A funny thing happened on the way to my first DA meeting.
A couple of hours before the meeting, I caught the train over to the major suburb near the meeting venue. I did this to have dinner beforehand and give myself enough time to reach the venue (it was my first time in that area, so I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get there).
When I got off the train, I checked my lottery numbers at a nearby newsagent and discovered that I’d won some money – only a very small amount, but it was an amusing surprise nonetheless.
Shortly after, I did something I hadn’t done for a long time – bought dinner at a nearby McDonald’s.
I hadn’t been to a Macca’s for a while because although I don’t mind their food, they’re not designed or meant for the hours-long dining-out I usually prefer – but tonight, a modest meal was all I needed.
As it would turn out, dinner at that Macca’s each DA night would become part of a welcome routine over the next six months.
After dinner, I had a little time to kill before heading off to the meeting, so I did something that was potentially dangerous – visit a nearby bargain-bookstore.
And to my complete lack of surprise, there were a few interesting-looking titles there at great prices…
…but I held off.
Yes, there was the nagging fear that if I didn’t grab those books now at such great prices, I may never have the same chance again.
But for once, I convinced myself to hold off and, especially tonight, set a better example to myself.
I left the bookstore empty-handed.
The journey towards the meeting began.
I headed out of the major suburb I’d arrived in, its bustle and lights dropping behind me.
I passed a quaint café with a white and black-spotted cat sitting quietly on the footpath outside. The cat made me smile, and like dinner at Macca’s it would become a welcome sight during the next six months.
I walked on in the evening darkness, and the suburb I entered became more and more quiet.
Along the way I passed a police station, which made me smile and feel nervous at the same time.
Finally, I came to the public building where the meeting was shortly to begin.
I went inside, up to the first floor and then all the way around to the meeting room.
Inside were a few people talking with each other, and they looked up as I stood in the doorway.
I asked with a nervous smile, “Hi, is this Debtors Anonymous?”
They said yes and invited me in.
About a dozen or so chairs faced each other in a circle that filled most of the room.
I chose an empty chair near the western wall, and another part of my upcoming routine fell into place.
As a few more people arrived, I looked around at a couple of DA banners that were hanging from some walls. One of the banners listed the Twelve Steps.
As well, lying at the centre of the floor were pieces of paper with more DA material.
I sat quietly.
My fellow attendees were of all shapes, sizes, ages and socio-economic backgrounds.
I wondered with great curiosity what had brought them here.
Soon, the meeting began.
The evening’s chairperson took a large folder from the centre of the floor, opened it and read out a detailed preamble about what DA was and the objectives and routines of the meetings.
As well, newcomers like me were welcomed and encouraged to participate, although not feel obliged to until we were comfortable to do so.
Next, as each meeting had a particular theme, someone else read from a piece of literature pertaining to that theme and then took the first turn to speak.
More speakers followed, and I continued to sit quietly, listen and understand how to participate.
My early curiosity about what had brought everyone else here was answered. What they shared was very confronting, grim, inspiring, interesting, moving and startling.
Soon, I was asked if I wanted to speak.
I said yes and thank you, and just like I’d been hearing from the speakers before me, I introduced myself with words that would also become a regular part of my life during the next six months:
“Hello, everyone. My name is (first name) and I am a compulsive debtor, spender and under-earner.”
Everyone else greeted me with a collective “Hello, (first name)” and then I spent the next few minutes telling them why I had come here.
As I’d found with my therapy, it did wonders to get it out of my system.
And like everyone else there that night, I was no longer alone.
The meeting went for just under an hour, and we spent the last ten minutes or so of the hour tidying up the room so that another group could use it straight after us.
One of my fellow attendees came over, welcomed me again and told me a few more things about DA and the meetings.
She also showed me the literature that was available at each meeting. They were mostly pamphlets, but also a few books.
The books were a little pricey for me that night, but there were several pamphlets at very low prices that looked very interesting and so I bought copies of those.
As I handed over my money I mentioned how a couple of hours before I’d won that lottery money. My fellow attendee smiled and suggested that perhaps it was a good sign.
I smiled back and said that perhaps it was, although on the inside I didn’t really believe it.
But I did know for certain that next week, I would be back.
Until next time, stay well and take care 🙂