I sat in the treatment center with four or five other newbies as the woman who ran the center, a round, ex-heroin addict from New York, went through the rules. “To graduate from this program you are required to attend at least three AA meetings a week. Except for you Jeff. Because you are unemployed, you need to attend a meeting every day.” I was pissed for being singled out, but was afraid to speak up. I was issued a little attendance card to be signed by the meeting secretary and turned in weekly. I figured if I didn’t feel like going, I would sign the card myself, but I never did. I know today that going to a meeting every day to get that little card signed may very well have saved my life.
After a few meetings I found that I was going not because I had to but because I wanted to. Ditto with the steps and the rest of the program. My sponsor never pushed me to do the work. I really wanted to be a member of the AA club so I did all that was suggested. The more I did in Alcoholics Anonymous the more willing I became to do more. In the process, self-centered fear began to dissolve and my grosser character defects began to fade into the background. Without fear, guilt, shame and resentment running my life a whole new world opened up to me.
Today I am grateful I was unemployed (unemployable really) when I began my journey in recovery. I had nothing better to do than go to meetings. I went to something like 400 meetings in my first year. I grew the habit of recovery and built a solid foundation that has carried me through some pretty tough times. I learned to think, feel and act in new ways. I am different in my reactions to my life’s experiences. I have become a whole new person. But I also realize recovery is a never-ending process. There is no finish line. If I don’t grow, I go.
I heard we alcoholics are a peculiar class of people who find something that works and then we stop doing it. Gratefully I’ve never stopped and don’t plan on stopping today either.