It was early, 5:40 a.m. to be exact, when I stepped into my second AA meeting today.The crowd was small but lively, welcoming, and kind. Normal, relaxed banter among the regulars and a few pointed- but gentle- questions my way. I heard most of them and responded briefly, my voice wavering and cracking as if I had laryngitis. I didn’t trust myself to project my voice in the way I do “normally.” Besides, my confidence was checked at the door.
In my head, my mind was taking over. “What do I say? Am I supposed to speak? Do I start at day two of sobriety since it’s only my second meeting, or do I get to count “time served” prior to AA? Does anyone know me?”
And on and on my Self went. Truthfully, I found myself exhausting.
The leader opened with prayer, announcements, the preamble, steps, traditions and reading of the day (I think). Then, around the circle the conversation started flowing. Holy crap. The conversation is only two people away. What do I say? Ugh. Heart beats faster. One person away. He says something about gratitude; I am not being flippant; I tried to hear him, I really did. But my heart was beating so loud I didn’t catch all of his words.
The next thing I know, I hear a voice introduce myself, that I am an alcoholic. What came out of my mouth seriously shocked me.
“I am used to saying what I think people want to hear; so today, I am going to just listen until I find my real voice.”
And the continuum along the circle persisted. Just like that. No prodding. No begging. No judging. Sigh. The energy I wasted with worry. And this is only one day!
Learning to be silent is new to me. But, as I don’t trust what might fall out of my mouth right now, it’s becoming my friend.
I bet I learn a little more, too.