Sunday, 25 February 2018

Do You Know: HOW TO USE THE CLOSED MEETINGS?

Gabbing as is our wont, the other evening at air-conditioned Stewarts, after a Thursday closed meeting, an A.A. member asked why we didn't have one regular closed meeting for older members only. "That is," he said, "people who've been in A.A. at least a month or more." The complaint was that at present too much time is devoted to questions and answers pertaining to the problems of the spanking newcomer, the lad or the lass who is still in the throes of that virus known as jitters. So much time that the problems of the older members are neglected. "Also," added the complainant, "there are things that shouldn't be discussed in the presence of those who've attended only one or two meetings."



Elbows plopped on the table. Coffee cups rattled. "What, for example?" The question came from all sides. "Well, to begin with--slips," was the reply. "It's bad stuff to discuss slips, slippers and slipping all over the place, with brand-new members present. They might get the impression that none of us stays sober for any length of time. They might get so discouraged by that kind of talk that they'd never come back. They might. . ." He got no further. Elbows came up, coffee went down. And the gabfest was on for sure. Here is the meat off the bone so well picked that evening: Closed meetings are for the purpose of discussing personal problems concerning alcohol, problems that one does not feel free to discuss in the presence of non-alcoholics. Uninhibited by the presence of "out-landers," you can speak your mind freely at a closed meeting, secure in the knowledge that you are among people who know the very worst about you, who have the same malady as your own, and who will listen to you with sympathy and understanding. As for the older members not having a chance to air their problems because of concentration on those of the brand-new members, that argument wobbles like a drunk nearing his last legs. Now really. As one young woman put it, "If the older member's question is burning enough, he'll barge in and burst out with it. Nobody could stop him. If it's not so very important, a little listening to other people's troubles won't do him any harm." As a general rule, it isn't the older member who is shy about talking at closed meetings, it's the new member. Also, the consensus was that the closed meetings need the stimulation of a constant flow of new members and their provocative questions. Very much need them. And as for the slip-slipper-slipping talk, that's not going to harm the new ewe lambs. Not seriously anyway. Even if he should go away for a while, as a result of it, he'll be back. He'll be back if he seriously wants to sober up. And we will welcome him with gratitude in our hearts: here is another sick person we are privileged to help.

Grapevine - August 1944 Vol. 1 No. 3
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