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War Stories and the Preacher

Old 09-11-2007, 10:19 PM
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War Stories and the Preacher

In my home group, we have recently had a few members express concern that war stories are creeping in...too much focus on the addict. I think generally this is limited to one or two people who haven't quite gotten it yet, but as our group is growing, sometimes it is a concern. In one meeting, it seemed a couple of members started feeding off each other and the chair let it go.

We announced anyone was welcome to stay after our meeting to go over the format and see if we can clarify some things. We did make some changes that we will bring to the group to approve and I think they may help to remind members about sharing and our focus. But we had no clear concensus on the approach to take if a member starts to focus too much on the addict. Clearly we would like to save that for our last 15 minutes (where problems are brought to the group) But I have seen the chair (we change the chair monthly) be a bit too direct about it and embarass the person. I've also seen a chair let it get too out of control.

The other issue is that one of the most senior members loves to preach and has been progressively getting worse...He loves to tell the newcomers what they should do...How they should work their recovery, etc and uses words like "you need to" and few I statements. He has certain "sermons" he repeats often and tends to ramble. I must admit, i find him more of a distraction than the occassional war stories. No one feels comfortable with how to deal with this, but it has become apparent that it is tearing down the group a bit.

Has anyone faced similar issues with the war stories or the preaching in your meetings and do you have any suggestions? This is a wonderful group and I think we all want what is best for the group as a whole. I suspect the meeting format will help to discourage the focus on the addict, but the preaching...I'm not sure.

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Old 09-12-2007, 05:26 AM
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I think it is good to remind the group as a whole that this is a program where we share our own experience, strength and hope and although we may make suggestions, they are just that and that we don't tell anyone what they "must" do. It's a good reminder for everyone, including me, because I too can want to "help" so much and save them from my pain that I can become over zealous in my approach sometimes.

And war stories will always surface, particularly from the newcomer who only knows war and hasn't had a chance to heal yet. Again, a reminder maybe once a meeting, perhaps in the preamble, might help clarify this to newcomers.

I don't have all the answers and I've never been to a "perfect" meeting, but when we do the best we can and tolerate those who, with good intentions, may go beyond the primary purpose sometimes, meetings often just take care of themselves.

Good luck, the important thing is that the meetings are there for the oldtimer and newcomer alike.

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Old 09-12-2007, 07:02 AM
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In my home group, there are a few oldtimes with a LOT of recovery and also a lot of good solid program in them. When someone starts to go on and on about their A, that person gets interrupted after about 90 seconds -2 minutes. One of the old timers will say, "We are glad you're here. If you stick around after the meeting, someone will be available for you to talk about this further. Right now we have others who are waiting for their turn to share about tonight's topic which is 'xxxx'.

Next?"

The person in pain has a few people waiting to speak with him after the meeting and the meeting itself gets back on track. It's all done with love and seems to be very effective.

good luck

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Old 09-12-2007, 09:58 AM
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War stories and the preacher? LOL Yes, in my experience I've found both to a greater or lesser degree in nearly every meeting I ever chaired or attended. I often think HP has a wonderful sense of humor and way of teaching patience and tolerance. I can't change the preacher and war stories will be told !
The bottom line is we cannot control others. LOL
Oldtimers are not authorities. All members are created equal.

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Old 09-12-2007, 10:05 AM
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Preach to the preacher and remind all... Share what will help from your ES&H.
So how do you preach to the preacher? If he has ears to hear...
Subject for the night... I am the center of the universe and the next night... It is all about me. If the preacher is ready to listen, he may gain some needed insights *LOL*
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Old 09-12-2007, 10:10 AM
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Thanks so much for the feedback...it's good to know that this type of thing comes up all over and is part of take what you need and leave the rest.
Cat, one thing I love about my group is how they do stick around after meetings to talk with newcomers and those in pain...There is a true feeling of welcome and caring.

I was a bit concerned because a couple of the veterans wanted to get quite rigid...I think that they have agreed for now to try the more gentle approach and the reminders about sharing at the opening of the meeting.

frankie..the preacher is my challenge for patience, lol. I have discovered that in general, no matter what the issue, I am much more compassionate with those who seem the underdog. I think i still have expectations I have to address with people i think should "know better." The preacher is one. But once I admitted that, i found the next meeting i had more patience and compassion for him...No wonder the steps work so well
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Old 09-12-2007, 10:16 AM
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No wonder the steps work so well
THAT struck me. It made me giggle. Yeah, who knew? It reminds me of another OBVIOUS I had to learn... at one time I would try everything I knew and ask others for help with a particular situation. At the end of my rope, I would pray "GOD I have tried everything I can think of. You're my only option left... can you help?"

