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. Parts may have been fabricated. I don’t know. EA meetingCA meetingAA meetingAlAnon meeting.

This meeting took place on a warm late June Sunday evening; in a trailer at one of the farther ends of a horse racing track parking lot. The Secretary of the group, Steve, announced that a man named Gary would lead the meeting.  The Narcotics Anonymous modified versions (from Alcoholics Anonymous) of the Preamble, More About, and How It Works were handed out for various people to read.  I read How It Works aloud to the group.  Chips were handed out for the various periods of being clean.  Then the topic of “Change” was announced.

Gary then spoke for ten timed minutes on topic, and then the Seventh Tradition was observed and a collections basket was passed around the room.  Then there was a ten minute break, and then sharing on topic was resumed for another hour.  There were no formal announcements for anything program-related, so the “moment of silence for those in and out of the rooms still suffering” was observed, and the group recited the Serenity Prayer to close out the evening.

Meeting Essence:
Everyone who shared stayed on topic, which I feel was a first for any meeting I’ve ever been to.  A common thread that ran through the shares was Anger with a capital A.  Everyone is so angry, or was so angry before they found the program.

Gary talked about how lost and confused he was before he started following the program.  He brought up the concept of working your own program in addition to working the recovery program.  There will come a day when there’s no meeting to attend, there’s no family around, and your friends or sponsor won’t answer your calls.  That’s why it’s important to speak to your Higher Power every day.

The next addict to share was Jason, and he amused me.  The “Mr. Personality” of any given group is an enjoyable part of every meeting.  Jason spoke about his general confusion and anger and running with “sick, twisted people” before he worked the program.  He used to believe that “Empathy is a character defect” and that his demons kept him busier than “a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest”.

I’m recalling out of order and skipping less-than-memorable folks, but this young lady Erin stuck out.  She was only six days sober, and fresh from a court appearance for a probation violation of the terms of Prop 36.  So she’ll have to do more jail time, attend classes, attend meetings, etc.  She very much believed in working the steps and the program, yet can’t stop herself from going out and using.  She also mentioned having to attend a hearing for child custody, so of all the people in that room on that particular evening – she had the most to lose.  She wasn’t there for sympathy either.

Steve was the last person to speak.  He didn’t have the most time clean and sober in the room, but he had the most time spent at the meeting.  This was his home group and he’s been attending for nine years and seen the meeting through several incarnations.  Steve was the first person to greet me with open arms and a smile at this meeting.

Personal Essence:
I spied not one court card at this meeting. I wasn’t aware that I had attended a Closed meeting, but maybe I did?  Either way, it was a very positive experience.  Everyone appeared to care for one another and there were smiles and laughter at appropriate times.  I didn’t feel unwelcome, and at some points I was filled with a sense of hope.

The only gripe I had wasn’t a program or meeting gripe, it was a personal gripe.  I don’t care much for couples who sit together at meetings, because I feel it makes them unapproachable by the newcomer.  There was a couple who not only sat next to each other and rubbed each other’s backs/head/faces to declare their love, but also shared about their relationship during the meeting. This probably speaks volumes about me.

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