For most alcoholics and addicts, it was our personal relationships — with friends, family, significant others, or even strangers — that we found to be the most vexing and difficult.
We couldn’t be the person we wanted to be when interacting with others, and we often seemed to cause harm even when our intentions were good. Now, in recovery, it is still often our relationships with others that cause confusion and require us to work the 12-Steps with renewed purpose.
When seen from the proper perspective, our relationships with others are the most beautiful and important part of life. Few things matter more than learning how to love and treat other people well. Our loved ones, and even new friends or strangers, can add so much to our lives.
People Need People, Especially in Recovery
It’s a fact that we can’t work the program alone. We need other people to guide us through. Much of the 12-Step work has to do with clearing up, repairing, and learning how to behave with and serve others.
Some of the most rewarding work we do in the recovery program at Jaywalker Lodge helps us to relate better and participate more fully with people in our lives.
For most alcoholics and addicts in recovery, managing our relationships takes consistent practice — but it is always worth the effort. In this particular day and age, the world seems especially fractured. We are often literally distanced from others, separated willingly or unwillingly from our loved ones and friends.
There is a greater distance between people than ever before — and when we do get together, there are often many topics that cause heated debate. Feeling intensely separated from or at odds with most people in our lives can be overwhelming.
The book of Alcoholics Anonymous reminds us that as sober individuals aiming to live a long and happy life in recovery, that “love and tolerance of others is our code.”
The dictionary defines a code as “a set of conventions governing behavior or activity.” So in plainer terms, the Big Book is saying that love and tolerance of others are what guide our actions and behavior.
What Love and Tolerance Really Mean
The code underlying a life in recovery is love and tolerance of others. It sounds simple and clear enough, but this is not always easy. It’s common for the principles we learn in the 12-Steps to set a high bar for us.
The book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions says that the principles in the 12-Steps are perfect ideals — they are “goals toward which we look, and the measuring sticks by which we estimate our progress.” We are by no means expected to be perfect, ever.
But we are asked to strive toward these benchmarks. We are not expected to always get it right, but we are asked to do our best to live in a way that shows “love and tolerance of others is our code.” Love is defined as “an intense feeling of deep affection, a great interest or pleasure in something or someone”.
We all know there is more to love than can ever be accurately defined — after all, each of us has our own spin on the meaning of love. As hard as it is to define, we all know it when we feel it, and each of us knows when we are acting in love and when we are not.
Repeated work in the 12-Steps will help us learn how to better define the meaning of love, while teaching us practical, real-world ways to demonstrate and act in love. We take an interest in our fellow human beings, and we do whatever we can to help them.
We behave in a loving manner towards all we meet to the best of our ability, no matter what the circumstances. It is our duty as members of the recovery community to try our best to embody and exemplify love in all our actions and behaviors.
Tolerance is defined as “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.” Essentially, being tolerant means that we are accepting of other people’s opinions, beliefs, and ways of living.
This can be a difficult task, especially these days, but it’s essential to try our best to be tolerant and accepting. In fact, the book of Alcoholics Anonymous goes even further to say, “our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.”
In other words, our lives depend upon our constant thought of how we can help others, not judge them. This is what it means to say love and tolerance is our code.
Going Forward with Purpose
In order to maintain our sobriety and live a happy, useful life in long-term recovery, we must of course work the 12-Steps and attend meetings. But we also must live with love and tolerance for all, constantly turning our thoughts to others and asking how we can help them. Our lives in recovery depend on this formula. The concept may sound simple, although sometimes it is no small task. However, it is a small price to pay for freedom from alcoholism and addiction and a joyful, meaningful life in recovery.
If you or someone you know is struggling to achieve or maintain long-term sobriety, Jaywalker Lodge is here to help. We have been in your shoes and we understand where you’re coming from. At Jaywalker Lodge, we pride ourselves on successfully reaching those who continually fall short of getting and staying sober, despite how much they want to. We work hard in treatment and in service to the community every day. Are you ready to join us and find a new life in recovery? To learn more, call us today at (866) 529-9255.