AA is about community, relating, and hope?

20 Aug

1:09 pm

So, I went to an AA meeting down here on Sunday morning (yesterday) at 8 am. Wow. Haven’t been up that early in a long time, actually, and it felt great. Long day, though, of three beaches, a chili cook off, and friends over. 🙂

Anyway, the AA meeting was…good. I mean, I’ve been to meetings before, and my experience has been up and down. The first time it was to women’s meetings in [cold east coast city], the second, to a few meetings in [cold west coast city]. The meetings in [cold east coast city] were awakening and totally refreshing, unless I’m remembering them with rose-colored glasses. At the time, I was an AA virgin. I was a total hot mess, was barely hanging on during my second semester of grad school, and had NEVER gone so far and so bad let alone admitted to or talked about my drinking problem and increasingly horrendous blackouts and hangovers (started to have full-blown, trip-to-the-ER panic attacks). But, I thought the Big Book was ridiculous, and frankly, wasn’t willing to admit that I needed to quit drinking. That was in 2006.

Fast forward to last year, when I tried again to go to AA meetings in [cold west coast city]. They were horrible, just like a lot of social gatherings in that part of the country can be. I’ve lived there for a grand total of 8 years, and I’ve often felt that it is one of the most *superficially* nice places on the planet. When it comes down to it, though, people tend to adopt this holier-than-thou attitude, stay in their cliques, and/or are antisocial. I felt mostly unwelcome — sometimes actively so — at AA meetings there.

Long story short, however, it’s not really about the people or the meeting anymore, it’s about my desire to not drink. The people seemed way nicer at this meeting on Sunday, it really helped to have my boyfriend there with me, and well, most of the ex-drunks were older (like, 50s and 60s and 70s?) so I think the “fresh blood” element worked to my advantage. It’s a small community here, too, so maybe that made the difference in people being less formal and me feeling more welcome. Or, maybe I’ve just grown up a bit and gotten further along on my road toward/of sobriety?

The thing that struck me was not really why or how or whether AA works, or if the 12 steps are beneficial to maintaining long-term sobriety, but how similar these people’s problems with drinking were to mine and how similar the actual progression of the “disease” hit them. It’s the SAME EXACT THING for me, yet I STILL walk around feeling — after over a decade — that I’m the ONLY ONE. The only one feeling this way when I drink, the only one feeling horrible and guilty and *haunted* (one woman used this exact word to describe her feelings of remorse re: her blackout shenanigans) by what I’ve done while blacked out, the only one being reckless and self-destructive and not understanding why but doing it anyway.

I don’t know if I’ll go again, but my desire to quit is as strong as my fear of what will happen if I drink, so…

I had two issues with the meeting:

1. It does seem like every single person in the “room” ended their share (we were supposed to share on “service” and our concept/experience with service — I shared about volunteering in [beautiful island] and my sense of purpose down there practically killing any and all craving to drink) with congratulating AA. Like, they couldn’t stop talking about how great and fantastic and wonderful AA is. I was like, Come on, really? Then again, they talked of their own initial feelings of doubt, arrogance, and self-loathing at the beginning of their participation in AA, so…maybe I, too, just need to “let go and let God.” 😉 NOT!

2. I would not be not drinking if I didn’t want to not drink. I think what is different for me now is the fact that I really don’t want to drink anymore because, frankly, it doesn’t work anymore. It is simply NOT AN OPTION. AA won’t, in my perhaps ill-informed opinion, give you the desire to quit. BUT, what I now see AA as being good if not great at doing is giving you a sense of community, of belonging, of shared experience to help you keep convincing yourself that drinking doesn’t work for you anymore.

