by Karen VanDenBerg
As newcomers, we often walk through the doors of our respective 12-step meetings in complete despair. In almost every case, there has been some devastating event preceding that reluctant seat in the anonymous rooms. It is the hope that a solution exists that carries us in. Whether kicking and screaming on a “nudge from the judge”, slithering shamefully after another failed attempt to exercise our self-control, or the desire to stop drinking recklessly and start drinking responsibly, we arrive hopeful.
Whether we have walked in for the first time, or we’re returning after another failed attempt, it usually feels like we’ve reached the last house on the block. And although we might be skeptical, hope lives in the fact that we are there. Hope lives in the fact that this solution has worked for thousands who, otherwise, would be considered hopeless.
There are some facts about alcoholics and addicts that cannot be disputed. Without the willingness to get help, many of us will be destined for jails, institutions and untimely death. These drastic consequences are pointed out in the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous and are commonly accepted in most substance-related 12-step fellowships. They are not promises, they just seem to be the natural progression of the disease and it’s consequences. There is proof of these consequences in every newspaper, news broadcast, and heartbroken family torn apart by the powerlessness of addiction.
The 12-step recovery program does make some promises. These promises are the positive consequences we can expect when we thoroughly work the program. As a newcomer it’s hard to trust a promise. Many of us have made countless promises only to break them over and over—usually without intending to. But these promises can only be denied if we ourselves chose not to embrace the program, work the steps, stay clean/sober one day at a time with the help of someone who has been there before and understands how hard it really is.
When we really look at the promises and visualize their true essence, we can see that they are centered around peace of mind and serenity. They promise self-respect and freedom from addiction. We are promised the help we need to avoid the inevitable negative consequences.
As a newcomer, it’s difficult to believe or even imagine these promises coming true for us. Find someone who looks like they have peace of mind and serenity in their life and ask them what it was like before. You will undoubtedly see the manifestation of these promises in their life and it will be hard to imagine them in a state of despair and disease. We all deserve to have these gifts in our lives — and we all have the ability to work for them.
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