Though I didn’t grasp the concept of recovery in the beginning, I’ve been in the rooms of 12 Step Fellowships for years. With all these indescribable and influential recovering addicts and alcoholics that I have come across in this span of time, I have gained some knowledge that I could use for the rest of my life, even in situations that don’t pertain specifically or literally to the disease of addiction.
Learned In The Rooms
1. HOPE stands for Hold On, Pain Ends.
I remember my first official sponsor teaching me this. Throughout the course of my recovery, it became far more prevalent than I would have ever originally anticipated. With each situation that had chaotically eradicated its way into my life, it was demonstrated to me that the distress will eventually ease down, even when it feels like it won’t. When I would feel the absolute worst and didn’t know what else to do, I would remind myself of this acronym by reciting to myself, “Hold on, just a little bit longer.” It held the same meaning as the similar phrase, “Just for today,” which entailed focusing on just getting through the present day and only worrying about the rest of time when it comes.
2. Certain people may enter my life for a limited amount of time, but this will not change the fact that they taught me what I needed exactly when I needed it.
It would be tough for me to forget the memory of when I heard the last part of this. My first official sponsor was explaining to me that she had three pertinent, major sponsors throughout the course of her long-term recovery. She said she was grateful for each of them because they were exactly what she needed exactly when she needed them. I didn’t know it in the moment, but this would prove to be the case between her and I. I will always remain grateful for everything this woman has done for me, as there is such an admiration for her to which I don’t believe I could ever fully express to its precise great extent. In any case, this is a lesson I have had to keep on learning because when I get close to people, I don’t want to ever think that they will exit my life. When this continued to happen, the message sunk in and it occurred to me that taking people hostage – metaphorically of course – does not equate to friendship. People come and people go. However, when they are there, lessons can be learned during the relationship that remain kept and cherished.
3. If something works for someone else, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work for me.
Oh, did I become accustomed to believing that I was so innately unique that this program of recovery surely just would not work for me despite it working for others? It definitely felt like that sometimes, but another sponsor would always bring this point up to me. Typically, if someone has the capability to work on something and achieve it, then my attempt in doing the same should prove to have the same successful potential.
4. The best way to get out of my own thoughts is to focus on someone else who is struggling.
I can’t even express the amount of times that this has been said to me by several sober supports. Being an addict, I definitely possessed the tendency to get stuck inside my own head on a regular basis. This quickly led me to feel inevitable sorrow and frustration, which thankfully could truly be reversed by supporting someone else. It’s kind of like the phrase, “Helping you helps me.”
5. Genuine closeness with a friend is based on the quality of the relationship, not the length of it.
It baffles me to this day that my first official sponsor knew me for barely but a single month, and yet, she came to visit me when I was in the hospital every single day over the course of a full five-weeks, without fail. Even when I wasn’t able to communicate, she was present in support of my health and bonded with my family, all of whom she had never met. She even went as far as to give me a sentimental artifact of her deceased mother’s. To say that my former sponsor and I had an undeniable bond is an absolute understatement. The love and compassion felt from this original stranger who cared for my overall well-being astonishes me to this day. The length of a friendship plays no true part in the depth it may possess, as I learned from my previous sponsor.
6. I don’t have to deal with a problem on my own as long as I reach out to others for support.
This has been told to me by a significant amount of people as well, but sometimes I still don’t reach out. Why? Because in my stubbornness, sometimes I wrongly believe I should be able to handle matters on my own or sit in my self-pity party a little longer, and I know that reaching out works. I always feel better when I contact someone who knows what I’m going through. I never fail to receive an important message by turning to supports.
7. Self-worth should not be based off another person’s opinion.
Up until a certain point in my recovery, my entire life I either ignored this lesson or never knew this to be true. I always let other people, especially the ones I cared about most, determine my self-worth. If people weren’t feeling how I wanted them to feel towards me, then, in my mind, it must have been because something was wrong with me. I was always trying to change myself to control how others thought of me, when that should have never actually mattered or been a priority to me. The only thing that had to change were my own character defects and the opinion I had of myself.
8. I am NOT alone.
Learning that I am indeed not alone in suffering and recovering from this disease has taken a tremendous weight off my shoulders. From meeting other recovering addicts and listening to their shares, I have heard portions of my own story, and sometimes I even hear my exact story. I always keep in mind the importance of identifying with feelings, versus comparing. After all, recovery is not about what I am addicted to; it’s about the feelings that I want to shut off and control by resorting to addictive behaviors, like taking drugs and alcohol. Hearing feelings that others felt and nodding my head in response because I felt those same feelings too had created a common ground for me. I came to the conclusion that I was not crazy and I no longer had to live by the idea that it was me against the world.
9. True gratitude.
I can recall a time when I wasn’t sure about recovery, but seeing the light inside of these recovering individuals brought a sense of hope to me that had previously never before been seen. I wanted what they had and was willing to go to any length to get it. Genuine gratitude came with that when I was able to get to a far greater mental state than I had ever been in before. My gratitude was expressed for all different areas in my life, but mostly for my recovery because without that, I would have nothing else.
10. I can pass on the same message that was passed to me.
It was a crazy thought to think that I would be helping someone overcome their own struggles, but that’s what recovery is all about. It’s a beautiful thing to think that I can only keep what I have by giving it away.
Written By: Watershed LauraTags: addiction recovery, Recovery, Recovery Blogs