I Didn’t Need A A But Its Meetings Saved My Life
Jimmy, the home health aide for hire I used for my recent shoulder surgery, was driving me to my first post op doctor’s visit (you’re not allowed to drive for six weeks to keep the shoulder immobile) when he very matter of factly mentioned he was attending an AA meeting that night and wanted to know if I was curious and would like to join him. Since he was the one who opened up the subject, I asked him about his sobriety and he replied he had been sober for over thirty years since he saw his life going down the sewer in his twenties, and made it a point to make an AA meeting whenever and wherever he could, even in vacation out of the way spots like Australia.
Now one thing I never had a problem with was alcohol. “Speed” has always been my nemesis, from my six cups of coffee days to the black beauties of my college career that got me through a part time job and full time student schedule, to those speed enriched Slim Fasts of my professional days, to my current on again, off again meth habit as a retiree. ( I have since learned there are AA-like meetings for druggies and may attend one myself.) But I was planning to make two of the protagonists in my next book alcoholics, so I decided to take Jimmy up on his offer and do a little research.
Since that first time I’ve attended half a dozen meetings populated by young gays and old gays, young str8’s and old str8’s, men, women, and poly addicts, and realized that these meetings were more than support mechanisms. They also provided its members with a safe, non judgmental and welcoming social environment free of our society’s social glue – liquor.
Now I have to confess I didn’t buy its core dogma about relinquishing yourself to a higher power. My lifetime philosophy has been you are responsible for your own actions and it’s you who has to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. But what fascinated me were the stories people told about their lives before AA.
Wrecked careers, marriages gone down the sewer, near death health scenarios, all that got me to thinking that if these individuals who came from all walks of life, many of them white collar professionals, could deal with their issues with alcohol everyday of their lives, fuck, when it came to my collapsing spine and the resulting arthritic pain that was driving me to end what was and still is a good life, I could deal with my shit too.
So I said to myself, Ray – I talk to myself a lot, it’s the way I think out problems and stay sane – I said, Ray, if these folks could pull themselves out of the depths of degradation, you can deal with this left hook that Nature has thrown at you.
After all, I’m still mobile, still got my dogs and my handful of friends – anyone who says they have more than four or five steadfast friends are bullshitting you or worse themselves – can still turn a head or two, and make love to a 43 year old man who makes love to me. So stop with the pity parties of one at six in the morning, take your fucken Advils or a few puffs on your medical marijuana vapo-cig…
And shut the fuck up.
It could be a lot worse.
You could be living in your car.
And that repo tow truck is right around the corner.