Jan 21, 2010
So I am 19 days completely clean and sober today. And I went to my first AA/NA meeting last night. I don't know why I waited so long to go. It was wonderful. It was a small meeting. Total of 8 people there, including me. I knew about the meeting from a posting at my addiction counselor's office and had called the contact person earlier in the day. First, because it was a small meeting, I wanted to make sure the meeting was still on, and, second, so that it would be harder to chicken out at the last minute. Joe was so nice on the phone and let me know that the meeting was definitely "on" and it started at 7pm.
So I get to the meeting right at seven (Jersey traffic S-U-C-K-S by the way) and in the small foyer of the center, there's a grease board with the time of this meeting listed as 730. Oh well, I think...and head to the room anyway. As I get closer to the room, I hear people chatting and wonder if it's a different meeting. I peer around the door and see 3 people chatting at the table. Immediately, one says, "Amy?" and I say "yes". He comes up and shakes my hand and says, "Hi, I'm Joe". I'm so sorry I gave you the wrong time. I called all the meeting "regulars" and got some of them to come a half hour early so we wouldn't leave you hanging."
Can you believe it??? These people had never so much as heard my name before and rallied around me so that I wouldn't be sitting in this room by myself, waiting for them. It was so humbling and so touching to me. In that moment, I knew that this was where I had needed to be for a long time. You hear about the power of the fellowship, but I don't think anyone can understand what that really means until you feel it for yourself. And I felt it so strong, right there and then. And I was a stranger to them....a perfect stranger.
Well, maybe not a perfect stranger. I am an addict and an alcoholic and I learned last night how similar my story is to others'. The meeting started with introductions. All seven of them introduced themselves and told me their stories. Some have been long time addicts with stories dating back to before I was born. One was born the year I graduated high school. All variations of the same theme. For one reason or another, tried drugs or drink. Liked it. Liked it a lot. And the disease got its grips in each of us and turned us all into selfish liars with our DOC at the top of our priority list. Three of them have basically lost everything. They are divorced; their children are with their ex. They lost their careers and lost all their savings (from both drugs and legal problems) . When I told them that I almost didn't come tonight (one of my kids had to go to the doctor and I felt guilty about asking my husband to do it alone), Gus said, "If you put anything in front of your sobriety, you will lose it, guaranteed." It was exactly what I needed to hear.
Seeing where I could wind up is so incredibly powerful. It is even more motivation to stay the course, stay clean and stay sober. The meeting turned its focus into a reading from a small book I couldn't see the name of. I think it was a thought-of-the day kinda book and talked about sobriety as the foundation for living and how it can only be that foundation if you trust that by living sober, your life will turn out right. It's a lot to trust, but the payoff is immense.
During the meeting, I saw Joe take out this booklet and start passing it around. All 7 of them wrote their names and phone numbers on the back of the book. At first I thought they were making a roster or something, but the booklet never made it to me. Near the end of the meeting, joe handed me the booklet. It was a llist of every meeting in Northern New Jersey. And everyone's names and numbers were on the back. They encouraged me to call any number on there...any time of day, for any reason...even if I didn't even know why I wanted to call. Again, I was just blown away.
The meeting ended with everyone standing in a circe holding hands. We said the serenity prayer. Joe then thanked God for the ME, yes ME. Thanked Him for bringing a newcomer to the meeting.
I hate to sound mystical or all gushy, but this meeting was just amazing. Everyone there was genuine, real, raw, and open. I feel like I belong. And I do. I'm Amy. I'm an alcoholic and an addict.
Edited to add....somewhere out there is my dear friend, Richard. He tried to convince me to do this well over a year ago, and I ignored him. What a stooge I was. Although we don't talk anymore, I think of him a lot now, and wish I had wisened up back then and I could have shared my excitement about this first meeting with him and taken this journey with him. If you're out there anywhere, Richard, your freaky twin says thank you from the bottom of her healing heart. xoxo