Friday, December 9, 2016

Feeling At Home At The Thursday Meeting.

A little over four years ago, a new meeting of our fellowship was launched. Almost immediately, there was a lot of noise made about it, as it quickly proved popular among newcomers. It was (still is) held in a small building on property owned by a local motorcycle club chapter, and in warm weather met outside, which led to charges made by some members of the fellowship that it was attracting people by letting them smoke during the meeting. Several members of the bike club had extensive backgrounds in the other fellowship, which led to grumbling about "clarity of the NA message" being diluted. There wasn't much of a variety of formats there; every week, the topic is the daily meditation or whatever one needs to share on, which led to rumblings that there wasn't any "real" literature-based recovery taking place there. I was part of the Area Service Committee when the group was founded, and the group sent a representative for a few meetings--and he got grilled so mercilessly on each of the points I just listed, amid baldly stated charges that it was an AA meeting masquerading as an NA group,  that the group essentially told the ASC to go to hell. The meeting is held on a night that I hadn't attended meetings regularly in years, and so it kind of dropped off my radar a long time ago.
Until early this summer, when, in desperate need of a shot in the arm for my own recovery, I committed to a 90-in-90 and started to attend it. And I felt like Columbus must have--this was a whole new world. And the rejuvenation of my recovery is due, in large part, to this meeting and the people that frequent it. Over the last six months, I think I have missed two Thursdays--one of which was Thanksgiving. I love just about everything about it. Even in cold weather and after we have had to move inside, stuffing 50 people into a room the size of a mini-school bus is somehow charming and intimate, rather than stuffy and crowded. There is a beautiful mix of people there, both men and women, with clean time ranging from three decades to three days. There are no consistent hostage-takers, no drama kings or queens, no bullshit artists, no mean-spirited or holier-than-thou attitudes espoused.
It feels like home should feel.
I have not made it my home group, and I'm not sure I am going to. I still like the group I am a part of, although recent additions to the group have certainly caused me to question whether it is still the right place for me. There's a part of me that doesn't want to allow baleful influences to make these kind of decisions for me; on the other hand, there is no question that it really doesn't feel like much of a home anymore. I will stay through my good friend's celebration in a couple of weeks, and I will review how I feel at that time.
But I have to say this much. With one or two exceptions, an annoying malaise has taken over most of the "traditional" meetings. When I was new to the fellowship, I was instilled with the "come early, stay late" attitude, and even now I very rarely come late to a meeting, usually showing up at least 15 minutes early. My current home group and previous home group both have had major problems finding home group members to open up and set up the meeting. My current home group and a few other meetings I go to regularly or semi-regularly often have to have the same person read two or more of the six readings that are read at the beginning of NA meetings, because few of our members, both in the home group and not, can be bothered to show up on time. And an increasing peeve of mine is people that show up fifteen to thirty minutes late to a meeting, and then share almost as soon as they sit down (often at hostage-taking length). There have always been individuals that do that regularly, but in the last couple of years, the number of people indulging in the behavior has mushroomed, and there are few things more frustrating than sitting through a meeting and not getting a chance to share because several people that showed up well after the meeting started talked for ten minutes each about stuff that is a variation on their standard raps--if we're lucky.
And I can't help but contrast it with the meeting I went to tonight. I walked through the door at 6:43, seventeen minutes early--and there were at least thirty people there already. Every week, I get there 15 to 20 minutes early, and every week the coffee is done and most of the furniture is occupied. The home group members, and there are at least eight of them, are committed; almost all of them are there every single week, no matter what is happening in their lives.
That's the kind of group I want to be a part of. That's the kind of commitment to the program I envision and have always practiced over the years I've been here, and the kind of commitment I have in mind when I hear "home group." I like the fact that there are no speaker meetings to contend with each other over, that there are no selections of literature that are read that take up twenty minutes of the meeting, that there are no issues with who does what, that members do not feel like they get stuck with all the responsibility. Everyone pulls their weight; everyone participates. There really isn't any conscious pressure or gimmicks like bells and stopwatches--and yet no one ever talks for more than seven minutes at a time. I like the fact that the guys with the most clean time share responsibly, and never take the room hostage. For a meeting that draws the number of people it does, the crosstalk is minimal, and when it does occur and a call for decorum goes out, it is heeded without a murmur.
In short, this meeting has, in a few months, become the lynchpin of my recovery, and my recovery process is running as smooth as it has in many years. The renewed thirst and vigor for the process is directly a result of attending this meeting and the people I've connected with at it. My current sponsor is a home group member here. Several others that I barely knew or didn't know at all in March have become important parts of my life recently. I don't know if I could have been doing this years ago, or if I was just receptive to it more because I was struggling so much in the spring.
But whatever the reason, I can't conceive of not going to this meeting now. And I am profoundly happy and grateful that it is there and that it is what it is.

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