No hell didn't freeze over!! but... Last night, I finally - after 1 year, 5 months, and 14 days sober - attended my first face-to-face AA meeting. It hasn't been a secret that my thoughts about AA have been a bit wishy-washy. When I first got sober I attended some online AA meetings and I just felt really out of touch. People in the online rooms always told me that I wouldn't get or stay sober if I didn't go to f-2-f meetings, believe in a higher power, work the steps, or get a sponsor. I didn't want to be told what to do or how to do it and I left the online meetings and email chains and never looked back. I have to admit I had a bad taste in my mouth about AA. I also consider myself agnostic and couldn't relate to the faith based mentions of God in AA, as well as surrendering yourself to being powerless against alcohol. Naturally, I avoided AA. I had friends and family tell me I should go and in the back of my mind I thought maybe I will one day, but until yesterday I had never made time for it.
Thanks to one of my blog readers and now my good friend - Shannon - I finally attended AA. She offered to go with me to a meeting without pressuring me. She told me exactly what it would be like and agreed to sit with me and coached me as we went along. The result was phenomenal. I really feel like I owe her! She emailed me out of the blue and asked me on a friend date. And so glad I accepted! She has introduced me to two wonderful things that have taught me so much already - AA & meditation classes. Thank you Shannon, I am so grateful!
The meeting was a wonderful group of ladies full of wisdom, hope, and experience. Just looking around I couldn't believe these women actually suffered from the same problems I did. They seemed so with it, so together....so normal. It was the first time that I was ever in a room full of other alcoholics. Finally, people just like me. I think for the first time ever - I said out loud with a shaky voice, "Hi I'm Kelly and I'm an alcoholic." It didn't seem so bad when everyone else in the room was saying it too. Each meeting has a different topic and last night was a tradition meeting. We discussed tradition 10: “Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy." Shannon and I looked at each other and whispered that this topic was perfect for my first meeting. There was talk about how even though all the members have outside lives and opinions on other things like politics or other life choices, we all come together at AA to do one thing - to stay sober. If outside opinions were drawn in, we would get in arguments or caught up on those things instead of concentrating on staying sober. They touched on religion being an outside topic as well. Everyone is welcome regardless of what they believe, they only have to want to stop drinking.
It wasn't scary or weird and I didn't feel out of place. Everyone was welcoming and supportive. They hugged me and told me I could call them if I needed to. The only nervousness that I felt was from being in a new place around strangers. Shannon has made it clear to me that I only need to work the steps if and when I feel comfortable enough to do so, and that I should only get a sponsor when I feel I am ready. I am glad I kept an open mind and pushed myself to finally attend a meeting. I'm excited to gain tools for dealing with my emotions and to dedicate more attention to my recovery. I'm looking forward to expanding my group of sober friends which is very small at the moment. I already decided I'll be going back next week.
With AA & in life.. I'll remember this: "Take what you like and leave the rest." :)