Last September, after seven months of continuous sobriety, and at the recommendation of a good friend, I attended my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Here is a my personal journal entry on the subject (names changed to keep the anonymous anonymous, of course). I know many people don't write about this kind of experience, so I hope it helps others who might be considering attending an AA meeting for the first time.
Flashback :: Friday, September 4, 2015
I wake up and write a blog post about the fact that I think I’m an alcoholic. I’ve been skirting the issue for seven months, afraid of the moniker and I’m tired of dancing around it. I hit post on my latest blog entry and search the internet for AA meetings. I find one that meets tonight in town, 20 minutes away. I quickly calculate that I can go after I drop my son off at soccer practice. It feels a little bit like I’m sneaking around. Alcoholics Anonymous seems kind of like a secret society and I'm intrigued, but don't find a lot online about what goes on at a meeting. There's a huge unknown surrounding AA and I wonder why they don't help newcomers more on their websites. I’m in a state of mild panic for the rest of the afternoon. When I drop my son off at the soccer field, I hurriedly drive over to the local church, sit in my car in the almost empty parking lot and start having second thoughts. My nerves are shot. My throat is dry. My stomach is doing somersaults. I feel like I'm going to throw up.
I summon up the courage, walk into the meeting (after roaming around the church like a lost child for what felt like an eternity) and I’m immediately bombarded with questions. I share that it’s my first meeting and the secretary for the meeting, we'll call her "Trudy", overwhelms me with newcomer information - ALL. AT. ONCE. "You should come to meetings as often as you used to drink. Since you're new, you should really go to 90 meetings in 90 days. Everyone is really nice here. Really. You’re probably gonna cry a lot. Oh, and here’s the Big Book. You can have it. Oh, and take this one, too - Sober Living. You’re gonna need these." I mumble a quiet thank you under my breath and swiftly give them back to her after I flip through them, but she's having none of it. "Oh, no. They’re a gift. Here’s a box of Kleenex. Like I said, you’re probably gonna need it."
Oh, Trudy. You're scaring the shit out of me. I know you don't mean to, but you are. You just are.
I don’t shed one tear. I keep all of my business to myself, but I listen - hard. The meeting ends and everyone holds hands in a makeshift circle and, in unison, they say the serenity prayer and end the meeting with a hearty "Keep Coming Back, It Works!!!" I scan the perimeter of the room for the nearest exit.
As I'm making my way towards to door, an older woman comes up to me and simply states the obvious, "That was a lot of information coming at you, huh? Keep coming back. The people are really nice and it gets easier. I promise." I nod and can't even say thank you. My voice has retreated and nothing comes out.
I hightail it out the door with my new books and an urge to flee like I’ve never felt before. Outside I gulp for air and wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans. My anxiety is through the roof but, strangely, I’m not crippled by it. I feel a rush of relief wash over me. I sit in my car and cry.
I did it. It wasn’t awful, per se, but it sure was awfully uncomfortable.
I think about if I’ll come back and the answer is quick and immediate.
However, I will not come back to this meeting. No way. But I will go home and look for another meeting in another town and see what it's like.
I tell myself it wasn't that bad when I think about it later that same evening before I go to bed. I'm actually intrigued and kind of excited about what I'm going to learn in these rooms - about AA, about myself, about others and about my sober path.