My name is Lannie and I'm an alcoholic. I'm lonely. I've got no husband, no children, no friends. I hardly ever get asked out on dates. I don't think the problem is that I am unlovable, or repulsive, or exuding some negatory pheromone. I think I simply must have failed to develop certain social skills that other people possess. Even at these meetings I'm not doing very well at connecting with people. Maybe I look so happy and self-confident, nobody feels that I need help. C'mon people, you're supposed to be pros. You can see though that mask, can't you?

I used to have a friend, a good friend, and that was Jim Beam. For twenty-five years I spent every evening with Jim, or one of his cousins. He even took me to bed at night. But it turned out he was not good for me, so two years ago we split up. I haven't seen him since. But I'm still lonely.

A couple of weeks ago I came to my first meeting, and it resonated with me. I've been to a meeting almost every single day. Last night I was going to go to a meeting I hadn't been to before, one that looked like it might be somewhat special for me. I looked forward to it all day—all week, really. So last night I printed out my map and headed out to the address it said in the book. I arrived fifteen minutes early. The building was dark and I didn't see anyone around. But I know a lot of people have their timing down to arrive just when the meeting starts, so I didn't worry. It was a big building, so I walked around looking for signs of life. Eventually I found a security guard and he pointed me in the direction of the meeting room. But soon it was a half hour past meeting time and still no one was around. So I gave up.

I became very upset. First of all I was upset about being upset, because it's stupid to get upset about such a little thing. I was somewhat upset about missing out on my chance to be with people for the day, and missing what seemed like a special opportunity for me, but I don't think that was the main thing that pushed my buttons. I was just mad at life. I try so hard to follow the rules and do what I understand to be best for me, but life keeps throwing obstacles in my path.

As I drove home, I passed a couple of bars. It crossed my mind that I could go into one of them in search of a little company, but I scoffed at that idea. It had never worked for me in the past, even when I was drinking. I have a great ability to sit in a crowed bar and never meeting anybody. But I thought a lot about alcohol—probably because I've been at all these meetings. I recognized that the kind of upset I was feeling was exactly a feeling that I used to dull by drinking. I knew it would feel great to dull it with drinking right now; though I knew I wasn't going to do that tonight. But what if something really serious happened to me? Or what if these sorts of upsets started occurring on a regular basis, like they used to? I wondered whether I would start drinking again—or would I simply kill myself?

As I have been trying to be more philosophical and introspective lately, I asked myself what lesson I could learn from this situation. (If I believed in that kind of god, I would wonder what lesson he was trying to teach me; but my higher power is all loving and doesn't play those kinds of games.) Maybe my lesson was to learn to pick up the phone and dial the number of one of the people I had met recently at recovery meetings. But I haven't mastered that lesson yet. I can't do it. I can't call a stranger to whine about my pissant little problems and how hard is my privileged life. So I meditated and I stewed and I cried myself to sleep.

I don't understand anything at all. I don't understand life; I don't understand myself. But at least I have a new rule to follow, and I'm working that one. I'm going to keep coming back. I sure hope it works.

—Lannie R, 4/2004

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