Hey Y’all, I’m back! So, this morning I want to look at something that many, especially long-time clean and/or sober individuals may have forgotten. It’s possible that these fortunate souls have forgotten because they are no longer the what they were when they first came to the rooms to heal their spirits and attempt to remain free of their addiction(s), one day at a time. For a fortunate few, that 1st day is a distant memory in the sense of having occurred a long time ago.
In AA it is said that “The newcomer is the most important person in the room.” In NA it is said that “The newcomer is the most important person at any meeting, because we can only keep what we have by giving it away.”
For many of us, it took a long time before we really understood this. One thing I remember very clearly is being told that “For every ten people that come into the rooms, one will stay. For every ten of those, one will stay sober (clean) five years.” Upon hearing this, my first thought was, “That’s not very good odds!” My second thought was, “That’s bullshit!”
But I wanted to to get sober. I wanted to regain at least some measure of respect for myself, and I wanted to earn back at least some respect from my peers and superiors. I was hanging on to my “career” by the slimmest of threads. When the kind folks at rehab actually come to believe what you are telling them with regard to your indulgence(s) as far as amounts and frequency, and then tell you that if you continue at your current pace you’ll be dead in four months, any sane person says to themselves, “Time to quit.” Of course, as we have seen, many people are not sane enough to get it, and deal with it. Many of those that are still somewhat sane can’t deal with it. Many die.
The more time we spend in “The Rooms,” the more we see. Every now and then we get a glimpse of who we were, and how quickly and easily we are capable of becoming that person again. All we need do is stop working our program of recovery and stop giving away what we have.
There are days when I remember SO vividly who I was when I came into the rooms. Outside, I was calm, cool, and collected. Inside, I was scared of my own shadow. I was desperate to be able to at least look myself in the eye again. Who knows; I might even like myself again. But that fear stayed with me for a long time. The people around me thought I was doing great because I had embraced recovery so whole-heartedly. Inside though, I was scared shitless for quite a long time.
That fear, that desperation, that self-loathing, indifference, and lack of self-esteem and being void of any sense of self-worth was so palatable, I am instantly transported back to it even now, all these many years later. It still makes me shake and gives me chills; my heart still races, my head throbs, and I get that feeling in my gut; you know the one. It’s a tightness that binds you up and won’t hardly let you breathe.
When one comes into a meeting for the first time, (or any time we have relapsed and are starting our journey anew), these are some of the things we experience. Some of us want our jobs back, or our families back, or maybe even ourselves back. Sometimes we “bargain” with ourselves or the universe, or the Gods, or whatever: “If you let me have my family back, I promise I’ll stop (fill in the blank).”
On the other hand, some of us that come into meetings don’t make it and we wind up in jail, mental institutions, (Do they still even have those?), or just dead. Spend enough time working a program of recovery and we see everything.
After all these years, two things are certain in my mind:
The person that is here for the first time is the most important person in attendance.
The further I am from my last drink (fix, pill, snort, affair, whatever), the closer I am to my next one.
— “It works if you work it!” —