Introduction: I’ve never been to a meeting – Part 1  / Introduction: I’ve never been to a meeting – Part 2

Every consistent 12-stepper admits that “it is easy to recover — one only needs to change one thing… everything.” The most difficult part is getting to that first meeting. Change starts before one ever gets through those doors. It begins in your heart when you know you need to get help. The stories told in recovery rooms about people’s first meeting experiences often cause laughter:

“I parked ten blocks away and used a false name when I first showed up…”


“I sat outside three meetings before I managed to open my car door and then at least once, I got out and couldn’t make it to the gate and so I went home…”


“I traveled 120 miles one way to go to a meeting where I knew no one would possibly know me, and then when I got there, I found out that someone from my church had exactly the same idea…”

A couple of things stand out:

  1. “I” is at the center of the stories. My electronic editor informed me that “I” was repeated too often. But in these stories and the stories of addiction everywhere, “I” is central to the story and is the primary cause and force in the story. The addict’s first idol is always self. This is a problem that the Triune God solved. As Helen Roseveare stated at Urbana ’87, “Jesus came to cross out the “I.”
    Helen Roseveare

    Dr Helen Roseveare peaking at Urbana ’87

    What she didn’t say is that often the way He chooses to do so is through 12-step / 12-tradition meetings. It is a tool of the Evil One that these meetings appear to be so ominous to the pharisaical addict who has not yet discovered recovery. Part of the process of crossing out the “I” is walking through the doors of a meeting for the very first time.

  2. Many times the biggest fear of going to a meeting is that you’ll run into someone you know. The reality is that if you know someone in the meeting, they are also addicts. They are not in a place to violate your anonymity without breaking their own. And, perhaps more importantly, recovering addicts support one another in ways that “normies” can’t understand. Recovering addicts bend over backward to protect other recovering addicts. While it is impossible to promise that there is no gossip in 12-step / 12-tradition meetings, the traditions along with the need for interdependence in the recovery community, substantially reduces its harm.

If you have not attended a meeting for one of the reasons listed here, you are not alone. We’ve all faced that seemingly insurmountable fear. Please, have courage. Take steps and make an attempt to attend a meeting either near you or 120 miles away. You may sit in your car and not go in the first time, but at least, go, sit in your vehicle, and pray, asking for the strength you need to to open the door and take a step toward the meeting room. I can assure you that God likes those prayers. You should try Him.

A Request: You might have another reason for not going to a meeting. Can you please leave it in the comments section and allow me the opportunity to respond. After all these years, I’ve seen and heard a lot. But I am sure I’ve not heard it all. I’d love the opportunity to think about things I have yet to address. Thanks ~~SPG

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