Many people feel overwhelmed when they show up at a 12 step meeting and hear the first recommendation is to attend 90 meetings in 90 days. A meeting every day, for 90 days. For many, the first thought that crosses their mind is how busy they are and how there is no way they can go to a meeting everyday. Which is funny to me because most of us drink and/or use drugs every day but when it comes to getting sober, all of a sudden we are too busy.
I did 90 meetings in 90 days because the single most important thing in my life was not drinking. I had to do whatever it took to make sure I didn’t return to my comfort zone of drunkenness. When the people in the meetings told me to come everyday, I was happy to do it.
The interesting thing is, what I learned in those 90 days was not what I expected. The 12 steps are not magical or mystical, they are not a quick fix, and they can’t do the work for you. The steps are a path to better yourself and clear your mind, they teach you to grow up, be a better person, and treat other people better. But my first 90 days wasn’t about the steps.
The first thing I learned was how to show up. Every day. I learned to be committed to something and I was disciplined in making sure I was there and making it a priority in my life. More important than anything else.
The next thing I learned was how to be still. When I first got sober it was a challenge for me to just sit down and be still. My body was going through its own rollercoaster of figuring out how it was supposed to function without alcohol, I was fidgety and kind of generally uncomfortable. But AA gave me these small, one hour doses of sitting still. And eventually, I got better at it.
Another great lesson for me, was I learned to listen. Many people believe they are decent listeners, but the truth is, most of us are terrible at it without practice. When I would sit in the meetings each day, I actually listened to other people when they would share their thoughts and experiences and, for that one hour, I wasn’t only thinking about myself. And that is a real miracle for an addicted person 🙂
Eventually, another true miracle, I learned how to be on time. In the beginning, I was 10 minutes late everywhere all the time including AA. It was another part of my being completely self-absorbed and lazy- I would put everything off until the last possible minute. I never considered how disrespectful it was to walk into the room late and disrupt a meeting already in progress. But I didn’t have a lot of self-respect so it was challenging to respect other people and their time and efforts. At some point during my 90 meetings in 90 days I started to care, and I started to be on time because it was the right thing to do to show respect and dedication to my growth.
Finally, I started caring about myself and my sobriety. As an addicted person I had run out of self-love, self-esteem, and any sort of caring for my well-being. I mean, I didn’t almost drink myself to death because I cared about myself. But somewhere along the line, I began to believe I could actually be okay. Sitting in those meetings and seeing other people have successful and fun sober lives slowly convinced me that I could do the same. And as I continued to show up every day I felt my sobriety getting stronger and I felt myself becoming protective. I wanted to protect my sobriety because I was working hard for it and I didn’t want to lose it. So I kept going.
Oh wait, one more thing- I MADE FRIENDS. I met people who were fighting the same fight and had survived the same sort of personal hell I endured. These were my people. And it was the first time in my life I was in a room where everyone was the same as me and we all understood one another. And they wanted to protect me too. They taught me how to continue putting one foot in front of the other and to not take a drink. Every day.
I did not spend a moment arguing about what I like or don’t like about AA/NA. I didn’t make excuses. I didn’t tell myself that AA ‘doesn’t work’. AA doesn’t have to work for me, I have to work for AA. Just show up, sit down, and be quiet. That’s all we have to do, over and over and over again.
See you there!
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