A couple of weeks ago I was asked to tell my story at an AA meeting. One of the principles that’s taught in AA is that if somebody asks you to do something, you do it. So I said yes. They gave me the option of doing it in a couple of days, or in a couple of weeks. I chose weeks away so I could collect my thoughts and have some time to think about what I was going to say.
Last night came and it was time to tell my story. (Of course) I hadn’t prepared a bit. I actually tried to sit down and jot some notes down about different parts that I wanted to mention, but I got too nervous even making the list.
You see, I’m not a very good public speaker. It makes me nervous to even think about getting up in front of a group of people, let alone telling my life story/drinking history for 40 minutes.
But I got up. I spoke about how life was, what happened, and what it’s like now – the standard AA format. Of course, this being my first time, I spoke too long about what it used to be like, a “drunkalog” if you will. There were laughs. There was understanding and empathy. There were smiles and nods of the head.
I talked about ‘what happened’ and how I found myself in recovery. I could tell that people could feel my pain because they’d been there themselves.
I talked about how I’d pretty much lost all hope, was in despair and didn’t even know I needed help, let alone to come to AA and bare my soul. How doing those things have helped me. How working with my sponsor, working the 12 steps, and the fellowship (read: friendships built through AA) have really given me the opportunity to be who I am today.
I talked about how grateful I am of each day. How each day to me used to be a race against the clock to get to happy hour, and how now it’s an opportunity to live life. I get out of bed in a hurry these days to get out of the house and start living. I’m excited about life.
All of a sudden the big lesbian in the back of the room was giving me the five minute warning. Where the hell did the time go. Good lord could I ever ramble on. And I was worried about finding something to talk about for 40 minutes? Earlier she told me that if I didn’t finish on time she’d march right up to the podium, put me in a headlock, and drag me from the front of the room. Thoughts of smelling her hairy armpit made me wrap it up quickly.
Of all of the things I revealed about myself behind that podium, I found it strange the things that people wanted to talk to me about afterwards. It wasn’t the internet porn career I had began, my semi-normal upbringing in small town, MN, or the exciting life I now have advertising toilets online. They wanted to talk to me about things that they related to. My sense of humor. The shopping spree I went on before going into treatment – “Isn’t it fun when you’re well dressed in codependency treatment and everyone else is in sweatpants?”
Oh yeah, and they also wanted me to elaborate on how I ended up touching Gillian Anderson’s boobs.
It was a good experience afterall and everyone told me I was a natural speaker. It feels good to be ‘out there’ now. I’ve told my story. I hope it helped someone. It’s crazy how freeing yourself of all of things you’ve done in your life that you’re ashamed of can make you feel so relieved, and in turn, good about the life you have ahead of you.