Thursday, February 11, 2010

The First Meeting

Wow! If you ever want to be humbled before the grace of God attend an AA meeting. I almost for a second chickened out. I thought, maybe I'll go to the 7:00 meeting, and then No! I need to do this. Pulling up to an old church, walking accross the street and pulling the door handle made me almost want to throw up. The inside is dingy and dirty. The smell of cigarette smoke fills the air. I wasn't sure where to go so I peeked inside the double doors and someone looked and said ,"Come in, you're in the right place". I took a seat and started to absorb my surroundings. People of all ages and walks of life were occupying the chairs and tables. The smell of strong coffee filtered over, but my stomach was to nervous to consider a cup. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there. It reminded me of a family reunion. The meeting started promptly at 5:30. The usual new business, anouncements, reading of the twelve steps, the Serenity prayer, and then the question, "Do we have anyone new tonight?" I raised my hand and a chorus of voices replied "Welcome". At this point everyone goes around the table and says their name "Hi I'm Liz and I'm an alcoholic". Since it was my first time I was presented with a small silver coin that reads: Please Come Back and on the flip side it has the Serenity Prayer. You are also given a copy of the AA Big Book and a pamphlet of meeting times with the numbers of the women in the room who truley want you to call them any time of the day or night. When these are presented to you, the person presenting them gives you a big hug. This was very hard for me because the dam broke and I started crying very hard. When we were seated again the leader of the meeting suggested we talk about the first step since it was my first time there. People immediately jumped in and told their stories. Stories of heartbreak, stories of loss, stories of triumph, healing and peace. I learned very quickly that alcohol is the painkiller. The real problem lies with dealing with all your personal demons. Drinking is the easy part. Learning to be sober and walk through your problems, and face the pain is the difficult part. People were so welcoming, encouraging, offered as much advice as they could. One woman shared the story of a beloved family member who recently passed away from alcoholism. She was shaking and I just wanted to jump up and comfort her. A man sitting near me, praised God for letting me grace his presence and remind him that the program works for those who want it. He also said something that really stuck in my mind ,"Do not regret your past, your past gives you empathy for those around you". What a beautiful thought. After all the stories were shared and many tears shed, we stood, held hands, and said the Lord's prayer. As I was putting my coat on, person, after person, came to hug me and tell me to please come back. How could you not want to be in that safe environment?! I never felt judged, just pure acceptance of a total stranger who has the same illness they do. God's grace at its best. Chris, I can't thank you enough for coming, and waiting, talking and praying. You are an awesome gift from God. Its suggested that you do 90 meetings in 90 days. Sometimes two or three a day if you have to. But that is not possible with my schedule so I made a committment to make as many as I can. I am going back tonight, and I will go this weekend. We are never to focus on more than one day at a time. So today I feel emotionally drained but confident that this is right where God wants me. One of the members told me to "face this head on and be fearless". All things are possible with God. I saw that first hand. Serenity is not an unattainable goal.....

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