Smiling, joking, and making eye contact – you AA’ers were hard to take!

I had recently been admitted in outpatient treatment, and as part of the treatment plan I was told I needed to attend a minimum of two AA meetings per week.

I don’t have a clear memory of my very first a meeting, but rather a series of recollections of the first few I attended.

Even more importantly to me at the time, it was also a requirement to get my insurance to pay for the treatment. The first few meetings I attended were in a large meeting place near where I worked. I remember the meetings being very large – probably around 30 to 40 people. Looking back I think I was more comfortable in IOP (Intensive Outpatient) because everybody was new in sobriety just like I was.

But in the those first few AA meetings, I feel really uncomfortable – I just had a hard time interacting with a large group of people that were so open, welcoming and seemingly happy.  I was none of those things. You AAers were hard to take!

Smiling, joking, and making eye contact – I hated it.  I just wanted to go in, get my slip signed and not say anything.  I spent the majority of time in those first few meetings hoping that I wouldn’t get called on, and at the same time, trying to plan exactly what I was going to say so I would come across as having it all figured out.

After a few meetings, I ran into somebody from treatment who had found a meeting close to where he lived. I met him there the next night and that moment everything changed. At that meeting, I felt immediately at home. It was a much smaller meeting, and people there had a lot of sober time and I knew right away that I could learn a great deal about being sober from the people there.

I soon learned it was a group that consisted of a number of different meetings held throughout the week (sound familiar?).  It was there that I made lifelong friendships and learned through fellowship and service, the difference between a group and a meeting. Now many years later I still occasionally stumble upon meetings that feel very much today like those first few did years ago. When I do find myself in those types of meetings, I try to make sure I bring a little of my home group with me and welcome newcomers in the way I was welcomed when I was new.

— Bruce

What do you remember from your first meeting?