all due respect, I don't think having a certain amount of years behind oneself makes one forget what it's like. I know strong AA guys with many, many, many years who are still uncovering, discovering and discarding. There is no set point upon which someone has no more fears left in them. So yes, sometimes it's just doing it. Sometimes we need help, for sure. I still have many fears with me. I know I am only two years, so I am not a long timer or even mid timer, but I know that if you ask me in five years, I will have fears still. Not crippling by any stretch of the imagination, but still fears.

You have overcome many fears, as you said. So why would this be any different?
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Old 05-13-2013, 05:13 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
I help newcomers
.

That IS the bottom line i reckon and i wonder why people are so insistent you share .
You can share you ESH after the meeting with newcomers.

Sometimes when i was early in recovery, certain fears took quite a while to dissipate...I alone can attempt to think it through but it would grow to huge proportions using my thinking..Just do what you know to do and speak to the right power ...that is what i did .

Its my opinion that strenuous work with another alcoholic doesn't mean just sharing at meetings... that's just my story , sure it may peak a newcomers interest but bottom line is i need to SHOW newcomers what i did...

The more i stressed out....the more power i gave to certain fears...
Chill out....sounds like your doing just great..
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:28 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Remember, Jeni.....if your higher power is bigger than alcoholism, I am guessing that this fear can be handled just fine.
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:42 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Jeni, I remember well my first talk (share).

**.8% of me was screaming "GET ME OUT OF HERE !!" and about 0.2% was confident that I could do the talk.

I believe it says something in the Bible like "if your faith is like a mustard seed you can move mountains".

I took my 0.2% mustard seed and went and moved a mountain ...... and that fear was NEVER as bad again.

Take your sponsor or trusted oldtimer with you to the meeting.
My sponsor was with me and I knew that he had felt the same discomfort as I was feeling when he did his first talk. I knew he had walked through that fear and I could too.

I went to the bathroom so I wouldn't pee my pants, looked straight up to God and asked for strength ... and went out and did the best talk I could.

Folks came to me after and shook my hand. I guess my talk didn't stink too bad ......

All the best.

Bob R
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