Friday, November 14, 2008

Recovery and Relationships

I am taking a substance abuse class and as part of this attending a few meetings for persons in recovery. So far I have only gone to one AA meeting. Have you ever gone to one?

I have a professor who said that people in recovery are possibly the only people who truly understand how to be in relationship with others. They have once had this stripped from them, or never had it in the first place, but through recovery they have learned that there is nothing to hide behind and you are out there. And they can experience true relationships, true relational experiences.

After attending just this one meeting I could see the truth to this statement. I am not a big drinker, I drink some and I know it is sometimes because I find them tasty, sometimes because I am nervous at a party and it does soothe some nerves, but sometimes it is just because. That same professor said that so many of us just have the glass of wine, create a social symbiosis of sorts - it's sharing in a group experience, it is loosening inhibitions. It is pretending to let go - when really it is just giving in.

This is not to say that I think social drinking, or limited drinking is a problem. It is that the beauty that I have seen in my research, in the books I have read and the meeting I attended, as well as the inspiring woman I spent about a half hour on the phone with today is amazing.

Alcohol and drugs ravish people's lives. And whether in recovery you come from a disease model, an AA powerless approach, a inner power to overcome approach, whatever, you come to a place of change. You come to a relational experience.

This sounds terrible, I do not want an addiction experience - I do not want that struggle, the pain that is caused to loved ones or anything irrational like that - but I do want that community. That acceptance. That revival from brokenness. It is beauty incarnate.

There is so much more to say on this - and this is probably a terrible representation of how I feel and I fear belittles things which is not at all my intention, but mainly it is meant to be a small statement of respect.

The process to reach recovery seems to me to be difficult and scary. I have so much respect for people in recovery - whether they attend meetings or don't - whatever their practice is in their life, I think it is amazing.


mle said...

i wonder if you couldn't find parallels of these "broken" feelings in the lives of people ravaged by natural disaster or some other sufferings. i always remember the feeling of community with our neighbors after an earthquake in socal, and i wonder if it's not a lot of the same kind of nakedness that you view in the AA meetings. i hated the earthquakes, but i loved the feeling of connection with everyone else afterward. not the same, i know, but perhaps in a more serious setting, like the katrina aftermath, a war zone, or another part of this bleeding world, the people are feeling something similar to what you describe.

Chris said...

I was going to leave a long comment here but erased it. Interesting. I'm not at all surprised you feel this way because it's how I felt when I first saw it as well.

You should read my first book for more on being blown away by meetings and fellowship.

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Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: And my comments and anecdotes on life at:

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel