Friday, December 24, 2010

Let It Begin With Me, Ch 2.

We're going to a dinner party this evening, at the home of friends we've made since we moved down here. We will be leaving early, so that we can each go to our meetings - a newcomer took the key to open up for my home group this week, and I don't want to leave them sitting all by themselves - attendance can be rather sparse this time of year. I think of this quote from Al-Anon:

"When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, let the hand of Al-Anon always be there, and Let It Begin With Me."

I remember my own gratitude, when I was new to program, and living with active alcoholism, that meetings still took place during the holiday season, Those meetings were an hour of sanity and peace - a needed respite from a wildly chaotic home life.

People not in program don't understand, and I don't expect them to. They say, "You can miss a meeting for once, can't you? Especially this time of year?"

I reply, "Actually, no, especially not this time of year."

When I was new, living with active alcoholism, in such awful pain and distress - when I reached out for help, the hand of Al-Anon was always there.

Long-time members left their families and friends for a while, on Christmas Eve, or Christmas day, and went to a meeting.

They drove through bad weather, and holiday traffic: went in to the halls or churches, stamping their feet and shivering with cold, greeting each other with gusto and delight, set up chairs and tables, books and pamphlets, so that when I, (and others just like me) came hesitantly into the room, in the hopes of finding a meeting, we were met with warmth and love - the hand of Al-Anon.

My first year, I was unsure of how it worked, and arrived at the rec centre, wondering if I was going to find a locked room, as I walked down the seemingly endless corridor, to the last room on the right - the door was closed, and had no window - I couldn't tell if it was occupied, or not.

I will remember to my final days, the gush of tears, and the sob which escaped me, when I was halfway down the hall, heard a burst of laughter, and then the door swung open, and out came a woman carrying a coffeepot, heading for the kitchen a few rooms away. She was wearing a Santa hat, a piece of tinsel as a scarf, and she greeted me by calling, "I hope you brought your appetite, girl, there's enough Christmas baking in that room to collapse a table!"

She disappeared into the kitchen, and I ducked into the women's washroom, to get a grip on myself.

After I'd washed my face in cold water, (while telling myself that my eyes didn't really look like little boiled tomatoes they were so red,) I went into the meeting room.

Someone plopped a Santa hat onto my head, another member gave me a tinsel scarf, a third handed me a paper plate, a napkin, and gave a gentle push towards the baking table.

I walked around it, mopping up my tears with my napkin or my sleeve cuff, feeling a gratitude I cannot even begin to describe. I wasn't used to being loved "in a very special way," but even then, so new to Al-Anon, I understood that these women were demonstrating the love and generosity of the Al-Anon program at work in their lives.

Those women, and what them being there that day, meant to me - a lonely desperate newcomer - are one reason that I will be leaving tonight's party early, to attend the Al-Anon meeting.

"When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, let the hand of Al-Anon always be there, and Let It Begin With Me."

1 comment:

  1. So true. The hand of Al-Anon is there regardless. I am grateful to be part of putting out my hand to another.