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Today, I went to an AA meeting, one that I have gone to on Sunday mornings several times in the last few months. Today, in honor of my six month anniversary, I received my six month medallion, to honor my six months of taking it, one day at a time. Staying sober and keeping it simple.
I have come to have a deep appreciation for the 12 step programs, and the meetings that are the central part of that program. There are people at the meetings from all walks of life, with all different stories and experiences. I have met people that have been sober for over twenty years, and those that barely have 24 hours in. I have met men, women, teenagers and older persons. Some people were cross addicted, others mainly used alcohol as their drug of choice. And, some of them have stories that involve almost dying at the hands of their addiction.
No matter what the details of someone’s story is, I always hear myself in it. In the reasons that they chose to drink, and what they gained from continuing to drink. And, today, what I heard in the room, from every person that shared, was fear. Fear in all different forms.
For me, before I started making the changes in my life that I have been making, I fought against having any fear. I did my best to not be afraid, or at least, my best not to admit to feeling afraid. To me, to be afraid meant to be powerless, to not be in control. And above all else, I needed to have full control over all aspects of my life, and even the lives of others. So, fear was not an option. Even when I was terrified, I would bury my fear deep down, or drink to ease it.
Now, fear in my life has a whole new meaning. Two key changes to how fear is involved with me today. First, I admit to feeling fear. Early on in my sobriety, I thought that I should limit how much fear I actually was allowed to feel. A friend asked me why, and my response was something like, “so it doesn’t get out of control”. In reality, fear keeps me focused, motivated, and gives me clear perspective about what is most important in my life. It truly makes me fully human.
In the room today, all of the persons that spoke talked about their fears, fears that they have had in the past, fears that they still have today, and how fear keeps them going and helps them to stay sober. Fear of where they could end up, fear of consequences, fear of death- they all create a level of motivation that is empowering. And, is so human.
What I learned today is a lesson that I will likely learn several more times in my life: that fear keeps me going toward what is most important to me, and that it keeps me feeling connected to others. Fear is universal, and the more that we say it out loud. the less control it will have over us.