Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

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Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby C.O » Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:21 pm

Hello. My name is Christer and I'm an alcoholic. Went to my first AA meeting ever today, after hesitating for a long time.

There were about 30 people in the room, and maybe 10 of them shared stories. Me, I'm one of those guys who really, passionately hate speaking in public. Especially when I'm sober, and especially in front of strangers. But anyway I managed to croak the required phrase "Hi, my name is..." etc. Heart racing, sweat flowing, voice shaking.

When the meeting was over, and my anxiety levels had returned to "normal", several people shook hands with me and said welcome to the group. One of them said it's ok to be terrified on your first meeting, don't worry about it, it gets easier with repetition.

One large, talkative guy introduced himself, had me sit down at a table and started preaching the 12-step gospel. Sort of like how they corner newcomers in some churces. I listened politely for about 30 minutes, trying to ask intelligent questions in return.

The guy was very friendly. A little too friendly for my comfort. He wouldn't stop squeezing my shoulder and wanted to hug as I left. As a straight man born with somewhat feminine good looks, I've occationally met other men who gave me suggestions. Not that I'm a homophobe or anything, but it's always very awkward, and the other guy sometimes gets nasty when I turn him down (politely; I'm not a jerk).

Am I just being paranoid? Maybe I completely misread the situation. Who would go to AA to hook up, in this day and age?
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby Layne » Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:45 pm

C.O wrote:Am I just being paranoid? Maybe I completely misread the situation. Who would go to AA to hook up, in this day and age?

Could be. Could be not.

AA is full of people that occupy the big real world. It is but a microcosm of that world. Far from perfect. It contains all kinds. Even so, the four walls are safer than outside. Inside the four walls nothing much can happen that is out of the ordinary. I look at all the different types of people as good training for me to interact with similar types when I walk out the door.

As to your take on your experience... could be, could be not. Either way, you made it through. How great is that!
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby C.O » Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:55 pm

Layne wrote:I look at all the different types of people as good training for me to interact with similar types when I walk out the door.

Yeah, that's probably the right way to see it. I've been a computer nerd all my life and mostly interact with other nerds. Less variation there than in the big world.

Layne wrote:Either way, you made it through. How great is that!

Thanks, it feels pretty great actually! Can't believe I actually went to that meeting...
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby Layne » Tue Feb 23, 2016 1:11 pm

C.O wrote: I've been a computer nerd all my life and mostly interact with other nerds. Less variation there than in the big world.

The longer I drank the smaller my world got. It used be parties, bar rooms, and drinking buddies. Then it became bar rooms and drinking buddies. Then drinking buddies. Then it was pretty much me, myself, and I. Talk about lack of variation.

While I still resemble the bumper sticker that reads "the more I am around people, the better I like my dog", it is getting better. I am certainly not the person that first walked into the rooms years ago. I am grateful for the change.
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby Brock » Tue Feb 23, 2016 1:14 pm

Welcome CO. We have had questions here from people who have had similar first meeting experiences. I believe almost anywhere you go you tend to run into an over exuberant person, and AA has a fair share.

I got a little 'stick' from some here when I said I don't like hugging, my method is to stick my hand out to shake if someone looks like they are coming in to hug. My advise is be polite but firm, we should all be left to decide for ourselves, who we might ask for assistance in understanding how it works, and nothing is wrong with saying if I need your help I will ask. The guy who said don't worry it gets easier with repetition said a good thing without being too pushy, that's the type I believe does the most good in AA. Please ask any questions as you go along, and best of luck.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby OnPoint » Tue Feb 23, 2016 1:19 pm

Christer, congrats on making it to your first meeting! It is possible that he intended something personal, but I think it is more likely that he is looking for someone to sponsor. There are people who live for AA and try to sponsor as many people as possible. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. My first sponsor hooked me at my first meeting by saying "How about if I be your temporary sponsor until you find someone you like better". A few months later we were talking and he mentioned proudly that he was sponsoring 14 people. Again, I'm not criticizing, he was a great sponsor who taught me to work the steps. It is just how some people are in AA.

