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Grapevine : June 2011
invited me and the high school proms I routinely skipped, feeling I had no place at them. A sudden realization brought me to a stunned stop. The rejection of the dinner invitation was prompted by the same fear of social engagement I had experienced as a teenager. My whole life I had bought into the lie of my own unworthiness. No, I did not have to rush home so I could read before going to bed. I read every night. No, I did not have to check my email. The email could easily wait a couple of hours. No, I did not have to check phone messag- es. There would be no life-changing message on my machine. Back and forth over a small stretch of sidewalk I paced. I would take ten steps toward home and then turn around and take ten steps to- ward the restaurant. For five minutes or so this ambivalence continued. Then another thought occurred to me: Although it is entirely counter- intuitive to believe that any good can come from your appearance at this restaurant, David, do as the Fellow- ship suggests and act as if. AA had ruined my drinking and now it had ruined my isolation. The group had already gathered in the restaurant, and I slipped into an available seat toward one end of the long table. At best, I was sitting with AA acquaintances, not friends, and there were stretches when the fear that would drive me away as I stood outside after meetings in an attempt to socialize returned. The embarrassment of sitting among oth- ers engaged in conversation when all I could do was look on seemed to expose my social failure. But then the person next to me, whom I had thought myself separated from by a chasm, turned my way and we began chatting. And it was the same with others as well. Slowly, I was absorbed in the conversation. Sports, movies we had seen, it hardly mattered. In so doing, I was simply an AA member among other AA members. Neither in marriage nor in di- vorce had I fully discovered the AA Fellowship. But because my feigned indifference had become intolerable, that night marked a significant turn- ing point in my recovery. I don’t mean to suggest that it would be healthy or Back and forth over a small stretch of sidewalk I paced. I would take ten steps toward home and then turn around and take ten steps toward the restaurant. For five minutes or so this ambivalence continued. aagrapevine.org 55 GRAPE_52-57.indd 55 4/29/11 5:24 PM