Episode 116: The Sober She Devils

If you would like to attend a secular AA meeting, but don’t have one in your community, there are now several online meetings listed on the Secular AA website that you might want to try. In this episode, I speak with four women from The Sober She Devils, an online secular women’s meeting. Carol, Gail, Kimberly, and Maria join me to talk about their experiences with the meeting and how it has enhanced their sobriety.

The Sober She Devils meets Sunday at 10:00 am Eastern, and on Monday at 9:00 pm Eastern. 

Click here to attend the Sunday Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/657402688

Click here to attend the Monday Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/306156306

Transcript

00:00 John: This is AA Beyond Belief, episode 116.

[music]

00:24 John: In this episode, we’ll meet Carol, Gail, Kimberley and Maria, members of the Sober She Devils, an online secular AA women’s meeting. We’ll talk about the group, when it meets, how it meets, what they do, and each of the women’s experience with the online meeting. They are absolutely wonderful, and I think you’ll enjoy this episode.

00:47 John: I’m here today with the Sober She Devils, Kimberley, Carol, Gail, and Maria. How are you all doing?

00:53 Carol: Good. It’s good to be here, John.

00:54 John: Sober She Devils is an online group, an online secular group.

01:00 Carol: Yes.

01:00 John: Who would like to give a little background on the group?

01:03 Carol: That would be Miss Maria.

01:04 Maria: Oh, let’s see. Actually, the Sober She Devils spun off from secular online meetings that we had, what is that? About over two years ago, and there were a group of us, a small group of us that in the meeting after the meeting, said, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a women’s meeting?” And I personally love women’s meetings, my home group is a woman’s meeting, and I was all over that idea. And I said, “Yes, yes, let’s do it.” And a couple of women who I haven’t seen around in a bit, actually really took the reins, in terms of starting the meeting when I believe AA Beyond Belief was hosting the Zoom meetings.

01:52 John: I think Bethany from Jacksonville was one of those women, if I remember right.

01:56 Maria: And Laura B from Winnipeg, and myself and Kimberly, and I can’t remember quite who else was there at the very, very beginning when we were still doing those AA Beyond Belief online meeting. Do you, Kimberley?

02:10 Kimberly: Was there Wendy?

02:11 Maria: Oh yes, Wendy V. She’s an American gal who lives in Mexico. That’s right. That’s right. And so the little pack of us started the meetings, and what ended up happening is that for reasons that I’m not going to go into, Bethany decided to not participate anymore, and I believe that Laura got involved in other things in her life, including school, and some other endeavors and traveling and whatnot. And she had said to me that “I’m not going to be attending very much because I’m doing all these things.” And right about that time, I think that your plate was pretty full, John. And that the online meeting support was passed from AA Beyond Belief to secularaa.org.

02:58 John: Yeah.

03:00 Maria: About that time, we started talking about giving ourselves a name. I think it might have been during the first group conscience or it may have been during a meeting after the meeting, that we kicked around some names and I jokingly said Sober She Devils, which I liked, but I really didn’t think anybody was going to go with it. And one other person piped up right away and said, “Oh, that’s a brilliant name. Let’s go with it.” And then a couple of other people said, “Yeah, that’s fun, let’s do it.” And boom, that was it.

03:32 John: And it seems to have worked out pretty well. Who would like to tell people out there, when the meeting is, where the meeting is, and how you actually access the meeting?

03:42 Maria: That’s Carol.

03:43 John: Carol.

03:44 Carol: Well, the best place, I think, to find the link is on the website that Maria mentioned that of course, I’m drawing a blank on.

03:52 John: Secularaa.org.

03:53 Carol: Thank you.

03:54 John: Yeah.

03:54 Carol: Because that has all the online meetings available to it. There’s also the links in the coffee shop, that, if people are in the Facebook coffee shop, they can join us there, get the link there. We have two meetings now, so there’s the Monday night meeting, which is the original meeting, and then Gail just decided after much thought, and now we all discussed it, to have a second online meeting so that people overseas would have a better opportunity to attend. And that is on Sunday mornings. I have to go Pacific, it’s 7:00 AM Pacific Time, the Monday night meeting is 6 PM Pacific Time, and those are every week.

04:37 John: And you use Zoom conferencing.

04:39 Carol: Yes.

04:40 John: Which is really easy to use. You want to explain to people how that works?

04:43 Carol: The first time you sign on, you have to download the app, which is simple. Just on the button and it downloads. And then it just has you join the meeting through the link. Now, because of a few safety measures, now, when you first sign on, it will ask you if you want to sign on with video or not, you have that option. And we also have a meet out room which we’re just starting to play with, where we start in one area and then make sure everybody’s a woman because we want to keep it a safe environment, and it is a woman only AA close meetings. So if someone’s signs on through their phone, and we can’t, even if it has a girl’s name or if they sign on without video, we will ask them to identify themselves, just so that we can ensure that everyone is a woman to keep our meeting comfortable for people for this environment.

05:44 John: Sure. Kimberley, what do you think is important about having women’s meetings?

05:48 Kimberly: Interesting. Well, as Carol has said, it provides a safe place for women to meet, and it’s been really eye-opening being a part of this group and realizing some of the situations, some women find themselves in. There are women from all over the world who do attend our meeting. They are from China, Australia. Some women are in places where there are not a lot of meetings, or there are meetings that are only men or there are meetings where there’s a very strong religious theme and they’re not comfortable with that. So, the two meeting we have provides a save place for a lot of these women to land. And as I said, it’s been really interesting to experience what other women go through as they struggle to get sober.

06:45 John: Yeah, I was at a meeting at my home group, last week or the week before, and a younger woman was sharing a story about how she went to an AA group, it was a traditional AA group, and she was the only woman and everybody else there were older men. And they were nice to her, but the thing is, they were like, they treated her like their little granddaughter or something. [laughter] Like, “Oh, the young lady is in the room. We have to be on our best behavior.” That is how she described it. And she just felt like, I don’t know, she said that they were nice, but she didn’t want to go back to that meeting again, because she didn’t feel like, she didn’t feel comfortable. She felt like she was being singled out or treated differently in some way.

07:26 Maria: Let me point out what we all know, which is predation in the rooms is a real thing. And the last thing that a newcomer needs is to worry about that when they’re shaking in their boots and trying to deal with early sobriety.

07:45 John: True, and actually that was the experience with one of the early members of the She Devils too, Bethany, I know. I had her on a podcast talking about that.

07:52 Maria: Yes.

07:52 John: So absolutely, it’s a real problem. I wish that we had women’s meetings here in KC for better secular, but I think I could probably do a better job letting these women know about your group, because they’re all younger women, and they obviously, they would get online. So, I just need to let him know, “Hey, you got a meeting here you can go to. Two of them, actually.”

08:10 Carol: We have a very wide variety, if you will, of women, of all different ages, all different lengths of sobriety, and it’s I think a great place especially for the newcomer to be comfortable without leaving your house, which I know can be an issue for some people. It’s good to leave your house, especially in new sobriety. But sometimes, like Kimberly was saying, there’s not always availability in their areas for, especially secular to get out there. And then not to feel comfortable when you go to a face to face meeting, already feeling like you don’t belong because you’re not a believer. Or, don’t have a higher power, however it works in your life. But we also don’t mind if you have a higher power.

09:00 John: Sure.

09:01 Carol: We are open either way, you don’t have to be secular to join the meeting, but most of us are, and we like to have this place that we can go and not worry about being judged because we don’t. So, I think it’s helpful for some people who are just getting started, to find a place that they can be comfortable in their own home and just get used to the terminology and to see what it’s all about, with doing it online.

