After traveling for about 2 weeks and attending only 2 meetings, my husband and I were both ready for another boost to our emotional health. In Jerusalem, the online meeting list included one or two English speaking AA meetings every day and only a few English speaking NA meetings each week.
Wanting to attend a meeting to get spiritually fit and centered, we planned our evening around the 6 PM AA. At 25 and 29 years of recovery, it is not likely that either of us will drink or use, but that is not all of what recovery offers us. There have been very few weeks in a total of more than half a century of recovery when each of us has not attended one or more meetings. (More on travel to Indonesia and other meeting-less places later. Hint: take a book and have your own.)
From the beginning of my years of attending 12 step meetings, I have noticed that meeting lists, both online and in paper form, are notoriously incorrect. Some meetings on the list no longer exist, or maybe never existed beyond the first few weeks of an attempted start. Often a meeting time or location will have changed without the update being reported and recorded and, conversely, many meetings that do exist are simply not on the list. This just goes to show that you really have to want this program! Not for the easily discouraged or faint-hearted, recovery takes persistence.
We set out from our hotel with a map and directions from the attendant at the front desk. Allowing 45 min for what was supposed to be a 20-minute walk, we found the location relatively easily. The comedy club in a mall basement was presumably the location of daily 6 PM meetings. At 6:05, when nobody was there to unlock the door, and the sign on the door announced that the club would open at 8 PM, I found the phone number for Jerusalem AA. Since I was using a cell phone that allowed internet access, but did not make calls outside of the U.S., I then found a shopkeeper willing to let me use her phone. Fortunately, many people in Israel speak English and doubly fortunately, the person who’s number was on the website actually answered the phone. Informing me that meetings were held in this location some nights, but not tonight, and lamented the incorrect information on the website. The entire episode was, sadly, familiar. Even in my own town in the U.S., I recently went to a meeting where nobody showed up to open or chair…ughh…
Not to be deterred while in Jerusalem, I inquired about other meetings nearby in time and location. Now, get this; the AA member who was helping me figure out what to do actually did something VERY thoughtful and kind, risking criticism and rejection: she asked me if I would be interested in a nearby NA meeting, just beginning and close enough to walk to in less than 10 minutes. This is how recovery is supposed to work. If one “brand” of meeting is not readily available, try another. The 12 steps are the same in AA, NA, CA, GA, OA, SA, Alanon and many other groups.
Delighted that there was an NA meeting close by, we speed-walked several blocks and arrived only 15 minutes late for the 6 PM start. As usual, druggies are druggies everywhere and the meeting was just getting going. The familiar readings were underway as was the commotion. Up and down, texting, whispering, out for a smoke, arrive late, leave early…familiar. Ahhh. I love NA!
My husband and I got what we needed, re-centered ourselves and, hopefully, contributed something that someone found useful. More on an interesting twist towards the end of the meeting next time.