I fell off the wagon.



Don’t worry – I didn’t start drinking.

I’m talking about the AA meeting wagon that I was riding. The one that was rolling along, carrying me so nicely and relatively smoothly through these first months of sobriety. Stopping at a morning meeting here…a lunch meeting there… About two a week, by my count.

I had the schedule nearly memorized, and things were going well.

Until…right around the holidays, I just kinda tumbled off. Or hopped off, really. Maybe I thought I could walk by myself for a while, I’m not sure. In any case, the wagon rolled away, slowly….and while I could have easily caught up and climbed back on with a little bit of effort, I didn’t.

Which means that until today, my last AA meeting was just before Christmas. And while I made it through the holidays okay (translation: sober) without going to one, I know now that I really could have used a meeting or two or twenty during that period.

I finally made it to a 9:30 meeting today, Sunday morning.

I hadn’t been to this particular meeting before, and as I drove up to the parking lot, I noticed it was jam-packed. I’d been to weekday morning gatherings at this spot before, with 15 people at the most in attendance. So this surprised me. What was going on? Had I gotten my info wrong? Was some other event happening at the location?

I somewhat hesitantly entered the hall outside the meeting room, and heard the familiar words of the Twelve Traditions being read. I slipped in the door…and squeezed into one of the last available seats. There were probably 100+ alcoholics there in the room. My biggest meeting yet. Wow.

It took about a minute before I felt that sense of familiarity, of relief, of safety, of peace — wash over me. It felt damn good. I realized what I’d been missing.

And of course, as always happens, the discussion hit on the exact themes I needed to hear. Though I’m not doing her words justice here, I especially loved what M., the woman next to me, said:

While J. was talking just now, I was thinking about a lamp I got for Christmas. [LAUGHTER] I love it and it’s gorgeous, but it doesn’t really do a thing for me unless I plug it in and turn it on. Then I get something out of it. I plug it into the wall, and it connects to this power that I don’t necessarily understand, but that I know works, and I get light. I can try to do stuff in the dark, on my own, but things are much better when I plug in and have this light to help me see the way.

Well. There you have it. I wasn’t plugging in. I haven’t been connecting to that power. I wasn’t riding that wagon, with my fellow AA’s, to those meetings. Whatever metaphor you use, the simple truth is that I’d been taking my sobriety and the AA program for granted, and I hadn’t been working it.

At the end of each AA meeting, we all join hands and recite The Serenity Prayer or The Lord’s Prayer, and then end by stating: “Keep coming back. It works if you work it.”

If you work it.

If you work it.

This morning, I hopped back on that wagon. It feels good to be on board. I’m along for the ride. And I’m working it.

6 Responses to “I fell off the wagon.”

  1. Not to beat you up, but you don’t want to find out what happens to people who don’t go to meetings! I think it has been the bedrock of my 20-plus year recovery. I still go to four or more a week, work full-time, own another business and more. I love meetings. That is a gift from my HP.

  2. 2 C

    Oh, I hear you loud and clear. I get it. I think it just takes some time to sink in. I’ll probably need reminding again in a few months!

    When I first started going to meetings (and I was going to one or two a day – shooting for 90 in 90 days) I couldn’t help wondering why I kept seeing all these “old-timers” with a decade plus of sobriety at so many meetings. Now I know.

  3. Glad you are back. And with a sharper perspective at that!

  4. 4 Donna

    I stumbled upon your blog while googling “jaywalking story AA”. I enjoyed your posts (I have read them all) and think the name of your blog is very clever. You have a way with words, I am bookmarking your site to share with my son who is on his 32nd day of sobriety while at a rehab for the 3rd time. And he will be 21 in 12 days. It’s a tough pill to swallow that you are “done” at that age. But his head is in the right place TODAY. I appreciate your thoughts on the subject. Your letter to your dad and a few other posts will really resonate with him, I think. Best wishes to you ~ D

  5. 5 C

    Wow. I’m not sure what to say. Or write, as it were. I guess I’m just thankful you found me, and that you think my blog might help your son in some small way. I still feel like such a newbie, but I suppose if I can help a fellow alcoholic for even one moment to stop drinking, then the AA program is working. Thank you for your kind words. I wish you and your son all the best. And as they say in AA, keep coming back.

  6. Can I apply that same analogy to married sex?

    I guess I just did.

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