A friend of Bill?

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“I like your necklace. Are you a friend of Bill W.?”

Knowing that this is a reference to AA, and although I’ve never gone to meetings, instinctively I answered, “Yes”.  I’m a former drinker and I’ve worked hard to stay that way, pretty much on my own.

Tim, offering that he is 19 years sober and still goes to meetings 5 days a week, seemed to want to talk.

I told him the story of the pendant. Last year, almost 8 months after I quit drinking, I took a road trip with my son. On that trip, the first I can recall without alcohol, I made a point of buying myself little rewards to celebrate my sobriety.

On our last day I found myself in a Native American shop looking at sterling silver jewelry. As I browsed, one piece with an unusual design caught my eye. I asked the shopkeeper if he knew the significance of the symbol, and he said he didn’t. I was drawn to it and it was reasonably priced, so I bought it.

Back at the hotel room with my iPad, I did a search for “triangle in circle symbol”. I learned that it’s widely used in AA. What? Wow. Seriously.

I’ve worn this pendant a lot. Tim was the first person who approached me and acknowledged its connection to AA and recovery. I felt proud to be wearing it and happy that it helped me connect to a kindred spirit.

Afterward, I wondered about my response to the “Bill W.” question. Am I a “friend of Bill” if I embrace a life of recovery but I don’t go to AA?  Is it unauthentic to wear a symbol of a movement that I support but to which I don’t “belong”?

Here’s what I think: the sober community is diverse and no matter how we got here, we share a common bond. Code words and symbolism that help us to connect to one another can only be a good thing.

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