Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Al-Anon Meeting - First Impressions

When I first went to Al-Anon here are some of my first thoughts. I found these to be similar to those of others who first went.

You people are crazy. Why do you still keep coming back here after your husband and you are divorced? (replace husband with wife where appropriate)

  1. How come no one is giving me an answer to my problem?

  2. I want to know what to do to fix my wife. (the alcoholic)

  3. Are you people crazy?

  4. These people are crazy.

  5. These people are losers.

  6. We dying here God, why aren't you helping us?

  7. Damn you wife [insert name here]. I wouldn't be going to these meetings if it wasn't for you.

  8. Damn you wife [insert name here]. I wouldn't be spending my time here if it wasn't for you.

  9. I am not broke/screwed up/have a problem. My wife is broke/screwed up/has THE problem. WHY DO I NEED TO BE GOING????????
These were my first impressions. I have found that many people who have gone to these meeting had similar first impressions. Then, one day you wake up. And the thinking goes from this to that:

From: I am focused on fixing the alcoholic. To ------> I need this meeting for myself, to "fix" myself.

From: I am talking about what the alcholic did. To --> What I did, am doing, going to do.

From: A disdain for having to go to meetings. To----> I like "thinking out loud" and hearing others thoughts and stories.

Here are my "truly amazings;"
  • It is truly amazing and incredible that a meeting like this, so well organized, and so well structured, could actually be for FREE.

  • Truly amazing that other people have the same stories I have. (this transaltes into that "I am not alone." A feeling we all seem to have or had.)

  • Truly amazing that what someone says, is actually what I needed to hear today.

  • I can apply these principles to everyday living, whether there is an alcoholic in my life or not.

  • I have become a better person because of it. (I have read a lot of books, attended a lot of courses, work with some amzaing people, but this little program has helped me in a number of ways.)

  • Truly amazing the number of people affected by alcohol. (You find out all the meetings available, and all the rehab programs available, just through "osmosis.")

  • Truly amazing the number of people who do not know about Al-Anon or won't go.

That last bullet point, is a little depressing for me. The reason is simply because I feel sorry for the women especially who could use the help and support. This feeling probably stems from my mother having to deal with it by herself. I know she could have used the support. But it was different way back when.


Laurie said...

I remember the first meeting, well the only meeting I went to...this girl was really hurting and cried so hard and no one said anything. I kept thinking someone should say something because if I were that girl I would want someone to say something! It was very awkward. I didn't go back. Reading your blog Joe I can see where the meetings would be very beneficial. I am fortunate because I think I've gotten past some of that initial thinking (although I do revert to it often enough!). I have to focus on me. Maybe I can lead by example. I guess I still should consider Al-Anon. I have found support here. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I have been to 3 meetings, all different locations. I have not found "that' meeting for me, but am searching for a place of comfort. I know I will find it.

I am changing everyday, by applying the program principles in relationship to biblical principles and can say that honestly I have not been this at peace in a very long time, and it feels good!

It is a struggle at times, times I just want to put it aside, but I know it is giving me clearer understanding of me, my wants, desires, defects, the whole nine yards.

Nothing of value comes free, or easy. So I just keep moving one foot in front of the other.


Catherine said...

Joe, I liked your list so I wrote down what was going through my head during my first meeting. Interestingly -- it reveals how much I obsess about random junk.

1) Are they going to show a video or pass out worksheets?
2) I feel totally pathetic sneaking out to do this.
3) Why is it called odat? I guess that's Latin.
4) These people seem to know each other yet they're not asking each other any questions.
5) That person has been doing AlAnon for 10 years? Uh, not me.
6) How come no one has mentioned "their" alcoholic?
7) I don't think this is gonna work.
8) At this very moment, the kids' lunches are NOT getting made.
9) Why do they talk in such vague terms? It's confusing.
10) This room could use a decorator.
11) Uh-oh, holding hands?!

AND, I can honestly say that I didn't really feel better after the meeting but that I have learned a bit in each one that I go to.

Anonymous said...

This entry made me laugh. I have been to a total of two meetings only, but the reactions are all familiar, esp. Joe's # 1, 2, 5 and 9, and Catherine's #10 and 11.

Additionally, I thought:

1. Wow, talk about a stereotype. We really ARE meeting in a church basement.

2. Church (momentary shudder)... it's been a long time since I've been in one. Am I going to be struck by lightning?

3. Someone brought their child? Should a kid be listening to all this? (then a hearty laugh at myself)

I wasn't that "crying girl" until the second meeting. In the first meeting I'd say I was more deer-in-headlights.

Yes, I'm going back. Maybe I'll even tell my boyfriend where I'm going, instead of saying I'm going over to my Mom's house.