This has been a good week. On Sunday I finally went to see ‘Milk’ at the cinema, and boy am I glad I did. Of course it was my duty as a gay man to see it anyway, but it didn’t disappoint. The message is great: gay rights ARE human rights, something that the American midwest still seems to ignore. Tonight I am going to see ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, something I have also wanted to see all year. Going to the cinema is one of those things that I discovered I enjoyed doing in sobriety, along with collecting old music, going to the theatre, reading books and walking. Things I only vaguely knew that I liked before, but which I never gave much thought to.
On Monday something a bit embarrassing happened. I went back to the step meeting in Holborn where I recently completed a year-long tea commitment. I didn’t particularly want to go back, but it was late, I needed a meeting and there were no others on that I knew as well. So I got there feeling just OK – I had to keep telling myself that there was no reason to feel resentful or nervous – but as soon as I got to the room I saw that the new tea-maker had laid out a nice spread of cakes, something I never used to do. It was very professionally done: I felt incredibly jealous. In my mind it was like being shown how rubbish I was at the commitment. I never used to make all that effort, mainly because I couldn’t afford nice cakes and posh tea, and partly because a part of me always resented it. I didn’t put myself forward for the commitment in the first place, and as the year went on I found myself disliking the meeting more and more. This week all those feelings came straight back, after I thought I was finally free of them. I resented the new tea-maker, and I resented everyone else for eating his cakes. I was sure they must be thinking that this new person was much better for the job than me. I hated being there from the very start, but I forced myself to stay because I know that the only way to tackle these feelings is to sit through them.
Another reason I dislike the meeting is because a lot of people who go there are atheists. I have nothing against atheism as a concept, but when you’re talking about the steps of AA, I think it’s harmful for the most powerful voices in the meeting to be saying that God does not exist. For a long time I have known that I wouldn’t be here were it not for a higher power, this metaphysical force which seems to guide me and keep me safe at all times. AA doesn’t guide me or keep me safe at ALL times, which is why I don’t choose to name it as my higher power. Whenever I go to that meeting I feel like I have to keep my mouth shut on the matter, lest I risk offending the show’s main stars. I’ve known them long enough to know that they probably would be offended. Clive, in particular, can be very outspoken and vociferous on the subject. I just don’t feel like that meeting is good for my sobriety any more.
It is where the ‘clique’ gathers every week: Clive, Colin, Joe, Gavin, Phillip and Amanda. I’ve harboured resentments against all of these people for a long time. When they’re alone, they’re fine; when they’re all together on Monday nights, I can’t stand them. They’re the ‘happy clappers’ that I put down so cruelly weeks ago. Unfortunately, my sponsor is Clive’s long term partner and he is therefore also a part of that clique now. Whenever I see my sponsor now I have to see Clive as well, and it’s beginning to grate on me. Clive is perhaps the first person I have ever been able to say that I genuinely dislike. I disagree with him on a great number of important issues. I find it hard to talk to him without wanting to argue with him. The issue of God and higher powers is one of those important issues. Perhaps I chose my current sponsor last summer because he WAS Clive’s partner – perhaps I hoped it would allow me an easier route into that clique. If that was my thinking, I’m coming to regret it now.
So, I find myself once again with a decision to make about sponsors. If I go deep and force myself to be REALLY honest, maybe I’ve chosen all my previous sponsors for reasons other than the fact that they might make a good sponsor. My first sponsor I chose simply because he was one of my first friends in AA; my second sponsor I chose because he was at the time sponsoring Dean, one of my closest AA friends in previous years. And now I’m questioning my true motives for choosing this sponsor – great! The good thing is we’ve done all the steps together, and I believe we did them thoroughly, so it will be a long time before I need to do them again. But for the time being, I don’t really feel like I have a sponsor, which will make it harder when I come to sponsor newcomers.
Other than that, I continue to be in a very good place at the moment. The writing is still going brilliantly; I’m at the halfway point in my time-travelling novel. I’m having more fun than I ever did with writing now, and because of that I am experiencing a great deal of serenity as a side effect. Today I sent off an application form for an training scheme at one of London’s famous drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres. They train people to become substance misuse workers: it seems like the perfect opportunity for me. The advert made it sound like I already had all the experience required, something that is unusual for me when it comes to jobs. Oh, I’d love to be given this opportunity…I never really forgot about the dream of working in mental health, I think I just put it on the backburner while I threw myself into the novel. Having filled out the application form to the best of my abilities, I am quietly confident that they will love me. I KNOW about alcohol abuse, I have the life experience. Luckily I’ve done a year’s worth of voluntary work and a degree in Psychology to fine-tune my knowledge on the subject. It’s almost like everything I’ve been through has been pointing me in this direction!