One of my intentions in starting this blog was to let others in on my journey. It has been an open invitation to join me as I move through fear, take risks and navigate through this certain time in my life. I made a promise to myself that I would not wait to tell the story until the end. You know, when I reach the point when I've got it ALL figured out. (Spoiler Alert! I've learned that day will never come. It's not supposed to and when and if it does that's when the living stops but more on that another time.) I promised that instead I would tell it now, as I go through it. This particular post though, this one I debated about writing and I'm struggling to determine an exact reason why.
Maybe it's because this subject, the subject of addiction hits a little too close to home and the thought of putting all the details out on the interwebs is not one that I'm comfortable with. What I will say is this...I've looked into the empty eyes of a drug addict - a shell of a person that I loved. I've pleaded with them to please stop and I know how addiction can tear a family apart.
I've watched the glazed over eyes of alcoholic family members who would take offense to the most trivial of matters and then go to blows in a drunken stupor and proceeded to beat each other bloody.
I have not only witnessed but I have lived in the hell on earth that is created by addiction.
Another part of me hesitates to share the story because there was such a sacredness in what I experienced that part of me feels like if I do tell the story then I'm tainting it in some way.
I'm stuck between being extremely vulnerable and also honoring something I consider to be sanctified and for those reasons I have decided to focus on the promise.
I went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting this week.
A leader that I respect and trust passed along some wisdom they received while they were on their journey to becoming a pastor and seeing as I am on a similar journey I followed the advice myself. It has been said that much of what one needs to know about being a pastor can be learned by attending an AA meeting. So I went.
Ultimately I decided to write this story because I was wrong...it's not really about addiction. It's about what it means to be human. To have really good days when everything seems to be clicking on all cylinders and going according to plan and some days that are really shitty and hard and snot falling from your nose ugly. Days when all we can do is surrender, focus on this moment and the next one after that to get through.
It is also a story about lessons I learned from the most courageous group of individuals I've ever shared space with. I am grateful for each of them and will work to live a fuller life because of the ways they showed up this week.
Here is what I learned from my first AA meeting:
- Be on time
- Believe in a Power that is higher than your own
- Be willing to risk everything
- Tell the truth
- Don't sugar coat anything
- Find the humor
- Start with a desire
- Acknowledge, welcome, thank and celebrate others
- Be vulnerable
- Have someone you can call on
- Be present
- Keep showing up
- Get back on the wagon no matter how many times you fall off
- Respect other people's boundaries
- Respect other people's wishes
- Set boundaries for yourself
- Ask for what you need
- Have a book you can consult/reference
- Keep your doors open and know when to shut them
- Don't interrupt
- Everyone belongs
- Don't pressure people
- Pray together
- Facilitate respect
- Sweat it out
- Sacrifice for others
- Tell your story
- Change your plan on the spot if needed
- You only have this day
- Be grateful
- Have guiding principles
- Show emotion
- Be courageous
Today I celebrated the people that I know and love that have struggled to choose sobriety each day. I hugged them if I was able or I gave them a call. I told them that I have a new found appreciation for their courage, desire, strength and how they show up in their lives day in and day out.
I told them I love them, I'm proud of them and I thanked them for ministering to me.
May your days be filled with compassion, your faith remain strong and may growth be your compass.