As I recall the laughter I heard at my first meeting was one of the surprises I experienced. My immediate thought was why are they laughing – this is serious business? I did not expect to hear laughter, nor to see smiles on the faces of those in attendance. There was something going on in the rooms of A.A., and all I knew was I wanted what they had. And then the meeting began and while the laughter stopped, the smiles continued as members around the table told of their experience, strength and hope for a better life, a life of recovery. I couldn’t quite grasp what “it” was, but I could see that the Program worked as varying members talked about their lives and the very basic fact of long-time sobriety. I could see that it was going to take longer than I thought to fully understand what I was seeing. People were kind and helped me as much as my doubtful mind would allow. I just know that I felt the small stirrings of hope that first meeting . . .maybe, just maybe, sobriety was possible after all. The Program, I found is full of contradictions – and somehow they all work together. There is Rule #62 “Don’t take yourself too seriously,” and yet it is generally accepted that alcoholism is a deadly disease – so how can both be true? It’s all about perceptions and how much is too much? I needed to learn to laugh at myself, it helped to put my ego in check, and it was a beginning of understanding the true meaning of humility. Accepting my humanity was the first step I took towards recovery. At the same time I needed to learn that just as I am not perfect, neither is the world. I became willing to have an open mind instead of instantly dismissing suggestions from others around the tables. My way had certainly not worked for me.

When I stop attending meetings for whatever reason, a sense of discomfort creeps into my soul. I am learning to “listen” to my body, it’s part of the maintenance of my program. I am an alcoholic – that will not change in my life time. I can lead a life of recovery, if I continue to do the “foot work” and “practice these principles in all my affairs.” I am no longer that sad woman sitting at the end of the bar, wishing she were dead. Today I am alive more than at any other time in my life. I have God in my life, I have the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous to guide me, and I have my “AA family” who love me. All is well – and all is well worth the effort.

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