A couple of years I visited Dublin, Ireland and I wanted to incorporate a couple of AA meetings into the trip. I had attended meetings in Malta whilst on holiday so I was in no doubt that they would be available and at that stage in my sobriety I was convinced meetings were necessary if available.
A family member in the Fellowship suggested I attend a particular meeting and I confirmed the time in anticipation of attending. I left half an hour before it was due to start and enjoyed the stroll. When I got there I was greeted by a group of Polish, Latvian and Russian people. I received a warm welcome and after the initial pleasantries I was asked if I spoke Russian?
I understood the meeting to be friendly to Russian speakers but primarily conducted in English. Making assumptions isn’t a good idea but I regularly do it and feel like an idiot afterwards. Today is different, I’m willing to adapt and make the best of a situation whereas in the past this situation alone would’ve provided enough fuel for the alcoholic fire. I sat there with my cup of tea listening to the meeting progress, in Russian. Approximately 20 minutes elapsed when I decided to make a move. I waited patiently for a pause, stood up promptly and approached the Chair. “Thanks for the meeting, I’m leaving now”, and with that I departed feeling slightly perturbed but honoured to have been there amongst a community within the Fellowship. I subsequently found out that once a month that particular premises hosts the only Russian speaking meeting in the city. My Higher Power works in truly mysterious ways.
When I got back to the hotel I was determined to attend a meeting that I could fully participate in. I found a ‘live and let live’ meeting that was about a half hour walking distance away. I’d be able to have lunch and hopefully avoid the crowds in town. The Holy Father, Pope Francis was visiting and good old Catholic Ireland was experiencing change. Protest marches were gathering to demonstrate against historical abuse and the reports on the television detailing official event proceedings to hear the Pope speak were juxtaposed with what I was witnessing outside on the street. Placards, speeches and a simmering sense of injustice buzzed in the summer breeze.
My priority was to attend a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. I left in good time and walked in the opposite direction towards the meeting. I saw the huge rainbow flag gracefully wafting in the sultry breeze and thought nothing of it. I was familiar with it representing the gay community and assumed per haps this area was part of the gay quarter. Assumptions are no friend of mine, but alas, I am prepared to adapt and learn from new experiences so I continued into the building and continued up the stairs to the room where the meeting was being held. I was the first person to arrive and as such I struck up a conversation with the Chair. As a visitor I was asked to do the main share, reluctantly I accepted. The fear of public speaking is something I try to confront but mostly I avoid it and then feel guilty. I sat there trying to remember my own name, telling myself to share my experience, then strength, followed by hope for my fellows and our future. The attendees were then asked to welcome me to the LBGT meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and I knew right then that my Higher Power was guiding me to new experiences of discovery and diversity.
The walk home was exhilarating. I had met people from the Russia, Poland and Latvia and despite the language barrier I was given a most hospitable welcome. I had received the same reception from the LBGT community. My share was listened to intently and my sobriety was secured through carefully considered responses filled with compassion and a dedication, I see at all meetings, to ensure our fellows get well and free themselves from the grip of alcoholism. The backdrop of politics, religion and civil unrest made the whole day one to remember. A day to cherish because it highlighted liberty and freedom to commune and converse. Wherever I go in the world I know AA will give me an opportunity to be of service, therefore ridding myself of selfish motives. I can experience unity at meetings through fellowship and ensure my continued recovery by practicing the principles of the Twelve Step Program .