Monday, June 4, 2007

A Fine Day for a Meeting

"Good evening," I said. "Welcome to the Tri-City mental health support group."

My hands were sweaty and my knees were shaking. I had a thousand butterflies in my stomach. The room seemed to be spinning. I was testing the very limits of my social anxieties.

"We are an informal and anonymous group that meets every Monday night to support each other and talk about how our illnesses affect our lives," I furthered. "Thank you all for coming."

I started the conversation with telling about my history of mental illness and how it had affected me over the years.

"I thought God was speaking to me too!" Mary, a newcomer, said when I got to the point I was talking about my rabid and weird religiosity. "It drove my then husband and my children crazy. I kept telling them they were going to burn in hell for being nonbelievers and sinners. It was a terrible thing to do."

"And you actually believed God felt you were so important as to directly communicate with you," I chimed in, glad to have another finally speak.

"Yes. Exactly," Mary said nodding her head in agreement.

"When I was manic, I spent money like it was going out of style," Kay, another newcomer added. "I spent $30,000 in less than a year. It took me a decade to pay most of it off."

"I have been known to spend recklessly as well," I replied.

The meeting went really well with the two people who called me for directions showing up. Rosa didn't say a word through the whole meeting until afterwards when she spoke to me as we were cleaning up the kitchen.

"You have a stage presence," Rosa said. "I got to see a different side of you tonight."

"Rosa, I was so nervous that I almost didn't make it," I replied. "I was scared to death. I felt like I was going to puke all over that podium."

"Well, I am proud of you and proud to call you my friend," she said.

I melted at Rosa saying that and gave her a big hug.

"Now, what are we going to do with all these leftover, scrumptious cheese straws?" Rosa asked as she smiled coyly.

"You can have them," I said. "They will all just go to my ass."

Rosa burst out laughing.

"And a nice ass it is!" she said as she patted me on the left cheek of my posterior.

I then walked into the meeting hall and sat down with a relieved sigh as Rosa finished cleaning up the kitchen. I thought of all the things I've done these past few years and felt I had finally found something I could sink my heart and soul into. I marveled that people can come together and help each other just by talking and sharing what ails them. I know I have often been a staunch critic of Alcoholics Anonymous, but it taught me that helping others will actually help you as well.

"You ready to leave?" Rosa asked, breaking my deep concentration, as she turned off the lights in the kitchen and walked out with a cardboard box of leftovers and sodas.

"Yeah," I said as I quickly drank the rest of my diet soda, got up from my chair and we started to walk out the back door.

I turned to look one more time at the dark and empty hall as I smiled and then shut the door to lock it. My therapist keeps telling me that social anxiety is manageable if I will just put myself out there in situations such as tonight and overcome my deepest fears. I will have good news to tell her next week when we meet.

31 comments:

La Bee-yotch said...

andrew
it did my heart good to read your entry. i am also proud of you for fighting against your anxiety and for giving those two other people a chance to unburden themselves a bit. it's just us humans here in the dark, and it helps to gather around a little fire and talk story about the complexities and difficulties of being human. i think rosa is right and you have a presence about you. it shows up in your writing, too.

2 LMZ FARMS said...

I knew you could do it. Way to go. I bet at the next meeting there will be more to show up. Look, you doubled from last week.
Laura

Annabel said...

I am so proud of you. You have more strength than you often give yourself credit for. I am proud to call you my friend. I am glad that the meeting was a success and I know you're going to be a great support to those people that attend.

Summer said...

Like Annabel, I am SO proud of you. Really!

Eric Valentine said...

That's the way to do it my friend. The first mile or ten always starts with that one small step.

Well done Andrew!

Josie Two Shoes said...

What an awesome report, Andrew...I knew you could do it! :-)

fiwa said...

That is so wonderful! I am so proud of you! Reading this really made my day.

Have a good night -
fiwa

alphabet soup said...

Well done Andrew, I'm sure you can do this really well.

Ms Soup

abbagirl74 said...

Dearest Andrew,
I am so proud of you. I am honored to have you as a friend. I don't think I have ever met anyone like you. You are unique and a rare treasure on this earth, so genuine and true. What a wonderful day!

Jones said...

Way to go Andrew! I'm so proud of you!

~~ Lily ~~ said...

That's great! I'm so proud of you - couldn't help but grin as I read your post. And hey - I'm sure those two will be back, and maybe even with friends. Not only did they get some support, but some good food, too. What can beat that combo?

Leon said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!

Grad007 said...

Well done!!

PipeTobacco said...

Sir:

Wonderful job! You have just proven to yourself (again) how valuable you are as a person! You are able to help others in this way and you are also an excellent writer.

PipeTobacco

Mom's Blog said...

I just had to check in on how your meeting went before I went to bed. Thanks for posting so soon! I am so glad it went so well.

shy_smiley said...

Congratulations, Andrew. I've been lurking on the corner of 4th Ave. and Andrew St. for quite a while now (found you via Blogger's next page feature, so I guess that "pinging" you do really pays off!). For the last week I've been anticipating tonight's meeting and I'm so glad to hear it went well. I hope Kay and Mary return next week, and that you once again double your numbers.

Thoroughly enjoy your blog. Keep writing!

Sword Inc said...

I wont tell you that I told you so, but I tell you so. I think you are feeling like you just hit the jackpot on Lottery. We are watching this space for me, and I feel so much inspired to go do something...

Jenn said...

Nice work! Good for you. I bet those in attendance were so grateful for the place to share.

JT said...

Congratulations, I'm glad to hear it went well!

Rae said...

Andrew,

So glad to read that last night went well and that you were able to sit with yourself for awhile and acknowledge your accomplishments.

Wishing you a great Tuesday.

Rae

Portia said...

Awesome :)

We all knew you could do it, hopefully your confidence in yourself will continue to grow.

VA Friend said...

Look at ALL the friends you have here rooting for you!! You must be grinning from ear to ear tonight! I, too, am sooooo very proud of you for making the huge first step.

Great Job!!!

Oh, also, great job on losing 20lbs!! I also know it is hard to do. I have lost 10 myself and ready to lose 10 more!! Baby steps I keep telling myself!

CRUSTYBEEF said...

Many congratulations! That's wonderful!
Now, send us your cheese straw recipe..my mouth is watering just thinking about them. I'm jealous that Rosa got to keep them all for herself! hahah. Thank you again.
Always,
Crusty~

justLacey said...

I am so proud and thrilled for you. You are doing a wonderful thing. Your therapist is right too. The more situations you conquer, the easier they become and if you have a setback don't let that stop you. It happens, but you will overcome! Excellent job.

amelia said...

PLEASE!!!

The cheese straw recipe!!!!!

C. R. Morris said...

And people ask what you're doing for a living... I am very impressed that you could get up there and speak like that.. I would have bolted. Congratulations. I see that your group is growing. You are helping so many people.

Barb said...

Way to Go!!

Barb

PipeTobacco said...

Sir:

Why did you remove your "shot" post?

PipeTobacco

Babs said...

Hi- I found your blog on blogazoo. I think it's wonderful that you did this! With my anxiety, I would have been a nervous wreck.
It also warms my heart to hear about help for those with mental illness. I didn't even know support groups existed for this.
Take care!

Moonroot said...

What wonderful news! I am so happy for you. I hope you are very peoud - you deserve to be.

Moonroot said...

Erm, that should be proud...