I got sober on May 1, 1984. I got married in December, 1984. I had a baby in September, 1985. In September, 1986, with one a half years sober and with a one year old child, I moved, with my X (who was also in the program) thousands of miles away from my home.
I have never liked change, and I’ve never had a desire to move away from my home town. My great grandparents had settled near there when they came to America. My whole family, except for one aunt, had stayed put. I liked the history of that, and my own personal history there.
My entire life in AA had been spent in that one spot. I went to one meeting far away when I was on a trip, but otherwise I hadn’t ventured anywhere. The people in those meetings knew me from the time I was 16 (some of them). It was very difficult to leave.
That was the first of many (many) moves, and I ended up moving to many locations and experiencing AA in all of them. It is an incredibly awesome blessing to have the fellowship of AA everywhere I went. I instantly had people who cared about me, stranger that I was. And I cared about them. I can’t imagine moving like that without AA, and I feel sorry for people who have to do it. It’s a blessed miracle that there are so many different people working the same program, all over the world.
It was interesting leaving everyone I knew. Of course I visited and talked to them on the phone and wrote them letters. Back then, we actually had to get out a pen and a piece of paper and write a letter, maybe send a duplicate of a picture we’d had developed. Phone calls were not cheap – not less than 25 cents a minute, maybe more. I hated it, though I should point out that part of cultivating an attitude of gratitude, for me, meant appreciating what my poor great grandparents had had to go through. They left their country and never saw it again, or saw it just once again. They never saw their relatives, and found out much after the fact if someone died or was born.
Moving in AA is different than being a beginner. You’re not just starting out and learning, in desperate shape and terribly needy. I think that makes it more difficult to connect. My friends, the people I had gotten sober with, and my sponsors were all gone. No one knew me. Letting people get to know me was difficult for me, though in the context of AA, we surely speak on an intimate level pretty quickly.
But not completely. If I had problems with my marriage, for example, I wasn’t anxious to confide in a stranger, even an AA stranger. As a new young mother away from my family, I connected with other new young mothers, not members of AA, in a playgroup. They became my closest friends.
Away from my relationships, I got a better look at what was really there. What was my relationship with my higher power, with my program? What was my program?