Sunday, August 26, 2007

Like Herding Cats.

So I can sit next to you, right?

Yes. There's no Nar-Anon.

Can I draw?

I don't care. You want me to go? You're sure it's better if I sit with you?


So we went to our first NA meeting. It's not his first, as he's been to a few before, both state-mandated and wife-mandated. This was the first meeting, however, that wasn't "required." It was requested, again and again and again, and spoken of as my number one favorite wish in the whole world...but it was his thing.

We got to the church, and he disappeared into the bathroom, but that's ok, because I'm good at being at meetings now. People were sort of walking around and looking sheepish. I sort of walked around and looked sheepish.

I recognized a few folks from the NA meeting in conjunction with my Nar Anon meetings. That made me happy.

He came and sat down next to me. We were early, or course, because I was in charge of driving us there, and so he pulled his hat way down over his eyes and drew a dragon. I looked around at everyone and smiled, sheepishly. He had this piece of paper in a plastic cover in his hands. He handed it to me.

"I think it's time to start this meeting!" shouted the leader. She was a sort of butchy looking pretty woman with a pony tail and a man's shirt on. She was loud and boisterous and excited. People were coming in and going out and talking and phones were ringing and babies were crying and folks were flapping fans. It was hot. Folks started reading things off of pieces of paper in plastic covers. I realized that he'd handed me the twelve steps, and I'd be reading.

But that's ok, because I'm real good at reading, and I like the 12 steps. I read them passionately. I'd have to say that I was, by far, the best reader there. That's what a Master's Degree in poetry gets can read the 12 steps with a certain verve and ardor in your intonation. Best $24,000 I ever spent.

So after the readings, some folks went off for "Just For Today" meditation. I don't know what that means. People were coming in and out, in and out. It was hard to hear. I was smiling because I was sitting next to him in a meeting. His knee kept pressing into mine. He was drawing and drawing that dragon. The rest of us stayed for an open discussion on the first three steps, and the topic the leader chose to focus on was step 2.

It was really good. About 10 people did all the talking, and everyone else sat, either head in hands in pain, nodding their heads knowingly, or absent-mindedly staring off. It had been hard to hear before, but during the part where people were sharing their experiences, it became very clear and vivid. Except, people were getting up and sitting down and pushing chairs around and coming in and out of the made me think of herding cats. It also made me think of my own, orderly, responsible, nerdy meetings. It made me think that they needed us to come organize their meetings for them...make them all sit quietly and wait their turns to talk and talk when it's their turn and read nicely and do right. It made me laugh at myself for allowing myself to think it.

Crazy addicts. Crazy codependent.

Everyone who spoke focused on that "sanity" word.

"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity," is the text, for those of you not in the know. Most people talked about how when they aren't working to recover, aren't coming to meetings, aren't actively trying to get better, they are insane. They do and think and act insane. Two people referred to themselves as "Greasy-ass addicts." One of them even called himself, "a greasy-ass porkchop addict. A dope fiend."

It was fitting, as meetings always are, with the things going on in our lives. We've been talking a lot lately about doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.

He'd stopped drawing by the time people were talking. The dragon lay in his lap, half-formed. He even looked up from underneath his hat a few times to look in the speakers' faces. He didn't go get any chips. Instead, he sat next to me and looked sheepish. I wanted to be mad, but then I realized that all I'd accomplish is that I'd be mad.

Overall, it was hope-filled and promising. We're going to go to an AA meeting next Tuesday evening...I'm going to sit next to him.


Wayward Son said...

Maybe I am being silly but this is exciting to me! My experience with NA is similar. It just doesn't have the oomf for me that the AA meetings have. And some people who are seeking help from drugs, as opposed to alcohol, do seem to be in deep pain and as a newcomer that is difficult for me. I would love to one day be so strong that I could be of service to those that are so deep in pain. But right now that pain disturbs me because it reminds me of when I was that way.

I remember my first meeting (AA) at the beautiful little church. I was sheepish and because I do not draw I would cast my eyes upwards in an effort to not have to look at those around me. The ceiling in the church was beautiful in the simplest of ways—vaulted with these carved dark wooden beams. As my eyes began to drop and my gaze fell upon the people there, the beauty of it didn't fade. I have since realized that it was how I felt that was beautiful and because I felt that way everything else felt beautiful as well.

I'm generally a lightly sardonic person with a sharp, biting wit—just a nudge away from being bitter. So waxing on like this about the boofy beauty of things is not my normal state of existence. But in this situation I feel connected so I don't care.

I am glad you could read the steps with some kind of verve and expression. Mostly people have a difficult time with just pausing where the periods are. That is the part of the meeting that makes me want to stick an ice pick in my eye. But I manage because I know that over all I will feel better than if I had not come at all.

Can't wait to hear about AA.


Wayward Son said...

... Oh yeah... I've yet to go get any chips either. I kind of feel that I need to be working the steps before I go up and get chips. I don't know if I will or will not at this point. Doesn't mean I can't go to a meeting and just feel good.

Recovery Discovery said...

I'm so glad you got there together. I've gone to a few local NA meetings. They are really different from our little group. And I've had a similar feeling about wanting to "fix" their meetings, and then laughing at myself.

The Discovering Alcoholic said...

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Good news is always welcome, good luck.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I'm glad he went to a meeting. I'm glad he went because he wanted to. I'm glad you resisted the urge to fix their meeting, although I'm sure they needed it! ;)

Anonymous said...

G-d I LOVE this post. It is such a great description of how we are at meetings. It made me laugh and it also really touched my heart.
JW, I was JUST like him at my first several meetings -- exactly. Hat pulled down, not looking up much, doodling something (I can't draw), not getting any of those stupid-ass key tags. Just like him. But I was THERE and I LISTENED and, damnit, if it didn't all get inside of me somewhere along the line.....
It's a process for us and some of us never really get into it. I have hope that G will.
I can't wait to hear about the AA experience. They are nice, clean, respectable people in pretty, wealthy churches. They aren't raw and don't swear as much. And they are very, very, very Caucasian. But I also find them to be more spiritual in a Caucasian kind of way that is so hard to explain.
NA and AA are night and day. But I love them both, and even attend one AA meeting a week. It's just that NA has captured ALL of me, heart and soul.
I, too, am excited that he went! I feel really dorky for that but I am!!!!! Yea, G!!!!!! Yea, you!!!!
Yea, all of us who are trying to do this damn thing!!!!

sKILLz said...

Girl I am so happy that he decied on his own to go to the meeting. Maybe something along the line sunk in.
MY net was down since Fri o I have alot of reading to catch up on.
PS I started my own blog. I mean I have been doing it on Myspace but Im going to give it a shot here. So come on by check it out and help ya Brooklyn sis spread the word.
Hope all is well with you and yours!

isabella mori said...

wow. thank you. love the $24,000 spent on reading the steps with a verve ... on the surface, it could sound tongue-in-cheek ... but below the surface ...