Meeting night

It’s not just politics that I’m trying to avoid by staying off facebook. It’s also the constant hunt for likes that I have to stay away from, too. In a meeting tonight someone compared facebook to cigarettes: where the first thing they used to do in the morning was light one up, now since they’ve given up the fags, the first thing they do is go on their phone and scroll through liking everything, in the hope they’ll get a like back. For too long my self worth was too heavily invested in that, and for months it was literally the first thing I thought about in the morning. Some people may think “oh poor you for being addicted to something so innocuous as facebook!” I don’t claim that it’s as serious as alcohol or drug addiction, though I hope people realise it can be used as a drug like any other. You hear about teenagers committing suicide because of what’s been said to them on social media, after all. I’m starting to take it seriously because I’m so fucking fed up of it. I spent years waiting to be tagged in a group photo at some restaurant somewhere, looking pleased at having so many friends around me, so I could get dozens of likes and ‘prove’ that I’m really popular after all. It’s never going to happen. It’s time for me to get off that ride and find another one!

I went to the big downtown meeting for the first time in ages tonight. Yay, I’m going to spend a few paragraphs obsessing about this one meeting again!

After therapy this morning I was feeling extra confident about things, and I thought a visit to my old haunt could round the day off nicely. I was prepared for the feelings of unworthiness to come back to me as soon as I got there, because unlike all other AA meetings, for some reason this one meeting that can always bring it out in me. It has always been the meeting where I’ve compared myself to others, always the meeting where I’ve struggled to share and connect with the group. There’ve been better phases and worse phases; I seem to remember a period last year where I was doing particularly well there, going for regular fellowship afterwards and feeling generally wanted there. And then it tailed off really quickly and I haven’t quite got it back since.

I managed a few tricks to help myself avoid feeling isolated from start to finish. I sat in a place where other people were sitting, and I made an effort to look and smile at everyone I saw. I knew the person giving the chair quite well, someone who I know struggles with sharing as much as I do, and I was able to spur him on, which felt nice. He gave a fab chair and I felt compelled to share something back in the meeting, but it took me until the very end to open my mouth and get the words out. A lot of people had talked about self worth, this big recovery issue that so many people struggle to crack. I needed to talk about it as well; I wanted to make the room laugh by quoting a much loved RuPaul line (“if ya can’t love yourself, how’n the hell you gonna love somebody else?”) but I decided against it, something about designing a share to elicit laughter doesn’t feel right. I just said that it’s taken me ten years to realise what self worth is, and how it’s something I need to work on every day by doing challenging things. I don’t know how many people my words resonated with, because I didn’t stick around long after the end of the meeting to find out, like I would have done last year. I’ve described the moments at the end of the meeting before as being like a gay club with the lights on and no alcohol. It felt that way tonight; that part of the meeting never changes. I would have liked to chat to G, the guy who’d given the chair, just to congratulate him for being brave and sharing so well at such a scary meeting, but alas he was occupied with other friends and there wasn’t space for me to butt in.

Before I left I made myself stop and talk to someone else who’d talked about how hard they find sharing. I don’t know the person that well but to me they had always seemed like a confident person. Their words had been especially difficult to listen to because they were sharing something that has been very much an issue for me. I felt good about reaching out to them and experiencing a moment of human connection before I had to go home.

There were other people I could have stopped to chat to. I knew nearly everyone in the meeting, some of them I’ve been quite friendly with in the past. What can I say, I didn’t choose to make the extra effort tonight. It would be easy to feel terrible that I didn’t say hello to everyone tonight, it’s got me down on so many occasions in the past. Tonight for a change, I don’t want to feel bad about it. I just want to feel happy that I went to the meeting, shared, and talked to a few people who I like. I’ve ruined so many nights over the years by over-analysing what I did and didn’t do there. It’s just a meeting, they’re just people. They’ll survive!

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