AlAnon Discussion/"Advice"

Old 01-06-2016, 10:00 PM
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AlAnon Discussion/"Advice"

Hi there, I'm looking for some third party guidance on my experience in my AlAnon home group. A little background first: I'm about 7mo. into the program and truly believe the tools have saved (and will continue to save) my butt and my life. I believe in the program and the steps and appreciate the world-wide fellowship 100%. My qualifier is my boyfriend who I've been dating for nearly 5 years and his drinking bothers me. He does not identify himself as alcoholic.

My situation is this. I attended my first AlAnon meeting, as stated, about 7 mo. ago. At this meeting, I met a woman around my age who I felt I could relate to. We began getting coffee before meetings and I asked her to be my sponsor within a month of attending. Once I asked her to be my sponsor, she invited me to what she called her "home group" meeting. This was at a dedicated "hall" with a podium and about 90 women. All the women there were sponsees/newcomers brought in by someone else. This "home group" meeting has a corresponding AA meeting where many (most) of the AlAnon ladies husband's attend. Ok cool, that makes sense to build unity and such. However the longer I've been involved with this group, and my sponsor, I've heard rumors in other meetings of this home group being a "cult" of AlAnon and has in reality been de-listed within our Intergroup directory. There is a STRONG line of sponsorship running from the AlAnon group "leader" I suppose you could call her; She's a long timer with almost 40 years of recovery. Her husband is what you would call the "leader" of the AA group as well.

More specifically, I'm questioning if maybe this is just how AlAnon works and I'm just being stubborn. I feel a bond with many of the ladies in the group, and I care about my sponsor and I know she cares about me. But sometimes I feel... obligated to attend 3+ meetings a week, take on commitments at every meeting, wear a dress, only talk recovery, and follow my sponsors lead to live with other ladies in program. i've also considered leaving my boyfriend that brought me to program, not out of anger but just thoughts for future plans as my lease is up in a few months, however she does not encourage me to live with a parent for a few months and not to move out of the area so as to keep attending these "home group" meetings. She says is important to be consistent. Like I said, I want to work my program the best I can. But there's some parts of me that worries I am already a people pleaser and can easily sucked in to a more intense version of this program that I had no intention of doing. I want to learn to be more happy, joyous, and free in my life not just in my program, and I often feel my time with my friends and family is limited due to the frequency of my meeting schedule (as recommended by my sponsor): 3 nights per week plus 8am-10pm on Saturday. I'm not told Saturday is mandatory, but I am definitely praised and told I'm "going where the love is" when I stay all day on Saturday.

Please help with any honest feedback you can provide, I'm honestly open to being told this is just the deal and to get used to it. I just have a weird feeling in my gut that this is a little bit controlling for what i expected AlAnon to be like. I've also been told so many times that my "best thinking got me here" so I have trouble really seeing this from an outside perspective. and trusting my intuition.

As a sidenote, I have read a few articles online stating my "home group", in addition to a few others in my local area, have been claimed to have cult-like qualities and characteristics not approved by AlAnon WSO (i.e. one great grand sponsor "lineage" with lots of commitments and traditions/rules), although I don't know if maybe these were written by prior members with a resentment (which is what I've been told from my sponsor).

Any feedback is very appreciated, thank you!
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Old 01-13-2016, 09:17 PM
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That sounds like a really demanding program. For one thing, I have never been in any groups that recommended dressing a certain way. Just my opinion, but your home group sounds very intense .

My experience has been more with Nar-anon, although I have since moved to an area that just has Al-anon. My Nar-anon sponsor asked me to call her daily, we usually met on Saturday mornings for coffee and step work, and I attended a weekly meeting. We both had busy lives and sometimes we had to vary this schedule. There was an NA meeting going on at the same time and in the same building as our Nar-anon meetings but the groups were not affiliated.

