Note: remnants of the class assignment formatting are left over (“meeting essence” and “personal essence”) and some blanks have been filled in. Names are different. AA meetingAlAnon meeting

The meeting was led by the Secretary, Terry, on a Monday evening in a church rec room.  The group was rather small and consisted of seven men – Terry, Bill, Jira, Alan, Erik, Robby, and Mark.  I arrived in tow with about a dozen of my classmates (so conspicuous).  The CA meetings are run very much like AA/NA meetings.  They describe the program, then another member reads How It Works, they ask if anyone would care to take any sobriety chips, and then Terry shared for ten minutes.  Afterward the Seventh Tradition was observed and the meeting was adjourned for a break.

After the break, anyone who cared to share was allowed to share for five minutes or so, without a timer.  The meeting was ended with an announcement of several local CA events, then lead out with the Serenity Prayer after the moment of silence for the addicts and other substance abusers still suffering.

Meeting Essence:
Terry spoke first, and commented on how nice it was to actually share, because it’s traditionally a rather small milk and cookie meeting. The milk was cold and the cookies were Oreos. Terry went deep with his history, going all the way back to his days of being addicted and finding the program.  He’s been through a lot since he’s been in recovery, including a divorce.

All of the speakers had a dual-recovery program working.  They had all started with AA apparently, and then found CA, and liked the people or the meetings better.  When Jira spoke, he reflected on his first CA meeting he ever attended.  He met Alan at that meeting, way back when Alan was receiving a five year chip.  Alan approached Jira and offered his five year chip as a Promise chip.  Jira was floored at the gesture, and thanked him for his friendship and fellowship.  He says that motivated him to become involved in his own recovery.

When Mark spoke (he spoke last) it felt like time stopped to let this man speak.  He got sober in 1985 after being deep into a cocaine habit that was costing him thousands of dollars per month.  If it weren’t for the meetings and getting clean, not only would he not be alive – but he wouldn’t have been able to be a father to his children.  He talked about his openness with them and how they know about his past.  In turn, they are open with him and know of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.  He said there’s been several instances, although few and far between, where he’s gotten a late night call and had to pick up his children because they’re being safe / smart about alcohol drinking.

Mark talked about how even after so many years of sobriety, he still takes on commitments at meetings.  He still makes coffee at certain meetings because then he knows that “the coffee is good”.  The point that being of service was stressed and that it didn’t matter in what ways – big or small.

The subject of sponsorship was also broached for the first time during the meeting by Mark.  For twenty six continuous years, Mark has had the same sponsor.  Although that doesn’t sound smart, he had very solid reasoning for never switching his sponsor out.  His sponsor has never once led him astray or given him advice that’s gotten him loaded.  So if it ain’t broke… don’t fix it.

Personal Essence:
This was the best meeting I’ve ever been to in my very short history of attending various Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous meetings.  The mood of the entire meeting was absolutely affected by the presence of the dozen of my classmates, but it was for the better.

The combined years of recovery between the regular members of this meeting had to be nearly a century.  Genuinely hearing these old-timers out and listening without judgement to the wisdom they had to impart fulfilled me. No matter how many meetings I’ve attended in the past week, I didn’t truly know what it felt like to got to a meeting.  I have no other way of describing the feeling of well-being and goodwill I felt when I left this meeting.  I felt like I was floating.  I want this feeling after every meeting, and I feel like I can have it if I want it. You had to be there.

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