First and LAST meeting

Old 10-10-2009, 08:09 AM
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First and LAST meeting

For all of you who have followed my threads you will know the angst I felt about walking into a meeting. Sober for five years and professional in a small community are the two biggest reasons for not walking in. I have answered questions such as "are you still feeling shameful?" or "maybe you cannot admit to being an addict" from members of this forum when I admitted to not going to a meeting. I believe I answered them all and with the encouragement from the majority on this forum I walked into a meeting - figuring I was missing something in my recovery - because I honestly felt I was. Well, what a mess this turned out to be! I walked into an open meeting and there sat a room full of mainly women with 2 males - and 4 of my clients that I see on a regular basis. I almost ran for the hills but thought "No..sit down and just listen". Well, after some snide remarks from my clients such as "what the hell are you doing here? or "seriously? - are you kidding me? You are about to sit there and tell me you are one of US?" All to which I answered in a wavering voice "yes I am - I am here for the same reason you are - to focus on my recovery" OK, so I got through the preliminary nerves and tried to relax then the next bomb hit. The Keep coming back slogan was shouted loud and proud and the one male rolls his eyes and says "there is a professionals meeting about an hour away - you don't have to come HERE" I went from nervous to pissed but again thought "no, stay open, look for similarities" Then it was smoke break - and this kind woman offerred me one - I took it - went outside with her and 99% of the others and tried to make conversation. She made small talk but it was a chore for her. Going back into the room I thought maybe things would feel easier after the break - um... nope! The meeting wrapped up - everyone stampered out and no one said one word to me. So, now I ask WTF?
I cannot imagine after hearing the stories from this site that this is the usual behaviour at meetings! I will not go back - ever. I will continue to keep my recovery as my core - the quiet place inside of me and hope for the best because to be honest, I feel worse now that I went than how I felt before! And I can only imagine how my clients are going to treat me now...I worry about this to the point that I want to refer them to another "helper" to simply avoid their crusty wrath.
What a mess!
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:27 AM
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I don't use AA in my recovery, however when I was new to getting sober I did go to a bunch of meetings.. a bunch, because like you, I had an experience in a meeting that really turned my stomach. So I tried another meeting, and another.. I found a few that were much more along the lines of what I felt to be helpful.. I didn't give up. After about a dozen or so meetings, I made a personal decision that AA was not going to be part of my recovery, but I will never regret going to those meetings, they were sure as hell a much better place for me to be for that one hour of my day than most other places I could have found myself that's for sure!!
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:40 AM
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Thanks so much for this post. My gut feeling is that AA meetings are not for me. I am certain that there are some groups out there that are super....the ones I've read about on here on occasion. If there were wonderful human beings living near me I feel certain I'd have spotted them by now. I'm recovering from within and with the help of this board and God (of course) and that's it. Good luck to you and I'm sorry you had such a rotten experience but thanks for sharing it xx
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by smacked View Post
but I will never regret going to those meetings, they were sure as hell a much better place for me to be for that one hour of my day than most other places I could have found myself that's for sure!!
If there is a safe place the rooms is one of them for an hour.

To the OP, There are professional meetings in some areas, contacting some of your peers and asking around is usually the way to find them.

I personally more likely to take advice from a person in the program who knows what I am going thru than someone who does not. There is a reason why most people who work at treatment centers are in recovery themselves.

Something sounds 'off' with worrying about what others think.... I hope you find some support.
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:49 AM
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I am a pretty devoted AA Guy, and I have to admit when I move to a new area I shop around to find "my people"

Perhaps try the group the male referred to "The Professionals"? I had a similar experience when I moved here, I was referred to this meeting that was a cross between "Welcome Back Kotter" and Romper Room", I mean it was a frickin Zoo, the funny thing they all spoke very badly about a group a few blocks away called "The Traditionals" full of professional people with rules like no interrupting the speaker or who's sharing etc.

They found out I'd been around awhile so they asked me to tell my story, afterwards a number of them took me outside, gave me a hug, and suggested I check out The Traditionals" LOL which I did, and there found "My People"

Different areas and different groups have different fellowships, personally, and this is just for me, I typically attend meetings in fairly well to do or professional settings as living under a bridge, or "popping a cap into some po foo" just wasn't part of my experience, I mean I ended up living on the hard hard streets of Stinson Beach for a week (lol) but shop around for your people, just for the halibut
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:58 AM
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That sounds challenging. I've never witnessed anyone get called out for being in the "wrong" meeting, but when you go to a new meeting for the first time, you never know what you're going to get. I went to a small meeting once in a town that will remain nameless where the topic was frustration over someone taking your wet clothes out of a washer at the laundromat.

In terms of your recovery, in the end it's whatever works. Whatever can take your life from struggle and misery to calm, strength and joy -- go for it.

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Old 10-10-2009, 09:05 AM
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Sorry about your experience and if I could get ahold of your clients I would let them have an earful about traditions.
We are "anonymous" in and out of meetings. That means that once you walk in you have lost all status and stigma in the community. You are simply one of us. Nothing more. Your clients seem to be part of the virus that is running rampant in the rooms of AA and NA. That virus consists of people that think they're members but never open the book. If they had opened the book they would understand that alcoholism and addiction do not discriminate. Skid Row Bums and First Ladies of The United States are afflicted. Once they walk into a meeting they become just another drunk looking for help amongst his/her own kind.
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:32 AM
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That sounds very difficult.

I am not an AA person, so I don't have advice for the meeting issue.

The main thing is to find something that works for you. I use SR as my lifeline and I take time every day for supporting my recovery. I try to work on the physical, mental and spiritual parts of my life every day.
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:48 AM
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Herennow - Just keep searching until you find the right AA meeting. I don't like some of the meetings, but love others. I too am a professional and was worried about seeing people I knew, but now I don't care. I even started my AA experience using a fake name (boy, does my sponsor give me crap about that today) I sometimes run AA meetings at treatment centers for my 12th step work and every now and then I see someone I know from the "professional" community. In these cases, I see that they are feeling much more shame than I, and I try to make an effort to make them feel comfortable that I am not judging them (because I am just like them, so who am I to judge?).

I know there is a stigma but we have to focus on recovery first and what others think second. And besides, we are all there for the same reason - to recover from alcoholism.

Find the right meeting and the right people and you will get a lot of help. I would just ignore your last experience as a fluke and try again. Your recovery is worth it.
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:51 AM
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I love what Pincuda said....there should be no line in the sand with AA Groups. We are all in this together regardless of how we got to this point. I'm sorry you had this unfortunate and unwelcome response from your AA Meeting. I'm only two weeks sober so I'm hardly in a position to offer any advice other than to share an interesting experience I had at an AA Meeting yesterday. I've been to a meeting (sometimes two) a day. I've tried many different groups in many different neighboring cities to my home. I was encouraged by a friend to try one in my own town. He claimed it was more in our "social-economic" background. I was reluctant to do so for fear I would encounter someone I know (which has already happened). Decided I needed to move beyond that and do whatever it takes to embrace this program. So last night I went to this meeting in my home town. It was the worst meeting I've been to so far. Very clicky. Sharing time consisted of members getting to choose who gets to speak next (in lieu of the moderator asking people to simply raise hands); so of course only those chosen could speak. They all knew one another and I felt like a total outsider. Not inclusive at all. Furthermore, the men in the group (mainly men) were a bit crude and shared stories that were borderline inappropriate (I don't really want to hear graphic details of being stripped searched....I get the point). Many stories just rambled on and on and were not on topic. I wanted to flee. I actually looked at my watch which I never do. When I walked out, I saw a good friend of mine from a far picking her son up at the park next to where this meeting was held. A friend who does not know that I'm in AA (yet) but of course now does.

Point of story: I will not return to this group (at least this particular meeting). I found a far greater connection with those in AA outside of my "social-economic" group then I did at this other meeting last night. Each sober day has posed interesting experiences but at least I am not drinking. Someday I hope to have 5 years under my belt, as you have. Best to you!
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:53 AM
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Try a 'closed' meeting next time as they are solely occupied by either alcoholics or people who think that they might be.

I personally couldn't care less if I saw anyone I knew in an AA meeting as they would be there for the same reason as me if they were in a 'closed' meeting.

I am not ashamed of being a sober alcoholic but I was ashamed of being a drunk alcoholic.
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Old 10-10-2009, 11:12 AM
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Personaly, i don't give a rat's ass what someone's attitude is about me being in a meeting. If someone is not willing to help me stay clean and to recover, that's their problem. i look and listen for those who have found and are living a new way of life! Every meeting i go to may have something i need to hear, or someone i need to meet. If if i don't go, i won't be able to hear it & if i don't go, i might not meet them. i go because i want to stay clean and i want to help someone else do the same. Going to meetings helps me to practice what i've learned in the 12 Steps & the 12 Traditions and to give my experience, strength, & hope to someone else. For me, meetings are a place where genuine understanding takes place without the need to wear any masks. These reasons why i go to meetings are also the reasons i come here daily.

It's unfortunate that what happened at that meeting happened. i encourage you to find meetings where there is a bit more maturity and compassion shown to anyone who walks in that door and sits down. If you chose to go back to that meeting, perhaps you could ask those people who have a problem with you being there how anonymity plays a part in our recovery?
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Old 10-10-2009, 11:48 AM
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We need to realize that there are "Herds within the Herd". This is a double edged sword because we can find a herd that we feel most comfortable around yet we can wander into the wrong herd in our first attempt at AA leaving a bad feeling for AA as a whole.
As one "Recovers" he grows. As he grows, he outgrows the herd he felt he belongs in and moves on to join the next herd. The process is repeated as we grow. This is a lifelong process since there is no pinacle.
Another drawback to the herd is that sometimes they develop into cliques where you are shunned if you aren't "one of them" first and secondly an alcoholic or addict. Remember "Personality before Principles" applies here and all other traditions get tossed out just the same except #4 that says you can do whatever you want.
There are meetings specifically geared towards certain groups of people. Cops, Veterans. BGLT, Black, Hispanic or Spanish Speaking, Men, Women etc.. and this is published as fact. Then there are the unanounced and unpublished groups such as the snot nosed no book reading slogan slinging misfits that don't take steps. These are the ones that you find by accident and give AA/NA a black eye. You may have stumbled into one. Although different, they mean well.
So when you were told about another meeting that would be more apt to suit you it may have been coming from the heart.
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Old 10-10-2009, 01:22 PM
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Herennow... What a disaster! As an AA, I am infuriated by the people you described...

These are sick people who, in addition to being sick, are ungrateful slobs...

I am a pretty high profile guy in a small town environment and I can almost expect that someone I know will be in the room... Once I counted four, maybe five at one medium sized meeting... I've lived here for going on 24 years...

At my home group there are a couple of my clients who attend regularly... When I first walked through those doors.... They.... made.... me.... feel.... soooo..... welcome..... In fact, I'm choking up a bit now thinking about it.... I was just out of rehab, hobbled with shame, nervous about who I would see.... They stayed late after the meeting to talk to and welcome me.... they reassured me that it was ANONYMOUS.... When I celebrate my first year last month one made the cupcakes I had complimented her on at the christmas party, the other a card and a small box of chocolates.... (I didn't know they did that, but sometimes I guess...)

This was not a "professionals" meeting... there is one about 40 minutes away... but I don't like it... it's like group therapy.... they read something out of the Daily Afflictions and then set out in round robin fashion and do a little group therapy.... NO THANX.... They don't even read the 12 steps, or the preamble... just the serenity prayer at the end.

I want the message of AA... I want to see people who have what I want.... many of them are not so-called professionals.

The more I read about some of the experiences people have at AA meetings, the more I understand why some here at SR either don't go or are critical of AA where they live.

Originally Posted by Pinkcuda View Post

If they had opened the book they would understand that alcoholism and addiction do not discriminate. Skid Row Bums and First Ladies of The United States are afflicted. Once they walk into a meeting they become just another drunk looking for help amongst his/her own kind.
Oh BTW... Pinkcuda hit it right on the nailhead... Anonymous doesn't just mean private.... It means that someone like a fancy lawyer or doctor can sit across the table from a street sweeper and have everything that is important and relevant in common.... recovery from alcoholism and the message of AA....

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Old 10-10-2009, 03:15 PM
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From what I understand your experience is most unusual, and certainly appalling. I don't attend meetings, but have in the past. The tactless behavior of the people you encountered, & the way they made you feel is shameful. To be discouraged from getting support and help is inexcusable. I've never heard of an AA meeting doing more harm than good. I hope you will try again & will find a better fit for your needs.
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Old 10-10-2009, 03:23 PM
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Hi herennow

I'm sorry you had a negative experience. Sometime I need to remind myself people are people - with lots of issues and me - but everyday I log on here and am reminded that people can be pretty wonderful too

I hope you won't be dissuaded from doing whatever you have to do to maintain your recovery

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Old 10-10-2009, 05:44 PM
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I am a professional in a very small, narrow minded community. I cannot go to AA for that very reason. In my profession, if someone found out I was alcoholic, I would probably be fired, if they could find a way to do it.

With that being said, I am not anti-AA. If I am ever in a different community and am in the situation that I could attend a meeting, I would certainly do it. If I ever feel my sobriety is in imminent danger, I will drive to find a meeting.

People can be closed matter what organization they belong to! If you like meetings....keep going until you find the one that fits you.

I wish you well.
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Old 10-10-2009, 07:34 PM
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I'm with everyone else in AA here - livid at the fact that your first meeting was such a disaster. But unfortunately, people in AA are like everyone else. They can be total idiots. Fortunately they seem to congregate in one home group so they're easy to avoid. Now you know where they are.

Please don't equate the experience as a reflection of AA as a whole. That would be like judging a movie theater by one lousy movie you saw there. AA is a program of recovery consisting of 12 simple steps. It's far more than just a bunch of jerks sitting around drinking coffee, but unfortunately too many people encounter just such a scenario at their first meeting. They, like you, are turned off from the program by a few people they first encounter.

I would suggest that you try another meeting, realizing that may not be too easy if you live in a small town. Also be aware that there are a lot of "Special Purpose Groups" which aren't officially part of AA but use the same 12 step program. Doctors, lawyers, police, etc. all have their own groups for obvious reasons. I don't know what your occupation (or gender) is, but I'd guess that somewhere in your area there exists a Special Purpose Group where you might feel more comfortable. You could also check out a woman's/mens meeting, as these are generally more welcoming than an open meeting.

In any event, take a deep breath and recognize that your experience wasn't atypical of AA. Try a few more meetings before you decide if the program's for you, keeping the same open mind that you had in the last fiasco. And if you decide that AA isn't for you, then at least you made a concerted effort to learn about it rather than being blinded by one bad experience.
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:43 PM
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I am so sorry that happened to you. That is most frustrating. I have been to around 10 meetings and it really has been a mixed bag. At so many of them, I kept waiting for this abounding amount of love to be hurled at me, like I hear people sharing about both in the meetings and on this board. Unfortunately, that only happened to me once. Other times I had to fend off creepy men or try and talk to women who wouldn't talk back.

I guess to a large extent it is the luck of the draw and an issue of fit. For me, AA just has never, ever fit. And I have tried over and over— going to the same meeting that I liked, going to different meetings, etc. On top of it all the program itself never really worked for me. And ultimately that is okay. You can work a strong recovery without AA. And I think you can work a strong recovery without fellowship. Fellowship probably is a necessity for a lot of people and just doesn't work for some.

These are the two things that I have found really helpful and neither requires any sort of group:

1. The most: one-on-one therapy.
2. Mindfulness practice— meditation.

Those are just two other suggestions to jump start change. Reading also helped me a lot, getting involved in a new exercise program, etc.
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Old 10-10-2009, 10:35 PM
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Heren, go to different meetings.
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