I sat down and talked with my old friend John. He and his wife are a couple of my favorite people. I have a special soft spot in my heart for John because I believe I was at his first meeting - oh, I think it was about 12 years ago. He is now sober almost 3 years. He almost lost his life in the meantime. But, boy, is he a real AA member now.
Back then, my morning group had projected that they were not going to be able to park in the front of the building anymore. They were incensed! How dare that landlord! We would move! We would move at once! There were a handful of us who tried to introduce reality back into the conversation - that we had not yet been told that we could not park in the front of the building, and there was no sense in reacting to something that had not yet happened, etc. But the group moved. And amazingly enough, they can still park in front of that building all these years later... but I digress....
My friend Andy, who I loved and I miss with all of my heart today :(, and I decided that since we had the combination to the lock on the door, and since the meeting was still in the directory, we would be there at 7: 30 a.m. each Saturday and Sunday - just in case some stray drunk showed up looking for a meeting. Well, John was one of these (and not the only one). For a while, we had a great little meeting. Me and Andy and a few newcomers. And then a few oldtimers started showing up. And it was a great group - for a while.
John stayed sober for a few years. He did what a lot of people do. He made a lot of money. He put all of his energy into working and making money. It looked like recovery to him and a lot of people. Andy and I would talk to him, but he could not hear us. (Interestingly, I heard John have this same conversation with a young woman yesterday at the picnic - afterwards, he turned to me and said "she didn't hear one word I said, did she?" I told him that he might as well have been speaking Chinese to her - and then I told him I had many of the same conversations with him long ago - and he just laughed.)
Yesterday he told me that in all of the years of the in and out and in and out - they nearly killed him with kindness. He said that he went to a meeting one day where there was a young woman was returning after a binge. Everyone went around the room congratulating her on being there and raising her hand, her braveness, etc. She asked my Ed what he had to say. And John said that what he heard Ed say changed his life.
He said that they were all nuts. Congratulating someone on being there and raising their hand? How about helping someone stay sober instead? Every time someone drinks there is a big chance they may never come back. They may die. They might kill someone else. They might end up in prison. AA detractors criticize us for claims like this, but sit in AA meetings year after year and you will know that this is not hyperbole.
If you are an alcoholic, as I am and as my friend John is, this is life and death. Truly. Staying sober is serious business. He said that revolving door gets more grease on it every time you use it. Just don't use it.
I am so grateful I am sober today.
I am so grateful that John and his wife are sober today.
I am so grateful that I am driving across town to that meeting this morning- the one that moved.
Go to meetings
Read the big book
Get a sponsor.