Walking up the street to your first C.A. meeting you may notice a few people hanging outside the entrance, one of these will be there to give a warm welcome to all who arrive, sometimes with hugs sometimes with a handshake.
We do hug quite a lot in C.A. but don’t be intimidated and it is not obligatory. If you don’t feel comfortable with a hug just put out your hand to be shaken.
They will generally ask if it is your first time at a meeting and then guide you inside where you will be offered a cup of tea or coffee and some biscuits. The room will have chairs laid out in a circle or in rows, at the front of the room will be a table and two chairs, this is for the secretary (the person who takes the meeting) and for a member of C.A. who has come along to share their story.
Some meetings may only have a few members others may have over thirty, don’t let this daunt you, we were all new once and remember how scared and nervous we felt.
When the meeting starts everyone goes around introducing themselves by first name only, there will then be a few readings from our literature which outline in a basic way how C.A. works, then the member of C.A. who has come along to share their story will talk for about fifteen minutes after which everyone else will have the opportunity to share back for a few minutes. Some meetings set aside time for newcomers to share as we know it takes quite a lot of courage to speak up, don’t worry though, as you don’t have to share if you don’t want to or you can share anytime throughout the meeting. Not all members share.
We will also pass a pot for donations, if it is your first meeting or you don’t believe you are an addict you don’t have to put any money in the pot, some members put in a few pence and others a few pounds, if you’d like to donate please do, if not that’s fine. We’re not here to make money – we are here to get clean and sober by helping each other (including you) to get clean and sober.
We also hand out keyrings in meetings, these are a way to acknowledge how much clean time we have and to show that the program works. At the end of the meeting we say what is known as the Serenity Prayer, we either get in a circle and hold hands, remain seated or put our arms around each other. Don’t worry if you don’t know the words.
Afterwards we all all help to tidy up, put the chairs away and wash the cups. Some members may go for a coffee afterwards (you will be welcome to join them) and telephone numbers are swapped, so that we can give each other support until the next meeting.