i’ve never been to a bad meeting, but…

Used 2013-01-30 3 Stooges (AlKHall Anonymous alcohol recovery sobriety)

[Thanks to ITSB for the picture!]

i’ve never been to a bad meeting. i have never been to a meeting where i left thinking, “Wow, that was a royal waste of my time.”

i’ve never been to a bad meeting, but last night was pretty damn close.

Last night (not an AA meeting–it was for anther 12-step fellowship) we spent the larger part of our hour reading the procedures and the bylaws and the 12 & 12 (AA’s 12 Steps and 12 Traditions) and then we took turns reading aloud from a dense book. It was late and i was tired from a full work day and most of the readers were foreigners who had a less than perfect grasp of English and one guy is a recovered stutterer who took long pauses while he tried to reign in his tongue and my mind was wandering and i was beginning to wonder if i wouldn’t have been better off at home.

But i wouldn’t have been. Partly not because it was useful for me to sit with others who share my sickness, and to be reminded that i am sick and that i to need to stay humble. Also, in the space of an hour, i can relax from every kind of temptation.

But mostly i would not have been better off at home because my presence helped others. The chair was an inexperienced woman, so i spoke up when she hesitated and supported her decisions. Having 2 years of sobriety gave me confidence so that, when i shared, my voice was stronger and steadier than many of the newcomers who were there, staring at their fidgety hands. i helped simply by showing up.

At the end of the meeting, as i was walking out of the door, the young man who stuttered asked if we could exchange numbers.

Sometimes the help i receive at meetings is the help i give others.


About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home.

Posted on January 30, 2013, in Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Your presence was a present. Thank you for helping those 2 people…others too I’m sure. Oh and the pic was priceless. Thank you and boat for that.

  2. That is an excellent point my friend, you can not always measure the impact of your presence or the amount off support you supply for the others in meetings, just by being there. I am doubly blessed by your blog, first with the knowledge of how well you are doing in your recovery and second by the support it gives me in continuing to be aware of my recovery and how I am recognizing the continuing struggles in my own life.

    I think it is important for each of us to remember our recovery is not limited to not using, but to learning to be productive useful participants of our own lies and those of the people who surround us. In that aspect, you are an inspiration and a hero to me.

    Thank you, keep it up.

    • Ronnie!

      i’m here, taking up space, just like the way you were always there for me in the years leading up to my sobriety, showing me it was possible for cool people to go sober and stay cool. Thanks for the props, now you need to repeat those same sentiments looking in the mirror.

      Keep coming back, brother,

      Al K Hall

  3. But mostly i would not have been better off at home because my presence helped others.


    And that is how the program works, I can see. It shifts the orientation from what I call “service to self” to “service to others.” And not in a superior, holier-than-thou kind of way, but in the humble way you describe here.

    It’s nice to see that this shift is working in your life! It’s like Ron wrote here:

    I think it is important for each of us to remember our recovery is not limited to not using, but to learning to be productive useful participants of our own [lives] and those of the people who surround us.

    I’m sure he meant “lives” there and not “lies,” although the typo is amusing as “lies”. 😀 I got a smile out of that.


    • Well now, caught in a Freudian slip eh. Although it could work that we used to be caught up in our lies and now we are getting caught up in our lives. Yeah that’s the ticket

    • Hi Babe,

      Yeah, i had a hard time writing this post because i didn’t want it to sound self-congratulatory. It’s not my presence that helped the meeting along, it was a presence.

      Thanks for getting it!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  4. It’s so cool that you can truly “take in” that by showing up you help others. You have shown me that maybe i had the effect on others when i went to many OA meetings and couldn’t speak during the meetings, but joined the fellowship afterwards. I DID occupy a chair. Good enough.

    • Occupying a chair is huge. It shows other people they are not alone in their suffering and the more people the show up the better everyone feels about doing the work and the more serious we can be about our recovery. Also, the meeting after the meeting is a key part of recovery as well!

      You’re a star, Mel! Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  5. Great post – I know I have had that feeling many times. I don’t know if I have said “It would have been better if I just stayed home and watched hockey”, but halfway through a meeting sometimes my mind would lean that way. But there is always a “but”. There is always something that happens like what happened to you (which is wonderful, by the way). It could be the one thing that a speaker says that just zings me from out of nowhere. It could be the thing that I almost grudgingly share that someone comes up later and thanks me for. It might be the look on a fellow AA friend’s face as they are happy to see someone they know there. More often than not, it’s that feeling I have that I am where I need to be. I am with my peeps and sometimes that alone give me a wonderful sense of community.

    Today I was at a nooner after not having been to a meeting for about a week. About halfway through I noticed I had a call from my 5-yr old’s school. I ran out and checked the message – he had an accident (wet his pants) and they needed clothes for him. So I had to leave the meeting. I wasn’t upset – I actually got something out of that half an hour as it was. I would have loved to have been there for the rest of it, but I got that “ahhhhh” from seeing old friends and meeting a few new ones. The sense of camaraderie and connection to a common solution was enough. I was good. And I know that I will always be good, no matter what kind of meeting it is.

    Great post – thanks 🙂

    • Thank you for this reply!

      More often than not, it’s that feeling I have that I am where I need to be. I am with my peeps…

      That’s exactly the feeling and there’s no place else in the world where i can feel it.

      Thanks you for the visit and keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

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