I remember my first AA meeting like it was yesterday. The way it smelled (stale coffee, cigarettes, and Old Spice). The way everyone looked up uninterested when I walked in. Like they weren’t surprised to see me. How a long-haired woman with fair skin and familiar eyes was greeting folks at the door with a smile and a hug that I didn’t know I needed. I almost collapsed into her arms.

I don’t remember what was said as the invisible baton was passed around rectangular tables and each person took their turn sharing the deepest, most vulnerable parts of themselves. What I do remember is the way that the room lightened as the shares continued. The weight of years of secrets lifted. Hope, shining.

Later at that meeting, I’d ask the greeter to be my sponsor, long before I knew what sponsorship was. Back then, I was at the end of things. I was tired of trying to get and stay sober alone. It never worked. For twenty-plus years, it never worked. They said that I needed one (a sponsor) and so I listened.

I was amazed by what was going to happen next. 

The Most Important Thing

I recently posted this question on my Facebook feed, along with a  24-hour Marathon Meeting Group: “What was the most important thing you heard in early recovery?” 

Hundreds of responses came in over the next couple of days. Things like:

“It does get better.”

“You are worth it.”

“One day at a time.”

“Don’t give up before the miracle happens.”

“Keep coming back.”

“Be willing to go to any lengths to stay sober.”

As I read and re-read the responses, something new was revealed like galaxies in the James Webb Space Telescope. Everyone has a most important thing. Something that is said that resonates when we first hear it and today, still stirs our souls to be grateful. Shakes us awake. 

Sharing Our Recovery Stories

What is beautiful about recovery (and there are so many things!) is that we all get to benefit from these gems of wisdom that move our hearts and souls to heal. My first sponsor, Kim, taught me this. She shared with me things that she had heard in the rooms from her sponsor and other women, and learned about God. She reminded me of those things in her own story that rang true for me and moved me to action. Kim reminded me that my life had purpose and value. That God had a plan for my sober life. 

Today, I share this message with other women. I’ve spoken about it in meetings and shared it with mentees and even included a story in my upcoming book. Sharing our “most important things” means that we can learn and grow from other folks’ experiences. What a beautiful, miraculous thing. 

The most important thing I heard in early recovery, I hear today and every moment. Your stories. They have become a part of me. What a gift. 

If you are struggling in early recovery today, or are questioning if the recovery road is for you, I’d like to encourage you with these words, words I’ve heard before. 

“It does get better.”

“You are worth it.”

“One day at a time.”

“Don’t give up before the miracle happens.”

“Keep coming back.”

“Be willing to go to any lengths to stay sober.”

“Your life has purpose and value.” 

 

Author

Caroline Beidler, MSW is a grateful woman in recovery and the Director of Creative Consultation Services, LLC., a business focused on creating sustainable addiction recovery support services at the local, state, and federal level. She is also the Founder and Managing Editor of the story-telling platform: Bright Story Shine, a new online story-telling platform that celebrates stories of recovery and resilience, a team writer for the Grit and Grace Project and a regular contributor of In the Rooms.

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