When I went to my first NA meeting, I immediately felt comfortable. That same meeting became my home group when I had 30 days clean, and it has remained my home group to this day.
The first person that welcomed me to that meeting was a man from a much different walk of life than me, and we could not have been more different by way of race, gender or age. What I remember most about this man was that he was kind, enthusiastic about recovery and eager to see me stick and stay. Each week as I came to this meeting, I would hear this man share his experience, strength and hope with newcomers, as well as sharing during the meeting. When he shared, I could always relate to the place that he had gotten to before coming to Narcotics Anonymous, but I could not always relate to the circumstances of which he shared. The details of our stories were so tremendously different, but our pain was the same.
Listening to the experience, strength and hope from both oldtimers and newcomers alike has taught me a lot about looking for the similarities, and not the differences in our stories. I may not wear the same style of clothes, listen to the same type of music, go to the same restaurants or live in the same neighborhood as anyone else in a meeting, but I do share one thing with everyone. We share a common bond of having experienced the horrors of addiction in our lives and in that regard we are very similar.
Over the past 9 years I have, at times, found myself wanting to be different, even if just a little, so that I could stand out. Thankfully I learned a long time ago to share the craziness in my head with another addict. The ladies (and gentlemen) in my support network always share a similar response to my wanting to be different. The response? I am not unique. I am not different. I am actually very similar.