One of the things I like best about my home group in AA is that when I show up early, I get to set up the meeting which I enjoy doing. But there is another reason why I show up earlier that is much more important. There always seems to be at least one person who shows up just as early as me that is relatively brand new to the program who I get to say hello to.
I imagine sometimes the founders of AA, Bill and Bob, walking into a meeting in the early stages of the program, and going up to everyone present and introducing themselves and establishing a connection, especially to the newcomers. Sadly today, I have found that at many AA meetings, people show up that have been around for awhile and just socialize with those that they know and ignore those they don’t. While being social with other fellow alcoholics is important, I try to believe that Bill and Bob’s original intention was to help out every newcomer by initially making them feel welcome.
Walking into an AA meeting for the very first time or maybe even for the first few times is overwhelming. Those that have been around for awhile always seem so happy, smiling, and socializing, while the newcomer generally sits alone and is scared, angry, afraid, or one of any other number of emotions that can overwhelm their psyche. My first reaction in my early experiences with AA was to run out the back door. Having had someone come up to me and shake my hand and then tell me that they were glad I was there was key to keeping me from doing just that.
At this week’s home group, after I had set up the room, I saw a person sitting there by himself looking down at the ground. I’m not sure if it was the lost look he was portraying or if it was just the fact that I had never seen him before, but nonetheless I felt compelled to go up and say hello. After introducing myself, I asked if he was new and he replied it was his second day of sobriety and his second meeting. I gave him a friendly welcome and spoke about home groups in AA and told him if he had any questions at all about anything to just ask. I hope I see him next week but either way, I believe that I did what Bill and Bob probably would have all those years ago when AA first began. I made a newcomer feel welcomed and outstretched a friendly hand letting that person know they were not alone.
All of us in AA were at one point a newcomer and I know in my case, because of someone who welcomed me there, I stayed and I’m glad I did. AA has saved my life, brought me closer to God, and shown me how to help someone just like me who is trying to recover as well.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson