So, I crashed an AA meeting...
I went to an AA meeting for the first time. Right here in Delray.
I'm not an alcoholic. I'm not an addict...at least not defined as one. (I believe we are all addicted to something, even if claimed positive- food, men, work, women, money, workouts, art)
I went because I've never been to one and I wanted to experience it. Especially living with the People Of Delray and knowing how many among us are struggling with addiction right here in our community.
I wanted to see the people- truly see them, raw, and hear their stories. Without a reporting ear, but with a curious mind and an open heart.
I joined my friend. So I was not "alone". We walked in and his job was to greet everyone at the door with a smile and welcome them in. He was excited for his job.
Everyone were super nice, friendly, warm, open. Talking to each other. I talked to the guy next to me and he shared that he just moved here a few months ago to rehab. He was going through treatment and meetings in his hometown but it wasn't the same. Here, in Delray, there are a lot more people he said. It made him feel better.
The room (church) was packed. Every chair was occupied. About 50 people were there. The meeting was led by a young, vibrant and cheerful lady-girl. She started with reading the guidelines to the meeting, the "how to" for the 12 steps program and we continued into a 10 minute meditation.
Total silence in the room. Lights off. Candles. I closed my eyes and tried to silence my mind and meditate as hard as I could, but I couldn't. I was too curious to watch the people in the room. I moved through the room observing the different faces. There were fathers with their children there. Big tough looking guys. Old rough looking guys. Young soft looking guys. And a few women. The common theme was the look in their eyes, and their body language- of surrender. Humbleness. The unity of their joint desire to change their life was the story and voice of the room. Their passion to change themselves was loud...even in a silent room.
Their heads were tilted down as I was looking up at them, proud of them for wanting to change, for being there. The self reflection and humble surrender these people showed, I looked up to.
The meditation ended. The sharing started. One after the next they raise their hand, share their name and affliction, get greeted in return by the group, and share a story.
The stories were interesting. Nothing from a movie script. They keep these stories for a Hollywood production and entertainment. This is reality. It's real life.
Most stories were reflective of the current step they are in, some challenges and struggles. They have been here before, many times. Not much new to share.
The main struggle that came up was the desire to stop and breath. Calm the mind. Experience peace. A struggle I myself can relate to, or really, any human being.
The common complaint was about the chaos in their life, the people in their life. It seems like there are a lot of people with problems that create a lot of negativity and noise are in their life.
I realized that every single person in this room has a reason, a cause, that brought them to this point. It's the story they are in that needs to change. Their addiction is the symptom of their story. their attempt to run away. And it's hard to change the story after it was written. It's hard to erase the past and step into the future without taking at least a backpack full of crap with you. Yet as I've seen before - absolutely possible.
As I was sitting there I felt ashamed that I have no story to share. That my life is "perfect" (really not). Not because I felt superior but because they feel ashamed of themselves. They put themselves down while I was looking up to them.
At some point I was wondering if I should speak up and tell them how cool they are, how brave they are, just for being there, confronting their devils, wanting to change their life. But I wanted to just listen and take it all in. They needed listening more than anything. Especially more than someone telling them positive stuff they don't want to hear. They prefer someone sharing their pain. Not someone preaching their lack of it.
We ended the session by standing up in a circle holding our hands and praying. I was holding my friend's hand and the other guy who I spoke to earlier. I gave them both a little firm squeeze, telling them in my language that they're ok.
I don't know if they "heard" me, but we all came out with a peaceful smile.
Overall it was an eye and heart opening experience. I wish every person in our community would take the time to do it. Maybe we would all feel a bit more connected and supportive of each other.
After all addiction is a national epidemic mass killing our children and adults. We get to treat it, heal it, and change lives, right here in Delray., as a healing hub for the nation.