My New Home in Alcoholics Anonymous

By Diane I

I never intended or wanted to be an alcoholic or even a person who drank too much. I was actually afraid of alcohol in high school and didn’t start to drink until I was 18. Right from the get go I could not control my drinking no matter how hard I tried. Oh sure there were times when I only had one or two, but that was few and far between and there were no guarantees.

After high school I entered a school of nursing to become a registered nurse. During that time I suffered from depression, low self esteem and many a brutal hangover. Like many women my body did not take well to alcohol and I would often become very ill. Miraculously I graduated as an RN and immediately got married to a man with whom I had nothing in common, except alcohol. At the time I thought I knew what I was doing, but looking back I can see that I got married because I was afraid of being alone and I believed that no one else would want me.

A few years into the marriage I had a little boy. Now I was responsible for another human being! My drinking slowed down a little and I secretly thought that perhaps I was OK since I had started to wonder if I had a drinking problem. However soon my drinking escalated and I felt ashamed and suffered a lot of remorse, especially for my behaviour while I was drinking. I couldn’t control my drinking and I never wanted to be that kind of a mother!

On February 15, 1977 I had my last drink and on February 16 I went to my first AA meeting in Sudbury, Ontario. I was 26 and terrified! I had been raised a Christian and believed in most of what I had been taught although I was starting to have doubts. I was desperate to get sober and so at the time the “God stuff” and dogma did not bother me. I did what they told me.

After one year of sobriety I left my marriage and moved. I continued to go to AA meetings and stayed sober one day at a time. I was starting to disagree with much of what I heard at meetings, but was afraid to speak my truth.

At the age of 40 I remarried and moved again. I was still a regular AA member and became the GSR for my group. At a business meeting years ago I suggested that we don’t close the meeting with The Lord’s Prayer. Not one other person agreed with me. I really had nothing against The Lord’s Prayer, I just didn’t think it belonged in AA. It wasn’t inclusive.

As the years went by I felt more and more disillusioned with all of the God talk and dogma and still felt that I could not say what I really believed out of fear of being judged or “not belonging”. By this time my views on religion had changed a lot and I believed I was an atheist or agnostic. Eventually after about 34 years of sobriety I couldn’t take it anymore and I stopped going to AA. I had no desire to drink.

About 3 and 1/2 years ago I was on line and discovered that a secular AA meeting called We Agnostics had been started in Hamilton. I had never heard of such a thing! I went to the meeting right away. What a breath of fresh air!! I could finally actually voice what I really believed without fear of being judged or being made to feel that I didn’t belong. I heard people talk in a way that I had never heard before in AA. I was with like minded people! I enjoy the sharing and the fellowship because we talk about emotional sobriety and many other topics that you don’t hear at traditional AA meetings. It is so inclusive!

I will be forever grateful to traditional AA for my sobriety but I have found my new home at my secular meeting, We Agnostics, in Hamilton, Ontario.


The secular AA We Agnostics meeting was initially launched in Hamilton, Ontario, on February 4, 2016 at the First Unitarian Church. A surprise to those who started it: it became an immediate success, with people like Diane in attendance, opening up, making coffee…

Held every Thursday, there are always some 20 (or more!) people in attendance. A success? Well, you bet! A second We Agnostics meeting was launched on September 10, 2018 and is held at the First Unitarian every Monday.


To download and share a PDF of this article, click here: My New Home in AA.


 

11 Responses

  1. Lisa M. says:

    Diane thank you so much for this. And also to Jeff P.’s comments which so succinctly express how I realize I need to behave in my home group (trad AA women’s meeting in Florida) in order to have a relationship with the attendees. I like them and even more so when they don’t stray to the God side, which is quite often, otherwise I would not go there. I have read that it is “better doing this recovery in person” but each time I read a post and then the comments I feel in the midst of like minds and feel accepted and it does my spirit (small s!) a world of good. It is spirit like – “they broke that horses spirit and then they could ride him” or “the pet died because his spirit is broken”. Not the great Spirit in the Sky (even though that song from the past is a great one!)

    • Jeffry P. says:

      Thanks, Lisa. I understand how you feel about having friends in your AA group. I have many in my own group. They are very dogmatic in their approach to recovery, especially when it comes to AA. But again, that is recovery that works for them and keeps them sober, I wouldn’t ever say or do anything to wreck anyone else’s recovery.

      I always let it be known that I have my own program, which discards all the proselytizing and nonsense of AA and keeps the good stuff. Many roads up the mountain, but we all end up at the same place. If anyone wants to read my map, I am happy to share it. Otherwise, eyes on the prize, as they say… Your recovery plan is working for you. Congratulations! Keep your map in your pocket when you go to the traditional AA meeting — where your cell phone should be — but always let it be known that you have a different map if anyone is interested. And have your chat after the meeting. I see people in AA all the time who are hanging on for dear life, trying to repair a collapsed family, estranged from their wife or husband and their children, if they need faith in God to keep it together, go man go! See them at the top!

  2. Murray J says:

    Cannot express enough thanks for this. I have shared meetings with you and deeply appreciate your honesty. It was an honour to serve with you in the SOAAR 2019 committee. You did an excellent job.

    Thank you!

  3. Bob K. says:

    WOW!!! In February, 1977, I was still in high school!! I was 27 – I just was not a very good student.

    I met Diane and her husband “Lucky” at SOAAR in September. She’s very charming, and this well-crafted account confirms my first impression that she’s a smart woman. The Hamilton meeting is a good one. Were it an hour closer I’d come more often.

    As far as starting a secular group, that’s a rewarding experience. Whitby Freethinkers is almost 6 years old, and we are an eclectic group.

  4. Jeff P. says:

    Glad to hear that you finally found a home! I am still occasionally attending conventional AA meetings. I too am put off by the AA proselytizing and its forcing the newly sober to embrace the Christian faith under pain of implied expulsion.

    I have my own non-Christian program of sobriety, which has served me well for 21 months. I consider myself as a mere guest at conventional AA meetings, though I even chair meetings on occasion. In that setting, I try to remember that with the exception of me, most everyone else is at the meeting because they want a side-order of Jesus with their sobriety. I keep my opening remarks on the secular side, while always trying to keep the message something that can easily slide into the Christian paradigm; I am extremely conscious of not trying to say anything to denigrate faith or the conventional AA model. In other words, I try to always behave like a well-mannered guest in someone else’s home.

    I try to pick and choose what I find useful at meetings and to “let the God stuff I see there, that I hear there, stay there”. Thank you for your enlightening and thoughtful post. Another bag of goodies I have picked up on my sober journey and that I am glad to have on hand if needed.

    • Diane I says:

      It’s a shame that you are made to feel that you are a “guest” at your own meeting. But it seems you have found a way to be OK with it. Good for you! Wishing you all the best and thanks!

  5. Oren says:

    Thanks, Diane. Your story is an almost direct parallel to mine, except for a few details such as gender, profession, and nationality. I am glad that you have found a home group that fits you so well.

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