Now that I am consistently attending the same recovery meetings with the same core group of people, it is becoming increasingly clear that, as much as I love the changes that have occurred in my life since I committed to a specific program for recovery, I remain somewhat ambivalent about the logistics of that program. I haven’t formally “worked” the steps (although I feel comfortable saying I’ve done some version of the first three). I don’t have a sponsor. I don’t do service work. I’ve never picked up the phone. I haven’t shared my story with another member (except in bits and pieces at meetings). I just started reading the Big Book.
I don’t have any philosophical reservations about these aspects of the program. I don’t question that I could seriously benefit from them, and maybe even need them if I want this run at sobriety to stick. Even if I don’t need them, I want them. I do.
But I am scared to do them. I am scared that if I immerse myself in the program, delve into the literaure, open up to the people in it, I will discover that I don’t belong. I fear that my nagging insecurity that I am not good enough, or, in this case, that I am not bad enough, will be confirmed.
Every time I read or hear something that challenges my belief that I am truly like other people in the program–in the Big Book, on the internet, at a meeting–old anxiety rises up, squeezing my chest, constricting my throat.
It is the same feeling I got when Nick G. said that members of the LDS church who support gay marriage aren’t really Mormon.
It is the same feeling I got when I read a comment on a feminist website saying that Mormons aren’t Christians.
It is the same feeling I get every time somebody questions the reality of my experiences or the accuracy of my perceptions (especially the ones that are already fuzzy):
When Sarah and Ben referred to my being raped as a “fling”;
When Stephen said that men and women are equal recipients of the “can’t have it all” rhetoric;
When John said it was sexist for me to be nervous about being alone in a dark alley with a man but not a woman;
When my therapist said “but it doesn’t seem like you drank that much.”
I don’t care for this feeling, but I am strong today, so I finger the bruise, push a little harder. I learn that this particular wound is shot through with shades of hurt and rejection that are not unlike:
The feeling I got when the Millers passed me and my daughter in the grass on the way to Heidi and Bob’s house for dinner, having never been invited over ourselves;
The feeling I got when Jake asked if my daughter was going to a birthday party that we’d heard nothing about;
The feeling I got when I realized I was dropped from the group text that’s always going back and forth between the moms in my neighborhood;
The feeling I got when a man at the LDS church let a door swing shut in my face as I was carrying my daughter through and then denied it happened when his wife pointed out how rude he was;
The feeling I got when a woman at the Unitarian church told me I should have taken my wiggly girl outside during the service because we were a distraction.
What am I afraid will happen if I tell my story at a meeting or to a sponsor and someone thinks I don’t qualify for a seat in the rooms?
At first I thought I was afraid that I would drink again. That is sort of true. I really don’t want to drink again, but that’s just how I feel today.
What’s more true is that, with or without the program, I can’t go back to how I was. It is not an option. What I am really afraid of is having to do this thing–learning to live a sober life–alone.
13 thoughts on “What Am I Afraid Of?”
The only requirement for membership is the desire to quit drinking. That doesn’t really help, does it?
Oh yeah…actually it does, ha. I need to be reminded not to overcomplicate things. If only what I *know* lined up better with what I *feel*.
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I grew up Mormon so I understand your anxieties. I’ve left the church however and sometimes things get messy psychologically so I appreciate your honesty. I’ve learned not to judge even though I want to tell you to run… you’ll find your path.
Oh wow, you get it then. I identify more as a post-Mormon these days. I don’t see myself resigning my membership, but I haven’t been to an LDS church in almost a year and am actively investigating other religions.
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I identify as a recovering Mormon. I haven’t had my name taken off the records because I have been lazy, however my mom has and she was very active President of everything at one point or another. Just go easy on yourself.
Recovering Mormon. Brilliant and apropos.
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You are definitely not alone. It has taken me months to get comfortable in solitude. Now it is a gift. Please hang in there. A bunch of us strangers are rooting for you big time! 🙂
31 years sober and I never did the steps “the proper way.” Never wrote out a 4th step. Never did a 5ht step. Why? Because I just went to meetings, listened, then later talked, and learned in my own way, at my own speed. Everyone has a path to walk. You walk yours.
It’s not whether you walk the proper path through the steps, it’s whether you properly walk “your” path through the steps.
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Ah thank you, thank you. I am an extremely independent person so I bought a 12 step workbook and started going through it on my own. I stalled out as soon as I reached 4 because it was the first one that involved another person. And then I was surprised to learn that people work through ALL the steps with a sponsor, even the ones that struck me as being between you and your higher power. I still want a sponsor to talk things over with, but I will keep an open mind about the details regarding how things are done.
I’m coming up on 5 yrs sober. I never did it “that” way either because the alcoholic tendency doesn’t define me. Yes I am an alcoholic going through recovery, but don’t like the “poor me” side of meetings. My recovery MY way. I’ll go to a meeting on my 5 yr anniversary just to get the coin and share.
You and I are birds of a feather. If you’re able please send me a private message. I’d like to take this off WP line. You can get to PM me on FB. Keep your head up and looking forward.
Ah, I know I’m a tad bit late to the game, but you are so strong! Sometimes it seems no matter what we do, the world is against us. No matter what you do with your life, you can do it!
Thank you! I needed to hear this today!