The frantic man stood outside the door of the AA hall looking quite disheveled and…well…..frantic.
It was not the first time I had seen him…it was the first time I had seen him so frantic though.
He started coming to the meetings about a month ago. He was beat down. He had the I’ve had enough and will try anything to quite drinking look all over him.
And that’s why we are all here. The last house on the left.
The final straw.
When the pain of living with alcohol overtakes the fear of living without it. This is where they come.
I have been coming here for a few years now. I keep coming back here because I need to be around people like me and people like the frantic man.
I see me when I look at him.
I looked at my watch. The meeting started 10 minutes ago. I hate being late but I have my job because of what people have done for me here. So I get here when I get here.
I walked up next to him and spoke.
“What’s up, man? You going in?”
He looked at me with his frantic jetting back and forth eyes and replied,
“I…I…I…I don’t know if I can….I came back to try again…but…but…but…it’s you alls fault I drank again.”
Typically I am pretty sharp tongued when I hear someone placing blame but I held back and kept my reply short.
“Ummm….you mind telling me why it’s our fault?”
The frantic man pursed his lips together. Looked at me straight in the eye and confidently stated.
“You all….took away my higher power…..you replaced it with a new one….and now I have nothing to believe in….I….I…I can’t believe in the new one…it’s too shiny and new. The old one had defects like me…I could understand that one….but you all HAD to change it. Now…I have nothing.”
My head was spinning because of his broken record way of speaking, but I kept my focus and continued to engage him in conversation.
“Slow down, bubba. No one here has the ability to take away your higher power. You turned your will and life over to the God of your understa…”
He interrupted before I could finish.
“No….no…no. I hadn’t gotten to step 3 yet. I don’t believe in God. I was working my way up to that.”
I was a bit miffed, but I am not one to give up….I had to know what he was talking about.
He exhaled with a defeated sigh.
“I was working with someone in here who said I needed to believe in a power greater than myself….he said it could be anything…he…he…he said it could even be that.” He said as he pointed to the door.
Specifically the knob on the door.
I rubbed my index finger and thumb into my eye sockets (I think it kept me from screaming or laughing out loud. I’m not sure which one). Then I looked concernedly back at him (as he continued to point at the knob) and replied.
“So…you believed the doorknob could keep you sober?”
“Yes,” he replied, “but not that one. The old one that was on there last week.”
“So….let me guess what happened. You are trucking along just fine until you came to a meeting and the doorknob was changed….you believe it was done to harm or deter you from staying sober. You started drinking again because of it and now you are back to try again….but can’t because of the new doorknob. Am I anywhere near the bullseye so far, Robin Hood?”
He dropped his pointing finger to his side and dropped his head before speaking.
“It sounds stupid when you say it…but that’s what happened….I don’t have a shot at this, do I”
I looked him smiled…hell, I even giggled a bit and said to him,
“You got more than a shot, dude. You just learned a lesson.”
“It’s hard to put faith in man made objects….they break or are only reliable for a short amount of time. You may not believe in “God” per say, but a lot of people in here don’t either. We just try to learn to rely on a spiritual side of things instead of a bottle of spirits. I will help you out if you want. We will talk after the meeting. You ready to go in?”
I patted him on the back and motioned for him to open the door. He grabbed the handle and looked me in the eye and said,
“Can we keep this doorknob story to ourselves, please?”
I just smiled and got him a cup of coffee and we sat down to participate in the meeting.
I thought to myself…
“If he only knew that I was the one who changed the broken doorknob….what are the odds that I would be the one to be here when he wouldn’t go in?”
I just continued to smile and shook my head a little.