Monday, August 27, 2007

A Family I Chose.

Every Saturday night, when I'm home, I drive about 45 miles to a 12-Step meeting (gay) near Doylestown, PA. I was first taken to this meeting years ago by a friend in recovery who, himself, no longer goes.

As often happens with these things, it took me awhile to start to feel comfortable there, but then I started to get to know the people, and now I've come to love and care about most of them.

Last Saturday night one of the old-timers there, Mr. X, celebrated 40 years of continuous sobriety. His partner, Mr. Y, threw him a big bash and all the other members of this particular meeting brought food for the event. I had a brought a sponsee with me who is struggling to stay sober. I thought doing a little "service" would help him to forget his own problems, just for a while at any rate. I wasn't wrong. He's a landscape architect by trade but like most of us he has "the gay gene" when it comes to table arrangements and room decoration. I turned him loose on the place and he had a field day. We got there around 6:00 p.m. and things started to really percolate around 7:00 p.m.

By 7:00 there were probably 50-60 people at the dozen or so large round tables set up in the vestibule of the local Unitarian Church we had kidnapped for the evening (truth be told, we have our regular meeting downstairs on "non-event" nights). By 7:30 the crowd had swelled to well over a hundred and so we started to file into the church proper for the main event of the evening. A 12-Step Meeting with our Anniversary Boy as the only speaker.

I was honored to have been asked to read one of our "Opening Statements of Purpose" which generally precede a good 12-Step Meeting and as I looked out over the crowd I was suddenly overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude and humility. Gratitude for my sobriety and for the overwhelming extent of my non-biological family, humility to think that only 9 and a half years ago I was a falling down drunk without a friend in the world (well, damn few, God love 'em).

Mr. X was wonderful. He has a long and illustrious association with recovery, within the gay community, in and around the Philadelphia area. Hell, he had gotten sober before I even came out! He was going to meetings in Philly when I was just starting to venture into the gay scene there in the early 70's.

After the meeting had ended and we were cleaning up the debris of the "eatin' portion of the meeting, a gentleman who looked slightly familiar came up to me and asked me if I remembered him. Luckily, I did. I had met him years before at a gay meeting in Rehoboth, DE. His partner of many years had recently died and although he knew Mr. X and Mr. Y he didn't know too many other people at this shindig, so he was delighted to see a familiar, friendly face.

Like a lot of people in recovery I started out life with a less than ideal family but in recovery I have found wealth beyond measure by gathering around me a family of like-minded people whom I can genuinely love and trust.

I guess you could call them

A Family I Chose.


Bev Sykes said...

"A Family I chose" has a nice ring to it. LOL.

Seriously, I'm so glad to read things like this. It has been a privilege to watch your progress and to find that diamond that was hidden under all that black coal for so long...more importantly, to watchin YOU find it!

Alan said...

While I certainly don't envy your disease, I have to admit I am sometimes a little jealous of the wonderful community you have found. It seems to me that you are continuing to grow and thrive and I am very proud of you too.