When I go to meetings, I love the point where the chairperson asks for topics to discuss. I’ve always seen that moment in my magical thinking process as my Higher Power’s way of interfering in my life. Here, Jeff, get your head around this.
Voices pop off around the room offering suggestions. Fear. Anger. Hope. Spirituality.
All interesting, I suppose. But, every once in a while, someone serves up a zinger. Trauma. Judgmentalism. Cult behaviour. Sexual abuse.
Wow. In one quick moment I feel the entire energy in the room shift. Tension crackles. Some snicker. Some groan. Some roll their eyes. Others look for support in others’ eyes because they know intuitively that this meeting will be different than the usual gratitude, God and Step One hour of power.
Maybe it’s just that, being a child of chaos, I still have that side of me that likes provocative topics. Watching people who are uncomfortable in feelings describe feelings, well, I perk up for those moments.
Not that there is anything wrong with those more common topics. In fact, in my early years of recovery I was thrilled to hear drunkalogues, gratitude lists, prayer techniques, etc. They all were new to me, and I wanted to be just like many of those who shared their stories on those topics.
But my thinking has changed a lot after thousands of meetings over three decades of abstinence. I’ve read all the literature. Been to counselors. Church. Workshops. Watched videos. Taken notes. I have an unquenchable thirst for more information, more approaches from more people. That’s why I still go to meetings. But that’s just me.
I realize there are some in the fellowships who are unable to get in touch with feelings. Many of us froze out feelings long ago, and are unsure how to reconnect. There are others who are triggered by things I cannot understand or relate to in any way. They are in the process of getting better, hopefully. But it is not up to me to decide who is healthy, who is not. I need to be aware that we are all on the path at our own pace.
Still, I believe that one of the greatest therapeutic advantages of going to meetings is listening to how others come to terms with different human challenges. Like trauma. Like judgementalism. Cult behaviour. Sexual abuse. I listen, try not to judge, and am often surprised by the depth of sharing. Powerful. Painful. Hopeful. Cathartic.
There really is something about the language of the heart when it is shared honestly, unscripted in the rooms. You can’t fake some things. If you have been through something that I also have, I will know it to be true somehow. That is the magic of the adage “One addict to another.”
Still, it is important for me, and I presume for you, to always remember that a meeting is not a therapy session. That there are no professionals keeping tabs on how I react, or offering me professional support.
Some of those who express opinions are a little out there, so to speak. Some of them seem pretty together, in fact. But you know what? All of them are merely where they are at on their road to recovery. Though everyone has a story and everyone has different experiences, maybe I shouldn’t take what they say too seriously. If I have questions about what they inadvertently advise (since we are not supposed to be giving advice in the rooms), maybe I should talk to my sponsor about what I heard if it is resonating.
My point is this: it is important to understand that not everything I hear in the rooms of recovery is true. I am not an idiot; I am an addict. I need to keep an open mind, be teachable but not gullible. Ask for help. Recovery is the University of Me. As I come out of the fog of addiction, I need to bring the body, and wait for the mind to follow. It usually does. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.