AA Meeting: With Student Proctors….

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.    

images (2) 

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?


5 thoughts on “AA Meeting: With Student Proctors….

  1. If the meeting is “open”, then that means it is open to anyone. Friends and family members of alcoholics can come, so can people who don’t know if they are alcoholic or not. Even proctors like you saw there. Although they do come in now and then, I know they can throw some people off. I have ever only seen them once in literally hundreds of meetings I have been to. But in a small group, it certainly can shut some down. Anyway, Open meetings usually consist of one or two people sharing their story. Up here (there is such thing as regional differences, depending on where you are in the States or Canada), the speaker talks for about 30-40 min.
    At a “closed” meeting, the only people required are alcoholics, or those who might think they have a problem. There, they usually read and then discuss topics culled from the literature. Some meetings might just open it up for topics from the floor. There might be a piece of paper passed around with people putting a topic on the paper if they want. There is no main speaker in a closed meeting – everyone gets a chance to speak (if you want – you are not obligated in any way to speak). I enjoy the closed meetings, but I went to open meetings at first to get an idea of the program. There is no right or wrong way of doing it.
    As for those making notes, anonymity is to be kept. There are traditions that help keep the groups in order, and Tradition 11 helps to keep us anonymous at the level of press, radio and film. (you can include social media too, if you’d like).
    Anyway, at this stage, any meeting is a good meeting. Hell, at ANY stage, any meeting is a good one
    By the way – loved that line about the chains – never heard it before. I am going to steal it
    Love and light,

    • Thank you for clarifying. I was confused about the “visitation”. I will go back, as for now it fits. A gentleman suggested possibly trying a woman’s group. That would take at least a week of stress and fretting before I could make that recision.
      That’d line made my night. It put a nice spotlight on what I have been doing for the last 81 days.
      Feel free to use it, I do not claim ownership, not until I get the tattoo.

    • Hi Paul, I read a random book once that I found laying around where I worked. It appeared to be an AA published book of stories from addicts. I found it scared me straight – a little bit. Are there more such publications and a place to find them?

      • Hi Stacey – trying to think what book that might have been. We have in the basic text (Alcoholics Anonymous) a bunch of stories in the second half of the book. Each of them about 10 pages each or so…some longer or shorter. I am sure there must be a collection of stories from the different editions of the books somewhere. I find all my books at Amazon, to be honest. I am going to try and hunt down books like that now… 🙂

  2. My very first AA meeting ever was for a college class 14 years ago. We were instructed not to take notes during the meeting but to write a paper explaining how the meeting was structure. And we were not allowed to use names in our paper. Even though I did not think I had a problem then, I went to my first meeting as an addict two years later.
    I went to a meeting today that was closed. It was a very nice group and got numbers. We discussed “difference” and it was very interesting. One woman shared some troubles she is going through. She might be going to jail next week. That was a huge wake up call to me that if I go back to drinking, that could be me. Even though I do not have the desire to drink right now, I realized the stories in those meetings will help me a lot. I am still not ready to talk cause I know I will cry more than talk if I speak.

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