I never do that on Sundays. I wake up when I'm finished sleeping + two hours.
But I was invited to celebrate with a friend who taking her two year cake.
Two years of sobriety.
And I wasn't missing that fer nuthin.
I've been to my fair share of New West NA meetings, so I knew what to expect, even though, I also knew this was going to be different. Her's was an AA meeting. And it would be taking place in Vancouver.
I got to the facility 10 minutes early and found the room.
There were half a dozen middle aged men in an area that could have been a setting for a scene like this in the movies. Twenty five chairs were set up in a circle, with about 8 chairs set behind 'for overflow', I guess.
He: Are you looking for the meeting?
He: You're in the right place. Come on in.
I took a seat in the overflow, pulled out my phone and texted my friend. "Where are you?"
(In New West, there are around 100 guys, all young men, lingering around the front door, in the hallways, on all the chairs, up to half an hour before starting time.) This? Was very quiet.
As more people entered, mostly quietly, one at a time, they would welcome me and shake my hand.
It's a small gathering, and for many it's their home group, so they would notice me, a stranger. And probably jump to a conclusion or two.
At 10:30, a small rush of people arrived, including my friend, who hugged me and then took her seat in the circle, close to the front desk.
AA meetings are alot like NA meetings in that you begin with a moment of silence for those who are still suffering. And then volunteers read some prepared notes. And eventually the meeting starts.
Guy at the desk, in charge: Would the woman sitting behind [insert name] like to start us off?
(He's looking at me.)
My friend speaks up: Oh. That's Jane. She's not an alcoholic.
(Everyone looks at me.)
Guy in charge: OK. Maybe she has something to share, anyway?
(I remember Max saying that it's terribly uncool to not share when asked. It's rude. If you're asked, you accept.)
Me, to God, in my head: HELP. And WHAT THE HECK?
(Everyone is still looking at me.)
Me, to God, in my head: SERIOUSLY. WHAT DO I SAY?
Me: Hi, I'm Jane. And I'm here because I'm her friend. And I'm terribly proud of her. And I have a son... blah. blah, blah ...
I have no memory of what I said. It was mostly stupid rambling. I'm pretty sure it was Nothing inspired. Nothing encouraging. Nothing supportive.
IF I'd known in advance that I'd be given the opportunity to share? This is what I would've said:
"Hi, my name is Jane. And I'm the relieved and happy mom of a recovering drug addict and the proud and awestruck friend of a recovering alcoholic. I am grateful for these rooms and for the NA and AA communities. I am thankful that there is a fellowship of folks who walk alongside each other, supporting and encouraging and mentoring each other. I am thankful that my son and my friend wake up each day and surrender their lives to God. I am thankful that they are both in my life, as I learn things from them that no one else can teach me. Things like humbleness, courage, strength, transparency, commitment.
And my message to the new person, or the person coming back? Congratulations. You have just made the best decision ever. On behalf of your mom, and moms everywhere, I thank you for being here this morning. I have no advice, as I've never walked in your shoes, but I will pass along an observation. This journey you are on is easier if you share it with a friend who is on the same path as you. So look around at the people in this room. And if there's someone's recovery story that you respect, if there's someone here who is living their life in a way that inspires you, then ask that person to let you in. They will. And you'll both be richer because of it.
Congrats, friend, on two years of sobriety. I am proud of you."
I came home and had a nap.
Because that? Was exhausting. And awesome. And new. And wonderful.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Celebrations. (In addition to this morning's event, my mom and I went to a birthday party for her best friend, Hildegard. She turned 78 today.
Plus two of her grandsons, (my kids' ages) got engaged. So it was a happy gathering with the whole family. Much laughter. Much love. Much tenderness. Twas awesome.)
2. I am thankful for Anne Lamott. She writes about the craziness of the season and how one should never make major decisions three days before Christmas. If you're on Facebook, go read her latest post. And then read this, a prayer she googled and loved:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
3. I am thankful for the new Perimeter Freeway. I've been on it 4 times this weekend, and MAN. Does it ever make travelling to Richmond and Ladner quick and easy.
AND THUS? Concludes the shortest day of the year.