I get drunk, WE stay sober. Alcoholics Anonymous offers so much more beyond the meetings inside the halls.
“The meetings gave me what my sponsor likes to call one of the most important words in the Big Book: A.A. put a “we” in my life. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol. . . .” I no longer had to be alone. Fellowship and activity kept me coming back long enough to work the Twelve Steps. The more I did, the better I felt. I started hanging out with my sponsor and some active people at the meetings. They showed me how gratitude is something that is demonstrated, not talked about-gratitude is action.” – Pg. 510 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous
I was one of those drunks that isolated. Most of the last year I spent drinking, I was pretty much at home by myself, and so sad and miserable. I was baffled at why I could not leave the alcohol alone. When I came into the halls I was told this was a “we” program. “I get drunk, and We stay sober”. Everyone reached out their hands and offered me phone numbers, told me to keep coming back, and that meant a lot to me. It really meant the world, because I had isolated for so long and didn’t feel I was worthy of having anyone care about me at all.
By staying in the program and becoming involved I was able to begin to see value in myself. Happy faces were greeting me at the door, they knew what car my mom drove and were welcoming to her. I have always felt so much care and encouragement from my fellow alcoholics. I have a very difficult time asking people for help and am still working through that. But, I was never turned down if I asked someone for a ride up to the hall or home. In fact, the little 5 minute conversations from the hall to my house allowed me to get to know more about others and for them to know a little more about me.
I am definitely a proponent of the meetings before the meetings and the meetings after the meetings. The “extra” activities are there waiting for people to take advantage of them. Picnics, seminars, business meetings, breakfasts, pot lucks, and even dances.
I remember going to my first Alcoholics Anonymous dance. My mother drove me there, and as we passed by the front of the building I was overwhelmed with the large crowd I saw standing outside. Crowds have made me nervous for the last several years and I could feel the anxiety begin to bubble up within me.
I am so glad my mother was there. I smoked a cigarette, took a few minutes and walked in. One of the tables was filled with familiar faces from my home group of A.A. and everyone was so happy to see both of us and so very inviting. My mind was set at ease and I felt the anxiety melt away. I didn’t do any dancing that night, but I sure felt accomplished for attending such an event and knew that I would jump at the next opportunity.
The fellowship is very important to me and I was advised to “hang around with the winners”, to hang around with the people who are really “in” Alcoholics Anonymous and not just “around” it. I stay around the people who are actually staying sober and working a program. I was so willing, as desperate as the dying could be, and I did not want to go back to that hell I had been living in. By working the steps, attending meetings, going to different fellowship events, I have begun to see the wonders of this program in my life. I am so very grateful to be an alcoholic and to finally have a real sense of purpose in my life and so many others who absolutely support me 100%.
I have been fortunate enough to find a wonderful hall early on in my sobriety. Others might have to try a few different ones before they find the “family” that they fit into and feel at home with. A good friend was a dry drunk for the better part of 7 years and went to several different meetings at various A.A. halls around our area. He had stopped drinking, but nothing else had changed.
He still had anger, resentment, was unsociable. He did what he had to do to stay sober for awhile and then got out of the program. He went out for quite a few years but when he came back in Alcoholics Anonymous he found the hall I belong to. He says “there was something here that made a hell of a lot more sense to me than he had felt in the other halls.”
He has nothing bad to say about any of the other halls, but by the time he walked through the door of our hall he had realized he needed somebody else to help him stay sober and get through this. He watched and waited and finally asked the man who is now his sponsor for help and was able to be honest with himself and with everyone else.
He worked his program the way he needed to work it, he was able to socialize, and genuinely tried to help others where he could. He is more grateful today than anything because he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t take any other substances, he tries to do the right things if possible and if he doesn’t – he knows we will hold him to his word and have the mirror ready for him to see his truth.
The halls have taught me to be more teachable and open-minded. I always pick up something from at least one speaker. Even if there is a meeting that I don’t feel I associated with anything shared, I always know that I am surrounded with those who share the same struggle and sickness that I do.
The other members of A.A. remind me “never say never”. The meetings remind me of that on a daily basis and I need to open my ears and really listen with the hope that I hear enough of what I need to so I can avoid falling back into that isolation, depression, and self-pity which will cause me to drink.
“So today, I’m much more comfortable with life, as Alcoholics Anonymous has promised, and I know they’re right when they say it keeps getting better. My circumstances have steadily improved as my spiritual life grows and matures. Words cannot begin to describe the feelings in my heart as I sometimes ponder how much my life has changed, how far I’ve come, and how much there is yet to discover. And though I’m not sure where my journey may take me next, I know I’ll owe it to the grace of God and to three words of the Twelve Steps: continue, improve, and practice. Oh, and one more thing they told me: Humility is the key.” – Pg. 511 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous