M(3), 5/12: Do Meeting Makers Really Make It?
Happy Monday, and I hope all the Mom’s reading had a spectacular Mother’s Day, I surely did!
Today’s meeting was a rewarding one for me in many ways. First, we had a decently sized group (14!). Second, there were three newcomers, and it’s always nice to have a new perspective in the sharing section of the meeting. Finally, the topic of today’s meeting is one that hits close to home. We read from the book Living Sober, a chapter entitled “Going to AA Meetings.” The chapter explains the basic nuts and bolts of 12-step meetings: the format, the various types, what to expect if you choose to attend one. If you are new to sobriety and/or interested in 12-step principles, I highly recommend giving this book a read; it is an excellent resource.
The topic hits close to home for me personally because it was a great reminder of why I chose to attend 12-step meetings in the first place: I am an alcoholic/addict, and 12-step meetings are a form of medicine for me. Someone reading this post without knowledge of addiction might question the concept of sitting in a room with like-minded people and talking to be a form of medicine; frankly, I have questioned it myself. I especially questioned it when I was first exposed to 12-step meetings, years before I actually got sober. At that point, I had great difficulty in identifying with anyone in the rooms of AA. In fact, I spent great energy looking for ways in which I was different. Of course, with that attitude, the outcome was inevitable: I stopped going to meetings, and I eventually chose to drink again. Whether those two facts are connected would probably be up for debate; I am of the opinion that they are directly connected.
When I hit my bottom, I consciously chose a new attitude towards meetings; I deliberately sought out ways with which to connect with the people in the rooms, with the literature I read, with the stories I heard. My focus was now on how to assimilate, rather than how to differentiate, myself. Of course this was a process, but in time I started to feel what is described as the “magic of the meetings.” I would sit down, and the topic would apply directly to events in my life. I would meet someone, and we would feel like instant family. I would feel like I was exactly where I needed to be!
As time goes on, of course, it becomes more of a struggle to attend meetings. Busy schedules, the feeling that “I’m okay, and I can live without a meeting,” or a resentment can pop up that can make continuing attendance difficult. And, as I’ve been told by countless wise people, that’s just when you need a meeting the most! Often the question is asked, “How long do you need to keep going to meetings?” The standard reply, at least in my part of the world: “Until you want to go!” And that is true, even as interest ebbs and flows.
One of the newcomers in today’s meeting told his tale that is, sadly, a familiar one to those of us who are regular meeting attendees: he had a decent amount of sobriety (more than 2 years), and then life got busy, and he decided he did not need to make meetings a priority anymore. He said he faded off to no meetings, and within a week or so he had people calling him: are you okay? did you relapse? He indignantly replied that he did not relapse, that he was fine! He said it only took about a month to convince himself that he was cured of his disease, and that it would be okay to drink again. He has about month sober now, but he admits it is much more difficult this time around, because he is fighting the shame of giving up those 2 plus years.
There but for the grace of God go I.
I have the blessing of 3 or 4 regular attendees with decades of sobriety, so I was most anxious to hear what motivates them to continue their meeting attendance after so many years. Each of them shared, and were in complete agreement: it is not a struggle to attend meetings, it is a joy. They attend meetings because they want to attend, not because they feel they “have to.” Meeting attendance is as much a part of their lives as brushing their teeth or showering is a part of their hygiene!
The final thought I will share is from one of my friends with almost 30 years of sobriety. She compared meeting attendance to breathing: in order for breathing to be successful, you need to breathe in and breathe out; not much good comes out of simply performing one or the other. In the same way, there are two components to meetings: taking in what you need, and sharing with others what you’ve learned, and they are both critical to the success of meeting attendance. This analogy was a great reminder for me. When I am too much in my own head, I forget that meeting attendance is not all about me; that service is the foundation of the 12-step philosophy. Keeping the question, “how can I help another?” in the forefront of my mind at meetings will remind me to be of service, which will, of course, circle back around and enrich my own experience at the meeting.
Lots of motivating stuff today, and, as result, I am going to get out to at least one new meeting this week!
Made a carrot cake to celebrate someone’s one year anniversary of sobriety, and I was nervous, because I had never made one before. But the reports are in: the cake was delicious!
Posted on May 12, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, AA, Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, Alcoholism, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Recovery, Substance Abuse, Support group, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.