Friday, December 21, 2007

Inside Job

My sponsee was sprung from rehab on Wednesday. He spent that night with a friend of his in Philly. She was good enough to find out times for 12-Step meetings in her neighborhood. Naturally, he didn't go to one that night.

But, he did allege that he went to one yesterday.

He showed up, with the friend, at my doorstep last night, at a pre-arranged and agreed upon time in order to collect his house keys. I could tell that he's on shaky emotional ground right now. The reality and enormity of his loss has finally started to sink in.

It's a funny thing about "bottoms." Everybody in recovery has one. Some were gentle bounces and some were full-fledged thuds (mine was one of the later). The point is that soft or hard, a bounce or a thud, everyone in recovery was absolutely, positively, 100 percent


when they came stumbling into their first 12-Step meeting with a giant neon sign attached to their foreheads that flashed "NEW" and "PLEASE HELP ME" and with a "deer caught in the headlights look" upon their frightened faces.

When they show up it's my job, and the job of others like me, to do what we can, within boundaries, to offer all the love and support we can until the newcomer finally learns how to smile again after which we set them on the road to more permanent contentment and serenity through the 12-Steps.

That transition happens, usually, around day 50. After 49 days of showing up looking like they'd stayed up all night sucking lemons, one morning they'll come in in and the misery will be gone from their faces. They'll look refreshed because they actually slept all night. They'll smile because they're actually glad to be in the room where they know they are safe, a room full of people who genuinely care about them (and aren't after something).

After nearly 10 years of recovery, I live for moments like that now. I look around the room at my Friday morning beginner's meeting and I see a half dozen people just like that.

A few months ago they were hopeless, miserable, soulless wretches. Now they're ready to become productive members of society again.

When I'm asked why I do what I do to help newcomers my response is the same response I got from MY sponsor, when I had 45 days of sobriety and asked him the same question.

"Because one day you'll do the same for somebody else."

The feelings of fulfillment and joy I get from helping fledgling recoverers fills me with indescribable happiness.

I hope and pray that my sponsee, fragile and delicate at the moment, will someday find what I have found.

That happiness is an INSIDE job.

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