AA Driars Club
Every time I walk into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I’m reminded I’m a liar and a sneak. I don’t say that with any desire to self-disclose anything beyond what I just wrote. I think anyone who walks into an AA meeting and listens with an open mind will walk out feeling like they need to work on this aspect of their personality. There’s a different level of honesty required at these meetings, and even casual visitors can tell by the raw emotion that they’re witnessing an honest-to-higher-power spiritual activity.
I attended the regular Lunch Bunch meeting of the AA Driars Club, 345 S. Wells Ave., on a Tuesday. The building exudes age and tradition.
I don’t wish to violate anyone’s anonymity, but I think it’s also important that readers are aware that there’s a place to go if they’re feeling powerless over alcohol. I think that this column gives them a bit of preparation to go into a meeting without fear that they’re going to be judged or are going to see a kind of cult that will make them uncomfortable—at least not because of unfamiliarity.
The building feels like a converted old home. It has a variety of seating, from kitchen stools to easy chairs. There are tables scattered around the open room, with old photos, bulletin boards and paintings on the walls. At the front of the room are two brown posters—The Twelve Steps and The Twelve Traditions—that look hand-lettered. In front of the posters is an ancient white desk emblazoned with the AA triangle logo.
Every meeting has a slightly different style, developed by years of practice. This one began with a moment of silence followed by the Serenity Prayer, followed by going around the room to the mantra, “Hi, I’m —-, and I’m an alcoholic.” I’ve written about AA twice in the two-and-then-some years I’ve been doing this spirituality column, and glancing back, I realized we’ve never actually published the Twelve Steps. Please forgive that oversight, I realize that it’s crucial to understanding the group.
THE TWELVE STEPS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS: 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
These steps and then the Twelve Traditions were read aloud, followed by a reading out of the AA Big Book about the author’s first visit to an AA meeting. After that, one person after another told their stories of what their lives were like when they were drinking and what their lives are like now.
During this meeting, one woman received her 25 year birthday pin. That means 25 years without drinking alcohol. 25 years.
The meeting ended with the Lord’s Prayer, followed by the words, “Keep coming back; it works.” I knew as I left that some of these people would return, some would not.