09:27 John: Yeah. If they had the internet when I was first getting sober, I think I probably would have checked it out online before I went to a regular meeting. Because I just recall, I know, I actually went to the door of the meeting for a couple of weeks, and never opened up the door. I was just so afraid of actually going. But I know if I had the internet, I probably would have gone online somewhere, maybe to an online meeting, just to check it out, and ask questions. It’s kind of nice to be able to do that.

09:52 Carol: But that’s how I found Secular. When I started coming back to AA and realized that I can’t be the only one that feels this way. And that’s how I found the Sunday meeting that we were talking about earlier, when this all got started. There’s not a lot of them out there. They’re growing, but that’s why I started feeling myself and being comfortable and back with my people.

10:16 John: Yeah. Gail, can you about what the format of the meeting is like, how it’s run, and the kind of topics and so forth, that you have?

10:24 Gail: The topic changes from week to week. On the first week of every month, we have a step meeting on the step of the month. Other than that, we choose a new leader every week for the next week, and it’s up to them to choose the topic. And sometimes they do send out an email or a memo about what their topic is going to be, so other women can get a chance to kind of think on what they want to say about that, and I really like it when that happens. So other than that, we have group conscience, several times a year is our plan. And the topic is just a vast array of how you deal with certain situations, to just whatever is on your mind, whatever is plaguing you at the time. We have women of all lengths of sobriety from days to decades on our meeting. And I wish we had a meeting like this when I was first starting out. Because I think that the stigma of alcohol abuse is, particularly with women is really challenging. I suffered fear of, on top of low self-esteem and depression, I’ve had fear of losing my kids.

11:33 Gail: I had problems going to meetings, because of my kids. I was lucky enough that I didn’t work at the time, and I could go to some daytime meetings, because I really felt like I had to be there with my kids at night. And so nighttime meetings were really hard. So, these online meetings would have been absolutely just wonderful for me. When women are struggling, what to do with their kids, who is going to watch them when they go? But our format is really vast, our topics are vast and very interesting as women are.

12:04 John: What’s your step meeting like?

12:06 Gail: Step meeting? It’s we go, a lot of times we’ll say the traditional, what the traditional step is of AA. Often times we’ll follow that up with an excerpt from a more secular book, Step book. I can’t think of the name of one of them, one of them, the new one I just got is the, Sober Without God, which is really interesting. And so, we’ll take the secular spin on it.

12:28 John: Yeah, that’s a good book, The Little Book.

12:30 Gail: Yeah, The Little Book. Right, the little book. The little yellow book. And that’s what we like to do, is say the secular version of that step, how you might follow that tradition, in your life and apply it to your life in a secular manner.

12:44 John: Yeah, I think that’s pretty much what we do too. But I always make a point of reading the original step at our meeting, just, because there’s a lot of people that are really brand new to AA in our group. And so, been to a few of these online meetings. So, it’s like, if you want to talk, you just like, do you raise your hand or do you kind of go in order or, how’s that work?

13:06 Gail: We unmute ourselves during the meeting and then when we’re ready to talk, I think there is a place on the site where you can raise your, we you can tap a little button and raise your hand. But we usually just unmute and start talking and that’s worked out pretty well. We haven’t had a lot of interruptions doing it that way.

13:22 John: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I think it works great. Especially with the video component, it just feels like almost like being at a regular meeting, I don’t really miss anything.

13:34 Gail: Yes, it very much is, and that’s what I love about Zoom, it’s being able to see everybody and connect the faces. And when we saw each other, the four of us saw each other in Toronto, we were just like old friends getting together and we knew the faces already so well. Everybody’s body looked different like; Maria was a tiny little thing like I didn’t… It was great fun to see everybody in person and unite like that. But yeah, to see each other’s faces and really connect on that level, and most of the people do have their video on during the meeting, or audio but for the most part it’s video.

14:10 John: Yeah, I was going to say that. I remember seeing you all in Toronto for ICSAA, and you all had matching t-shirts on, and it seems like… I was kind of struck that you bonded as closely as you have for being an online group.

14:25 Maria: I think that the format lends itself to that because of what Gail just said. We see each other, we see each other’s facial expressions. And for myself, I talk a lot with my hands and I just had a feeling for each of the women. And then again like Gail said, going to Toronto and meeting them. I mean, I remember going down to the lobby Saturday morning and glancing around and I was purposefully looking for Kimberly, and then boom, I see her and there she is, and there was no awkwardness, “Nice to meet you.” None of that. It was hugs and just so familiar and warm and comforting for me to see these women in person, whose images and facial expressions and so on I’d been seeing for over a year. It was really enriching, and I’m definitely planning on going to ICSAA 2020.

15:28 John: Yeah, I’ll be there, too. And it’s kind of interesting, I don’t see you guys in online meetings that often, yet when I saw you in Toronto I also felt, “Oh yeah, I know you.” [chuckle] I go, “I see you at meetings, you’re a part of my AA community.”

15:43 Kimberly: We’ve been together long enough now that we have helped each other through living experiences, and I think that’s also bonded us together. When I first came on to the online meetings, I came on, someone in secular AA suggested them to me. I came on, because I had just been diagnosed and been through surgery for cancer and I was heading towards treatment, and I didn’t feel well enough to go out. And in September in the middle of my radiation treatments is when I first got on the women’s meeting, and these ladies were there for me as I had to go through that and didn’t feel well enough to go outside. It was wonderful knowing I had them, and they let me talk about it even though it had nothing to do with alcoholism. I could bring it up and they loved me, they loved me through it.

16:38 John: I’m glad that you had this group. So, let’s talk about newcomers. Do you get very many newcomers?

16:45 Maria: We kind of have the gamut, something that you touched on earlier. You were saying that if there had been the internet, when you first came around, that you would have definitely explored that avenue. Frankly, I was at the beginning of the third stage of alcoholism and all I knew was that I needed help and all I knew was AA. And I came into the regular AA and suffered through that for a year. Now, young people today, I think they do a ton of exploring on the internet and there’s so much available that it’s a great place to go. And so, to answer your question, we do have a variety. We have some women that it’s their very first meeting, we have women who are in early sobriety, we have women who it’s their first online meeting, we have women who it’s their first secular meeting. And on that note, something was touched on earlier that I want to circle back to because I think it’s important for people to hear.

17:54 Maria: What Carol was talking about, that we welcome everybody and we actually have, I know of two women for sure that have a higher power of their own understanding, whatever that is, and they have both expressed that they feel very strongly that recovery from alcoholism and religion have nothing to do with each other. And I found that really refreshing to hear from women who identify as having a belief of some sort. And one of them I know for sure actually goes to a church gathering of some sort every Sunday with her family. My point being that, like Carol said, we do welcome all women and we even welcome people who identify as women in other words, transgender women are welcome at our meeting.

18:46 John: Yeah, we have religious people, people who believe coming to our meeting too. And I’ve seen the same thing that it’s just that, which is nice about the secular option, it’s not like… I was telling a friend of mine a few weeks ago, it’s like I’ve seen my group evolve from a special purpose group for atheists and agnostics to just a group that doesn’t have anything to do with the God stuff. And I just find that really interesting, I just see that evolution. Have you kind of seen that in your meeting? And did you ever go through that period of time where you had the bashing of AA and the bashing of God?

19:21 Maria: Absolutely, absolutely. And that conversation pops up in the coffee shop all the time. And frankly, I can only speak for myself. My first year in traditional AA, after the first few months where I was literally just hanging on to my seat and getting my head clear. But 10 months in, I really hit the wall with the God thing and the insistence on higher power and the insistence on turning it over to a power greater than myself and the insistence that I find some higher power even to the point of ridiculous, and we’ve all heard the doorknob, which is the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard in my life. And I reached the point where I couldn’t tolerate it anymore, and frankly, I was ready to leave AA which for me did not mean I was going to go back to drinking, although in the back of my mind part of the indoctrination I received in that first year of traditional AA was about the importance of going to meetings, about the importance of having an AA community in my life.