You mention that you've heard rumors in other meetings about your home group being cult like. Is there someone in one of those other meetings that you could talk to further about this?
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Old 01-13-2016, 09:58 PM
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My experience of AA (not yet been to an AlAnon meeting, but I suspect that it's similar in most ways) is that different meetings can be very different. Some meetings have a crowd with a very healthy sobriety, and others...don't. As a member of AA its my responsibility to look after my recovery, and if that means going to the meetings that help me and strengthen my recovery, then that's what I'll do. The ones that I don't find helpful, I don't go to. And if people don't like that, I need to remind myself that what other people think of me is none of my business. Your sponsor praises you for going where the love is - well, it strikes me that there's love in plenty of places on a Saturday (other meetings; family; your friends). As long as you're still going where there's love (and not just moping at home, isolated, as I can tend to do without a positive plan of action) then she should be happy. If she isn't, and puts the pressure on for you to continue with that specific meeting, then it may mean you've come to the time to consider changing sponsors - plenty of people do this, as their needs change as they grow stronger. It doesn't have to be the result of a fall out and hard feelings.

Good luck, whatever you decide.
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Old 01-14-2016, 03:53 PM
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I have been in Alanon for a long time, also go to AA
I have gone to many different meetings and fund myself uncomfortable in meetings that are a bit "rigid", since it is the opposite of what 12 step philosophy is all about. I also have to ask myself if "too rigid" means that
I am willing to "slack off". So I try to be vigilant about my motives, without constantly second guessing myself in trying to do the "right thing". I am learning to trust myself and to accept that I am human
Sponsors are not therapists. They can be a very valuable presence and support in our growth, but are not the "directors" of our lives
Wish you the best
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Old 01-14-2016, 04:48 PM
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I wouldn't like that rigid meeting either. I've heard an AA speaker get excited about a fancy sponsorship lineage back to Dr Bob- frankly its kind of a turn-off for me. The "everyone is just another bozo on the bus message" really resonates with me and having a "trophy sponsor" lineage seems to emphasize prestige rather than just working the steps.

My sponsor and I started with phone chats a few times/week, after the work was in progress we chatted after the meeting (see each other at the home group meeting once/week), and I'll get in touch w/ email or whatever if something comes up. He works with quite a few people and has active qualifiers, so I try to be very careful with his time.

I think the sponsor relationship & step stuff is likely to be different for everyone, maybe some people prefer the kind of structure you're talking about. For my money if its making you uncomfortable or you're feeling an intrusion into your personal space then it might be good to explore other meetings; get some perspective. For having such consistent material its amazing to see how different AA/Alanon meetings can be.

My sponsor and I had the expectation talk right away. His were that I'd go to "enough" meetings/wk (where enough is something greater than 1 and less than where my head explodes, the particular number being up to me). He wanted to start the step work right away, from the Blueprint book, but did not specify that it had to go a particular way. I started with the blueprint questions and after a couple chapters the inventory turned into essay form, from which I did my 5th step with him. At all stages his interest was that I was making some progress, and that we discussed moving to later steps- but there was and isn't any deadline or format pressure.

"We learned that, just as each member may interpret the program
for himself (with honesty, of course), so each group may do the
same, with the same requirement of honesty." Grapevine V1N8 Jan 1945
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Old 02-24-2016, 01:11 AM
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If these meetings really aren't "you," you will and do know.
IME, I recently found my homegroup. In my gut, I knew it was the right one. You have the right to look for the right group, sponsor, whatever. It doesn't mean they're wrong, but right is what's right for you.
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Old 02-24-2016, 01:46 AM
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If there is one thing that my sponsor has taught me (AA) it is to trust my gut. It's awesome that you're asking because you know you have people pleasing tendencies, but also, what is your gut saying?

Also, I love me a good dress, but I find it curious that it's obligated? Seems somewhat controlling.
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Old 02-24-2016, 05:43 AM
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I spent over 10 years in Al-anon and CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) and found all the meetings I went to supportive and wonderful and not pushy at all. If I had been at the meeting you describe I would have left and found another and never looked back.

There is nothing cult about Al-anon or any of the 12 step programs. Sometimes there are members who want to control every detail of every meeting and every person attending...sound's called codependency and I think they should be called on their need to control.

All any 12-step is, is one codie helping another with group support and a sharing of one's own experience, strength and hope.

