29 Nov The value of connecting & working with others in recovery
I’ll always remember my very first day in recovery, and it’s not because it’s the first full day I’d gone without a drink or a drug in maybe a decade (because it probably was). It’s because I was welcomed with open arms, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t feel like I was cursed with terminal uniqueness.
My first real encounter with recovery was through a twelve-step program, but I don’t advocate one recovery program over another. I think the twelve steps are amazing, I think recovery centers are awesome, I think programs like SMART Recovery are wonderful, and I think that a combination of more than one can be fantastic. So, while it doesn’t necessarily matter HOW we get sober, I do think that it’s important to connect with others who are on a similar recovery journey to our own.
Having a solid support network in recovery has been a massive contributing factor to my long-term sobriety and I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. Having said this, it’s often noted that we can’t keep what we have without giving it away. This, at least, is one of the cornerstones of the twelve steps and I think it’s applicable to any long-term recovery program.
For me, personally, my own recovery and peace of mind are partly dependent on me being of service in some way. Preferably, this involves helping other addicts or alcoholics, and for nothing in return. When I first got sober, help was so freely given to me and it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around how my life would look if I didn’t bring some value back into my recovery community.
Unless we get sober in a bubble, we lean on one another and we have what I like to call this sort of bottomless communal recovery karma bank that we all contribute to. At least, this is how it feels within my own recovery community and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When we’re stuck in our own heads, fixating and obsessing over stuff that doesn’t need to be fixated and obsessed over, it can be profoundly beneficial to go help someone else. For me, helping another addict or alcoholic who might be going through a hard time gives me the opportunity to get out of my own way when my thinking gets the better of me. It reminds me that I’m not the one carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and it instantly provides me with the headspace to shift my perspective.
As addicts, alcoholics, and people with other process addictions or compulsions, our problems tend to boil down to how we perceive the world. If we stay stuck in our world and don’t step outside of our own little bubbles, which are often self-created prisons, then we have no outside context or connection to the real world.
For example, if I’m home alone in tears because I made a small mistake when I filed my taxes, it’s easy for me to convince myself that I’m a complete and utter failure with zero life skills. And, it’s incredible how quickly I can spin out completely with this one idea as the catalyst. I can turn a minor human error into a mountain of problems which then snowball into worse problems. This kind of thinking, ultimately, could lead to a relapse, but I try not to test fate and let things get to this point.
On the other hand, if I’m always keeping the line of communication open between myself and my fellows in recovery, then my mind is far less likely to sabotage me. And, if this line of communication involves me helping someone else, even better. My perspective is always so much more clear when it comes to other people’s problems, particularly other addicts, than when it comes to my own. Go figure. And, it reminds me that we’re all not that different. What a beautiful thing to be able to lean on a community full of people who think just like I do? There’s so much power in this.
Working with others not only keeps me sober, but it reminds me that I’m alive and that I’m an active member of the human race. I know this might sound a bit extreme or even cliché, but it’s true. When I’m IN my head, I’m OUT of the world. I’m just not connected to anything or anyone, and I feel like no one in the world could ever understand how I feel or what I’m going through, which is quite selfish, actually. Whereas, when I’m out participating in life, being of service when and where I can, and connecting with others, I’m present and ready to face whatever life throws my way. Plus, it just feels good.
The next time you find yourself worrying, obsessing, feeling self-pity, anger, jealousy, or any of the other icky emotions that arise when you get stuck in self, try reaching out to a fellow in recovery. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a recovery program have this incredible gift of connection. We share many common bonds, but most of all, we share the path of recovery which is a journey that only we can understand. Please remember how beautifully powerful this is, and take full advantage.
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If you or someone you know and love is struggling to get sober or stay clean, Kembali Recovery Center can help. Contact us today to speak with one of our counselors or to find out more about our programs and upcoming intake dates.
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