A New Comers View

by Rob-Amityville "Doing It Young"

"Your meeting will begin in five minutes" the announcer spoke into the microphone as I walked through the doors of the Alamodome. My heart started to beat faster wondering what was in store for the days to come. This was all new, the emotions,Announcement Sign the fear, and the excitement but with it came a certain clarity that I hadn't felt for quite some time.

"Day Nine"! I thought! For that in and of itself seemed both a miracle and an eternity at the same time. "Section 108" I got to the entrance where I was to meet some people who in the past I might have called "strangers" but for some reason, I did not feel that way now.

I walked into through the arch into the stadium. At first look, someone who didn't know better might have thought a concert was about to begin. I looked at a sea of faces knowing full well that I didn't know any of them longer then "nine days". I kept thinking that. Nine Days; was I ready?

I laughed. "Yes", I was. I had known that for a while now. Did I make the right decision? Of that I wasn't sure. Just then a few people caught my eye. Hands waving, smiles big as I had ever seen. All looking right at me, waving me down to the seat they had saved for me.

My questions had been answered. There was no other place that I should have been this weekend. I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought again 'Day Nine' and I will not have to drink today.

Let me give you some background on myself to help paint the picture my newly awakened emotions were feeling. Ten days prior, my life had hit bottom. I was fortunate enough to have what some might call a high bottom. Although for me, it was simply the end of the rope; a cross roads so to speak! A decision must be made. I know that I hadn't been doing right by myself, let alone others, for quite some time now. I had a good job, great family, nice cars, and a girlfriend. I would swear to anyone that I had it all, but how wrong I was.

I in fact hated myself. I dreaded seeing a mirror because what the mirror showed me was who I really was. It showed me an accurate picture of someone who thought he had control, but in reality only had a problem. Sure many of the helpless superficial "looks" were not present, for I still had all of the things that I had worked so hard for, but underneath was a sick feeling. What had I become? Who was I? Where was I going? These are all questions that my reflection was asking me the morning of July 23rd 2010. Panic set in. I find it worthwhile to mention, all that I had, suddenly seemed to mean little, and were temporarily on loan to me at best. I was not far away from having my world fall in on itself, and that is what scared me the most.

I will never forget that day. It was miserable. I was more scared and humble than I had ever been, I didn't know what to do, but realized I had to do something.

I was fortunate enough to have a Dad who fifteen years earlier was in a similar situation as me, at least in an emotional sense. As if "Devine Power" had given him the strength to do so, he removed the "father hat" and did what I have come to know as the 12th Step. Without getting in too much detail, he looked at me assured me that I was going to be alright so long as I desired to be, than shared his story with me, a difficult task for any man; but monumentally so, for a Father to his son. He did it with joy though and miraculously I felt better, at least for a moment.

I went through that day and the next morning in a state of confusion. My past experience had taught me that after I pulled myself together, I would figure something to justify going out again. But this time it was different. I was petrified. I did not know or trust what would happen to me if I gave in and allowed myself to go to oblivion again. So there I was- a crossroads in y life where the path of least resistance would bring me down to the Seventh Circle of Hell, literally and figuratively. I surrendered and decided I needed help. I went to a website, found a meeting in a moment of urgency thus avoiding the temptation of idol time.

So long as I live, I will never forget the people I met that afternoon. I was a physical and emotional wreck and it could be seen on my face from a mile away. I was scared, ashamed and embarrassed at the mess that I had become. What will I say? If I say it, how will they react? All of those thoughts and more were rushing through my head. This was it. I opened the car door and walked in.

Much to my surprise, I was greeted with a smile. I sat down. I needed to let it all out. So after the reading of Tradition Six, my hand flew up. These wonderful people let me speak, and I let the flood gates open.

I kept my head down as I was ashamed of my tears and myself. I spoke of all that was eating me alive and more, and then thanked them for listening. When I finished, as I lifted my head something else miraculous was apparent. There was not a dry eye in the room. It was as if these strangers took on my burden and placed it on their shoulders and even crazier, they were thanking me for it. I think after me everyone in the room spoke. They all told their stories and I felt new. I was not alone. I will be forever indebted to this group and the room full of strangers. They saved my life on that day and I loved them for it.

With books in hand I went home. I read and read until my eyes hurt. It was wonderful. I wasn't alone. I decided I needed a meeting daily so the next day I went to another. I met many people, young and old big and small but overall everyone seemed happy.

This went on for about a week and I felt 100% better physically and about 27% better mentally but I took the advice I was given, Don't Drink, and Go to Meetings. I was at an anniversary one night and the meeting was moving. Afterward, like I was a long time friend, the people there invited me out to dinner with them. I went. They laughed smiled and talked to me as though I was one of their own and I felt like I belonged.

When I learned about San Antonio I was sitting at that dinner table. My new friends had an extra room that they were going to cancel and when they saw me thinking about possibly taking it they gave me the extra push that I needed. The next day the plane was booked and the car was rented. I was going to Texas.

This is where we find our way back to the beginning of the story. I walked down the stairs to my seat. I was greeted with hugs and high fives from so many people that just nine days prior were strangers. And so the convention began.

