A Welcoming Surprise: Attending My First 12-Step Meeting

This blog entry was written by an anonymous writer.  Thank you for your story of courage, strength, and hope.

Everyone recommended I attend a 12 step meeting.  I resisted.  I couldn’t see myself sitting in a room full of strangers baring my soul.  I could barely do this with my therapist for the first 3 months.  How was I expected to go to an entire room full of people and tell my sorted story.  Just thinking about it brought a rush of heat to my face.

I resisted for a long time.  Every time I saw my therapist she encouraged me to go.  Friends I knew suggested I attend. Was there something they could see that I couldn’t?  I know I have an addicted personality.  I participated in activities that hurt me and brought pain to others.  I lost relationships.  I lost time.  What would I lose if I went to a meeting?

I continued to avoid going and avoided the topic completely with my therapist.  I think she finally got the picture that I wasn’t going to take her up on her recommendation.  She planted a seed.  Life continued without any mention of 12-step.  Then the day came where I almost acted out a sexual behavior that could’ve put me at risk.  I was up to my old tricks again, but this time, I was aware of what I was doing.  This time I knew I needed to get to a meeting.  I was motivated to go.  I guess that’s all I needed, was a little push from my own behavior.

I looked up meetings in my area.  My therapist suggested I attend Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), because she thought I had characteristics that matched this program.  Boy, I didn’t like hearing this from her when she told me.  I found a meeting that worked with my schedule that night.  It was probably best to go as soon as possible so I didn’t convince myself otherwise.  I went.

When I arrived there were several men and women sitting around a large oval table in a dimly light room.  My therapist told me I could sit in the back of the room and not share if I didn’t want.  I could just observe.  However, in this room there was no back of the room.  In fact, everyone was sitting around the table and there was a chair just for me. I sat front and center.  No hiding.

It actually was an amazing experience.  A member read the characteristics of sex and love addiction, which I completely related to and someone read the signs of recovery.  I was able to hear stories I could relate to.  I was concerned prior to the meeting about sitting with a bunch of weirdos and on the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised.  I met people who were everyday folks sharing openly about their sexual problems and obsessive thoughts.  I didn’t feel alone.  I decided to attend 1 meeting a week.  This commitment enhanced my work with my therapist and I didn’t feel alone anymore.

12 step is more than just attending meetings.  It’s a place to gain support, learn how to outreach, and fellowship with others.  You are able to be mentored through the recovery process with a sponsor and be accountable to complete tasks.  It’s a place to learn how to be of service, to give back.

I grew up in 12 step.  Before starting 12 step, I operated on my own rules and didn’t trust others.  Today, I’ve learned to trust others and allow myself to be guided and supported.  I don’t have to live life by myself and all on my terms.  I get to lean into a community and feel supported by forces that are much larger than my little self.  The 12 step community helped change my life and make me whole again.

Click here for a list of 12-step fellowships.



Elana Clark-Faler
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