Monday, December 26, 2011

A part of AA I don't often connect with

Yesterday afternoon, my family all left about 1:30. I began thinking seriously about all I had to do today ( I leave tomorrow for a 10-day writing retreat) and there was no way I could fit in a meeting at my home group, so I went online and looked for something close and soon. There was a Speaker Meeting at an address about 10 minutes away. I knew where it was, just didn't know what it was. It turned out to be an AA clubhouse in a storefront in a part of Portland that moves east into much cheaper, shabbier neighborhoods. (My neighborhood isn't chic by any means (it's a very old, working class neighborhood of Portland) but it's become trendy with young people and is very tolerant of gays so we have a wide range of ages and styles around here and most people are moving up.) This was definitely something different.

The storefront was weirdly arranged with a warren of small rooms and then a long narrow back room. There had obviously been a Christmas potluck going on and there were a dozen people at small tables talking and eating pie. No one spoke to me, no one even nodded at me, and all my old shyness and insecurities came rushing back at me. I realized I was still in my holiday clothes, not in jeans and old jackets like most of these folks.

Then a white-haired woman beckoned me into the long back room and introduced herself and we chatted a little. One of the first things she asked me was my sobriety date and I found that odd, but it turned out to be an Oldtimers' meeting and I wondered if you had to be an Oldtimer to go. She had 38 years in the program. I took a seat, I was a few minutes early and the few men at the table were the leather-skinned, bedraggled veterans of the alcohol wars that I used to see in my first meetings in Pennsylvania where there were mostly very low bottom drunks coming in. One of the meetings was called Sober Up of Die.

The speaker had 30 years and I looked forward to his sharing but he was a terrible speaker. He meandered around, spoke almost not at all about alcohol or alcoholism but gave us way more intimate details than any of us wanted about his 4 wives, 9 kids, and even more grandkids. There was no real lesson learned. He just seemed to need to talk about all that. And I listened and thought about my own trajectory in the program, the years I've been sober, the years I've been more sane than not. And I was glad to be there and to be reminded that I've been more than lucky in this life. Not only am I sober, but I didn't lose everything like some of these folks who not only lost the relationships and the money but the wherewithal to get it back.

That meeting wasn't what I was looking for and it was out of my comfort zone and it was perfect. God bless us, everyone!

1 comment:

Hilary said...

I totally stumbled upon your blog, and read about the meeting that wasn't just right, but really was. It brought me back to many years ago......I was as miserable as anyone could get, married to an alcoholic who was abusive and destructive.
I searched for a meeting, found one an hour away, and went. Imagine my surprise, when I realized that I wasn't at an Al Anon meeting at all, but a women's AA meeting. In my fragile state, I started crying, and a young girl next to me patted my arm, and said, are you ok? I said, "I'm in the wrong place, I don't drink."
That had to be the most ridiculous thing I could have said, but I said it. They all smiled, and said, it's ok, stay anyway. I did stay, and when I left, they sent me to an Al Anon meeting not far away, and that was the beginning of the life I am grateful for now.
Congrats to you, and warm wishes. Hilary