This is a response to an email from a friend who just moved to another city. He went to a group attended by members who were not so welcoming. The second paragraph, in particular, addresses not-so-welcoming AA’s:
I heard L’s fifth step yesterday, it took from 1:00 until 6:45. She had 94 items on her 4th step. It was pretty amazing. She is an exceptional woman. I love her. We have developed something pretty special in the time that we have known each other and have been working together. C’s dad took him for the day, which was such a blessing. We would never have gotten through it in the time that we did with him there. He is a neat kid but he has issues. It was quite an experience for me, I learned as much as she did, I’m sure. I went out to dinner with a friend and then to the 10:00, the topic was resentments. I was a little disappointed in J, who seemed to gloss over the fact that there was a newcomer in the room. Had I been chairing the meeting I would not have chosen a topic from our fourth step–page 30 would have been the suggested topic, or something from step one on the 12×12. I like to read the passage about admitting complete defeat when a newcomer identifies themselves. When my turn came I talked about my first meeting and what the topic was: the slogans. I cried through the whole meeting, I was the last to share. The majority of the folks there said that “One Day at a Time” was the slogan they liked the best. I don’t recall exactly what was said by anyone in particular. I kept looking at the podium, situated off to the side of the room. Hanging from the front of it was a sign that read: “Expect a Miracle”. When the discussion got to me I introduced myself and said that would have to be my slogan since a miracle was going to have to be necessary to get me sober. I shared with the group last night that a miracle had taken place that night, and several since then. I pointed out the line from the Dr.’s Opinion where Dr. Silkworth says “You may rely absolutely on anything they say about themselves in this book”, and how I had indeed come to do just that. I said that I was grateful that I had fallen in with a home group in early sobriety that relied on the book, on sponsorship and that believed in the program and the solution. I said that all over the book it talked about the hopelessness of our condition but that we need only read a few more lines and we could always find hope and demonstrations of faith. I cannot imagine having gone to my first meeting and hearing of nothing but resentments. Wait, I think I did. I was 15. I left thinking alcoholics were a bunch of old coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking complainers. Something on that night in September of 2001 helped me set aside everything I think I knew for an open mind and a new experience. It was desperation.
As for not very friendly groups, what is my home group now was not very friendly when I first attended there in 2006. I see now that this was in my perception. I suffer from a disease of the perception. The book tells me: “He will show you how to create the fellowship that you crave.” I just had to ask, and take action. I did, and that’s what happened. It was all in my perception. I had to set aside everything I think I knew about the meetings and the fellowship. It was tough. It took me two and a half years. At first I had to drink about it. It was so painful. I don’t want that again. The experience will help me to avoid that again.