20:34 Maria: And I really, really didn’t know what to do and it was at that time that I discovered secular AA through a friend that I knew from traditional meetings who was a devout atheist and would say so in the rooms. And he very excitedly came up to me and told me about a secular meeting that was starting up in Denver, and I ended up going to that meeting, and at that meeting the doors were open to the entire secular world. They had a copy of Jose’s book, they had a copy of the little book, they had a copy of some collected stories that Roger C put together, and I bought all that stuff up and I just started just consuming it. And I think that I got off track from what the question was. [laughter] I apologize for that.

21:28 John: Well, I think that there’s a lot of us who had spent time in AA before even knowing that there were secular meetings, and I think that all of us had gone through a period of time, not all of us but many of us had gone through a period where we were actually hurt in some way by AA. And I know I had to get that out of my system, and I think that we still get newcomers who occasionally have to do that, although I think it happens less now. Kimberly, do you think that is coming…

22:02 Maria: The God-bashing, the God bashing, I’ve remembered when I started talking about it, oh my gosh. And anyway, I did side track but really, I think that it’s important to get that stuff off our chest and we do experience that not so much anymore at all, usually sometimes women who come in for the first time that have gone to regular meetings do have to say, “Oh you know, I really was turned off by the religiosity of the meetings, but I find and I’d like to hear with the other women think has evolved is that there’s much less of that. And definitely with the core members and the women who come regularly it seems like we’ve all gotten that off our chest and processed it and are dealing with the meat of the matter life on life terms.

22:57 John: Kimberly?

22:57 Kimberly: Can you repeat the question John?

22:58 John: I’ll just say that you kind of know… It’s kind of a fun question I guess, because almost every one of our groups goes through this, some people call it the God detox thing. But it’s just a matter I think of giving people space wherever they happen to be, if someone needs to let it out let it out. Had you kind of noticed an evolution though with the group?

23:20 Kimberly: With the group? When a new woman comes in sometimes and she’s been around for a while she has the need to do that, but because we’re not kind of a location, a specific place we are international it’s different for everybody from everywhere. I ironically live very close to where the Greater Toronto area inter-group fiasco thing happened, and it’s just odd because Canada is a pretty progressive country, it’s odd that we seem to have a pocket of some people who are rather intolerant of anything other than their religious version of AA. I was sober almost 25 years before I hit the wall, and it was really was around a specific situation for myself. I was out in my meeting, my home group at the time, and a lady came in, a young woman and she had that look, you know that look when they’re brand new and they’re really hurting, and she was scared.

24:20 Kimberly: So I went up to her, talked to her, she really didn’t want to be in a church, she didn’t like the idea of church, unfortunately that night our meeting was in the sanctuary because they were using the hall for a Christmas celebration, it took a lot to talk her into sit at the back of the sanctuary but I got her in the back row, we sat down. I told her it was not a religious organization she did not have to believe in God, I went through the things that I had been taught about Alcoholics Anonymous that up into that point I believed. And the speaker got up, a good person I’m not going to criticize the speaker, but the speaker got up and they went all into their Catholicism and going back to their church, and all about God. This young lady jumped up and took off, I went out running after her, I never caught her, and you know what, she never came back and why would she, we’re a bunch of liars. I had lied to her, why would she come back and trust me?

