What excuses do you have for not attending AA meetings? I was speaking with a friend about this very topic and he said “I get stuck in my head and I forget to go to meetings. I know a lot of people who still drink and still do all of the old “stuff”, but I need to be around people who are doing something different.”
We need to be around people who are staying sober. A gentleman told me about a conversation he had with a fellow alcoholic before the start of a meeting a few weeks back. He says, “A friend of mine bought himself a shiny, new motorcycle and now thinks he is going to be a big, bad, biker. He asked me, ‘Wanna ride my bike?’. No, I don’t wanna ride your bike! I went through all of that.” He doesn’t have anything personally against bikers, but he has already lived that phase and he wants to be someone different. He said, “I have experienced a lot of things sober and I want to be something different today.”
“I want to feel good today without the wrong way of living. That is what it is about for me right now. I know where the solution is if I need or want to get better and if I don’t want to get better I know where else to go too. Today, that is my choice and I am the only one who can change that. There is no one to blame but me. Meetings are my group therapy and the fellowship of AA has succeeded where the therapists and psychiatrists didn’t.”
“What is this power that AA possesses? This curative power?” – Pg.308 BB
I have heard it said very plainly, “meetings help me get out of the selfie, self-centered way of thinking.” I have also heard, “meeting makers make it.” However, we can go to meetings and share with others and listen to others, but we must always listen with an open mind and act upon what we learn in these halls. We need to work the steps, we need to work with other alcoholics. We really need to do the simple things that we are taught from the very beginning. This is a process that takes time, patience, surrendering, being honest with ourselves and taking our own inventory. Those are things we must do on a day to day basis.
There are many people who want an easier, softer way, but “are you willing to go to any length” it asks in the Big Book. If you feel that you have all the answers, you have not been paying attention and are not being honest with yourself. Following the steps laid out in the Big Book is key and we must all keep going back to this literature over and over and over. This literature, these points are something shared in every AA meeting I have attended.
I have heard several members of AA speak of relapses and the one thing all of them have in common is the fact that they stopped attending meetings. Some might have had different events take place in their lives, but the common thread is the absence of Alcoholics Anonymous in their lives. If I see or speak with someone who is struggling with their sobriety, I ask them a few questions. First, How many meetings have you been going to? Second, How much have you been reading? I ask those questions to help a person really take a look at themselves and what their actions have been, not what is only on their mind.
We should always be seeking some growth in our recovery. I do not believe 1 or 2 meetings per week promotes growth. Simply ask yourself how many days a week did you drink? Most of us drank 7 days a week, so we will need 7 meetings a week to find our growth. Find an AA hall you enjoy that is helpful with your recovery, then find two, or more if you need to. Get yourself to a meeting, and then another, and then a few more. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path” – Pg.58 BB
Have you been failing? Have you been failing miserably? Do you only come to meetings when the “shit hits the fan”? When it is getting really bad or something tragic just happened. If we find ourselves in trouble at work, don’t we make a point to show up early, stay late. Don’t we become the best employee and offer to do anything we can to “make up” for the misery and problems we caused? Recovery and sobriety is the same for some.
I see people who are only at meetings to achieve something. “I only want to get my kids back”, “I don’t want my husband to leave me”, “I have to get through with this legal stuff and make the judge happy”. As soon as they accomplish their goal, you don’t see them anymore because they are only at AA to appease someone else.
There seems to be a pattern with relapse when it pertains to attending meetings. We go to few meetings. Then we stop showing up for meetings all together. We stop talking to other alcoholics. Finally, we drink again. Is going to meetings all you have to do? Hell no! But, if we can’t do something simple like going to meetings, what makes us think that we would read the Big Book,talk with a sponsor, or work any of the steps. If we can not come to meetings, be reminded to work the steps, and be around others in recovery we will resort to our old ways eventually.
Alcoholism and addiction is simply not something we can fix on our own. I strongly believe the repair and relief from the pain of alcoholism starts with meetings. I have heard many comment “Well, meetings didn’t work for me.” and they are obviously right because nothing is going to work for you if you don’t want it to. You could go to a hundred treatment centers and they won’t work if you don’t want them to. You could have both Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob as your sponsors from beyond the grave and if you do not want to stay sober, you are not going to stay sober. I keep coming to meetings because in meetings I hear what I need to hear to keep me sober and it is as simple as that. So I challenge you to attend a meeting every day this week. Just for one week and if you feel what I feel when I go, you will keep coming back for more and more.