Monday, January 08, 2007

Are we carrying the best message?

Three relapsers came into the meeting today with, as we used to say in Phoenix, "arrows sticking out." It's bandied about the rooms that the holidays are a difficult time to stay sober and many people relapse. My experience is that anytime is a difficult time to stay sober if you don't work a program. I'm not sure that the holidays cause any more people to relapse who would not have anyway.

I have nothing against relapsers. I, too, stumbled in and out for almost two years before I finally "got the message." No one judged me (they did laugh at me, and not always with me as they proclaimed), but each return I was greeted with love and tolerance and that's what I extend today.

Something struck me over the past few weeks as our phone line picks up activity and newcomers seem to be hitting the meetings more, whether from our local drug court or from our quiet public relations efforts. At most meetings after we learn there are newcomers, people go around the room and many of them share their story of relapse.

I know that is uniquely their story, but I wonder what the newcomers think. "You mean this guy stayed sober for ten years and then drank? What hope is there for me?"

I understand when members tell newcomers that, if they relapse, they should come back. I heartily agree with that. But what I heard when I got here (although I didn't believe it for a long while) was this clear message: "You never have to use drugs again, one day at a time."

Maybe I'm overanalyzing, but lately I've been almost cringing to hear older members tell tales of relapses when we have several or more newcomers in the rooms. What about the "One day at a time" message?

My experience with relapse is that it is almost always preceded by a period, short or long, of "self-will run riot." We slip into thinking we can make all sorts of decisions without help. Even at this stage in my recovery, I've learned that my own best thinking is still unsound when I don't seek guidance, whether it's from my sponsor or other trusted members who won't steer me wrong.

I've run on self will and I've learned the hard way that there is a price for this behavior. Today, I'm no longer willing to pay the price. These are my late-night ramblings and I hope you have a great night. I know, since I chose not to drink or use drugs today, I'll sleep like a baby.


Pigeon said...

You are right about some messages coming off a little awkward. Some may get the impression that relapsing is so common as to justify just one more round. But I find that upon close inspection, there are numerous expressions and speaches given on a regular basis by "old timers" that do the same.

I, for instance, do not believe that my best thinking got me into trouble, ever. It was my worst thinking, which I have on occasion, based my life on, that created complications for me. It may seem like a "half empty/half full" ideaolgy, but I do not accept that I am not capable of good thinking, good decision making, and good actions on my own. I have needed external help to be able to express my positive assets, but I reject the idea that I am not naturally good.

Many areas of our message can be brused up and polished when we give ourself some of the credit we deserve, and the newcomers will recognize the changes we have been able to affect in our lives just as well, if not better.


Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you on this post, my Dawg.
You know how the Basic Text says, "Relapse is a reality." Whenever that is read outloud, I always respond, also outloud, "But NOT a REQUIREMENT!"
I know we all have our own process in finding this thing -- or not finding this thing. It also took me several years of relapsing to "get it." (I never came in and out, I just stayed in and came high ;) But we send a mixed message with much of our literature and the stuff we say and share.
Older members can simply say they can relate to relapsing without expounding -- it seems to give more hope that way. I have often, often, often listened to this kind of stuff and wondered -- "Where in the hell is the hope in THAT?"
I will end this by saying that there IS one thing that comes across in an oldtimer message of that sort -- it's that I DON'T want to do whatever he/she was doing because I DON'T want to end up like THAT.
Peace and Love,

Meg Moran said...

Funny I just got off the phone with someone who has an arrow sticking out of her butt....she is so pissy she acted like she wanted to stick it in me!