A summer time Friday night at 8:30PM in a suburb of Los Angeles. Here is my account of a random AlAnon meeting. There are others happening all over the world at any given moment. There is likely one happening as you’re reading this.
I missed the first part of this meeting because I was unwittingly in an AA meeting. I had never been to this Alano Club, and it’s definitely larger than another one that I’m familiar with. This club holds meetings simultaneously, and the Al Anon meeting was in a separate, smaller room down the hall from the AA meeting.
It was coffee break when I found the Al Anon meeting. When the break was over, the team leader, Tim, introduced himself and then the entire room introduced themselves by first name. Then Tim announced the topic for discussion. It was a question, “what would I have to change in order to have a different relationship with a Higher Power?” and was taken from Chapter Eleven of the AlAnon fellowship book, “Discovering Choices”.
This particular meeting used a timer and only allowed each person to speak for three minutes. After the first person shared, Tim chose the subject of the meeting. He wanted everyone to speak about their “Willingness to change”.
Everyone continued to speak in turns while a binder full of fliers for events and meetings was passed around. When an hour had passed, the meeting was closed out with the Serenity Prayer.
Quite a few people spoke, but I was only able to remember a few speakers. The meeting was 80% female by my approximation. None of them spoke about anything I felt was related to the topic or subject of the meeting at all. They seemed to just be sharing what was on their mind, but unlike an AA meeting, they didn’t declare they were sharing off topic.
One lady who identified herself as Zorro talked about how unhappy she was with her job and not having any friends. She seemed particularly troubled by something. When she wasn’t speaking she was rocking herself back and forth in her chair.
This other woman with a thick (Armenian?) accent named Wendy shared about getting angry at her children earlier in the day. She mistakenly identified them as her siblings first, but corrected and clarified she was speaking about her children. I found that strange.
An older woman named Danielle who talked about having a cabinet fall over on her spoke for some time. She waxed poetically about the good ol’ days when she could build a house. Now she is in her eighties and needs help doing lots of things, but never asks for help doing anything.
The only other person whose “share” I can remember was an older black woman named Myra. Recently recovered from a knee surgery, she was upset she could no longer go for long walks. She really wanted to exercise, and was more upset that she had no one to exercise with. I have no idea what any of this had to do with her Higher Power, but it was kind of cool to hear people talking out their issues.
The mood felt very somber, and made me in turn feel reflective and kind of sad. I was a little put-off by how abnormally unfriendly everyone seemed. I was trying to be present and aware of myself at all times and made sure to smile when introducing myself to people during the break, but I can’t recall anyone else smiling or being very jovial. There were also several moments when people were speaking where I felt myself begin to nod off. Then I looked around the room and noticed one lady was fully asleep, and another lady beside her was knitting. No one else seemed to take issue with the sleeper and knitter, so I figured they must all be very comfortable with each other and that meeting.
I feel that nothing anyone talked about had anything to do with the price of tea in China, and no one made it a priority to be on topic. No one even referenced their steps or traditions or sponsors or anything I feel as typical of self-help programs.