Following recent difficulties in certain AA meetings, it was nice to get to the meeting on Saturday and feel at home. I tend to feel safer there – less so when I was experiencing that awkwardness with R earlier in the year, but over all, it’s always been a meeting that I’ve been fond of. It’s not as busy as the other meetings, so it’s easier to share. Would that I could feel the same about all the meetings, but that’s just how it is.
The group that I was going for coffee with after the meeting every week have been noticeably slipping away recently, and I’m trying not to mind. I don’t think I should keep waiting for them after the meeting every week any more. As less and less people have gone for coffee this year, it’s felt more and more like I’m intruding on a private party, and I keep thinking about the other group that goes for dinner elsewhere, the ‘cool’ group that I’ve so far been too shy to join. If at some point soon I manage to make a final break from R’s group and go for dinner with the others, I don’t know if the fellowship I get will feel as ‘real’ as it once did with R and the others. And I don’t know if it would matter so much. I’m probably in the process of learning a lesson about not placing too much importance on groups.
On Saturday no one was going for coffee because R was cooking dinner for them at his place, and I wasn’t invited. It was the perfect opportunity to join the other group that always goes to a burger place near the meeting, but I chickened out at the last minute and just went for pizza with my sponsor instead. As far as R and that group is concerned, I couldn’t give any time to being angry because there is no point. I’ve managed to accept in similar situations before that it’s not deliberate exclusion, and it probably isn’t in this case. I’m just not as close to them as I was for a brief period at the beginning of the year. By talking about it it may seem like I’m not accepting it all that much. Well, perhaps I am trying to convince myself here. No, it really isn’t important whether I get invited to a meal at someone’s place or not. I can still see outside of the narrow sphere of social trivialities and feel solid in my own recovery, when I want to.
For a while my sponsor has been talking about his desire to move to Ireland next year and live a semi-monastic life in his isolated cottage. His plans are firming up as we speak. After he’s gone I may feel like I’ve lost an anchor in the meetings if I’m not too careful. In low moments I can easily question whether that will be it for the fellowship, because my sponsor has played quite a big part in linking me to it this year, even if he isn’t aware of it. The question of whether I’ll spend the rest of my life moving from one temporary group to the next, never really feeling settled, is one that could haunt anyone who doesn’t feel entirely secure in themselves. It’s haunted me throughout recovery. It’s true that I still don’t have a lot of friends in AA or out of it, and I can’t help comparing that to others with my less clean time than me, those who ubiquitously appear smiling with their best friends in facebook photos. This isn’t one of those things that I can think my way to a solution with, so I’m going to have to meditate on it and practise acceptance.
Before Monday’s meeting, I bumped into a fellow that I’ve always considered popular in the coffee shop where I always go, and it looked like I was going to have to share a table with him until it was time to go to the meeting. I tried to appear normal and connected, when the truth is that I had prepared myself to spend the time alone. I’ve seen it before, where I have fully expected to be on my own for an hour in public only to have to change my way of being. I’ve no idea if it worked or not. We talked with few silences for forty five minutes, the fellow didn’t appear to want to get up and leave at any point, so it might have been ok. I like this guy and for a while have wished to forge a closer friendship with him, so I was grateful for the rare opportunity to chat one to one. As always I secretly spent most of the time analysing what I was saying and how I might have appeared. I don’t like to think that this gets in the way of a normal interaction, but I fear it must.
At what point do I just say I’m letting go of the analysis and not thinking about it any more? Faith will only come in when I really let go. Situations like this remind me of an imaginary scene where I am at the end of a long, winding mountain trail that I’ve been trying to complete for days. Before the end of the trail there’s one uphill stretch left. If I can just complete that stretch I’ll make it, but I’m tired and scared of the extra effort required. I want to believe that I can carry on putting myself out there, leaving my comfort zone to forge more of these connections with people, but there’s always one more leap of faith I need to make, one more piece of trust and courage to find in me.
My learnings about counselling have shown me that I need to keep working on my acceptance of other people, and of myself. The negative judgements that I have of myself and others in social environments will always weigh me down. It’s something I’ve been well aware of and have talked about at length for years, but now seems like the time to start really doing the work, before it’s too late.
Well, perhaps its’ never too late. But that doesn’t mean I can keep putting it off.