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Grapevine : June 2011
I n the years I had seen him in and around the rooms, he seemed to me an unencumbered man, a man who had gone through life alone. At a meeting one evening, he acknowledged his soli- tary path when he shared that some pressing reason would compel him to rush home at the end of a meet- ing rather than hang out with group members afterward. He would get home only to realize that there had been no pressing reason to rush off. The result was that, night after night, year after year, he would eat alone. I had heard this sort of thing before, AA men and women acknowledging their difficulty in easing free of their isolation. But, on this evening, for whatever reason, I heard it. The man was talking to me. The man was me. I recalled the few times I had tried to connect after meetings in New York City, and the terrible sense of vulnerability and exposure that would come over me, standing outside the meeting place, feeling conspicuously alone while others seemed to gather in small groups. At such times, it could seem that my social poverty was on full display. Inevitably, feelings of awkwardness, discomfort and social anxiety would drive me away before any connection could be made. The risk of rejection was too great. Around this same time, I heard a man at another meeting refer to the fellowship we “crave,” in a phrase that appears in the Big Book, in the chapter “A Vision for You.” Not the fellowship we seek or desire, but the fellowship we crave. Again, I was stunned. How many times had I read that same passage? How little the ef- fect had been on me then, whereas aagrapevine.org 53 GRAPE_52-57.indd 53 4/29/11 5:24 PM