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The First Meeting

As a relative newcomer to AA, with just under 10 months’ sobriety under my belt, it is somewhat easy for me to look back on my AA journey so far, and at the same time be able to appreciate that it feels like a lifetime ago since my journey began.

In some ways, it was a lifetime ago, as AA has given me a whole new life, one which I couldn’t have imagined before I first walked in the door. My first meeting was on Hogmanay, an irony which isn’t lost on me now, as it signalled the start of not only a new year for me, but a whole new way of being. I was at my lowest point and truthfully, I came to AA only when I was out of other options. This was my last resort; at the age of 32 I had already reached my rock bottom, and then went lower… and lower still. I was totally unable to see a way out of the mess which I had created, to see beyond the constant chaos which my life had become, and had very much reached the end of my road.

I had initially scoffed at the idea of AA. The image of drab halls filled with other people’s misery and desperation didn’t align with the way I viewed myself – my alcoholic ego was still very much inflated. I couldn’t see that I was the very person who should be seeking the sanity that could be found within the walls of AA.

In fact, I didn’t even consider myself to be a real alcoholic, I just drank too much…all the time. However, out of options, there I was on that rainy Hogmanay morning, being welcomed with open arms and kind words by people who were just like me. As I sat in a daze and
struggled to take everything in amongst my tears, which had flowed freely for the first time in a long time, my overwhelming feeling was of relief – relief to have finally admitted my alcoholism, relief at making it through the doors of my first meeting, but more so the feeling that I was not alone. Although I was lucky enough to have supportive friends and family, to whom I am eternally grateful, I was now surrounded by others who felt what I felt, who wanted to support and help each other, and who wanted to extend this gift of help to me.

It is only through looking back on it now that I can appreciate how momentous this first meeting really was. To look back on it without the haze of fear and anxiety, trepidation and shame, I can see that this was the first time I was truly accepted for who I was, and allowed myself to accept that I suffered from an illness. I wasn’t mad, bad, weak or a lost cause – I had an illness, an illness which I was finally beginning to treat. That was the day that my life turned around and I haven’t looked back. That’s not to say there haven’t been bad days and tough times throughout my path to recovery, but anything I’ve had to deal with has been made that bit easier and manageable through having the unwavering support of my AA fellows, with whom I am lucky enough to share this path. All of my preconceptions and misinformed judgements of AA have crumbled, and been replaced with hope, pride and gratitude for this organisation which not only gave me back my life, but gave me a life which was better than I could have hoped for in my darkest days.

Natalie C
Bearsden Monday Night Big Book (Sobriety and Beyond)