Katie M. at ICSAA 2018

Katie M., originally from Ireland and now residing in Belgium, was one of the Friday night Fellowship Speakers at the International Conference of Secular AA held in Toronto, Ontario from August 24-26, 2018. 


00:00 Joe C: Okay, let’s change time zones. Somewhere in the world, this meeting started at midnight. One of those places, if I got the numbers right… Katie, you can correct my math, but from Belgium, please welcome Katie M.


00:25 Katie M: Hello. I’m…

00:26 Katie M: Hello.

00:27 Katie M: Can you hear me?

00:28 Katie M: Yes.

00:29 Katie M: That’s what I always say when I go online to the online meetings, “Can you hear me?”


00:34 Katie M: ‘Cause I have to unmute myself.


00:37 Katie M: I’m Katie, I’m an alcoholic.

00:39 Audience: Hi, Katie.

00:40 Katie M: So I’m fucked, right?


00:43 Katie M: That’s my potty piece, by the way, for the whole weekend. I said it already at another meeting. And I’m also an atheist, so I’m doubly fucked, right?


00:52 Katie M: I grew up in Ireland, of course, and my family were… Went to church and everything, and I’d two aunts who were nuns. And somewhere in the family, there was a monsignor, that’s something close to a bishop or something.


01:09 Katie M: And I used to question God and my mother used to go crazy when I’d do that. And I’d say things like, “God is in your heart,” or something like this and she’d go stark raving mad. And we had to go to mass every Sunday, and I’d just hang out at the corner shop where you could get sweets for a penny, and I’d smoke cigarettes with cool guys, you know.


01:35 Katie M: And then when the mass was over, I’d go home, and that was how I dealt with religion then. I’m very grateful to be sober. I got sober when I was 36. I was a mother of two when I got sober. My kids were four and six years. And because I got sober, I could give them a childhood, and that it wasn’t too late to make it up with them… To make it up to them, and that’s what it means to me. I got sober in traditional AA in Brussels. From day one I fell in love with sobriety and I’ve been in love with it ever since. It doesn’t mean to say it’s been easy. True love never runs smooth, of course.


02:19 Katie M: But deep down in my heart, I’m very, very grateful to be sober. My life changed completely. I was… I was… I got sober two years after my husband died. I cut him down. And because of that, I used to say in the meetings, it was a blessing that he died because I’d never have left him and it… I’m not saying… He didn’t save me or anything like that, but because of what he did, it led to the… It led like further down the road for me to be sober and it freed me like… Because he was dead, ’cause I’d never have been able to left… To leave him, and the kids would have been still in the hell of the marriage and everything. So he died, I got sober two years later and it’s… There’s a connection, that’s what I’m trying to say. But he didn’t get me sober, I did that myself.

03:14 Katie M: So I was drinking away, and my children, I was neglecting them, the social services were on to me. I didn’t lose them but the social services were on to me and I was on the verge of losing them. I didn’t care about them. I’d go… I’d go and run off with guys who I just met and try and get someone to look after them and I’d run off to England or something for a night, and some trucker. And that’s what it was like during the end.

03:45 Katie M: So yeah, I got sober and everything changed. I became a mother, and that was the most important thing to me, in my early sobriety. I took my children to playgrounds, I put them on swings, I pushed them. This wasn’t normal. I was just dragging them from pub to pub, and this is what happened when I got sober, and I loved it. And the day after my first meeting, I couldn’t wait to get out of there and to rush home and to get my kids from school and that wasn’t me. That wasn’t like the mother I was. The drink was more important to me. And that night, I was putting my daughter to bed and everything became really clear, because she had her arms out and I just felt all this love coming from her, and that was after my first meeting. So that’s how sobriety was for me. In those days, like I’m… Nearly 12 years, and I’m just gonna say it very quickly, I don’t mean to be taking up too much time or anything, but I don’t really have a lot to say about secular AA in Belgium, you know. But I’ll get to that.

04:49 Katie M: So like, for the first three years of my sobriety, I went to AA in Brussels. I traveled there, it took me an hour and 10 each way by train. So it would take a good chunk out of the day for me, you know. About six hours, six to eight hours by the time I got to a meeting and home, and I did that. It’s nothing got to do with higher power, or God, I did that. I made the effort and I give myself credit for that. I got babysitters for my children, it was nothing to do with a higher power. I did it. And… I didn’t really focus on God when I got sober or the interpretation of God, this higher power as it is… That it was… That’s what it just is for me, because I just loved the life I had and I loved being a mother, and I loved having a bit of dignity for myself when it came to men and all that, and… So I never really focused on the God stuff or higher power or I never shared about this, but I’d hear stuff, jokes in meetings about, “Oh, my higher power had a sense of humor,” and all this. And that used to piss me off.


05:54 Katie M: And I’d hear things like, “Oh my higher power got me this parking space.”


06:00 Katie M: And I’d hear things like, “Oh, my higher power plucked me from the street and got me in here sober,” you know? And stuff like this. And that used to piss me off a little bit. But most of the time, I got something from the meetings and that’s what helped me to stay sober. I got something. It was like… Part of it was like getting oxygen. I just got what I needed to stay away from the drink. So anyway, for the first… To hurry up. For the first three years I went there, and I had a lot of arguments with sponsors. I had 10 of them and I fired them all.


