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Told not to share at an open AA meeting?

Old 02-12-2011, 08:09 PM
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Told not to share at an open AA meeting?

Has this happened to anyone else?
I went to the open meeting with my husband today, as I do every Saturday, and this is the first time someone approached me afterward and told me that "the meeting is for alcoholics who have a desire to stop drinking, notice that the other 'al-anons' just passed when it came to their turn?"
I was blown away! I have never said anything offensive, and I never take up any significant amount of time, (maybe a minute at the most) and I just don't understand it.
It was only one older woman who told me this, but has this happened to anyone else?? I am slightly hurt, and confused, should I just ignore it and continue on? Should I quit going to the open meetings altogether?

I know I have my own program, but I get a lot out of the AA meetings, and I've always felt comfortable there...until now.
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Old 02-12-2011, 08:22 PM
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I am the spouse of an alcholic. I have been to a few open AA meetings and have been allowed to share. Everyone in the meeting was very kind and welcomed my sharing. It is an open meeting which means all are welcome. I think it was wrong of this woman to approach you. If she doesn't like it then maybe SHE should stick to closed meetings. JMHO.
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Old 02-12-2011, 08:25 PM
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Wow. Huh. I don't know what to say - I, too, have attended open meetings and always spoke but just to explain why I was there - a simple sentence that I wanted to learn because I wanted to better support my husband. Were you sharing or just sharing?

I've never felt unwelcome, but many didn't welcome me, either. That said, I have heard stories of some AA old-timers being very inclusive toward non-alcoholics. One story was about a wife who was frequently not included in group activities outside the home group's regular meeting times. It did hurt her feelings - the idea that this was some sort of special club that she couldn't be a member of occasionally even though her husband was.

I would be embarrassed and a little hurt, too. An open meeting is supposed to be "open" after all, right? But maybe others might have more insight than I. Still the newbie to all of this...
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Old 02-12-2011, 08:34 PM
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Hi Coyena, Wow.....I don't know what to say as I've never been to an open AA meeting. Hopefully others will be along who have some better experience with this!

I'm sorry you were hurt, and it doesn't seem right to me, but I just don't know....

Hugs, HG
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Old 02-12-2011, 08:56 PM
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Open AA meetings are still for alcoholics only to share. Visitors are welcome to come and listen, however, AlAnons and other visitors do not share at AA meetings. Closed meetings are for alcoholics only, no visitors.

Each meeting has their own 'group vote at their business meetings and decide if they will follow the 'guidelines' of world services to the above or not. The majority of the meetings I have attended around the country follow the 'guideline.'


The only time they can is if it is a 'joint' AA/Alanon meeting.

I share in AA meetings open and closed as the alcoholic I am. I share in AlAnon as the codie I am, leaving my alcoholism outside the door.

I am sorry your feelings were hurt, and I would like to believe that the person who approached you was not out to hurt your feelings but was just telling you the guidelines of that meeting.

I have to add that some newly sober alcoholics (those in their first year of recovery) can and have 'freaked' out when they find out non alcoholics are sharing in 'their' meeting, and have been known to 'shut down' for a while and lose their trust.

J M H O

Love and hugs,
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Old 02-12-2011, 09:02 PM
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I think I hear what you're saying Laurie. I have been to open AA with my RAH but I have never shared at those meetings (only because I am not an alcoholic and didn't feel I had anything to really offer in the context of AA). However, I have felt the warm welcome of people in AA. At Alanon, I always hear people say, "Please share from the Alanon perspective only" so I take that as at Alanon meetings, even if one is an addict/alcoholic or in other programs, they should speak as an Alanon person (not as an alcoholic/addict). I would assume that's true for other 12-step programs.

Coyena, I wanted to give you a (((((((hug)))))))), though!
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Old 02-12-2011, 09:14 PM
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Hugs Coyena
!!

Perhaps her manners could have been better? perhaps if she had explained it more nicely you wouldn't have felt hurt.. maybe you are not mad at the message but at the way it was transmitted? in any case in the meetings I have gone to they explain the rules at first....

