The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.
These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.
Beautiful people do not just happen.
In my experience of AA meetings and the people I've met there, everyone -- regardless of how sick they still may be, or whatever they're dealing with -- everyone is, if not moving towards healing and recovery, at least facing in the right direction.
Most of the people in AA have truly experienced an inner darkness, and are now, even if uncertainly, reaching for the light.
And to me that makes them beautiful.
Even those that are my Great Spiritual Teachers -- the ones who push my buttons the hardest. (Albeit maybe more beautiful from a distance right up in my business. Work in progress!)
It was going to AA meetings that eventually helped me hear my own music.
Yes, my phrasing is maybe a little saccharine, and certainly the quote is quite famous,
but for all that it is still my truth.
My alcoholism, fueled by (or fueling? Potato potahto) my fear and ego, kept me perpetually self-involved and desperately trying to be what I thought I was "supposed" to be -- not in the aspirational sense; I wasn't reaching for goals. In the sense that I was deeply convinced I was a Wrong Thing and needed to make sure nobody found me out.
The experience of hearing people share in meetings, the discussion of the AA literature, the stunning example of people using AA's tools and staying sober through terrible difficulties, these things literally showed me how to become comfortable in my own skin. To become my authentic self.
I guess you could say AA meetings helped me evolve from trying to "not-be" and allowed me to try to just "be."
There may well be many places on earth in which you can find that kind of help. I do not know.
But my experience is that I found them in AA meetings.
When I came to AA, they said "let us love you till you can love yourself."
Frankly I thought the sentiment was a little cloying and a little gross.
How else could I view it, considering how much self-loathing I had?
(It has been my experience that violent reactions to loving or spiritual sentiment is usually because it strikes close to a deeply-seated issue that I was often almost completely blind to. )
But I did find love in AA meetings. In small ways, at first: Through the 12 Traditions, and how they keep a meeting safe for everyone. Through the even-handed way most of the long-timers dealt with conflicts within the group. Through the welcoming spirit and kind hospitality of virtually everyone I met.
I know it sounds extremely infantile -- and a little self-serving, given what I tend to write about here -- but in that environment, via meetings and the fellowship, I blossomed. I slowly -- so, so slowly -- started to feel safe. To trust the friendship being offered. To stop worrying with that all-consuming self-obsession what everyone thought of me.
I need meetings now as I did when I was new because I still feel that kind of love from the fellowship.
It's just that nowadays, I feel it most when I do for others in the room what was done for me: Safeguard the Traditions, respond to things in as tolerant and even-handed a way as possible, and welcome new people and also long-timers who might be feeling the mileage.
I need meetings today so that the best parts of me have a place to express themselves -- to stay in bloom.
Hearing people in meetings talk about their experiences and their challenges and their recovery helps me consider old ideas in a new light -- and through the process of identification -- hear new information which helps me start to see "the whole picture."