M(3), 5/12: Do Meeting Makers Really Make It?

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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!

 

Today’s Miracle:

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!

 

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Posted on May 12, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Where do I start with this post? So many things that are brilliant about it.

    Firstly, very timely, because I haven’t been going to as many meetings recently. I need to be vigilant on that, so thanks for reminding me.

    Secondly, I love your reference to Living Sober. I mentioned it last week in a chair about it being crucial to early sobriety for me. Interestingly, thinking about it again as I read your post, I realised that SO many of the lessons in Living Sober I’d learnt prior to coming in through AA through the blogging community. Without this community. I wouldn’t have identified as an alcoholic and probably wouldn’t have made it to AA.

    Thanks again for a brilliant post x x

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  2. Just what I needed:-) Heading to a meeting shortly!!!!

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  3. Wow, what an incredible post… so glad I took the time to really read it and concentrate. so many times i rush thru blog posts but not today. This is great for me as a newbie… the analogy of breathing in and out. It is a way of life, something that you need. That you do not just for you but giving back to the others in the rooms. I have read so many times that people stop going and than poof, they relapse. Ugghhh, I had guilt relapsing after 100 days…. I cant imagine years…. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoy your posts, especially your Monday meeting recaps! Hugs. B.

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    • Thank you so much MB! I’ve been thinking about you lately as I’m training for this 5K… are you in for it? I hope so!

      And I’m right with you… when that gentleman shared his story about losing his 2 plus years, I felt it right in my gut.

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  4. Reblogged this on momma bee and commented:
    A great read for newbies and oldies in the 12 step community! I really enjoy Josie’s posts and I hope you do too!
    Happy Reading!
    Momma Bee

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  5. PS I am going to read this chapter over lunch… I can pretend I was in your meeting Monday~!

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  6. I hit two meetings this past month. I know…pretty paltry compared to many others. I am itching to get to one, but have been quite tired. But I know that I do get a charge when I go. Probably in the category of “don’t want to, but need to go” kind of deal at this point, eh? But this isn’t new to me, frankly. I have gone stretches and then go and then wonder “why did I wait so long?” ha ha. that’s the thing I miss about comitments and home groups. I haven’t been to my home group in 8 months. My schedule changes every week, with different days off and different shifts even. So planning anything (AA or related) is always a challenge.

    Having said that, the whole meeting makers make it slogan is something I certainly have a strong opinion on, but won’t post it here. What I can pass on is something I heard a while back that I love – that we stop going to meetings long before we stopped going to meetings. You know? Not going to meetings, the physical act, is not what drives many to go back out. It’s the *mental* and *spiritual* departure that precedes the physical that drives many to go back out. That’s an opinion of course, and I subscribe to that one. So I hope people take that for what it’s worth! 🙂

    I love that you are getting good turnouts, Josie! Meetings are so very important – one of the legacies of 12-step recovery. Recovery, Unity, Service. For me, the steps (recovery) comes first and foremost. then meetings (unity) and then service, even though they are equal parts on the triangle.

    Anyway, I am quite beat, so I am not very eloquent and probably coming off a bit Big Book thumpy…lol. My apologies if I am…

    Great post 🙂

    Paul

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    • Paul, I am with you on your opinion, it was one of the first lessons my sponsor taught me… “meeting makers make meetings, they don’t MAKE IT.” The title was probably a bit misleading!

      If you are Big Book thumpy, then I am right there with you, Paul, and I always, always, always appreciate your comments!

      Hope your schedule evens out for you, and you are able to get back to your peeps. In the meantime, I’m glad your here with us!

      Like

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