Tomorrow morning, I’ll be speaking at a large meeting of my twelve-step fellowship. I am not usually nervous about doing this–well, maybe just a little–but this meeting is special to me for a couple of reasons. This meeting always has a lot of newcomers, and it’s an honor to be one of the first speakers they hear. It’s also the largest meeting I attend, and the speakers usually have more years clean than I do. I probably got asked because it was hard to find a “big-name” speaker for this particular Sunday. Which is fine, but I do have a desire to do well.
Now, I know that there’s no “wrong” way to share my message at a meeting. It’s not about performing or being riveting; as long as whatever comes out is true it is fine. That being said, I confess that I have my own preferences about speakers, and they influence how I like to share. I like to use the basic guideline of “what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now,” and I like to keep an eye on time so that I don’t find myself running out just as I am getting to the second or third part. People know how much it sucks to live in active addiction–it’s good to share enough of my past story to help them know they are not alone, but then they need to know what the transition into recovery was like and why it might be worthwhile to give recovery a passionate try.
Like many, I have the habit of saying a quick little prayer that my higher power will help me say whatever it wants me to say that day. As I do that today, I think what I am asking for the most is not to censor myself. Because I do censor myself sometimes. Not necessarily the words I say, but how I am saying them. I’m calm when I might be passionate, or I make too many qualifying statements around something when I’d prefer to pronounce it with conviction.
When I get past that; when I stop intellectualizing and being mealy-mouthed and worrying about offending anyone–I can speak passionately. Dynamically. Authentically. I can affect people. I can make them remember something I said. I can bring out that dropped-jaw, holy-fuck expression someone gets when you’ve just wrapped your words around a bit of their soul. I can…that’s my truth, even though it feels immodest and vain to write it. And if that’s true, how does it serve anyone for me to pull myself back?
The Steps talk a lot about humility, and I am learning more about what it means. Humility requires me to be exactly what I am, no more and no less, and value myself as any other human being, no more and no less. That means using my talents whole-heartedly can be an act of humility. So, in that spirit, I ask help for tomorrow.
Open my heart, and then open my mouth. Silence my fear and my insecurity. Make me raw, and real, and unadorned. Tear me open like a bag of chips and scatter crumbs of me around that room. If it’s your will, make me look like a fool to forty-nine of my listeners in order to help the fiftieth. Help me tell the truth. Help me BE the truth.