Note: remnants of the class assignment formatting are left over (“meeting essence” and “personal essence”) and some blanks have been filled in. Names are different. Parts may have been fabricated. I don’t know. CA meeting – AA meeting – AlAnon meeting
The meeting took place in a Christian church on a Saturday morning in July. It was started by a woman with short blonde hair whose name I can’t recall. She was the Secretary of the meeting, and passed it off to the leader, Claudia. Then several different members read the Twelve Suggested Steps of Emotions Anonymous, The Twelve Traditions, and the Helpful Concepts. Then Claudia shared for six minutes, followed by a ten minute coffee break.
When the meeting resumed everyone introduced themselves and all newcomers were asked to share. Timed sharing of three minutes resumed until ten minutes to the hour remained. I replied with a “pass” when asked to share. After the shares, the Seventh Tradition was observed while twelve Just For Today mantras were read.
A traditional moment of silence for the person still powerless over their emotions in and out of the rooms of EA was observed, followed by the Serenity Prayer.
Claudia spoke in circles for the entirety of his introductory six minutes. She was vague about what precisely she found comforting in the program. She did say that her sponsor suggested she attend these meetings in addition to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
A younger woman with an accent named Maria shared briefly. She was with her husband, and had proclaimed that she was not a member. They were attending at the request of a doctor. She seemed troubled and talked about being freshly released from a hospital.
Theresa was the only other person whose story stood out in my mind. Incredibly suicidal and haunted by visions of death, she found solace in the rooms of EA. She was plagued by vivid lucid hallucinations where she would see blood gushing from her wrists as she walked through the supermarket during the daytime. Deeply troubled by her own psyche, she knew she needed help and the support of others.
Looking through the book of Emotions Anonymous, I found it noteworthy that the program had been around since the early 1970s and had once been named Neurotics Anonymous. This explained why several people at the meeting identified themselves as “neurotics” instead of “powerless over their emotions”. The meeting felt welcoming of all types, and even the people who identified simply as “visitors” didn’t feel out of place.
During the readings of the text and during people’s shares, I felt like this was a “blanket” program. Where anyone and everyone, regardless of what their disorder was, is welcome. When I spoke with other members during the break, they disclosed they were members of other Anonymous programs (dual-citizenship for the dual-diagnosed).
During the break, I also browsed through program pamphlets and literature. There was a small box of speaker tapes (on cassette!) from EA conventions. From the 1970s. They weren’t for sale, they were available to borrow. I wanted to take at least one and digitize it, but I had a fear that I would either A) never digitize the tape, B) never listen to it, or C) never return it.
I left this meeting feeling that no one truly cared for the program. I didn’t hear any tales of people owing their lives to the Steps of Emotions Anonymous. Lots of people were asleep during the meeting. It was an organized yet sloppy affair. That could be a downside.