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If you’ve never attended a Twelve Step meeting before, here’s what to expect—and what to do.
First, arrive on time. Twelve Step meetings start promptly.
When someone asks if there are any newcomers, say aloud, “I’m (your first name), and I think I could be addicted to misery and self-sabotage.” Pause here; everyone will say hi and your name. Then add, “I hope you’ll let me come to this meeting because I’m thinking about working a recovery program to see if it’ll help.”
Throughout the meeting, listen quietly. When someone talks, everyone else will listen respectfully, but there is no feedback at the end of someone’s talk. If someone says something that you want to respond to, don’t. There is no crosstalk in a recovery meeting. This means if you have an idea that might help someone who talks about a problem, you don’t offer it. If you have an opinion about somebody’s comments, you don’t say it. After the meeting, you can go up to that person and offer it—but remember, you’re there to focus on your own recovery, not that of others.
If you feel like saying something, take a turn. You can say anything you want about yourself. But talk about yourself. Don’t comment on the talks of others. You might hear others making reference to what someone else said, and that’s okay, but as a newcomer, stay away from that until you see how it’s done.
Plus, remember that you are here for your addiction, and focusing on others is probably a part of it. You are to focus on yourself, so do that.
Never repeat the stories of others that you hear in meetings to anyone outside of the meetings—even the people you’re closest to. Don’t talk about whom you saw at a meeting. And if you run into someone whom you know from a meeting outside of that meeting, continue to protect her anonymity. (For example, don’t say in front of others, “Oh, I know Julia from a Twelve Step meeting I go to.”) Everyone’s safety depends on everyone respecting the tradition of anonymity.
"I don’t mean to crosstalk, but …"
Groups that support the no-crosstalk policy are healthier, their meetings are better attended and they have a longer lifespan than groups that don’t.
Click below for a summary of the Co-Dependents Anonymous booklet “Experiences with Crosstalk”
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