After I first quit drinking, I went to several AA meetings. At that time, people were allowed to smoke in meetings, and everyone did – including me.
My biggest fear regarding AA meetings was being spotted by someone who knew me. I knew that my father was attending meetings at that time (a story for another time), and I would have died had I run into him. Sort of like running into your mom in a singles bar. Yuk!
I avoided meetings close to my home, close to my parents’ homes, close to friends I had. I drove far and wide to find a meeting. The first meeting I attended was simply revolting. A group of alcoholics – some active, some sober – drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, telling their sad or horror-filled stories was something I couldn’t deal with. It was them vs. me, and we shared nothing in common.
I went to a woman’s meeting, a non-smoking meeting, a lesbian meeting, a children of alcoholics meeting – yet I found no link between these people and me. The more I attended, the more convinced I became that I was somehow different from and superior to them. I didn’t get the message that they were me and I was them. A man, at one meeting, handed me a copy of “The Big Book,” – the AA bible, so to speak. He had bought it for me because I was new and he was “paying it forward”. I still have that book although I have never read it.
During one meeting alone, I heard stories of a man stabbing his wife, another killing his best friend, a woman killing a child in a drunken driving incident, of time in jail, nights on the streets, etc. These stories did not resonate with me, and my story remained untold.
On the other hand, several people I know had very good experiences with AA. They lived it, they breathed it, they worked the steps, and years later they have maintained their sobriety. Good for them. AA began in 1939 with a small group of people helping each other. Throughout the years, AA has saved millions of lives, and I have nothing but respect for the people who have stuck with it. But for me, AA was not part of my sobriety.