It was a quiet drive to AA -- the road ahead bereft of cars and laid out in front of me like a dark and winding snake in the waning light of dusk. I was content to listen to the radio -- pop music out of Columbus. All popular music now has that R & B influence I dislike and find so distasteful, but I listened anyway. I pulled up in the parking lot of Self Help Harbor to find no other cars. "Were they having a meeting?" I wondered. It seems as if in a matter of minutes cars poured into the parking lot. I saw a familiar old Ford Crown Victoria I hadn't seen in ages. It was unmistakable. It was my old AA friend Wanda. Fate and AA had brought us together again.
"How are you?" she asked as she gave me a hug after walking to my car.
"Fine," I replied. "It is so good to see you. I haven't seen you in ages."
"I've been back out," Wanda said which was AA-speak for drinking again. "I've come back though. I'm a week sober."
"Today is my 75th day sober," I told her proudly.
"I will be honest with you," she said as she laughed. "I never thought you would ever get sober for so long. You were pretty messed up for awhile there."
It was a routine AA meeting. We started the meeting with "How It Works" and "The Twelve Steps and Traditions." We all talked meanderingly about having an attitude of gratitude which was so relevant to my recent train of thinking. Being thankful for what I have for the first time in my life has been such an important step in my recovery.
"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest."
Those words from "How it Works" rang in my head far after the meeting had ended. "There are those too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders." That magic combination of psych meds, AA meetings, sobriety, and honesty has served to so change my life drastically these past few months.
"You know I had a crush on you," Wanda told me after the meeting as we walked to our cars. "I am old enough to be your mother. I so wanted you to do well."
"I am doing well," I replied. "I am doing better these days than I have for my whole life."
"And you give me hope that I, too, can stay sober," Wanda said.
"Attitude of gratitude," I said echoing tonight's meeting as I warmly smiled and gave Wanda a heartfelt hug. "I am so very glad to see you again."
We both agreed to do lunch soon. I got in my car and pointed it down the long and dark street away from Self Help Harbor. I had the biggest smile on my face and was just brimming to the rim with hope. This program truly is magical and can change lives. They say once you go to AA then you will never be able to drink the same way again. I believe it. Attitude of gratitude. May I always have it. Good night.