Some people come to an Alcoholics Anonymous event for the first time when they attend a roundup.
You can lose yourself in the crowd because there are people from all over, and learn about the organization,” said Ian, a 34-year member. In AA, some use only first names to preserve their privacy.
The Roundup, starting today, includes a Friday evening session, speakers and a dance Saturday, with breakfast and a speaker Sunday morning.
Jodi, a 10-year member, is looking forward to the Roundup.
“If I had tried to imagine my life after drinking, I would have shortchanged myself. It is so much better than I would ever have thought,” she said.
She started drinking at 12.
I had a feeling of unworthiness as a kid and drinking made me feel part of it. I came from an alcoholic family and we were allowed to drink at home, it was a normal way of life, she said.
She partied on weekends through high school and didn’t pay much attention to her studies but did graduate.
“I was 18 when I first considered that I’d crossed the line into alcoholic drinking in amount and frequency. I wanted to live a different way but I didn’t know how to change things.”
She worked at a bar from ages 19 to 26.
“A bar is a perfect place for an alcoholic to work. I was drinking daily, morning to night. I still had the desire to quit drinking and live a sober life and at 26 I went to a counselor,” she said.
The counselor encouraged her to go to AA meetings.
“I resisted it for about eight sessions and finally she wrote the name of a meeting to go to, when and where. When I walked in she was sitting in the front row. I was inspired by the stories I heard at the meeting but for whatever reason, it wasn’t my time,” she said.
“I decided I would do it my way and I did for eight years but it was hard. I got to the point where I couldn’t manage my own life. I learned that no human power could relieve my alcoholism. I went to an AA meeting and a woman came up to me and said, ‘I know how you feel. I know where you are, I know how to get out.’ She became my sponsor.”
Jodi started to work the program.
Ian explained that the program is entirely voluntary, individual and anonymous.
“It is a program of attraction. We don’t tell anybody what to do at all. We show them what we’re doing. They see what our members are doing and that they can do that too,” he said.
That’s what Jodi did.
“I admired my sponsor, how she lived, how she handled herself. I wanted what she had. It was a miracle. The steps helped me to have a change in personality, my attitude changed, my thinking changed, my reactions changed. My whole life changed. I could be a better parent and a better friend. The results of doing the 12 Steps brings about a spiritual experience which our Big Book (basic text) calls a change in personality sufficient to bring about recovery from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.
“Now I go to five meetings a week because I’m undisciplined and it keeps me living in the solution. I also go to give back what was so freely given to me and to help the newcomers. Now I sponsor girls. I find it rewarding to get out of self and help others and watch the miracle take place in someone else’s life. It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”