Artisan by Dan Joyce
My Day in N.A.
Every day has a moral and a lesson. This day’s message was clearly “Patience.” I started out at the Target trying to buy two bottles of diet soda and three candy bars for my overweight roommate. It was a common errand for him, but it did make me wonder. Why does he always have me buy 2-liter bottles of diet soda, when with all that chocolate, he can’t be on a diet. Holding the heavy bottles, I got in the shortest line. Then I watched as what must have been a 107 year-old Mexican woman stood there forever trying to figure out how to use a debit card for the first time! Speaking no Spanish at all, I couldn’t help her as she just stood there staring at the buttons. “Come on!” I mumbled to myself, but was heard. Eventually, the woman with her just paid cash. I paid for the sodas and candy, but the checker who had heard me egged me on by slowly unrolling three paper rolls of coins one by one just to push it.
I got home, checked the schedule and realized I had just enough time to catch the bus to my book study. The bus was taking forever to come and I heard a homeless man mocking me from the table in front of the donut shop. I turned around and he silenced. Then with my back to him, he started taunting, “Faggot! Faggot! Faggot…” I’m on probation and I can’t just go off and get charged for battering a homeless man so I let him go on irritating me. Not only was this troublesome, because I’m not gay. But even if I were, it wouldn’t be politically correct. Finally after 40 minutes the bus came.
The bus stopped at every stop and hit every red light. Further, not just one, but two wheelchair people, got on and off the bus. The bus driver knew both of them and held long conversations with both of them as he strapped them in. I wanted to help STRAP THEM IN MYSELF!!! At this point, I almost used, but neither of the wheelchair people had any drugs. It was an intelligent guess, you must admit. With both of them in wheelchairs, one of them was bound to have painkillers! And with two of them, the odds were much better. I quickly said a prayer.
By the time I got to them meeting hall, I rushed into the bathroom, then came out and filled my cup with water. I guess to make sure I would have to go to the bathroom again. As I filled up the cup, I looked behind me and saw that a meeting had already started. I don’t remember this part of AA, but they were all taking turns hugging each other. Then I realized where I was. It was the Huggie Meeting… and it was a men’s stag! Pardon me if I just wasn’t into this at the moment. In fact, I felt more like the Grinch watching Whoville on Christmas… as they all just stood there loving each other!!! Maybe it was my attitude. Maybe it was my upbringing. It may be genetics. Maybe my heart was ten sizes too small. I got the Hell out of there and went into the back room for the N.A. meeting.
Now, I had never been to an N.A. book study before, and honestly I had never even cracked open the N.A. book. I do remember owning one that was given to me customarily from a $60,000 rehab program in my early 20’s. What I do remember about it, is that they have a whole chapter called, “Relapse and Recovery.” Relapse is very controversial in all 12 step programs as to whether it’s part of the process or even necessary at all. I never read the chapter, but I did think it took a lot of balls to put that in.
So, I sat down late. They were reading a story about a guy who goes to Israel with the US military and ends up on a lot of drugs. Of course, his life gets worse and he wants to, or doesn’t know, if he’s going to die. Yep, it was pretty depressing! Then he said something that caught my attention. He wanted to buy cocaine, but instead ended up doing heroine. I got that! I totally got that! In the late eighties, cocaine was very popular and very expensive. Heroine addicts used to buy it with their stuff and mix it with the heroine to shoot it up, something called a “speedball.” Most of them were into the downer effect of the drug and only used enough cocaine to pick them up and keep them awake. So, one day I went to buy cocaine and accidentally bought heroine. Then I purposely shot it up! I never did that again and did not become addicted to it. I remember an older artist in my youth once told me, “If you’ve tried heroine and did it only once in your life, you are an extremely lucky person!” While it was a pleasurable high, heroine has a skull and crossbones stigma that I desperately want to avoid. Likewise, my friend eventually died from it. Addiction is so powerful that you may find yourself doing things you swore all your life you’d never do. I shared about my day and others laughed and felt a strong message. One more day, I stayed clean and today I claim recovery as well. Much thanks to all my supportive friends online and in the meetings! You may be anonymous, but you know who you are.