The local area Help Line, is one of the most important contact points, for people who need help, to get them where they need to go. If you’ve never volunteered to answer the help line where you live, I highly suggest you make the time to give back.
There are many ways into the rooms. Some come the hard way, via court orders, a little less tough, is the rehab route, then the easier route, coming through the door yourself.
I might say that’s the easiest route, but in reality it is not that easy. Walking through that door, for some, is really difficult. We see them. Every meeting. You hang outside the door, till the last-minute, then skulk in and hang on the back wall.
The back wall is synonymous with struggle. That’s why there is always a row of chairs against the back wall. At least that’s an easy starting point. From that back wall, we find our way forwards, later choosing a chair that is closer to the front.
We begin on the periphery, Alone, Scared, Fearful, till we find our ways forwards and we become Part Of, One of Many.
Alcoholics are predictable. We like uniformity. For years and years, when ever I do service, in certain meetings, there are always chairs put out, closest to the exit door. In one particular meeting, I was homed in for over a decade, extra chairs were the norm, even if, they were in the farthest reaches of the room. Because they were always sat.
We all have our chairs. Seats we sit in at every meeting. Predictably.
On Monday, I sit in the same local seat, at the table. And I encourage my friends to sit “At the Table,” On Thursday, I sit in an aisle chair, second row from the front. On Friday, I sit in the same seat as well, first chair on the right of the chairperson. In case we have a newbie in the chair, and they need some moral support and maybe a little coaching from the sidelines.
The first five years of sobriety, I volunteered every week to go to the Help Line office, uptown to answer the Help Line. These days, with technology, you can answer the Help Line from the comfort of home, on a land line, or better yet, on your cell.
But I admit, after five years, I got tired with talking to the same three people, who would call, twenty, thirty times a day. At the office we had a log book, because they log calls, and repeat calls were becoming more than I could emotionally handle, because there are those who call, in the midst of drunkenness, or difficulty, and no matter how many times they call, and you direct them where to go, our work falls on deaf ears.
There are those unfortunates who just don’t want to get better.
And I admit, I grew tired of crazy drunkenness.
Imagine a woman who was in dire straits. Who could not hold it together. And finally one day, she panhandles a quarter to make the call to the help line. Forty five minutes later, the man on the other end, gives her the address of a meeting, on the other side of town from where she is when she made the first call.
He gives her the address and the route to take to get her there.
She hangs up the phone, having not written down what she was told, and she forgets.
Takes three steps to her right and panhandles another quarter to call again, because she forgot what the kind man had said to her the first time.
She calls a second time, profusely apologizing for her second call, and the reply from the other end was this …
It’s Ok, I have all day. I will give you all the help you need as long as you need it.
People who answer that help line most definitely, can change a life, with a simple moment of compassion and understanding.
That woman is now 15 years sober.
The miracle happened, because someone was on the other end of that Help Line.
The Help Line can save lives.