Not getting the pat on the back I felt I deserved from my wife from graduating out of treatment was a blow to my ego. My children were frightened of their own father. I soon found myself sitting in a different quite world my first day out of treatment. I mean what was everyone supposed to say? Good Job Dad!! Looking back now and after sitting through an angry conversation with a heartbroken wife with about 3 months clean I came to find out some of the things I said and did the last 6 months I was using.
The things I said and did to them no one deserved. I was not in my right mind. No wonder there was and is a trail of damage there that I am dilligently repairing to this day. I sat on the couch in this new environment and 3 things came to mind:
I can either go get high, lose my mind, or go to a meeting.
I choose the latter.
My first experience with an NA meeting was nerve wracking as it is for most. It’s more important how I felt at my second meeting. It was there I would meet my sponsor, that I would feel like I belonged, that I fit in. Recovery seemed like it was a possibility. This was due to the people at the meeting maintaining an atmosphere of recovery for the newer member. The meeting was smaller than the 1st one I had went to. I still prefer to go to smaller meetings. I made that meeting my home group and it still is to this day. I believe today that when we ask each other, “What makes us stay?”, that we can really understand the meaning of empathy and have sense of those long lost values we speak of. It’s funny how that empathy was planted in the basement of a smelly church on a side of town I rarely went to. Now I can’t see myself wanting to be anyplace else.
I am not an advocate of long term, residential treatment. The idea of being a responsible, productive member is supposed to be from the start. Having worked with guys who have taken the long term treatment approach it seems to be the simple things that begin tripping them up. They are not prepared for the emotional upheavals that we can face in recovery and I have faced a few. It’s not as if it is anything anyone else hasn’t experienced, because I am not unique. It is just life events. Today I find life not difficult or easy. I find it more at times rewarding and frustrating.
I have lost a job and got a new one. I have lost loved one’s and relatives. I have watched addicts relapse and die. I have spoken in front of 10 and I have spoken in front of 150. I have used sex, money, and food to change the way I feel about myself. I have made mistakes in recovery and I have watched others grow. A spiritual awakening is not a single event, it is a lifetime worth of events. I went to meetings, I read literature, I got a sponsor, I did all the things that were suggested to me. One of the things I strive to do is be honest with myself. I told so many lies, to myself and others, that I had no real idea what the truth was and wasn’t anymore. Facing life that 1st year and realizing what I had done to myself, to others, was overwhelming. I knew that using would not change that, I came to that understanding by starting stepwork.
I am not going to talk a lot about the steps. Everyone’s Step process is different. Members often share too much about individual experiences with Stepwork. This can make the newcomer feel that they are missing something in the work they are putting in. Things are revealed as they need to be. I know I was frustrated after writing on a step that there wasn’t some magic cloud that appeared and gave me the relief I wanted when I wanted it. I will tell you the decisive changing point in my recovery was working the 4th and 5th Steps with an NA sponsor. At that point I had no reason to doubt any longer that this program would work for me if I just continue to do what has been suggested from the beginning. Sometimes we want to re-invent NA and it doesn’t need to be re-invented.
This simple program has been proving itself in the lives of thousands, so why do I need to “Tweak” it?
I got “Tricked” into service work. It started with a simple key to a church and went from there. Service work has been frustrating and rewarding. I try not and let it affect my ego. I mean I could intorduce myself as Bob D, Area Vice-Chair, Newsletter Chair, blah blah….All I am trying to do there is elevate my self-esteem through an NA service position. It is when my motives are genuine, when I see the bigger picture. It’s not for the addict who is here now, it is for the person who is yet to come. For the person that is here now, if they are involved, we are all involved in the common good. It is for the person that we have a moment of silence for at the end of meetings….The addict who still suffers who hasn’t found NA….maybe hasn’t even heard of us. That is what true service is for me.
Part III to come.