Friday, March 25, 2011

Thing 345 Attend AA Meeting

Wow.... we're two for two in the serious blogs that aren't full of me making a tool of myself here, aren't we? This one being slightly less depressing than least night's outing. To be fair, there are few things I could have done, and will ever do that will affect me as much as last night did. I'm still having trouble shaking it. The opportunity knocked though, and I had to see what was there. An open AA Meeting. A chance to walk in and see how recovering alcoholics cope with their disease.

In this country, of all countries, alcoholism is rife. Like most Irish families, there's a bit of it in my family history. I'm fairly certain that most Europeans would likely think that anyone Irish is an alcoholic. We just do it differently here. There's a soccer match on? Pub it is. Rugby match? Pub. Election coverage? Pub. Wednesday night? Pub...

The funny thing is that there are plenty of alternatives to drinking, if you can be bothered looking for them. I hear people say all the time that there's nothing else to do around Ireland, but there absolutely is, it's just that we're kind of programmed to think "drink first, options later". We're a parody of ourselves sometimes. Begorrah.

If you'd asked me last week which of the Sleep Rough or AA Meeting Things was going to be more depressing, I'd have said AA Meeting, hands down. Oddly enough, there's very little that's depressing about it. It's incredibly positive in both content and in atmosphere. For a group of people suffering from an illness which destroys families and ruins lives, this was remarkably uplifting.

It would be worse than wrong for me to repeat the stories heard at the meeting, they're not my stories to tell, they're someone else's life, but the general idea is that speakers are selected to speak to the open meeting, tell a little about their life before AA, the damage done during drinking days, the incredible, heart-breaking lows, and the renewed hope that comes with deciding to stop drinking.

As someone who likes a few pints (sometimes more than a few) there was definitely a note of warning in there. It's hard to recognise, but it's there. No one is safe from alcohol. You can be the strongest willed in the world but if it catches you, there's little you can do prevent yourself sliding. The stories told were harrowing, and contained references to incidents when drink was taken that I know myself I've been guilty of, and in fact, there's a large section of my mates who'd have to admit similar behaviour. I'm not going into what those things are, but they don't exactly leave me covered in glory.

For all the harrowing nature of the stories, the tone of the people telling them wasn't self-pitying, it wasn't depressed or upset. It was matter of fact. This happened in my life, now it's done and I'm moving on. I wanted to stand up and applaud the courage it took to sit there and tell a room full of strangers about the lowest point of your life.

By the end of the meeting I wasn't walking out thinking "how awful", I was thinking "how amazing". I'm sure there are plenty of closed meetings which are difficult to take, I'm sure it's not all inspiring stuff, and there's no doubt that the cross being borne by recovering alcoholics is permanently heavy and rarely yielding, but at least there's hope. I've seen it.

Right... I promise not to be so serious tomorrow...


  1. Will yeh g'way and your not being serious shite, it's not about being serious or not, it's about writing decent articles or not.
    And this and the last one were eye opening, entertaining, and enlightening.


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