The Curse of the AA Meeting: Getting called on to share. Not getting called on to share. You never get the one you want.
It always seems to go this way.
There’s been many a morning when my soul is just spewing. I spend the whole car ride to my meeting scripting exactly what it is I want to say. Figuring out how my feelings tie into the steps. My problem, sitting on the tip of my tongue throughout the whole meeting, waiting to escape. Then, the chairperson calls on everyone but me, it seems. And, the meeting ends. I let it go, thankful for the organization and assembly of my thoughts. I know somewhere inside that even if I haven’t said out loud what I’m thinking, I’ve still benefited from examining myself. And, as I walk out the doors, I know that I can light up my cigarette and talk with another AA who is willing to listen to me with open ears.
Then, there are days like today. Days where I feel like absolute shit. Tired. Grumpy. Negative.
I pull my hoodie up, and sit in the back, head bowed. Hoping to disappear into the wall as I sip my third cup of coffee.
And, naturally, I get called on.
Today was a one year birthday of a fellow who I see frequently at meetings. She’s bright, spunky, and today, had the energy of one billion power plants. And, who could blame her? One year. What a landmark! All her friends from the other meetings she attends gathered in celebration of her throughout the room. Her support system, all there to cheer her on for her big day.
Her one year birthday earned her the position of chairperson at the meeting. She knew my name. And, I knew upon sitting down that my chances of vanishing into the woodwork today were pretty slim.
And, of course, she called on me last. At the end of a meeting, especially when there’s a birthday celebration, it’s hard to share when you feel like a ‘Debbie Downer.’ I didn’t want to rain on any parades. I was genuinely stoked for the chairperson. In fact, I was a bit jealous. Jealous that she got to celebrate. That she got to feel the joy and elation that I had felt only a week and a half ago. But, today, elation was light years away from where I sat.
I debated whether or not to pass. Then, I decided I should probably share, and I knew that it would be disingenuous to sugar coat my feelings. Even amongst the energy and joy in the room, it was still an AA meeting. And, I am in AA to get and stay sober.
I wished our chairperson a happy birthday. I told her that, today, a year of sobriety just didn’t feel possible for me. That, at positive as I’ve aimed to be this week, it’s just not coming easily to me. I’m down and out. I told her that it gave me hope to see her up there. To know that, after all, a year is possible. That if I just stick it out through this rough patch, I can make it. But, today, well, it’s no celebration for me. It’s a little defeat.
The meeting ended, and all my fellow AAs flooded around me. They thanked me for my share. They said that, today, was a day to celebrate and rejoice, but, it’s also a day to be reminded how close any and all of us are to going out. To relapse. How close that discomfort is, even in moments of bliss.
I walked out the doors and lit my cigarette. Hoodie still up. Suddenly, I felt a little better. Because, even if I’m down and out, I’m not alone.
And, I’m surrounded by people who understand.