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A comment, copy/pasted in its entirety from yesterday's post:
Here's a truth for you.
If you're young and female and you show up at an AA meeting, you will immediately have a "team" spring up around you, be showered with sympathy, and receive 100 phone numbers from people who insist you call them if you feel the slightest bit blue. This will be doubled if your voice quavers and tripled if you cry. You'll leave feeling great.
If you're a middle aged man, however, you'll get lectures on working the program, admonishments for being selfish, and demands that you clean the coffee filters and put away the chairs, because that's "service".
While I'm not a spokesman for AA -- no one is -- I think I am going to reveal one of AA's great secrets right here, right now, in this blog:
We can be weak, lecherous and shallow. I know I can be -- though usually my arrogance kicks in and the last newcomer I will go up and speak with is the "attractive" one -- not because I am above such base or shallow impulses, but because I don't want people to think I'm like that. So I am as shallow as anyone, just acting it out in the opposite way.
Isn't insight wonderful?
Frankly, if you're a middle-aged man, and you want that kind of attention in an AA meeting, you should go to a gay meeting in a retirement community (think Palm Springs) -- you don't have to be gay to go -- and you can be as objectified as any ingenue taking her first dainty steps onto life's grand stage.
If I may respond to some points directly (and if I sound a little bitchy, I apologize -- I worked a double today, as my boss went home sick, so this is Mr. SponsorPants after being on-the-clock from 7am to 9:30pm -- "a little bitchy" is going to have to stand for being a freaking model of restraint right now)... shouldn't one be admonished for being selfish? I mean, do you want to be lauded for being selfish instead? "Hey, from what you said you pretty much just thought about yourself and put your wants ahead of everyone else's all day. Way to stay in the disease! Good one! We used to give chips for that, but... no one wanted to give 'em away, they just kept them for themselves. I'm sure you understand..."
I cannot speak for the commentor's experience of AA -- there are certainly all kinds of meetings out there -- but I do have a hard time believing that the word "demand" quite fits whatever way the conversation went, regardless of how salty the mean old AA was... And, I hate to drag another dark secret into the light like this, but... cleaning coffee filters and putting away chairs actually is service.
An embarrassing anecdote.
When I lived in another city, some time ago now, I was seething with resentments I didn't even know I had, and they were all around my being single. I had some pretty strong expectations of what was "supposed to happen" when I got to this town, and it just wasn't bearing fruit, romance-wise.
I was also, at the time, pretty overweight (I've been up and down in my weight so much I could open my own damn Gap outlet, what with having owned a pair of their khakis in practically every damn size they come in). Now, lots of people who are overweight find great partnerships, but because of my feelings about how I looked I was really shut down (that's a big oversimplification, but I'm barrelling along trying to get to the point here, so let me have that one as a "gimme." Thanks.) and thus, in retrospect, I know that was the reason things weren't all Rolph and Liesel in the rainy Gazebo for me.
(You have no idea how many pictures of earnest high schoolers mooning over each other in their Senior Year production of "The Sound of Music" I had to scroll through to find the genuine article for that line.)
What I now know was that I was expecting the force of my personality to compensate for my lack of physical fitness. And if I'd been more open, not so self obsessed and shut down, it might well have...
Walking home from the video store (this story is ancient history, Poppets... loooong before Netflix and downloads and such) after renting an errr... educational video **cough** about ... errr... intimacy... (you with me here? I'll go there if I gotta, but you've always struck me as a sharp group) it hit me like a ton of bricks:
I was the biggest freaking hypocrite going. Because I was not renting educational videos about intimacy based on the personalities of the people in the videos. I was renting them because of how the people in the videos looked. (This all came out in some brutal inventory writing shortly after this light-bulb went off). I was thunderstruck to realize that the very value system I was so resentful of everyone else having (so I thought -- shut down, remember?) I myself had a heaping, steaming pile of too. Once again I caught myself thinking I was better, different, exempt... once again I discovered my thinking twisted into artificial categories defined by extreme, black-and-white thinking and no small amount of delusion.
No, really, isn't insight just wonderful? **cough cough**
Most human beings are drawn in one way or another to youth or beauty or sexual charisma. I think it's fair to observe that a lot of the time it is a conscious act for people to look beyond those things.
The people in AA, just because we're sober, and trying to work a spiritual program, are in no way exempt from that inclination or that challenge.
In fact some of us, feeling raw and vulnerable without our best coping mechanism (drinking), are sicker for a while before we get better -- because of the profound fear being so raw and vulnerable will engender -- and we will absolutely act that out in all sorts of ways.
AA is not a hotbed of lascivious predators (spare me the stories, I know, I know, some meetings and some people have behaved very badly -- the overwhelming majority have not -- that is the false logic of "some X's are bad therefore all X's will be bad," i.e., some women are bitches therefore all women will be bitches. Some men are sexual predators therefore all men will be sexual predators. Some AA's in meetings have taken advantage of newcomers therefore all AA's in meetings will take advantage of newcomers...)
Another embarrassing admission:
I actually used to resent the fact that I hadn't been 13th Stepped. (Yeah, for me, low self esteem was great progress.)
It's just a fucking warm bath of wonderful insights I'm sharing with you in this, isn't it.
Yep, sometimes a pretty young girl will get some extra attention solely for the fact that she is a pretty young girl. Hate to break it to you, but she's going to get better customer service and fewer speeding tickets than you will too.
But she'll have to struggle to be taken seriously, and be on her guard against people with mixed motives, and hopefully have the resiliance to rise above the weird messages about what women should look like which our culture continues to spew out in subtle and sophisticated ways... so it's a mixed bag for all of us, Bucko.
