…and, despite the heat and general discomfort of his surroundings, not only manages to refrain from bolting but gets something out of it. Huzzah!
A friend of mine who’s a recovering addict told me about the meeting an invited me, shooing away my protests that I was an alcoholic. “We consider alcohol a drug,” she said. “Trust me, you’ll be fine. It’s not that different from an AA meeting.”
That afternoon, I looked up NA’s Basic Text and found, indeed, that NA considers alcohol a drug. I dug a little deeper and liked what I read. Stupidly and because I think like an alcoholic (and an addict), I thought, Well, shit, maybe I should get hooked on drugs for awhile so I can be legit when I go to NA meetings. Seriously, that thought entered my head. *SIGH*
Another appealing factor of the meeting is that it’s held in backroom of my favorite coffee house, which is just a short distance from my house. The temp had cooled a little bit by 6:15, so I toodled on up the road, grooving out to Spotify and enjoying the walk. My wife had taken the kids to swim lessons, and I was off to try something different. All was well.
I entered through the front of the coffee shop (which was quite crowded) and made my t way to the back room, where there was a large table set up and people gathered around it. There were a few chairs scattered along the wall, but they were all taken. Though the AC was on, not much cool air made it to the back room.
As I looked for more chairs, already wiping sweat from my face, a large man walked up and hugged me. I wasn’t ready for that. Awkwardly, I pulled away and ask how he was. “Blessed, blessed!” he said and hugged me again. Now I was freaked out because another guy, also big, got in line for a hug. I had no idea this was the standard NA greeting. I wish my friend had mentioned that particular detail.
The crowd was raucous, and the door at the end of the back room that leads to the street (that everyone seemed to use but me, I guess to avoid walking through the coffee shop) kept opening and closing as more people came in. There were about forty people total. My friend showed up right before the meeting started, and…another hug. With no chair and thoroughly hugged-out, I plopped on the floor.
The format was familiar, but NA has more readings at the beginning. We all went around the room and said our names and that we were addicts. That felt weird coming out of my mouth. I suppose I could have said, “I’m Robert, and I’m an addict and alcoholic,” or just stuck with “alcoholic,” but when in Rome and all that.
I thought it was going to be a sharing meeting, but it was a woman’s third year of being clean celebration, and her sponsor was the chosen speaker. She was a huge woman, well over six feet tall, and had an addiction and recovery story that made me say, “Whew, I’m glad I’m just an ol’ alcoholic.” At the end, she gave her sponsee her medallion, and the sponsee said some words. Then a guy gave out plastic key chains instead of chips to mark clean time. Then there was even more reading, some call and response stuff I couldn’t quite hear, and that was it.
I’ll stick with AA, but going to a NA meeting was an interesting experience. I wanted to get up and leave because I was so uncomfortable (physically and otherwise) but I stayed, and I’m proud of that. I may try the meeting again when it’s cooler. I’d be curious to hear people share.
And that will give me time to prepare for the hugs. Of course, the devilish side of me wants to go stiff as a board when someone hugs me and starting screaming nonsense, or step back and say, “My religion doesn’t allow hugs,” or fling my arms open and shriek, “Yeah, bring it on in here!” and then start grabbing booty.
Who am I kidding? I’d never do any of that stuff. As usual, I need to calm the hell down. Getting a hug is a nice thing.
Even if it makes me feel like this: