Category Archives: Community

Chain-Smoking Basement Dwellers

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.

 

Kick Off

I’ve been (obsessively) reading sober blogs for the past few months, after (obsessively) reading sobriety memoirs for years before that.  I’m ready, I think, to participate in the online sober community as more than a spectator.  Here goes!