25:15 Kimberly: And that was the beginning of change for me that was really… I had a hard time getting over that. Once you hear something in a different way you can’t change that, and I began to see things and hear things in a different way. And so, I was aware of Beyond Belief because of what had happened in 2011, I think it was, with the Greater Toronto Area inter-group. And I went looking for a meeting, finally in 2015, one opened up a city close to me, it’s about a half hour, 30-35-minute drive, so I was thrilled to find a Beyond Belief meeting finally close to myself. I remember going through a lot of detox talks, all of us did in that meeting for a while. But we hardly ever talk about that stuff now, unless someone new comes in and they’ve got a problem, it’s not a part of what we talk about. We talk about getting sober, we talk about the tools, we talk about the importance of making connections with other people, we talk about healthy behavior, we talk about changing, how we see the world and how we react to the world and how we behave in the world.

26:18 John: Yeah. So, Gail, you were talking earlier about your brick and mortar meeting there in California, so you go to a face-to-face meeting, then you also go to the online meeting. Can you talk about maybe the differences between an online meeting and the face-to-face meeting? And it’s got to be your own personal experience, I’m sure?

26:37 Gail: Yes, well, my own personal experience is, I’m getting more of a connection with the women’s online meeting, believe it or not, you would think the opposite would be true that we’re more connected with the other group. But we’ve had such an array of people coming in and out. We’ve got a lot more longevity and stableness, and we’re getting a lot of new people in the online meeting, but in the in-person meeting, people come, they’re excited to see us, they’re excited to be there, they’re excited there’s a meeting like that, and then they disappear, and they don’t come back. So, our core group is very small and we’re close. Carol and I are very close. We both go to that meeting, we both help start that meeting, and we’re practically neighbors. And so, the two of us are really close, but we have another person that also is from California that goes to that meeting also.

27:33 Gail: But we’re not as tight of a group. I think there’s something magical that happens with the women’s online meeting really honestly that has happened, that’s really unique and special. And one of my favorite things about our meeting that’s different from others is that when our hour is up, we have a meeting after the meeting, where we kind of let our hair down and just chat and talk more casually with each other, and maybe even hold each other accountable a little bit more, and things get different and that goes on for maybe up to maybe a half an hour, we have our after meeting. And that’s just been awesome for bonding with the other women, and anybody who didn’t get a chance to share and wants to have a say a little something or want to go a little bit deeper and actually get some advice or something, that would be the time to do that, because we try not to cross talk during our meeting. It happens sometimes, but we try not to cross talk is our rule. So, when the meeting is over, and we have our meeting after the meeting, everybody really lets their hair down, and it’s a really awesome kind of a magical time that happens. It’s very unique to the meeting.

28:39 John: Yeah, I occasionally drop in on the secular Saturday meeting, and actually my favorite part of that meeting, I get there 30 minutes before the meeting starts, and I just chat with Courtney. [chuckle] It was like that’s all I needed really.

28:51 Gail: Yeah, yeah, he’s awesome to talk to, I love Courtney, he’s been so supportive of the women’s meeting and what we’ve done and had just been a champion for us really helpful in every way he could be. He’s been awesome.

29:05 John: Yeah. The whole Secular AA organization and the website has really done a remarkable job hosting these meetings and letting people know about the meetings and so forth. And that comes up to… Carol, you were talking about having business meetings and group conscience meetings. So, do you guys pass a basket to be self-supporting and that kind of thing? How do you handle that?

29:28 Carol: Well, we actually just started the seventh tradition passing the basket, since our last group conscience. As a rule, and again, we’re still rather new even though we’re almost two years old or a year and a half, I don’t know, we’ve figured it out 100 times and then I forget. What we’ll do is we put in the preamble for the seventh tradition, and then one of us will copy and paste the links where people can donate, and I don’t know if anyone’s done it, but we felt that it’s… Well, I think it’s important, because I know these Zoom meetings aren’t free, and the support we get is invaluable, so we decided to go ahead and paste those links, and I know me and another person, maybe a couple more, I don’t know. I donate monthly, so I just kind of have it automatically taken out of my account, so I don’t have to think about it, but we do often do that.

