Perhaps you’ve been on the fence about attending your first AA, NA or OA meeting. There really is no requirement to join other than a desire to stop using your drug of choice. Or perhaps you’re one of those who were once active in the program but have somehow stopped going to meetings. To you we say, “come on back and we will welcome you with open arms”. Of course some of you will think to yourselves that you no longer need to attend meetings because you know longer drink or drug. To this we can respond with a simple test. If you’ve gone through the day without at least one resentment than maybe you can do without a meeting today. For the rest of you who after an honest self inventory discover those resentments we suggest you make it back to a meeting today or tonight. We can almost guarantee you will feel better after sharing what is on your mind. You might also discover that others are going through the same issues as you and can be a source of both support and help. Of one thing we can guarantee. The coffee will be plentiful, hot and strong.
Personal Reflection: is there something on my mind I need to share at a meeting today?
When we first entered the program we burned with a fire of commitment. We just loved going to meetings. It was so liberating being able to share our deepest feelings openly with the group. Learning that we were not unique was also very helpful. Listening to others and identifying deeply was validating for us. Physically we could feel our health improving on a daily basis. As we immersed ourselves in the program we created an expanding social network of friends. Our relationship with our sponsor evolved into something that we tapped into on a daily basis.
Over time, much of that initial pink cloud began to wear off. As we reintegrated ourselves back into our lives, more and more distractions arose. Obligations of work and family began to seep in. Meetings began to be skipped. Calls to our sponsor went unmade. Hopefully at this point our sponsor had a heart to heart with us. Basically he or she told us that our sobriety had to come first. Experience of countless others who came before us had shown this to be true. When people said they had a daily reprieve, this was only because they had worked their program that day. If we didn’t keep our sobriety our priority, it would in short order be lost.
Personal Reflection: Do I keep my sobriety first?
Everything in this world is in a state of change. Millions of cells in your body are being replaced as you read this. The weather of course varies from day to day and even from moment to moment. Aging is perhaps one of the greatest signposts of change.
Yet, as human beings we often grapple with change. This is particularly evident within our emotional world. Many of us struggle with negative emotions which have dogged us since we were children. That temper tantrum of yesteryear, manifests as road rage today. Perhaps the average person can get away without making changes to some of those negative attributes. Those of us who are addicts or alcoholics can not afford the luxury of complacency. We need to be diligent in identifying our character defects. These very same defects of character, if left unattended will eventually cause us to go out. That is why we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, to help identify where work needs to take place.. There is also a recognition that left to our own devices; changing or removing our shortcomings is practically impossible. It is for this reason that we call upon our Higher Power on a constant basis to remove those defects of character.
Personal Reflection: How have I changed in recovery?
It took courage for us to enter that AA or NA or OA meeting for the first time. Walking down the steps to the meeting we had the impulse to turn around, but we didn’t. Fighting that initial fear was the beginning of our recovery journey. As we went through the steps, we exhibited courage as well. Admitting to our character defects was a daunting process. Making amends to others tapped into inner strength.
With all that said, somewhere along the way, perhaps we became a little too complacent. We began to become very comfortable with the status quo. Our lives had certainly gotten better, yet on some level we had become stuck in a type of static limbo. Our lives had improved greatly but growth had ceased. It was only when we began to take risks again that our evolvement was refueled. We learned that there was a big difference between the “risky behavior” of our past vs taking risks that could provide movement forward in our journey of recovery. Though it might be a bit uncomfortable, pushing through fear of people, places or things could yield big dividends.
Personal Reflection: Have I become stuck in a comfortable place?
At times it’s very confusing when we encounter someone who had a slip. It’s understandable when a relative newcomer goes out. We congratulate him or her for coming back into the rooms and then move on to the next order of business. What is more startling is when a person with a lot of time picks up their drink or drug of choice. It seems to be almost beyond explanation. Here is someone; that went to hundreds and perhaps thousands of meetings. They often sponsored other members in the program. Step work was a part of their lives. Yet with all that; they had a slip. Upon closer examination, we often find that all of their program practices were past tense in nature. They used to make a lot of meetings; they used to call their sponsor, they used to work the steps on a daily basis. Somewhere along the way their sobriety began to take a backseat to other aspects of their life. What they failed to realize that by keeping their sobriety front and center other aspects of their life would have become more manageable. When they allowed the daily viscitudes of life to push aside their program, loss of sobriety soon followed.
Daily Reflection: Have I allowed sobriety to lose some of its priority?
At a meeting recently, a fellow raised his hand and said I have one day back. Usually this isn’t something out of the ordinary. There are those who are chronic relapsers. They keep going out after a few days, weeks or months of sobriety. Usually they want to do it their way. In their arrogance they think they know better than people with years and often decades of sobriety. They refuse to listen to the advice of others with a lot more time and experience. This invariably leads to a slip and their having one day back.
In the case of the fellow who raised his hand, the scenario was quite different. He had 1 day back, but his slip was after 22 years of sobriety. He had a sponsor, sponsees, and a home group. What happened was that he had gotten very complacent. He had forgotten that we work the program one day at a time. Because he had so many years of sobriety he decided to cut back on meetings, and do much less program work. He forgot that having a lot of time was no guarantee for the present day. His failure to be emotionally and spiritually fit every day led to his giving in to his addiction.
Personal Reflection: How do I keep it green?