The Day I Took That First Step
I'll be honest - my first "meeting" was after more than 20 years of being clean and sober from alcohol and drugs. The reason I went was by invitation, the purpose of the invite was to see the format before my husband shared our story at a meeting. It was Alcoholics Anonymous in a church basement at Sturgis, SD in the early 2000's, maybe '02 or '03.
We had told our story many times in churches, we knew of Alcoholics Anonymous, but we had an experience with our addiction that was rare in many circles. We were able to walk into a church, have prayer, and walk out with no desire to go back to our old lifestyle. This was so powerfully life changing for us that it rescued our faltering marriage, changed the lives of our children forever, and rapidly propelled us into Christian ministry.
So this balmy evening, after parking our motocycles in the church parking lot, and walking up the long narrow sidewalk to glass doors, being greeted with handshakes and smiling men, we turned to go down stairways and hallways to a meeting room in the basement. Others were there getting their coffee and scraping the legs of metal chairs to better possitons on the tile floor. The room was utter chaos, lots of chatter and little clusters of people who seemed to be well acquainted, friendly enough, turning and shaking our hands as we entered, but I was sure I would not fit in, and sure they'd be judging me quickly as they heard our story. The room had a rank odor of leather, damp air and cigarette smoke on clothing, the smell of coffee is what I focused on, so - I helped myself to a cup, adding some sugar and opening then emptying a paper packet of powdered whitening (which I detest), but I disklike black coffee even more. It must be brown. Silly habits we form. Entitlements I call them.
I remember some of the tales of woe as people went around the room and opened up their hearts to tell what their week was like, telling why they were in this particular meeting, talking some of their struggles and victories throughout the week. It seemed strange, because I really hadn't thought a lot about going back to my old lifestyle, it had been so long, and, naturally, since I had completely changed who I hung out with when I was addicted, where I lived, and the additional habits I had formed, I didn't see living as a struggle anymore. I knew the next time we attended and my husband shared our story, it would be an inspiration, and maybe lay down a path of hope for others.
That was it, lots of hugs at the door, then walking out to smokers lining the path back to our motorcycles. I remember the haze in the air.
My first Step was at an altar in a church, my first "step study" was many, many years later. You see, with prayer, and God's help and some really supportive people in my life, I was able to walk away from drugs and alcohol, which were both a part of my life for 11 years before I quit. But, when I was ready, I got into a step study, where each of the 12 steps was studied intensely, to the point of writing out my answers to very difficult questions, and this is when I discovered why I went the way of drugs and alcohol, escaping life by coping - using instead of facing life's inevitble trials. One Day - One Step is an opportunity for me to give you snippets of what I learned - not only from the Christians I met, my first trip to an altar in a church, but, also, from people along my journey who had struggled with addiction and relapse for years, with multiple set-backs. This is why I'm writing my book, "A Way of Escape, the 12 Steps I Never Took."