At first, I went to stop drinking. Next, I went to stay stopped. At a certain point I was terrified of drinking again. This was a healthy, realistic fear. Drinking was killing me. It was to be feared.
At my meeting last week, a woman came for her first time to that particular meeting. She has been sober for a long time, but somewhere through the years she stopped going to meetings. She was back because she was dissatisfied with the quality of her life.
The topic was the Serenity Prayer. I honestly said that I don’t say the Serenity Prayer except at AA meetings, so I probably say it once or twice a week. That’s one reason I keep going to meetings. At first I used the prayers and the rituals to stay away from alcohol because alcohol was killing me. Now that I’m not afraid I’ll drink I don’t run away from fear, anger, dishonesty and other things that at first I knew I had to run from. The Serenity Prayer, repeated once or twice a week over the course of more than three decades, has worn a Serenity-Prayer-shaped rut in my soul. I’ve incorporated it into my very psyche. It has changed my mind, literally, my mind has been changed and continues to change. In the good direction of better living because, and only because, I continue to go to meetings.
I know that plenty of non-alcoholics and alcoholics also, I suppose, change and get better by other means as they get older and learn more. I do, too, but the main agent of change for the better in my life continues to be AA.
I was thinking about the people I socialize with. They are mostly people I work with, and people in my family. After those two groups AA would have to come third. My mother is retired, and she moved away from where she lived all of her life until retirement. I think she mostly socializes with family on the phone and on visits, then with people she used to work with, mostly by talking on the phone. After that it’s probably neighbors for her, and it’s only one or two because she hasn’t lived where she does for a very long time. Her mother, my grandmother, didn’t work outside of her home. She socialized with family, first, watching some of her grandchildren up until the time she died. My uncle ran his business out of her house, and he saw her every day. After family would have come neighbors for her. She lived in the same house for something like 60 years and died there.
If I’m ever fortunate enough to retire, I picture AA as a major activity of my life in retirement. I know I’ll go to more meetings, yes, to keep getting better, blah blah, but also to participate more in the defining activity of my life. It’s a place where I can always contribute by showing up, by helping out, for as long as I’m able to show up and help out.
Those are some of the reasons I keep going to meetings. I don’t, right now, LOVE meetings. I wasn’t a bar drinker and I don’t seek out company after a day of interacting with people, or even after a day alone. But it saved my life and I’m pretty sure I won’t ever forget that it is a lifeline. It is my lifeline. As long as I want to live, I need to keep that lifeline strong.