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Afraid of meetings

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:02 pm
by thegirlonthetrain
hello everyone. My name is Kaity and I am an alcoholic. I have been trying to work through my feelings and actions relating to alcohol for about two years. This past June I finally asked for help and went to my first AA meeting. I remained sober for 21 days which is the longest I've gone without drinking since I was 15. I felt incredibly anxious and uncomfortable at every meeting I went to and only did so much as introduce myself to the group twice. The last meeting I attended was the first one I went to all by myself. I have family members in the program who attended the previous ones with me (as I met people in the program, they would sometimes go with me also). I saw two men I went to high school with in that last meeting and I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. I was mortified and ashamed to be seen there. I realize logically, this makes no sense as they are dealing with the same issues I am but that didn't help calm my nerves or anxiety. I left that meeting and never went back. I went back to drinking just days later. Fast forward to today, I am sick of drinking and it's ruining my life. My friends are all heavy drinkers and none of my friends or family feel that I have a drinking problem - this is mainly because I am good about hiding it. I have not drank in 24 hours (I generally take a day or two off inbetween my drinking days) but I know that I need to face the facts and do something about it. I am very fearful of speaking in front of a group and the feelings of discomfort I experienced during my last attempt at AA are driving me away from taking the steps I know I need to. I have tried to stop on my own and have continued to fail. Just posting for some insight or encouragement. Thanks.

Re: Afraid of meetings

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:57 pm
by avaneesh912
Welcome Kaity, to e-aa. Like you, I would need a minimum of six pack to lose my inhibitions. But then alcohol stopped working. You hear in the rooms, the same person will drink. Which is absolutely true.

If you look at the wording just after "There is a solution":

Almost none of us liked the self- searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation.

Almost everybody who enters AA, initially has this intention of beating it without help but deep inside, we know, we couldn't. You don't have to utter a word, but you can always find a sponsor whom you can relate with and have them help you work the 12 steps and get over your fear.

Re: Afraid of meetings

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2016 7:43 pm
by 4thDimension
Hi Kaity,


I understand what you're saying about feeling uncomfortable at meetings. I felt the same way (and that was 30 years ago). Eventually, someone gave me some good advice and I'll add some of my own experiences here. 1. Find a meeting where you feel comfortable (at least a little). Some meetings have as few as 6 people. You might try a women's meeting. Just shop around, try different meetings. 2. You don't have to say anything. You can go to meetings, say your name and "pass". You can do that for months if you like. 3. Try to get to the meetings early. See if you can help set up coffee, or chairs, just something to help you integrate into the meeting and make friends. As soon as you have a friend or two, you'll feel more comfortable. 4. Stay after the meeting for 15 minutes to chat, or help clean up, store chairs. Again, this will help you feel part of the group and make some friends. 5. If a group goes out to eat after the meeting, try to go too. Even if you're not hungry, get some coffee - this is a very easy way to meet and get to know people. And actually it's a lot of fun. 6. Grab group phone list, or get some phone numbers and call some of those folks, probably best to call females. You don't need a reason to call, and they will appreciate the call. Don't forget to get a sponsor who get's you into the steps.

Sobriety is incredible! It just keeps getting better. Best wishes to you!

Re: Afraid of meetings

Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 5:27 am
by whipping post
Hello and welcome,

4thDimension nailed what worked for me. The guy who took me to my first meeting suggested that it was ok to just listen and really focus on what others were sharing. I could barely eeek out an introduction without bawling I was so full of shame, anxiety, and fear. I went to every local meeting and found one I was comfortable in and started helping. Now those two meetings a week are my break in a busy life. When I get there I relax almost instantly.

As far as seeing people you know just power through it. I ran into two guys I knew and they have been a huge inspiration.

You don't have to live this way any longer. Get busy, work the steps, and get comfortable.

Re: Afraid of meetings

Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 6:08 am
by Chelle
Hi Kathy,
I too felt very uncomfortable at my first meetings. I don't think I have ever talked to anyone who wasn't, so its pretty normal. I was drying out, looked terrible, terrified and everyone seemed so put together. The last couple of years of my drinking, I rarely left the house and isolated myself.

As for people knowing you, that's ok. One of my first meetings, a lady came up and recognized me from a previous job, and a very not so good, unflattering newspaper headline. I was mortified, but I kept going back, today we are very close.

It is ok to just sit back and listen. I was flooded with ladies coming up, introducing themselves and they gave me a phone list. There was an older woman that I related to very much and although we had only ever said "hello", I called her and asked her to show me how she got sober. I'm not one to just call a stranger, but I was desperate. She had been around a long time, knew a lot of the ladies, and my network started to grow.I began feeling more comfortable as time went on. I helped her clean our home group, doing coffee and having lunch with some of them.Just like with most things, the more you do them, the easier it gets. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone or I would of never gotten sober.

Hang in there and keep coming back. I too could only string together a coulple days or weeks, but once I fully committed myself to AA I haven't had to take a drink :D

Re: Afraid of meetings

Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 6:30 am
by Brock
Now those two meetings a week are my break in a busy life.
Those are the type of words I like newcomers to hear, and often when asked to speak I mention the two meetings a week I usually attend. Many others here say that two to three a week suits them fine, and that it has become something they enjoy and no longer view as a chore they have to do. I find it important to point out that the steps, particularly 10 & 11, are more what keeps us sober and happy than attending meetings.

When I first came I really disliked meetings as well, and because I saw some of the same people at every meeting who had years of sobriety, I got the wrong impression and believed that attending meetings was how we stayed sober. Once we do the steps and the obsession is gone we just live in the solution of 10 & 11, going along to meetings becomes a way to give back and practice step 12.

I agree with what others have said, you don't need to feel pressured to speak and can just say 'I pass' if asked, and also picking the meetings you feel most comfortable at. If you see someone who you relate to and feel more comfortable around you may ask for their assistance with the steps. We are dealing with human beings, and my experience is every now and them we meet one who is a little 'pushy,' the type who asks for your number and without you asking starts telling you what to do, if that happens a firm 'no thanks I will ask if I need your help,' will do the trick. Everyone at our meetings means well and there is nothing to fear, and one of the benefits of the steps is a great reduction in nervous anxiety, best of luck to you.

Re: Afraid of meetings

Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:42 am
by Robert R
Fear dominated my life for 56 years till I came to AA. In AA I learn't that the only thing I have to fear is my self will, when it runs riot bad things happen in my life. I had to go to meetings, listen, get a sponsor, work the steps to learn this and much more besides. Today there is no fear in my life.
Perhaps ask an AA member you trust to buddy you to meetings till you are confident in going along on your own.


Re: Afraid of meetings

Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 9:45 am
by OnPoint
Hi Kaity, welcome to e-aa. Feeling uncomfortable in meetings when are new to the program is completely normal. In fact, learning to survive that uncomfortable feeling can be a useful tool in sobriety. I drank for a lot of years because I was trying to make that uncomfortable feeling go away. In AA I learned to deal with it in another way. I learned to go up to people and say, "Hi, I'm really uncomfortable and I don't want to be here. Nobody threw me out. In fact they understood. I encourage you to find someone that you can talk to about how you feel. I really helped me.

Re: Afraid of meetings

Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:07 pm
by thegirlonthetrain
Thank you all for your kind words and advice. I think I may try a women's meeting this time around. I find the really big rooms pretty intimidating as I have a huge fear of public speaking in general, let alone talking about a topic that makes me not so proud of myself. Last time around, I went to a big book meeting that was pretty small and intimate and even though I was still completely out of my comfort zone, I remember that one not being as terrifying as the others. I have not drank since Saturday and am reading my big book tonight. I will look to see what women's meetings are available and try to conjure up the guts to go. Thank you everyone for listening. It means a lot.

Re: Afraid of meetings

Posted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:56 pm
by Layne
thegirlonthetrain wrote: Thank you everyone for listening. It means a lot.
Listening is how I got started on my sobriety journey and a part of how I stay on the path. Thank you for sharing. It means a lot.

Re: Afraid of meetings

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:20 am

I think we all feel uncomfortable at our first AA meetings. You should feel proud of yourself for taking that first big step, Nobody in that room is judging you. Everyone there needs help too.


Re: Afraid of meetings

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 10:45 am
by thegirlonthetrain
Thanks :)