06:33 Katie M: I did. Not one of them fired me but I fired them. Fired them all. I says, “Can’t you relax after 20 years of sobriety? And Jesus, what’s wrong with you?”


06:43 Katie M: So anyway, for the first three years, I went there and then I stopped going. I don’t know why. Maybe it was subconsciously or something. I stopped going and I didn’t go for five years. I didn’t relapse or take a drink or a drug. I learned how to drive without meetings. I passed my test without meetings. I bought… I sold a house without meetings. I bought a house without meetings. I did a lot of things without meetings. My mother got dementia, I dealt with that. My father got dementia, he died. I did all this without meetings and I didn’t drink. I didn’t. And it was possible for me to do that without meetings. Then I had a crisis, and I went back to the meetings after five years, and I did service. And then I started to get really pissed off about hearing the same thing over and over again from the same literature, okay? I just… It used to bother me. And then I started searching and then I found these podcasts online by John Sheldon, here, and I used to listen to them every Wednesday afternoon. I used to get them then in the afternoon. I used to listen to them and I used to imagine what face you had with that voice, John, you know?


07:50 Katie M: And then I searched more… And this is the good stuff. Where are ye? Is my crew there? I can’t see them. Here you are. [laughter] And then I searched more and I found online secular meetings. And then everything changed. And I had my medicine right there and I didn’t need to go to Brussels anymore, and sit there and get pissed off or waste my train ticket. Because I got what I needed from all my crew on the online meetings. And you’re over there and over there. And two of my friends… Oh, no, you’re back. That’s good.


08:26 Katie M: I thought you left the room when I was going to speak. Oh, and you’re… And you’re back, too, over there, the Paris fellow. Yeah, that’s great. Great stuff. You’re in the good books again. So anyway, yeah… What do I say? I don’t know. Rock on, rock on the online meetings. Rock on. I love ye. I love ye and I look forward to seeing you every Saturday and Sunday. And you really, really helped me. And I share my shit and I feel better. And the most important thing is, I don’t need to drink again. Not for today, anyway. I’m not saying I’ll never drink again, but I don’t need to drink again. And I have you all with me, and I have the connection, and that’s what keeps me going. And I’m sorry if I went on too much, you know? But I am Irish, you know?


09:13 Katie M: But no, I haven’t kissed the Blarney Stone, not yet. So I’ll be worse, then, when I come back in two more years to another convention. So yeah, I’ll just stop there. I’m very… It’s very… I’m very… It’s… Yeah. Di-di-di-di. I’m very grateful to be here and not to feel isolated and alone in my sobriety. Because I don’t know what’s worse, being isolated and alone and drunk or being isolated and alone and sober, wondering where can you go because something… Because you’re not getting something out of something anymore. And that’s all I have and thanks very much. And I’m sorry for going on.


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  1. Geraldine M November 20, 2018 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie – I met you on the Saturday on-line meeting – Carol from the Yorba Linda Securlar meeting told me to try it.  Turns out online meetings aren’t my thing, but I always enjoyed hearing your share so honestly and with lots of humor.  The humor is what hooked me in the early days of my sobriety, back in 1989.  Didn’t believe in any kind of god when I got here; strove to fake it, then just said screw it to the god/hp aspect of AA.  Ended up making me feel isolated one more time and almost left AA.  Then, like you, found this big, beautiful, group of sober, secular AA’s and life is so great again.  Glad to find your presentation on AA Beyond Belief this past Sunday.  I still attend the Yorba Linda meeting, but am slowly losing interest in the traditional meetings for the most part.  All the best to you, and peace in the coming holidays.

    • Katie November 23, 2018 at 3:36 am Reply

      A big Helloo Geraldine I remember you well!It’s good you have good  F2F meetings can’t beat them .Lovely to hear from as always .Peace and warmth for the days




  2. life-j November 18, 2018 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Katie, thank you. It was great to hear you.

    • Katie November 20, 2018 at 6:16 am Reply

      Thank you Life-j and great to hear you too

  3. John Huey November 14, 2018 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    You are the BEST my friend! So glad you are there to carry the message in your inimitable way to the many people out there who need to hear what you have to say!

    So glad to have found you there amongst my European atheist brethren..


    • Katie November 15, 2018 at 12:28 pm Reply

      Thank you  John .We will have some party in 2020!

  4. Katie November 14, 2018 at 3:13 pm - Reply

    Hi Marty Thank you.See you in DC!


  5. marty nieski November 14, 2018 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Katie,  You sat at my table on Friday in Toronto.  You  were funny then and I’m sure you’re are funny now.  It is nice reading our talk on-line: reminds me of the convention which was quite inspiring.  I’ll look for you in D.C.

    Yours in sobriety,

    Marty Nieski Woodstock. Connecticut USA


  6. Reid B. November 14, 2018 at 9:00 am - Reply

    “Oh my higher power got me this parking space.”

    Yeah, and your higher power took the parking space that I was hoping to get — and that my higher power (clearly a lower power in this case) had said I was going to get!

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