If you’ve never been to an AA meeting before, it can be a really scary or weird transition. You might have heard what to expect from one, and overall, it’s going to be the best choice for you, but it can still be overwhelming.
So, here’s what to expect at your first AA meeting:
It might be nerve-wracking, but if you can manage, try to share that this is your first AA meeting. In doing so, it will flag to others that you need support. If you do this, people are likely to go up and talk to you after the meeting; some people are huggers, some people will ask for your number, and others will just want to share their experience. You won’t feel alone in the AA meetings because of the tremendous amount of support you get from everyone there.
Crosstalking is a term in AA meetings that means interrupting, talking out of term, or giving direct advice to someone. There’s no law about it, but it is discouraged. You are free to speak your mind, but instead of giving direct advice, frame your thoughts in a general non-judgmental way.
There will be conversations that you won’t even imagine having. Stories of past suicide attempts, blacking out drunk, wetting the bed, doing really embarrassing things, and other considerably shameful things. But the thing is, when you’re in recovery, it’s okay to talk about it. It’s okay to talk about really bad stuff that happened when you were an addict because that’s not your life anymore.
Even better, most of the people at the meeting will understand because they were there too. You’ll feel a sigh of relief after you’re comparing drunk stories with the pal next to you and not feeling judged by it. Over time, most people develop a healthy sense of humor about past events that were actually quite painful at the time. It’s a natural (and awesome) byproduct of the self-acceptance recovery brings.
The more you attend the meetings, the more comfortable you’ll end up being. There might be people who are sharing a really bad day with you, and others who are sharing really good days. AA meetings are for support and encouragement, and if you’re feeling open to sharing your good and bad days, that’s a really good sign.
If you’re expecting everyone to greet/hug you and force you to share, you’re wrong. It’s much less scary than that. The people around you will be supportive of you, and the decision whether to open up on the first day is totally up to you. You’re not expected to say “I am an alcoholic”, or “I am an addict”, stand up, or tell them who you are.
You might expect to walk in and see drunks slipping from their chairs and the scent of alcohol coming from their mouth, but that is not true. The AA meetings are just a group of normal people talking about their addiction. You’ll be shocked that some people look normal, but you’ll realize addiction can happen to anyone. It’s a disease that gets the best of us, and there’s no discrimination or judging for that.