San Antonio was overrun by people wearing green lanyards and name tags. It seemed that there were friends on every corner. To a newcomer this in and of itself was a spiritual experience. Inside the Alamodome there were 60,000+ people listening to powerful speakers. However these men and women ( of all ages, races and all with varying amount s of sobriety were always humble and seemed to take great pleasure in speaking to the crowd. No matter how long they were "in" they emphasized the importance of remembering where they came from and why they were there. It seemed that the best part of their sobriety was simply helping others and being able to share their experience strength and hope. We opened with the serenity prayer. Now hearing 40 people recite it can be powerful, 60,000 people in unison was more than words can describe. At the end of the opening meeting we were surprised by a singer who performed Amazing Grace. The crowd was asked to join in the last verse.

Unreal…..Alamodome Crowd

I started to understand the "power of the fellowship". Never had I seen a bond among so many people that was as strong. Nobody was better than any one else and all that mattered was staying sober and helping others. It seemed to me that if the rest of the world could do what AA had accomplished, there would be nothing but peace and unity among men.

Hearing old timers speak was something worth noting. There were 12 old timers chosen to speak and every one of them talked of how their sobriety was the one commodity that always carried them through life. As I listened to their stories the road ahead did not seem as monumentally long as I thought. Life was going to go on either way, so rather than worry about tomorrow they made it clear that the way they got forty years was by taking it one day at a time. As the last old timer spoke. I felt somewhat sad that this was meeting was over. It seemed they had so much knowledge to pass on and I could have listened all night long. As the woman running the meeting came on stage, I prepared for the meeting to close. There was one last old timer that would speak. His words were timeless. I could not describe the experience so I will quote the entire message.

"My good friends in AA and of AA. I feel I would be very remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to welcome you here to Cleveland not only to this meeting but those that have already transpired. I hope very much that the presence of so many people and the words that you have heard will prove an inspiration to you, but may you be able to impart that inspiration to the boys and girls back home who were not fortunate enough to be able to come. In other words we hope that your visit here has been both enjoyable and profitable."

"I get big thrill our of looking over a vast sea of faces like this with a feeling that possibly some small thing that I did a number of years ago, played on indefinitely small part in making this meeting possible . I also get quite a thrill when I think that we all had the same problem. We all did the same things. We all get the same results in proportion to our zeal and enthusiasm and stick- to –itiveness. If you will pardon the injection of a personal note at this time, let me say that I have been in bed five of the last seven months and my strength hasn't returned as I would like, so my remarks of necessity will be very brief.

But there are two or three thing s that flashed into my mind on which it would be fitting to lay a little emphasis; one is the simplicity of our Program. Let's not louse it all up with Freudian complexes and things that are interesting to the scientific mind, but have very little to do with our actual AA work. Our 12 Steps, when simmered down to the last, resolve themselves into the words love and service. We understand what love is and we understand what service is. So let's bear those two things in mind.

Lets us also remember to guard that erring member- the tongue, and if we must use it, let's use it with kindness and consideration and tolerance.

And one more thing: none of us would be here today if somebody hadn't taken the time to explain things to us, to give us a little pat on the back, to take us to a meeting or two, to have done numerous little kind and thoughtful acts in our behalf. So let us never get the degree of smug complacency so that we're not willing to extend or attempt to, that help which has been so beneficial to us, to our less fortunate brothers. Thank you very much"

Dr. Bob – First international Convention 1950 Cleveland,

Reading the message is wonderful in and of itself but there was a certain nostalgia that was carried to all sixty thousand people who stood listening to the words of Dr. Bobs voice.

The next morning was a spiritual meeting with more speakers carrying across the message of AA. I don't remember all the details of that last meeting as it was quite emotional, but it was a very nice experience.

Those were my days 9-10-11. They were wonderful. Since the convention ended on July 4th 2010 a few friends that I had made, took the Jeep I had rented and drove for two hours form San Antonio to Corpus Christi. We sang, spoke and smiled the whole way there, ate a great meal and had the same ride back. It again was quite an experience and, a good feeling to feel so close to people who days before were complete strangers.

The next morning I woke up quite early for a long day of travel home to New York. The AA Buzz of the weekend still fresh in my mind. As the plane took off I felt somewhat sad that if was all done and I started to feel the "now what" fear that creeps in. I wasn't sure what to do or expect. I read the Big Book and looked skyward and asked for the strength to Not Drink Today. A few prayers later I was calm.

In conclusion, I am about as Green as one can get in AA. I am fifteen days sober today and writing this all down had done much to help me get through the hard parts of today. I have bathed myself in AA and it is a good thing I did, or I would be in a very bad way right now maybe dead. The only thing that I am sure of in my life right now is that I will not drink today. I worried about my day tomorrow for a brief moment, then came to realize that I can deal with tomorrow when it becomes today.

In fifteen days my life has changed completely and for the better. I have had moments where I need to pause and remember what really matters to me, my sobriety because without it I realize that I do not have much else and that will last but for a short time. I only hope my story of nine days of sobriety and my whimsical trip to San Antonio that turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life might help someone newer than myself

"There but for the grace of God go I".

See you all in Atlanta in 2015

Rob
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