The Importance of the Fellowship


“When you can’t run, you crawl, and when you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you.”  from the TV Series Firefly, episode “The Message”


I just had the opportunity to re-watch some episodes of Joss Whedon’s Firefly.  In the episode “The Message” one of the characters remembers what Mal and Zoe told him on the battlefield.  As he said it, all I could think about was the support we all get from the rooms and our fellows.

In my addiction, I was isolated. I thought I was running.  In a way, I was running.  Running to my destruction.  As I hit rock bottom, I lost the ability to run.  I also lost the ability to crawl for a while.  I needed somebody to turn to.  I went to my first meeting because my desperation to be sober outweighed my fear of the rooms.  What I found was support.

There I found someone to carry me.  I found folks who had walked in my shoes.  Folks who had seen the bottom and were carried back from it.  I thought I was so unredeemable, so unique, so broken.  What I found in the rooms were people who could relate literally to my story.  They were on the path to recovery, and I could to.

I needed someone to carry me in those first weeks.  Even today, as I struggle with everything else in my life, I need to open myself to being carried.  That is one part of what the fellowship gives us.

The other part as I have told newcomers every now and then is a knowing ear.  There is nothing that you can tell someone in the fellowship that will shock them.  That has been my experience.  That gives me the faith that I can share anything with the group.

The room may be the first time you have shared your secret with anyone, including yourself.  There have been things I have said in the rooms that I had never said out loud, even to myself.  This was powerful to me.  The fellowship has never reared back and said “that is too much.”  The fellowship never will.

I don’t reach out as much as I should.  I know I should do it more.  I have trouble getting over my feeling of burdening someone else.  It is also hard to admit weakness.  Even though admitting weakness is strength, or at least I believe that now.

I need to be open to being carried along by my fellows.  They will accept me and they will guide me gently along my path.  I hope they will be there for the rest of my life.  I hope I will be there for them.

As I stumble in my recovery and lose my ability to crawl, I will open myself up to being carried by my fellows.  They will always be there for me, and I will be there for them.




The Ones Who Love Us


Do I want to be loved, or do I want to be feared.

A few weeks ago, someone came into the room and gave me a gift.  The gift was the quote for today.  That day was an example of my higher power giving me something that I needed.  The gift came from someone who was just visiting the area and I have never seen them again.

Everyone in recovery has people that love them.  I have many people that love me and want me to succeed in my recovery and life.  My early recovery was a struggle to hold on to things and relationships, not a recovery of myself.  When I heard this said, I reflected and realized that I was manipulating people around me to fear me to keep me.

As addicts we are all self-seeking and selfish people.  The world and the universe revolves around us.  When in our addiction, everything is viewed with those eyes.  Even in recovery it is hard not to view life with those eyes.  I think this selfishness feeds into the quote as well. Fear is a means of control and it is something I have had to let go.  Forcefully at first, but willingly now.

Love is a means of surrendering to our recovery and accepting what life brings to us.  Wanting to be loved is an affirmation that I am the best person I can be today and I am working towards better.  An affirmation that by working on myself, I am working towards being loved on life’s terms.  

I spent a part of that meeting and after reflecting on the fear that I used.  Did I want to be:

  • feared that I will hurt those around me
  • feared that I will betray their trust
  • feared that I will give up on my own recovery and throw in the towel
  • feared that things and thoughts will overwhelm me
  • feared that I will relapse, do the wrong thing
  • feared that the dark thoughts will take over and never leave

I don’t want those things for the people that I love.  I know they will always have fear in their life about me.  I can’t control that.  I can’t control anyone’s feelings.  Therefore I can only control myself.  

I want to be loved.  Therefore I will do the things that make me better and love will come.  I can’t control love, but I can control my acts and my feelings.  I can go to meetings, work on my recovery, try to find my own light.  That is all I can do.

I also have to have acceptance that even if I do the right things, the things I want may not come to me.  I may want to be loved, but that love may not come to me.  That is where serenity comes into play.

Today I will do what I can to deserve love and not fear.  I will also accept that while I am worthy and deserving I can not control other’s feelings.  I will accept life on life’s terms and still be the best me.


Surrender and acceptance is so much a part of our recovery.  In our relationships this is so as well.  We have to surrender to our Higher Power and accept the future as it will be, not how we want it to be.  By causing fear in our relationships we are still trying to control and be the center.  

