It has been a better day over all than yesterday, mainly because I’ve got out the house and done stuff again. I went to two meetings in London this evening. Read that: two! Both of them I have not been a regular attendee at. The first one, in my local area, I hadn’t been to for a few weeks because I was going to a gay meeting in Central London instead. Tonight I decided to go back to my local meeting as I know I’ve been avoiding the straight meetings throughout my recovery, and I don’t want to do that any more. It’s fine being a regular at the gay meetings but it’s not like the one on Thursdays is particularly brilliant, and I realised that I had this fear of the straight meetings which isn’t good for me to compound by avoiding them altogether. My good friend C took me this evening and, in line with my other recent decision to improve my sharing, I put my hand up near the end and shared! In front of a room full of people I hardly knew! Everything that came out of my mouth sounded right, too!
The chair had been given by a young girl and her story sounded very much like mine. In fact, it practically was my story, except that she was a girl. She talked about binge drinking and blacking out and finding herself in dangerous situations but never really accepting her powerlessness over alcohol. Her rock bottom was almost identical to mine except that it took place in New York last year, and mine took place in London. As soon as she’d finished speaking I knew I had to share back. I’m so grateful that I managed to do it tonight. I felt the fear and I did it anyway. I couldn’t have done that six months ago.
Afterwards C wanted to dash off to another of his regular meetings in south London, and I accepted his invitation to come along as I’d never been before. When we got there I was delighted to recognise a couple of faces, including P, the young newcomer who I didn’t like to start with but who I get along with famously now. We chatted for ten minutes or so before the meeting and whilst under the surface I felt nervous during all the conversation, I kept on talking, rather than give up and keep quiet like I would have done until recently. I talked like it was the most natural thing in the world. Just being able to do that feels like a gift. In recovery I’ve had many conversations with people, but these days it is definitely becoming more of a comfortable thing for me to do, talking. I don’t instantly assume that anyone who’s being nice to me is simply making fun of me any more.
The best thing about tonight is that although I hadn’t been to that second meeting in south London before, I didn’t feel nervous at all beforehand, and I didn’t feel like a fraud sitting in the room. Everyone there was straight, in their 40’s and 50’s with years of sobriety behind them (apart from me and P and a couple of others) but I didn’t feel like I shouldn’t be there, I didn’t feel like an alien. I felt as much a part of the room as everyone. I didn’t share tonight – I thought just going there had been enough effort for one night – but maybe I will share when I go again next time. I can actually contemplate sharing there – it’s marvellous. A few months ago such meetings would have terrified me. Now they don’t, I guess because I don’t have such a hang up about looking different to everyone in the heterosexual rooms.
Of course, in reality I don’t look different to most heterosexuals, but inside I’ve always felt different. It will take me a long time to completely overcome that belief, these things don’t just change overnight. But the difference between me now and me last year is that I’m actually working at changing my beliefs today. I’ve finally started on the long road to self esteem. Someone in the meeting shared tonight about how they have continuously done things which unsettle them because it invariably increases their self esteem, and that is totally it. Everything which I find uncomfortable has the potential to make me feel better about myself, if I successfully do it. Recently I got into the pattern of holding back from sharing in all my regular meetings, and it was just the illness catching up on me. I really didn’t want to go out tonight, I wanted to stay in and watch TV and waste time on the internet like I usually do. The idea of going to an unfamiliar meeting didn’t fill me with pleasure, but I still went, and now I feel great. I can do difficult things, if I’m just willing to try.