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wundayatta's avatar

How will people in a twelve step group respond if you don't follow their rituals?

Asked by wundayatta (58596points) March 2nd, 2010

In particular, I am curious about the one where you want to talk. You say, “My name is Wundayatta, and I am an overeater.”

What if you’re not sure you’re an overeater? What if you’re not sure you qualify as an alcoholic? Or what if you’re not sure you’re addicted to whatever the group is about?

Do you identify yourself as an addict anyway? Lie? Can you say, “My name is Wundayatta and I’m not sure what I am?” How do you think such a group would respond to that? Would they feel you are breaking something sacrosanct, in denial, and really not appropriate for the group? Would they not care?

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13 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I have no clue because I’ve never gone to one but am interested certainly. I think there is some kind of facilitator at these meetings who’d steer your in the ‘correct’ direction, no?

JONESGH's avatar

In the groups I’ve been to in the past, no one there is going to judge or reject you. Whatever you’ve done, there’s always someone who has done worse, and they no they’re not in a place to judge you or tell you what to do. Everyone is very accepting and loving.

ZenListener's avatar

You can decline to contribute and just listen in for a while, if you want. Nobody forces you to do anything, although they will encourage it.

davidbetterman's avatar

They will shun you.

Jeruba's avatar

I believe they are open to honesty above all else. Stick to the truth as you understand it and don’t worry about the rituals.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I have been a regular, continuously sober member of a 12-step program for over 10 years. But I can only answer for myself and not for the group.

I have seen countless people come into the meetings and question whether they were alcoholic or not, and the book Alcoholics Anonymous states plainly what to do in those cases. It encourages a person to go out and try some controlled drinking. See how long it can be kept up. Can a person who is alcoholic control their drinking for days, months, even years? Who knows for sure?

But will that person be shunned by the group? I can categorically say the answer is no. In my experience and in the 12-step program I attend, the meetings are open to anyone seeking relief from their alcoholism.

JessicaisinLove's avatar

I went to an AA meeting with my Daughter and introduced myself by name and then guest.

susanc's avatar

Every 12-step group has its own character (and characters!). You can shop around. It’s fine to do that.
You’re allowed to say you’re there to learn.
In terms of wanting to talk, it might be a good idea to listen
till you have a sense of the process, which is fairly rigid and artificial, for good reasons. There’s a “no crosstalk” rule – you don’t give or get advice, though people might tell stories that address issues other people have talked about. You learn to confine yourself to telling about your own questions and concerns and actions and then letting other people talk about their own lives. If someone doesn’t remember this rule, someone will remind them. it seems strangely artificial at first, but it’s remarkably freeing.
I think the structures make it pretty safe to be honest, as @jeruba suggests. I once had to exit a group that was derailed by a new person who was crazier than the group could contain. This happens.
Learning, learning, learning.

stardust's avatar

I’ve been to a couple of different ones. I wasn’t very comfortable in them myself, but it had nothing to do with the group. My experience of such groups is that they are very welcoming, helpful & supportive. There isn’t much pressure, but you might be encouraged to share.
I think it really depends on why you’d go and what you’d want out of it.

jeanneme's avatar

I was in Alanon for over 10 years…Adult children of Alcoholics for the same time. I have also attended many “closed” AA meetings. If I needed a meeting and could not find Alanon meeting that night I would simply go to the closed AA meeting and tell someone there that I was Alanon. The group will instantly vote if you can attend. They never refused me. I was always grateful for their openness. If the group is healthy they never judge you. You can go in and tell the truth. You can tell them you know this is a meeting for “overeaters” and at present you don’t know if you qualify but you would like to listen. Usually HEALTHY groups don’t require you to talk. OR you can simply say “Hello, my name is ‘Jennifer’ and I would like to listen tonight.” You can do that as long as you want. Usually, something or someone’s story will relate to you and you will know yes or no. I believe in giving it a fair chance so my personal recommendation would be to try the meeting for 3 months and if it feels right it is; if it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. Done. No one will be “monitoring you”. If someone does…they are not healthy. You might get someone approach you who cares and is trying to help you to talk but it SHOULD be out of kindness and not out of ” I am watching you” attitude. My best of luck to you and don’t be afraid. They are just people, working through their own problems too. We all grow and I am happy to hear that you at least care enough about yourself that you want more out of life. It’s a journey, a 12 step program will usually become a spiritual journey that you never imagined. If you don’t have their problem…the 12 steps are a wonderful way for everyone to live their lives. It is a profound experience.

astolby's avatar

I think it depends on whether you are trying to go to an “open” meeting or a “closed” meeting. In an open meeting, anyone can attend so that would be my first step if I just wanted to test the waters. A closed meeting is only for those who are in recovery. Most places have a schedule listing which meetings are open and closed.

GracieT's avatar

I attend a program called DA, Debtor’s Anonymous. I think that any 12 step program doesn’t help everyone, but for those that it does help it is a lifesaver. You are never made to talk at meetings, and no one follows you around to make sure you don’t _______. What does happen, however, is that you are given the opportunity to have a sponsor, to practice the twelve steps, to stop _____.

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