We have to accept that we can’t cause anything in our relationships, actually.  All we can do is control ourselves.  I am in recovery to be a better me, now.  I accept that I can’t control the people that are in my life or out of it.  


Mistakes, Relapses and Falling Forward



Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

– Albert Einstein

Being in recovery means trying something new.  And that means making mistakes.  We don’t have our own experience to guide us in recovery.  That is why we find guides, or sponsors, as well as reach out to others.  They help us with their own experience.  But yet we are still trying something new.

This past week I encountered something that was totally unexpected for me.  While indulging in my love of computer games, I installed a new one and began playing it.  After an hour I looked at the time, it was about 8:30.  I had just turned on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Before I knew it, the movie was over and I was still playing.  It is almost three hours long, by the way.

I felt exhausted, shamed, guilty, and generally horrible.  The next day I continued to play it.  It felt like I was back in my addiction again.  I barely was able to pull myself away from it to go to a meeting that I was planning on being at anyway.

After talking about it with someone from the room, I committed to removing the game.  I had paid money for it, so I had some shame over that.  I got home and uninstalled it.

My mistake?  Falling into a pattern of compulsive behavior and not realizing it right away.  And then continuing the next day, even though I felt exhausted and drained.  I had the best of intentions.  I wanted to have something fun to do.  It was fun, it was also a mistake.

I tried something, and it didn’t work out.  It ended up being a mistake.  I gently pat myself on the back because I admitted the mistake, maybe not promptly, but I did.  And then I did the right thing and put that activity as off limits.  Not games, but games without an end.  I need an end.  I found out my compulsiveness doesn’t allow me to play open ended games or worlds.

Recovery itself is trying something new.  You will make mistakes.  We are all learning a new way of living.  Of living out of the shadow of our addiction.  Out of the grips of what we were.  It is a new life we are given.  We need to embrace the mistakes as well as the mistakes.

Mistakes are not failures unless we let them be.  It is not a failure to fall and get up again.  As some have said you need to be gentle with yourself.  Even when you fall, be gentle with yourself, get up and come back.  You will be welcomed and better armed for the future.  You will have learned.

I will embrace the mistakes that this new way of living brings and I will learn from them so I can be the me that my Higher Power is guiding me towards.



My Higher Power


Religion is a filter through which we experience spirituality, it is not our spirituality.

It is not uncommon to be in the rooms and hear someone’s struggles in finding their higher power.  Many in recovery feel that without coming to grips with your higher power that you will be faced with occasional, if not frequent, relapses.

Admittedly, the 12 step program is based in spirituality.  The use of the word God in the materials does put people off, sometimes.  It also makes people think it is a Christian program.  Closing meetings with the Lord’s prayer makes it even worse.

My own experience has been a combination of my religious upbringing and a feeling that I do have a higher power working in my life.  Raised Roman Catholic I quickly rebelled against it when I left home.  God was something I experienced on Sundays but never let into my life.

My struggles with early recovery had me turning to my Higher Power for strength.  The days when I turned my anxiety and worry over were the days that I felt serenity.  I have had dreams where I felt a feeling of hope come into my being.  While none of my earthly struggles have become easier in themselves.  My struggle with the struggle has been easier.  Because I have felt my Higher Power.  And I have been able to talk to it and to feel it work in my life.  I have been blessed.

I understand the struggles that others feel with finding it.  They confuse it with the God of their religion.  It can be but it doesn’t have to be.  Without it though, recovery will be a struggle.  We have all been incapable of stopping our addictive behavior ourselves.  If we were able we wouldn’t be here.  We need to believe in a power greater than ourselves.

And that is all that a Higher Power is.  It is a power greater than ourselves.  For some that is embodied in prayer and the God of their religion.  For some it is our fellows.  The comfort and companionship of our fellowship can be that higher power.  As long as we turn ourselves over to it.  By agreeing to talk to your sponsor every day for instance, you are turning your will over to a power greater than yourself.  Not that your sponsor is a greater power, because they struggle just like you.  But the act of reaching out is the power.

Do not get hung up on the fact that you aren’t religious, or that your concept of God has been skewed in your eyes.  You weren’t struggling with your Higher Power.  You were struggling with man’s portrayal of it.  You can choose to portray it any way you want now.  It can include your religion, or not.  It can include many religions or not.  It can be Mother Earth.  It can be any combination.

