First Day of Sobriety September 1st, 1980
My first day of sobriety was an eye-opener. When I walked into my first meeting of AA, I was greeted by people that seemed almost "too happy". What the hell was going on? I was expecting a crowd of misfits like me...well, they were misfits but sober misfits! The feeling of "never belonging" was always ingrained into my psyche since I can remember. I later learned that everyone in that room, one time or another, felt like they didn't belong. One of the greeters at the door could sense my apprehension in going to a meeting and offered some really good advice to this newcomer. He said simply, "take a seat, in the back, don't say anything, and just listen to what other alcoholics were saying. That was great advice because it took the pressure off me. I was afraid to share but soon also learned that sharing was an option. The first impression I had of the meeting was that nobody really was there to judge. Mostly, the people that did share offered suggestions by sharing their hopes, strengths and experiences. Again, they weren't throwing guilt trips on everyone nor did they stand on a soapbox and exclaim how great they were! Humility at it's best! Story time took on a new meaning. The individual shares had many elements of great eloquence; humor, drama, humility, and a sense of purpose. While listening to several speakers that had been called upon by the meeting leader, I noticed that there was a strong comradery amongst fellow alcoholics. I could easily identify with the mindset and was actually feeling more comfortable as the night progressed. This wasn't a lecture series. It was an opportunity to learn from other's mistakes and find a solution regarding sobriety. After all, that was the reason I was there! Although I didn't share, I was able to speak with a few people after the meeting. They told me to "keep coming back" which is an over-used but effective cliché. The meeting itself had a very large gathering, probably close to two-hundred people altogether. I felt safety-in-numbers and not uneasy about attending since I was in the throes of the back row. It's interesting to note, that I first started attending meetings in the back of the room. As I became more comfortable with many meetings (ninety meetings in ninety days was suggested), I soon found myself moving closer and closer to the front. Everyone made me feel at home with my kind of people. There was a ton of laughter to be heard as the "drunkalogues", as they are called, were quite amusing. Although the drunkalogues were entertaining, I was there to learn about sobriety--and how to achieve sobriety. I heard many amazing stories and how some reached their own epiphany as a result of suffering for too long. Yes, many were "sick and tired" of being "sick and tired". I wanted what they had! A lasting sobriety, one day at a time. That concept of one day at a time is what convinced me that I could work this program of AA. To digress somewhat, I remember going to an "drug and alcohol therapist" at the urging of my ex wife. His treatment modality was based on "reality therapy" which, in reality, did not work for me. The therapist's approach was to tear down my already low self-esteem and try to build me up. He intimated me and made me feel more worthless that I already had felt. His blatant command was, "You will have to stop drinking FOREVER!". It wasn't a suggestion but a command and one that I challenged. To me, forever meant a very long, long time and way too long to consider abstaining from alcohol.. Being the alcoholic personality that I am, I decided to show up at the next appointment drunk. The therapist said I was sabotaging therapy and refused to see me again. What a relief that was! I showed him, didn't I! Now going back to that first meeting of AA...no-one was greater than nor less than anyone else. It was a level playing field for once. Most everyone there wanted to be sober; if not, they were free to leave. I wasn't told to stop drinking forever...it was one day at a time--a GREAT concept! Eventually those single days would flourish into weeks, months and years. Sobriety is there if you want it badly enough but there are steps to be learned and a desire to stop drinking. At the age of twenty eight, after having fifteen years of practicing alcoholism, I was ready to begin a program of recovery. It's never too late.