I love speaker meetings and birthday meetings.
It's nice to have a break. To just listen and not have to form coherent thoughts on a difficult topic. But more than that, I love these meetings because I get to hear the big picture.
Topic meetings help me learn solutions about particular problems. I hear little bits and pieces of a person's story. I may have heard them share dozens of times before, but the context is missing. But speaker meetings and birthday meetings are where I forge deeper connections to people, because I hear their stories whole.
More often than not I hear my own story, or pieces of it, and understand, really understand, that I'm not alone.
The other day, I was listening to Joe, who was celebrating his 12th birthday. I had been sitting in meetings with Joe for a couple of years. But in this meeting, he talked a lot about his childhood. I had no idea all he had overcome.
After the meeting, I told him that his path inspired me. That he had come from where he was to where he is now seemed one of those miracles you hear about in Al-Anon.
He answered that what he loved about this program was that this was the only place he knew where his past could be turned into an asset.
I knew just what he meant. In Al-Anon, I know that all of the difficult things I've experienced, all the mistakes I've made, the embarrassing and awful things I've done are not for nothing.
I can share them freely. Because when I do, someone in the room might benefit from what I've gone through. They might have done something similar and know they are not alone. They might somehow learn from my experience. They might be inspired.
It reminds me of that fairy tale of the girl who could turn straw into gold. When I came to Al-Anon, I had no idea that I would come to embrace my past and share it freely. That it would, in fact, be my best asset and the greatest gift I can offer.
18 hours ago