Just listen to who is speaking, don’t judge ‘em
I nod
Try to accept what you hear
I nod, again
Empathize, don’t compare with yourself
Another nod
You may think you’re different or better, but you’re not
I disagree but don’t let him know

So this is how it all ends
In a chilly church basement
A large circle of chairs
A mix of ages, sexes, and skin colors
Each ready with a tale of their drug of choice

Warily, I scan the circle
No one familiar
No one looks up at me
Good, that’s anonymity

My mind is abuzz with emotional static
Faking listening
Not empathizing
Not accepting what little I hear
The static is deafening

Now is my turn,
Everyone is looking
I have no words
And shake my head

Then a young girl who can’t stop sobbing
I have no life, she says,
all I do is go to meetings
She seems my daughter’s age!

A well-dressed young man speaks,
My sponsor tells me to pray every day
I wonder – Pray to whom? Pray for what?
I thought only kids pray

A sponsor!
What’s a sponsor?
Do I need one? Can I afford one?
Am I able to do this alone?

Next, a grizzled old guy in a t-shirt
I meditate for a half-hour every morning and night
Me meditate? Impossible
Most days I can barely think straight

Some speak of steps
Which I don’t see
Where do they lead?
Twelve doesn’t seem high, or is it?

Some credit a higher power
Their higher power!
Do I have a higher power?
And yet, where was my higher power
When I needed it?
Was there a lower power for me to blame

Now, everyone standing, holding hands,
Together they say a short prayer
for Serenity,
Courage and
It makes sense, I will learn it