It was the beginning of September, 2007. I had just come back from a month long trip in Europe where I was trying to run from myself and all my addiction based behaviors. Ironically the place I spent the most time during this hiatus from my life was Amsterdam, a place where one can find any addiction readily accessible. When I landed at Logan Airport in Boston, MA, I was a mess on every level and knew I needed help. It had been 12 years since my last drink or drug and I felt worse than when I had been active in either of those addictions. The progression of my disease had worsened each year since my sober and clean date of June 11, 1995 because I had gone to substitute addictions that kept me feeling numb. On top of that, my business and finances in Virginia, where I had previously lived, were in shambles and a seven year relationship with someone I thought would last forever was now over. The only person willing to take me in at that point in time was my sister who lived in an outlying suburb of Boston, Massachusetts.
Shortly after landing, my only friend in Massachusetts called me and suggested after hearing my duress, that I come to his home group in AA on that upcoming Friday night. For years, this friend had made the same request when I was in the area visiting. On every one of those prior occasions, my answer was always the same that I had something better to do, or even worse, I would guilt trip him into skipping his weekly home group meeting stating that I was only in town for a short period of time. I never realized how self-centered those actions were or how much AA might have helped me with all the pain I felt inside.
People in recovery have said that when one really hits their bottom, they become willing to do just about anything to find healing. When that phone call arrived at that moment from this friend, I didn’t have any excuses anymore. I didn’t have any other place I could think of that I’d rather be. I knew I needed help and that if I didn’t get help, I was either going to go back out on drinking or drugs or kill myself. So I told my friend that I would be there. When that Friday night arrived, I plugged the directions into my GPS for the church that the meeting was being held at, and an hour later, I arrived. As I walked in the front door of the church, I saw my friend, along with a tremendous amount of other people who were all smiling, laughing, and greeting each other with hugs. I felt completely at odds.
My friend gave me a big hug and said he was glad that I came. I told him that I really needed to speak about what I was going through at that meeting that night. He explained to me that he didn’t think it would be possible because there was an incoming commitment. I had never heard that term before and asked him to explain. He told me that in the New England area, many AA groups go out to other groups, detoxes, hospitals, or prisons, and speak about their experience, strength, and hope in recovery. And that night, he told me, there was a group coming in to do just that. Many old timers would say that at that point, I should have just gone into that meeting, sat down, shut up, and listened to each of the speakers.
In my ego and self-centered universe, I thought everybody needed to hear what I was going through. So instead of listening to what those old-timers would have told me, I kept badgering my friend and convinced him to talk to the incoming commitment and place me on their list of speakers. He eventually gave in and I was called at the end of the meeting to come up and speak. As I slowly walked up to the podium, I looked out at the 150+ people that were there to get a message of positivity and hope that recovery can bring. Instead what came out was that my name was Andrew, that I was still an alcoholic, that I was 12 years clean and sober and that I was also a complete, horrific mess. The last thing I remember saying that night was that both my parents took their lives from this disease and that I was going to do the same if I didn’t get help. I left that podium after that in a torrent of tears.
God really does work in mysterious ways. While it may have been completely selfish and self-centered with speaking at that AA meeting, it changed the course of my life for the better. I got a sponsor that night. I got a list of phone numbers of people to call. I developed a group of friends that helped me realize there were sober people out there to hang out and have fun with. And over time, through working the steps, I found God all around me and within me. He had always been there, I just had kept running from him from one addiction to another.
Thank God for my friend offering me as he always did to come to that meeting. Thank God for AA and recovery. Thank God that I’m still clean and sober today and now even from all addictions.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson