Monday, April 5, 2010

Safety at AA meetings

For over two decades, I've been going to AA meetings. In the early months of my sobriety, an AA meeting was often the only place I felt safe. I could be honest there about my feelings and no one would offer me a drink or drug. It's little wonder that I went to three and four meetings a day for a long time. I still lived in the town where I'd been perpetually drunk for almost 7 years and every street corner reminded me of drinking and jealousy and hangovers and wretchedness. But in those meetings I was safe.

Today I went to my regular home group meeting and for the first time, I didn't feel safe there. Oh, there was no alcohol and not even much talk of drinking. Unless you go to a specifically beginner meeting, many AA meetings are about living sober, not quitting alcohol, and today's meeting was no exception.

No, alcohol wasn't the problem. Sugar was. This particular women's meeting was celebrating 29 years of existence with a potluck after the meeting. I noticed the table of food when I came in, then took the only open seat (there were nearly 50 women there). It turned out to be a chair about 36" from a large bakery cake, 2 dozen iced cookies, and a plate full of homemade cupcakes.

For an hour I sat there in the deep smell of vanilla and sugar and fat and kept trying to refocus on the speakers and on the discussion and my own sobriety, including my sobriety from sugar. And then when the meeting was over, I got the hell out of there as quick as I could. There were plenty of non-sweet foods but I didn't feel safe and years ago, I learned that it's okay, more than okay, to leave when you don't feel safe. Next time I'll find a different chair.

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