I was always a bit socially awkward. Looking back, I can clearly see how that lack of confidence led to my becoming an alcoholic. So you can just imagine my apprehension about going to an AA meeting.
My thoughts were racing with all sorts of preconceived notions generated by memories of watching old TV movies where people were being hugged by total strangers who then expected them to stand up and spill your their guts to them.
I really didn’t want to go.
WALKING THROUGH THE DOOR
I’d like to brag that I had the inner strength to bravely make my entrance, but the truth is that my brain was still being hijacked by fear. It was a court order that carried me there, not some miraculous feat of overcoming my weaknesses.
Fortunately, my reasons didn’t matter. Neither did my insecurities.
Rather than being bombarded, I was politely acknowledged and casually welcomed. And while the meeting followed a certain format, no one pushed me into the spotlight by trying to force me to share my life story. In fact, other than hello, goodbye, and some polite water-cooler type chit chat, I didn’t say anything for weeks.
There was one gal, Karen, who made a point to sit with me. She would ask me how I was doing or tell me she was glad to see me return, but she never asked me pointed questions or made me feel pressured in any way. I slowly started to develop more confidence, simply because I didn’t feel so alone.
As I listened to other people share their histories and day-to-day struggles, I began to feel empowered by the fact that there was always something said that I could relate to. Then one evening, a gal named Julia spoke. She was talking about the frustration she was experiencing due to certain family members constantly telling her what to do so she “stays sober“. As soon as she said that, Karen and I looked at each other and said “Yep” at the same time.
Those few words and brief exchange that followed connected the three of us, and as I glanced around at the rest of the group’s facial expressions, I realized that at that moment, all of us were in the very same place, not just physically, but in our hearts and minds, as well. It was very powerful.
That’s when I knew that if I was going to benefit from sharing my experiences with anyone, it was going to be with these folks, because they get it!
YOUR FIRST MEETING
Regardless of backgrounds, addiction journeys, or personalities, everyone has expectations and concerns when they attend their first meeting. Here are some points to remember:
- It’s okay that you don’t know anyone – That will happen naturally.
- It’s perfectly normal not to know what to expect – You’ll figure it out..
- Folks want to help – They feel your pain.
- It’s okay to say you’re nervous – Everyone remembers their first meeting.
- You can be yourself – No one is there to judge you.
- It’s okay to bring a friend – Everyone understands the need for a good support system.
You might have to try a few different meetings on, but once you find the right fit, it is important to remember that you will get out of it what you put into it. That doesn’t mean you have to share before you are ready. It simply means that once things fit, keep going regularly. And when the time feels right to share, your anxiety will slip away.
If you or your loved one needs help, contact us today and feel free to talk to us about addiction treatment programs at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs. The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective addiction treatment center in Southern California.