Yesterday I met my sponsor.
I told her my recent woes. How I feel like I’m doing all the right things, but I still end up wanting a good, stiff drink. I told her I’d been avoiding meetings. And, this time, it’s not because I’m disenchanted with AA, it’s because I feel like I’ve reached an AA plateau.
I’m sober. I’m staying positive. I’m working my program. But, I’m still crawling into my hole. I was almost embarrassed to admit that, after close to a year in this program, I still don’t have any real recovery friends. I show up to meetings. I know everyone in all my mainstay groups, but, I still feel like an outsider.
She told me that if there was a newcomer at the meeting we go to together right after our one-on-one meeting, I should go up and say “hello.” I immediately recoiled. What was I supposed to say to this hypothetical newcomer? What could I possibly have to offer her? I’ve been here in the rooms of AA for just shy of a year and I’m still a fucking recluse.
After my initial moment of panic, I started to breathe easy. There are seldom newcomers at the women’s meeting we go to together. And, before we even arrived, I considered myself off the hook. I was prepared to sit back in my seat, take in my meeting, and then go home to my cat and marinate in yet another night of Netflix, solo, in bed.
Oh, how the chips of fate do fall. Lo and behold, in our circle of regular ladies sat a new face. She took a 24 hour coin and told her story. And, I’ll admit, I missed a good part of her share stressing out about exactly what I’d say to her once the meeting was over. I tried to smile at her throughout the meeting, hoping to make her feel welcome. Maybe that would be enough?
Well, the meeting ended. And there she stood across the room looking as afraid as I felt. And, I suddenly remembered my first meeting. I wished someone had come up to me that day and told me to be kind to myself, because I had given myself a real mental beating for feeling like I even had to be at an AA meeting. So, that’s what I did. I gave her my phone number and said, “Be nice to yourself. You got here, and it’s a big deal.”
As I walked out of the meeting, I felt like I could have said more, but, I’d done my part. I’d said hello. My sponsor had seen me do it. My work was done.
Well, not quite. Because today the newcomer texted me. She asked me if I was going to another meeting tonight. And, I wigged out. I totally wasn’t going to go to a meeting tonight. I was planning on going straight home from work, making dinner, turning on the tube, and sitting, alone, in front of it. But, I suddenly felt this compulsion to get this girl to another meeting. It was my duty. And, staying home, yet again, isolating was hardly an excuse to blow this girl off. So, I gave her a couple of options for women’s meetings in the Portland area and we met up. And guess who showed up?
My fucking sponsor. And if you all could have seen the shit eating grin on her face, it would have made you smile.
So, maybe this newcomer girl isn’t my new best friend, but seeing her eyes light up at the prospect of getting sober made me hopeful for my own sobriety. I remember feeling the exact same things this girl felt. And you know, as alone as I still feel today, more than a year after my first AA meeting, my life is so much better. She made me see how far I’ve actually come. And, if she can show up to a meeting two days in a row as a newbie, well fuck, I can say “hi” to a few people I don’t know. Hell, maybe I can even grab a cup of coffee.
They say if you want to keep it, you’ve got to give it away.
And, you know something? They were right.