Scared to Share

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Scared to Share

Postby gailermels » Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:28 am

I have begun attending AA meetings again for the first time in a year and a half. I am experiencing the same problem I had my first time around -- the nearly phobic fear I have of sharing. Typically, when the discussion comes around to me the thoughts rolling around in my head get all mixed up -- my heart starts to pound -- I have a hard time breathing -- it feels like a full-on panic attack. What I do end up saying usually makes no sense at all -- at least to me. My husband, who is also in recovery and attends meetings with me, tells me that it makes sense to other people -- but, I don't know how it could. After our Big Book study meeting last night, I went home and cried for an hour because I was so embarrassed over my stumbling attempts yet again. I told my husband that I'm done going to meetings if this is how I'm going to feel afterwards.

My thoughts were to read on the discussion topic beforehand and prepare some notes to help me gather my thoughts. Either that, or when it's my turn I could just pass and let the group know I'd just like to listen.

I've talked to my sponsor about this. She suggested that I continue to go -- to not prepare notes -- and also to not pass on my turn -- because staying home and passing just encourage isolation which is a huge part of my disease. I agree with her, but I'd rather be home alone and safe than feeling the way I do right now.

Anyway, just wondering what others' thoughts might be on this topic. Are there any other suggestions I could try to make this easier for me?
Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 417)
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby avaneesh912 » Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:03 am

I was that person who would need atleast 6 pack of beer to start a conversation with people, let alone talk in front of whole crowd of strangers. That is part of our make-up. The 12 steps is to get over that fear. Please find a person who can help you walk through the 12 steps. And exactly like the 9th step promises say "Fear of people will go away" will be the experience....
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby Brock » Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:32 am

I like to look at the literature for answers to things such as these, in this case the 12 & 12 -

There are many opportunities even for those of us who feel unable to speak at meetings…

Now why would Bill point out things like this, if he felt we must force ourselves to speak, being the straight forward man he was he would have said so. I would agree that practice and the steps helps us gain confidence and become comfortable sharing, but we can start very simply. Some at meetings I have heard just say 'pass,' others might say 'my name is X and I'm an alcoholic, I prefer to just listen,' saying a little line like that is more polite, and I find those are the ones who gain in confidence and end up sharing comfortably.

Before our 12 step Sunday morning meeting I do read the step and make a few reminder notes, I find this helps very much, but not just for making me comfortable in speaking, the fact that I have read and thought about the step, usually gives me as much knowledge and satisfaction as the meeting does. Just bullet point notes that I can glance down at, because as you know when we get nervous we tend to forget everything we would have liked to mention, until after our turn has passed, then we sit and think crap I should have said this and that.

My experience is that us alcoholics are very hard on ourselves, always want to say and do the right thing, then admonishing ourselves when we believe we haven't. I try to put these things in perspective as soon as possible, when agitated we pause sort of thing. If like you I thought my share was crap, I might try to think of the crappy shares I have heard in the past, then I kind of come up blank because I can't remember, and who are we to believe that others take such note of us and our shares that they will indeed remember, and be thinking we spoke rubbish. No I think it's the old enemy ego playing his tricks on us as usual, it can be strangely satisfying to just say to ourselves that what I do and say does not matter, providing I am doing my best and being polite. Because the only people, in and out of AA, who we usually think talk crap and are rude, are those who would test even the patience of God. Best of luck to you, your husband sounds spot on with his encouragement, you might be helping others and don't even credit yourself with it, great humility in action there.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby clouds » Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:58 am

Welcome to you gailermels!

I didn't speak at meetings for the first year of my sobriety. No one commented on that, I was welcomed. Sometimes I got asked to read 'How it Works' or the preamble at the beginning of meetings which was easier for me to do. Even so, I joined a group and took my cakes. Eventually I began to share. My shares ar short unless its a very small group, which we have had for the 12 step meetings. So I have gone to large meetings and rarely share there, but at small groups I share easily after I get to know the people a bit.

I try to do other things and I always talk to people before and after meetings, and go for coffee when there is opportunity.
Also phoning people and women's home meetings where children can be looked after as well.

IMO its hard to share in a relaxed way when husbands or family members are at the meetings. Thats only my experince though, for others mixed meetings and open meetings seem to work fine. I'm most comfortable in closed AA small step groups myself. I can share anything there in a relaxed way.
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby gailermels » Thu Jul 07, 2016 11:41 am

Thank you so much for all the suggestions -- for your words of wisdom. You've all given me a lot to think about. I will continue to pray about it -- the 3rd Step, 7th Step, & Serenity Prayers have helped me a great deal. I will keep going back -- because I want to. Thanks again!
Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 417)
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby Layne » Thu Jul 07, 2016 1:35 pm

Gailermels, I could relate to so much of your post. That was me in a nutshell. Oh yeah, I passed (and sweated bullets, stumbled over my words, experienced brain cramps, etc. etc. etc.) a lot when it was my turn to share. Hated going to meetings because of it. Didn't feel like I fit in. Felt less than, etc.etc.etc.

