Take What You Need And Leave The Rest
If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people. -Virginia Woolf
Man, did I have a crazy AA experience today. I attended a meeting that was like a second home to me in my earliest sobriety (come to think of it, it was actually more like a first home at that point in time!). I try to get there once a week these days, and today was the day. Which was extra nice, because I celebrated 10 months yesterday, and was able to do it with my original clan today. But I digress…
A woman I know well was there, and, to put it bluntly, seemed stoned in every way… her words were slurred, her gait was off-balance, her eyes unfocused. That fact alone is upsetting enough, but to add to my alarm is that I know her personally, she actually has about a month or so less sober time than I do, and I met her at her very first post-rehab meeting. Now, a person in recovery who has potentially relapsed is, sadly, not a new story, but here’s the twist: She was chairing this particular meeting, and she was not acknowledging her altered state in any way. This led to all sorts of difficulties within the meeting… it was difficult to understand her, she “held the group hostage” with her speaking, and, therefore, by the time she opened it up to the group for sharing, there were only 8 minutes left in a 60-minute meeting.
And here’s where the drama begins… an agitated member spent the remaining minutes yelling and cursing about how angry he was at this situation. I have honestly never felt as uncomfortable in an AA meeting as I did today. While he certainly had a right to his frustration, he (in my opinion) exacerbated an already tense situation.
So, what do I take and what do I leave? Whatever the opposite of “strong suit” is, that is my relationship with confrontation, I am impossibly bad at it. And yet, I was legitimately concerned for her well-being. A friend and I tried to speak with her after the meeting, she claimed she was exhausted and nothing more. She had sober women who were driving her, so the immediate safety concern was resolved.
I guess what I can take from this morning’s adventures is “there but for the Grace of God go I.” I am so grateful to be sober today, and for there to be no question of my sobriety. I can also use this as an example of what NOT to do. When you chair a meeting, you have an extra responsibility to the group, and this morning was a big reminder of that fact. And I will leave that man’s agitation, and his judgments, behind… I am responsible for my own recovery, not anyone else’s, and if someone is unwilling to be honest and reach out for help, then there is not much more I can do except be there if and when the time comes.