A few days ago I got an invitation to attend one of the Alcoholic Anonymus meetings here in Mexico, not because I overuse alcohol but as to experience -if you could say so- what alcoholics go through when dealing with this disease.
We arrived right before the start of the meeting, the reunion took place in one the most popular areas of my hometown, the majority of the attendees were male between 18 and 40 years old, well groomed and dressed. To be honest I was expecting their personal image to be more rough and unkempt, but clearly, it was one of the “prejudices” rooted in my mind… or in Jensen’s Leadership terms… my already-always-listening. The session began when a fairly young kid read the Alcoholic Anonymus 12 Steps. Must say that, his reading pace and tone resembled those of the catholic priest I used to listen half-sleep every Sunday -Thank God I questioned religion very early in life to be carried away by this tale 😛 -. Anyway, at some point during this reading I began wondering how could all these statutes, rules, etc, could have any effect on an alcoholic’s understanding about his problem -specially if you consider that he might not have a healthy state of mind- or how could it impact positively his rehab. Just as I was thinking of it, the kid proceeded to invite anyone to the podium to share some of the experiences they have lived, and that related to the 1st acknowledgment an alcoholic must accept about himself…. -dont quite remember which one it was though-.
Another young guy quickly stood up and walked calmly to the podium, he saluted everyone in the room, gave his name, declared he was an alcoholic and began his story. When listening the intro, you could tell that he was a normal guy, living a normal life. Family kid, student, had a girlfriend that loved him, friends and a decent job. As he progressed in his story, you could better appreciate the negative influence his friends had on him, many of them challenged him to drink more, to try stronger stuff, to be more wild, etc… Although he recognized that during that time he “thought” he was in control, pretty soon alcohol took control of his life. He remembered how he started doing drugs more often and how he depicted “those alcoholic bums that peed their pants, while sleeping on the streets”. There was a pause in the room as he struggled to keep his voice going and his tears from running down his eyes. Slowly he recounted how not only he ended up sleeping on the streets, peeing his pants, but also, how he hit his wife so bad that she ended up in the hospital, and how he almost crashes his dad’s head with a rock just because he tried to defend her from him. Like waking up from your worse nightmare huh? The touching part of his story was how, despite all of this, his parents and wife still came back to support him in his recovery and helped him along the process. Many times he felt back again, but every time again and again, his family and wife were there for him. All this made me think that it must be extremely painful to know that you have harmed the ones you love and care for, not only physically, but psychologically and emotionally, and not being able to straighten your life or actions in order to stop this. He stepped down quietly from the podium as his peers gave him an affectionate applause as recognition and encouragement.
As you can imagine, at this point I felt touched by his story but also consciously aware that the risk of becoming an alcoholic is very high, specially when we lie to ourselves thinking that we are under control. It seems that becoming an alcoholic is a very dangerous and subtle process that you dont recognize until it is almost very late. Certainly, it was an extremely touching and eye-opening experience, and Im glad and thankful with the person who invited me to attend this session. There is another story that I should share from that day, but I’ll do it in a later post, so stay tunned. 🙂
Have a great Day!