There’s safety in numbers, or so they say.
The fellowship. It’s another one of AA’s gifts. The feeling that you’re not alone, because, you’re not. If ever I feel that loneliness, that need to isolate and retract, that core alcoholic feeling of being singularly different and alone, all I have to do is go to a meeting or dial a number from one of my many phone lists, and suddenly, I’m surrounded.
Surrounded with acceptance, love, understanding, and dare I say it, friendship.
Right after deciding to get sober, I quickly discovered how many of my “friends” were just strangers sitting next to me at the bar. People who only cared because they, too, had no one else to care for them in that moment. The bar can be a pretty desperate place, in many ways. But, when you’re a fixture at the pub, it’s easy to lose sight of what real relationships are and to quickly warp the meaning of true friendship.
Friendship isn’t a conversation about your bullshit day at work while tossing back shots of whiskey. I mean, it can be. But, when I look back on my relationships at the bar now, in sobriety, I see that I had the exact same conversation with the exact same people every night. Nothing changed. Not my seat. Not my drink. Not my story. It was always the same situation. I didn’t need to unload, because, I’d told the same story for weeks and weeks on end. I needed to drink. And, telling that same stupid story over and over again gave me a reason to show up at the bar. The guise. The real reason I showed up every night, was the drink sitting in front of me.
These days, my story is different. Not just because I’m different, but, because my days are always different. Sobriety has offered a plethora of opportunity to add variety to my existence. I have things to do that have real meaning. I’m not even working at the moment, yet, I still manage to have days filled with tasks that give my life purpose and meaning. And, the meaningful things I accomplish, they give me reasons and are the reasons I stay sober.
I am now part of a fellowship of real people with stories that are constantly changing. These people show up at meetings to share their different stories and to hear different stories. There’s no ulterior motive for being at an AA meeting other than sobriety through shared experience. And, if there is, it’s usually pretty apparent to the group what those motives are, and the offending members of the group usually weed themselves out eventually when they realize that the group purpose serves a goal far beyond whatever it was they hoped to accomplish singularly.
Being alone. It’s still something I need from time to time. But, the fellowship offers an alternative when that need for space turns into a desperate urge to isolate. I have a place to go where the people and their motives are genuine. And, that gift, is something I will have forever.
What’s more, I get to be a part of that gift for another fellow. It’s service and satisfaction, simultaneously. No shots necessary.