At most meetings of anonymous fellowships we have “go arounds”, where attendees identify themselves and assure one another that they are qualified to be present. We hear “My name is Eddie, and I’m an alcoholic,” or “My name is Freida, and I’m addicted to gambling,” or “I’m Bill, in recovery from sex addiction,” or “I’m Larry, and I’m qualified to be here.”
Only Bill claims to be in recovery, and yet on closer inspection it may turn out that he’s merely attending meetings, while Larry — whose only claim is that he’s qualified to be here — may, indeed, be truly “in” recovery.
What does it mean, to be in recovery? Surely it means more than just attending meetings. Does it begin with sharing? Getting phone numbers? Reading about recovery? Socializing after meetings? Using the phone numbers? Listening to the experience, strength and hope of our peers? Getting a sponsor?
All of those things are important, and making them into habits is a critical part of developing a support network and getting help through the rough times. However, all twelve-step programs are action programs, and recovery — real recovery — begins when we start to take real action. As Joe C says,
“Lasting recovery comes from action — writing, meditating, altering our behaviors and systematically making amends. This is where lasting change comes from.”
If we don’t experience lasting change, we are not recovering. Change is scary, it requires work. It’s hard, frustrating sometimes. Often the effort seems endless, but it only gets harder the longer we think about it. “Action dispels fear and brings integrity to our intentions.” (Joe C. again) Once we get going, we often wonder what we were afraid of, but to begin with we all seem to experience that reluctance to really get on with it.
We have 12 steps that have been designed and refined over the past 80 years to assist us in creating the changes we need. If we’re not into the steps, there are other action programs that can help us accomplish the same things. But we have to decide to do the work, find a sponsor who will advise us and shove us (sometimes) in the right direction. We have to knuckle down and do the work in order to really recover.
And we need to remember the old AA joke:
Three frogs sat on a log. One made a decision to jump off. Three frogs sat on a log.
Give it time………….Ba da Boom!