It’s a long road out to recovery

My title today is borrowed from the Frank Turner song ‘Recovery,’ which has become something I used to sing along to and now I listen to the lyrics and they really mean something to me. You should listen to the song, and if you are having a good day why not engage in a little kitchen dancing? In the interests of trying to include more images in this blog, here is Frank, in case you were interested in what he looks like:

Recovery is a journey. Everyone says so. They say it in films, on crap dramas on telly. Even my Mum says so, and she does tend to be right about most things. Yesterday I had it made apparent to me that I have traveled a bit on my journey by the realisation that my opinion on one key topic had changed *so* much since I admitted I am an alcoholic.

Picture the scene. I am snotty and crying and promising my parents that I will get help. I didn’t really know what form that help would take, but I remember clearly saying this:

“I’m not going to fucking AA and talking to strangers in a room. Bollocks to that group therapy, I’m OK on my own.”

Or words to that effect. Anyway, fast forward a few weeks and I found myself sitting in my first AA meeting last night. I will willingly admit to feeling petrified walking through the door, and this quickly turned to horror when I saw a mass of singing folksy types. Panic set in and I was just about to turn on my heels and exit stage left (pursued by a metaphorical bear) when I realised there was another room with not-singing-people and cups of coffee. I sidled in and was met by a very nice smiley man, who seemed genuinely delighted I had come for my first meeting. He introduced me to some of the other people there who were all equally lovely. At this stage I had started to wonder if the evening news is so grim as all the lovely people in the world were at AA meetings, leaving just the arsehats left to report on.

I must confess, the people in the room didn’t look like alcoholics. Or at least that’s what I would have thought six months ago. The people in that room looked just like me, normal. No one was clutching a bottle wrapped in brown paper or incoherent. In fact the eloquence of the members was beyond inspiring. To be in a room with people who accepted me with all my flaws, and did not judge me felt amazing. I felt truly safe.

I gather there are different types of meeting, and this one had a focus on book study. A member presented us with an excerpt from the Big Book, and then she reflected very movingly on how this related to her drinking. We then all took turns to consider what it meant to us. I joined in, and I don’t think I totally made an idiot of myself. There is some inherent value in listening to the stories of other, and to be given the chance to learn from them and their experiences. I certainly intend to go back. I really feel that staying sober in my own would be nearly impossible when compared to having the support of a group like this.

I think some of my initial reluctance to go to AA was in that many of the steps mention God, and as a non religious person, I couldn’t commit to a program that focused on religion. Having been to the group I don’t actually think my perception here was correct. There was great trouble taken to emphasise that the ‘God’ in question is however you decide to think of something that is more than yourself. For the time being I am happy to think of that more than myself as being the other people in the meeting with me, or my family at home.

When it comes down to it, my initial outrage at being asked to go to AA came down to two things. The first is it took me time to be able to admit in public that I am an alcoholic. The second is that I really didn’t understand the value of community and companionship on the recovery journey. To borrow from Robert Frost, we might be taking the road less travelled by, but the journey is easier together.

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