Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where I begin my week writing about a piece of gratitude I have from my life, which for today is for my home group in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the Perrysburg Staying Sober Group.
One of the main things that is continually stressed throughout any program of recovery from an addiction is to find a home group and get active there. The main reason for this is that having a meeting you return to week after week, and taking on some responsibility there, helps to keep the focus on recovery and off of one’s addiction. It aids in feeling supported and tends to increase one’s sense of connection versus the isolation that living a life of addiction tends to lead to.
Over the years, I’ve been a member of quite a number of AA groups in each of the prior places I’ve lived in. Each provided me much growth in my recovery and helped to learn a lot more about myself and what I needed out of a group to remain sober. When I moved to Toledo though, I struggled to find one that truly worked for me. The first one I joined was an early morning daily meeting that accepted me until I eventually came out of the closet to them, after which I received considerable rejection. The second one I became a part of was gay-based and met on Sunday evenings, which helped a lot after receiving those rejections, but sadly, some tensions that were regularly going on amongst a few members began to drain me. I soon left there as well and joined a group that met daily at noon. At first it was a great fit for me, but when my health issues grew worse, it became harder and harder for me to make it there and in all honestly, I also struggled immensely with a regular trait of that meeting that other meetings didn’t allow, which was cross-talking (interrupting someone’s sharing or directly providing them guidance or advice). So, I began to look yet again for another home group, which led to a small town outside Toledo named Perrysburg. There, on a Sunday night in September of 2015, I walked into the Perrysburg Staying Sober meeting where I was immediately and quite warmly greeted by both a guy name Mike and a woman named Barb. And because of that, I decided to join the group shortly thereafter.
Three years later, I’m still a member there and have plenty to be grateful for when it comes to them. I’ve never been judged for my sexuality and my partner has been warmly accepted by them as well. Thankfully, the group has been drama-free and has done a superb job helping to lift me up when I’m hurting and feeling down. I’ve become the chip guy there who hands out the tokens of sobriety under one year and medallions of over a year, and have come to really like this job, as it’s given me the ability to help lift other’s spirits in the process. We’ve had some good fellowshipping too with each other over potlucks and meals dined out and I’ve developed a good coffee relationship with one of its members who meets with me before most of the meetings. One thing I really like in this group is how much people seem to want to help out. There’s a guy who buys fresh fruit and provides it each week as a giveaway. There’s another who always arrives early to set up. And everyone else generally likes to lend a helping hand wherever needed. But, if there’s one thing that I’m exceptionally grateful for when it comes to the Perrysburg Staying Sober group, it’s that I feel like I come home to a family each time I attend that meeting. Every Sunday night when I walk in those doors, I feel the warmth coming from the rest of the members and truly feel appreciated and loved. There hasn’t been a meeting yet with this group where I’ve left feeling alone or that I didn’t matter. Rather, I tend to always be in better spirits on my drive home and I attribute that to the family I feel we’ve all become. This group supports each other and helps to show that each of its members are important and that is precisely why I’m starting this week out with a slice of gratitude for the Perrysburg Staying Sober group.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson