Brock wrote: we have a situation of people thinking AA works because people get ‘support’ in meetings, everything these days seems to center around emotional support, especially in so called first world countries...Why shouldn’t I come to your AA meeting and say how terrible my day was, so you can all be supportive with a pat on the back, and reassure me that all will be OK, never-mind that I have been in AA for years, and should be depending on a higher power instead of people.
There surely is a middle ground to be found with just a little common sense, and I agree that the Big Book is a good example of that. Tough and straight forward where it’s needed, and encouraging and supportive in other places.
I agree with this, that AA isn’t a support group or group therapy. I think tv/movies have a lot to do with this because you tend to see AA when a character on a show is sharing their feelings, they rarely show shares about stepwork, the nature of the illness etc. I went looking for movies that showed a more realistic side of AA when I came in and I’m glad that in the meetings in my area and in here there is a real focus on the incomprehensible demoralisation (love that phrase) rather than group therapy. Sometimes someone will share a particularly tough time, but they will also share their ESH and how the programme has helped or is helping or how they hope it will help. There is support but I agree not a support group in that sense.
I think ‘how to do AA’ is a learning curve. Newcomers learn from the meetings they attend how to share, what meetings are for etc or get guidance from sponsors or others. The meetings here are v different from the meetings in the city I lived in before. I’ve been to meetings in several countries having been able to travel a lot since getting sober and it varies from country to country too - but there are core similarities. In one meeting there were timed shares. In another no main chair. In another talk of other addictions was fine. And so on...so what newcomers learn about ‘how to do AA’ varies too.
Just as I learned how to ‘do AA’ I learned
how to take what I like and leave the rest. I learned
to put principles before personalities etc etc. I definitely didn’t walk into AA able to. I do believe it is about our feelings up to a point by which I mean that at my first meeting round here people knew how I was feeling
as I walked into the room because they had felt
it too. In that sense it is about feelings. Alcoholics are sensitive people, newcomers don’t have the benefit of having worked a programme right the second they walk through the door and may be especially sensitive. I don’t think that means we should mollycoddle them and never dare mention the nature of our illness and the way to recover, or that we should let them forevermore talk about their feelings in meetings and never move on to sharing about the programme, but I certainly would give them some slack at the beginning.
In my first meeting with my sponsor he talked about his experience with alcohol, how the disease manifested in him and invited me to identify. Identifying with another alcoholic is about ‘feeling’. He didn’t lecture me, browbeat me or demand anything of me he just shared his story, I listened and I heard and felt his story because in so many ways it was mine too. He ground it in the big book, emphasising how his story chimed with the Drs opinion etc. It made sense to me. My understanding of the big book’s way of working with others is just that - telling something of our story and seeing if a prospect identifies then explaining the way the illness works in a way that s/he can relate to rather than rushing straight in with a list of demands or 'you musts' or 'you better or else f*** off'. They’re called 'suggestions' because AA founders knew that telling alcoholics “you must” is a recipe for disaster.
I do think maybe there is a difference in what different folk think of as “hardliners”. When I use that phrase I don’t mean that a hardliner is someone who shares the truth about alcoholism - my sponsor did and so did many/most in the meetings and I don’t think of him/them as hardliner and I apply that to just about everyone on this forum who gives service (ie not hardliners in the way I mean although they may think of themselves like that - I mostly see wise, compassionate people here; it’s why I used it so much when I got sober and why I’m back.
For me when I use the word hardliner I use it to mean someone who barks an ultimatum at a newcomer etc, gets into p***ing contests on who has drunk the most/done the worst and judges others as not being real alcoholics if they haven’t drunk as much/done the same things (there were a couple when I first tried this forum 14 years ago) and then acts like a broken alcoholic is in the wrong for having feelings that might force them away.
I’m sure there are many who judge the newcomer who doesn’t come back as not being ready to face the truth, as that newcomer maybe drinks themselves to an early grave or takes disastrous action on their feelings. I guess the middle ground for me is tell the truth about alcoholism, but tell it with a bit of humility and compassion. Which I have to say is how I find the vast, vast majority of people in AA meetings and just about everyone on here.
“I am a seeker, a poor sinful creature, there is no weaker than I am,” Dolly Parton