M(3), 4/25/16: The Blessing of Friendship
And a happy Monday to all! We had an astonishingly large attendance at this morning’s meeting, I stopped counting at 18, though I’m relatively certain one or two more came in later.
Today’s reading selection came from Forming True Partnerships: How AA members use the program to improve relationships. The essay came from the chapter “Friendship,” and discussed the writer’s relationship with a woman named Pat who would eventually guide her to sobriety. Although Pat herself was not an alcoholic, she was a member of the 12-step group Al-Anon, so she guided the author of the story using the common tenets of both programs: one day at a time, the Serenity Prayer, honesty.
The long and short of the story is that everyone would be blessed to have a “Pat” in their lives, a friend who listens attentively, who shares wisdom without being bossy, who walks their talk.
I shared about the many “Pats” I’ve met in the rooms of our fellowship, and how many of them were sitting with me this morning! One part of the story reminded me acutely of early sobriety: the author was frantic because of all the chaos in her life, and proceeded to list all the crises… a possible pregnancy, relationships in distress, house a disaster, and depression so deep she felt unable to tackle any of it. Pat listened attentively, and remarked that most of the problems were future ones, but the one that could be handled was the dirty dishes in the sink. She suggested that the author go home and clean them. At the time the author was highly offended, and felt dismissed. But after she went home and washed those dishes, she felt that sense of accomplishment that comes from doing something productive. And to this day she remembers that lesson Pat taught her, to do what you can that day to improve something in your life.
I remember learning those same types of lessons, though I was not nearly so open-minded about it. I remember being outraged at this type of suggestion… how dare you tell me to clean my house! But as I started creating the routine of handling the problems directly in front of me, rather than obsessing about the myriad of perceived disasters in my life, the result was nothing short of amazing.
You might even say miraculous.
I actually spoke less than I typically do in deference to the crowd, but for some reason the crowd was slow to share. A few piggybacked on the importance of routine; creating order in the world around you helps to create order in your mind. One woman shared the expression that helped her was move a muscle, change a thought. She gets easily caught up in worry and future projection, and it was suggested when she catches herself in the cycle to do something different… go make a bed, wash a dish, take a walk. In making a physical change you will necessarily effect a mental one.
Several attendees spoke about the Bible verse referenced in the story, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of discipline, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.”
Side note: I did not understand that verse at all. I thought it had to do with being able to discipline effectively, which of course made no sense at all. Which once again proves how lucky I am to have such wise people attend my meeting.
The people who commented on it said it reminded them of our literature, which references the benefit of having “restraint of pen and tongue.”
Another person put it this way: say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.
Now that I understood!
Just as the shares were starting to fizzle out a newcomer shared. And when I say newcomer, I mean new to me, several people in the room seemed to know him so I assumed he’d been around for some amount of time.
Turns out I was wrong. He has less than 2 weeks of sobriety, a terrible case of “the shakes,” which he knows full well a drink will calm, and he craves alcohol intensely every moment that he is awake. Between the shakes and the terrible depression he feels, he does not know how much longer he is going to last before he picks up (a drink). People are telling him he looks better and is doing great, and he is angry… he does not feel better, and he doesn’t know how much longer he can take it.
The reticence I experienced from the group evaporated in an instant. Virtually every hand in the room shot up in the air after the newcomer finished speaking. And each piece of wisdom shared was better than the last: advice on the ways to minimize the jittery feeling, suggestions on how to distract yourself in the early days, similar past experiences and how long it took to overcome, reminders that all of us have been there to one degree of another, and how miraculous it is once over the hump of early sobriety.
I watched carefully as the gentleman considered each anecdote or piece of advice, and actually saw tension leave his body. We spoke after the meeting, and he seemed ready to face the rest of the day.
And really, is there a greater miracle than that?
Posted on April 25, 2016, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged 12 step program, 12 steps, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism, fellowship, Friendship, Meeting, Miracle, Monday, Recovery, self-development, Sobriety, Twelve-Step Program. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.