30:32 Carol: Now, I think it was Gail who mentioned that the first meeting of every month is a step study. The month that has five Mondays in it, we usually have a group conscience meeting, and we’ll usually set that up a couple of weeks to a month before, so everyone has an opportunity to pitch in any ideas or suggestions they have about the meeting, something they’d like to see, something they’d like to stop. That’s how we came up with the cross talk thing, because we were having an issue and it bothered some people, so we bring it to the group and say, “This is an issue. How do you feel?” And we take a vote. And then this year, I’m the secretary, so to speak, so I will draft up the minutes, if you will, and then am responsible to make sure we let everyone know that there is a meeting. And the way we do that, we have a phone list, and that’s online, but people have to want to be on it, so I have a link for that. We have a messenger, Facebook Messenger page for getting information across. Now, there’s not a lot. I’d say, maybe 10 people, maybe more on that. And then just recently, someone gave us their woman’s AA page to make it a She Devil Facebook page. So, we have several different ways to communicate to the people who are interested, so…

31:54 John: Is that a public Facebook page or is that a private Facebook page?

31:57 Carol: It’s private.

31:58 John: Oh, okay, okay.

31:58 Carol: Yeah, it’s definitely private. Everything we do is private. People could share the links, I guess, for the phone list and stuff. I have it on a Google Doc, so people can update it or just go to it, and I’ll publish that every so often, so people have an avenue to call someone if they need help. That’s happened before, where someone’s email, they’re called, because they’re going through a situation, and they have several women. because if their names on that list, it’s kind of like saying, “I’m available.” And so, we’ve had that. I’ve only had that happen a couple of times where someone’s reached out to me, but, I mean, that’s enough, right?

32:36 John: Right.

32:38 Carol: So, we’re pretty good about making sure that the meeting belongs to everybody. Now, this July, we have five Mondays, and we’ve decided we’re not having a group conscience, we don’t really have any issues going on, so not going to do it just to do it. But we’re very much aware of that we need to keep in touch with the group to make sure that it is a group that works for all the different types of women and personalities we have.

33:08 John: I think you all are way, way organized and much more so than any of the other online groups I’ve heard. I don’t even know if any of the other online meetings do that, if they have group conscience meetings. Maybe they do.

33:18 Carol: Well, it was brought up. Someone had I wouldn’t want to call an issue, but a suggestion. Let’s go with that. “Why do we do this?” And it’s like, “Well, that’s just how we’ve done it? We had to relook at things, like in a new meeting, you go through some growing pains and stuff. And for a while it worked great, but someone wants to know, “Well, why don’t we do this or why don’t we do that? And then again, I’ll bring up the class talk or the seventh tradition, all these things come up and we just treat it like we would a face-to-face meeting. This is what you would do. And Courtney again, I used to pick it like you, John, I would get on early or stay afterwards and pick his brain. Courtney has a lot of great information in his head. And where I’ve been in AA a long time, I haven’t been as active. So, I like to get his opinion and his thoughts because he seems to know not just his opinion, but why things are done the way they’re done. The rules behind it and everything, plus his opinion, because I value hearing from other people. So, we just treat it like a meeting like if we did face-to-face, and I think we do a pretty good job. I’m pretty proud of us. [chuckle]

34:33 John: Yeah. I think it’s a really good idea because otherwise if you don’t ever do that, people are just kind of sitting there, simmering about little things that they don’t like. And it gives people a chance to let that out, and just let their voice be heard, and then you find out, oh, other people feel the same way.

34:49 Carol: Exactly.

34:50 John: Yeah. Well, this is really interesting. Is there anything else that we should talk about when it comes to the She Devils that we haven’t touched on?

