I was at a meeting this evening that bothered me a lot. Several of the members, most of them relative newcomers, including a couple with only two or three months, commented in their sharing about what kinds of wine they used to enjoy with what dishes, each succeeding one remarking about their preferences and then going on to share about how much they valued their recovery.
Another guy shared about how much he valued his two months, which he’d struggled so long to get, then proceeded to comment at some length about how great it was to be going to parties, fraternal organizations, etc., where people are drinking and “not have the urge to drink.” He talked for about three or four minutes in that vein, all the time shaking visibly. It was scary!
I call this Romancing the Drink, or Romancing the Drug. People in recovery DO NOT NEED to be talking about how much they enjoyed drinking, nor do they need to be hanging out with drinkers — certainly not in early recovery. I’m twenty years sober, and I don’t hang out with people who are drinking. Why? I find them embarrassing, because they remind me of how I used to act. But it’s different when you’ve thoroughly learned new ways of behaving. Early on, being around people who are doing what we used to do is liable to seem so familiar and comfortable that we just naturally slide back into doing it, and end up getting what we got.
Another thing that bothered me was that the old timers in the meeting did nothing. I don’t mean that they should have confronted these folks, but there are ways to redirect a meeting when you share, so that the talk returns to the solution, rather than the problem. That didn’t happen. I’m not one of those mystical pollyannas who believes that “everything in a meeting happens for a reason,” or that “whatever is said in a meeting, someone needed to hear.” That’s simply New Age b.s. Meetings are so that newcomers can learn how to stay sober and recover, and so that old timers can help them learn, and when the folks with the skills abdicate their responsibility, I have a real problem with it.
After a while I shared that I found in early recovery that I needed to avoid my old ways of doing things, both in deed and in association, because I didn’t have the new habits thoroughly in place yet. I mentioned a few things about how long it takes for our brains and bodies to repair themselves, and how vulnerable we are until we are well on the way to physical and emotional recovery.
I don’t know if I did any good or not. I firmly expect to go back to that meeting after the holidays and find some folks with hangdog looks picking up white chips.
Or not there at all.