Last night I cried.
I cried harder and more than I think I have in nine months.
Just the right elements lined up for the perfect storm.
I was just coming out of being really sick.
I’m over worked.
I’m trying to get over a breakup.
And for eight months I had been going to this AA women’s meeting, basically ever since I got sober.
For eight months I have been watching newcomer women, including all girls who’ve ever gone through my sober living, attend this meeting and feel alienated, judged, crossly spoke to and not felt welcomed, all at the hands of a specific group of women with years of sober time.
Girl after girl has shared with me over an eight month period that they have just felt just plain uncomfortable in that room.
The group of women who have been constants at this meeting over the years, have been breaking tradition by governing the meeting and the women who attend it, just for starters.
Last week, after the secretary harshly ordered everyone to “Stay off your phones” and directed it specifically at one of the new girls in my sober living, we all tried to get into solution about what we could bring to the meeting, instead of just walking away from it altogether.
It was important to me not to give up on it, since this is a meeting place where people from all over the world come to when in town and newcomers come to get sober.
This new girl, who gets anxious sitting for an hour and had been on her phone the previous week, was scared to death to go back into that meeting all together.
It was disappointing to watch her get judged and reprimanded in a non-loving way.
One of the girls had the suggestion to nominate me for secretary, with the intention of bringing some fresh speakers and solution based energy to the meeting. Although it was a commitment I wasn’t thrilled about taking for reasons I will discuss, I said I would do it, for them.
The reason I was less than thrilled to take the commitment as co-secretary of this meeting is because this group of people with time that I speak of, consists of of close friends of this this person I had been seeing and was in love with.
The relationship had just ended three weeks ago.
Throughout our time together, we had been on again, off again. We had struggled to find common ground. Unfortunately, what hurt it the most was the miscommunication. We both did our fair share of behavior we weren’t proud of.
I know I did.
However because the details of our relationship had been discussed at the meeting after the meeting, which was mainly with this specific group of women who hardly knew me other than what they heard about me, their opinion of me changed.
It made it hard for me to attend this meeting.
I want to make clear that I don’t in any way blame this person I was with for anything that happened last night as a result of what these women had heard about me, though initially out of anger, I did.
This person did not do anything wrong and was also powerless over the outcome. I could tell they were extremely uncomfortable with what went on and I feel for this person too.
We both got caught in the middle and that breaks my heart.
I wish I could tell them that.
So the girls and I attended our first business meeting, last night, at this meeting.
What set the tone was the fact that when the business meeting was announced by the secretary, she omitted that they would be voting in a new co-secretary, purposely.
They clearly already had someone in mind that they wanted to make sure got voted in, the current co-secretary’s sponsor.
All of the girls from my sober living sat on one side of the table while on the other was this group of women. The way we were treated by these women can only be described as extremely unwelcoming.
They were far from excited to have fresh new people take interest in the meeting or AA for that matter and we were treated as such.
It’s not about the fact I didn’t get the commitment, at all.
I didn’t really want it.
It’s how it all went down. How they were treated. How it flew in the face of everything AA is supposed to be.
And I felt powerless.
It was about bringing hope to something they wanted to change for the better and for the first time in their lives, sober, took part in an effort towards change.
The looks on their faces when I walked back in after the so called “vote” said it all. They hadn’t been allowed to speak, had been cut off, shut down and not treated as an equal part of the whole. Though others were allowed to speak out of turn and question, they were not.
After sitting through this meeting, where the secretary glared at them and when they didn’t accept other available commitments spouted, “Are ANY of you here for a commitment?”, I felt the burn of anger well up inside me.
Long story short, I got pissed, said how I really felt to those women about what they were doing and stormed out of the business meeting.
What bothers me the most is that whatever information these women were operating off of about me, came from the person I loved. Ironically, before we broke it off, they had been the first one to suggest that I run for secretary.
Their best friend, who knows everything about me, knows how hard it has been for me to build a life away from the city where my children live, knows I have a full time job here and have no plans of moving back to where I was from, called me out before the vote questioning whether I would stay for the duration of the commitment. She also questioned my length of sobriety, though the current secretary had the same amount of time when she was voted in.
It was intentional and hurtful.
I had once been so close with those two.
One of the girls asked me last night, as I sobbed on the front steps, “Did you ever even cry over your breakup with this person?”.
The answer was no.
The floodgates opened last night to everything I had been holding onto, not just that.
So after stomping my feet, crying and letting it out last night, today I begin looking at my part.
I don’t want to get lost in the story of it all. I don’t want to be angry. I don’t want to hurt. I don’t want to blame.
I want the solution to this.
I want to be free.