Written by Trina Mioner
Old people used to call people like me odd birds. You can fit a round peg in a square hole, but it never feels right. I found Alcoholics Anonymous, and it felt like home. I met and fell in love with my husband at A.A, and after the mandatory ninety meetings in ninety days, I made it a regular part of my life.
I say these things, to say that before the event I would fall under the classification of being a little paranoid. I felt that when I sat down at the table the conversation shifted or stopped. The question was, were they talking about me? or was I imagining it? This feeling that I was interrupting happened often. I would walk into a crowded A.A. room and people would look at me and then look down to avoid eye contact.
It was easy for me to attribute this behavior to my crazy inner barometer. There were awkward moments at home also, mostly because of our missed rendezvous. My husband was the most attentive man I knew, but lately we just walked past each other. When I would ask him where he was, the right answers would flow off his tongue with perfect coordination.; Like playing mental ping pong, he would say,
“Baby you know I love you, all I want is for you to be happy, don’t become one of those wives.”
I hid in the dark crevices of my mind that his first wife committed suicide. I could never hurt him with what seemed like an obvious question. Like why? Why did this lady kill herself?
It was a beautiful spring morning, it was ten a.m., and the sun was shining bright. I had started attending this meeting because it was a women’s meeting. I longed in my heart for friendship. I loved to be around women because their presence supported me in my recovery. When it was my turn to speak, I passed because I was still new to the group, and I had trust issues. The conversation circle went around and landed across from me. There was a petite brown skin woman with her head in her hands. She wept and told the story of a man who was harassing her.
She said, “I keep telling him to leave me alone.”
It was time to end the group; the hour had gone by quickly. The chairperson asked, “Are there any burning desires to say something before we close?”
Shyly, I raised my hand. I needed to give her support. The chair nodded for me to go ahead with my comment. I said, “You do not have to put up with that from anyone. Call the police, the degenerate deserves it.”
There were nods of agreement and approval. I felt like I had made a connection to the group and the woman who shared. After the Lord’s Prayer the group migrated to the coffee pot. This was déjà vu at all A.A. meetings. I waited until the group of supporters dispersed from around the woman and I approached her.
“I want to give you my number, you can call me day or night,” I said.
She looked at me with a scowl on her face, and blurted out, “Tell your husband to leave me alone.” In terror, I froze. I could not respond in any way other than to say my husband’s name. She repeated his name and once again told me, to tell him to leave her alone. I lowered my head and said, “Thank you, I’m sorry, I’ll tell him.”
I left the meeting and went to a place they call the A.A. club house. A place for people to go who were having a tough time. What I found out that day, was that everyone knew. My husband had hit on every newcomer that came into the program. I was the rumor, the one everybody was talking about behind my back. They called what my husband did thirteen stepping. I had never felt this humiliated before. Yes, I am suspicious and paranoid, but at least I know it was not just in my head.