My friend Ron used to tell me that anytime I needed help I only had to reach out my hand and someone would be there to grab it. Most of my life I've had a I can handle this on my own, thank you anyway mentality. He would tell me about reaching out a hand and I would put up a wall inside. He knew I was thinking "f you" and he never stopped telling me while I never stopped resisting his words. I wrote about Ron at the beginning of starting this blog and you can read his story in three parts. There is a part of me that is still pissed off at him for choosing to kill himself rather than reach out his hand for help.
Ron's words echoed in my head as I made my way home from Mass this morning. Earlier I had tried to decide if I was going to drive one direction for Mass or the other direction for an AA meeting. The ever increasing gas prices ($1.07L or $4.80/gal) factored into my decision to choose the 65km round trip over the 150km one and so I went to Mass. I came away with the thought from the gospel reading this morning that God speaks to us in the dark. (Matthew 10:27). God speaks to me in the dark. Okay, I thought, I know I feel like I am in the dark. God can reach me here and that means I don't have to worry about being anywhere other than where I am at right now.
There is this simple, yet beautiful house between me and the little town where I sometimes go to Mass. Dearest one is most likely sick of hearing me proclaim that it's the house of my dreams. When I went back to AA last month several people came and talked with me afterwards. When they found out where I lived they said there was an AA member in my area and after describing to me where he lived I was sure I knew the place. Yes, he lives in that house.
People in AA can be keen. That can be comforting or scary, depending on your perspective. In retrospect I can see I have worn a figurative pair of sunglasses to just about every AA meeting I've ever been to. Masks. It came as a shock to me when someone told me, during coffee after an AA meeting not too long ago, that once I started coming to meetings, getting a sponsor and working the program that I would get a sparkle back in my eyes. My instant reaction was to put on a real pair of sunglasses. I had forgotten that my inner world was written on my face. I wanted to protest but I knew there had been no energy to put on a mask when I walked into the meeting. I know several people thought I was newly sober. In a way, I guess I was. And to be honest, I did tell this fellow that I had made a step 5 last November as a way of deflecting his comment. I might as well have been wearing the sunglasses because I simply couldn't let the truth of his observation hang in the air. I felt exposed for the world to see.
This morning I finally took Ron's advice. I drove into the yard of that house, reached out my hand to the man who lives there and introduced myself as a friend of Bill W's. He invited me in for coffee. He was keen and I had left my sunglasses in the van. As our conversation progressed beyond niceties he said he could tell when someone was troubled. He said he knew because he'd been there. A while later he told me he could see that I was troubled. Instant tears welled up and rolled down my face. He was gentle and kind yet didn't mince his words. He told me honesty was the key. He's been in the program a long, long time. I have lots to learn.
Reaching out my hand is something I rarely risk because it is so scary. And for all Ron's bravado, maybe it was for him too. Maybe Ron used to say it to remind himself, I don't know. I do know that his voice still echoes in my head and today I was thankful it did. There's no way I can fight this battle on my own and it's a relief to be ready for Step One all over again. God help me keep the sunglasses off.