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A true sense of belonging

Chris (Kilika), Hawaii

The 75th International Convention was an adventure from start to finish.

My husband (who is also in Alcoholics Anonymous) and I landed in Las Vegas, NV at 7:30 a.m. on the 28th of June after catching a “red eye” from Oahu the night before. We rented a car, went to our hotel for some much needed rest, and then headed out to San Antonio TX, on the morning of the July 29th. We were on our way and drove though some beautiful country in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, and arrived on the 1st of July in San Antonio just in time for the festivities to begin.

We settled in our motel, which was on Randolph Air Force based in Universal, Texas, about a 15 mile drive into downtown San Antonio and the Convention Center. On that first trek into the downtown area we observed people wandering around in groups, or individually wearing green and white badge holders that hung from their necks, and we knew we had arrived. 

The closer we came to the Convention Center, the bigger the crowd got. Hundreds upon hundreds of people were walking down the streets of down town San Antonio with those green and white badge holders. 

 It took us a while to find a parking garage and on our way through bumper to bumper traffic we noticed some one carrying a Hawaiian Flag and we felt right at home in the middle of the mainland. We waved at our friends saying that we will see them later, found a parking place and proceeded to register and get our very own badges. 

The woman volunteer at the registration counter welcomed us by saying aloha. I returned the gesture by giving her a touch of the Aloha Spirit, with a hug and kiss on the cheek. Then the three day journey began for us.

My sense of belonging was never quite complete when I was out there practicing active alcoholism. Once in a while, for a brief moment in time, I did feel a sense of belonging in God’s universe and at peace. As my disease progressed, the alcohol created more fear and disconnection and at the end of my drinking, those moments of feeling that I belonged anywhere were gone. 

It was within the fellowship (of the spirit) that I first started feeling and knowing a true sense of belonging. At the beginning that gave me hope for more. As I sat in meetings I started listening to people and I began to identify as they shared their pain and then the subsequent joys of sobriety. I desperately wanted what they had.

So needless to say, the most significant moments of his trek to the 75th International Convention were reinforced with this sense of belonging and connectedness. These experiences of being among (and a part of) throngs of other alcoholics, milling around from mostly every nation in the world, brought about such true happiness and peace that standing in line for the bathroom was an awesome event, as I was able to have a few conversations with people as if I knew them all my life. The waiting in line did not seem long at all. 

Another momentous experience was when I was standing in front of a restaurant on the River Walk area downtown and woman came up to me and handed me a pickle pin and stated “You can never be a cucumber again.” 

The sense of belonging continued as I sat in the Alamo Dome and gazed around me in awe at so many alcoholics that were gathered together in one huge, gigantic meeting. I loved sitting with my fellows from Hawaii at the Big Meeting on Saturday night (approximately 63,000 people) and again feeling a part of the big whole.

I guess you can say that the significant events in my life always occur when I remember where I came from and where I am today as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. One day at a time I give thanks to God for giving me a life free from alcohol.

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