So I moved a great distance again, but this time closer to my hometown and family. For the next few years I moved three times. First, to the suburb of a big city, then to the most rural area I ever hope to live in, then to the suburb of a very small city. All this was within three hours drive of my home and family. That would have seemed far to me, but not after having lived thousands of miles away. We could, if we needed to, make the trip there and back in one day, like my mother did once to see a dance recital of my daughter’s.
All that moving made for not much consistency in my AA groups and meetings, although I got to attend more meetings in my hometown where I had gotten sober. Each time I moved I found a meeting to attend weekly, usually the nearest women’s meeting. I went to other meetings but not many. My daughter was four, five and six, my son was one, two and three during this time. Of course moving so often with them wasn’t easy. My ex worked retail, and he worked a lot.
I don’t remember if I wrote about this previously, but one of the meetings I attended deserves special mention. I went to a “bring your children” meeting, and usually my son was the only child. I think it had been started by some women who had young children, and it met in the nursery of a church, so there were toys. It’s the only meeting of its kind I’ve seen, and I think it was a great idea. Unfortunately I’ve seen meetings listed with “no kids,” and I try not to attend those.
In retrospect I see the many advantages I had with all this moving in sobriety. I didn’t enjoy it, and I really had no desire to move around, but I did the moving anyway. First of all, having AA as an immediate contact in a strange place was invaluable. People in every place I moved to accepted me and helped me and were as friendly as can be. When I think about it, I feel sorry for people who don’t have this contact in strange places.
Second, it gave me a large picture of AA. Where I live now, the view can be kind of narrow. I’m glad I know first hand that lots of the “rules” aren’t rules at all, and that things are done differently all over, and that people stay sober here there and everywhere. That has given me respect for the fundemental lack of rules in AA. I’m so grateful. I have just the beginning of an understanding of the way it has evolved and survived and thrived. It still irks me when people get all agitated about some deviance from “the way we’ve always done it,” and I’m glad I don’t share that alarm.
The biggest advantage for me has been that I believe in those years, without the support of familiar people in AA, I developed and built a solid program as a foundation that I may not have had I stayed in one place and kept the same support group, or not had to leave my familiar support group ever. I think I had to rely more on the program and the “we” of random fellow AAers. So many times, little details about my life had to fall away, and I sort of had to touch bottom and stay sober one day at a time.
Someone last night was expressing gratitude for the hundreds of unknown unnamed people who had passed through his sobriety through the years. People that he didn’t get to know for whatever reason, but who helped him, if only by being there, year after year. There must be thousands of such people in my past by now, and maybe I’ve been that for others.
It’s also good for me to think, for a minute, about what would have happened to me and my kids if, at some point during those years, I had taken a different road and went back to drinking.