I hope you keep going to the meetings that help you, I never spoke but I talked to others afterwards (the old timers approached me because they realized I was new). It was very important for me to see what REAL recovery looks like! and that it takes years and effort and doesn't happen by magic... OK I am just rambling now...

Hugs again.
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Old 02-12-2011, 09:21 PM
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The few open AA meetings I went to were several years ago. The people attending them didn't get to personal in their sharing which I can understand because it was an open meeting. Also, those that were not alcoholics that did share were very respectful and did not share in a manner that you might in an al-anon meeting.
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Old 02-12-2011, 09:34 PM
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It happened to me once. I too was hurt. And I didn't go back. Which was a shame because I got more out of the AA meeting than I was getting from alanon at the time.
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Old 02-12-2011, 09:51 PM
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I believe the "closed" meetings are the sharing meetings and the "open" meetings the speaker meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting it was always mentioned by the chair that the meeting was a closed meeting and therefore only for those who are an alcoholic or think they may be. Best friends, spouses etc. were asked to leave, much less share. I was at one meeting where a best friend had come to the meeting for support and when she introduced herself as a support to her friend, she was politely asked to wait outside until the meeting was over.

They are 'anonymous' and members of AA are not comfortable sharing with those who are not alcoholics. It is supposed to be a safe place for alcoholics.

I'm sorry you felt hurt but it wasn't personal, just the rules of AA.
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Old 02-12-2011, 10:04 PM
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Laurie is correct. At any AA meeting, even open ones, it is only appropriate for alcoholics (or people there because of their own drinking problem) to share. It isn't that we don't care what Al-Anons or others think or feel, it is just that the primary purpose is for alcoholics to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. It would be equally inappropriate for an alcoholic who isn't affected by someone else's drinking to share at an Al-Anon meeting. Or for a friend, who is along to just lend moral support, to share.

There is no offense intended, and you weren't singled out.

I once went to an AA meeting, where a friend of an alcoholic who was celebrating an anniversary stood up and delivered a lengthy speech she had written, about how proud she was of her friend. It was a sweet thought, but terribly inappropriate for the meeting. The chairperson was fairly new and didn't quite know how to stop her without embarrassing her. (The alcoholic friend looked like she wanted to crawl under a chair--she knew her friend's speech was out of place at the meeting).

Nobody wants to hurt anyone's feelings. But as a visitor, it's always best to ask beforehand if it's OK to speak, and not to be offended if the answer is "no."
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:00 AM
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One of the things I picked up on in your post was when you said:

I am slightly hurt, and confused, should I just ignore it and continue on? Should I quit going to the open meetings altogether?

Having lived with alcoholism, we’ve been conditioned for that ALL or NOTHING, BLACK or WHITE thinking.

It sounds like you want to go to HIS AA meeting but you want to share for YOU and if you can’t do that….well, then you won’t go at all.

We need to learn to find that grey area in life, where we compromise. If you can benefit from attending this meeting without YOU sharing then by all means continue to attend. If you find that you resent going their because you can’t share, then your in the wrong meeting.

If you are looking to be involved with your husbands recovery, and if you are working your own al-anon program then look for a couples meeting in your area that is set up for couples where you both of you attend the same meeting where both of you can share.

Personally for me when I was invited to attend HIS AA meeting it was so that I could see and understand what HIS meetings were all about. My meetings worked better for me because my meetings were for me.

((((hugs))))
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:54 AM
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Wouldn't it be better to state the rule before opening share? Rather than shaming someone for sharing after the meeting who wasn't aware of the rule. How can people be expected to know the rule, because by the very definiton of being an "open" meeting it is easy to see how people would misunderstand this.
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Old 02-13-2011, 09:06 AM
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It doesn't sound like anyone was "blaming" her, just informing her. Usually when I'm feeling offended, it's because of my own spin I'm putting on it.

