There are so many things I want to say to newcomer’s when they enter recovery. Most of the time I want to gush about how beautiful and amazing my life is now. I want to tell them every detail about how I have changed and how I have grown and how much I owe it all to the principles of AA. I know I say it all the time, but I really have become a person that I never thought I could be. I want to tell them how all of my relationships have changed for the better, how I learned to stop mistreating myself and to stop letting others mistreat me. I learned how to make choices in my life that are good for me and that alone improves my quality of life tenfold. I want them to know that through the process of my sponsor loving me and accepting me, teaching me and counseling me; I learned how to love and appreciate myself. I accept me for exactly who I am. I accept my flaws, I accept my crazy, and I love me.
And it took years to get there.
I want newcomer’s to understand that this ride is not easy. It is a rollercoaster that has no track, because you never know if you are going to be up or down or upside down. It is scary. I didn’t know if people would like me, I didn’t know what to tell people about being sober, I didn’t know if people would want to be around somebody who was so screwed up, I didn’t know if boys would like me as a sober person, I didn’t know if I would be funny anymore, I didn’t know if I could do it. And I wanted to cry a lot. I couldn’t cry because I spent so many years training myself not to. But I wanted to.
I also want the newcomer to know that we all had the same feelings the first time we walked through the door of a meeting. I thought these people were weird, they were way too friendly, I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want to say anything. I didn’t want people looking at me analyzing me judging me. And I didn’t want to talk. Do not make me talk!
It is normal to be sad and scared, confused and pissed. I was all of that. And on top of it all, I felt like I had no hope.
What I really want the newcomer to know, is that it is okay to feel like crap. It will go away. And it is okay to work for something, like recovery. It does not come easy, but the best things in life are never easy. I want them to know that even when you feel like shit you still show up to a meeting, even when it is raining or snowing or you are exhausted after a 14 hour day- you still show up. And when you look around the room, you notice how many people say things that are just like what you think and feel. This isn’t about finding people that look like me or dress like me- this is about understanding that our outsides may be different but our insides are exactly the same. And one of the best feelings in the world is to be around someone who thinks like me because then I know the truest form of acceptance and love. That is what is important, connecting on the level of my heart that is so desperately dying to be loved and accepted and understood. We need to be understood in a way that only we can understand one another.
I want the newcomer to know, that if you stick with this, if you take the steps to care for yourself, if you allow us to care for you, if you are willing to try and willing to feel and willing to hurt- you will get through to the other side. And the other side is where we have all dreamed of being. It’s that place where I can feel happy and content. Where I can smile not only on the outside but on the inside. The other side is where I get to be me, because this program taught me how to accept myself.
I want the newcomers to know that they don’t have to share in a meeting if they don’t want to share, but I want you to still show up. And I want the newcomers to know that they have so much support and that they can call, you are never bothering anyone when you call. Just put one foot in front of the other, each day, and do it again tomorrow. And call if you need to call.