Sunday, September 9, 2007

Keep Coming Back

I sat outside the AA meeting hall in Lagrange, Georgia at dusk last night. I was scared and nervous. I had never been to a night meeting up here. I watched as happy, shiny people got out of their cars to go inside. I so wanted to be like them. Content. Fulfilled. So sure in their sobriety, looking as if they didn't have a care in the world. Yesterday had been a tough day battling my addictions. College football Saturdays always are. My sister and her daughter were in town -- a fine family diversion allowing me to drink until abandon. "Get your ass to a meeting," I told myself late last night after seeing my sister.

It was a long and uneventful drive to unfamiliar territory as I listened to the Kentucky and Kent State football game on the radio. The little college town of Lagrange greeted me as I drove past the city limits. It seems the AA meeting halls are always on the seedier side of towns though -- poor neighborhoods were the rent is cheap accommodating thrifty and less generous AA meeting goers. I had found directions on the Internet and luckily found the meeting hall on the first try -- an old Methodist church long abandoned by it's congregation and becoming home to a burgeoning group of ex-drunks. Self Help Harbor.

"Thanks for coming," several people told me as I passed the front door to shyly take my seat.

"Everybody ready for a meeting?" rang out at the top of the hour -- 8 p.m. I sighed relieved that I could now blend in and just listen for an hour unless they did the dreaded move of going around the room to speak.

We talked of admitting that we were powerless over alcohol. My natural inclination is to balk -- ashamed that a simple drink has control of my life, but it once and still does. Step one of the twelve steps. A seemingly simple step, but human will and ego doesn't want to allow you to admit you are powerless and helpless.

"I drank with abandon," one meeting goer said. "I had one drink and just couldn't quit. I knew then I was powerless over alcohol. It had me in it's grips."

His words rang out true to me. I couldn't have just one drink either. I had to have twenty or more until I was passed out or blacked out -- a scary proposition. It is a wonder I have any functioning brain cells left. I thought of the cold, wintry night that I had had a fight with Rachel, my ex-wife. I had just gotten a home after being homeless and drove drunk on my motorcycle. I don't even remember driving out of town. My next memory was lying on the road with a broken arm as I went off to jail.

"You sure you are okay?" the officer asked me as he drove me to county jail.

"I think so," I said from the backseat -- my pain blunted from the effects of over thirty beers.

It was a long night of lying on a dirty floor of a jail cell writhing in pain with a broken arm and shoulder. I will never forget a kind officer driving me to the hospital in the morning.

"Long night?" he asked as he handed me a cup of hot coffee that I could only hold with one hand.

"It was excruciating," I replied stifling back a tear.

I wanted to go home to my safe bed. I wanted my family.

"We are going to get you some help this morning and pain medications."

"My savior," I thought from the back of his patrol car as we drove across the county to the hospital.

The meeting finally ended. I felt loads better as I gathered my backpack and grabbed a list of meetings from the bulletin board. "Keep coming back," a young African American man said to me as he walked past and I smiled, standing there. "Yes," I thought. "Keep coming back." I want to be one of those shiny, happy people I met tonight enjoying life without having to do it drunk. My thoughts turned again to that cold and wintry night of lying on the highway, drunk, next to a broken motorcycle. I have so many reasons to "keep coming back."


My World said...

You really have seen a lot, haven't you. You inspire me. Great piece of writing.
All the best.

simonsays said...

Yes, Andrew-you DO have so many reasons to "keep coming back". There are SO MANY that really care about you, and hurry each day to read your wisdom, your funny stories, your life. I really don't believe you understand how many of us really care, how many of us consider you a friend. And that is ALOT of reasons.

Nikita1 said...

Well done! DO go back, you won't regret it and you WILL be a shiny person at the end!

Summer said...

I don't want you to be like my husband who is far from shiny and happy.

Josie Two Shoes said...

I was smiling as I read this, Andrew! I know how hard it is for you to attend a social gathering in a strange environment with a bunch of people you don't know... and yet you did it, and got something out of it! I so admire the work you are doing to keep healthy and feel better. In my mind you ARE one of those shiney people - the kind we all admire!

Dave said...

First time I have been here and almost decided to skip your blog after reading the first part of your profile. I am glad and fortunate that I continued to read my way down.

You have a very special way of reaching out. Your honesty is fresh and welcoming.

You also have quite the talent to hold on to a reader's attention.

When I see you, I see potential not only as a writer but also as a recovering addict. I am confident that you have what it takes to succeed.

I will be back!

Cheryl said...

My first thoughts as I read your description of the people going into the meeting hall? Shiny, happy, content and fulfilled? I bet you that very few of them feel the way you think they do. They probably see themselves as failures and look at others as being shiny, happy, content and fulfilled. I think if you think of them as people just like the rest of us, trying to make their less than perfect lives better, you'd see they're no different than you and me. We're all people striving. I'm always impressed that you keep on trying, no matter how hard it gets. That's what gives me inspiration.

Enjoy your Sunday. I've been cleaning.

Moonlink said...

good work,andy. Stay with it.

Ellie said...

Just as you think you should keep coming back, I think that you should keep going back. You are on a wonderful road of recovery. You must have been grateful to have a police officer as kind as he had been. Please keep us updated. Thanks.


Wonderful Andrew!!!
I'm so proud of you..this was such a moving post..the honest wept through your intense words...
I LOVED This post!!!
Google Plex Kudos!

Annabel said...

Interview questions for Andrew

1.You mentioned that you were thinking of going to church. What have been your church experiences? Did you go as a kid? Where you Baptized? If you go, which church will you attend?

2. I know you love the weather. Have you ever seen a real tornado (in life, not t.v.)? What is the most interesting weather phenomenon that you have experienced?

3. You are an amazing writer and I know you’re writing your memoirs. If you could choose any writer in history (or current) to write your biography, who would it be and why?

4. If you could change anything about your appearance, what would you change?

5. If you could choose your very last meal before you die, what would you have?

Here's the rules.............
Interview Rules:1) Leave me a comment saying "interview me" along with your email address.2) I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3) You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.4) You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post. 5) When others comment asking to be interviewed you will ask them five questions.

justLacey said...

Some of the shiniest happiest looking people are only that on the outside. I think everyone has things inside that cause them emotional turmoil and some show it more than others. Hang in there and keep going, sounds like a nice group and visit some others during the day, find a couple you like in case one isn't available when you need it and look for a sponsor that meets your needs. Everyone needs a mentor or friend. My ex husband went to meetings 4 times a day at first. Now he is back to work and maybe goes 4 times a month. I guess when he filled his life with something that kept him busy, he didn't need it as much. You mentioned wanting to work, perhaps you could volunteer. Also there arem many work from home companies for data entry and customer service, Perhaps that would better fit your needs and you can schedule your hours to meet your needs. They love people that work nights as most don't want those hours.

Tee said...

Keep going back! Those people that look happy, shining and content have just as many struggles as you, except perhaps in other areas of their lives. Well, we do know they also struggle with alcohol addiction. Looks can be deceiving, we often put on a "happy face" when we are hurting inside. Your post was excellent.

Anonymous Boxer said...


SOUL: said...

i left a post here yesterday... what happened to it? i bet it was that eye thing. ya know i can't see those very well.
anyhow... the moment is gone now
but thanks for coming by my page.
good to see you there!

Portia said...

so glad you have made to it to where you are today!

Claudia said...

This is a beautiful and powerful post, Andrew. Thanks for sharing your life, thorns and all.