In the fellowship of AA is it important to remember that we are sick people who suffer from a mental illness compounded by chemical substances. We are a group of men and woman that if we took alcoholism and addiction out of the mix we would probably not even be friends. I say this honestly with no bad intent. However, we bind together because of one primary purpose, to find sobriety and to maintain it. With that being said you have to learn to take the good with the bad amongst these groups.
My home group is extremely small. On a good day we could have eleven people and another four but these are the groups I choose to migrate to. My group majority is old timers who have a total amount of sobriety exceeding ninety years. There are larger groups in my area however I prefer to be with smaller crowds. This is my personal preference, everyone is different.
Within groups of people there will always be clashing personalities and AA is of no exception. In any given meeting you will more than likely run into the newcomer, the nonconformist, the millennial and the old timer.
First you have the newcomer who literally just put down the drink and/or the drug and are a walking, talking wound. They are broken, depressed and may not be sure exactly how they even got here. They are typically quiet and withdrawn or they may take up an entire hour long meeting talking about how their day went, all the while making minimum sense. They could be confrontational and combative which may cause unnecessary friction with people within that meeting. It is important to be patient and remember you were there once also. Listen to them. Listen to anything and everything they have to say. Remember it is all about them right now, remember yourself, what that was like. They probably needed that hour more than you did.
Next you have the nonconformists. They question everything and anything they hear in meetings. They are not sold on sobriety and/or the fellowship and still might believe they can control their drinking. They may be there court mandated or they may be there because family and friends forced them there, so they are angry and may refuse to give into sobriety, fellowship, or higher power talk. This, from my personal experience, can cause issues with people who want to be there, who want to listen, who want to learn. It can be a negative distraction and a simple solution would be to ignore them, let them sit there and sulk or play candy crush on their phone. Focus on why you are there. Talk to them if you choose, if they are resistant, at least you tried. Your job is not to force sobriety on anybody, you would be fighting a losing battle, your job is to ensure them that when they are ready you will be there.
Then there are the millennials, which is what I consider myself. I am no longer the newcomer, I have finally let my guard down as a nonconformist and I am now an active member of AA. I completed my steps and now have a home group and commitments. I have settled in. I am a single mother who works full time and has a son who is active in sports. I used to go to meetings four or five times a week but now I simply cannot make more than one meeting a week and some weeks I cannot even make it to my home group, but I go, every chance I have. We live an extremely busy society and for some, like myself, have multiple roles in their homes. Many of us have other responsibilities outside of AA. This is by no means a sign that I am putting my sobriety and the fellowship aside or that I am resting on my laurels. Everyday I live and breathe sobriety. I have a head full of knowledge that I have learned from the groups. Missing a week of meetings, in the time I have accumulated, should not be cause for exile.
I have also received disapproval on how open I am about my sobriety. To an old timer I am breaking a tradition of AA by writing about it, blogging about it and talking openly about it. We live in a world now where communication (ie. social media) is easily accessible. There are websites, Facebook groups, twitter pages, blogs, anything and everything you want to know about addiction and recovery are at our fingertips. There are more people talking about the positivity of AA and the fellowship in social media now more than ever before. I have, within the past few months, started a blog about who I was, what happened and where I am now in hopes to reach someone. Though I keep within the traditions of not breaking anonymity of the people within these groups, I have been told I am breaking the traditions.
Sadly, all of these put together have resulted in resentments and loss of friendships within my group. My sobriety is not contingent upon following everything an old timer has done in their sobriety. As a newcomer, yes, but my job now at four years of sobriety is to help someone, anyone, and if writing openly about how I got here will reach someone, I will continue on despite opposition from the contrary.
Lastly, you have the old timers. These are people who more than likely got sober by being drug by their hair to meetings. They are stuck in their way of how you are to recover. They follow the big book, the traditions and will give an arm and a leg to help a newcomer become sober. They have a wealth of knowledge. These are the people I like to surround myself with despite some resistance on my way of recovery. These are people who have been through life while staying sober. People who have suffered loss, death and financial misfortunes. People who have learned how to cope with life on life’s terms. I choose to surround myself with these people because this is now what I need to learn. I have already put down the drug and the drink; now I have to learn how to deal with everyday life.
So in closing, just like with any group of people, we are all different. We have different personalities, jobs, and duties outside of AA but we all have one common problem, we are alcoholics and addicts. We are in this together regardless of how we may feel about each other. We learn from each other and we help each other. We are a group of people whom we would normally not spend a Friday night with but come together regardless. So we learn to deal with each other. We take the good with the bad and persevere, because that is what we do. We fight a battle everyday of life or death and some days all I have are my people. So I will take your attitude, your boring stories, your anger, your sadness, your disapproval, because I need you, just as you may need me.
So lets just carry on.