There were women, three of them. Two who are regular attendees, and a new, younger woman who had six years of sobriety and then went on a one year bender. She has been sober for one week.
It was hard enough to talk myself into going to a meeting the first time. Once I made the step, and got over the fact that I knew a couple of people, I felt a level of comfort. The moderator had said last week that there were women attendees, and I am glad there are. If there hadn’t been it would have been another few weeks before I would have gotten the courage to venture out again, I know me.
I have done enough research and read enough blogs to know that addiction is never “cured”. It is very humbling and scary to hear someone speak of relapse, especially after jail time, detox and six years of sobriety.
It scares me. It is the great unknown of what is going to happen in my life. Will that be me? Can I keep doing this? Will I ever feel comfortable enough to say, Hi I am Laura, and I am an alcoholic? Will I relapse?
The unsettling portion of the evening was when two women showed up that were from a local college. They had an assignment from a course they were taking to sit in on a recovery meeting.
Their presence seemed to make one of the women attendees very uncomfortable. When it was time to introduce herself, she pointedly asked the two women if they had any issues with alcohol, and when both said no, I could visibly see her shut down. Unfortunate for me as a new attendee, as I was interested in hearing her story.
I do not know the protocol for people proctoring AA meetings, but as a newcomer, the students being there made me uncomfortable. I certainly wasn’t going to speak, not that I had an intention to anyway, but the students really put me off.
The meeting was geared toward the woman who was reentering the program, and Step 1. Again I heard stories of what lead people to be sitting in that room.. I find these stories inspirational, informative, and often alarming. It makes me realize how far I could have fallen, and how one drink could put me there.
One man spoke about it being the one year anniversary of his sons death from an overdose of prescription drugs and alcohol.
As a newcomer to the AA program, I am not familiar with the difference in meeting structures. I understand the descriptions given a the top of the meeting page, but as far as what is acceptable, I am unclear. I do know that being new to the program, having people who are just there to watch and listen is distressing. I have a hard enough time walking through the door, and admitting why I am there, I don’t need window shoppers.
Toward the end of the meeting, one of the gentlemen said something that I felt to my core.
He was speaking to the woman who is newly sober again after a year of relapse. What he said was this:
The chains of alcohol are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
I want to have that tattooed on my forehead, so I never forget why I am fighting this fight, one day at a time.
If anyone out there knows more about AA meeting protocol and can explain it to me, I would be grateful. Are visitors, observers, window shoppers,or students taking notes allowed? And if so, how does the anonymous fit in when people are baring their souls?