***Submitted by Michelle
I am not physically sure that I can get out of the car. But everyone has gone through all this trouble for me. They have come with me. To support me. And I really want to chicken out. For just getting to the parking lot to count. I do not want to disappoint and I am more afraid of what will happen if I don’t go in so I try desperately to remember how to walk. And breathe.
There are crowds of people inside. Dozens. Way more than I prepared myself for.
I try to choke out “I can’t” to my friends, but I can’t make my lips move. I eye the doorway and some stairs and think about bolting, but am afraid that will bring too much attention to myself. I make it into the room and stare and the signs on the wall and try desperately to be invisible.
“This is a safe place”
Screaming at me in its black boldface print.
But I am not convinced.
I choke on the air in the room and I scoff at the other looming signs.
“I love this place”
Canceled out by the one that tells the truth:
“Center For the Study of Addiction”
I agreed to go to this meeting with my roommate for a list of reasons:
I was afraid to tell God no.
I was afraid of what would happen if my room mate had to peel me off the bathroom floor and put me in bed one more time.
Afraid of ruining my upcoming marriage.
Afraid of who I’d become if I kept on like this.
I was afraid that if I had to tell someone I loved that I was sorry again for the same things they wouldn’t believe me. Afraid that maybe they already didn’t.
I look down at my shoes. I play with the sleeve of my sweater. I am afraid to listen. I reach for my friends hand and I slump in my seat and pray that I can make it back home before I start crying.
A girl who doesn’t look so different from me takes the podium. Of course she introduces herself as an alcoholic and my stomach twists at the word and I look back at my shoes.
She talks about the 12 steps. She passes out chips. Birthdays.
I don’t even want to touch the first chip as it is passed around. I quickly hand it off to my neighbor. Afraid that it might rub off on me. That I will catch it. But I’m afraid I already have this disease and it is eating away at me. And it is winning every time.
I am still so terrified. Terrified that I belong here. That I should be standing up. But I keep looking at my shoes and tugging at my sleeve and finally someone says something that I want to hold on to.
“That it is good to be scared. Because that means change is coming.”
I don’t want to be in these damn chairs. Or this room. Or passing around little plastic chips. But I do want to change.
And the more I look around I’m not really so sure why I am so scared. Because these people surrounding me are winning. Or at least trying. They are so much stronger than me. And I know that my God has for me the same strength. I just wish that the presentation would occur somewhere other than an AA meeting.
So I go home and pour out the wine in the fridge while I still have the courage.
And I wait.
For warmth and relief.
To feel anything besides shame.
And a little comes.
Just enough for me to make it to tomorrow.
But for now that is enough.