A newcomer came to the meeting today, and I thought back to the first meeting I attended . . . I knew I needed to be there but I was not sure about how my life might change if I said out loud, My name is ____________, and I’m an alcoholic.
I half-expected, hoped, that if I said it, the group would say, “Oh no, you’re not, when I explained myself. All I heard was “Thanks for sharing; we’re glad you are here. Keep coming back.”
And I kept an open mind . . . but just as I was beginning to feel comfortable introducing myself at meetings as an alcoholic, a court-ordered attendee showed up. She appeared uncomfortable, and when I sat down next to her, she made a point of moving her chair away, and sitting separately.
So, I complained later to my sponsor, and complained. “Who or what did she think I am?” My feelings were hurt because I felt like she was treating me like some kind of unclean, contagious loser.
She let me go on for a spell, and finally said, “Well who do you think you are?”
That stopped me – How did I see myself – For all the information about the disease alcoholism is, the trappings of shame and guilt could trip me up if I imagined other people were judging me.
I-I-I-I-I-I . . . me, me, me, me . . .
Where on earth was any compassion for a woman who had gotten at cross purposes with the law – because of alcohol, and was facing jail?
Or, where was any gratitude that God had intervened and saved me thus far from a similar run-in?
Where was the humility that I am [still] one drink away from doing something maybe way dumber than driving under the influence?
Choosing not to drink is a huge part of recovery and I hope every newcomer hears that and practices that. And I hope they learn faster than I did that recovery goes better the sooner we get over ourselves.
The road to sobriety is a simple journey for confused people with a complicated disease.
The only dumb question you can ask, dear reader about drinking too much, you or someone you love, is the one you don’t ask.