I am horrible at attending AA meetings. It is pretty much the last thing I want to do. Well, I would rather go to a meeting than clean, most of the time. I have been sober now for a little more than 3 years. It isn’t because of Alcoholics Anonymous. In fact, it has nothing to do with it. However, I know how important it is. I need to be pushed to go. It is so important. I still remember my first meeting attempt. My Dad, who has been sober for over 30 + years now, took me. There were about 3 old guys there. One of which who lead the meeting ate a whole tin of cookies. I watched that instead of listening. I wasn’t ready. I drank again.
I eventually found my way to Townsend Arc outpatient rehab with Jack Richardson. That saved my life. I recommend him to any and everybody. When I entered, I was physically, emotionally and mentally destroyed. I was not far from death, a long slow suicide. It was death from neglect. Neglect of me own self and well-being. I just didn’t or really couldn’t care. Addiction had taken control. MY brain was not my own. I still go to Thursday night meetings for visitor night. It is comfortable for me there. AA is not. I know I need to find the right one for me and I will do that. I will not stop until I find that perfect meeting for me.
There is really no such thing as a past addiction. Once you are an addict, you will ALWAYS be an addict. I invited a family member to go to a meeting with me and was bashed by him and his wife. How dare I bring up his past! I kindly reminded them that it is not their past because recovery has to be part of their present in order to have a future. It stuns me when people get offended when I talk about sobriety. I guess because it is so much part of my life that it is as common speak as the weather. I have no reason to not talk about it. Why in the world would me saving my life offend you? Why would me caring about you offend you? I honestly feel like there are some people who just look for reasons to be offended.
There is nothing negative about recovery. I hope that the more we talk about mental health issues and sobriety, the more people feel comfortable seeking help. There is a sobering statistics (pun intended) that states that over half of people who consume alcohol will develop an addiction. Wow. I know that opiates (pain killers) is even higher. There is also no such thing as an addict who is NOT an alcoholic. Cross addiction. Plain and simple. If you are an addict and you think you are not an alcoholic, all I will say is maybe not yet. It will happen. I did not start an alcoholic. I started as an addict. I thought there is no way I could be an alcoholic because I kicked my drug addiction. No, I hadn’t. I had just moved it over to alcohol, the socially acceptable drug.
Now, back to meetings. Why are they so important? They are important because our disease isn’t treated with medicine, it is treated with people, support of people. That is so frustrating to me. You can’t see my disease on an x-ray. You can’t measure it. Only I can tell you how it is really going. Most of the time I don’t even really know. Also, I could be great one minute and in the next it all falls apart. I am only one drink away from ruining years of work. That is why you need the support of people who truly get it. The easiest way to find that support is to go to the rooms where other people are seeking the same.
My parents have reminded me lately that it isn’t always about me. (I know, shocking, right?) Sometimes when you go you are helping someone else. I find that that helps you more than you realize at first. It think the same can be said for church and for meetings, which are very similar yet not the same. For me, I need both. I also need study time on my own. Time alone with God and time alone with myself.
I just find it so sad and scary, the people who know they have a problem, yet deny it. I want to shake them and drag them to a meeting. I know, I know, that won’t work. You have to want sobriety. I guess it is really ultimately selfish of me because I keep thinking how your death will interrupt my life. Sure, I said it. I would never ask for someone to be perfect, but I think the minimum is at least some acknowledgement and effort. I only did rehab once, so I don’t get the whole relapse thing. I even know people who flat-out just refuse to do what the counselor said. (I know what he said because I went to the same one.) How do you hold your tongue while you watch someone kill themselves? You can’t be sober if you are drinking. And if you were and addict you still are. And since you still are, you can’t drink. The end. I watch this spouse desperate for a “normal life.” Which I am assuming involves alcohol and parties. Does she not know she is assisting in his death? Does she not care?
Of course no one handles their addiction the same, but I do know that meetings are not optional. I do know drinking is not an option at all. I know some things because I try my best to learn from my mistakes. I know what not to do. I am open and honest about my addiction because I want to be as helpful as possible. I know what it feels like to feel hopeless. I hope my story gives hope. It breaks my heart to watch as someone slowly kills themselves. How do I wash my hands of that? Meetings. There isn’t a way to beat addiction, except to do it daily. It is never just in your past, that is the way to fail. New days bring new problems that threaten sobriety. Satan never goes away. In fact, the more confident you become, the more he is right behind you. The more visible you are in your recovery success, the more he wants you to fail. That is why the slogans are so real. IT is truly one day at a time. You really do have to keep coming back because it really only works if you work it. Cliche, but true!
I am here if you need me. I work everyday to maintain my sobriety just like all the other sober people out there. We are not alone and we won’t shut up. I am proud of my sobriety. I only keep my meeting attendance anonymous because of the ridiculous stigma that is still attached. I hope that changes soon. So, if you want to go to a meeting, let me know. I would be happy to go with you!