Recently I took a trip to New York City. I went to a meeting in SoHo. I still haven’t decided if I should name the meetings I go to, or leave the names out to increase the chances for anonymity. My current feeling is that I will leave out meeting names when I’m sharing my experience with a particular meeting, but name them if I’m simply giving recommendations.
In this meeting in SoHo, a woman was reading the 12 steps for the group, as part of How it Works, and she began to sob uncontrollably. She looked inconsolable, her hair covering her face, the 12 step sheet falling onto the floor. Later she shared that it was her first meeting back after a relapse which came after many, many years in the program.
The meeting was good. That always happens when I’ve been staying away. It seems to be the case that facing my alcoholism, which is inevitably going to happen in meetings, is always a rewarding experience. When I haven’t gone to a meeting in a week or so, the next one I go to is always powerful for me, even if I feel like deeming a lot of it garbage. I thanked the speaker afterward, because he reminded me of what it felt like to blackout. He was speaking of a relapse and reminded me that when I would go back to drinking after a period of abstinence, I would always pick up where I left off. Blackout would come sooner and sooner. So I thanked him and it was awkward. Thanking the speaker is always awkward for me. The speakers don’t often want to talk to you. They want to meet you and move on. Or that’s how it seems or that’s not how it is, but that’s what I’m saying. But the part about the speaker wanting or not wanting to chat is not important; the important part is hearing what he said.
I only attended that one meeting in New York, despite being there for two full weeks. If I were sharing at AA, I might expect myself to say: I have many excuses for not going to more – I wasn’t familiar with the area, sightseeing always took longer than I expected – but I didn’t go because I didn’t put recovery first, which is not good or bad, just a fact. I was worried about what my boyfriend and my friends would think and feel if I abandoned half the day’s plans in search of a meeting. I didn’t want to miss out. I might expect myself to go on and say: The truth is, I wouldn’t really be missing out – all of my life experiences are enhanced when I’m in touch with my recovery. I would have been gaining so much. That’s what I’d expect to share and I’m pretty sure that’s what I believe, but it’s complicated.