I figured it was worth revisiting the topic of AA, since I think I’ve only mentioned it on here a few times in passing. Once, maybe, in describing my first meeting, and then perhaps twice more just briefly.
Yes, so. I did not want to go to AA. Fuck that. I considered myself way too independent. I’m not a joiner. I don’t like clubs, or groups. I’m into exclusivity, not inclusiveness. I’m an atheist, for god’s sake. I hate cults. And self-help books. And people who talk in slogans, period. I don’t like churches, I don’t like bad coffee, and I don’t like styrofoam. I don’t like people who know more than me, and I don’t like admitting there’s something I don’t know (or can’t do). I don’t like any of it. So my position, even after I knew I had a problem, was that it wasn’t for me. No thanks.
But I kinda trapped myself, see. On December 31, 2012, my New Year’s Resolution was that I would quit drinking for a year. For all of 2013. I made the resolution sort of a big deal. As a general matter, I’m not a resolution person. But a few years prior, my New Year’s Resolution had been to quit smoking, and it worked. So I took this one seriously. I told Andrew. We were camping in the desert. It was freezing. I was drinking wine by the campfire, and I told him I was quitting for a year. I could sense his relief, which was scary. He said he would support me however he could. And then, as part of my resolution, I promised myself that, if this didn’t work, if I wasn’t able to quit this time, when I was taking it so seriously, then I guessed I’d have to go to AA after all.
I lasted 19 days.
I didn’t head to AA right away, of course. Instead, I drank steadily all the way through 2013, and then even into the beginning of 2014. But when I finally decided it was time to stop, I knew my promises would be empty without something more behind them. I had already used up all my chances to do it on my own.
I’ve blogged already about when I quit and what I thought of that first meeting. But what I haven’t blogged about is how I kept trying different meetings, even getting brave enough to attend some in my own neighborhood, until I found a few I like. In LA, where I live, there are a handful of meetings with an agnostic focus, and I gravitated toward those. Also, I go to meetings in my own neighborhood and neighboring ones, which means I identify with a greater number of the attendees than I did at that first meeting. Sure, there’s still a range, but there are youngish people, like me, and other people who didn’t lose a car/job/relationship/their freedom, like me. That was, especially at first, really important to me, because I needed to feel like I actually belonged there and wasn’t a “less serious” case, or somehow “not a real alcoholic.” (I still have moments where I feel superior to other people there, but I try to nip that kind of shit in the bud.)
So, where I am now with this thing is that I go to about one meeting a week, and I actually like going. I like hearing people’s stories. Sure, I get annoyed by some of the terminology, and I take what I like (support, etc.) and leave the rest (working all the steps, especially the religious ones, getting a sponsor, etc.). I’m not sure I’ll go forever, but I do notice that I feel calmer when I leave a meeting, and I feel like it lifts my spirits. It’s nice to have a place (besides here!) to vent about the difficult parts of sobriety, and I like feeling like I’m being there for newcomers to the meeting. It’s nice to be reminded how desperate I was, how raw, and how thankful that there was a place I could go when I had run out of options for trying to quit on my own.