Thoughts on non-alcoholic spouse attending AA meetings with

Some alcoholics still have families when they get to AA. This is a place to ask questions and share experiences about relating to family members sober, especially when newly sober. (If you are not an alcoholic, please use the "Our Friends and Families" forum.)

Thoughts on non-alcoholic spouse attending AA meetings with

Postby Workerbee » Sun Aug 16, 2015 10:55 am

HI, I've been challenged for a while with my non-alcoholic best friend attending AA meetings with her alcoholic husband. I know she is trying to be supportive, but her presence prevents me from feeling like I can share freely, so I either shut-down or go out of my way to attend other meetings - which causes a resentment. A few month ago, her husband relapsed, and I warned her that while she was trying unsuccessfully to manage his recovery by attending AA meetings, she was also the only one in the room not working a program - she needed to get to Alanon. Her husband came back in and she's back full-force at even more AA meetings - even closed ones. Recently, she's begun gossiping about different alcoholics - when they go out, who is flirting with whom, even how she felt the director of the men's halfway house should program the men's meeting schedule! Even though I cut the conversation short and have told her it is wrong to talk about people struggling to achieve sobriety, she continues to sit on high and judge the rest of us. I'm angry! Please share your thoughts on whether I address this or let the group conscious run its course. Thank you.
Last edited by Workerbee on Sun Aug 16, 2015 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts on non-alcoholic spouse attending AA meetings w

Postby Reborn » Sun Aug 16, 2015 11:28 am

I would say if it were me I would say something first to your friend...this is obviously hurting his recovery and interfering with your's. As God's people we stand on our feet we don't crawl before anyone. Have you discussed this with your sponsor? Might be a good idea to have back up when you talk about this with your friend. Remeber resentment is the number one offender to alcoholics...THEY ARE POISON...the truth will set you free.
We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others. BB pg 132
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Re: Thoughts on non-alcoholic spouse attending AA meetings w

Postby Niagara » Sun Aug 16, 2015 1:20 pm

I can't understand how she is allowed to remain in closed meetings to be honest. Why is nobody asking her to leave? Closed means closed.

I would also say something to her myself. Sometimes we need to be challenged....if nobody DOES that, she's not going to change the behaviour. I don't mean necessarily by a nice request that she stops doing it, sometimes it has to hold depth and weight....frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices with some people out there, I've found, too. Sometimes blunt is the only way to get a message across.

I agree she needs to get to Alanon. If she's trying to micro manage his AA meetings, it makes me wonder what she's afraid of him saying, without her there to stop him. It feels less supportive and more trying to run the show, to me.

If she's gossiping about people in the rooms....that's just appalling frankly. Since she doesn't have a desire to stop drinking, I wouldn't hesitate to ask her to leave if the behaviour continued. Things like that are dangerous in AA. As newcomers in particular (so I've observed) we tend to be paranoid, fearful, and uber sensitive. I heard some members of some years sober gossiping when I was a newcomer to AA, and I would never share in a meeting where they were, and I got quite paranoid about sharing at all after witnessing that.

your recovery must come above all. I've had to say goodbye to people because how they are just doesn't 'gel' with how I am anymore. Love and tolerance of others is our code, I know, but that doesn't mean that I have to accept blatantly bad behaviour that makes me toxic - especially if that behaviour is a choice.
If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month -
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Re: Thoughts on non-alcoholic spouse attending AA meetings w

Postby D'oh » Sun Aug 16, 2015 1:27 pm

First of all, "What can you say in a meeting which you cannot disclose to a Best Friend?"

An Open Meeting is just that, Anyone can attend. She has all of the same rights to be there as you do even if she doesn't need it to live a normal day to day life. Or maybe she does, and just hasn't admitted it yet, Alcoholic or any Mental illness.

My wife brought me through the doors of my very first AA meeting, yes a big foul as I later found out that closed meetings are for Alcoholics who have a desire to Stop Drinking only. But no one there was upset and everyone still Welcomed me with open arms. So having been through that, I am never upset by a Coach having to bring a potential Alcoholic to a meeting. Yes I may have to change my talk, but the hardest step for almost every body in this program is getting through the doors for the first time.
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Re: Thoughts on non-alcoholic spouse attending AA meetings w

Postby ezdzit247 » Sun Aug 16, 2015 2:02 pm

Workerbee wrote:HI, I've been challenged for a while with my non-alcoholic best friend attending AA meetings with her alcoholic husband. I know she is trying to be supportive, but her presence prevents me from feeling like I can share freely, so I either shut-down or go out of my way to attend other meetings - which causes a resentment. A few month ago, her husband relapsed, and I warned her that while she was trying unsuccessfully to manage his recover by attending AA meetings, she was also the only one in the room not working a program - she needed to get to Alanon. Her husband came back in and she's back full-force at even more AA meetings - even closed ones. Recently, she's begun gossiping about different alcoholics - when they go out, who is flirting with whom, even how she felt the director of the men's halfway house should program the men's meeting schedule! Even though I cut the conversation short and have told her it is wrong to talk about people struggling to achieve sobriety, she continues to sit on high and judge the rest of us. I'm angry! Please share your thoughts on whether I address this or let the group conscious run its course. Thank you.


