I just left an AA meeting. It never ceases to amaze me how good I feel after attending one. My friends in 12 step fellowships are the most genuine, loving, accepting, and spiritual of people. I have never been more welcomed by any group or organization.
Which is especially cool considering that I don’t happen to be an alcoholic.
Only by the grace of God am I not. I have a highly addictive personality but am blessed with a body that cannot tolerate alcohol. I am further blessed to have become a father at a very young age. In addition to the miracles that brought to my life, it ended any further experimentation with drugs. I am confident that I’d have become addicted to every substance I might have tried.
Today, I am addicted to caffeine and nicotine, yet I live in a culture that says I am not a drug addict. I am physically, psychologically, and emotionally dependent upon them. The absurdity of stigma is that most of us are dependent on a substance (coffee, sugar, tobacco) and yet a lot of us cast judgment upon those whose vices are simply stronger in nature.
My friends in AA have an expression I use a lot when I’m looking at someone in active addiction, “There but for the grace of God go I.” I look down on such a person only to help lift them up. These are my brothers and sisters and I am grateful to know each and every one of them.
Nearly all of the people I love today are in recovery from addiction, trauma, and other forms of hell. My friends in 12 step programs have fellowships that the rest of us do not. Those folks can be in any part of the world and locate a meeting of people who struggle similarly and be welcomed and actively supported.
I have joked for years that I am going to found F@cked Up People Anonymous. I’d dearly love to have a worldwide movement of people who gather regularly and connect to kindred spirits recovering from trauma, mental illness, self-harm, eating disorders, and other forms of hell that people like me go through.
If you’ve never been to a 12-step meeting – GO. Just drop in and say you’re a “visitor.” If you’ve never had the joy of hearing people share how their lives were changed by befriending good people and through a spiritually awakening, you’re missing out.
I recommend the literature and steps of all the A’s: AA, NA, Al Anon, Nar Anon, OA, FA and more. I am forever grateful for what those programs and their people have taught me and I can attest that working the steps has changed my life dramatically for the better.
No matter what your struggle, the steps are a process of spiritual transformation and ongoing growth. In a world full of people trying to “find” ourselves and “figure out” what life’s about…my friends in 12-step fellowships already have the answers.