(Re)Finding Recovery on the Road

Every now and then I get tired of 12 Step World.

It might be depression getting to me, or laziness, or more often I start putting personalities ahead of principles. “I don’t want to go to that meeting, because I’m tired of those people.” A good way to stop going to meetings for a while, or longer.

Problem is, I’ve heard a lot of stories that started out with “I quit going to meetings,” and those stories don’t end well. So when I quit going to meetings for a while, alarm bells start going off in my head. Such has been the case lately. I’ve been finding reasons to not go to meetings.

So when my sweetie and I went on a vacation recently, to a tiny little town in the Bahamas, we were thrilled to walk by the library one day and see a sign like this:

First, we got excited because we found recovery meetings in this far-away place. Then we realized we’d be in town for a couple meetings, so we swore to hit ‘em up. Then, when we got there, the most amazing thing happened: I found recovery all over again!

Here were people I didn’t know, who drank and used just like I did, who were sober, and they had stories I hadn’t heard before. My self-centered, fearful mind had no material to work on them with, so I was free to just sit there and listen, and to hear all the same old truths as if I’d never heard them again. I was able to remember that the program works for all who work it!

Most of all, I heard people dealing with the same stuff I’m dealing with, and they heard the same from me, so I came away feeling supported, loved, understood, all of the things we get from meetings – if that’s what we’re open to.

Coming home and going to my regular meetings, I’ve seen some of that freshness sticking around. And then I’ve seen it fade. And then I was getting back into the same old feelings about “these people” and “this lack of recovery” and “this meeting.”

Asking the Universe (and my sweetie) for a solution, I had a thought come to me: I live in a big city; why not go to some meetings where I don’t know anybody?

Then one day an old sponsee called to say he’d just seen his first sponsee go through all 12 steps, and he wanted to thank me for my help and support. And I remembered that he goes to a pretty cool meeting and is really anchored in the program. He didn’t lay a trip on me at all about my lack of meetings lately, and in fact was just happy to hear I was aware of it and looking to re-connect.

And then I ran into an old recovery buddy who told me he was taking 15 years this week at his home group – a conveniently located meeting to me, which I’ve been meaning to check out, but which I haven’t because … oh, I don’t know, it’s in another fellowship, it’s big, it’s unknown, it’s whatever. Just fear.

So a few lessons have come back to me.

  1. I can go to the old meetings where there isn’t so much recovery, as an act of service, but only if I’m spiritually fit. Which means ….
  2. I still need a meeting.
  3. I still (will always) have work to do.
  4. We all go through times like this, but nothing is without beginning and end.
  5. When I do that work, meetings “come alive” for me again.
  6. As soon as I start to get an inkling of a new direction that feels right, the Universe will start to line things up for me, as a confirmation that I’m on the right path. These two old friends, and that meeting in the Bahamas, were just that.

My sponsor used to always say, of difficult times, “It’d be a shame to go through all that misery and not learn something.” I have been going through “some stuff” lately, and what I learned is that (A) when the time gets tough, right now my response is to get away from spiritual work and into my head, and (B) the base of all solutions always lies in the spiritual realm.

So I thank my friends for their understanding, my sweetie for the support, those folks in the Bahamas for keeping that meeting going, and the Universe for always showing me the Way.

Thanks for reading.

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