Why I Don’t Like Al-Anon Meetings

sinceOkay. This post might make a whole lot of people angry. Let me just start by saying I love Al-Anon itself. It literally saved my life and my relationship with my sister. So let’s just clear that up, while you are looking at the silly meme on the left. It’s not about Al-Anon as a whole. Whew. There.

This is why I don’t like the meetings anymore:

1. People complain about the same old things. I’ve been to a lot of meetings, and okay. I get that some things are harder to let go than others. But it’s really tiring and sad to hear the same person time after time not healing over the same issues. Why aren’t we helping each other?

2. The same variations of experience, strength, and hope are usually shared. Similar to the above, when I go to meetings, what I seem to hear are almost “rehearsed” sharings. I’m afraid that when they hear me talk they might be to shocked from a sound slumber, because — well, I stutter, I cry, sometimes I’m unsure of myself . . . very un-put-together.

3. People generally don’t talk about THEMSELVES. They talk about “their” alcoholic. Last time I went to a meeting I didn’t have any time to waste. I was going through a personal crisis, me. It had nothing to do with the alcoholic, it was all about me. I don’t think I mentioned my sister’s name even once. Now, maybe people are wondering, “Why have a group like that, if you aren’t going to talk about the drunk in the room?” Because, my friends, the alcoholics hove a group that’s all about them. It’s called AA. Al-Anon is and should be all about us.

Please, please, tell me how you feel about all I’ve just said. I know people read this blog; so, while your reading it, take your time and comment about what you’ve just read.

I welcome diverse opinions! I like the interplay of discussion. Please, let’s have a discussion about Al-Anon meetings!

I wish you the best of days. Peace out. xx

15 Comments

Looks like you went to a toxic meeting where recovery isnt fully practised.Generally if the traditions and steps are not adhered to I never go back to that meeting.One can call a group consience as long principles are practised above personalities.Meetings are abit like relationships one has to work them to make it work.

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I agree that some alanon meetings are like that. I have been privileged to attend a small and wonderful alanon group that saved my life, my sanity, my marriage and my family. It was not like that. We did not complain about the same old things. In fact, we try not to complain. We try to work the steps and talk about personal growth and discovery. We talk little about the alcoholic, and more about our responses to them. I am moving back to my other home (I live back and forth between Canada and Costa Rica) and I am nervous about finding similar support. I trying to have faith that I will find what I need. I am praying about it to my higher power. I have even consider that I will start a step meeting if I need to… we shall see. But yes, I get it, you are right. However, do know it doesn’t have to be like that!

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I was frustrated, too, with the whining and stories about the alcoholic, or as many mistakenly call it, ‘my qualifier.’ (Heck, I’m my own qualifier.) One time when I led a meeting, I started by singing “I’ve been cheated, been mistreated, when will I be loved?” Then I went on to say that we all have our own song — which is okay if you’re a country western star — but for me, i need to stop singing the blues and start living my real life.

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    LOL–I can just imagine the reactions from around the room when you began singing. Not because it was wrong, but because it was so different, so unique, so YOU. And I never understood the whole “qualifier” thing, either. Because they drink, it “qualifies” me to be here? Sorry. Too obtuse for me. 😛

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I have no idea what Al-Anon “should” be, but the basic understanding I have is that is for you. Therefore, it makes sense to me that you and your problems are fair game there. Maybe the people at your meeting think they can only discuss themselves in context of their alcoholic. I don’t know, but a healthy you is better able to deal with everything else you need to deal with.

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    Thanks Jean,
    My feelings exactly! If I can talk about what’s happening in my life, what’s causing me to trip up and stall, and it HELPS, then that leads to me being able to better deal with—-like you said, everything else, including the alcoholic.

    GREAT COMMENT. ❤

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sounds like it’s time for a different alanon meeting. there are lots to choose from,and i’ve learned that all alanon meetings are created equal. some are better than others. don’t worry about helping others. you are the number one priority, and so if that meeting isn’t working for you, maybe another will. good luck. love ya

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    Yeah, like Sherrie said, maybe a different form of meeting would be good. Something more structural. Like a step study, a book study, like that. Love you too.

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Al anon meetings can be tough, though that’s been my experience with many 12 step groups. I have found that when the meeting becomes habituated a change of format can be helpful. I stopped going to ‘discussion’ meetings and attend ‘other’ formatted meetings instead, book focused meetings, speaker meetings (though those can be hard to find in al anon) Also adding sponsorship encouragement and/or support is helpful I have found, a sponsorship chair who keeps a list of people willing to be sponsors and makes announcements about the importance of sponsorship can improve the whole thrust of the meeting. I myself took a break from my local al anon meetings when the members began going out drinking after the meeting….that made me uncomfortable, so now I go to meetings a little further from home, but I am more comfortable there.
Also I would like to say how great I think your blog is and how much I appreciate you writing it!

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    Hi Sherrie!
    Those ore all great ideas, the formatted meetings. I’m especially excited with the idea of a sponsorship chair (had never heard of such a thing), as it adds a whole new dimension and fills a deep need.
    Thank you for the compliment. I’m sorry I flaked out on our idea to do a combined blog. I’m struggling with my self esteem, Sherrie, and am hard at work on it in therapy. Stay tuned. xo

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Hugs. It sounds to me like maybe you’ve reached the point where you’re ready to move on. It sounds like most of the people in your group are still deeply co-dependent–so co-dependent that they even have to make the meeting about the other person’s problem.

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