People of the rooms often say “you’re lucky to have found the rooms at such a young age.” Looking back, I wonder, what took me so long?
What took me so long was a skewed definition of what an addict/alcoholic looked like. In my eyes alcoholics were besotted bums on the street, they were old men and women who’d lost everything. They were the pathetic boozehounds who drunkenly pleaded for no one to leave the party as they sloppily held onto a door frame. (Okay, okay, I’ve been that person). They were holed up somewhere, bogged down elsewhere, nursing a warm 40oz concealed in a brown paper bag. Me? An alcoholic? Not possible, right?
Wrong. It’s hard not to cringe at those past notions. Alcoholism does not discriminate and certainly doesn’t care that I was born in a town wrapped in money and safety nets…can you believe it?
My image of what constituted an alcoholic in comparison to myself didn’t match up, because my belief was surface level. Mass media’s portrayal of alcoholics was my go-to. “I’m not an alcoholic because…” Unfortunately and fortunately I was sold on the whole alcoholic thing on the first meeting. (Hated referring to myself as such for several weeks).
It was a cold night in February (as most east coast nights in February are), and the air smelled like winter. Early that morning was my full surrender, a complete defeat, and self-hatred so intense I could feel it in my bones. A series of coincidental, or destined events, (still not sure), took place and directed me to a church several towns over. Pages could be written on that first meeting – how the room was circular, inviting, and had those festive, fake, but warming, luminescent candles in the windows. Fear wanted me to bolt but I think faith kept me seated; something told me I was supposed to be there. Not sure what I was expecting to hear, but it wasn’t what I heard. What I heard were my thoughts.
Expecting a drunk-o-log, where alcoholics forlornly attempted to reconstruct their ruined lives, I was taken aback. My most inner thoughts were being expressed through the mouth of a stranger. The man talking said he was the party person, he was gregarious, affable, and had good friends, but in a room full of people he could feel completely alone. That’s where alcohol came in, an alcoholic’s panacea for all connection problems. He spoke of the self hate that I’ve felt my whole life and right then I knew it was my thinking, not my drinking, that defined alcoholism.
- Sept. 8, 2013 – Step by Step (cmmacneil.typepad.com)