The peculiar thing is...the more I do share, the easier it becomes...go figure. I wish I had started earlier, but many times it takes the brilliance of hindsight for me to get the concept.

In another hindsight moment of clarity, I wish that I hadn't taken so long to actually really work the twelve steps, because once I did, the easier life started to get. Guess what... coincidentally...sharing started to get easier around the same time.
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby 4thDimension » Thu Jul 07, 2016 7:44 pm

Sometimes I feel the same way, and I've been at this a long time.

I think it's fine if you want to scribble down a few points to talk about. Then make it come from the heart.

You can pass too, especially if you're new. I don't know why people insist that new people share. Listening seems to be the key when one is new.

You could try to find a smaller group. Some are 4-12 people or so. Shop around, find a group you're comfortable with.

Over time I think you will grow more comfortable and share without any problem.
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby Tosh » Mon Jul 11, 2016 8:52 am

Hi Gailermels, as humans (not just alkies) we have something called 'the spotlight bias' where we believe we're under the spotlight and that people actually really care about what we say, do, look, think and share.

And the truth is, because we all have this bias, we're all kinda focusing on ourselves. I was at a meeting last night and I don't remember much of what other people said; I remember the gist of what I said though. :lol:

What I'm trying to say is that what I share is only a big deal to me. Most folk are too busy to listen to me because they're thinking about what they've already shared or what they're about to share. And then after the meeting they don't remember what I share because they're too busy thinking about what they shared.

Heck, in my early meetings I not only babbled, I ran my ex-wife down, I blamed my drinking on her, I even cried at a couple of meetings (I'm a 'tough guy' and don't cry). And you know the only person who cares that I did all this stuff? ME! You don't care at all. :lol:

In short - no-one really cares - and I'm not saying that in a bad way (I care in that I want you to recover), but in a way that you might be to see some freedom in it.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby PuppyEars » Tue Jul 12, 2016 1:25 am

Although Tosh hit the why of it perfectly, I'd like to add that when I get very specific in prayer, I consider that one of the ways of building a relationship with a God of my understanding. I am guilty of not slowing down during prayer because I'm sure a part of me still thinks that because I am on my knees and reciting a well known prayer, that I use it as a 'get out of jail free' card. But that is just me. Hope this helps.
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby Dan2000 » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:46 pm

Hi All

I agree with Brock and Tosh....My EGO is not my AMIGO....for sure. I spoke recently and thought it didn't come off as well as I intended <<<<<See the word "I" in this sentence that"s the EGO, that Brock was talking about.

There are many times that I would be thinking what to say and such during a meeting as Tosh described... sometimes I'm day dreaming, or looking out the window.

You have to remember, sharing, although it's your story, it is for the listener....If you take a leap of faith, you may be surprised at the outcome.

True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.......

God Bless
Remember in all we do, it's Progress,not perfection.
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby Feeya » Sat Jul 16, 2016 1:08 am

Hey gailermel!
I was able to relate to your post A LOT!
The first couple of times I went to a meeting I started crying everyone I had to speak and usually I would just identify, say that I wasn't feeling good and let them move on, because I was so afraid to share and also not able to make sense of the chaos in my head!
Going to a lot of different meetings really helped me, to deal with that anxiety. Being confronted with 'not knowing everyone' and having to talk in front of strangers and be honest in front of them, made it a lot easier for me.
I still don't make eye contact, I still shake up a little bit and ramble, but I am getting there!
Thank you for sharing that with us!
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby Irish777 » Sat Jul 16, 2016 6:30 pm

I'm a lurker. If I went to AA meetings what is it that people are sharing. Personal info or info on the Big Book? I have not been, yet, and was just wondering.

Irish.
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby Layne » Sat Jul 16, 2016 8:43 pm

The basic idea is to share what it was like before (when drinking). What it is like now ( not drinking and how we got to this point). And what we hope for the future.
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby Tosh » Sun Jul 17, 2016 3:00 am

Irish777 wrote:I'm a lurker. If I went to AA meetings what is it that people are sharing. Personal info or info on the Big Book? I have not been, yet, and was just wondering.

Irish.


Hi Irish, I wouldn't share anything that was too extreme; there's a time and a place for that; normally a Step 5 with a tight-lipped friend or sponsor.

I won't try to define what 'extreme' is though.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Scared to Share

Postby Lali » Sun Jul 17, 2016 8:37 am

Welcome, Irish!

Basically there are 2 types of meetings: book studies and general discussion.

With book studies, generally we go around the room and take turns reading passages from a book (whether it be the "Big Book", the "12 x 12" or another book). In my meetings, the person who reads has the opportunity to share on what they have read or pass. Then anyone who has something to share on the reading has the opportunity to share.

With discussion meetings, generally the person chairing the meeting will come up with a topic for discussion. They will share for a few minutes on the topic and then open the floor for anyone who would like to share on the topic.

Very often, a person at their first meeting prefers to listen rather than share. You will not be expected to share anything other than your name. (In fact, you don't even have to do that). The chairperson will ask if there is anyone at their first meeting that would like to introduce themselves, first name only.

I hope this answers your question. Please feel free to ask any other questions you may have.
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