I got sober in one place. I lived within a 20 mile area from the time I was born until I was 22. That’s where I went to meetings for six years, and it’s where I got sober. When I was one year sober (after five or six of drinking, but still in AA) I moved very far away from my home. Over the next twelve or so years, I moved many times, usually only living somewhere for a year until I moved back to my home town and stayed there for six years. Then I moved again and I’ve lived where I am now for almost ten years.
I have always gone to AA through all the moves. It is amazing to me that in all those places, there are thousands of people recovering through the AA program. All of the moves were within the US, though I did go from one side to the other and back, and a bit toward the middle. All the AA meetings used the same books, steps and traditions of course, and the meetings are more similar than they are different.
I really hesitate to criticize a meeting because at the core, it is an AA meeting, people are getting sober there, and I owe it my life. I wonder if moving and finding it hard to totally embrace different meeting formats is a problem of oldtimers. With lots of time, I would think, one is apt to get set in their ways, and would find it more difficult to accept something different than a newer person.
So personally, I do find all the reading boring and frustrating. Especially bad, to my patience, is the reading of items from the newsletter. So many times the person reading tells about little details of far off meetings and it eats up time. But honestly I also find it tedious to listen to “How it Works” at every meeting, all the traditions, all the promises, and goodness knows what else. I also find listening to one speaker tedious at times. Where I’m from, speakers spoke for shorter periods of time, and in an hour meeting there would be at least two of them. Finally I don’t like the aspect of the discussion meetings in my area where no one gives feedback. This is not the dreaded “cross talk,” but a format where the leader or speaker might make a short comment rather than, no matter what someone has said, say, “Next.”
Well this post is even boring me. I obviously have opinions about what I like and what I dislike regarding the format of an AA meeting. By no means, though, am I putting down the AA here or anywhere. I’m sure these things evolved for a reason, and the variety is actually interesting. It’s that certain night of the week when I know the nearby meeting features lots and lots of reading that gets me down. And I know I could join the group and try to see if others would see it my way and cut down. But I don’t do that.