Some of my best friends are recovering alcoholics.
It just so happened that around the time I stopped drinking, the same thought was starting to float into the heads of some of the people with whom I had started drinking - and in a fairly short space of time, there was a little group of us who were in it together.
There was nothing of a formal nature to this - we would never meet with the specific purpose of sharing our experiences in recovery - yet it became a constant theme in our lives, just as the drinking itself had been.
And how could it not?
Whatever your problem happens to be, you need to understand that the people you will be meeting on the other side of it are roughly the same people you're meeting in the middle of it.
Somehow the illusion persists, that if you were to change your ways, you'd immediately be forced to hang out with the sort of people you'd usually be quite keen to avoid - pious folk, not your type at all.
But of course, that's not how it is. Of course the kind of people you'll be meeting are essentially your old drinking buddies, whose company you enjoyed when they were still going to the pub, and whose company you will probably enjoy even more, now that you've got this other thing in common.
Who the hell else do you think is going to AA, or NA, or GA? Members of the Legion of Mary looking for something to do in their spare time? Or the followers of Matt Talbot, deeply engaged in self-mortification?
No, it will be people like yourself - or at least it will be people like yourself in one crucial way. They may be very different in a lot of ways, but the way in which they are similar is the only way that counts here.
That feeling of fellowship can take you a long way down the road to freedom, and in the present circumstances, there will be people who will miss their meetings - especially those who'd be in the habit of going to a meeting every day, or even once a week.
It's the reliability of it that is so important, the fact that this resource is always there for you - and now that it isn't there for you in the traditional sense, it is important to maintain contact in other ways.
Which is happening, and working very well, with people having 'virtual' meetings or just talking on the phone - yes, from the earliest days in recovery, the fact that you'd have a few phone numbers of people who'd been there longer than yourself, was always deeply encouraging.
And for those who don't go to meetings anyway, or who'd only go there now and again, that need for contact is still always there.
I'm not sure how things would have worked out for me, if I hadn't been joined on the other side by those friends who'd also had enough of it - for a start, it meant that we could still be friends without one of us being on a different planet most of the time.
Would I ever have seen them again in any meaningful sense if they had gone on living in the pub, or other such places of low resort to which I wouldn't be going for obvious reasons? Sad to say, I kinda doubt it - we would just have become a pain in the ass to each other, or worse.
But the way it worked out, it was more like we'd been members of a football team who were retiring because our time had clearly come.
Having been drinking buddies for a long time, it seemed to make perfect sense that we could now be non-drinking buddies. With this extra layer of enjoyment which comes from the knowledge that we must have dodged a fair few bullets along the way, just to be in one piece.
Just to be here.
Sunday Indo Life Magazine