Magazine

From the September 2013 magazine.

September 2013: Don't Hug Me!

Sometimes it takes a while to warm up to AA's cheery ways

I recently heard, on two separate occasions, members of AA gently chide a group for not having a greeter at the door. Having someone stand at the door saying hello, shaking hands, or even hugging people as they enter isn’t welcoming to me—it’s scary. And that’s how I feel after 17 years sober. If it’d happened to me in my early days of my sobriety I would’ve run like hell. I understand that this is standard practice, even a custom, in some places. Many people feel relieved to be noticed and happy to be greeted directly. It’s a matter of perspective. They did not do this at the meetings where I got sober, and I’m ever so grateful for that. I had never been an extremely social person to begin with, and alcoholism took me even further away from humanity during my drinking.

The first AA meetings I attended did not revolve around me. People did not ask me to introduce myself or do anything at all. They suggested that we should try to help others, and that was it. I didn’t get a lot of personal attention, thank God. We did not go around the room and introduce ourselves. Occasionally someone would ask me my name, but I’m sure they soon forgot it. I was petrified the few times I raised my hand to share in a meeting. I wasn’t required to be a sponsor, and if I chose to be one, I didn’t have to inform the group of my decision by raising my hand (a practice my home group has recently voted for.)

-- Anonymous

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