This little piece is dedicated to everyone who is relatively new in recovery. Now, I think this is something that can be defined in a number of different ways: In twelve step recovery, which I am a proud member of
(although I will not announce publicly which one I am affiliated with) it is often announced in meetings, “Are there any newcomers with 29 days or less of sobriety who would care to introduce themselves?” I can recall how badly, as I slobbered and shook through my first 30 days, how much I wanted one of those little coins that said “30 days of sobriety” on it, and then I was no longer a newcomer! Or, so I thought.
All that really meant was that I no longer had to stand up. I was a newcomer for not only my first 30, 60, and 90 days. I was a newcomer at 6 months, 9 months, one year and beyond. The only thing that has changed is that I have certainly grown a lot and changed. But the process of my own recovery continues to evolve, and that’s the beauty of it so long as I keep an open mind. As we grow in recovery we see in the newcomer the insanity that we too possessed, and yes, we all have fucking insane ideas and behavior. Whoever may be reading this, if you’re in recovery and you disagree, I’m certain you don’t qualify for the program of recovery! We are all crazy when we are brand new, and yes, some are sicker than others, and I know I was off the rails with my sickness, my thought process, and the truth is: my brain was broken.
My sponsor told me this, “You’re so sick you will be a newcomer for your first 20 years so you had better stick around here.” We laugh about that to this day, and I love him for saying it, because he didn’t say it in a shitty way, it was his way of saying, “You really need to follow what we do around here and keep that open mind, because it might just save your life.”
One of the most dangerous things for all of us, and it’s proven time and time again is “our own ideas.” I look at recovery/sobriety as boot camp for the mind, body, and spirit: most importantly the mind. Don’t get me started on all these young dudes who think 24 Hour Fitness is going to save their life, show the world on Instagram how good they look and brag they are sober, and fail to work on their insides. These guys come and go like a bad sale at the mall. Don’t get me wrong, getting physical is a huge part of recovery, and I make it a part of my own. However, make no mistake, going to the fucking gym and trying to become the supermodel for Cross Fit USA isn’t going to save my life. Going to meetings, helping others, and working the steps diligently with someone who knows what they are doing, and has quality sobriety, is going to set the stage for me to build my own foundation for my recovery, and it will for you too!
Another great idea I see all the time is, “I’ve got to score the JOB.” Yeah, because it’s that paycheck that might just keep you clean and sober. We all need to support ourselves, unless of course mom and dad are paving the way, and I see way too much of that (note to the enabling mom and dad: if your son or daughter is capable of working it’s time for them to start fucking working. You’re not helping them, you’re hurting them in the long run. Working helps to build their self esteem, your enabling only fuels their issues of entitlement. Don’t believe me? Just keep on fueling this beast, and see the type of growth in your loved one…which won’t be very much. If you’re coming here for sugar coating, you’ve got the wrong blog). Okay, back to the “big job”, so Billy gets his rocking job and now he’s working his ass off and his meetings go down from 7-10 a week (which was keeping him sober, happy and safe), down to 1-2 a week and Billy is now fucking insane, back to hanging out with his boy “Justin” who still whiffs cocaine on weekends and sips tequila for fun…three weeks of hanging out with Justin after work, and next thing you know, Billy just has to join Justin for some cocaine and tequila….the fuse is lit, and we don’t see Billy at meetings…and maybe, never again.
Last, but not least, and this is my favorite one….the girl. I always love it when I see a new guy, and he says, “I can’t make it to the meeting because I have plans with my girlfriend.” You know, because the guy is already in love. Make no mistake, 99% of all relationships that people get involved in when new in recovery never work out, why? Because you don’t even know who the fuck you are yet. Oh, and yes, I made this mistake myself when I was about 8 or 9 months sober. But what I didn’t do, is blow off meetings, I never did that, I sure as hell made the mistake of dating, and I paid a major emotional price of which I was ill equipped to handle. The only blessing for me was that I had a strong group of men around me, and I was going to 15 to 18 meetings a week in my first year, sometimes more.
I received no sympathy from any of the men in my group. What I got from them was, “I told you so, and your ideas suck.” I broke it down to, I know nothing, not only did I know nothing about getting sober or staying sober, but I sure as hell didn’t know a thing about life or how to manage it. Emotionally, I was about 12 or 13. And that’s another neat little thing I get to share with you who are reading this who are new in recovery: yes, you are all immature on some level. The good news, we all are. That’s the beauty of it, is that we have all been through the growth phase, and I know I am still growing as I am 10+ years sober. There’s no test that says, “You’ve made it man, you have reached the maximum emotional growth capacity, you’re a total success in life.” I can say this, there’s a great deal of truth, that if you’re working a strong program of recovery that something really does shift inside of you after 5 years. I thought it was absolute bullshit, but I am the slow guy, I think for me it happened after about year 7….so get comfortable with being uncomfortable if you’re new in recovery, and I am just like you for I have been there. And not only do I never want to forget what it was like being new, I also know that you teach me as well, everyone teaches me, whether you have one day of sobriety, or 50 years, all of you are my teachers…..Z