No one was as surprised about the truth behind Alcoholics Anonymous as I was.
I remember the moment I was told that I needed to go to an AA meeting. I can also remember when I was told I needed to keep going back.
That wasn’t something I wanted to do at all.
Alcoholics Anonymous was for people who couldn’t control their alcohol intake. It wasn’t for people like me. I knew how much I drank, and I felt like I handled it just fine. In fact, I was pretty sure I could quit the next day if I had been asked to.
No one wanted to listen to me. They just shuffled me off to my AA meeting and wished me the best of luck.
Honestly, it didn’t matter that alcohol was one of the most commonly abused substances among women. This was something I did not want to do.
What is Alcoholics Anonymous?
You might not be familiar with what Alcoholics Anonymous is. Let me help to clarify it for you.
Alcoholics Anonymous is not like going to alcohol rehab. It’s a meeting you attend once a week, or more often if you want to. There are some alcoholics who go to these meetings every day.
The goal with AA is to abstain from alcohol, talk with others, and share your story. I wasn’t all that sure it was going to work for me, if I’m being honest.
Fortunately, today I am able to admit that I was wrong.
My First AA Meeting
I walked into my first AA meeting scared out of my mind. I told myself that it wasn’t a big deal. I said I’d just go in, and I’d sit in the back of the room, completely unnoticed. At the end of the meeting, I’d leave before anyone could speak to me.
It sounded like a solid plan.
I walked into the room and looked around at the other people there.
There weren’t that many of them. In fact, the room was pretty quiet. I counted them slowly.
I was the tenth person there, and no one arrived after me.
It was going to be pretty difficult to stay hidden in a group of ten.
I sat down in the back of the room only to be invited to sit closer once the meeting started. I rolled my eyes, but I moved.
That was the only time I was singled out. The meeting involved some readings about the 12 Steps and a speaker shared her story. It resonated with me so much that I focused only on her words for the rest of the meeting.
How AA Changed One Woman’s Life
Her name was Pam, and she had been an alcoholic, just like I was.
She told us that she started her recovery five years ago, and she had relapsed at least ten times since. As of that day, she had been sober for just over a year.
That earned her a round of applause from us, but she continued.
Pam said that AA meetings played a key role in her sobriety. As she continued along the 12 Steps, she learned a lot about herself as a person. She came to terms with the people she had wronged in her life. She actually started working on healing those relationships.
She learned to depend on God and his place in her life as she recovered.
Most of all, she learned how not to depend on alcohol for everything.
That was when the tears started rolling down my face. I mean, Pam could have been telling my story. It sounded so much like me.
AA taught Pam how to heal those broken relationships in her life. In a way, Alcoholics Anonymous gave her back her support system.
It would have been great if that were all she experienced. As it turned out, Pam got a lot more out of AA than she thought she would.
The Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous
From the time Pam attended her very first AA meeting, she was surrounded with support. She admitted to us that she didn’t have any desire to get to know anyone in her group. She only went because she was made to go by her husband.
Once again, Pam reminded me of myself. I started to feel glad that I had obliged and moved my seat closer to the front.
She talked about the different people she had met since starting AA. From that very first AA meeting, she had new friends. Everyone was so nice to her, and the way they welcomed her brought her out of her shell.
As she continued with going to AA meetings, Pam met someone who would become her sponsor. That was something I hadn’t been looking forward to.
I’ve never been very good at checking in with anyone about anything. I’m not good at following orders on the job, and I’m terrible at coming to others when I’m struggling. Having a sponsor didn’t seem like it would be the right thing for me.
Listening to Pam made it sound better. Actually, she made it sound like it was everything I ever really wanted out of a friend.
Having a Sponsor as a Part of Alcoholics Anonymous
Pam’s sponsor was a woman who didn’t take any nonsense from her. Pam tried lying to her a few times, but this woman always called her out on it.
It’s your sponsor’s job to check in with you from time to time and see how you’re doing. Your sponsor should be calling you, meeting you for coffee, and spending time with you. At first, that sounded annoying to me, but then I realized something.
I couldn’t remember the last time I had someone who actually wanted to invest in me. My family had all but written me off. My friends had decided I was too deep into alcoholism to hang out with me much anymore.
Suddenly, I was going to have someone who wanted to be my friend?
It really made me think about the whole sponsor thing in a different way.
The End of Pam’s Story
Pam ended her story far too soon, as far as I was concerned. I felt like I could have listened to her talk for hours. She said so many things that I really needed to hear.
It’s because of Pam that I grew to believe that I really could stop drinking. She ended by telling us that she still thinks about drinking now and then. However, the urges to drink are getting weaker, and less frequent.
She counts every AA meeting as a victory in her recovery journey. It’s even better when she has the chance to share her story, like she did with us that night.
Today, Pam’s marriage is stronger than it ever was before. She has two grown children, and several grandchildren.
I looked at her that night in admiration. I wanted to be just like her. If AA was going to help me get there, then I was going to keep attending. I’d even go to a meeting every day, if that was what it took to recover.
The Moral of My AA Story
I am an alcoholic.
That’s something that I have had to get used to saying over and over again. I never thought of alcoholism as something that defined me until I went to AA. I’ve learned so much about the power of this drug in my life. This includes the fact that alcoholism is on the rise for women.
It’s good that I acted when I did.
My story started to change as soon as I went to AA.org and researched meetings in my area. I’m really glad that I chose the meeting I chose. Right after that first meeting, I met everyone in the room personally, including Pam.
About a month later, Pam was assigned to me as my sponsor.
That really excited me, and I could tell that it excited her too. I actually got my chance to learn how to be more like her in every area of my life.
The moral of my story is a simple one.
You’re worth it.
You’re worth taking the time to recover from alcoholism. It doesn’t have to continue to define who you are. That’s something I’m learning too. However, you do first need to come to terms with the fact that you’re an alcoholic.
Give people the chance to believe in you. I assure you, they will. It will build you up unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced. Sobriety is something you need to experience. It will change you, I promise.
Trust me. You’re worth believing in.
AA.org. (2017). Welcome to Alcoholics Anonymous. Retrieved from: http://www.aa.org.
EN.Wikipedia.org. (7, July 2017). Alcoholics Anonymous. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholics_Anonymous
Livestrong.com. (6, December 2015). What are the Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous?. Retrieved from: http://www.livestrong.com/article/88097-benefits-aa/
ScienceDaily.com. (2, June 2008). Alcoholics Anonymous And Narcotics Anonymous Benefit Adolescents Who Attend, Study Suggests. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080531185918.htm