A Story of Recovery:

Walking Through Fear

When I first came into FA several years ago, my sponsor made many suggestions to help me get abstinent and stay abstinent. I quickly got into the habit of taking them all. One of her earliest suggestions was about attending meetings. Because there was only one FA meeting in my area, some of my meetings would have to be AA meetings.  This horrified me!  It was bad enough that I was a food addict, but going to meetings with alcoholics was asking too much. I doubted if I would ever find enough willingness to take this suggestion.

Luckily I was granted a morsel of willingness and soon started researching AA meeting possibilities. To avoid running into anyone I knew, I strategically picked meetings outside of my immediate area and started scouting them out.  For many weeks, I simply drove to the meetings, sat in my car, and watched as people walked in. I wanted to make sure that the AA meetings I chose were big enough so that I would not be noticed.  One of my biggest fears was that someone would talk to me once I went inside. I was also afraid that I would be recognized as a newcomer and would be asked to introduce myself in front of the group. Another big fear was that I would be the only woman in the room.

Eventually, I chose a meeting that fit my criteria and decided to attend. To help ensure that no one had the chance to get to know me, I ran into the meeting right before it started and darted out the instant it ended. The best part of the meeting was that it was only 60 minutes long—30 minutes shorter than I had expected!

After several weeks of unnecessary driving, I realized how silly it was to travel so far to my meetings, especially when there were many options for me much closer to where I lived. After additional research, I found several AA meetings right in my hometown, and once again I went scouting.  On one occasion, I walked into the building and promptly ran out. I was gripped with fear.

I shared these stories with my sponsor, and she reminded me that I didn’t have to walk through my recovery alone. She gave me the names and numbers of others in FA who have attended or currently attend AA meetings, and suggested that I give them a call. The next week, I called my sponsor on the way to the AA meeting and she talked to me during the entire ride. When I arrived, she suggested that I turn off the car, say a quick prayer, get out of the car, and go inside. She also said I could call her after the meeting if I wanted to.  She was willing to “hold my hand” to help me walk through the fear.

I was relieved to see that the parking lot was full; this was a promising sign that it would be a big meeting and I could remain “invisible.”  But God had a sense of humor that night.  It turned out that there was another unrelated meeting going on at this location, and the majority of people were actually there for the other meeting!  I wound up walking into a small room with about eight people.  As soon as I stepped inside, someone said hello to me and asked if I was looking for the AA meeting. A few others smiled, nodded, and welcomed me. The only other woman in the room came over and introduced herself. I told her I wasn’t an alcoholic and that I was a member of another Twelve-Step program.  She assured me that I was welcomed, as this was an open meeting. When the meeting started, the leader explained that it was customary for each person in attendance to introduce him or herself.  At that point, all I could do was shake my head in disbelief—I was being confronted with one of my many fears. The amazing part was that despite this, I was still breathing. I was facing my fears and surviving.

It has been over five years since I first went to that small, male-dominated AA meeting. It has been a committed meeting for me ever since, and continues to be a meaningful part of my recovery. The meeting has grown to about 20 people, but it’s still mostly men. The core group of members each has about 25 years of sobriety. They have embraced me as one of their own. They know that I am a food addict and encourage me to participate, reminding me that I am a valued member of their group. They have even asked me to share my story.

I have so much to be grateful for.  With my sponsor’s guidance and God’s grace, I was able to pray for the willingness to change my thinking and take an action that has changed my recovery, and my life…forever.


This story was originally published in the connection Magazine. Subscribe to the connection Magazine for more stories of recovery. Or submit your own story of recovery.