Meanwhile, I admit that although we try like hell in AA to extend the hand of fellowship to everyone in the same way, we screw it up pretty good on occasion... and yes, some extend the penis of fellowship instead of the hand, it's true.
(There is a whole other post to be written about the other side of this too. I have never met an alcoholic who, even through their real and sincere tears, didn't know how to work the angles -- we're perfect children of God, but we're sharks, too -- pretty and weepy sharks or middle-aged and bitter sharks, but calculating either way.)
I've been to a lot of AA in my day -- in lots of different cities. We get it wrong sometimes, but we get it right a lot -- and dear God, when we do, it is pretty fucking beautiful.
Now get back in the kitchen and scrub those pots, you selfish thing! Chop chop! You think those chairs are going to put themselves away?
No, I can't help you, don't be ridiculous! I have to take Hotty McBangbang to the Big Book study.
Posted at 01:14 AM in Alcoholic Thinking, Ego, Just A Thought, Meetings, Resentment!, Ummm... you might want to look at that. | Permalink
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He, he Mr SP. Speaking as an elderly woman, I think a middle aged man whose big gripe about AA is a young woman getting more attention from men than he does has clearly got problems.
If he is reading this my question to him would be: 'Do you often get resentful about women getting more attention from men than you do? If this is a regular resentment in your life, you might want to think about that....'
And guess what, admonishments to work the steps and do service are a lot more use to any new person in AA than lots of flattery and leching which any young attractive woman is well used to and doesn't need.
How fortunate you are not to have all this interference in your recovery.
Good to know you won't be treating her like this!
March 18, 2011 at 03:52 AM
This is a thought provoking post, thanks. As a woman in the rooms (I arrived when I was 24), I often get men talking to me about how bitter they are that their program doesn't allow them to hit on newcomers, and they are FORCED to watch sicker men do it and hit the payload of ... fumbly inexperienced sex I guess. Invariably, they ask me to do something, save those poor girls, etc. Man, I just do not have the time to police all the predators in the rooms. AND, those girls really want nothing to do with me. Sure, they like to listen to me share, and talk to me at the end of the meeting, and sometimes they ask me to sponsor them, but that's the extent of how close they'll get to me. I have a friend who tells her sponsees to go to meetings with no makeup, in sweatpants and a baseball cap. Just to see what it's like not to be the entire focus of a meeting.
I did it too. I fell in love with my power. The ONLY power I had in the world then was my appearance. It's all I had to work with.
My mother always said, "It takes two to tango."
March 18, 2011 at 03:55 AM
PS: The final two sentences are addressed to your correspondent, not to you Mr SP. Just thought I ought to make that clear!
March 18, 2011 at 04:01 AM
And the same "go fix yourself, punk" attitude prevails here, just as it does in real life.
Never been proven so right, so fast. Thanks guys. Next time I'll specifically claim to be a single mom and see what happens.
March 18, 2011 at 04:35 AM
Isn't the insanity great? The appearance of something does not mean reality. To bad he isn't around to hear the same messages given to the "sweet young things" Or has he noticed that the sympathy evaporates and what is given is understanding.
There is understanding because we have all been there...and we can spot the BS.
Oh, one more thing. Women and men think, feel, cope differently. But there is one thing we all have in common: F'ed up thinking, spiritually corrupt, addicted to alcohol. Comparing yourself to others is dangerous, work your program as if your life depended on it...it does.
March 18, 2011 at 06:21 AM
Ralph, I don't see the attitude you claim to see here. What exactly is your beef? Should all these guys be busy saving you from yourself?
March 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM
No, I don't so much mind some fairly stringent expectations when coming into AA. I see and agree with the reasons for that. It's just the extremely uneven application of this that bugs me. And how much lower, how VERY much lower, the expectations seem to be for women, and young women in particular. Maybe it's just my city.
March 18, 2011 at 11:28 AM
"the penis of fellowship".... you made my Day !!
March 18, 2011 at 12:32 PM
I think this is one of your best posts. 'Penis of fellowship' really had me on the floor.
March 18, 2011 at 01:01 PM
Well, maybe so Ralph but those young women have pressures and expectations put on them that you don't have to deal with, like the "socialization" women addicts impose on each other. I'd rather clean coffeepots, if you get my drift.
March 18, 2011 at 01:05 PM
I laughed pu loud over the penis of fellowship. I won't forget that or this post!
March 18, 2011 at 02:23 PM
This post shows me how we can differ in our 'perceptions'.
I was a young, pretty girl who showed up to AA.
I did NOT have people running to sit beside me, shower me with attention or shove phone numbers in my hand.
After 4 months of showing up to meetings wonderin g what I was doing wrong, I got brave and talked about it in a discussion meeting.
A few people pulled me aside afterwards and kindly suggested I 'tone it down' when I come to a meeting. Meaning, forget the make-up, the hour I spent on my hair, the matching outfits and designer purse.
I was clearly sending a message "Im ok. I dont need your help".
I started showing up in track pants and a ball cap and was pointed in the direction of cleaning the coffee pot!
Ah...to be a part-of is a wonderful, life saving thing.
An experince you wont want to miss!
Julie. B |
March 19, 2011 at 06:31 AM
And lol....penis fellowship reminds me of something my sober-dad says:
We offer people the HAND of fellowship, not the crotch of fellowship!
Julie. B |
March 19, 2011 at 06:33 AM
Best. Post. Ever.
"Penis of Fellowship," ROFLMAO!
How perfectly apt and accurate.
March 19, 2011 at 01:29 PM
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