Thursday, June 18, 2009

What it was like: Year Seventeen

After I got my bachelor's degree, I decided I was in the habit of going to school and should just keep right on going to get a master's degree.  It was also my first year in management at work.  It was a blur of work and school.  It wasn't much fun.

In December of 2000, I went to the 6:30 meeting as I was in the habit of doing.  About half way through the meeting, an old man who had once been my friend said something so insulting about me, something sexual, and really disgusting, I started crying.  I noticed that a couple of the younger men he sponsored laughed at this disgusting thing.  When they passed the basket at 7 a.m., I walked out.  Instead of going to work, I went home because I could not stop crying.  One person from the group called me to see if I was OK.  I was not OK.  I was so sad.  

He had been my friend.  He is maybe 25 years older than me - he is about 80 now.  He got sober in 1973 - same as my sponsor - but a month later than her.  He had always flirted with me, in an innocent way, but after his wife died in 1999, his attitude towards me turned really mean.  I don't know why (and I don't really care either).  I ignored him for a while.  But when he said something right in the meeting and those men laughed, I thought to myself,  "I have no use for a group that tolerates this kind of behavior, and I am out of here."  And I was.  

I could accept that he was a bitter old man.  But I could not accept that the rest of the group just sat there and tolerated it.  

So, I found another group.  But I felt so hurt about this.  It was a hard time in my life and feeling homeless in AA did not help.  

Honestly, all I remember of that year is all the hours I worked, and then I went to school all day Saturday and Sunday every other weekend, and spent every other free minute working on homework. 

On my Seventeenth birthday, I wrote in my birthday journal:
"This year, I truly know that God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself.  I let ____ run me out of my home group.  I am having problems with other people.  I want to move back up north where I belong.  It was so good to be there tonight.  It is so good to be connected with the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.  I start my second and last year of graduate school tomorrow morning.  I am so tired of this.  Coupling my first year as director of medical records with going to graduate school has been close to suicidal.  This has been a hard year.  A good year, but hard.  I hate to wish my life away, but I will be 50 on December 15 and I will graduate on December 16.  Now that I am looking forward to."

And with good reason...


Scott W said...

That is so disturbing. I want to say I would have said something at group level to that old geezer, but I probably would have remained quiet. I have never seen anything like that happen. Glad you survived.

Syd said...

I agree with Scott. I believe I would have done a face down with them. But I understand your dismay at such behavior. It seems as if this old man was not really in recovery or practicing these principals in all his "affairs". I'm sorry that it happened to you.

Steve E. said...

Mary, whatever happened between sober year 1 and now--it all made you who you are today, and that is who I know...and like.

Please see this "annual blogging" through to its earlier-intended goal.

Thank you for all of it.

Ed G. said...

I probably know this dude (or one of a handful like him). Sometimes I say something, sometimes I just try to help the situation, sometimes people say something to me (yes, it has happened that way too).

It's not a perfect sandbox I've got but it's a sandbox, in reflection that has worked perfectly for me.

I am sorry you were hurt.

Blessings, aloha and thanx...

garden-variety drunk said...

Ick on him and the rest of the group. I'm hoping the next year will be the story of how you found an awesome new homegroup :)

Trailboss said...

That IS very disturbing that someone would first of all say that and others would find humor in it. I think I would have had to say something to the entire group but not being there I don't know what I would have done. I'm glad you were able to get past it and most of all remained a sober woman.

Lou said...

When others don't speak up, and actually play along, that is what would really get me mad.
I try to speak up these days when someone is hurtfully attacked or insulted. But I didn't in my younger was too important to me to be liked.
I would have done just what you did. Leave and find another group of people.