22 Mar 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.