Everybody needs somebody. Life is not only better shared with the people we love, but we all go through times in our lives when we need other people, whether it’s just for support, a kind word, or a long hug. People helping people is some of the most incredible and powerful stuff of life. For those of us who have suffered from alcoholism and drug addiction, reciprocal relationships with people can be complicated. Either we need so much help that we feel like a burden, or we so loathe the idea of needing and asking for help that we avoid people as much as we can. We either feel like we don’t have anything to offer and can’t help anybody, or we try to force our “help” in ways that cause conflict. Needing people and being needed by people can be a scary, messy, and confusing part of life for us when we enter recovery at Jaywalker Lodge.
Yet one of the most talked about and examined areas of our life in recovery is relationships. The 12-Steps and most recovery literature are filled with advice, practices, suggestions, and enlightening truths about alcoholics/addicts and our complicated relationship with relationships. We feel like we either hurt people or smother them, we need them too much or too little, we help them more than they want or not at all. There are many shades of gray between these extremes, but odds are good that after time spent in our active disease we could certainly use some refreshers on good relations to our fellow human beings. Luckily for us, every aspect of the 12-Step program is at least partly geared towards helping us in this area.
First Thing First
Maybe we tried our best to be there for people when we were drinking or using, or maybe we didn’t. But many of us can readily admit that our alcoholism and addiction ran the show, and it was always our first priority. Nothing mattered as much as obeying the disease. Now that we are in recovery at Jaywalker Lodge, things are different. We now have the solution to our alcoholism and addiction. But we must keep the first thing first in our new life — our 12-Step program and our recovery must be the new first priority. How beautiful it is that putting our recovery first actually gives us the time, energy, ability, and opportunity to be there for the people in our lives. Unlike our disease, our solution actually allows us to be present with people. Keeping the first thing first won’t take you away from people — it will finally give the real you to them. A glass can only spill what it contains, and a vibrant recovery program readily leads to a full and fulfilling life.
Thoughts of Others
The 12-Step literature tells us many times that our recovery and our lives depend upon us practicing constant thought for others. This does not come naturally to most of us, so it takes a lot of gentle practice. Regular 12-Step work, prayer, meditation, and literal practice can open up a new way of thinking and living for us. As we strive to turn our minds more often towards how we can help people, what we can do for them, and what they may need from us, we find that we are naturally more present with them, more loving, and our relationships grow in both quality and peace. The real kicker is that as we consider other people more and more often, our own problems shrink and our energy levels rise. As we think more often of the people in our lives, we discover the incredible gifts of service and selflessness. We would do well to remember that the 12-Step program asks us to aim at lofty and perfect ideals. We are only human, and so is everyone else. We should be as kind and gentle to ourselves as we aim to be to others.
Believing in Yourself
How exactly is believing in yourself related to being there for others? Many of us alcoholics and addicts struggle with low self-esteem or terribly low opinions of ourselves. It can be difficult when someone asks for our help or companionship and our first thought is, “I’m no good, they could find someone better to help.” We can push people away out of fear or shame — people who not only need our help, but want our company. It’s a straining and confusing way to interact that doesn’t benefit anyone. Avoiding being there for people who need us because of how we feel about ourselves is an ineffective strategy.
It’s important that we work the 12-Step program to the best of our ability and begin to train our minds to think of others. When people invite us into their lives or ask us for anything, we must trust that the 12-Step process, our higher power, and our new way of life in recovery will provide us with everything we need to be there for other people. Because it will — it really works. We must have faith in the growth the 12-Steps facilitate, we must trust our higher power, and we must believe in ourselves. Everyone on Earth is naturally and innately deserving of love, help, kindness, compassion, and companionship. We are no exception. But when we don’t try to keep our self-esteem healthy we not only sell ourselves short, but we likely miss out on opportunities to be there for others.
Alcoholism and drug addiction take relentlessly, not only from the sufferer but from all who love them. In recovery, we begin to understand and fully participate in life with our fellow human beings. Recovery doesn’t just give people back their lives — it gives them meaningful and happy lives. Recovery is available to any man who honestly wants it and is willing to do the work. If you want to achieve long-term sobriety but find yourself unable to do so, Jaywalker Lodge is waiting for you. We have been where you are now, and we know how to help you find a new life in recovery.
Call us today at (866) 529-9255.
As Chief Executive Officer Bill provides leadership and manage all day-to-day operations of Jaywalker Lodge, an extended care residential addiction treatment program for adult men.