My sponsor was a lady well established in her own recovery and before she agreed to be my sponsor she outlined how she does it, guiding her sponsees through the 12 steps of recovery. It involved a weekly meeting with her, usually over coffee somewhere, and writing assignments for each step which we discussed at each meeting. There was no pressure to use her as my sponsor but I wanted what she had, so I was pleased when she agreed.

First meetings can be awkward until we get comfortable and find our footing there. If, by the second or third meeting I found that it wasn't for me, then I would change meetings and find one that was a better fit.

I urge you to continue but to find and try other meetings. The strict "rules" of the one you attend are not indicative of how meetings are or should be run, you just hit a bad one.

Good luck.
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Old 09-17-2018, 02:28 PM
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Hoping to get in touch with you, VegNikki.

I was in this group for about 7 years and know exactly what you are talking about. I was able to finally leave and am wondering if you want to connect? Did you decide to stay or did you end up leaving?

Hope you are well and finding peace. <3
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Old 01-11-2019, 08:54 AM
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Interesting story that you share. I've been in Al-Anon for ~ 5 years, worked the steps with a sponsor, sponsored a fella myself and he in turn sponsors a fella. Shucks, I have my own lineage now. Point being, I've seen some things over the years.

I went through a few sponsors before I landed on the one that worked for me. Actually I was "fired" from my 1st sponsor because I failed to show up to his Sponsors house for step study work. My sponsors, sponsor is known as a guy who sponsors alot of people, yet, I never see him at any meetings. Those step study meetings in his house were, uncomfortable and I didn't like it. It was totally strange and I got fired because I stopped going. I trust that was my higher power at work.

The 1st meeting I went to was a men's only meeting. I was told to attend 6 different meetings in 1 week. I did that and got a good feel for how meetings are very different. That men's group is still my primary group. That was ~5 years ago and I say that I have changed. It may be time for me to go to a different meeting for my own reasons and I'm currently looking for something a little different. I'm doing this because my program is mine.

I think back on the days when there was active alcoholism in my family. I always reacted to my AW. Lived my life responding to her. I've since learned a different way to live and the serenity I can have when I take care of myself. If something isn't working for me, I stop doing it. I don't want to be insane anymore. That means, I won't keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results and that goes for meetings.

Here's what I learned. Al-Anon is a 12 step roadmap that I work to maintain and improve my ability to live with serenity. My sponsor is a Double winner. He's an old timer but, he made it clear that my program is my mine. Not his. Later on he also talked about how sometimes a sponsor/sponsee just kinda lose interest and that's normal and perfectly okay.

As the slogan says..."Take what you want and leave the rest."
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Old 03-04-2019, 12:22 AM
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I think programs are as different as people are as different as sponsors are as different as meetings are as different as paths

What I think is that people overall in 12-step programs are there to help us. Some individuals are sicker than others though. I had a sponsor who give relationship advice that sounded like "you should do this" or "you shouldn't do that". She was the one that told me when I did my first hour pitch that I had to wear a dress. I showed up in camouflage pants and flannel oh, because I didn't own a dress

She was a nice lady, just passing down what she had been taught. But it wasn't for me. I have a sponsor now that directs me to the steps and helps me find my answers in the book. That works better for me.
I have also moved across town three times in my ten years of recovery. So I have had three home groups and three sets of different meetings.
My first home group was at the alano Club and it met 7 days a week, and it was rowdy and I loved it. My next home group met 5 days a week and strictly worked out of conference approved literature. They were cool people and I learned a lot from them. My current home group feels like family, in a good wholesome way.
All of the groups I've ever hung out with have a few kooks in them that make up the rules as they go along.
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Old 02-24-2021, 08:58 PM
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Trust your gut and listen to your HP which is obviously telling you something important.
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Old 04-07-2021, 05:01 AM
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Great responses here! I also think you should trust your gut. That degree of control is way over the line in my opinion. Just wondering and no need to respond but do you ever wonder why you are staying with someone whose drinking bothers you for 5 years and he is just a boyfriend (no marriage involved). I think we need to see the situation for what it is and step back to the degree we need to feel OK and only you can decide that for your particular situation.
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