AA Upstate NY



I woke at 5am.  It’s still dark.  The wind roars through the maple trees. The last of the leaves scoot up chilly North Road.  The dogs lay under the covers, they know the drill:  every morning I get up at 5am, I take a bath, I drive to Rhinebeck in the beaten up Mercedes the crazy artist gave me.

I sit with the same kindly, sober men and women in the cozy church basement.  I toast raisin bread and drink mugs of black coffee.  I sit at the back, close to the piano.  I am knitting another fragment.

I like morning AA meetings.

Remember the Palisades?  That 7am meeting over the bank?  The fat agent?  The lawyer who couldn’t stop looking at porn whilst this wife lay sleeping.  Remember the good doctor, the beneficent politician who by the ‘grace of god and this program’ stays sober today?

Recently I woke up and had a radical, disturbing thought.  I had a crazy AA cult thought: that if I dared be late for the meeting, dared miss the AA meeting in Rhinebeck something catastrophic would happen.  That I might die.  That I might not be able to depend on God to keep me safe.  Even though I have committed to the path he has chosen.

They say in the rooms of AA: if you desire anything more than AA you will never achieve your desires.  That putting things ahead of AA means putting them in jeopardy.

I waited for a moment.  I thought more about the crazy catastrophic thought.  It made me angry.  What was I thinking?  I wondered how I’d ever achieve anything ever again?  How could I escape this ‘sober’ thinking?

The sober life they promised when I walked through the doors of AA was a ‘bridge to normal living’.  But my normal living has become enslaved by Alcoholics Anonymous.

I understood momentarily that living a fearless, hand it over to God life… has become inert.  The furrow God has ploughed for me, the one I dare not leave.  They say in the rooms that he’ll never put anything in my path I cannot handle.  As long as I hand my will and my life to him.  My will and my life.

Sometimes I’m willful.  Occasionally I want to take my will and get something achieved in my time.. not God’s time.  But I fear those thoughts.  Immediately I run back to the safety of a prayer, God Grant me the Serenity.  I am once again taken care of by the benevolent force.

Sobriety is no longer about not taking drink or a drug. I am committed to a way of life. So I might not make the same mistakes, create chaos, or harm those around me I commit daily to a strict routine of making lists, taking inventories, I pray and meditate, I reach out to the newly sober, I practice the principals of Alcoholics Anonymous in all my affairs.


Where’s this leading me?  I’m on my own, and rather than invest in a robust social life with similarly healthy souls… sobriety causes me to think twice about any and all interactions.  I no longer desire the normal friction that casually brushing up against another human being causes.

I think twice about driving to the city.  I think twice about having my hair cut.  I think twice about leaving the house.  I think twice because I don’t want to think at all.

I say to myself, “Sit silently in the coffee shop.  Do not live in fear.”  I crave the promise that I might effortlessly know how to deal with problems that used to baffle me.  I take the route that most likely avoids any and all people.    My fantasy is: with God’s help I am a slender ghost who haunts my own life.

The following morning I went to the meeting and told them my doubts.   I explained the crazy thought.  They were very kind.  They have the same thoughts.  They reach the same conclusions.  They keep coming back.

I get home at 9am.  I let the dogs out.  They chase squirrels and deer. The day unfolds before me.  Sober.  A ghost.

2 replies on “AA Upstate NY”

this was so perfectly eloquent and honest.

you may not remember me but you helped me when I was moving from NYC. your words helped me in ways you can’t imagine. but again, maybe you can.

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