It was nearly past my bedtime, but I sat fully upright, at attention, on my living room couch. Staring at a blank blue iPad screen, waiting for the thin green line in the center to pulsate, twitch — anything to indicate signs of life on the other side of this video call — I felt patches of sweat quickly forming in my armpits.
My heart pounded and my mind flashed back to my first recovery meeting last July. Deja vu.
This was, somehow, even more surreal. I’d volunteered to serve as guest speaker for a 12-step group at a rehab center — a local one, but it could’ve been on the moon, for all I could see…which was nothing. Nothing but blue.
They could see me, though. And they were waiting for me to tell my story.
I’ll skip past that part, because A) you know everything there is to know if you’ve ever peeked into this space; and B) I was so nervous I don’t even remember what I said.
I do know I tried to lean heavily on the last part of the “experience-strength-and-hope” blueprint. The turbulent experience of early sobriety (314 days and counting…) is a daily struggle to find, or summon, strength, and if you don’t have hope, you probably ain’t gonna make it. While I could only speak for myself, I figured the invisible people I was talking to would be able to understand that universal truth.
I was right. The men — turns out it was a room full of men — who stepped to the mic, sending ripples across that green line, talked about feeling triggered, pissed off, ashamed, scared…and grateful for the chance to keep going, do better.
They reminded me of the men in that very first recovery meeting (oh look! I wrote about it!), when I sat, flop-sweating my ass off on a stiff folding chair in a room full of strangers, and for one hour ceased to feel hopelessly alone.
Continue reading “Fellowship”