Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Miracles of 12-Step.

A few nights ago, I went to an open AA meeting, to see a good friend celebrate 20 sober years. The meeting room was packed full of people, and I only knew 3 of them - my friend, her daughter, and my husband. Yet I felt completely comfortable. That would not have been the case before Al-Anon. On the contrary, I'd have felt exposed, judged, insecure, and anxious. Al-Anon has taught me to be at ease within my own skin, because I know that, although I may be a flawed human being, I have value and worth. My Higher Power loves me, and I love myself.

I met one of my husband's sponsees, for whom I've made copies of AA speaker tapes. I put my hand out for a handshake; he pulled me into a big hug, and thanked me fervently. We laughed, talking about the latest speaker I'd copied for him; the woman had been absolutely hilarious in her description of what it had been like for her to work Step 9: "Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."
This man was one year sober last night, and he glowed with gratitude and joy. I'm going to see him take his one-year cake at the meeting on Monday night; I really wanted to be there, because this man has worked so hard to get where he is. He's proof that it is never too late to get sober.

My friend stood up and spoke about "what it was like, what happened, and what it's like now" and even though I know her story through our friendship, it was still intensely moving to hear her tell it. The openness and willingness to admit to who we truly were, and are, is one of the most powerful tools in 12-Step.

We learn early on in life, to hide and protect ourselves, from the judgements and criticism we face in the world. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open inside the safety of a meeting, something magical happens. When my friend finished speaking, we all roared our congratulations and applauded like mad - it was fun.

Then, there was a short period with first one person, and then another, calling out AA birthdays coming up in the next week: "Joe Blow is taking a one-year cake at the such-and-such meeting on Monday!" "Susan Doe is taking a nineteen year cake on Thursday at the meeting on Main St!"

After each announcement, there'd be loud applause, and whistles and hoots of approval. The man sitting next to me leaned over and said quietly into my ear, that when he was new, this was the part of the meetings that really gave him hope - hearing about all these people who had stayed sober for varying lengths of time.

After the meeting, my friend drove me home, and we sat in her car in my driveway, and talked for a little while. We spoke of the miracles of 12-Step, and of our gratitude. We talked until we were both yawning, and then we said good night, and I got out and walked to my door, turning back to watch her pull away, one arm out her window, waving just her fingers at me.

I have met some amazing and wonderful people in my years in Al-Anon, and I know I'll meet many more. My friend likes to joke that 12-Step is 'the gift that keeps on giving." Ain't that the truth.


  1. I LOVE going to open AA meetings...I don't go as much as I would like to, but when I do make it I am ALWAYS blessed. Thank you for sharing your beautiful evening with made me happy just to read about it. :o)

  2. Thank you for sharing this story. I myself have never been to an AA meeting, but I have become friends with many AA members that attend Al-Anon members. I always enjoy listening to their stories of overcoming their disease. I always feel encouraged afterwards.

  3. I think those of us who do embrace recovery finally know what it is like to be joyful and thankful. Many congratulations to your friend and to all those who show up and do the deal of recovery one day at a time.