I went to my first 12 step meeting tonight. It was overwhelming. I’m still surprised that I was able to push past my anxiety and walk through the door. I’m not usually that person; I almost always give in to anxiety and talk myself out of new experiences.
It’s been asked of me a few times over the years if I’ve ever tried a program. My answer is always the same: I’ve considered it, but I have difficulty with the religious aspect.
Religion aside, I need to try something different to manage sobriety. I’m 44 days in and it’s a good start. But I’ve been here many times before. I’ve even been at the 7 month mark, before completely dropping off. So I tried something different tonight and it was overwhelming.
It was one man’s 12 year birthday. It was emotional watching member after member stand up to offer their gratitude and love to this man. If it were a different setting, it would have been curious to see so many tattooed bikers hugging and saying “I love you,” but here it felt completely natural and truly overwhelming.
I keep using the word “overwhelming” and it’s because I’m at a loss for words. It was a very unique experience that will take a little while to process. That said, I wanted to take the opportunity to write about the experience while it was still fresh.
I don’t know if I’ll attend another meeting. I don’t know at this point if I’ll be able to reconcile the spiritual aspects within my atheist framework, but I know that I came away from the meeting with a lasting impression. The tremendous amount of love and support for one another could be felt just by sitting in the room. These members are inspiring. Some of their struggles show in their faces and bodies; you can see that they fight every day to stay clean. They’ve made a decision for their lives and the lives of those around them to create a better world. As someone who battles depression and addiction, I’m amazed by anyone who comes out of addiction with a positive look towards the future.
I’ve never seen a future. As a teenager, I was convinced I’d be dead before I was 20. It wasn’t a flare for the dramatic, in fact it was quite the opposite: it was calm resolve. I truly believed I wouldn’t live long. Along the way in life, I’ve had to adjust that resolve, obviously, as I hit milestone birthdays and found myself still breathing. Even knowing rationally that I’m alive now and will probably still be alive in 10, 20, maybe even 30 years, I still don’t see a future.
When I’m in the darkest points of my addiction, I see no need to quit because I see nothing better on the horizon. And this is coming from someone who’s had a very easy life compared to many of the people who were at tonight’s meeting. The fact that at some point in their own addiction, they were able to see past the darkness and aim for a brighter existence is truly incredible to me. Incredible and overwhelming at the same time.