The Pine Street AA group has been on hiatus since mid-March. But this does not mean that its members have not been gathering. There have been meetings at another location in Harrisburg, as well as Zoom meetings. But we think it is time to allow the Pine Street AA group to resume meetings in the Boyd Building. We have many safety protocols in place to protect the AA group, DDB clients, and DDB staff. Meetings will begin again on Tuesday, September 8, and will continue on weekdays at noon. In discussing the new schedule with the “leader” of the Pine Street group, Mick shared with me what the Pine Street group has meant to him personally, and to others who have attended over the years. Mick has allowed me to share his reflections:
My name is Mick and I am a recovering alcoholic. I have been sober for 22 years and I have been a member of Pine Street AA for 14 of them. I do not speak for Pine Street AA or AA as a whole. My only desire is to relay to you my experiences being in the group these past several years.
I attended my first AA meeting at Pine Street in March 2006. I didn’t go because I felt I needed it; I had been sober on my own for nearly eight years. I went to take a friend who, for over a year, promised me that he would go and did not. He was going this time because I was taking him.
When I entered the room for the first time, one of the members got up from his seat, walked over to me and hugged me. I melted. Though sober, I hadn’t yet dealt with the “why” of my drinking, or where the pain was coming from that made me want to drown it in alcohol. Right away, I felt that I was “home”.
Throughout the last 14 years, I have witnessed miracle after miracle in our room. I hope I am not being sacrilegious. I know it’s not my job to determine what is or isn’t a miracle. Nevertheless, I have often sat in my chair during a meeting and marveled at what just happened, or is happening.
I am one of those miracles. Being a graduate of the US Naval Academy, I spent two tours in Viet Nam. Though I was in Viet Nam, I was fairly safe in comparison with my friends who, upon graduation, went into the Marine Corps or became pilots. Since I was forced to attend the academy by my father, I had no interest in any particular branch. I thought I should go into the Marine Corps but didn’t have the courage to do so. At the same time, a very close, wonderful friend of mine who should have gone regular Navy like me, went into the Marines after he was dumped by his girlfriend. He was killed on July 2, 1967 in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Not realizing it, from that day forward, deep down inside, I thought that it should have been me dying in the jungle, not him. Then, as Naval Academy brother died, one after the other, my heart hardened and I stayed drunk as much as possible. Becoming a member of Pine Street AA provided me with countless opportunities to share these experiences and feelings. After several months of sharing and being supported by my AA family, I realized where the pain was coming from and have never felt the need to drink again.
A number of years ago, one of our members was a woman who said nothing and always had a mean look on her face. I will call her June. When approached, she would give you a nasty look. We had another woman who, because of so many years on alcohol and drugs, could barely communicate. I will call her Sandra. In one meeting, a member shared that a parent had just died. After that person’s sharing, Sandra took the floor. She started mumbling, then crying, then wailing. She was reliving when her dead father was removed from their second story apartment many years ago. She just wailed, several times calling out, “Daddy, daddy!” as they took him away in her mind. We were all stunned. As soon as she stopped and sat there whimpering, June got up from her chair and sat down next to her. She put her arm around Sandra and pulled her to her, holding her and rocking her like a baby. From that day forward, June talked to us.
Before I started attending AA meetings, I thought that there were “drunks” who would never get sober. After 14 years in the room, I no longer believe that. I know alcoholics who finally “got it” after four or five rehabs. Everyone had given up, but God?
Many people have visited our room over the years. Most say that they feel a strong sense of spiritualty in it. I, too, feel it. In the room you have provided to us, a strong family has been created. You have provided us a space where we can join together, brothers and sisters, working to heal each other. Our members include every kind of person there is. There together, we lose our prejudices and fears of people not in our normal circle of friends and families. Most members, at least at the starting stages of getting sober, have been rejected by their families. We become that family. It is not unusual for one or more of us to take an AA family member to the hospital and sit with that person far into the night.
We actually love each other. It’s a kind of love that asks for no repayment, that permeates the room in which we conduct our meetings. Thank you for helping us.