“Congratulations! Where are you celebrating?”
Just a few days ago, I quietly acknowledged my two year sober anniversary with a “congrats” from my partner and a few Facebook posts from close friends who are also in recovery. Then I got the message that I had been dreading.
Until recently, I had attended 12 step meetings regularly. At the end of this month, multiple groups will hold celebration meetings for folks that share a July sobriety date. While most people celebrate at their home group meetings, I don’t have one so I’ll pick a group to attend on celebration night.
Here’s the problem: I don’t feel like celebrating.
Not even a little bit. That excitement I had before, to pick up my chip and share, just isn’t there. I don’t feel like my story of recovery is valid, because my program doesn’t look like how it’s outlined in the literature. I go to counseling regularly with a therapist that is trained in substance abuse, and I’m feeling really good about my personal growth and program that I work.
I absolutely believe in the life-changing experiences that people have had working the steps and having a sponsor, but that isn’t my program right now. I have not done step work, I don’t have a sponsor, and my attendance at meetings recently has been slim. A desire to stop drinking is the only requirement, but I’ve heard numerous cliches and things like; when attendance dwindles that person is separating from the herd and is now vulnerable to relapse.
I’m hurt by these comments and I’m discouraged by the behavior of people at meetings. Personally, I am struggling to identify with those who claim to live by the principles they promote. Additionally, I often hear judgemental and downright cruel things said about other members, and it’s taken the wind out of my sails. I’m not interested in the drama and the gossip of who’s working the program and who’s not.
I’m here for support in my recovery and to be a support to those who want it. I am fearful that if I celebrate at the 12-step meeting, I’ll feel it necessary to share that my program isn’t typical, and I will be judged because of it. I don’t want anyone to think that I am bashing the program, but there are other recovery options out there and, for some, they work just as well (if not better) than 12 step meetings.
Twelve-step meetings have saved my butt, and I know that. There are some really good people in the program. Those I have been able to connect with have helped me stay accountable and I rely on the experience and suggestions from these other women as part of my recovery every day. Outside of the halls, I choose to discuss my recovery openly, even on social media. I have had random people contact me, knowing that I’m open about it and because of that, I have had the privilege and joy of accompanying new people to their first meetings and watching them grow in their own sobriety.
I was reminded recently that we don’t really celebrate for us, we do it to show other people that recovery is possible. I want anyone who may be questioning whether or not they can maintain sobriety to know that we absolutely can and do recover. If there is someone in the halls that needs to hear what I say, I do want to be there.
Now, how do I find the courage and motivation to get up there and tell the truth?
This amazing post was submitted by Amanda and was originally posted in July 2017.