Usually there is a reading of the Preamble at meetings, which states the Primary Purpose (to stay sober and to help others to achieve sobriety). There are a lot of customs and traditions (with a little "t") at various local meetings. If we announced them all there wouldn't be much meeting time (some of my meetings actually DO have readings/announcements that go on too long, IMO).

I don't believe that most Al-Anon groups would appreciate someone's spouse or partner (who isn't affected by someone else's drinking) sharing at a meeting.

I know I've inadvertently (mostly when I was new) committed the occasional "faux pas" at meetings. I've been kindly informed afterward that what I said/did was not appropriate. Yeah, it feels embarrassing, but I'd rather have someone tell me than to continue to do something that upset the others.
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Old 02-13-2011, 09:07 AM
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The meetings I've attended in metro Detroit, 'open' meetings are referred to as 'open talks' or 'speaker' meetings, person gets up and tells their story, no on else talks beyond the usual opening remarks. Everyone is invited to attend, and you usually see a fair number of spouses of AA members there.

With one exception, I have never attended nor heard of an 'open discussion' meeting, it was advertised in the local AA directory as a mixed AA/Alanon meeting, we sat on chairs arranged in a 'S' shape, not a table, they started at one end and worked their way down to the other.

Closed meetings in my experience are 'alcoholics only', and they are usually always introduced as such- "Welcome to the closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous'.

Last thought, have never heard of an Alanon meeting either advertised or introduced as being 'closed'.
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Old 02-13-2011, 09:17 AM
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I've been to about 10 AA meetings (only 2 with my ex) and the rest alone or with an Al Anon member.
I never shared but when asked, told them I was in Al Anon and at the meeting just to listen and learn. I was always welcomed with opened arms, but never would I even think about sharing in the group.
I shared after each meeting with members and was encouraged to keep coming back
I'm no longer with the RA in my life so I don't go to AA meeting any longer
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Old 02-13-2011, 09:22 AM
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Atalose & Lexiecat, thanks for your posts. I know they are meant for Coyena. I find myself getting hurt, seeing things as "black & white" & saying to myself, "Forget them, then!" in daily life interactions. I hate myself when I think & behave this way. I soooo appreciate what you stated!

Thank you, Coyena, for posting this. Even though this never happened to me in the context of AA, it has happened (& still happens) in many instances. Coyena, your post is yet another opportunity for me to look at myself & begin working on some behavioral changes. Thank for this "teaching moment."
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Old 02-13-2011, 09:26 AM
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Why get hurt? It's really probably some recovering addict who still carries their bitterness telling you what they see.
Any seasoned, well adjusted AA memeber would NEVER EVER make anyone feel out of place in a meeting.
Take it in the spirit it was given and let it go
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Old 02-13-2011, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by sailorjohn View Post
Last thought, have never heard of an Alanon meeting either advertised or introduced as being 'closed'.
They don't generally advertise meetings as "closed" meetings, but all the schedules state that "All meetings are closed unless labeled 'open'" - of course some meetings enforce this more than others, too.

Part of this, of course, may be because Al-Anon is more of a "wide reaching" program than AA. What I mean is, in AA you have to at least have an "alcohol problem," whereas in Al-Anon you just need to know someone with an alcohol problem. If could be anyone - spouse, child, parent, friend, co-worker, boss, underling, neighbor, cousin, aunt, anyone - as long as the alcoholism is affecting you, you're welcome to attend.
I would also wager than 98% of the population of the world knows at least one person with an "alcohol problem" - it's such a prevalent disease - but whether or not you recognize it as such depends upon how close you get to the disease. There's obviously a giant difference between spouse/parent/child and "that new guy who works with Joe in Accounting".
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:10 AM
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I have shared at an open meeting when I went w/ my RAH.
Only once and it was based on the idea that I was so grateful that the AA family had been so open and welcoming to us as a family.
I didn't go into RAH's issues or mine...
for that meeting it was appropriate.
But I couldn't have done that at other mtgs he attends.
It really does depend on the mtg and groups 'rules'.
I have heard of people told not to share though.
Don't be hurt. She really was just sharing how THAT group operates.
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