told the following joke, which is actually relevant
"What is the difference between a drunk and an alcoholic?"
"A drunk doesn't have to go to those stupid meetings".
This is how one of those stupid meetings works.
Partly you're late because this is the last place you ever want to be, you have no faith, the little Methodist chapel looks deserted, you feel like you're wasting your own time. And of course, even being here is like giving up and admitting something you're not certain of even now.
There's a set of double glass doors along from the main chapel entrance, the kind you'd find in a social security office. Or a pub. They're locked. You look at your cigarette, look at the doors, the dim stairwell behind them.
"Fuck this", you think. You'll go to a bookshop, get something to read, something to eat in Burger King or somewhere, drink Fanta and imagine it's an orange Bacardi Breezer. But you won't go to the pub. You can do this without them. Fuck 'em and their locked doors.
You're just about to walk away when a short man in jeans and a sweater opens the doors. "Hi," he says, tells you his name. You tell him yours and you shake his hand. "Come on up," he says.
You hesitate and then pitch the cigarette and follow him. Up the stairs there's a landing, posters and flyers on the walls. Two steps further up you can hear voices, then you enter a kind of a common room, wooden chairs, benches, a table covered with books and leaflets and pamphlets. It smells of tea, coffee and turtle wax. It has that institutional blue corderoy carpet but apart from that, it feels friendly. In a quiet sort of way.
The room is full, all kinds of people, all ages, a beautiful young woman in the Riot Grrl style, a man in his forties with a raddled face and eyes like a saint, an elderly lady, very upright and proper, the man you brought you in, matter of fact and straightforward. There's a someone at the back, that's the only way you can think of them - androgynous in a bizarre way you've never seen before. This is no too-pretty goth boy in a leather mini-skirt, this is a someone in shorts and a t-shirt with a man's hairy legs and knobbly knees, long black hair, a small pair of breasts, small hands, designer stubble. And a despairing face that could have been drawn by some new-age hippy artist it's so ambiguous. Many others. Maybe twenty, maybe thirty. You start to get a little scared.
You take a seat. The raddled man shakes your hand, some other people nod, or smile. Or just look. There's a perky-looking girl at a desk right next to the raddled man.
She starts to speak, stilling the inevitable low murmering. It seems she's in charge of this meeting. The raddled man is the "Chair", he's due to talk to you all, as soon as a bald bloke with a beard finishes reading an extract from the Big Book in a low and frankly depressing voice.
Then the raddled man talks. He's bright, interesting, he talks of horrible situations with humour, he draws you in, lets you know that he's the same as you, that they all are, that they know. And as you listen, you identify more and more with what he's what he's saying. And you stop thinking "I shouldn't be here, i'm not an alcoholic. I'm just a drunk, just a pisshead, i don't need alcohol..." and you start to answer yourself with "maybe not, but i do need help. I do have a problem. And from what he's saying, it's the same as his problem."
He stops talking after a while. Others around the room speak, some of alcohol addiction others of your problem, your uncontrollable binge drinking. You start to realise that maybe there's a place for you here after all. And maybe you'd better take it. Before it gets too late.
Eventually, you speak. You take last place but one. You weren't certain you'd be able to speak at all, but now that the meeting's almost over, you're afraid not to. You speak. You tell them about the last couple of weeks. Half-way through your voice cracks, and you can't go on. But it was enough. And then you listen to the serenity prayer and you put your coat on, and you go home.
You sleep well that night, for the first time in months, alcoholic stupor not really counting as sleep. You don't have a drink the next day.
I didn't have a drink yesterday, i haven't had one today. I'm happy with that.