Thursday meeting 4/23/20:
Another zoom meeting today. Since our meeting has been listed in the virtual online meeting directory, we’ve certainly had a number of visitors. One of which was asked to share today. (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that this is a speaker meeting.). A creature of habit and resistant to change of any kind, I eyed John suspiciously on my computer screen. He was an older gentleman, and introduced himself saying he was “a proud member of…”—a particular men’s meeting that claims that designation. I have found that a bit off-putting as I feel it speaks of exclusivity, not at all a characteristic of Alcoholics Anonymous. I recognized these character defects of mine as John began speaking, and was able to push the thoughts to the back of my head.
John spoke of being raised Catholic, rebelling against religion, and concluding that life had no meaning. In his self-described misery, he had suicidal thoughts. He talked about wondering who would show up at his funeral, and what kinds of things they would say. I got a kick out of this very alcoholic way of thinking as I often create similar “how is everyone reacting to me” scenarios in my head. After he had discovered AA and gotten sober, still estranged from the church, his sponsor said to him, “I think you should re-visit Catholicism as a sober person.” I found this wonderfully wise advice. Part of growing up and discovering ourselves is the questioning of doctrine and ideologies, and subsequent rejection of some. Fueled by alcohol and alcoholic tendencies, one cannot make healthy decisions in active addiction. I wonder if John was looking for meaning all along?
`He now goes to Mass every day. What started as penance from his priest in confession, turned into a lifelong practice. He also upped his meetings, and reported that his relationships improved, including his marriage. He spoke of how the spirituality of the program and the practice of religion works for him in his sobriety, that they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I’ve certainly heard talk of a higher power, making something tangible your higher power, and of course God, but had not heard such a powerful testimony of two practices working together. What I noticed about John throughout his talk was a calm joy that resonated from him. He did not look like the miserable person he had described. He seemed at peace with himself and in his sobriety.
I always hear something I need to hear in the rooms of AA. Thanks for sharing with us today, John, and thank you to the virtual community for bringing others into my sometimes too comfortable space.