Making a decision to attend addiction recovery support meetings is very difficult, indeed. Venerable Matt Talbot, who remained sober from alcohol for over 40 years, has equated getting sober with a miracle like walking on water. Support meeting have been a big part of that miracle of sobriety in my life. Getting the courage to attend meetings was not easy for me. I must have picked up and put down that phone 50 times before I actually mustered up the courage to make the call to start attending meetings. The fears preventing me from making that call and attending meetings, which lasted several months, were something like this. Maybe you will relate to my feelings. I felt afraid of being misunderstood and judged for my sinful behaviors. Worst yet I felt afraid I would be ignored and rejected. These feelings of rejection are a major trigger for me in my addiction. Finally, I felt pride that I could do this on my own without help from anyone. I truly believed I could rely on my intelligence and higher education to recover on my own. My stinking thinking at its best. In fact, I stopped attending meetings after several months because of this false belief in my superior intelligence to recover on my own. After 6-9 months of being away from meetings I hit another rock bottom. This time I came to the realization that my obsession with and compulsive use of pornography would not stop from my own superior intelligence, and my behaviors had negative consequences on people. I knew I needed help, and the support group based in the 12 Steps was the best place to restart my journey to sobriety and recovery.
In returning to the group, I made a commitment, initially to myself, later to God and the group, that I would make attending meetings a priority in my life so I could attain sobriety and remain sober. I reorganized my other commitments, like full time graduate school and part-time management work, around my recovery meetings. I share with you the two benefits I experienced from support meetings.
Benefit 1 Find Role Models
Role models are important when trying to change addictive behaviors. I found the men in my addiction support groups were Godly men that were living a authentic and genuine Christian faith, and they were happy. I wanted what they had. I wanted that happiness. I first began to associate their happiness with attending meetings and doing step work. Then I discovered that there was more to it. They had true faith in God. They prayed and read scripture. I particularly paid attention to the Catholic men. They had something truly awesome. Frequent receiving of the Eucharist and participation in the sacrament of confession. I was raised Catholic, and I always attended Mass on Sunday. But I never experienced the joy of these men. Their model of the Catholic faith led me to explore my Catholic faith more deeply. As a result, I attend Mass daily, participate in confession frequently, and I pray and read scripture daily. This did not exist for me prior to attending meetings. I began to experience a joy I couldn’t explain other than it was God doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself.
Benefit 2 Place to Be Real with Myself and Others
Support meetings gave me a place to truly be myself. I could talk about those deep feelings of fear and hatred that I didn’t want anyone to know. In fact, my addiction was my attempt to repress those deep feelings. The men in the support meetings are having the same feelings. It was safe place for me to express what was bothering me and receive support and encouragement from other men who have experienced the same. Saint Paul talks about what is in the darkness must be brought out into the light. These meetings are the light that can allow Christ to forgive us and heal us. I learned from the other men in the group it was okay to share how I felt. After several months of attending meetings I started to let my guard down and share more deeply to help myself and others. Working the steps helped me to share more deeply and personally. In sharing and hearing others struggles. all members can learn important sobriety tools. I also applied this practice of sharing about myself into my faith life. I approached my prayer life in a more powerful and meaningful way. I could bring all of myself, including my brokenness, to the Lord for healing. I was being healed from the inside out. This healing from the inside experienced at meetings brought me to a faith in God that works and friendships that last.
Christmas is a season of miracles and giving. Allow yourself to fully receive the gift of Jesus Christ’s salvation to the world by attending a Saint Joseph Men of Integrity support group meeting. All meeting are currently held online. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We will pray for you!