Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Specialist groups

'If what we have learned and felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.' ('Alcoholics Anonymous')

When I first went to AA, I thought my sexuality made me different, so I went to AA groups which (although they were technically non-restrictive) were advertised as suitable for people of that sexuality. That was great on one level, because I identified a lot with the people there. However, my blind spot, namely my belief that my sexuality made me fundamentally different, was not challenged at those groups. What AA has taught me is that my true identity is that of a child of God; background, sexuality, gender, and other factors are entirely incidental. I needed to learn to be with all types of people, eliminate the fear of what other people thought of me, and eliminate my own judgement of people who were different. What I most appreciate about AA now is that anyone can go and anyone is welcome. I tend not to belong to groups where, although everyone is technically welcome, frankly some people are a tiny bit more welcome than others. After all, the whole purpose of, say, a young person's group is to hold meetings where the average age is younger than in other meetings. That being the case, the presence of some people (namely young people) is more conducive to this implicit purpose, and the presence of others (older people) is not. My experience of specialist groups is that the rallying point of the 'special interest' constitutes a distraction. The LGBT meetings I attended for years were often focused on sex and sexuality and not on alcoholism, recovery, or God. I've experienced distortions of focus also in young persons' groups or events, and in men's groups, too. AA is most successful when it is about one thing and one thing only: recovery from alcoholism.

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