Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Speaking of planning (see many previous posts), we've signed up for the AA International Convention coming to Detroit in July, 2020. I've been to every one since I got sober: Seattle ('90), San Diego ('95), Minneapolis ('00), Toronto ("05), San Antonio ('10) and Atlanta ('15) which was my husband's first. The crowds can be overwhelming at times - 50-60,000 sober alcoholics and family members in one place - but the absolute thrill of hearing the Serenity Prayer recited by those 50,000 people in the stadium meetings makes the long lines for coffee (& everything else) worth it. Seeing smiling faces from around the world (including the parade of nations on the 1st night), truly illustrates this world-wide fellowship I feel so privileged to be a part of.

I love conferences – the retreat aspect of being away for a weekend rejuvenates my program, and hearing different speakers’ take on the Steps and daily application of the principles offers the opportunity for new insight into my own thought processes.

My first conference was the 1986 North Coast Roundup in Seaside, OR. Several of our treatment counselors were involved, and thus put me to work taking tickets. At 90 days sober, I was probably still seeing double, but greeting people as they came in was just what I needed to feel "a part of." Having a role, a job to do, created a buffer between my shyness and the rollicking world of AA members. I could “act as if” I was comfortable, and by the end of the weekend, I was. I was told that "service work will keep you sober," and that has definitely been my experience.

Initially, I loved speaker meetings because it meant for sure that I wouldn’t be called on to share - it was several years before I could do much more than say my name in a meeting without crying. I still enjoy the “AA on Saturday night” aspect, though I don’t get quite as much out of talks that sound like stand-up comedy as I used to. When the student is ready, the teacher appears, and when I was new, especially, I reveled in identification with the hard-core tales of descent and eventual redemption. These days, I'm more attuned with hearing how long-timers navigate the "road of happy destiny" over hill and dale.

I'd like to share a meeting pet-peeve. I've recently been in a couple of meetings with out of town visitors. The way I was "raised" in the program (yes, this is my inner "bleeding deacon" speaking), visitors are welcomed, and called on to share. My control issues flare when person after person acknowledges the visitor, yet the chair never calls on them. As I'm writing, I can see that a solution could be to attend a business meeting and add "call on out-of-towners" to the format. Ha! Do I want to be part of the problem (complaining) or part of the solution? I will say that the number of things I take offense to in meetings has lessened over the years. (I used to erupt in heavy sighs if someone talked longer than my attention span, for example). I can always leave, recite the Serenity Prayer in my head, find a new meeting, or remind myself that none of us is without at least one annoying habit.

I'm headed out on one of my grand adventures, so won't likely have a post next week. I plan to hit a couple of meetings while away, and will be back in touch with you upon my return.

What are your meeting pet peeves (if any)? How does your "bleeding deacon" show up when things don't go the way you think they should in a meeting, and what might you do about that?

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