Once inside, you’ll be confronted with all kinds of language and rules that you’ve never known before.
It can seem like everyone else knows what’s going on except you, and the best move might seem to be just keeping your mouth shut.
Indeed, many meetings request that newcomers wait to share until they have a certain amount of time, ensuring that they know the rules once they take the floor at a meeting.
Some oldtimers joke, “Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.”
If that’s the case with the meeting that you’re at, they’ll announce it at the beginning.
But most meetings recognize that sharing is an important part of early recovery. If the meeting you are in allows it, and the floor is open for your share, where do you start?
In 12 Step fellowships, the process of beginning a share and introducing yourself is called “identifying.”
I.e., “My name is Julie and I’m an alcoholic.”
If you’re not sure you really are an alcoholic or addict just yet, most meetings will request that you just listen. That will be explained at the beginning too, with language like, “We ask that only addicts or alcoholics share.”
And if you’re not sure whether you should identify as an alcoholic, an addict, a codependent, or something else, just listen and take the lead of others who’ve shared. Some AA meetings prefer that everyone identify as an alcoholic, rather than an addict, for example.
Either way, it’s important that you start off with an introduction. If you don’t, you’re likely to be met with a chorus of “Who are you?”s from the rest of the room.
Identifying is how your fellow 12-Steppers start to get to know you. More importantly, saying the words out loud is the beginning of your very first step, Step One: realizing that you are truly powerless and that life has become unmanageable.