In order to get a feel for what the group is like I suggest you talk to as many people in your group as possible. The best way to start a conversation in AA is to tell someone how you feel. Something like "Hi I'm Christer, I'm new and I feel uncomfortable here" should work fine. EVERYBODY in AA knows how that feels. Try to learn a few names and see who you click with. It might not be long before you are actually looking forward to going to meetings. Keep us posted on how it works out. :D
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby ezdzit247 » Tue Feb 23, 2016 1:42 pm

Hi Christer and welcome.

Congratulations on making the decision to go to your first AA meeting!

So glad you found this forum and posted your concerns about your experiences at the meeting.

It is customary in most AA meetings for the secretary or whoever is chairing the meeting to ask any newcomers in the room to identify themselves, but it is not mandatory that you comply with with this request. In fact, nothing in AA is mandatory or compulsory. AA has no rules. Everything is suggested. If you're an alcoholic, you are a member of AA if you say you are and can attend any meeting without having to identify yourself or say anything. That said, everyone in AA is at a different place in their recovery from alcoholism. There are and probably always will be some alcoholics who have trouble with boundaries and good manners, and tend to engage in boorish behavior, like forcing themselves on newcomers and preaching to them. It sounds like you encountered one of those kinds of AA members at the meeting you attended. I hope you will continue to explore what the AA fellowship and program can do to help you solve your drinking problem and try some other meetings. You have a right to feel safe in an AA meeting and if anyone is pushy and violates your personal space, you can be assertive and either excuse yourself and walk away or ask the meeting secretary for help in dealing with the situation.

Keep coming back....
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby C.O » Tue Feb 23, 2016 3:20 pm

Thanks for the welcomes and advice, everybody.

Layne wrote:The longer I drank the smaller my world got. It used be parties, bar rooms, and drinking buddies. Then it became bar rooms and drinking buddies. Then drinking buddies. Then it was pretty much me, myself, and I. Talk about lack of variation.

While I still resemble the bumper sticker that reads "the more I am around people, the better I like my dog", it is getting better. I am certainly not the person that first walked into the rooms years ago. I am grateful for the change.

Very true, the world does get smaller and more cramped and bleak. Alcoholism works in not-so-mysterious ways. Happy to hear you're improving, it's good to know that that it gets better. And I already love dogs :)

Brock wrote:I got a little 'stick' from some here when I said I don't like hugging, my method is to stick my hand out to shake if someone looks like they are coming in to hug.

That's a good idea, thanks, I'll try it. My method is to slightly turn my shoulder (just a little) and break eye contact. People usually get the hint without being offended. Note, I like hugging just fine, but not strangers.

OnPoint wrote:Try to learn a few names and see who you click with. It might not be long before you are actually looking forward to going to meetings. :D

I clicked with an elderly fellow who said he'd been sober for 25 years(!) and that he just kept going to meetings to help others. Impressed by that.

ezdzit247 wrote:I hope you will continue to explore what the AA fellowship and program can do to help you solve your drinking problem and try some other meetings.

I will. It takes more than an uncomfortable first experience to put me off.

II'll keep you posted, and I'll try to give something back to the community.

What's the tradition here, do you start a new thread for new developments, or just continue an old one?
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby ezdzit247 » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:30 pm

I will. It takes more than an uncomfortable first experience to put me off.

II'll keep you posted, and I'll try to give something back to the community.

What's the tradition here, do you start a new thread for new developments, or just continue an old one?


Good!

You are giving something back just by attending an AA meeting. Newcomers are the most important people in the rooms. To the guy or gal who comes in a few hours after putting the plug in the jug and is still detoxing, someone with even a few days of sobriety is a great inspiration.

You can start a new thread or continue with this one--dealer's choice.... :D

Keep coming back....
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby positrac » Wed Feb 24, 2016 4:19 am

Rome was not built in a day and neither is getting sober a quick fix to our past. Sometimes listening can open you up as we all suffer from the same problem and the drink is how we coped with life; well at least for me this was the case. You'll find that if you go to 90 meetings in 90 days consecutively that you'll open up and you'll start feeling more confident with yourself. At the end of the day it is one hour or two max and I am sure you drank many more hours daily and so you have a lot to gain by trying 90 & 90.
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby Robert R » Wed Feb 24, 2016 8:39 am

Welcome Christer, Great that you got to your first meeting and are taking the start of your journey seriously. We don't have to like everyone or everything said in meetings, just love them for their sobriety :D
Fear of speaking will pass with time and more meetings, however for me it was more important that I listened to people who had been where I was and could guide me along the path they took to sobriety and sanity.

Robert
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby Larryp713 » Wed Feb 24, 2016 11:09 am

Glad you're here, Christer, and I wish you well. That first meeting is so hard for many people, and kudos to you for going through it.

I am not a hugger and it always feels awkward to hug strangers, especially other men. I have tried to get over that, and it is not as awkward now, but it does not feel natural. I Just want people to feel welcome, and for everyone who feels better after a hug, there is probably a person who is not comfortable hugging.

I think it is best to set physical boundaries with others and understand it might take people a few times to understand that. It might even require you to say that makes you uncomfortable, if it is pushed too far and they are not taking hints. But remember what you are embarking on a life-changing endeavor, and what bothers you now will probably not in a few months. Just focus on what's positive right now and learn from what others have to share. In the end, all the discomfort and awkward situations were worth it... 14 months sober and completely relieved of my compulsion to drink. It is still a miracle. Best wishes and keep coming back! - Larry
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby C.O » Wed Feb 24, 2016 1:34 pm

Larryp713 wrote:14 months sober and completely relieved of my compulsion to drink.

Congratulations! Completely relieved? That must feel awesome. My doctor says it takes 6 months sober, on average, before the need to drink starts fading. I realize it varies greatly from person to person, but does that sound about right to you?
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby Brock » Wed Feb 24, 2016 2:08 pm

My doctor says it takes 6 months sober, on average, before the need to drink starts fading. I realize it varies greatly from person to person, but does that sound about right to you?

I know you asked Larry about this C.O. but I would also like a shot at answering.

I think what your doctor may be speaking about is how long it takes for all traces of alcohol to leave some peoples bodies, I believe not enough doctors are educated about AA and don't know how our steps work. I have had the experience of a psychiatrist who was also my family doctor, insisting that I must still think about drinking, and saying that a spiritual awaking helping was a load of rubbish.

My experience and that of most I have heard here and in meetings, is in full agreement with this section from page 75 -
The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly. We feel we are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe.

This is after step 5, and we can get there as quickly as we like, Chris R speaks of sitting in the tray of his pick up truck crying tears of joy, after doing this step two weeks after giving AA his full attention and effort, it took me a bit longer but I also had tears streaming down my face knowing the obsession had been removed, removed to the point as the book says 'it does not exist for us.'

I am sure your doctor means well, but the answer is not in a certain time frame, it is in those steps, and best of luck getting there as soon as you can.
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Re: Fear of speaking and a possible misunderstanding

Postby Larryp713 » Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:22 am

The obsession was removed from me almost immediately this last time, but I have been through AA before and never experienced a similar relief. The difference this time is that I took action when I was at my bottom, and followed the suggestions that were made. When I started talking to a sponsor and actively working on the steps, the obsession was gone. It was almost like the spiritual experience Bill talked about in his story, but there was no light or overwhelming sense of peace. I just couldn't think of a drink without thinking of that recent bottom, that feeling of complete despair. That is my mental association of drinking now, and it is why I don't obsess about it. Before, all I could think about was the good feelings that came when I start drinking. Now, it is hard to really remember those. But I clearly remember that bottom.

I was told that when we surrender and really start working the program, the obsession will be removed. But I need to keep working, because I still can fall into depression and apathy if I don't. And over time, I was also told that those feelings will make me desperate enough for relief that I will forget the association of drinking with the pain of the bottom, and start thinking of the good times again. That knowledge is one of the great gifts of this program, but it only works if I am being honest and working with others. Good luck, and thanks for the topic! Larry
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