Monday, August 06, 2007

Avoiding opinions

Last night my home group turned into a very uncomfortable meeting. When the chair asked for topics, one of our newcomers, who incidentally has been in and out for years and now has about three or four months, wanted to talk about how he thought it was best for people only to go to NA and not introduce themselves as "clean and sober." Of course, as we started going around the table, the meeting degenerated into an "opinion" meeting.

There were two newcomers there and I should have, when it came my turn to share, nipped the debate in the bud. I know better. Our Fellowship's meetings are not to share opinions, but to share our experience, strength and hope to describe how we managed to stay clean. Or, if we do have a strong opinion, to clarify it's just that, a personal opinion.

By the time I left the meeting, I felt pretty sick. The meeting was one opinion after another and most of the members had been there under a year so have very little perspective on what it really takes to trudge along year after year, through life on life's terms, and stay clean.

I believe meeting time should be used to share how we got clean, not our opinion about how meetings should be run or to promote our personal agenda. I celebrate and respect our Traditions, but it is absolutely none of my business where other people go, how they work their Steps, if their sponsor is in another Fellowship, or how they introduce themselves. I can chat with them after the meeting if I want to give input, but other than that, I need to work my own program, not everyone else's program.

After the meeting, I talked to my home group members to discuss my concerns. If I'm in another meeting where this happens, it's my responsibility as a member with time in the Fellowship who has watched many, many Program die-hards relapse with their tight-ass beliefs, to remind people that opinions are just that--opinions. And everyone has one.


msb said...

Yep I try to stayout of that lose-lose debate. I just try and remain respectful of what chair ai'm sitting in and share my story honestly. And opinions are like a**holes....everyones got one. Thanks for bringing up this subject and its good to know we are not unique out here in AZ. :+}

Syd said...

It sounds as if there is an internal struggle at a lot of AA meetings regarding the dual addicted. I would think that this isn't a meeting topic but one for the group conscience. I don't like for meetings to be a soap box for a personal agenda. Not what I go to them for at all.

Pam said...

Oh I know that feeling. Leaving a meeting with newcomers, wishing I had squashed a topic that was not beneficial to anyone. I just try to make a commitment to do better the next time I'm in a meeting like that.
I guess we never know....who might have actually got something out of all that.

Meg Moran said...

yeah, been there when that goes on. well, one good thing that comes of it is that newcomers can observe that what feels like struggle one week seems to melt away in the big picture, if the group is strong. I used to think "oh god they are arguing! now everything is ruined!!! and was so surprised and happy to see the principles survive the personalities."

Anonymous said...

same program. different State.