“Even birds of a feather find it hard to fly.”

The group leader asked us whoever had less than a year sobriety to raise their hand and introduce themselves. I felt like stone and could hardly look at anyone in the room.

I raised my hand meekly and waited until my turn came. “Hi, I’m Melissa. I’ve got a little less than a week.”

“Hi, Melissa.”


Everyone else knew their date. It was hard for me to focus my head, so I counted back the days on paper in my journal to get to mine. Sobriety date:  4/9/2017 = 5 in numerology. Signifying change. My favorite number as a kid, and almost always my sports jersey number.


(More numbers.) We went over the 12 steps, and what we’re here to do…

Be fearless & thorough.

Give yourself to a higher power. Higher self. Spirit. A personal god to me.

I have been powerless over alcohol.

Using it as a crutch in my life.

Impeding my healing and growth.

I've come to return to sanity.

To not regret the past.

To have no fear of others.

We'll receive spiritual awakening as a result of these steps.

(I missed a few and sort of just wrote down my own.)

We are:



We value:



A man named J— shared the reading from the Big Book about finding a higher power. Then he shared what was on his mind.

He had been struggling with wanting to take a shot that morning, but knew he’d find solace here.

“Birds of a feather flock together,” said J—. That’s why he came back.

I immediately thought of the Aimee Mann lyric I had been listening to over and over again recently,  “Even birds of a feather find it hard to fly.”


Putting trust in our higher power will eventually lead to trust in the self.

Keep in simple, sweetie.


Thoughts I wrote down when I felt myself panicking:

Be with yourself.


Love yourself.


Thoughts I had when I couldn’t speak out loud:

Hi, I’m Melissa and I’m struggling. I’ve used alcohol as a crutch to deal with this world — namely my social anxiety. My problem is not that I don’t have or trust in a higher power. I have one and I ask, I meditate, I listen. I feel a strong connection with it. My problem is that I have trouble believing in myself and my connection with others. I have trouble feeling safe, and valued, and worthy. I’m blocked in a way, hurt, injured. Where do I go from here? How do I heal? Tell me what to do. I’m here to do the work.


Someone told a joke. That AA came with a “misery back guarantee." We all laughed, and the sound lifted up my broken little wings for a moment.