On the way to my life one morning

December 22, 2022 Comments Off on On the way to my life one morning

It’s true; you are the person you wake up with every morning. That’s because when you open your eyes, the day’s realities haven’t come raining down on your psyche. There’s the briefest interregnum between the moment of sleep and the moment of waking in which everything isn’t merely fresh and new, it’s the unvarnished you.

Riding my bicycle in the darkness en route to the daybreak AA meeting, I thought slowly about why I’m still going. The principles of AA don’t fit me at all. Of the twelve steps, ten involve religion, one involves proselytizing, and one demands I call myself an alcoholic, an undefined word that seems to mean “anyone who has ever had a problem with alcohol to any degree.” The meetings themselves start with religion and end with religion and have liberal doses mainlined along the way, and the more I read about AA, the more I realize how anti-science and ineffective it is as a long-term treatment for substance abuse.

But on the other hand, it has been very effective for me. There’s something that goes on in my AA meetings that never really went on quite the same way in any other facet of my existence, which is “life.” At AA meetings there are tears, mostly genuine. There is death, so much death, and sickness, fear, sadness, remorse, anger, rage, laughter, despair, hope, affirmation, negation, support, the occasional brutal cruelty of the strong against the weak, the defiance of the weak against all odds, iron sincerity from some, and forgiving awareness that settles on you like a blanket.

When I walk out of the meetings I’m drained from listening to the concatenation of pompous preaching, bitter defeat, brave victory, wisdom, foolishness, pain, balm, and that ineffable thing called “community,” the crazy-quilt of emotional soup that happens when people meet and, as best they can, share shards of their own truth. And I walk out feeling something else: accepted.


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