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Grapevine : June 2011
now it was revelatory. As I had once craved alcohol, I now craved con- nection with people. In truth, I had always craved such connection, and alcohol had proven to be the perfect social lubricant. It had seemed to move me closer to others, dissolving all barriers. In reality, it steadily in- creased my isolation. I remembered instances toward the end of my drink- ing, when I was a virtual prisoner of the bottle. I would run, drunk, often having ingested a sleeping pill, from my living place to the bar across the street, driven by a need to find that special someone who would receive and understand me. I was not new to recovery when I heard this man share about his solitude. In fact, I had been sober for many years. And yet, as integrated as I was into the life of AA through sponsoring and being sponsored, through our Twelve Steps and ser- vice, I would look with envy at men and women who seemed to have a circle of friends, on some sort of AA party circuit, and feel wounded and dismayed. After hearing this AA member share, I traveled to Germany. The damp November cold on the gray Berlin streets penetrated my bones, but the English-speaking AA meet- ings were warm. Members of the group would go to a nearby restau- rant for dinner and regularly invite me along. How simple and demo- cratic and different from what I ex- perienced at a number of the groups on the meeting circuit I traveled back in New York City, where mem- bers seemed to scatter after the clos- ing prayer or gather in small, tight- knit groups. On my return home, I began attending a meeting out of my im- mediate neighborhood twice a week. In fact, it was one of the meetings at which I had gotten sober, and to which I had not been back in many years. One night a group member said, “We’re going out to eat. Join us.” Reflexively, I begged off, giving myself the excuse that it was too late and why spend money on food that I probably wouldn’t like and be with people who probably didn’t really want me around. Join us. In my early twenties a psychoanalyst had said these same words to me, only she had meant, “Join the human race.” This at a time when drinking had not yet assumed the place in my life that it would. A s I headed toward the subway that would take me home, I remem- bered a coffee shop my high school classmates would gather at after the school day, but which I never allowed myself to go near for fear that I would be un- able to hold my own socially. I re- membered a party I couldn’t show up for, although the pretty girl from the grade below who was throwing it had 54 June 2011 GRAPE_52-57.indd 54 4/29/11 5:24 PM