Want to know why you should be hitting some Men’s or Women’s meetings, now that you’re living your life sober? Gender-specific meetings for males and females are generally available. Why should you try a few? The social element of recovery is important, and we know (of course) that we don’t inhabit a world that is exclusively male or female so, what is the point of these meetings?
Gender-specific meetings offer an opportunity to talk about some very sensitive personal history issues, for one thing. In groups, it’s common for women to feel more at ease talking about certain topics with other women, and this is true for men, too. Past behavior in the romantic realm, problems or abuse in family relationships, and emotional vulnerabilities because of family dynamics, are all topics that many feel more comfortable disclosing in women’s or men’s groups. Intense emotions toward the opposite gender are another subject that many recovering people are more willing to talk about with a group of same-gender peers.
It’s easy to find a sponsor in gender-specific meetings, as most Twelve Step folks will advise the newcomer to obtain a sponsor who is gender-matched, males for males and females for females. This sponsorship arrangement makes for more shared experiences between the sponsor and the newcomer. It also helps to define the relationship as strictly mentor/newcomer, without any romantic overtones—a big advantage!
One of the most powerful benefits of Twelve Step meetings is the opportunity to find fellowship. In the recovery programs, fellowship is more than handshakes, coffee and small talk. Those social interactions are important parts of friendship, and provide us with diversion and conversational entertainment. However, the underlying fellowship consists of genuine give and take about what’s really going on in our lives. Fellowship is built with honesty and vulnerability, and it happens over time. For many recovering people, men’s and women’s meetings provide an ideal place to seek, and offer, that kind of honesty. It’s something that many of us don’t encounter all that frequently in our busy lives. It’s what separates recovery from “swearing off” or “getting back on the wagon.” Try some same-gender meetings—you might be surprised how much you get from them!