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First Al-Anon Meeting later on Tonight...


Cynder
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I was raised by alcoholics and I've been around them most of my adult life, too.  My Dad and my step dad both drank themselves to death and I had an uncle who drank himself to death.  My Mom was a raging drunk the whole time I was growing up.  And I even drank at a really early age (I've never had a drinking problem, but it was just so normalized in my family.)  I mean, my parents used to take these really long drives with me in the car where they would just drink and drink and drink, and if I was thirsty they would give me beer to drink.  I'm not even lying.  This was going on when I was 7-8 years old. 

As messed up as this all is, it made me not want to be like them.  So I've always had a pretty good head on my shoulders when it comes to substance abuse. 

I also have a lot of friends who are alcoholics.  Some know they have a problem and are doing something about it.  Some haven't touched a drink in 10+ years.  Some know they have a problem but don't plan to do anything about it.  Some are in complete denial.  My roommate is the sterotypical sloppy drunk chick.  She's 39 years old and still thinks she's 21.  She blows all her money on booze.  And she doesn't drink the cheap stuff either.  Crown Royal is her thing.  I'm sure that's cheap by some people's standards but to me $60 for a bottle of liquor isn't cheap.  She rolls out of bed hung over every day and goes to work smelling like whiskey, etc. 

The biggest thing that made me want to start going to meetings is seeing my ex's downward spiral in the time I was with her.  She went from being someone who drank a couple beers at night to someone who got hammered on a nightly basis.  And she's a mean drunk, too.  And I'm sure it's only gotten worse now that she works at a gas station that sells all kinds of alcohol.  It's accessible to her every day.  When we were together she used to say stuff like, "Well I used to drink a lot more than I do now."  She's going to drink herself to death if she doesn't slow down.  But I also know I can't do anything to help her and it's not my job to help her either.  She made the choice to not be in my life. 

I'm going to these meetings to help myself. 

But I'm scared to go to my first meeting because I'm not really comfortable telling my whole life story to a room full of strangers.  I don't know what to expect.  Like, is this going to be basically a group therapy session?  Idk if anyone here can answer that question.  I know all groups are probably different.  Idk, it's just giving me some anxiety thinking about this.  And it doesn't help that I'm about the most introverted person on the planet and lately I've been even more antisocial (for lack of a better word) than usual. 

I'm still going though.  Anyone have any thoughts?

And I also don't need to hear how I shouldn't be doing this because of my ex.  It really doesn't matter what motivated me to start going.  This is a support group for friends and loved ones of alcoholics.  If being with her was the thing that got me interested, so what? 

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53 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Just show up and be yourself. Good call to see what's it's about.

My biggest worry is that people are going to start asking me a lot of questions and I'm not going to be ready to answer.  Or that I will get emotional. 

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3 minutes ago, Cynder said:

My biggest worry is that people are going to start asking me a lot of questions and I'm not going to be ready to answer.  Or that I will get emotional

I think that's everyone's worry there. And it's okay. Remember that you all struggle in this meeting, so nobody's better than anybody else.

So be yourself, and slowly you'll see how others will be understanding and empathetic.

You are very very brave for doing this. It's a new chapter in your life. Be proud!

Edited by DarkCh0c0
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Nobody is required to speak unless they are ready, especially brand new attendees. You are welcome to go and just listen.

I'd reserve any judgments about whether you'll find it helpful down the road until you've visited at least 3 or 4 times. 

At that point, you can decide whether you'd like to speak to the facilitator before or after the meeting about being matched with a sponsor. From there, you and your sponsor can work through some private stuff and decide when you might be ready to do some speaking.

Head high, and good for you. I hope you'll tell us your impressions.

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39 minutes ago, Cynder said:

My biggest worry is that people are going to start asking me a lot of questions and I'm not going to be ready to answer.  Or that I will get emotional. 

This is really something that needs to become your mantra in life - just because someone asks, doesn't mean you have to answer. Period.

I'm being very very serious here, btw. Just because someone asks, if you are not comfortable or not comfortable yet, you simply don't share or don't do. Boundaries. As odd and uncomfortable as saying "no thanks" or "not yet" feels to you, the only way to become comfortable with that is to practice it at every opportunity until it becomes normal for you.

So go to the meeting with an open mind and just see how it goes, how you feel. Don't try to build anything up in your head prior. As blank slate as you can because...it's true. You've never been to a meeting and you really don't know what you expect. Any situation you put yourself into, be prepared to ONLY go as far as you are actually comfortable. No pleasing of anyone but yourself. After all, you are doing this for you and only you. Keep that in mind.

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Well, I guess anything could happen, but I don't think they'll pressure you to talk. You may have to introduce yourself, though. I went to an AA meeting with an ex-boyfriend once--the meetings were a condition of his parole--and I had to introduce myself even though I was only there to support him. But it wasn't a big deal. I said, "I'm Jibralta and I'm really happy to be here," like a huge dork. Other people just said their names and sat back down like normal people. Then the meeting happened. Nobody was forced to participate. 

When I was 12ish, I went to Alateen with my friend while her mom went to Alanon. It was a similar deal. I think we may have had to introduce ourselves (the memory is really fuzzy now), but we definitely were not made to talk. I learned about "tough love." They just informed us about it, matter-of -factly, like it was the word of the day. Which, I guess it was. We used to sneak into the AA meetings and help ourselves to the coffee (with a ton of sugar).

It was never a bad experience. 

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23 minutes ago, Jibralta said:

Well, I guess anything could happen, but I don't think they'll pressure you to talk. You may have to introduce yourself, though. I went to an AA meeting with an ex-boyfriend once--the meetings were a condition of his parole--and I had to introduce myself even though I was only there to support him. But it wasn't a big deal. I said, "I'm Jibralta and I'm really happy to be here," like a huge dork. Other people just said their names and sat back down like normal people. Then the meeting happened. Nobody was forced to participate. 

When I was 12ish, I went to Alateen with my friend while her mom went to Alanon. It was a similar deal. I think we may have had to introduce ourselves (the memory is really fuzzy now), but we definitely were not made to talk. I learned about "tough love." They just informed us about it, matter-of -factly, like it was the word of the day. Which, I guess it was. We used to sneak into the AA meetings and help ourselves to the coffee (with a ton of sugar).

It was never a bad experience. 

I contradict myself a lot in certain situations.  A big part of my problem is that for so much of my life I've felt invisible.  But then in situations like this I want to be invisible.  I would be happy just going tonight and sitting in the back of the room by myself and not saying a word or have anyone looking at me.  It's not that I'm embarrassed to be there or anything.  But as a first timer I would rather be an observer. 

There is an LGBTQ group here in my town who has meetups that I found out about recently.  I'm scared to go to their next meetup, too.  This isn't even a support group.  It's a social group.  But I'm afraid to go because I'm afraid I might run into my ex there.  Even though I keep telling myself that's not anything she ever was interested in when we were together.  Idk, after cutting so many negative people out of my life this is the only way to meet new people.  I need to get over my anxiety. 

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57 minutes ago, Cynder said:

I contradict myself a lot in certain situations.  A big part of my problem is that for so much of my life I've felt invisible.  But then in situations like this I want to be invisible.  I would be happy just going tonight and sitting in the back of the room by myself and not saying a word or have anyone looking at me.  It's not that I'm embarrassed to be there or anything.  But as a first timer I would rather be an observer. 

So give yourself permission to do just that - sit back and observe and see if this is the right kind of a thing for you.

If anyone calls on you, you have 100% right to say, "Thanks but no thanks, maybe another meeting." and be firm and be done with that. Just another exercise is asserting your boundaries and being your own best advocate. Lean hard into what YOU actually want and don't want.

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Well, this whole thing kinda fell through.  I walked to the church and it was dark, locked up and no one answered the phone when I called.  I thought the lady I talked to last week said meetings are every Monday.  Idk maybe something came up this week and they had to cancel.  me being a newcomer wouldn't have gotten any info on that.  

It's freezing out, too.  It's 22 degrees so I froze my ass off.  But if nothing else I got some exercise and took some interesting photos on my phone. 

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8 hours ago, Cynder said:

Well, this whole thing kinda fell through.  I walked to the church and it was dark, locked up and no one answered the phone when I called.  I thought the lady I talked to last week said meetings are every Monday.  Idk maybe something came up this week and they had to cancel.  me being a newcomer wouldn't have gotten any info on that.  

It's freezing out, too.  It's 22 degrees so I froze my ass off.  But if nothing else I got some exercise and took some interesting photos on my phone. 

Sorry this happened Cynder,

 

Try again next Monday? Or try and get the number to confirm the time and date again just to be sure?

 

I came across your blog a few weeks back and obsessively read it every spare moment right up till page 17 and then life took over and I so desperately need to get back to it. I know this sounds weird but when you read someone’s thoughts and life so intensely for awhile you falsely feel like you have gotten to know that person. I am sorry for everything that happened in your childhood. You seem like a lovely and very creative person, a real individual. Where I have left on your journal, you seem to be gaining momentum creatively and even in your down moments you seem to have this energetic drive towards a goal. I am here willing you on, rooting for you. You have made the decision to leave your husband. I just wish you all the best, I really do.

 

Go to the meeting and as others have said, be yourself, you can express yourself very well, there is no need to feel anxious about it. There is something very endearing about your uncertainty in yourself sometimes. It is a lovely quality to have. Me on the other hand, I would be there with my sunglasses on slowly removing them at my time to speak for full dramatic affect completely revelling in the attention and at holding court. LOL! And that is why you are not an arrogant, self obsessed p***k like me! I’d be making things up Hugh Grant About A Boy singles meeting style! I’d be the one creating “Ned” and getting totally carried away 🥳

 

You seem like a really generous, kind, talented girl who is so tough, you are so strong y’know. You need to hold your head up high, you really do have something to say and just as importantly, you seem really great at listening to others. The meetings will be fab. Please don’t be disheartened!

 

A background fan,

 

Lo x

Edited by mylolita
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6 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

Do it online.

I can see the reasoning behind this suggestion but it’s kind of hiding away and not facing your anxiety and apprehensions face on.

 

Always best to get out and live life in the real world, feel the feels and shake peoples hands, and all of that nice stuff!

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17 minutes ago, mylolita said:

I can see the reasoning behind this suggestion but it’s kind of hiding away and not facing your anxiety and apprehensions face on.

Al-Anon is not AA. It's for people who wish support for having alcoholics in their lives.. There's nothing to face or confront.

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1 hour ago, Wiseman2 said:

Al-Anon is not AA. It's for people who wish support for having alcoholics in their lives.. There's nothing to face or confront.

I realise that, I think we all know that. I think you haven’t understood my point.
 

Isn’t it nice to talk over these issues and experiences with people in real life and not over a screen? Especially if there OP is nervous about it. It takes less confidence to hide behind online interactions and is much more beneficial for people to talk things through, especially personal experiences, face to face, in my opinion.

 

 

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On 3/29/2022 at 11:41 AM, Wiseman2 said:

Al-Anon is not AA. It's for people who wish support for having alcoholics in their lives.. There's nothing to face or confront.

I wish more people realized this.  I've told a few people I'm interested in going to these meetings and not all, but some of them have started spitting out all kinds of cliches about alcoholism as if I'm the one with a drinking problem.  I've learned it's probably best to keep this quiet since a lot of people seem to think Al Anon and AA are the same thing.  I'm not saying MyLolita thinks that, but a few people I know do.   

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1 hour ago, Cynder said:

I wish more people realized this.  I've told a few people I'm interested in going to these meetings and not all, but some of them have started spitting out all kinds of cliches about alcoholism as if I'm the one with a drinking problem.  I've learned it's probably best to keep this quiet since a lot of people seem to think Al Anon and AA are the same thing.  I'm not saying MyLolita thinks that, but a few people I know do.   

I’m sorry people presume you might have a drinking problem Cynder and think it is an AA meeting. Just correct them, they won’t mind, I’m sure they are just trying to support you or offer advice in their own way, it‘s probably easily confused and an easy mistake for people generally to make.

 

All the best,

 

Hope it goes well!

 

x

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I only have such indirect experience and all I know is both AA and Alanon are so highly regarded.  So - can you google your question as far as the typical way these meetings go to see how far out of your comfort zone you'd need to go? 

I'm reminded about when my son was around 9 and he took a 6 week acting course at our local theater.  Beginner.  They had the students sit in a circle and they were supposed to "share" their thoughts on something - you know one of those acting-related exercises.  Everyone did.  Except my son.  He told me said -neutrally, politely "I'll pass" and I believe that wasn't taken well.  I think it should have been. It was an extracurricular activity, he's his own person, at that moment he didn't care to share.  Same deal here - but keep it neutral, no apologies, etc.  I mean it's also fine to say "Thank you I'm not ready to share about that yet."

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35 minutes ago, mylolita said:

I’m sorry people presume you might have a drinking problem Cynder and think it is an AA meeting. Just correct them, they won’t mind, I’m sure they are just trying to support you or offer advice in their own way, it‘s probably easily confused and an easy mistake for people generally to make.

 

All the best,

 

Hope it goes well!

 

x

I have been correcting people.  A lot of people just lump all those groups together. 

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5 minutes ago, Cynder said:

I have been correcting people.  A lot of people just lump all those groups together. 

I understand - some people aren’t clued up even generally about things regarding addiction, mental health and the rest and they do go and speak maybe before they think. I’m sure they don’t mean harm. I know it’s annoying. You are doing a good thing though, whether you just attend and listen or whether you share or just introduce yourself, I’m sure only good and insightful things will come from it.

 

x

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21 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

I only have such indirect experience and all I know is both AA and Alanon are so highly regarded.  So - can you google your question as far as the typical way these meetings go to see how far out of your comfort zone you'd need to go? 

I'm reminded about when my son was around 9 and he took a 6 week acting course at our local theater.  Beginner.  They had the students sit in a circle and they were supposed to "share" their thoughts on something - you know one of those acting-related exercises.  Everyone did.  Except my son.  He told me said -neutrally, politely "I'll pass" and I believe that wasn't taken well.  I think it should have been. It was an extracurricular activity, he's his own person, at that moment he didn't care to share.  Same deal here - but keep it neutral, no apologies, etc.  I mean it's also fine to say "Thank you I'm not ready to share about that yet."

That really sucks for him.  My nephew is about that age and he has some anxiety issues.  He probably wouldn't want to share in that situation either and he's so sensitive that it not being taken well would probably really upset him. 

My number 1 worry tonight is that I won't be able to keep my emotions in check.  I'm actually really empathic around people.  I remember one time I went to the Vet's office to get my cat's medicine and there was a family in the waiting room who were about to have their dog put to sleep.  It was the parents and two daughters.  The one girl looked about 12, the other one looked about 16.  The Mom and the two daughters were just all sobbing and the two daughters didn't want to go back into the room. The Dad was trying to get them to come back and say goodbye to the dog and he was even choking up.   And here I am just standing at the counter waiting on them to get my cat's meds for me, and I'm watching this whole scene unfold, and I actually started tearing up.  I don't even know these people or their dog, but this is what I'm talking about.  When I see other people getting emotional it's hard to not get emotional.  I used to work in a drug rehab center.  Every time I saw a resident cry I had to go in the bathroom and cry. 

Idk... maybe it's because showing emotions wasn't allowed in my house growing up.  "You want something to cry about!" was my dad's catch phrase.  I know a lot of people who grew up in that situation bottle everything up.  But for some people it's the opposite and they just can't keep it in. 

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