“Lookin’ for a home – gotta have a home…”
The Boll Weevil Song
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in.”
Robert Frost, The Death of the Hired Man
Most of us have heard that line from the famous poem in one form or another. It sounds great when you say it, but many of us addicts have discovered that it’s a cruel joke. Some of us were never let in, even when we lived there physically. Others of us were rejected – perhaps as a result of our addictions, or perhaps for other reasons. Some of us were ashamed, and rejected home and family because we imagined that we saw ourselves reflected in their eyes. Not a few of us left as soon as we could for other reasons. The last thing we want – and the thing we want most – is to go back, and we have no idea what might happen if we did.
Regardless of the circumstances, everyone needs a home of some sort. That’s especially true of addicts. We already suffer from shame, despair, abandonment, depression, remorse, and many of the other gifts that our addictions bring with them. The loss of control we experienced in our active addictions led us to violate our personal morals in many ways, often at the expense of our loved ones and others around us. We knew that most other people didn’t do the things we did, and we eventually decided that we were outcasts and worthless. Our addictions provided direction and purpose, and without them we believed that we were nothing.
And now we’re sober. In recovery, we begin to realize that our addiction was a liar: we’re not alone, not worthless. We’re able to begin to relate to people, and start to help others. We become part of our fellowship – a group of addicts helping each other. When we can’t think straight, others think for us; when we can’t talk, others can talk and we can listen and learn. If we have no hope, we can borrow the hope of those who have gone before us. If we have no faith, we can at least believe that they believe, and lean on them for support. With time, we become the steady ones on whom others can lean.
In the 12-step fellowships, we are literally loved into recovery. Together, we are more than the sum of our parts, and we can provide the nurturing, acceptance, support and love that all humans need to thrive.
Isn’t that pretty much what a home is?