In 1976, when I came to AA, there were few female members. In my 3rd month of recovery, I had a profound spiritual experience which I have related in other posts. I quickly learned to shut up about God as many members wanted to talk about alcohol only. Being female and a God person almost insured that I wouldn’t have a lot of group acceptance.
The focus for my recovery took a profound change in direction when I discovered ACOA. I have never “forgot” that I am first and foremost an alcoholic and am deeply grateful to be in recovery. Nor have I ever considered myself as recovered. Why change something that works for me? But ACOA gave me permission to not only feel my feelings but also to talk about them.
ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) has gone through several name changes. In 1977, (one year after the beginning of my recovery in 1976), a group of Al-Anon members realized that they were all children of alcoholics. In later years, ACOA became ACA and/or COA.
Up until 1983, any Al-Anon meeting I attended was to help heal that child inside me who grew up in a very troubled family. But when I shared at Al-Anon meetings about my alcoholism, I felt a subtle change in the group of some members feeling that I didn’t belong in an Al-Anon meeting.
In ACOA or ACA meetings, I immediately knew that I belonged because they talked about feelings. I continued to be completely committed to my recovery with AA groups. But the AA groups were male-dominated groups whose members seemed to be proud of how far they had fallen to their bottoms. So I started attending ACOA and Codependents Anonymous as well as AA.I probably didn’t win any friends by reminding everyone in AA that you don’t have to be hit by a train to hear the whistle blowing.
Some links for your recovery journey:
“I have attended open AA meetings since I began Al-Anon. I was encouraged to go to open meetings to hear the stories of alcoholics and to better understand the disease. These open meetings remind me that hope never dies; that sobriety is possible; and that in many ways, we share the same fears. And every single speaker I hear says they wanted recovery for themselves, not because they were being nagged by a family member.”
“The two programs were closely allied in their origins and are naturally drawn together by their family ties. Yet the Twelve Traditions emphasize that each works more effectively if it remains separate. Thus, there can be no combining, joining, or uniting which would result in the loss of identity of either fellowship. Separateness rules out affiliation or merging, but it does not exclude cooperation with AA or acting together for mutual benefit.”
“Some of the open AA meetings I attend are speaker meetings where I get to hear someone’s “story” of what it was like, what happened and what it is like now. The first open AA meeting I attended was a speaker meeting. I was so moved by what I heard that I developed a great awe for the miracles that can occur in recovery. I was moved in that meeting to tears. There was no blaming of the family, just a focus on their recovery through the steps. I realized then the power of those steps because if they could help someone who was in such dire circumstances with alcoholism, then they surely could help me.”
“When I go to open Big Book studies or open discussion meetings, I know to not share but say that I am a grateful member of Al-Anon who is there to listen. I learned that at AA meetings, even open ones, it is only appropriate for alcoholics (or people there because of their own drinking problem) to share (unless specifically asked to be a speaker). The primary purpose is for alcoholics to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. I can’t do that from my non-alcoholic perspective. It would be equally inappropriate for an alcoholic who isn’t affected by someone else’s drinking to share at an Al-Anon meeting. Or for a friend, who is along to just lend moral support, to share.”