After spending half the day in anger, I went to the meeting south of the river hoping it would have dispersed. I’d named the reason for the anger, and my favourite meeting was the only chance I had of ending the day on a good note. Very often these days I will feel frosty at the start of a meeting if I haven’t had a good day, and so it was yesterday. It was one of those meetings where I couldn’t understand why everyone looked so happy. My disease, let’s call it Colin, honestly wanted me to believe that I was the only unhappy person in the room. It was a similar case at counselling class on Friday, when I started the morning feeling sealed off from everyone. Colin had me convinced that I wasn’t wanted there, that the people who hadn’t spoken to me yet were destined to hate me. I had to make such a huge effort to stay in the room and participate. Letting go and letting God wasn’t cutting it. I knew the problem was with me, and it was all made harder by fatigue. I was too tired to believe that my input was valued in the group. I felt I could never fulfil the main criteria of the course by revealing myself.
I have a very clever disease. When I’m in it, it feels like it’s me. Out of it I know it isn’t me, it’s Colin (for the purposes of writing about it I think it will be easier to call it Colin from now on, rather than keep saying “the disease”.) A lot of the time I question whether it really is me. If it is, what if I never manage to control it?
Colin’s cleverest trick is to isolate me, by building a wall around me. I come to believe that the wall is real and I can never get out. I heard all about this from other alcoholics in the meeting yesterday, and it took around an hour for the spirit of the sharing to crack my shell. I had to speak again: every week it seems to be vital. I tried really hard not to prepare a script beforehand but didn’t quite manage it. I talked about this disorder in my brain which makes me believe I’m worse than everyone else. I mentioned the fact that every week I forget my problem is treatable, which is how I keep falling for the illusion that I’m separate from everyone else.
When I don’t want to share and bring myself closer to people, that’s the time to do it. I’m fundamentally aware of that these days and I thanked my lucky stars for finding the willingness yesterday. I’ve said before that even the simplest things, like smiling and saying hello to people without waiting for an acknowledgement, take a lot of willing for me, even now. The more aware I become of how simple the solution is, the harder it seems to get to follow it.
In the end I managed to connect with the meeting, by the time we were all walking out and going for coffee I felt one with the group as normal. However a service position had been announced, making the tea, and I hadn’t taken it, even though I’m available to do it every week there. I just didn’t feel ready to put my hand up when it was announced. There was a long, pregnant silence as the secretary deliberately waited for a volunteer to put themselves forward. I could have jumped in at any point. Eventually someone else reluctantly took it, someone who’s never gone to the meeting before. On that score I allowed Colin to win, then. Next time I hope he doesn’t.