People not in the know tend to paint we recovering types with a broad brush. They often claim we “talk weird, like [we’re] in a cult or something”. They often, incorrectly claim we are too “religious”, there’s too much talk of God and Jesus.
Like many stigma-related stereotypes, those two are based on a sliver of truth, wildly exaggerated. I can’t say they’re untrue, but they’re not true, at the same time.
We do speak… um, with an authentic eccentricity that some can find odd. Some of us are very religious, not unlike normal society. We have our atheists and agnostics as well. Unlike many parts of society, we don’t discriminate. We take everyone who wants to live a life free of the bondage of alcoholism, addiction and abuse.
I happen to be a little more pragmatic about God. I capitalize the G (if you’re writing about Bob, do you write bob? No you don’t). On the other hand, I believe in attraction, not promotion. I’d rather show you God’s grace by being an example of it than trying to convince you of it.
I’d rather a person come up to me and ask me how I could possibly be so content (or happy, as the case usually is), to ask what my trick is, than to try to convince everyone that God is the answer by shouting it from the rooftops.
A cat on the fence howling at the moon tends to get a shoe thrown at it. Know what I’m saying?
That out of the way, let’s get down to what’s real (and what really puts people off about “program people”). Those in recovery, meaning those who actually practice the principles of recovery, not everyone who show’s up to get a paper signed for the judge so they can get out of trouble, have a cheat. We literally cheat our way out of a sad, unhappy, discontented life. Well, that depends, I suppose, on how you want to define “cheat”:
We are taught the true nature of happiness as an inside job from the day we walk in the door and sit down at a table. We learn how to be happy and peaceful in our own goodness and to reject resentment because resentment, even against those who have wronged us, is the root of our later stages of addiction. We put the focus solely on ourselves. In fact, if done correctly, we learn how to look at our own part in someone else’s mistreatment of us. We learn the only thing we can “fix” in the world is in the gray matter betwixt our ears. Period, end of story.
Once we learn how to be good and to be okay with that goodness, we cease looking outside ourselves for “things” that artificially make us feel happy. Happiness becomes an inside job.
Once this is mastered, we learn to protect our happiness from outside influences that typically despise easy-going happiness.
After that, we learn how to take those influences and show them grace, peace and forgiveness. (This is where I normally reside, so I don’t know what’s next – but this is pretty freaking good! I like it a lot).
This isn’t to say this choice of lifestyle is perfect. I run into challenges that take a run at my peace and happiness on a regular basis. Sometimes I fail for a while. Sometimes I can’t see my part in things. Sometimes I just want to be pissed off for a minute… but in the end, I always fall back to the tried and true cheat of looking at myself when I’m tired of being miserable. It’s the only thing that really works. Every time. Without fail.
Recover hard, my friends. The alternative sucks.