Just make it your own.  Find your own spirituality.  Whatever it may be.  It will be worth it.  And you are worth it in your Higher Power’s eyes.

Have peace today and know that there is a power greater than yourself and that it wants you to succeed in your recovery.  So turn yourself over to it.

Earning Your Seat


Do not compare wounds of the heart.

In recovery we learn the tales of our brothers and sisters.  Each of them is truly personal.  Each of them is a gift.  That is what I know now.

For a while what I found while listening to these tales was doubt.  Doubt that I am really the addict that I admit as I take the anonymity pledge.

The doubt didn’t come from a rejection of the first step.  It came from me comparing my tale to others.  Not the tale of my rock bottom, but my childhood and upbringing.  I have heard many stories of the pain that was visited on my fellows, physical, mental and emotional.  I had none of these things.

I suffered no physical abuse.  I suffered no trauma.  I had what I consider to be a normal childhood.  While doing my family of origin work I really didn’t come across any addiction.  With all this background, how could I be an addict?  How could I have earned a seat?  This is a falsehood.

The addict in us is always looking to come out.  Cunning, baffling, powerful, it is.  Always seeking to gain sway over us.  As we do the work in our recovery, our addict is out there doing push-ups and thinking ways to overcome us.  This falsehood is one that I have to guard against because if I let this take root, I will one day deny that I am what I am and that day will be the beginning of a new rock bottom.

So a few months ago, the quote above was given to me.  It doesn’t matter how we earned our seat.  The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop the addictive behavior.  That is how we earn our seat.  Everything else that got us to that desire is prologue.  And it is valid for all of us.

The reality has been while I didn’t have the same stories of abuse as others, my reflection in my first step has revealed that I have had trauma.  The trauma of adoption, the trauma of neglected feelings, and the trauma of emotional unavailability.  All lightweight stuff right.  Possibly, but it doesn’t matter.

These were the wounds of my heart.  They are valid to me.  Only by understanding them and working through them do I truly recover.  By minimizing them, I neglect them.  Neglecting them just gives the addict another round in the chamber.  I need to address them for myself.

When I hear the trauma of others I hear it with sorrow in my heart for what they went through.  No matter the trauma.  Every one of us has felt hurt in our past.  Some of it is more readily seen.  It doesn’t matter.  I sorrow that any one of God’s children goes through any hurt.  Now that we are in recovery we are finding new ways to deal with that hurt.  And the hurts of life, whatever they may be.

Whatever got me here, got me here.  I am thankful that I am here now.  This is my journey and while others may show me the way, it is still my journey.  Unique and wonderful, but my journey.  And yours is yours.



Pray to God, But Continue Rowing To Shore

Pray to God, but continue rowing to the shore.

– Russian Proverb

Being in recovery sometimes means not being able to see a path forward.  It means that with the uncertainty of the future we get bogged down in the today.  I have struggled with the thought that I can give up the future to my higher power.

The struggle is not with my higher power.  I have come to believe in a power greater than myself.  It is what gives me strength when I allow it.  It is what gives me serenity when I have none.

My struggle is the practical side of life.  The acceptance that while I can give up the worry I still need to do the work.  I like this quote because it really encapsulates it in a visually stunning way.  It is more impactful to me than “Let go and let God.”  Not because that hasn’t worked for me.

It is impactful because I can visualize it and understand it at a gut level.  If you are rowing to the shore and are tired and defeated you can pray that God will reach down with a mighty hand and push you along.  It may even happen.  That doesn’t mean that you can throw your oars over the side.  It also doesn’t mean that you lack faith.

You need to do the work.  The work will open you up for guidance and help in the most unexpected of places.  A friend who only comes around every few years accepts you at face value knowing now the secret you have held so closely.

Having faith doesn’t mean that your Higher Power will come down and remove all barriers.  I wish it would happen in my own recovery.  I mostly accept that it will not happen (we can hope, though, can’t we?).  Faith means that if you open your heart, your Higher Power will make it no harder than it needs to be.  That your worry and anxiety can be given up.

As you walk your own path to recovery, ask your Higher Power for strength.  To take away the anxiety. But if you don’t keep rowing, your chances of making it to the shore are reduced.  I continue to do the work in recovery and mostly in my life.

I hope that today brings you strength.