34:58 Carol: I don’t know, for my personal feelings about it, is how it all started and how we came together as a group, and that it gives women an opportunity to become friends, even though it’s online. And like Maria said, when we see each other, we know each other. It’s a community. And I don’t want to sound all, all weird and… But I really love it. I go to two more meetings than I need. [chuckle] I’m long-term sobriety, and I don’t need to go to as many meetings as I go to, but the reason I come is the for the women, the people. What we had prior to Toronto, what we gained at Toronto, I’m not willing to give that up. I love this community, I love the women on this program here today, we have kept in touch aside from the meetings. And there’s other women also, but we’re friends, we’re absolutely now friends, we don’t have to be neighbors, but we’re actually friends. And when life happens, we are able to vent without it being so public. And we are able to be ourselves, and it’s not just us, there’s other women who are not represented here today. I would say that for our whole group, of the people that come week after week, I do think we have something very special, and I’m very grateful for it.

36:33 Carol: But to me, again, with how AA works is that community. Being able to share and to take advice and listen to someone else’s point of view. I tend to have a set way of doing things, and I know I can come to these women and say, “Is this in my head? Am I really responding correctly or am I being a little biased?” So, I have people I can bounce things off of and get a realistic view of what’s going on in life. To me, this is the epitome of what AA is all about. And I feel very fortunate to be a part of this group in particular, and I do love Saturday and Sunday too, it’s just… And I am committed, but not as much to this group. As far as the She Devils, I think we’ve come together in one way or another, we give principles before personalities, and we all seem to have a wonderful meeting most of the time. I think we do pretty good.

37:38 John: Well, thanks Carol. Maria, would you like to say something in conclusion?

37:42 Maria: Well, I think that echoing what Carol said, The Sober She Devils meeting is highly important to me. I’m very committed to it. I most definitely prioritize it on Monday evenings. And now the Sunday morning meeting, I’m going to make every effort to attend as often as I can. I think it’s a vital offering to our recovery community and I just am very happy to be a part of it and to have it available for women who are struggling with really any type of addiction, along with welcoming people who may have a higher power of some sort. We also welcome women who may be struggling with other issues, and of course dual issues are so common. I just really appreciate the openness of the women, the accepting nature of the group and I absolutely love being a part of it.

38:51 John: Gail?

38:51 Gail: Yeah. Well, I’m just very grateful to be part of the She Devil experience, and I just really want to invite anybody that has been thinking about joining us to take the plunge and come and join us. And you won’t find a better group of just more intelligent and compassionate women at all levels of sobriety. And I’m just really grateful to be a part of it and I’m thankful they’re part of my recovery and it’s just a positive environment to be in, and I invite anybody to join us.

39:29 John: Kimberly?

39:30 Kimberly: I think being a part of The Sober She Devils, the time in chairing meetings and hosting meetings and coming up with topics and etcetera, is the most fulfilling service work that I have ever done in Alcoholics Anonymous. I love being a part of it, I’m really grateful that I’m a part of it. We will have, I don’t know if any us have mentioned yet, but there could be 9 women to 19, 20 women in a meeting, so lots of other women who regularly join us, as well as the new incoming in. But for me, as I said, it’s been the most fulfilling product service I’ve ever done. I love the ladies, and I’m really, really grateful to be a part of it.

40:18 John: Well great, thank you. Well, you all have done an amazing job, thank you so much for joining us here on AA Beyond Belief and letting us know about The Sober She Devils. I hope that this helps other people learn about your group and find you.

40:31 Carol: Thank you so much John for having us.

40:46 John: Alright. Thanks.

[music]

40:53 John: Well, that concludes another episode of AA Beyond Belief, thank you for listening. If you would like to support our site and podcast, there are a couple of ways you can help out. You can post a review on iTunes, hopefully a favorable one, you can help us out financially with either a recurring or one-time contribution. You can do this by setting up a small recurring contribution at our Patreon page, which you can find at patreon.com/AABeyondBelief, or through PayPal at paypal.me/AABeyondBelief. And you can always just visit our site, AABeyondBelief.org and click on the donate button. Thanks again for listening, we’ll be back again real soon with another episode of AA Beyond Belief.


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