Newcomers meetings

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Lali
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Newcomers meetings

Post by Lali »

Just this past Tuesday, my home group which meets daily, had its weekly beginners meeting. In attendance was a woman who was attending her first ever AA meeting. I shared a little of my ESH for her benefit and as I finished, I asked her if she had any questions. She asked if it was okay for her to ask questions during the meeting to which our chair person responded that questions were for the “meeting after the meeting”. Someone else told her it was okay to ask questions but then someone whose shares are often controversial, piped up with an authoritative voice (maybe ever intimidating to some), something like “We have to be careful about cross talk or it could turn to be like a trainwreck”. My feeling is that she was projecting something that hadn’t happened yet. Had things gotten out of hand we could have stopped it then and there.

I’ve been told that the newcomer is the most important person in the room. So my question is, can a newcomer ask questions during a meeting? (She said she had 11 children – for all we knew she wasn’t able to stay after the meeting!!) In retrospect, we could have asked if her she was able to stay after the meeting - but nobody thought of that I guess. :oops: Instead it turned into a few awkward moments. My feeling is do we have to be so darned rigid, especially when dealing with a newcomer?
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Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

TonyWARMS
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by TonyWARMS »

Sometimes, it seems as if people with (relatively) long- term sobriety like to think they have ownership over the program, and people in it.
They tend to think of themselves as sole caretakers of A.A., AND IF ONLY THINGS WENT THERE WAY EVERYONE WOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER OFF!
I, personally, tend not to pay too much those people at the time, and may have questions for them myself later.
I am not aware of any "law" in the program that says you can't ask a question during a meeting, so if someone wants clarification, what's the harm?
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Brock
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by Brock »

I have on my computer a copy of the speech given at the closing of the 1986 General Service Conference by the GSO senior adviser Bob Pearson, it is all about rigidity being the greatest danger to AA, the last paragraph says – “And in this trend toward rigidity, we are drifting farther and farther away from our co-founders. Bill, in particular must be spinning in his grave, for he was perhaps the most permissive person I have ever met."


When members disagree with each other openly in a meeting, especially in front of a newcomer, of course this does not leave a very good impression, and whether or not questions can be asked should be decided at a group business meeting. I agree with Tony, there is no harm in asking, and for those who say leave it for after, it is not easy to remember these things as they come up, unless you have a pen and list the questions, especially for a newcomer who is probably nervous to begin with. We have a once a month beginners meeting, and the chairman always encourages new people to raise their hand if they have a question, this I feel is by far the better way.

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PaigeB
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by PaigeB »

first, I like to show up at meetings early and say hello to women I don't recognize. We give a white chip out to people at their first meeting so they are even easier to identify and assist. Sometimes if that woman is alone, one of the home group will sit next to her. We send a phone list around with our names & numbers and often during our individual share we tell her to please call us if she has any questions.

If there was a moment of cross talk we would practice love and tolerance and the meeting chair would find a good time to interrupt and tell her there would be a good opportunity to do questions after the meeting.

We would likely say "no cross talk, but stay after". If she could not stay after, one of us might say, "I have to leave too, I will walk out with you."

This has been discussed at our business meeting. We also discussed how to handle, "I brought my sister" (we are a closed meeting) and how to handle a disruptive member, (2 gals go out into the hall with her). We allow children & addicts because we are very close to a treatment center for women who bring their children with them.

IT IS "all about the new comer" but we don't do beginners meetings or that is all we would have!
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

danderisup
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by danderisup »

TonyWARMS wrote:Sometimes, it seems as if people with (relatively) long- term sobriety like to think they have ownership over the program, and people in it.
They tend to think of themselves as sole caretakers of A.A., AND IF ONLY THINGS WENT THERE WAY EVERYONE WOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER OFF!
I, personally, tend not to pay too much those people at the time, and may have questions for them myself later.
I am not aware of any "law" in the program that says you can't ask a question during a meeting, so if someone wants clarification, what's the harm?
Wow. this has totally been my experience.

