I went to my first AA meeting last night. 6:15. Women’s 12&12. A 12&12 was not my first choice for a first meeting, objectively speaking, but I knew it didn’t matter. I knew I would hear what I needed to hear no matter what kind of meeting it was. And I did.
I walked in early while they were still setting up, just a few gals. I helped unfold the tables and chairs and get everything going while they all introduced themselves to me. More women started coming in the door; hugs and smiles and “good to see you’s” were exchanged between those who knew one another. For just a moment, I had the thought that I wanted to run, not walk, to the nearest exit. And I swear it was not because I thought “oh my god, AA, I can’t do this,” it was really because “oh my god, it’s all women and I get jittery around so many women.” But the moment passed and I stayed.
And really, deep down, I knew I wanted one that was all women. With my crying all day yesterday, I just didn’t want to walk into a more masculine group with that going on, with my heart on my sleeve. Men are awesome in their own way and I don’t mean to say that they aren’t okay to cry with – my dad and Steve cried/cry freely so I hold no stereotypes – but… well, you know what I’m getting at. It’s different with all women.
I sat and listened to the opening. I said the Serenity Prayer. Everything so familiar and yet so jolting, so moving. All the introductory paragraphs still perfectly memorized from my childhood (seriously, I was reciting the welcome and the steps along with the person reading, silently in my head). But I recognized myself in the words in a way I never had before. That’s putting it lightly.
Then we read the topic for the evening. Step 8. “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” As we read the pages out of the 12&12 out loud, about what harm really means, I kept shaking my head in amazement and amusement. HOW DOES THIS BOOK KNOW ME SO WELL?!? GET OUTTA MY HEAD! I had to laugh.
Anyway, it was awesome. They were all incredibly welcoming and warm. When they asked if I wanted to say anything, I said I thought I should just listen (I know that’s what newcomers “should” do so that’s what I said) but then I went on and told them that when a couple of them had said “welcome home” to me that it meant even more than they probably thought because I grew up here and my dad had so many years and it really did feel like home, all over again, but from a shockingly different perspective. I said I was stunned at how much I recognized myself in the pages. And that was all. I’ll go back next week.
There’s another meeting tonight, men and women, also right near home, a Big Book study. When I told my sister I was going to go to that, she asked if I had a Big Book. I said yes, I have dad’s on my shelf.
I went home from the meeting last night and opened it up. It’s almost 40 years old. He put this leather cover on it that has the Serenity Prayer inscribed on the front and a little slot where you put your most current chip. So I have this nice gold XXXII chip in there (He was sober from January 1970 to April 2003 when he died; I think my mom has his XXXIII). I looked through the first third of it, the familiar parts, a page here, a page there, and noticed he had written some notes in the margins and highlighted some stuff over the years…
And I know I should probably have my own. I think he’d want me to, I think most AA’s would tell me to as well. But I like looking at his right now. It’s comforting.
I’m tired today. Feeling good overall. A little scared about how this will change me, and how this will change me and Steve. But I can’t think about that at the moment, I know I can’t. And that’s it for now.