Recovery meeting and me

I said in a recent post that I would share my experience of attending a recovery meeting and so here it is.

Firstly I need to say that many of my sober blogging community really rate these meetings and there were people attending this meeting who had many many years of sobriety that they felt was only possible because of the fellowship.  This was both inspiring and humbling to me.

The recovery meeting was not as well attended as usual as it happened to be at the same time as a World Cup England game, which we could hear the goings of because the meeting place was next to a pub!! There were a mixture of men and women and everyone was very kind and welcoming.  I was given a welcome pack and some of the women attending gave me their contact details. I could see how valuable this was when there is so little else out there for those of us who find our relationship with alcohol problematic but was a little freaked out by it, if I’m honest, and they did acknowledge that they felt the same too when they first started going to meetings.

So how did I feel?  Uncomfortable. I really struggled with the ‘I am an alcoholic’ as part of how you introduce yourself.  Why?  Because I don’t see myself as an alcoholic and don’t want to be defined by it.  Is that ego?  Maybe.  Is that denial?  Maybe.  Yes I drank too much and yes it was getting out of hand but I stopped before I created total chaos in my life. I’m not saying that I’m better than anyone that was there. I nursed alcoholics and so see alcoholics as those who were physically addicted and I never reached that point. I don’t connect with the feeling powerless and I really struggled with the God emphasis as I hold secular beliefs.  Afterwards I really gave myself a hard time because I really wanted to feel like I was ‘coming home’ which is how another sober friend of mine described it, and so wanted to feel differently than I was.

Steps, sponsors, attending regularly? I’m having CBT and I felt that I was meeting all those needs in that setting.  I think if I had not found the sober blogging community first then my experience would have been very different.  But because I have the support of this community and have met people further along the path who have helped me with tricky moments I don’t feel that it added anything to what I already have in place.  Will I go back? I don’t know but it was a valuable experience for me so it was not in vain and I know where they are should I need them in the future.  The smell of beer as I walked past the pub on leaving was really appealing and yes I did want to drop in for a pint and to watch the game!

I think if you are wondering about AA you should go along yourself and make up your own mind. As for me the jury’s out and I don’t think it really matters if a recovery meeting isn’t for you.  As long as you don’t drink and whatever works for you works for you then that’s all that really matters.  There is no wrong or right way to ‘do’ recovery or that’s what I concluded anyway 😉

73 days to go

12 thoughts on “Recovery meeting and me

  1. I hold the same feelings as you here, thanks for posting on this. About 1.5 years ago when I was trying to quit, I forced myself to go to a few AA meetings. Everyone was kind and it was an extremely accepting and warm atmosphere. But, aside from the intense anxiety it took for me to even enter those doors, I never felt comfortable calling myself an ‘alcoholic’ or saying that I had no control over my behavior. Yes, maybe I had lost control over drinking, but it seemed so depressing to accept some of the beliefs and say some of the words that are usually said at these meetings. But, yes, I think whatever works for anybody is the WAY to GO. There is no right or wrong. There is just your own individual story with your own individual prescription toward a new sober life:)

    1. Thanks mallards4us for sharing your experience too. It is so hard when you feel differently about something that so many feel such gratitude for and I appreciate your honesty about your thoughts as it makes me feel less alone 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing this Lucy. I went to AA meetings for about four months, before my relapse in March. I learned a lot in the meetings and met some really nice people, some who had over 30 years of sobriety, which was very inspiring to me. I was a little leery of the “steps, sponsors, and attending meetings” you mentioned, and felt I wasn’t ready to be held accountable or become a member. It is easy for one to adopt that “well at least I’m not THAT bad” attitude we hear about when someone is telling their story, and I feel that’s what happened to me. I wouldn’t rule out going back to meetings if I felt I need to, but right now I feel that I am coping by connecting with the sober blogging community and gathering as much information that I can about alcohol abuse. Day 43 here. Thanks again for all you do! xx

    1. Hi lori firstly congrats on 43 days! 🙂 I have no doubt that the fellowship is hugely beneficial for many but for me who was already plugged in to this amazing community it felt a nice to have (and to have connected with) not a need to have xx

  3. I still don’t like identifying as an alcoholic. I don’t drink. I shouldn’t drink. I’m way better off without it. I don’t think it’s denial but rather a dislike of a nasty label that doesn’t begin to describe who any of us are.

    You gave a really honest and thoughtful account here of your first meeting. I like what you say about trying it out to decide for yourself. Definitely agree that whatever works for someone works. Period.

    1. Thanks Kristen 🙂 I know that many people are sober because of AA and so don’t want to be disrespectful for what they do for so many. I just don’t think it’s my cup of tea but that’s me. I hate the term alcoholic too.

  4. I like this thoughtful post a lot. It’s great to be able to investigate and find out what works for you and be honest about your reactions without dissing the whole AA / recovery meeting program. I think way too much of this gets set up in an unhelpful either/or format, and I respect how you steer clear of that.

    I also went to a couple of meetings way back, and had a similar reaction to yours. And I’ve been back and forth on the term “alcoholic” but I just can’t quite take it up for myself. I don’t think it is denial, either. I think the term can reduce a complicated issue into something that looks understandable, and somehow well-defined, and I don’t think that fits. Drinking was a problem, and I am glad I managed to quit, and putting together the support I need to stay quit is an ongoing process. For me, the sober blog world is helpful, as I get support here, and I also see that here are many ways of describing this problem and many ways of addressing it.

    Thanks as always for your helpful and thought-provoking blog! xo

    1. Thanks thirstystill for reflecting back at me, not only what I intended as my message, but also how I feel about both drinking and the recovery community 🙂

  5. I go to one meeting a week. I don’t put much thought into saying alcoholic there. It just means I’m one of the group. Someone whose drinking was threatening her life and decided to do something about it. To stop.
    I like to hear the honesty that comes from people. The openness. It is such a rare and precious thing in out appearance based society.
    I have been reluctant to do the steps. The whole of AA doesn’t really resonate with me.
    But I have been reading the woman’s way through the 12 steps and I like the focus on introspection and self awareness. So many groups use these steps. They must have some merit!
    I agree, people should try things on for themselves.
    Thank you for your candour.

    1. Hi Anne Thank you for sharing and I like your way of looking at it. I agree that being able to speak openly and honestly without fear of reprisal is increasingly difficult today and so I also see the value in that. I’m not saying that the 12 steps don’t have merit but that I get the introspection and self-awareness from my discussions and reflections with my CBT therapist instead 🙂

  6. Hi Lucy! Thank you for your honest and kind post! I know many that have a hard time with the fellowship and many that it has helped tremendously, including myself. And you went to find out for yourself and that is truly admirable! I am also very grateful that you were able to write about the positive sides as well what you might feel is not helpful for you. And yes in the end, we all have our own paths and ways to stay sober, and that is the most important!

    I didn’t come into the rooms willingly myself, nor did I say that I was an alcoholic for probably the first 6 months. I couldn’t relate to the steps or the idea of any kind of God or Higher Power. But the caring and understanding of the people there was what I needed and I could not find in therapy which I attended for a year previously. I eventually took the steps as a guide to living, which I desperately needed because I had no clue how to live life on life’s terms.

    I have no problem saying that I am an alcoholic, I have a disease of alcoholism. Part of my disease is also this weird forgetfulness of how bad things used to be (and they were bad!) and now they are really good, yet sometimes drinking looks appealing again, still, after 6 years! So I need a reminder once in while, that I am an alcoholic, because I don’t ever want to go back!

    Thanks again! Hugs.

    1. Hey Maggie Thank you for sharing your experience too 🙂 It’s interesting to hear that you didn’t come to the rooms willingly initially. It’s also interesting that you could not find in therapy what you found in AA. We are all so different aren’t we in terms of what works for us? Hugs back xx

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