I had mentioned some time ago, that I would post about my first twelve step meeting. I’ve gotten a lot of requests to tell on myself since then. My behavior is a source of hilarity to me NOW but at the time…
Well, let’s just say I was a little bit nuclear bomb angry, fearful and living in a cloud of constant anxiety. I did not go to that meeting of my own free will. One of my dearest friends had finally grabbed me by both shoulders and told me, “If you do not go to that meeting tonight I will come get you, duct tape your fanny to the bumper of my car and DRAG you there!” I could tell by the flashing of her brilliant blue eyes that she meant business. She was done with the never-ending nonsense caused by the chaos in my life. Her knee’s were sore from praying for me and it was time for some action.
So for my friend, and mostly because I was scared of loosing my friend. I went.
I walked into the room at church set aside for family members of addicted people. I was petrified and numb, but I do remember feeling shock at the number of people who were there. There were at least thirty people sitting around in a huge circle. As I slowly walked closer I realized, I knew at least half of them!
How could this be? I had no idea they were dealing with the same thing I was. I thought my misery, anxiety and fear had marked me and was following me around like an invisible cloud of dirt. I felt that everyone who came in contact with me could see the dirt cloud, or maybe smell the shame that rolled off of me. How was it that these people were roaming around with no dirt cloud?
I hesitantly sat down, keeping my purse in my lap so I could make a quick get-a-way. My anxiety level was through the roof and I was sure the person sitting next to me was getting nervous listening to my heart pound. The kids were safe in child care, but what was going on at home? Was he there? Was he drunk? Was he angry because I was not there? Was he thrilled I was not there so he could drink in peace? What mess was I going to come home to when this dang meeting was over?
I did not even hear the opening remarks because I was so consumed with what was going on in my mind. And the anger I used to protect myself started welling up – a nice hot balm to cover my unbearable anxiety.
People said interesting things as they spoke in the circle, but I only half listened. Everyone here was so calm. No one could possibly know the unbearable anxiety I lived with on a daily basis. No one here was even angry!
The books got passed to me and I looked at them in amazement. For an avid reader who loves books I could not focus on a single word.
Then everyone was looking at me expectantly. It was my turn to “share.” I still had no concept of what I was supposed to say or do and between my now boiling rage and the skin crawling anxiety I could not hold it in anymore.
I jumped up in that circle and yelled, “I don’t need to be here! I am not the one drinking away my marriage! I am not the one drinking up all our money! I am not the one the kids don’t even know! I am not the one with a problem! He is!”
It was a bizarre experience. It felt like I was observing my own performance. I had never embarrassed myself in public this way. I was at church for Pete’s sake! Sit down and shut up!
I quickly did sat down and waited for the explosion, the laughter, to be asked to please leave.
The conversation simply moved on to the next person who shared about how these meetings had helped her deal with the toxic emotions caused by trying to walk on eggshells around the addict in her home.
My rage abated under my acute embarrassment and I actually managed to listen to her even though my skin was still crawling and my heart was pounding with anxiety. But as I listened to her, and then the rest of the people in the circle, my heart did seem to pound a little less.
Finally this embarrassing thing was over and I jumped up quickly to leave, but I was stopped by a kind older man. He thanked me for coming and sharing and asked me to come back.
He was joined by several other’s who also asked me to come back and to my surprise I said I would. They were so kind, so sincere, I felt like I had to after my outburst. I would come back next week and behave myself this time. I wanted these nice people to know I was not a psychotic maniac!
I wandered away slowly, wondering what had just happened? Why were these people being so nice to me? Why was there such an air of calm in this room? Why was I feeling calmer?
For some reason I felt no rush to get home to either clean up a mess or try to prevent one. I wanted to enjoy this calm feeling. I wanted to come back.
So I did.
And I kept coming back. It works if you work it!