I have been to 77 Meetings in 62 days. Certainly not an old timer. My father always said 80% of success is just showing up, I wonder what “success” is?
A woman that often sits next to me, we will call her Alice M. Lately, we have gotten to be a bit closer, I have given her rides to meetings because she lost her license. She has had to deal with a lot more than just getting sober in her life. She has had to stop drinking, deal with her driver’s license loss, potential jail time for a first offense and a risk on her professional license. None of which have I had on my plate. She shared that with the group and she and I have talked about it. She is sober 9 months. (7 months more than me.) She is quiet. She is a very nice person that encourages others. Yesterday when she shared, it was like a dam broke. She really cried. I am not sure where it came from but since she was sitting next to me and I put my hand on her while she told her latest challenge. I had never heard her share like that before, even when it was just she and I in my car together. She was really down.
Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree
Remember when all the kids in Charlie Brown’s Christmas went over to a bigger tree, undressed it and then dressed the sad looking tree and it turned into a beautiful tree made with love? Well, that is what it is like with our group when someone is sad, everyone gathers round and lifts the person up and they feel loved. No one fixes their problem but the person feels accepted and supported. As our friend quietly sobbed there were lots of hugs and numbers given to her and later on in the day she and I talked and later that night she sent me a text of thanks. I think we both felt good at the end of the day.
It was a big meeting (at least by our standards at 7:30am) and the reading really sparked a lot of people’s hearts and heads. There was lots of sharing. My friend again shared and once again she was being honest and though it was not as emotional as yesterday, she really was being very open with the group and I was happy to see that she was making progress. Another long sober man, we will call him Steve R., shared and many of us newer people felt like we were all in the same boat, fighting the demons together.
Raining on the Parade
Then it happened. One long sober old timer, we will call him Bill J. , decided it was his job to start ordering people as to how they should feel and how they shouldn’t share with the group, what should be shared with a sponsor or one on one with a contact. He proceeded to sound judgmental and preachy. I didn’t know where that was coming from but I just chalked it up to other inappropriate bossy shares of his and discounted him, (I know this is probably wrong but it is how I handle boundary making.) The whole room shut down. My friend Alice M., was horrified at herself. She took his comments (Bill J.’s) as directed at her. The other old timer (Steve R.) was also floored, thinking perhaps his share was out of line.
And I Thought I Was Safe Here
I found Alice M. and told her I didn’t think for one minute she was inappropriate in her sharing. I was glad she did. The leader of the meeting approached her and assured her that she felt the same way I did. And just because Bill J. has been sober for a long time (since 1977 he constantly mentions), doesn’t give him the right to tell anyone how they should feel. And as a long sober individual it didn’t make him a good role model necessarily. AA Meetings of our type are discussion meetings and nothing that she or anyone else shared today was “off limits” or “inappropriate” except maybe the sermon from Bill J.
Where there is people, there is imperfection
Chapter 5 of the Big Book says and we read it in How it Works “…Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. Neither the newcomer or the old timer. “Take what you need and leave the rest.” I have heard that said and I will – one day at a time.