At my meeting last night, the speaker chose the topic of “hope.” He had told us his story of coming from no hope to a place of great hope. I hear these stories every day in AA. I am, admittedly, hugely biased but how can I not be, having experienced my own adversity, by drinking myself nearly to death before my 22nd birthday, and going on to live a really great life?
It was an unusual crowd at the meeting with some regulars and some visitors. Some had come to hear the speaker and knew him from elsewhere. I was called on near the end of the meeting and as usually happens to me when I know I’ll be near the end, I thought for a few minutes about what to say, then decided not to say anything. It’s much easier for me to listen that way. I struggle with thoughts of whether or not I “should” say something but really, I fall mostly on the side of any thoughts of “should” are evidence of my overly large ego.
So I listened for a while and then I began to think of what the people were saying in a different way. Everyone, without exception, spoke of hope. Newcomers were very hopeful or skeptically hopeful that they too could experience the miracle we had heard about. I didn’t really know any of the newcomers.
The older folks, though – I knew all of them at least just a little, and I knew enough to know that each had been through at least one, if not many, very, very difficult situations in sobriety. They had been through
- a terrible divorce
- death of a child
- loss of a business
- obsessive thinking
- aggressive ex’s
Of the people I’ve known through the years in the rooms, there was a woman who struck and killed a child while drunk driving. She was waiting to be sentenced to jail. There was the woman who was drunk driving with her best friend, and the friend was killed. I knew someone who died a painful, slow death from MS.
None of these people were happy with their situations, not one. Some were devastated and some didn’t make it through. But in the time I spent with them, each expressed hope, each helped someone else (at least me, of course, and many others). Each of them, and countless others, gave me lessons in dealing with adversity that I hope I never get to use, but that I have nonetheless.
I always come away from thoughts like these feeling like I personally have not had very much adversity in my little life. I really haven’t. The biggest reason I have escaped so much of it is because I was beyond blessed to get sober so young.