HEE HEE. Now I try to remember that turning to my HP is something I might want to consider MUCH earlier in the process to save us all a lot of needless twirling...
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Old 09-12-2007, 01:32 PM
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HE
E HEE. Now I try to remember that turning to my HP is something I might want to consider MUCH earlier in the process to save us all a lot of needless twirling...

yup! I was just facing something last week...analyzing it to death...trying to work out solutions...a plan, blah blah blah. All the sudden I thought Duh, Greet...what the heck are you doing...this is one to turn over and turn over fast. Progress not perfection, right?
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Old 09-12-2007, 02:56 PM
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believe it or not this is one of the reasons I have not attended a meeting yet. I'm affraid that I'll be that person that rambles on about just my problems. If I were to go and someone interupted me I don't think I'm secure enough to take it as constructive. It scares the bajeebees outta me.
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Old 09-12-2007, 04:07 PM
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I don't think I would take well to being interrupted, either. And if I was new, I don't think our group would do that to me.

When we got a bunch of newbies in, the focus WAS on the addict because they didn't yet have sponsors, and the meeting was the only safe place to express their pain. When one of the oldtimers shared HER ESH... she talked about the role of a sponsor, especially in relation to sharing - and that if I find myself NEEDING to talk at every meeting, it is likely I need to examine how often I am sharing with my sponsor.

On the preacher - egad! I know what you mean. In our group, the "preacher" is a double winner who started in the "other" program. In those rooms, time in program is more emphasized... and "wisdom from the elders" seems to carry a different weight. He really doesn't hear that he is sharing with "You should" "You need to" "You must".

In his case, I know when I've followed one of his sermons, I've talked about sharing from my own experience and give examples of what "I-statements" sound like and how that has helped me "hear" better when others share that way.

I don't have any idea if he hears me or not... but I hear me - and sometimes I am the one I am speaking to.... smile.



Rahsue.... if you want, you can show up at a meeting, not share at all and then see if you can talk to others privately after. This might aleviate your fear of being somehow off-kilter during the meeting - remember we were ALL new once! And the most important person at any meeting... is the newcomer.


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Old 09-12-2007, 04:52 PM
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The first tradition comes to mind.

"Our common welfare should come first; personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity."

If you can not speak outright with this person, perhaps a meeting where the focus on the first tradition and everyone talks about what that means. Loss of unity is not going to help anyone.
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Old 09-12-2007, 08:15 PM
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You guys rock!!! Thank you for sharing your ideas and experience with me...it's soooo helpful!

When we got a bunch of newbies in, the focus WAS on the addict because they didn't yet have sponsors, and the meeting was the only safe place to express their pain.
Thank you for this...that is how I felt but could not quite articulate it this clearly when we talked after our meeting last week.

Rahsue, I too think I would sink into a hole if I was sharing my pain and someone interrupted me in a less than gentle way. If it happened when I was the newcomer, I'm not sure if I would have come back. Honestly, I was going to volunteer to take October as chair, but was rethinking it because I didn't want to feel pressured to interrupt someone in pain. But I think gradually as a group we are coming to a place of understanding that sometimes there is no other place to let the pain out and that's what the program is all about.

The preacher...well I will hear you all speaking with me if I feel impatient when he starts in. There is a longtimer in our group who has followed up in sharing after him the way you have said, Big Sis...I will follow his wonderful example. (He has what I want all the time!)

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Old 09-13-2007, 06:58 AM
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Greet, in my opinion, focusing on the addict is what codies do. It's a core issue we have all experienced. At meetings, sharing experience, strength and hope
are the format. Focusing on the addict is a part of member's experience.

I need to hear members share their war story experience just as much as I need to hear all other experience.
I especially need to listen to newcomers, remember what it was like as a newbie in
pain and offer welcome, compassion and encouragement as we do here at SR.

(( rashue )) Rudely interrupting a newcomer has not occured at meetings I've attended. I cried my way through my first few meetings as many newcomers do. After these meetings, members gently approached me to offer their support, give a hug, a phone contact and kindly ask me to keep coming back. I echo BigSis's words and suggestions to you .Thanks BigSis.

Greet, this is from Obstacle's to Success in Alanon.

Each person makes progress in his or her own way and pace. Any attempt to manage or direct is likely to have disastrous consequences for group harmony.

This ties in with the first tradition.

Like Ann, I have never been to a "perfect" meeting. LOL

I like this thought, A good example is the best sermon.

Last edited by frankie_b; 09-13-2007 at 07:17 AM.
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Old 09-13-2007, 08:12 AM
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Frankie, I have printed out the quote from Obstacles to Success, as well as the thought to share tonight with the members who have been working on the format changes.

HP brought the best reminder of leading by example to our meeting by way of the woman who volunteered for Chair this month. We leave the last 15 minutes for those in pain who wish to ask questions or solicit some shared experience. Last week a couple struggling with an adult child and at their third meeting shared. This was the first time the woman could say anything but her name without uncontrolable crying and she was in such pain...the text messages with her AD were flying back and forth...even during the meeting. I think we all were brought back to what brought us to the rooms. Many members wanted to respond with some ESH and we were running over time. The chair was wonderful...said I see there are still so many hands raised and I really would like for everyone to share their esh, but we have run out of time. We can take a group conscious to continue or I would encourage you to stay after and let these wonderful people speak with you. They wanted to close the meeting and stay. We did so and after it closed, someone commented about the great job the chair did...she got a standing ovation...a first for me. She was nervous about her role, so I think this helped her too. It was one of those special moments I keep in a special place in my heart.
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