Being Seen

When I was two months sober, I went to a meeting on a day of the week I don’t usually go because I wanted to get my 2-month chip. There I sat, feeling peaceful and calm, waiting for the meeting to start, when he walked in. Someone I know. He saw me, too, then quickly looked away and sat down across the room. Immediately, my heart started pounding in my chest, I felt my face flush, and I felt nauseous. Full-on cortisol flood. I whispered to the kind soul sitting next to me, “Oh my God. Oh my God. Someone I know just walked in. He’s sitting over there.” She saw my sheer panic and put a hand on my shoulder and said, “Well, after all, he’s here, too.”

It took me half the meeting to get ahold of myself, and a half hour is a long time to sit in a panicked state. At the time, I didn’t want anyone at all to know about me, other than the few very close family members and friends I’d told. I REALLY didn’t (and still don’t) want people from work to know. If the chips had been handed out at the beginning of the meeting, I don’t believe I would have been able to get up and claim mine. As it was, I had some time to decide. At first, I was sure I could not and would not. With some deep breathing and just hanging on for dear life, I started to regain my composure. Meanwhile, he raised his hand and shared, and I saw that we are the same. So when chip time came around, I stood up, and with trembling and tears in my eyes, I got my chip.

After the meeting, he came up to me and hugged me. I said “I almost had a fucking heart attack when I saw you.” He said, “Well, I almost had a fucking heart attack when I saw you. And in fact, until you got up to get your chip, I assumed you couldn’t possibly be here for the same reason as me. I assumed that since it’s an open meeting, you must be here with a friend.” We talked for awhile and he told me some of his story, and I told him some of mine.  He had been sober just a few weeks longer than me.

I was so glad he had shared in the meeting, and I had decided to buck up and go get my chip despite feeling so vulnerable doing it. If neither of us had done those things, we may not have connected at all, and we may have both left the meeting feeling uneasy and off-balance about being seen.

As I walked to my car, I felt grateful for the way it unfolded, and I thought, “No wonder I always liked that guy.”

© soberfire, 2015

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7 thoughts on “Being Seen

  1. Iambizi on said:

    What a meeting, one you will never forget I am sure.YOu survived beautifully. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Bizi! No, I will never forget it!


  3. One of the best gifts I ever gave myself was the gift of me seeing me. It looks like you saw you. You’re important. You matter. See the beauty that you are. Lovely post. Lisa

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks so much for this beautiful post! I haven’t yet encountered someone whom I know from elsewhere in the rooms, probably because I got sober in a city to where I’d recently moved. But it’s highly possible I will one day, and if it does, I’ll think of this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. pickledfish2015 on said:

    Holy Moly… I was reading your post and my heart almost stopped. I was reading about my worst nightmare. This is why I cannot afford (professionally) to go to a meeting. I am very happy it worked out for you. I can only imagine the first few seconds when you saw him.


    • Thanks for writing, @pickledfish2015 . I have run into a couple more people since then, although not from professional circles. I haven’t felt nearly as anxious, probably because the one that felt like a really huge deal happened first. Attending meetings here is risky from an anonymity standpoint. I live in a small city where it seems like you see people you know everywhere you go, and if it’s not someone you know, then you find out the person you’re meeting went to school with your cousin or whatever. I just trust that people will adhere to “Who you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here.” If it comes out somehow, I”ll have to deal with it. I am OK with the small risk at this point, but I TOTALLY understand you feeling like you can’t take that chance. I hope you are finding the support you need in other ways!


  6. I love in a small city and occasionally run into people I know at meetings. One week a friend of mine was there. Neither of us knew we had quit drinking. We are even better friends now.

    Liked by 1 person

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