Ten years ago, my best friend hit her bottom and checked herself into a recovery program. Released from the hospital before she felt ready, she immersed herself into the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. At the time, our group of friends was shocked. While proud of her for taking steps to heal, we were also feeling disillusioned while left in her dust.
Intimidated, I suppose about one of “us” taking steps to get sober.
A few months into her recovery I recall the mad gossip via phone, spanning many states. Was she still going to “those” meetings? When did she think she would be done? Would she ever be able to drink with us again? She was, after all, “class partier” in high school. She was now setting a new standard too high for us drunks aspire to.
In a personal one-on-one conversation, I once asked if she feared AA meetings becoming an addiction replacement for alcohol…like that could maybe be a bad thing. An addiction to recovery?
Fast forward to 2015.
AA meetings are now a comfortable component of my own daily regimen. Taking in one or sometimes two per day, depending on the condition of my emotional sobriety. While the meetings alone are not my lifeline in recovery, they are an essential factor. I can honestly say, the meetings have become somewhat of a habit, not one I want to remedy.
Recently I was on a trip to help a friend relocate across the country. The first few days of my visit I was able to catch up with that old friend from paragraph one. She is 10 years sober now and married to a wonderful man; sober 26 years. While staying with them, it was like an AA meeting at my disposal. Not forced and without structure, this friendship offered me solace on my first solo sober holiday.
Fast forward to the second half of said trip.
Let’s just say, this relocation was not as structured as I had envisioned. Much more labor intensive than I was prepared for. My expectations were COMPLETELY different than the reality I walked into. I found myself suddenly overwhelmed, emotionally fragile, and extremely homesick. Setting boundaries is still a wicked learning curve and one I didn’t broach in a timely manner.
I should have. I could have. I didn’t.
Instead, I sat in turmoil, trying not to rage out about the situation. Anger and anxiety festering in me as it hadn’t in over a year. My deficiency of speaking up was like laying out a welcome mat for bad emotions to attack my sobriety.
It took one call from my boyfriend. One bit of advice from him, homework as he called it: “Get to a meeting.”
So. Damn. Simple.
Yet, for days I “forgot” about my program.
I attended a meeting that evening. I entered a room with a group of 10 men. Their friendly welcome of “Well, hello young lady!” made tears well up in my eyes. I had suddenly entered my comfort zone. The place where I fit, the fellowship that feels like home.
The meeting topic that night was: The Importance of Meetings
I attended another meeting while away. Again, with indescribable relief and gratitude. I was able to share my road woes with people also on this journey known as sobriety. I even accepted a couple of hugs as I departed the hall into the Phoenix sunset. Still homesick, but no longer weary.
There is a lesson here. My sobriety must come first. I can talk that talk all I want. But until this trip, I didn’t realize the importance of walking the walk. No person, place, or thing should come first. I can’t be a good mom, friend, employee if I don’t nurture my soberness and make it a priority. There simply is not a good reason to set aside my dedication to the path I am on. Never again will I allow a situation to dictate when or even how, I get to a meeting.
I also noticed that this friend took a recipe of medications each night to maintain her vigor. While my disease isn’t outwardly visible, my sobriety does require a maintenance program. Mine consists of reading (without distraction or audio chaos) my big book, attending meetings, and prayer/meditation. I neglected to let her know that this “prescription” of mine, while not a pill, is just as necessary as her nightly treatment.
These lessons, are the silver lining, among many, of my sober trip across the country.
I am Kellie. I am shamelessly addicted to meetings. I am proud of it.