It was very cold today. Extremely cold. With a wind chill near -7 and another 4 to 8 inches of snow dropping on top of the few feet still on the ground, it made a good case to not leave the house at all. The cold weather is extremely difficult for me. As most people probably know, cold contracts and heat expands. That holds true with muscles as well. And for someone like me who deals with muscle and nerve pain quite a bit, cold weather is unbearable. Tonight, the group I call “home” for the center of my recovery here in Massachusetts had an engagement that I was tied to and would in turn have to leave my house for a few hours in the frigidity.
In the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous in Massachusetts, one of the things I find most fascinating is what this engagement was about. It was a commitment. In this state, most groups have a calendar that is maintained by a “bookie” who organizes dates where the members of their group will go to different places to speak about their experience, strength, and hope. It could be other meetings, hospitals, detox centers, halfway houses, or prisons. It’s considered part of a person’s 12th step work where they go out and give back. And each of those engagements on the calendar are called a “commitment”. Tonight, my home group had one out on a place nicknamed “Long Island”. Originally, over a century ago, the island was home to the outcasts of society such as lepers and mental patients. Today it is a center of alcohol and drug addiction recovery with various programs to help people that are dealing with getting clean and sober. The program I was to go to tonight to speak with my group was named Transitions.
About two hours before it was time to be at the building on Long Island for the commitment, I received a phone call from one of my group members who was the only other person able to attend tonight in this crazy weather. He informed me that he would not be able to go and apologized profusely. The circumstances were based around a friend of his that had overdosed and needed help and I completely understood. But it left me with a predicament. Each of these commitments are usually an hour long where the group members trade off speaking for a few minutes at a time. At a worse case scenario with two people, I would speak for 25 to 30 minutes and the other would be the same. With the cancellation, it left me to be the only speaker in front of about 35 to 40 people. I don’t have any problems speaking in front of people today but add in the below freezing temperatures, the snow that had come in earlier, wind gusts still up to 40mph, serious pains in my left leg, and feeling down in the doldrums, my brain was telling me to just stay home.
I’ve learned there are two me’s presently in my life. There is the “brain” me. And there is the “soul” me. My “brain” me is what wants quick fixes. It’s what wants at times to go back out there and live in addictions. It’s what tells me that drugs will make my pain go away. It’s what tells me that I’m never going to get better. And it’s what told me to stay home tonight. The “soul” me, well, that one tells me to keep going. It tells me that I’m going to heal and soon. It tells me that all of this pain is temporary. And it told me to go tonight and be the only speaker as that is what God would want of me. Remember those old cartoons where the angel “poofed” in on one shoulder and the devil “poofed” in on the other and both tried to make the person of whose shoulders they were on do something. That’s a lot like what went on tonight with me. After having no success getting any other group members to join me, the decision rested upon whether I was going to make the track out there alone or not in the freezing cold.
I’m happy to say that I made the decision to go. It’s a testament to where God is at in my life now. A year ago, I probably would not have gone. I would have used any number of excuses. On my way to the meeting, I prayed to God to give me strength to deal with my pain and to speak from my heart with love and light and that I may be a vessel to inspire those there trying to get help from their addictions. I spoke for about 45 minutes with my story of recovery from the beginning to the end. At the end of the commitment, several came up to me and shook my hand and said it was very inspirational. In the past, I’d soak up all the glory into my ego. Today, I give it all to God. After all, I believe it’s God who motivated me to get in my car and go in these subzero temperatures. I believe it’s God who gave me the strength to speak with passion and love. And I believe it’s God who wanted me there in the first place alone so that I would be able to speak my whole story. It’s my hope that at least one person at Transitions tonight connected to my story enough to find a greater purpose in seeking a path to recovery and God.
I am not all seeing and all knowing, and I don’t really know how my presence tonight at this program out on Long Island made a difference. But what I do know is that my brain fights against my soul way too often. I’m grateful that I went with my soul’s choice as I believe I did God’s will in taking that path. I look forward to the day where my brain and my soul call a truce and work together to bring greater love to God and this planet and peace within me.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson