So I realize the purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous is to stay…anonymous. So I won’t get into too much detail about the actual meeting, rather I will get into how it impacted me.
I went to my first AA meeting last night after a grueling 3 hour practice exam for my brokers license. I was already mentally drained at that point. When we pulled into the lot I felt my palms sweating and my heart racing. This was it. The moment that it all became real. The first step to really recovering and admitting I have a problem. I had no idea what to expect, having only seen AA meetings on TV. I walked timidly behind my S/O and sat at the first chair I saw around a circular table. They other occupants were relaxed and carefree looking and I was a ball of nervous energy. I felt like the elephant in the room. The bull in the china shop. I don’t know the serenity prayer so I awkwardly stared at my feet when everyone else chanted it together. I kept thinking “god, I want a drink.” I was even more confused when they handed me a pamphlet with a bunch of phone numbers hand written on the back. I fumbled my way through it though and even told a little bit of my story and at the end of the hour I felt like I was among friends. Strangers who knew exactly what I was going through and who LITERALLY applauded me for it being my first meeting…unlike the snide remarks I’ve had to endure from my friends on the other side of my life. It felt like some of the weight I had been carrying had been lifted. What I learned is this is a program. Just like with my college degree, I am going to have to work, and work very hard at it. It’s not a fight though, its a surrender. I need to completely throw myself into the program and surrender to my higher power to help get me through the 12 steps and keep going through them.
I have to ignore the people who have said to me “but you aren’t really an addict. You just like to party”. This was a big part of my first relapse. Just as I had started to embrace step one and put effort into being sober, my “friends” kept reassuring me that I’m not really addicted to alcohol or anything for that matter. “But B, you have a college degree and bought a house and go to work. You drink wine sometimes, you don’t have a problem.” This is exactly what an addict wants to hear. You are confirming what they have been trying to convince their hearts for a long time.
So if you are reading this, I assure you, I am an alcoholic. Trust my process, my program and my judgement. Even if you don’t believe I am an addict, believe that I truly want a better life for myself and that isn’t lying at the bottom of a Svedka bottle.
Other’s have gone far enough to say that “You didn’t have this problem until recently, what is happening in your life to make you lose control?” Ignorance is bliss and those that believe this has not been an ongoing battle my adult life are lucky to not know the internal suffering I have experienced at the hands of this disease. Just because I wasn’t ready to admit it to myself and my peers does not mean I wasn’t suffering. Just because rock bottom came now instead of 5 years ago, does not mean I wasn’t struggling then. Like most addicts I have just been a ticking time bomb, slowly but surely starting to expand and contract under the pressure and then. BOOM. It is not for anyone else to say what I have been feeling or what I have been doing because addicts are very good at disguising the magnitude of their problem.
Just because you saw me drink two glasses of wine at a dinner party doesn’t mean I have it under control… because I used to stop at the store and buy a whole bottle to down before bed on the way home. Just because I got up and worked under the guise I was “just tired” doesn’t mean I didn’t have a raging hangover. You think you know but you have no idea. Even if you are also an addict, you do not know each person’s individual story and what they are going through and therefore are in no position to speak on it.
I am ok with the fact I will lose some friendships and relationships. The only relationships I desire to keep are those that will help keep me clean and free. Happy and loved. Sober and safe.