The test of time. What a trip.
Today, being Sunday, is my recovery day. From my morning meeting, to my sponsor, to my women’s meeting, and then to my mixed, open meeting, it’s a day for me to fully participate in my program and the program of AA as a whole. So, usually, I come to some positive, or at the very least, fruitful conclusion by day’s end. And, today, was no exception. But, today’s lesson was not one that came on a whim, it wasn’t some golden nugget of wisdom from a random fellow, and it wasn’t a paragraph in the reading that I’d never digested before. Today was a lesson that’s been in the works.
140 days in the works to be exact. I looked back at old posts and came upon Day: 71. Yes, 140 days ago, I had pretty much had it with my Sunday women’s meeting. I remember how fed up I was with screaming babies, galloping dogs, seemingly ungrateful and generally bitchy women. I saw no point in attending this meeting. In fact, back then, I actually considered it somewhat detrimental to my sobriety. I just couldn’t understand how these women could have the amount of time and experience in sobriety that they have and be in the places they were, they all seemed stuck.
I talked to my sponsor about it. Told her I wanted out. I felt like I need permission from her to do that since she had been the one that required I start going to that specific meeting in the first place. She told me, in true AA form, that it’s a program of suggestion and she can’t make me do anything, but, she told me if it were up to her that she would have me continue to come to that meeting regardless of my ill will toward it. She said even if I couldn’t get anything out of it, it was one of those meetings that I could really bring something to, even if I didn’t feel that way. And, I assure you, I didn’t.
So, like the good sponsee I am, I stayed. Missing only a few here and there. I stuck through it. Every loud, distracting, self righteous, whiny, hormonal moment. I grit my teeth, and I bared down.
Today, we had our monthly potluck. A goodly number of us showed up early with our coffee cakes, quiches, fruit salads, cookies, and coffee. We sat around the table, clucking like hens, laughing like little girls. The woman whose home the meeting is hosted in doled out little portions of everything onto a little plate for her ever energetic toddler.
In between sips of coffee and bites of quinoa and berry pancakes I realized I was having a good time. Not only that, but, I was a part of this morning fiesta. I was talking and laughing. I was conversing with the toddler about his food preferences, and realized that he knows my name. I was in it. In this place that suddenly works for me. And, amidst the hubbub and lady banter, I had to recognize that I’d been wrong in my 71st day of sobriety. I’d been wrong to be so quick to judge these women, judge their attitudes and situations, and to judge the chaotic feel of the meeting.
It wasn’t only that I hadn’t felt a part of the group back then. I had concerns about the level of emotional sobriety these women had, and what it meant for my recovery. I’d been selfish. Thinking only of what I’d be taking away. This afternoon I saw that so many things had changed, in all of our lives. Some women are pregnant now, some have had tragic miscarriages, some are amidst a scheduling crisis who had once had all the free time in the world. I’m different too. And, it took 140 days to see that change, to see these women change, and to see that, in sobriety, everything changes all the time. It’s how we invite and embrace, or even run away from, those changes that makes meetings important and validating.
Perhaps in was a long time in the works. This lesson that, firstly, I’m not an island; I’m as separate from the group as I allow myself to be, is a tough one to swallow. It was so nice to shove the discomfort of being an antisocial freak onto the shoulders of these women, but, now I see when we share the weight we get to be a part of something bigger and we get to share the burden.
I realized for the first time today that some lessons just can’t be appreciated until they are learned. Sometimes we can’t know what’s changing in us until we’ve changed. And, sometimes, when you follow the suggestions of your crazy sponsor, you end up where you never thought you’d be: Exchanging thoughts on culinary likes and dislikes with the loudest, most obnoxious two year old on the planet, who addresses you, with conviction, by your first name.