I read something about a recovery fellowship and how its response to newcomers ought to be one of inclusiveness…or something like that.
Keeping in mind the sorry condition of most of us when we finally crawl into a meeting, it is important that we (who have been recovering for a bit) pass along the love and acceptance that we were greeted with as Newbies.
There’s a principle among the Anonymous rooms about “attraction rather than promotion”. For many of us, this is  a really confusing concept in the beginning. “How are people ever going to find help if nobody’s telling them??!”
I found the answer, actually, even before I knew the question. I learned of Recovery from my Dad. Not from him telling me anything more than (basically) “I’ve found the answer to why I was so miserable, and I am convinced that if I follow the suggestions they’re giving me, I can have what they have…”, because he probably knew I wasn’t going to listen, had he tried to sell me what he’d discovered.
What he did was just LIVE IT. The idea of my Dad finding happiness, being semi-lucid (I never would have thought sanity was a possibility!), feeling things other than rage and regret…this image is the thing that attracted me.

So, if members of the Anonymous society aren’t supposed to tell folks, then how will hurting people ever find freedom from their addictions?
Well, long before Dad had even tasted a beer, the medical professionals had been hearing about some of their HOPELESS patients finding hope and happiness. Doctors had never been able to cure people with addictions, so they had been getting sent off somewhere away from polite society to be cared for kept isolated, (or with the mentally ill, whom were also considered helpless and hopeless) until they died. Whereas in this generation, we have been sent to prisons, in the old days we were shipped off to the insane asylum. The results being pretty much the same.


Jails, institutions, and death

SO, when one of these patients returned from a certain death sentence, it was really big news, at least to the families and the Dr.s who absolutely had never expected to see him again, and here he was, clean, clear-eyed, and rational. I’m thinking that in a small town, news would spread pretty quickly. That would be “attraction rather than promotion”. The witnesses of the miracle were more or less shouting from the rooftops about what they were seeing. The actual recovering person just went about his business: carrying the message of hope to the still-suffering alcoholic/addict, having been shown the value of one addict helping another: it kept him from picking up.
Somehow, this lead me to thinking about the Spirit I found in the meetings. Some like to say that there’s a “spiritual part” to this Recovery program, but the whole thing is, in fact, spiritual. When I began attending meetings, I was truly blown away by the smiles, greetings, acceptance, kindness, and even brotherly love that I found there. I mean, for cryin out loud! The last thing I heard there every freakin time was “Keep coming back!”
After a while I realized that these meetings were my church. The things I was learning about how to change from the beast I’d become into the woman I was made to be, I learned from a bunch of (ex)drunks!!
Sadly, no church had ever given me the kind of hope, shown me practical ways to stop acting on my destructive impulses, or been there in word AND DEED when I did screw up. I could go on about the stark contrasts between the two groups, but I think you can see my point.
Rarely had I walked out of a religious institution with anything that was going to help the hurting, NOW, wherever they were in their misery. Yet every time I left a meeting of (ex) alcoholics/addicts, I had a clearer understanding of what was going to help me NOW to stop hurting myself and everyone around me. My behaviors, as they gradually shifted, caused people to wonder what was making the difference.
REAL, SPIRITUAL Love is attractive. Go figure.

Taking a chance on recovery being what it looks like is better than staying in the chaos and grief between your ears. The payoff for grabbing ahold of the hand of a recovering person who is reaching down to help you up…is beyond all belief. Just ask someone who’s working at it.

It was impressed upon me from the start that I was in a “spiritual, not religious” fellowship. Hm. That works for me, and millions of people just like me, who never thought they’d be able to live a genuinely happy life.
“Putting the plug in the jug” and/or losing the pipe is only the beginning.

I’m convinced that my Higher Power, whom I know as Christ, was a Spiritual Individual. Religious folk hated Him. That tells me that I’m in the right place, as I follow Him.

Don’t believe me? Just watch! πŸ˜‰


8 responses to ““Attraction”

  1. Welcome to the group…and I sincerely mean that. My recovery will be lifelong and spiritual too. I’m learning that mental illness is a stigma that can only be erased by those who are affected. When we raise up our voices, admitting the shame and hurt that keeps us caged, we are letting go of a piece of our bondage. When others in a likewise situation see our words, they find a footpath to follow.

    Thank you for your wonderful story, and it is wonderful! The ugly and sad parts are not where you led yourself from, but where God carried you when you accepted his help. He placed you down gently and gave you the words that you share here today.

    Never forget that your journey is priceless. God doesn’t make junk.


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  2. Excellent Insights of The 12-Step Program, bet it GA, AA, NA and others. Leave the “Egos” outside the door people. And never shout or have an argument in front of Newbies!! I have seen this happen TO many times and the person never comes back to a meeting … Very Poor Taste … πŸ™‚

    Author, Catherine Lyon


    • I agree. I, for one, was so emotionally immature in the beginning of my sobriety…I can’t say I was much of an endorsement, but thankfully, there were some Oldtimers who DID practice the principles. πŸ™‚

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