I feel like an outsider in my home group

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Mathguy
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I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Mathguy » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:55 am

Hi I have 22 months sober today but it hasn't been easy. I have a home group that seems to be very cliquey. It is a morning meeting that I stop at on my way to work. There are two groups of people: those with long term sobriety that have known each other for years and then there are people in the sober living houses in that area. Whoever leads the meetings always calls on their friends to share and I almost never get to share in this meeting because I don't seem to have any friends there. I don't live in the town where this meeting is, it is on my way to work that's why I stop there and most of the people there live in that area and have known each other for a long time and I just can't seem to find my way in there.

I don't get to share at meetings, I have never in 22 months been asked to lead the meeting. I co-led the meeting on my first birthday(everyone was there for the person I shared the birthday with not me). Nobody there has gotten to know me and they don't seem to want to. They aren't unfriendly it just seems like they have their set group of friends and don't want to let me in.

It's very frustrating. I have other options as I live in the Los Angeles area and there are tons of other meetings. But I got sober at this particular meeting and I desparatly want to be a part of rather than apart from. Do they hold it against me that I showed up at my first meeting 22 months ago drunk and high and tried to share? I am an intellectual with an advanced degree in Mathematics maybe they don't like me for that reason? My sponsor tells me a lot of this is "in my head" and I agree with him but I just feel so shut out in this group and like such an outcast.

I don't want to drink over this it's just too hard to get and stay sober again and I have a lot to live for and this isn't worth drinking or using over that's for sure. I have relapsed before and I know how hard it is to make it back and I just want to stay and "work things out".

I hear people keep talking about building that "wall of friends" but I just can't seem to do that. I just try to stay greatful that at least I still have my wife, my family, my house, and my career even if I don't have friends. I have always been a social outcast my whole life I was very unpopular in high school and bullied and ostracised by my peers and that's what turned me to drinking and drugs for many years just to numb the pain from this.

Anyway thanks for listening to my whine.

Mathguy

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Karl R
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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Karl R » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:15 am

Hello Mathguy,

Welcome to our discussion forums. I hope you find a bit of a home here in addition to your f2f groups. You are needed here mathguy.

Faced with similar circumstances in early sobriety I was asked a couple questions:

-can you control how other people in that group behave or act in regards to you or the meeting?
-can you instead focus on your own behavior and choices?
_what choices concerning your own behavior and actions are available to you?

Is it possible to "step into service" in this group. Ask the group conscience meeting of the group how you can be of service to the group.

Is it possible to talk to and engage the new members who come into the group? Build a fellowship for yourself.

Is it possible for you to engage the members of the group in conversation? Build relationships starting from your end of things rather than waiting for others to approach you?

Is it possible for you to explore other groups? AA groups have "fit". Some fit and some don't on an individual basis. Faced with this early in sobriety I turned from a larger, more active group toward a tiny group/meeting with only a couple members. We built the fellowship we sought together. Last Friday that group had a meeting with over 25 members. It fits and it's growing.

Have you prayed over this?

Are you solid on the 12 steps of AA and recognize the importance of the 12 step program of AA in staying sober---in addition to the fellowship of the group? Or are you trusting in the power of the Group to keep you sober?

I've also found that the times when I'm uncomfortable are those times in life when my HP is attempting to teach me something. Be open to that.

To a certain extent your sponsor is correct. This is in your head. Is it possibly time to take the issue out of your head and take action instead of letting the issue rent space in your head?

Like a lot of other things...the answers will come if you pray, take some action, then surrender.

cheers and welcome here,
Karl

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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Ken_the_Geordie » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:25 am

Hi Mathguy,

I've recently heard a friend of mine accuse another local group as being cliquey, and it's funny because I have a different perception of the group. It's difficult to explain, but cliques - in my opinion - aren't really cliques. They're just a bunch of people who feel comfortable to be able to talk to each other. Yes, some of it could be because they've known each other for years, but it's not like cliques are excluding others from their group; it's more like they're not thinking and therefore just getting on with how they've always done stuff and they're staying within their comfort zone.

And I'm ex-military and you don't get more 'cliquey' than the British army (I doubt), so I probably have a lot of experience with cliques.

But can I ask if you're currently doing any service for this group, or have you done any in the past? I did coffee for a year at one of my meetings and it was great for integrating me as a bonafide member of that group. I didn't just set up the coffee stuff either; I 'mothered' them! :mrgreen:

I'm now on literature, and to be honest, it feels like I haven't really got a service position; so from an integrating point of view, the coffee post is the number 1 position.
I'm more commonly known as Tosh (it's a nick name, but everyone I know in real life calls me it); just in case there's any confusion; I tend to use Tosh or Ken interchangeably and it confuses some; including me. ;-)

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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Mathguy » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:56 am

Thanks Karl and Ken for your responses:

I absolutely recognise the importance of the 12 steps, that's why I've been able to still be sober even though I am feeling like this and going through this.

