We've had a fairly steady trickle of newcomers to our meetings this year. Living in a small rural community, we have small meetings. So, we're truly blessed when a newcomer arrives to give AA a try. Now that I've been coming around AA for a few 24 hrs, I really appreciate when someone new comes into our meeting.
I've been blessed with consistent sobriety for over 15 years. So, it would be easy for me to forget what it was like to be newly sober in AA. I remember what the folks told me when I first arrived. "Don't forget where you came from." At this time, I had no clue what they meant. They would put an occasional twist on it like "If you can't remember your last drunk, you haven't had it yet." I didn't want to go back to drinking and using drugs, so I vowed to never forget.
I can still vividly recall my final outing. I can still vividly recall early AA meetings, and the characters I met there that helped me find my way. I remember being unconvinced that I was an alcoholic/addict. I recall having to ask in a meeting how you know if you are or not. I can still see the face of old Roger F (now deceased) when he told me to try controlled drinking. "Go out and have one of two beers and that's it, no more. Try this for a few nights, or over a couple weeks." My mind immediately confirmed that I could do this without a problem, so I must be fine. He must've read my mind because his next sentence froze me, stopped me dead and brought me to that gut/heart level acceptance required to take the first half of Step 1. (I was already well aware of my life's unmanageability.) He said, "Have one or two drinks like this, and be satisfied."
I had my answer immediately. There was enough self-honesty in me to know I couldn't be satisfied. I didn't even understand what he meant, because I'd never been truly satisfied with controlling my drinking. In fact, the times when I could control what or how much I drank, smoked or inhaled were growing fewer and further between.
So when I see, meet, or listen to a newcomer in a meeting. I am always brought back to some vivid recollection of early recovery. I love to see and help newcomers. I love to hear their stories and find my own in theirs. I love seeing the "pink cloud" appear, and then vanish as everything becomes more real over time. I especially enjoy seeing a newcomer collect a milestone token, and cease being a "newcomer" from the persepctive of the calendar.
While my heart breask for them when they vanish, I hope and pray I never become the "old-time" who refuses to let newcomers into his heart for fear of being hurt if/when they vanish. I pray that God continues to send newcomers to us, that we continue to attract, comfort and assist those who come into our lives.