Hi Workerbee

I recommend that you address the issue of enforcing the rules for closed AA meetings--no non-alcoholics allowed--asap with the secretary of each closed AA meeting. If the non-alcoholic women is breaking AA members' anonymity and/or discussing what actual AA members share in open meetings, the secretary of each open meeting she's attending needs to be notified asap. One way to mitigate the damage this woman is doing to the AA fellowship is to call for a vote to change the open meetings to closed meetings by way of a group conscience. That should be an easy unanimous vote to get under the circumstances.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: Thoughts on non-alcoholic spouse attending AA meetings w

Postby Workerbee » Sun Aug 16, 2015 3:06 pm

Thank you all for such thoughtful responses. Several people have made veiled comments to her or in meetings - quoting "A Vision for You" and other passages, yet she misses they are directed toward her. I have spoken with my sponsor, and she feels I should clearly address my feelings to my friend - I'm working up the nerve... In the meantime, I will continue to refuse to discuss AA members lives with her. I have a feeling as she gets more comfortable with folks and starts gossiping about different members with them, she will step on a land mine. For my own recovery, I know I will continue to face challenges with boundaries until I learn to defend them, and this is a prime opportunity!!
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Re: Thoughts on non-alcoholic spouse attending AA meetings w

Postby Lali » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:23 am

D'oh wrote:First of all, "What can you say in a meeting which you cannot disclose to a Best Friend?"



Apparently there are things that she doesn't want to share with her non-alcoholic friends and she should be allowed to share things in confidence. If this situation is bothersome to the poster, imagine how this woman's husband must feel!!! And does she share in meetings for Pete's sake??? As someone else here said, talk about your concerns with your group conscience. Does she attend those meetings as well?
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him
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Re: Thoughts on non-alcoholic spouse attending AA meetings w

Postby clouds » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:59 am

I can undèrstand what she must be going through. Living with an active alcoholic or an addict can really take our loved ones to the depths of insecurity and fear. She is losing control of someone who, through the sickness of alcoholism, has put her into a position of power. She's had to get a grip for years and control everything, picking up all the loose ends the alcoholic leaves around to disrupt home life. Now she's....'ahem' ... losing it.

Maybe it would be of benefit to have one of the older time members wives, who is well grounded in Alanon, have a little talk with the woman. They could invite her for lunch or coffee and introduce her to other wives of AA's. Then she would be able to do something for herself.
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
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Re: Thoughts on non-alcoholic spouse attending AA meetings w

Postby Sadie Ann » Tue Dec 15, 2015 11:55 am

AS the "wife" I tried attending Alon meetings for myself as my husband worked on his recovery. We attended open meetings together so I saw both sides. I did not like ALON at all. I felt it was just a bashing session and did not feel like I got support at all there. I, myself found support in the regular AA meetings. They knew I was a wife and not the addict and welcomed me with open arms unlike ALON. I respected the rules and other family members. Took me a long time to share as I would just listen. It helped me to understand the actions of the addict and why they did certain things to the ones they loved. I saw the pain and hurt in their actions. After time I was ASKED to share. It was so scary but we learned from each other. I was referred to as their NarNON. I found a place where I felt I fit in and it helped me in MY recovery of my husbands addiction. As far as closed meetings I did not attend until they asked my husband where I was at and was invited to attend. See, I gave the addict a way to learn how those they loved were effected by their actions without judgement. What things worked and what did not. Addiction effects the WHOLE family. As for the woman talking about what goes on inside those meetings she should be asked to leave if she cannot respect the rules and guidelines.
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Re: Thoughts on non-alcoholic spouse attending AA meetings w

Postby Brock » Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:28 pm

Not all AA groups would allow the sort of leeway shown to yourself, it is basically up to the members to decide. I mention this primarily because you may again be placed in a situation of your husband needing to attend, and I wouldn't want you to be embarrassed by expecting that your presence would be welcomed. Below is a copy of a 'primary purpose card' which most groups are guided by, under the closed meeting you will see that attendance is limited to those with a desire to stop drinking, the open meeting offers a little more room for non alcoholic 'supporters' to attend. So it is wise to ask before attending what the policy of a particular group is, wishing you the very best in overcoming the present setback in your husbands recovery.

THIS IS A CLOSED MEETING OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS This is a closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. In support of A.A.'s singleness of purpose, attendance at closed meetings is limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend this meeting. We ask that when discussing our problems, we confine ourselves to those problems as they relate to alcoholism.
THIS IS AN OPEN MEETING OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS This is an open meeting ofAlcoholicsAnonymous. We are glad you are all here — especially newcomers. In keeping with our singleness of purpose and our Third Tradition which states that “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking,” we ask that all who participate confine their discussion to their problems with alcohol.
The seed has been planted in his mind. He knows that thousands of men, much like himself, have recovered. B.B. P.113
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