The title of this post is one of many wonderful things I took from the AA meeting I attended tonight. For our psych rotation, one of our assignments is to sit in on an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I chose one near my house (I live in the hood) because I figured it would have some really down-to-earth people. I was a little apprehensive at first, because I didn't want to "intrude". I didn't want to get there and feel super awkward as an outsider. My experience was nothing like that.
Wow. Just wow. I have never experienced anything like that in my life. In the beginning of the meeting when they asked if there were any visitors, I mustered up the courage to say my name, and that I was a medical student there to "learn a little bit about the process of recovery," to which they seemed supportive and applauded. I figured they would just go one with their usual business, telling their stories one-by-one. I was surprised that several of the members acknowledged me in their stories. Their reactions were all positive. One poked fun of my facial reaction to one of the previous stories, others looked at me and convinced me how lucky they were to be where they were today, one thought it was "neat" that I was there to learn about the process of recovery, given that the theme of the night was "what does recovery mean to you." Overall, they were such a wonderful, warm, welcoming group of people. The support they had for each other was unbelievable. I'm sure its not always this way, but tonight in particular, every single story told was just so positive and uplifting! One man told me, "When you leave here, I want you to remember the smiles and laughter you've heard tonight. If it wasn't for AA, we wouldn't be laughing." These people are an absolute inspiration.
Some of the stories especially hit close to home. A couple of members brought their kids with them to the meeting, and so some of the members touched on that topic when they spoke. One man talked about how proud his kids are to come to meetings with him, because when he is working the program, he is also being a good dad. I almost lost it. My dad is an alcoholic, and has been sober for over 30 years. He quit way before I was born, so I never saw him in his drinking days, but I am so proud of him for his sobriety. He has always been the best dad I can ever ask for, and I can thank AA for that. How wonderful is it that these people are also doing what they can to be the best parents they can be, and breaking the cycle.
What a wonderful experience. I don't think I'll ever forget it.