by Bree L.

I don’t identify as an alcoholic unless I am in a meeting, with a sponsee or doing A.A.-related service. Those are like alcoholic islands in my day. The rest of the time I work to fit in with the rest of the world as a pretend normie. I want to get along with others, play well. I can’t announce my alcoholism and expect non-A.A. peers to understand why I might be less than charming.

I fit in with the rest of the world as a pretend normie

The deal is those A.A. meeting things I do are a support throughout the rest of my day. For me, I start a day with a morning meeting. Yesterday we talked about tolerance and members shared how they dealt with challenging incidents such as a wife who continues to enjoy a glass of wine, or another butting heads with a two-year-old. A couple of times I remembered that concept of tolerance and what I’d heard along with love. It made my day a bit more tolerable.

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Meetings have turned out to be a mainstay of my program. Thirty years ago, I went to one meeting a week whether I needed it or not. I wasn’t much in touch with my emotions and once a week seemed more than adequate. Now I try for at least four or five meetings and have a good sense when I need a meeting. There’s always a gem I take home with me for later use.

Overwhelmed is under-surrendered

The first gem I heard early on was from a person who described “A hole in his gut that the wind blew through.” I knew that hole because I had the same thing and I couldn’t fill it no matter what. I had an emptiness that wouldn’t quit, but realized at least I wasn’t alone.

Another gem I heard at a meeting confronted my feelings of being overwhelmed. Sarah, from Chicago, said it was the same as being under-surrendered. That was a shock after all my years of telling myself and others how very busy, overworked and smothered in tasks I was. I seemed to be the only person who could remedy all those demands. My humble bragging translated into under-surrendered.

A favorite gem I heard a few years ago was: “An alcoholic is the only person who believes the cure for loneliness is isolation.” That was a zinger for this alcoholic who spent a lifetime fighting to be alone and figure life out. I knew if I could only weed out all the outside stimuli, I’d be just fine (Thank you very much). Now I know life doesn’t work that way and hitting a meeting is a far better solution.

The joy of a meeting is that no one interrupts, and no one is putting the lean on me to do anything. I’m absolutely as alone as I want to be, surrounded by a bunch of fellow alcoholics. What could be more supportive?

Awhile back I realized the relationship between acceptance and Step 1. They’re closely related, in the same family—fraternal twins but not identical. Once I accept something, I can then make plans or decisions about what to do. It’s getting down that hallway to acceptance that is the challenge.

One dear friend calls those words of wisdom “verbal Frisbees.” Sometimes I catch them and sometimes I don’t. The deal is they’re readily available and free at just about every meeting.

Verbal Frisbees: Sometimes I catch them, sometimes I don’t

I’m not an alcoholic in other parts of my life, but I need to hear about the honesty of my disease in meetings to maintain my second step balance. Those gems from fellow alcoholics have given me a life. The deal is, you’ll see me regularly at meetings because I want to hang on to this sober life I have today.

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