I have explored other groups where I fit in much better. I guess I keep trying to fit in in this group because it is where I got sober and spent my early sobriety.

I would LOVE to do service, however, they seem to reserve these positions for the people in the sober living houses. I go to other groups after work and on the weekend where I have done service but there aren't service postions available in this group for those who either are not in the sober livings or don't have many years sober.

That's just the way this group is and I can't control how other people are. My sponsor explained this to me and he is absolutely right.

I do talk to newcomers and this does make things better there. Unfortunately most of the ones I seen to start making friends with go back out and I don't see them(that's just the nature of the disease).

There is actually a morning meeting that is closer to my house and more directly on my way to work that I feel more comfortable at , which is probably a much better option.

One thing is for sure, I am not going to drink and I will just simply find where I do fit.

I think I should also do a 10th step again on this issue. (I did one before several months ago and felt better for a while)

Thanks and have a great day.

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Karl R
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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Karl R » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:17 am

Keep coming back here too Mathguy. :-)

Your words will surely be helpful to someone around our forums also.

cheers,
Karl

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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Steven F » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:33 am

Hi Mathguy!

I would suggest something that however might not be comfortable: have you talked about this in this group? You might get some surprising answers. Perhaps your sponsor can come along with you one day and just sit in?

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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by avaneesh912 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:35 am

Code: Select all

I think I should also do a 10th step again on this issue. (I did one before several months ago and felt better for a while)
our book suggests:

This thought brings us to Step Ten, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.

I was told, this means i let the steps work may the minute i wake up and until i go to bed...
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Layne » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:06 am

Hey Mathguy it sounds to me like you are pretty well grounded in this issue and not just running on self will and emotions.

Leaving any relationship is never easy and this meeting and you have a relationship. I know of a few people in the program that have left spouses after about 3 years in the program, not because anyone was wrong or impossible, but because they weren't the same person that they were when they were drinking and it simply was not a good fit and the healthy choice was to move on.

That didn't make their decision any easier and there was a period of grieving just like there is with any loss, but it was for the best in the end. Take a good, honest look at your motives and it sounds to me like you will make a good choice in this matter.

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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Mathguy » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:40 pm

I definetly need to pray and do step work on this. G-d has something He wants to teach me, I just have to be surrendered to His will and open hearted to it.

Layne, I agree with your comment that if I do leave this group it would be like leaving a relationship. I think that explains why I still want so badly to try and make it work.

I did share with the group about this about a year ago(I raised my hand which is really frowned upon - I don't raise my hand anymore) and it was to no avail and I am not comfortable sharing that again with the group. My sponsor doesn't think it's a good idea either. I talked to him again this morning and he told me another guy just went off in a meeting a couple of days about the same thing that's bothering me and of course it's to no avail.

I am going to call one of the members of the group with long-time sobriety and talk to him about this issue and my sponsor(who only sporadically attends this group and is not a regular member) agrees this is a good idea. I really don't want to subject newcomers to my whining about this in a meeting, my sponsor and I feel it best best talked about by phone with one of the members with longtime sobriety.

I will stay sober and work through this.

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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Mathguy » Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:06 pm

I just called the person in the group that has long-term sobriety that I wanted to talk to about this and I got a good answer.

Basically it is the way that group is and there are 90 people each morining and the only ones who usually get called on are those who have 8 or more years sober or those with less time that have friends leading the meeting. That's just the way that group has always been.

Perhaps G-d is trying to teach me patience and acceptance. And those are actually good things even though the process of acquiring them isn't much fun usually.

This person suggested I keep going there but branch out and go to other meetings and in the Los Angeles area there is a huge selection to choose from. So I will go to this group about a couple times a week to keep in touch with people there that I like and care about(and could potentially become friends). Other days I will go to other smaller meetings. This long-time member also told me it's ok if I raise my hand in this meeting every couple of months or so, it when people raise their hand too often that is frowned upon.

Reaching out to people is good. Between posting on here and using the telephone, I got a good answer. If I hadn't bothered to reach out I still might be wallowing in this stuff.

Thanks and have a great day!

Mathguy

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Marc L
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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Marc L » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:45 pm

Hi MathGuy;

I'm Marc and I'm Alcoholic. I know how you feel. I've been there and had a resentment about that sort of thing early on in sobriety. I just couldn't fit in and was bummed about it. When I showed up here at e-AA I posted a little story called 'The Treacherous Hive of Scum and Villany'. It's a metaphor about how newcomers sometimes feel when they arrive. Endeavor to persevere... Eventually you'll connect. It is possible that people fear you because you have something they don't such as higher level Math skills. :D


Marc
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12th Step work ain't just a job... It's an Adventure.

