Why I stopped regularly attending AA meetings

I wrote in my last post, “Today is my Twentieth Soberversary” that I had last attended an AA meeting as a regular member in 2004, and that I left it in anger. I thought that I had posted about it before, but couldn’t find it. If it exists, then finding it is taking more time than writing a new one about the experience. So, I’m writing a new one. Or the first one. Shut up and blog, Paulcoholic.

OK, so it was August 2004. I was ‘going through some stuff’ that summer and one of the ways I got through it all was to be the coffeemaker for my Home Group. Usually, the job rotates. My Home Group met every weekday and I ‘needed’ to make it everyday to cope. No one objected as they knew I needed it and wouldn’t keep it as a daily service work forever. So for a few months, I made the coffee every day. And then around August I decided that I had gotten past the worst of what I was going through and was now ready to relinquish the job, keeping just Monday for myself. This other guy had taken Tuesday.

All was fine for a while. Then one day, a Monday, actually, the meeting began and the Tuesday Guy was the chairperson. My Home Group had some liberal policies as to who can chair a meeting. Tuesday Guy had only three months in the program, but he wanted to chair it and no one objected. When it came time to come up with a topic, no one suggested any and so he came up with one. It was a topic that oftentimes is introduced during the holidays. “What to do when confronted with a drinking situation.” (Because around Christmas, Easter and other holidays, a recovering person often finds themselves in just such a situation.) Tuesday Guy, if I recall correctly, recently lost a friend in a motorcycle accident, and there was going to be an event held in the deceased’s honor at a local drinking establishment; ‘and should I go?”

I dislike sharing when I have no personal “experience, strength and hope” to relate to. In other words, if the topic is something I have no personal experience with, I’ll pass when called upon to share. I’d never really faced this situation, so I’ll just pass. 

Tuesday Guy started calling upon people to share. Then it was my turn. I said, “I’ll pass.” But Tuesday guy would have none of that. “No, Paul, we all want to know what you think about this!” 

Well, I always had this paranoid fear in AA meetings that one day I’ll be called upon to share, I’d refuse, and promptly be told that isn’t the custom at this meeting; ‘here, when you’re called to share, you must.’ A paranoid, irrational fear, to be true; and that it would only happen if I attended a meeting far beyond my home area, where they might have strange customs. Except that it didn’t happen in some far away AA meeting, it happened right in my Home Group! So, I figured I’ll just share what I know from AA’s ‘Conference-approved literature,’ in this case, something from their book, “Living Sober.” And so I quoted from memory a line that said something about ‘if you have a legitimate reason for being there,’ and at that point Tuesday Guy interrupted me. “Well, Paul doesn’t know what he’s talking about; can someone else share?”

I was stunned. My worst fear was not only realized, that of being forced to share, but while sharing relevant book knowledge, I was humiliated in from of a bunch of people. The meeting continued. The men couldn’t look at me; the women gave me sympathetic looks. Almost everyone quoted the same line I started quoting. 

The meeting ended. I don’t even recall if I helped clean up. As coffeemaker, my job was done prior to the meeting; afterwards others pitch in with the clean up. 

Remember, this was Monday and Tuesday follows, meaning Tuesday Guy was going to be there early the next day to open up and make the coffee. I was prepared.

Tuesday rolls around and I get there early. I timed my arrival so that I showed up after about when I thought Tuesday Guy got there but before anyone else arrived. I was successful. The site was opened, he was there, in the back, alone, getting ready. I stalked over to him, he sees me coming and has a crooked smirk. I went up to him and slammed down on the table, right next to the coffee machine, my copy of the building’s keys. I said quite loudly, almost shouting into his smirky face, “I AM NOT COMING TO THIS MEETING EVER AGAIN!”

And then I stormed out. All I can say is that when I was walking to my car I had a feeling of liberation. The sun was sunnier. The birds were chirpier. The cars driving by were carrier. And a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I literally felt lighter.

And I never set foot in that meeting. Well, not quite true. I did return a over a year later to an occasional meeting, but it had moved to a different location by then and so I figured my declaration held. 

Since that day in August 2004, I never considered myself a regular meeting attendee. As I’ve said before, I am a misfit in a fellowship of misfits. I don’t bother with live meetings; occasionally dabble in online recovery and read AA literature. But having a Home Group? Nope. 

A couple of posts on Catholics attending AA meetings:

Should Catholics Attend AA meetings? I heard they’re bad.

A Fortnight of Years in Sobriety

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

4 Comments

  1. Being forced to share is nothing I ever experienced in AA. Nor that shares are being criticised. But I experienced other weird stuff. Thank god I found reals 12 step meetings where stepwork and sponsorship counts!

  2. You’re right. There are sick people in AA. Such as alcoholics. Forgiveness is the answering. I have a lot of work to do in that regard 🙂

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