My issues haven't been with the Steps/program, but I have very often felt judged, chastised and unwelcome...like I wasn't enough of an alcoholic and certainly not good enough for AA from people who consider themselves to be the poster child for AA.

I have heard that in some areas when it is found there are newcomers, they turn some time over to introducing the program to them, or in areas that break into "tables" have a new comer's table.

In an individual situation like this, I think it would have been fine if someone had said right then that they would be very happy to answer any questions after the meeting...so that person knew their questions were welcome and a specific individual was ready to talk to them, they didn't have to try to "find" anyone.

I think the bottom line is that we treat everyone kindly, kindness is always appropriate

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Marc L
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by Marc L »

It's really for the ChairPerson to decide the If and How to handle questions during a meeting. Those things are usually explained before the meeting begins.

Marc
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Tosh
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by Tosh »

We've had this happen quite naturally twice, both times it was new ladies at their first meeting who asked questions. We're pretty easy going and we just let it go on. No harm came of it and it was nice to have newcomers interacting with us.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Squawking Hawk
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by Squawking Hawk »

Many meetings, especially those in the part of the State where I got sober, will make the meeting a step one meeting whenever there is a person there for their first meeting.

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Lali
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by Lali »

Thanks everyone. There are some great ideas here that I can share with our group conscience.
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Squawking Hawk
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by Squawking Hawk »

Lali,

let us know what your group conscious comes up with. Ok? This is an interesting and important issue. Together we stay sober and learn from each other.

Hawk
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ann2
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by ann2 »

Just want to show my appreciation here for the oldtimers who attended my Beginners meetings when I was new.

They stood at the wall, away from the group, and listened with arms crossed. Obviously, they wanted to say something, but they were there to see if they could help after the meeting, grab one or two and go for coffee. They let us use our hour the way we needed to. I know i was completely deflated and horribly depressed and if anyone had met one of my scared queries like that, I probably would have left.

Sorry, can't believe a newcomer was shut up at a Beginners meeting. We're all over the place when we first come in, and Beginners meetings are specifically (I am restraining myself from putting that word in caps) designed to meet the newcomers where they are.

Thanks Lali for bringing this here.

Ann
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

Lali
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by Lali »

Fortunately, most of the women approached her after the meeting, answered her questions, encouraged her to come back and someone also bought her a Big Book. And she did come back the next day.
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Tosh
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by Tosh »

This evening, at a Big Book meeting a newly sober guy asked me (I was the main share) if it was possible to deal with the guilt he experiences from 'leaving bruises on his wife' and 'stealing from his children'.

I managed to get a "Yes, we can transform that into really positive stuff" before the chairman jumped in and explained that the format of the meeting doesn't allow questions and answers.

It was probably the right thing to do there; it was a big meeting and after the meeting a couple of us had a chat with this guy. At my smaller homegroup meeting it feels right to let it run as a 'question and answer' thing.

So I don't think there's any hard and fast rules. What feels right? I dunno; but this evening's incident reminded me of this post.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

stilljohnny
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by stilljohnny »

I agree with MARC. I've seen at some groups "all questions should be directed to the speaker" stated at the beginning of the meeting. Some groups have temp sponsors to help in immediate crisis or situations. Thank God for business meetings and the Traditions!!

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PaigeB
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Re: Newcomers meetings

Post by PaigeB »

We have a long running Open meeting called The Welcome Wagon. Crosstalk, speaker, discussion all in one... Wednesdays at 7pm with a 4 week rotation of topics about what AA is and what AA isn't. Also meetings that ARE Beginner's meetings - 3 a day somewhere in town morning, noon and night.

Like I said, our community is a pocket of enthusiasm. I am hosting 3 workshops regarding our District Hotline... service stuff - who would have thought that I would have 20 heads at the first 2? That is a lot to get folks to show up for service type functions... :wink:
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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