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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Mathguy » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:23 pm

MarcLacroix wrote:Hi MathGuy;

I'm Marc and I'm Alcoholic. I know how you feel. I've been there and had a resentment about that sort of thing early on in sobriety. I just couldn't fit in and was bummed about it. When I showed up here at e-AA I posted a little story called 'The Treacherous Hive of Scum and Villany'. It's a metaphor about how newcomers sometimes feel when they arrive. Endeavor to persevere... Eventually you'll connect. It is possible that people fear you because you have something they don't such as higher level Math skills. :D


Marc

Good points. Persevere is what I'll do. Thanks!

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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Steven F » Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:38 am

Wow - your and mine experience are quite different... I can't imagine having to do battle to be part of a group.

Just to compare and to explain where I'm coming from: our group here has about three regular members right now. We get travellers and are often joined by two more, but we're just as easily just with two. In summer, a brand new member kept the room open on his own (and was rewarded for it by finding a sponsee). We don't have too much by way of a format, and I couldn't imagine not being able to say what I want to say in that meeting. Quite a contrast, and perhaps the "other end of the scale".

So, you got your answer from that group, which basically is that you are supposed to shut up until you have eight years :-). From my perspective, I would seriously question why I would attend that meeting at all then. Especially if you have alternatives - up and including forming a group of your own (which is not difficult to do - there is no formality). There are probably a lot more opportunities about than you think - maybe these few members whom you care about there would for example like to get together outside the meeting, to be able to talk freely.

I have been thinking about your question, and about what is important for me in a home group. I guess it boils down to two things: to be permeated by the fact that I am never alone again (which for me includes being able to talk about stuff I can't talk about outside meetings), and to know and be known well enough so that I have eyes for it when something goes on with a friend in the fellowship - and the other way around.

We meet once a week, and I come out of these meetings with joy and fresh energy. I don't think I would go if that weren't the case.

You very well may find other things important - this is just my opinion and my perspective, nothing more. But whatever you decide to do from here on end: well done on sorting this out the adult way! I can think of heaps of other ways you could have gone about this - all less appealing 8).

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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Mathguy » Thu Dec 02, 2010 7:00 am

Hi Steven, in that group it's basically you either have at least 8 years or one of your friends is leading the meeting. Since I have only 22 months and no friends in that group I don't fall into either category. And this group calls themselves "Sobriety Capitol of the World". Some people just get "fed up" with this and go back out but I am not going to do that. My sobriety has become very precious to me.

I have a car, money for petrol, and I live in the Los Angeles area where there is a veritable "smorgasbord" of meeting and group choices. I am not going to a morning meeting this morning as I get to drop my son off at school before I go to work as my wife has to be at work early today. I have a meeting at another group after work where I have a comittment and tomorrow morning I will excercise my options.

I think I will still visit this group at least one a week as there are a couple of newcomers I am trying to help. But it's time to find a home group where I can be a part of and participate in my own recovery.

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Re: I feel like an outsider in my home group

Post by Mathguy » Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:45 pm

Steven F wrote:Wow - your and mine experience are quite different... I can't imagine having to do battle to be part of a group.

I have been thinking about your question, and about what is important for me in a home group. I guess it boils down to two things: to be permeated by the fact that I am never alone again (which for me includes being able to talk about stuff I can't talk about outside meetings), and to know and be known well enough so that I have eyes for it when something goes on with a friend in the fellowship - and the other way around. .

Steven, you really touched on something here. I have resented from the beginning that it seems like I have to "prove myself" to this group, where's the unconditional acceptance?

And I have ACHED inside for the very thing you have described as important. I don't get that in that group. I have actually got to know some of the others but none of them have really got to know me enough to even have a shred of a clue when something is going on with me. It frickin' HURTS when I think about it.

When my mother passed away last year when I had about 5 months I got very little support from this group(how can they know when I don't even get to share?) but I still stayed sober because I have a sponsor and got support at other meetings in other groups that I go to, but it really sucks when you don't get that support from your supposed "home" group.

When my first birthday rolled around I didn't even get a cake from that group(I did get cakes at other groups including one my sponsor attends and he gave me a very nice cake but no cake from my "home " group) and they also basically do a tribute to the birthday person where their friends say nice things about them and guess what? I got "Happy Birthday but I don't really know you" or they would just not share. I got such a resentment about this that I almost drank and used over it but instead did a 10th step on it and stayed sober.

The one friend I did have at this group stopped going because of his work schedule.

I am going to start looking for a new home group tomorrow morning where I will "fit" where I can have friends and where others will get to know me well enough to know when something is "off" with me.

And I just talked to my sponsor about this and he thinks I am doing the right thing.

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