It’s not as bad as that photo, but waiting until day 50 before my first AA meeting wasn’t smart.
My excuse is solid, living in a Haitian ghetto etc, but I still wish I could have come here sooner. Everyone who kept saying, “Get to a meeting” was 100% right.
So this is me… about to walk into my county Token Club.
I got a fresh haircut just in case I met some cute 13th steppers : )
There was one major drawback, the smoke nearly killed me. I was dizzy and slightly nauseous by the time we finished. I’m hoping I can build up a tolerance, or maybe I’ll just take up smoking myself. I still found a way to concentrate and here are a few things I learned from the experience.
1. AA is a safe place for smart ass jokes. Just the pre-meeting small talk had me laughing out loud. Humor drove out my anxiety and I felt at home. I was like a long-lost friend and they’d been waiting for me.
2. There was no judgment. When they asked newcomers to introduce themselves, I didn’t exactly know the lingo. “I’m Tony and this is my first AA meeting? Did I do that right?” One kind lady suggested that I could identify if I was an alcoholic. I replied honestly, “Oh yes, I’m a raging alcoholic.” Her response was total acceptance.
Then honey, you’re in the right place. Keep coming back.
3. I have to do the work, it’s more than “let go & let God.” I really liked how one guy expressed it.
God has never come down and knocked a drink out of my hand and he never will. I’m sitting here today because I don’t want to take the first drink. I do this for me. And I’m the only one that can keep me sober. I have a host of friends working the program and they help me. But I got to do the work.
4. I need a daily strategy. I’ve been repeating “one day at a time” like a sacred mantra, but I could benefit from a daily action plan. One of my new friends recommended 5 simple things he does everyday. Here was his “keep it simple stupid” prescription.
- In the morning, pray that God would keep me sober
- Call my sponsor, everyday.
- Call my AA friends until I get three voices.
- Get my ass to a meeting.
- Pray again at night, thanking God for keeping me sober.
5. It’s OK to just be OK. One man shared about the importance of just fitting in, learning to be a friend among friends. The mind of an alcoholic is always trying to be above everyone else, with just one drink we imagine we’re the top of the heap. When we sober up we feel less than, like we’re the lowest. Working the our recovery means learning to belong, learning to be OK.
6. Helping others is key to my sobriety. That’s the 12th step, but it’s something we can start right away. I can be getting phone numbers and reaching out to others right now. That connection is essential for my sobriety and benefits the person I’m calling.
7. We help best when we admit we’re screwed up. We never should pretend we’ve got it all figured out. It means being honest, we help people most when we admit we’re not doing right. We can demonstrate that recovery is about progress, not perfection. That’s the best encouragement for others.
8. The 8th step is already freaking me out. “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.” Just when they read that out loud I almost cried. My guilt inventory is overstocked for sure.
9. I can be brave when it matters. I was nervous about the whole experience, literally biting my nails waiting for the thing to get started. That’s when I made the choice to speak up. I didn’t come this far to be a wallflower. I made eye contact, spoke clearly, even shared during the discussion time.
10. Having a sponsor is not optional. I took the photo above from the meeting room bulletin board. It’s on me to fight my addiction, but I need a coach to help me prepare.
Alcoholism: I’m sponsoring myself.
11. The 12 steps are the foundation to it all. Every time someone shared, they would reference or point to the steps as the key to their recovery. One guy put it this way:
It’s not no shit I just made up. It’s all in there. The steps have the solution to how to live.
12. The fellowship of these meeting is something I really need. I’ve made a good 50 day start mostly on my own, to move forward and keep sober I know I need to get committed to these groups. This is what I’ve been missing.
I almost forgot, they gave me my first AA chips. I already love the sound of them in my pocket.
I’d love to hear your experience. If you’re an AA newcomer or an old-timer. Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.