Saturday night was great.
I belong to a gay 12-Step group in Pennsylvania which was celebrating it's 13th Anniversary Saturday night, the same time I was celebrating my 10th anniversary of sobriety. The group's chairman had invited me to be one of three guest speakers that evening. I asked my sponsor (and his wife) if they'd come to this "eatin' meetin'" and present me with my 10-year medallion there. He said yes. By the way, we call them eatin' meetins' because group anniversaries are traditionally started with a big, sit-down buffet dinner. And when gay people are involved, the food is, of course, FABULOUS!
To be honest, though, I'd been dreading the day for weeks. I was nervous that I'd make a fool of myself in front of 50 or 60 people. (it turned out to be more like 80.)
I needn't have worried. The group chairman made a big fuss over me by announcing from the podium that we had a "special" anniversary that night and then he called me and my sponsor up on the dais. My sponsor made a lovely speech about how I came along just at the right time in HIS recovery, and about how much he liked working with me and being my friend over the last 8 years. He gave me the medallion and a big hug and we went back to our seats.
Seconds later I was called back to the podium, as the first speaker of the evening. I don't remember what I said (the best shares are totally unrehearsed -- or "unpremeditated" as I call them), but whatever it was, it was mostly about love and gratitude with very little emphasis on the old, drinking parts of the story, except for enough to "qualify" as an alcoholic. Although I doubt that anyone would doubt that. Most of my friends have far too much first-hand experience with me to the contrary.
But it was the first time in my memory that I told my story pretty much leaving out all the gory details of my victimhood. Somewhere along the way in sobriety I realized that people had long ago stopped hurting me and that I was only hurting myself. Over and over again. By making bad choices and by opting, continually, for pain over joy.
Anyway, it was a quick speech, probably less than the 15 minutes I was supposed to speak. But I hate speakers who drone on, long after they've run out of things to say (okay, I'll stop typing now).
A number of people came up to me after the meeting to thank me for what I'd said. I was floating around on cloud nine.
But what mattered most Saturday night was that I was surrounded by people who mean the world to me, whether they were there in body, or there in spirit.
You see, I've come to realize that I am loved. And that I am capable of giving a lot of love in return.