In talking with a few people after the meeting, I literally could have been inside their bodies talking about my drinking problem as they were talking about theirs toward the end — that’s how physically, emotionally, and psychologically the same it seems to be for not just us, but everyone who drinks to their end point. The truth is, I am so not alone, so not special, and so…relieved and hopeful to know this. I’m somehow sort of finally convinced that perhaps the confusion, panic/fear, and anger that overtakes me while blacked out is not ME but is, actually, the booze. Perhaps this substance just does the same old thing to everyone? It seems obvious, I’m sure, to nondrinkers, but…well, booze feels intertwined with my personality, my moods, my experiences and therefore, myself. Possibly I can untangle the two and move on with my life? So, yes, I think AA might actually be a good thing when it comes to fighting cravings and “hauntings” that only people who have reached the end of their drinking road can actually particularly relate to.

(We also spent a good amount of time at a chili cook off down here yesterday, and it was hot as a mofo on that beach. Yet, it seemed that quite a few peeps were getting drunk. EVEN IF I COULD DRINK, I can’t even imagine doing so in 100-degree heat…and then having to deal with the hangover and the sunburn? SO NOT WORTH IT.)

Thanks to my readers, I appreciate you guys listening to my ramblings…on day three and finally feeling somewhat not hung over. 🙂

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12 Responses to “AA is about community, relating, and hope?”

  1. LemonWater4MePleeze August 20, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    You are truly not alone, even though it feels that way at times. I could have written your post regarding the guilt, remorse and general crappy feelings that come along with drinking for me. I am not an everyday drinker, but do tend to binge on weekends and have noticed it happening more and more often. I told my husband this morning that I don’t think that drinking is an option for me anymore. Today is my 1st day. I don’t know much about AA or anything like that and I don’t really want to go to any sort of meeting. It is really as simple as NOT doing it. I just have to constantly and continually remind myself of why I am NOT doing it. I know that you understand. I’m glad that you are feeling better and did at least get a sense of reassurance from your meeting.

    • drunkydrunkgirl August 20, 2012 at 7:20 pm #

      Hi, LemonWater,
      Thanks for reading and your comment! I thought it was as simple as not drinking, too, but I am haunted and needled by all the things I’ve done, friends I’ve lost, even family members that look at me differently, maybe judge me and are still angry? It helped to hear someone say that out loud, and I was taken off guard cuz I wasn’t expecting her to literally speak my thoughts. I think that this is where not necessarily AA/the 12 steps might help me, but just that sense of community and having people who GET IT there for you when you need them.

      • LemonWater4MePleeze August 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

        There are a lot of things that I regret as well, but if there is one thing that I know for sure it is that we have to let go of all of that. If we don’t, we will never succeed in not drinking–it just makes all of that easier to handle. Thankfully, everyday is a new chance to do better and that is what I intend to do. For me, it really is simple I quit smoking 10 years ago because I chose to not do it anymore. I quit drinking 12 pops a day because I chose to not do it anymore. I just have to make the same commitment with booze.

      • drunkydrunkgirl August 23, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

        True, but it’s hard to let go when the people you’re trying to let go from are still holding a grudge. Yes, a new day is always a new day to be better, improve, do more, not drink. I think quitting cigs is different from quitting soda is different from quitting booze. Everyone is different in how they handle it, but I guess for me, finding a group of people who have already been where I’m at, and who know how to handle it, well, it might actually make a positive difference in staying sober and changing my attitude toward sobriety. Sure, I can just stop drinking, but does that truly help me change what made me drink in the first place? One-on-one therapy has helped me, but again, unless your shrink is a recovering addict, it’s really a no-go when it comes to actually, really relating to me and my sober journey.

  2. mikearmour63 August 21, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    Dear DDG,

    It sounds like you really identify with the alchies at AA. It sounds like alcohol is not ‘working’ for you anymore. Your boyfriend is beside you in this part of your journey, so here is how I relate to you.

    My girlfriend dragged me into AA nearly seven years ago and it took me 2.5 years of agonizing relapses to put down my last drink. I was dying with liver damage and yet could not ‘get’ the spirituality required to ‘do’ the program.

    So, here is my tip for what it’s worth. If you have patience and an open mind, you can save your life with the help of others. The others are the people in AA who have been before you and a Higher Power of your own choice. ((I’m now a Buddhist)

    You can’t do it alone and no one but a recovered alcoholic knows how you fee and how to get better.

