I went to a meeting today that I don’t normally attend, but I am so glad that I did – as always. Going to meeting that are out of my normal routine mean that I get to meet and hear people I wouldn’t normally come across.
The share told their story and mentioned that they didn’t have a sponsor, nor have they done the steps. Normally in AA this is sacrilege and considered a road to relapse but this individual has been sober for 3 years and by all appearances seems to be happy and content in their world. Right after this was said I could feel the sharp intake of breath in room and an air of disapproval.
This got me thinking; is there a right way or wrong way of getting and staying sober? I have heard a lot of opinions in and about AA but the reality is we all still doing it our own way. I have also known people to leave AA but continue to grown and stay sober. If we are to judge the people who do not follow the programme by the letter of the law then surely that makes us judgemental.
I do have a sponsor and could honestly not do any of this life stuff without her, she is my confident and has been through a lot of similar experiences and is an incredible support to me. There are some elements I struggle with including the God bit and people with incredibly strong opinions. I also suspect that a lot of people have opinions on all this stuff and that is sort of the point – we are all different but have ended up in the same place seeking help so some of it I let go over my head in order to see all the good I ignore (my perception) of the bad. I have never yet met anyone in the fellowship who wanted me to relapse or fail – the intentions are always to help.
There also a lot of opinions on how to get through recovery, there is tough love, just being tough or being loving. Again neither is right or wrong, it’s about what works for you. If you chose to work directly with someone (a sponsor) then make sure it is someone you can talk to and trust. You don’t have to tell everyone everything in the meetings but you should have that one person that you can confide in, and have the ability to be honest; the only way to get the hurt out is to face it.
As such here are my survival tips if you are struggling with AA;
- We are all alcoholics that are only sober today; length of sobriety is not a key to success so don’t judge/compare yourself on others sobriety.
- GOD is just a word, how you chose to translate that is up to you. Dont let a word or blame a word stopping you doing what you need to do.
- Prayers (I believe) are mainly to redirect my thinking and retrain my brain to see the good over the bad.
- I do a lot of meetings, but then I don’t have a support network around me outside of AA. I have no family nearby and am single so AA fills all those voids for me.
- Be kind to yourself. I am the worlds worst for seeing the bad in everything I do, if you do the next right thing you can’t be angry with yourself. If you are not sure then don’t do it.
Please remember however, all of this is just my opinion and what works for me. Be true to yourself and find your own journey – in the meantime if you have to fake it to make it that’s fine too.