M(3), 8/11: Best. Meeting. Ever!
Happy Monday, once again! I really hope I haven’t used this title before, and I am too lazy to search, but even if I did I was incorrect then, because this meeting was truly the best one to date. I will prove this point right after I give you the nuts and bolts. Being the second Monday of the month, we read from the book Living Sober, which, as I have written countless times, is a fabulous “how to” book for novices in sobriety. Each short chapter highlights a different issue with which people in early recovery grapple, and it gives practical sound advice for how to successfully jump that particular hurdle.
As fate would have it, a newcomer to the Fellowship had me beat to the meeting, and was there to greet me at the door. He had come to the meeting last week, so it’s always good to see someone new two weeks running. As I was setting up the meeting, I asked if he ever seen or had a chance to read Living Sober before. He had not, so I explained how useful it can be to those in early recovery, and we discussed different ways for him to purchase the book. Then the light bulb went off in my head, and I requested that he peruse the table of contents and select the chapter that stood out for him, and we would focus today’s meeting on his selection. I’m still patting myself on the back for this idea… what’s better than someone brand new to recovery picking out the day’s topic?!?
The meeting was off to a great start, 30 minutes before the meeting actually started! And it only got better from there. I will list all the reasons today’s meeting was awesome:
As we like to say in my 12-step fellowship, the most important person in the room is the newcomer. And boy did we have a lot of VIP’s today! Besides the gentleman I just wrote about, one of the regular attendees brought a woman to this meeting, and it was her very first 12-step meeting, ever! Honestly, I had a bit of nerves when I heard that fact, which is totally ridiculous, but true nonetheless: what if I say or do something that has her writing off 12-step meetings forever? Thankfully, we had a chance to talk at the break, and after the meeting, and that did not appear to be the case. Here’s hoping I see her next week! Besides her, we had 3 others new to both my meeting, and to recovery itself. All three had less than 4 months. There were also two others who were new to this meeting, but I did not get a chance to speak with personally, so I am unclear on their length of sobriety. Which brings me to the second reason the meeting was amazing…
We had a record attendance today by a landslide. I actually stopped counting after 18, but I am guessing we had 21 or 22 attendees this morning. We filled almost every chair in the room! Certainly it is quality and not quantity that makes a meeting; I have been at truly fantastic meetings where there were just three of us in attendance. However, the fact that the numbers are growing can only mean good things for the group and its survival.
3. The “Magic of the Meeting”
I have spoken of this concept before: the miracles that happen so often in 12-step meetings. This morning a woman was at home, newly sober, and her husband was going back to work for the first time since she’s been sober; she will, therefore be alone for the first time in sobriety. Anxiously crying about it to herself this morning, her sponsor unexpectedly called her to check in, and she shared her fears about being alone. Her sponsor’s advice: get to the first meeting you can, which turned out to be the one I run. The topic that was selected for today’s meeting? Fending off loneliness. She cried as she shared this story, she was so overcome.
4. The Relatability of the Topic
As I mentioned above, the topic was loneliness, which branches in many directions for us alcoholics: the increased isolation we impose upon ourselves as we sink deeper into our addiction, the general malaise many of us feel our entire lives, thinking that we are somehow different from the rest of humanity, that we were not given the handbook for life that everyone else seems to have read. Most important, the loneliness we feel in early sobriety, now that our one coping mechanism for life has been stripped away, a coping mechanism that seems to be used successfully by everyone else (seems being the operative word).
There were so many meaningful “shares” after the reading, this post would turn into a chapter if I were to list them all. My greatest take-away from today’s reading was relating to the feeling of relief newcomers experience when we realize, through the grace of God and the 12-step fellowship, that we are not alone in this disease, that we are not the Worst Human Beings to ever live, that there are people who understand the way we think, and why we act the way we do. We never have to feel alone again!
The gentleman who selected the chapter said he has struggled with loneliness his entire life; in fact turning to alcohol, and the bar scene, was his way of coping with loneliness. Now he realizes that in reality, most of his attempts to be social at the bar turned out to be a night solely focused on the alcohol in his glass, rather than the people with whom he was socializing, and often the next day would bring blank spots rather than memories. He now feels gratitude for the meetings themselves; not only are they a means of connecting with others, but he is connecting with people who truly understand him. He enjoys meetings both when he is feeling low and needs a lift, and also when he is feeling good and can offer that same lift to others in need.
Another regular, one with almost 30 years of sobriety, said that of all the different components of the 12-step program, the meeting is the most critical component for him. He said once he found this fellowship, he has never felt true loneliness again. He is not sure if that is from the support of fellow alcoholics, or finding a Higher Power, but he had felt comfortable in his own skin ever since finding this 12-step fellowship.
A woman with almost 10 years talked about the isolation of active addiction, and how it was hard to break those behaviors even after becoming sober. It takes time, and repeated use of the new skills we learn in sobriety, but the payoff is great.
A friend I haven’t seen in a while came back to the meeting, and it was so wonderful to see her again! She has been swamped this summer, and has been unable to attend her regular meetings, so this topic applied directly to her life as well. She said the advice given at the very end of the chapter stood out the most to her. The advice is: as soon as you realize you are starting to isolate, do something about it! Just the act of reaching out is often enough to dispel feelings of loneliness. Although unable to connect with her recovery friends, she did reach out to a family member, and the result was the same: instant mood improvement!
Every single person that shared today spoke of how grateful they are to be present today, how appreciative they are of my service in leading the meeting, and how much they learned themselves from listening to the others. How often in life are you in a room where every single person is truly glad to be there, and glad that you are there? It’s impossible to leave without feeling great!
It seems redundant, but I’ll say it anyway: having the privilege to experience this kind of life-affirming stuff is such a miracle, and I hope I stay as grateful as I am today!
Posted on August 11, 2014, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step, 12 step program, AA, Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, Clean and Sober, God, Higher Power, Living Sober, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Recovery, Sobriety, Support group, Support Groups, Twelve Step, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.