    I love your writing, and I love your honesty. Go and get well. You’ll love it.

    Love alwaz,
    Mike.
    p,s, Lemonwater, keep coming back!

    • drunkydrunkgirl August 23, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

      Hi, Mike,
      I really loved your comment, so thank you! I think you nailed it on the head: with the help of others. That’s what AA is about, and even though it was and is staring me in the face, it didn’t quite register before. Help is there, help is what might, if I give it a shot, HELP me! LOL I’m interested in exploring the concept of a Higher Power in a blog post — is it the deep me within my ego, my deceased grandpa talking inside my head, a god, some actual higher consciousness?

      I’m not loving this bumpy ride, physically, toward getting well, but I KNOW it has to improve! 🙂

  3. Porkchop August 21, 2012 at 3:20 am #

    Glad you made it there and hope you go back. I agree, AA doesn’t give you the desire to quit and it will only be helpful to you if you really want to stop. I’m glad you are seeing some of the benefits of attending. Keep it up girl, you’re doing great!

    • drunkydrunkgirl August 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm #

      Thanks! Yes, I think I’ll give AA a shot once I settle down somewhere (soon). Meantime, I’m still sober, and it’s been what, five days? Woo hoo!

  4. Chicago August 21, 2012 at 4:21 am #

    You sound alive and hopeful again, and that is contagious. Good job girl. PS, your characterization of SF is dead on. I lived there for 8 years and never felt comfortable or “home”. Snobbish, nobody looks at each other or talks, cold place. Ugh. Glad you are somewhere warm and happy as you make your way this time around!

    • drunkydrunkgirl August 23, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

      Thanks! Yup, I am so much more alive when I’m on track and not hung over. Man, totally right on about SF, eh? It’s a bizarre place, if you ask me. And the cold, foggy weather seeps into your bones, your heart, your mind. These days, it’s become even more elitist and money-centric than ever. I never understood why so many people LOVE that town. Granted, there was a time when I did, but it was for oh, the first 2 years (out of 8) that I was there — the rest I spent either going insane or trying to leave! LOL Hope all is well with you!

  5. Rashetta Fairnot September 10, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    Good Afternoon,
    My name is Rashetta Fairnot, and I am part of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment’s (CSAT) Recovery Month team within the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). I appreciate you sharing your personal recovery journey with your readers. I especially enjoyed reading this post, “AA Is About Community, Relating, and Hope?,” which discussed your previous AA meeting experiences and how in a recent AA meeting you realized that the other people in attendance were dealing with similar feelings you face in your recovery journey.

    As part of SAMHSA, National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) recognizes and lauds the gains made by individuals in recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders. It also recognizes the efforts of treatment and service providers and families who support those in recovery. Although Recovery Month is observed in September, we celebrate throughout the year by spreading the word that behavioral health is essential to health, prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover!
    I invite you to take and share SAMHSA’s Pledge 4 Recovery, where you can pledge your support for prevention of mental and substance use disorders, individuals in recovery, and programs that provide resources to those in recovery and their loved ones. As well, Recovery Month e-cards in English and Spanish are available to honor a recovery anniversary, congratulate someone on his or her success, say thank you for support you have received, or just drop a thinking-of-you note to someone you care about in recovery. I thought you may like to pledge your support or send an e-card, and share these opportunities with your readers. You can find out more about us, how to get involved, the resources that we provide, and recovery events and news on our website- RecoveryMonth.gov. I also welcome you to connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
    Thanks again for sharing your personal story! I look forward to keeping up with your blog.
    Best,
    Rashetta

    • Drunky Drunk Girl September 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

      Hi, Rashetta,
      Thanks so much for your comment and kinds words! Yes, recovery works (well, so far…not knockin’ on any wood, though!). I would love to link to your web site from my blog — first time I heard about it, so I’m sure others will be happy to know, too. Thanks for reading…

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