15 Aug Find Great Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings and Make Them Yours
Finding great Alcoholics Anonymous meetings can help bolster your program and expand your recovery network. But absorbing your self into an already-established fellowship can be intimidating. Here’s how to find a great balance of meetings by getting involved.
There are more than a few sponsors out there who advocate “90 in 90,” referring to attending a meeting every day for the first three months. To a newcomer, this may seem like a daunting if not unnecessary requirement. But there are a great many good reasons as to why attending a meeting every day can benefit a newcomer tremendously in their first few months of sobriety, not the least of which is to get to know different meetings.
Attending a meeting every day, while beneficial for obvious reasons, is a great way to expand your fellowship and try out new meetings each day of the week. Didn’t like your 7 o’clock last Tuesday? Try a noon meeting the following week. Meetings at the same venue with the same people day-after-day? Maybe only attend that meeting hall once a week.
Personally, going to a meeting every day for the first year of my sobriety proved instrumental by the time I left aftercare. I am not saying everyone needs to do this, but it gave me the ability to have a support system outside of the people I lived with. Though I do not attend this many meetings now, I know when and where a meeting is in my neighborhood every single day.
It took me a good deal of time to understand what all the hubbub was about regarding commitments. It was drilled into my head early on that it was important, but I didn’t realize the reasoning until I had actually kept a commitment for an extended period of time.
It was suggested as an act of humility that I only get cleanup commitments. In my first nine months I had four. Coffee cleanup, cigarette cleanup, and two indoor cleanup commitments were on my non-existent AA resume. For a long time I was bitter, having to clean up after people who came, took what they needed from the meeting and left their Starbucks cups behind. I didn’t understand it and was blinded by resentment.
Slowly, a certain pride began to grow in me at each of these meetings. I began to listen when people would come up to me and thank me for my time. Newcomers would talk to me because they knew I would be there the next week. Some even offered to help, because they could see that I was getting something out of it. My fellowship grew, and I made new friends because I was always the last one at the meeting helping the secretary lock up.
Get a Home Group
I didn’t have a strong understanding of what a home group was for a while, as I consistently went to mostly the same meetings every week as part of my aftercare program. But when my third (yes, third) sponsor began working with me when I had nine months, he made it a point that I attended his home group where his own sponsor also attended.
Once again, I was a bit upset at this prospect. Not only was this particular meeting far away, but it was on a Monday night, an hour and a half long, no break, not to mention: also a stag meeting. I was not excited about the prospect of attending every week to say the least. I couldn’t have been more judgmental and incorrect in my contempt. Appendix II was about to make a lot more sense.
My Monday stag home group is now – hands down – my absolute favorite meeting. I have been going for over one year at this point and look forward to it at the beginning of every week. How did my thinking change? The fellowship. I got involved. I showed up every week and had a different conversation with a different person before and after the meeting. I got to know each and every person and their stories. I took my year cake there, I got a commitment, and I showed up the way the other members showed up for me. I made it mine.
“Get in the car.”
The most poignant and practical advice I ever received was from my grand sponsor, when he told me to “Just get in the car.” When someone reaches their hand out, reach back. When someone invites you to a meeting, go with them. When someone asks you for a ride, take them. Saying yes to any and all AA requests is the best thing you can do for yourself and others and will help you find the best meetings to fit your program.
We suffer from a disease of perception. Just like my attitude changed towards my home group, it has also changed concerning living a life of spirituality in sobriety. Priding myself as an intellectual and being able to problem solve was never going to be a solution to my problem, I needed to act my way into right thinking. Attending and getting involved in meetings was a huge part of that.