Just out of rehab, at my first meeting in my hometown, I sat there in silence. To look at me from the outside, one would think that the lights are on but no one is home. Inside, however, there was a very unhappy and panic ridden circus performing:
Part of me was terrified that the program wouldn't work for me; That I would go back, use, die a horrible death, and take my loved ones with me.
Part of me was terrified that that the program would work and I would never use again; What would I do then?
I was terribly nervous because I didn't know who I was supposed to become to hide the real me from these people.
I was puzzled, too, because of all the laughter and happy faces.
I was also reluctant because there was a very strong presence in my mind that kept telling me that I might not be an addict. In fact, I probably wasn't an addict.
Then I was frightened because the part of me that knew I was an addict seemed a much smaller voice.
I was saved by two of the persons at that meeting. They were both addicts, they had both picked up and used again, and after months in one case and years in the other, they had made it back into the halls. They both said the same thing: "Well, I stopped going to meetings."
I heard the same thing several more times at different meetings when someone would return from a nip, slip, or a dip. "Well, I stopped going to meetings."
Not wanting to travel such a well-beaten path, I made a promise to myself: If I found a better way than going to meeting to stay clean (and I was looking), I vowed that I would go to my next scheduled meeting and let the other addicts in on my great find. I mean, why keep it to myself?
Since that day more than three decades ago, I have found lots of "better ways." Not one of them, however, didn't sound really stupid to me by the time that next meeting started.
"There are three kinds of men: The ones who learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves."