Walking Through Recovery and Giving Back Without Reservation
Recovery Reflections: September 27, 2017
Hello there, my name is Leah and I would like to welcome you once more to Detox to Rehab’s Recovery Reflections. Please join us and listen to the experience, strength and hope shared by Brandon, Madison, Patrick and Joey.
We pre-record one of our reflections every week for you to watch. In these sessions, each of these individuals will express how the reading of the week relates to their own experiences in recovery and how it has helped them along their paths.
September 27, 2017: Recovery Without Reservation
When brimming with gratitude, one’s heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love…
As Bill Sees it, p. 37
While practicing service to others, if my successes give rise to grandiosity, I must reflect on what brought me to this point. What has been given joyfully, with love, must be passed on without reservation and without expectation. For as I grow, I find that no matter how much I give with love, I receive much more in spirit.
Giving Back Without Reservation is Necessary for Sobriety
“I don’t get the help I want or need or could garner from a higher power if it isn’t for other people. The only reason I get to stay sober is so that I can help others and inspire others,” said Patrick.
For many, this work of service is inherently supporting their own sobriety. Without it, there would be no good reason for being sober in the first place; there would be no purpose for the new life they are living today. In this way, many need to continue to commit acts of service, such as lending a helping hand to those in need, in order to remain sober. As Brandon and Patrick both touch on, maintaining sobriety is multifaceted and depends on a variety of variables.
“I don’t know which one of these things, if I stop doing, is the one thing that keeps me sober, so I just continue to do all of them,” Brandon said.
Service is one of those variables, and activity in service must be maintained, along with the other variables like staying healthy, making amends or letting go of resentment.
It is known that addiction itself depends on so many variables as well. People in active addiction usually feel completely alone, as though there is no one who cares about them; it’s as if there is nothing significant to live for. Service enriches community, so that we aren’t alone, and establishes purpose and meaning in life. It provides an outlet for connection with other like-minded individuals, who are in the same boat and battling the same battles as you.
Service Brings Happiness and Enriches Life in Recovery
Brandon considered this, reflecting: “[without service] I could be super miserable When I first got here, I just wanted to be okay and I think happiness is in direct correlation to being okay.”
Even if he could stay sober without service, he may become unhappy without it and return to the misery felt in active addiction, regardless of sobriety. This is like the concept of a dry drunk, someone who is sober and clean, but miserable.
Service doesn’t just help to keep people from using substances— it enriches your sobriety and your life. Even if you could manage to remain sober without giving back, it wouldn’t be a meaningful life and you wouldn’t feel content.
Part of of leading a happy life of sobriety is giving of yourself and sharing the gift you have with other people so that they can find a healthy life for themselves as well. As someone who has been through addiction, you have the special ability to relate to those who are still suffering.
Of course, the community that inevitably forms through service will also help provide content and joy to life.
Giving Back in Recovery is Invaluable to Those in Need
“Thank God for all the people who came before me,” Joey said, “If it wasn’t for that… I would be misguided.”
People who have made it out of addiction have the unique capacity to extend their gained knowledge and experience to those who desperately need it.
Like Joey explained, he wouldn’t have been moved if someone who hadn’t been through addiction tried to tell him how to stay sober. It was meaningful and appealing to him because the people helping him could relate.
Most people who have achieved sobriety wouldn’t be where they are today if there had been no one to help them along the way. It is important to remember how you have reached achievements; all success that sobriety leads to would be impossible without the help that was extended to you.
The work that you do in sobriety to help others is immeasurably important and treasured by those that you help.
Surprisingly, it is also immeasurably important for your own well-being, whether you realize it or not.
Helping Others in Recovery is What Keeps the Program Going
“If you walk in the doors of AA… you are being of service whether you know it or not,” said Madison, “the 12-step is a collective… because we have no purpose if the new guys don’t come in.”
The program is created to be a system that is self-sustaining when all parts are present. Many people go to meetings in order to vent about their experience or to feel comradery between others who face similar struggles. While these people go for reasons of self-care, they are also serving others in the meeting just by being there.
Someone who has many years in sobriety may say something that a newcomer really needs to hear that day. Someone who just finished working the last step might have a conversation with a newcomer that saves that person’s life. A veteran will continue to feel needed and valuable when he or she sees the impact they have on others in the meeting.
“[Helping others] is what keeps this whole thing going… Trust God, clean house, help others. The help others piece is paramount for me,” said Patrick.
In order for this program to work, everyone must continue to show up and give without reservation. The people who are advanced in their recovery need to stay active, the new people who are young in recovery need to come, and everyone in between. The system only functions to benefit everyone when everyone shows up.