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On Recovery from Addiction; Why I Keep Coming Back to Meetings

January 2019
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I was asked to give a lead-in talk at a treatment center in downtown Flint last night.  At first, because I really didn’t know what to expect (and because my first stint in treatment was at the toughest/worst place in the State – where they only sent hopeless repeat offenders), I wasn’t nervous about what I’d say.  I had an idea, of course, but I vastly underestimated the crowd.  There were maybe 40 men, many hardened criminals… and me.  And the guy who asked me to give the talk, and two of his friends.

26 years ago, I fit in to that crowd a lot better than I do today.

It wasn’t cause to freak out, though.  “Experience, strength and hope”, that’s all I have.

After I was introduced, I got right into it.  I gave a brief overview of what it was like when I got sober, and I kept it to the first few steps.  There was no pandering to the crowd, so I just said what I had to say and ended when I was done.  I didn’t try to stretch it out and I didn’t embellish on anything.  I think I spoke for all of fifteen minutes.  I was supposed to eat up almost 45 minutes.

-gulp-

I really felt like I’d let the fella who invited me down, that I should have had more.  Then he asked if anyone had questions…  The first hand went up, and I answered his question.  Then another, and another.  They were fantastic questions, too.  “Do you ever have urges to drink?”  “How do you deal with those urges?” “Do you think you could have quit without God’s help?””How do you work the steps in the rest of your life?”

Questions filled up the remaining half-hour.  Guys were still asking questions as they were filing out the door.

Folks, I had every chance to completely screw up that lead-in talk.  I could have forced it and tried to stretch another fifteen minutes out of it, but instead just went with my gut.  I said what I had to say and left it where it was still “real”.

I walked out of that meeting feeling better about sobriety than I have in a long time – and that was pretty hard to do, I’m in a very good place of late.  I’m on a 90 day rotation to go back and I can’t wait.  We have a little tradition in “the program”.  When we are asked to give a talk like that, there is only one answer:  “Where’s the meeting and when do you want me there?”

I give every chance I get because I never know when I’ll run into a meeting like I did Monday night.  If one person heard something that will get them to come back, I helped change the course of a person’s life.  I think it went vastly better than that, though.  On my way home I got a text from the guy who invited me;  “Tonight’s meeting was a meeting that reminded me why I keep coming back.  Thanks.”  Funny thing was, I had the same feeling.  That’s how it works.

“Giving back” doesn’t have to be a huge philanthropic effort to make a big difference.  Usually, all it takes is one’s experience, strength, and a little hope.  Oh, and a lot of faith.

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16 Comments

  1. Fantastic! Curious…are you a sponsor for anyone?

  2. theandyclark says:

    Sounds like you did a great job. When speaking always remember the story of an event in the summer of 1863. There were two speakers. One was a renowned speaker (Charles Everett if memory serves) who gave what reporters at the time agreed was a very good speech that lasted about 2 1/2 hours. The other gave the Gettysburg Address in about 2 1/2 minutes.

  3. annastk76 says:

    Awesome. And I think you’re so right – I try to say it when it happens, i.e. when someone says or does something that really gives me a lightbulb moment or helps me in my sobriety somehow, but you never know who might benefit and you not even knowing it! Just hearing someone experienced something you’re now struggling with and here they are now years sober and content – it can make a HUGE difference. So high five to you for passing on the gift. I’m going to work on developing a spine in that sense and try to do my bit too.

  4. joliesattic says:

    Paying it forward. That was a wonderful experience. I like especially what you said, about if one thing hits home with one person … Wonderful goal.
    It’s like the scripture 1 Cor. 3:6 where Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God makes it grow”. It’s like any ministry, none of us serves alone. Because we are unique individuals, not any one person will resonate with every one. I think it’s wonderful that they do the rotation, for that reason. That was so inspiring. Keep up the good work!

  5. It works if you work it and you are a great example. Goodonya!

  6. KB says:

    Good stuff here @bgddyjim. Definitely agree and hope that all of us can maintain an “attitude of gratitude.” I hear this phrase pretty often from an older gentlemen in some local meetings here in the Daytona Beach and Orlando, Florida recovery scene. It is refreshing to hear those words even if they used to bother me at one point. Anyhow, thanks for this, and please take a look at ours when you have a minute. We are looking to get our message to those that need to hear it: serenityspringsrecovery.com/the-recovery-blog/

  7. Kristal LJS says:

    You sound like your doing awesome I’m just like you going to a meeting just makes me feel better

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