Tuesday, August 9, 2011

helping hands?

After doing a fourth and fifth step in Alanon, I finally found the courage to admit that I was an alcoholic. I remember my first meeting clearly, but probably for the wrong reasons. I was full of fear when I went there, not knowing what to expect, not really wanting to be there. Still wanting to doubt that I was an alcoholic. A few people gave me a smile and a hand as I found a chair out of the way. I was identified as a new comer but when it was my turn to talk, I could not say the words that I was an alcoholic. When the meeting was over, I knew that I needed to talk to someone, that there had to be more than just attending this one meeting. I went over to speak with someone who had shared during the meeting and introduced myself, offering my hand. He stood there, quiet, looking at my hand and then at my face. Without saying anything he turned around and walked away. My fear and anxiety went through the roof. I stood for a couple of minutes and then left the meeting. My first meeting and I found no one to speak with after it was over.

I am very grateful that I went into a treatment centre, there to be taught about the 12 steps and the program of AA. After seven weeks with meetings everyday, I knew what my responsibilities were, what I had to do to stay sober. I went to meetings for the three or four weeks I had to wait before I could get into the treatment centre. Not once did I feel like I belonged at any of the different meeting I attended. I kept going because I wanted to live a sober life, kept going because I knew I was going for treatment, kept going because I wanted to make things better for my family.

I meet people who feel like an outsider at meetings. People who feel shunned for whatever reason. Never approached, never asked to share. People who are deeply struggling, full of resentments towards AA, people who disappear from the meetings, some who wind up dead. I get disturbed, resentful when I witness this. Men and women are not invisible just because their personality is abrasive or they are not working the 12 steps in the prescribed manner,.

I struggle with what is my part. I do my best to take the offered hand, to approach the one is openly hurting, to lend an ear so the hurt ones feel like someone is understanding where they are. I also carry resentments, especially to the old timers who tell the newcomer to shut up and listen, then walk away. There is a lot of confusion about what a home group should be about, how members are supposed to help the suffering alcoholic (who could be an old timer themselves, I spoke with someone who went back out drinking after 40 years of sobriety, all because of resentments.) When to let go of someone and when to help someone. Understanding the difference between the "stuff I should do for myself" and "needing help" to make changes in my life.

For me, this is a lesson in compassion and love. Stuff I don't have much of. I don't have answers. I know that I stay sober when I help others, that service can beat back the resentments.

But there should be more that AA could do? Isn't there?


Grace-WorkinProgress said...

I have always felt like an outsider. It is part of my story and how I ended up in Alanon. To fit in I would be anything you wanted me to be if you accepted me. Indispensible. The problem was I was never enough for you or myself. I had to give until there was nothing left.

I felt unique in my isolation and pain until I found my first meeting.

Your first meeting was harsh but luckily you decided you were worth saving.

Syd said...

I still sometimes feel that I don't belong. It is a life long feeling. But I offer a smile and my hand to people anyway. It is healthy for me to reach out. I can so easily isolate. Glad that you are an example of the program.