Nov. 9, 2023 – We went to this very big gathering in Brentwood, Calif. We walked in, and I swear it seemed there were a thousand people in there. He knew the look on my face — daunted. Beyond daunted: demoralized. It’s very hard to imagine how going into a room like that is somehow going to make you want to stop drinking or make you feel better. And he looked at me and said in his Matthew, half-joking, very loving way: “It’s something, isn’t it? God is a bunch of drunks together in a room.”

At the time, I didn’t know what he meant. I’ve since learned. He meant that as bad as we feel, as low as we go, we tend to feel we’re alone in it, whether our problem is alcoholism, a bad marriage, illness, depression, strife. We feel that we are the only one who has ever gone through it; in recovery we call it terminal uniqueness.

And it’s by going into a room with a few or a lot of other people and sharing, saying out loud what it is that’s upsetting us and hearing that from others that we feel, well, maybe we’re not alone. In fact, in time, what we become sure of is that the most unfortunate, terrible things we face are actually our greatest strength, as they connect us with others.

And so all that seemingly pointless suffering has a tremendous point.

He was telling me I needed the support of those people in the room. I needed their stories. I needed to lean on them. I needed to tell them, “I don’t think I can make it through the day without drinking.” And hear them say, “We didn’t, either.”