From the June 2014 magazine.

A Free Woman

Because the AA volunteers who came looked at her—not through her—she was able to let the program lift her shame

I entered the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Purdy in 2007 a frightened, angry, bewildered, hopeless woman. I had committed a heinous crime, and my failure as a daughter, a mother and a human being permeated my existence.

When I began serving my time, I could see no end in sight. Survival was the best I could hope for. But then something happened. I began attending the AA meetings held here in the prison. I found the sense of comfort and belonging there that I had experienced in meetings on the outside. I met people from the free world who sacrificed their time to bring meetings in to those of us who were holding on for dear life in here. These people, these AA volunteers looked at me—not through me—and saw me not as my crime or my failure, but as a human being and a fellow alcoholic. And they kept coming back. That was enough to keep me coming back to the meetings. That was enough to get me to take a serious look inside the cover of our Big Book, and to start working the program. I had no sponsor, but I did have the AA volunteers who came in week after week. With their help, I was able to begin to apply the principles of the program (like honesty, humility and gratitude) to my life.

-- Melissa M.

Gig Harbor, Washington

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