Out of state recovery has been somewhat of a concern lately, seeing as I am moving from my hometown of the Los Angeles South Bay area. It is always exciting to visit new meetings in places far from home, but there was always the knowledge that I would be returning.
People not from Southern California often comment on how much different their out of state recovery scene is from ours. Really, there is a good reason behind that; we do things differently here—sometimes very differently.
I have been to meetings in the Hawaiian Islands, and next to some of my home meetings, they tend to be amongst my favorites. Call it the Island Attitude, or whatever else, but they really have “easy does it” down to an art. They took that and ran a marathon with it.
I have been to meetings in Europe, as well. Not many, granted, but I like to think I got a taste of what the regions had to offer. Munich was as expected, with a sort of zany exuberance that almost bordered on maniacal at times. The Irish, in contrast, tended to be more morose, quiet, subdued, and without getting into stereotyping, reminded me heavily of the Catholic Easter masses whenever I visited my grandparents, without all the pageantry.
That is the beauty of recovery—that’s the beauty of out of state recovery and international recovery, too: there is no uniform. Each group is autonomous, except as it relates to AA (or NA) as a whole.
So why would I be nervous?
I know that every time I walk into a room of AA or NA, there is a familiarity that I cannot find anywhere else with any other group of people. I have friends who know my story no matter where I go, even if I have never been there before. I know that no matter what experience I have had, positive or negative, there is someone else in that room that has either shared it or knows someone with a similar experience.
That nervousness is the “-ism”—the so-called “incurable spiritual maladjustment.” It is the fear of not fitting in, despite knowing that I will be welcomed with open arms and genuine smiles. It is that fear of being judged, while knowing that only the Higher Power I found in these rooms is the only entity that can judge me and that really matters.
It is a simple matter of not liking things that are not familiar to me.
There is a solution, though. Trusting that Higher Power and taking contrary action to what I know is detrimental to my well-being and my recovery has always served me very well. Usually, it is the meeting I do not want to attend on nothing more than a whim that does me the most good.
Have you ever experienced the international or out of state recovery scene? What were the meetings like? Was there anything that was notably different?