Notes to the Newcomer
To counter the destructive consequences of addiction, addicts in anonymous addiction groups typically draw on five major resources:
1. Sobriety. Their willingness to stop acting out in their own personal bottom-line addictive behavior on a daily basis.
2. Sponsorship / Meetings. Their capacity to reach out for the supportive fellowship within their anonymous addiction group.
3. Steps. Their practice of the Twelve Step program of recovery to achieve physical and emotional sobriety.
4. Service. Their giving back to the anonymous addiction group/community what they continue to freely receive.
5. Spirituality. Their developing a relationship with a Power greater than themselves which can guide and sustain them in recovery.
What should I do first? Take a deep breath, take it easy, be gentle with yourself, and affirm that you might not have all the answers but that you are willing to try something different.
Here are esoberbuddy's Top 10 suggestions for the Newcomer:
1. Find a meeting. Go to the links page at this site -- find what you think your particular addiction is -- and look up Anonymous 12-Step Group's webpage. You should be able to find a meeting location there.
2. Find a temporary sponsor. This person will help you understand and serve as guide to the program. He/she will also serve as an accountability partner. Set boundaries and determine accountability/communications expectations.
3. Commit completely and totally to honesty with your Temporary sponsor, your group, and your accountability partners.
4. Get your name on the phone list of your anonymous group -- and then exchange your number with a few people in the meeting. Make 2-3 calls a day or as many as you need to stay sober. If you can establish this simple discipline -- your sobriety will kick into high gear. Remember this simple saying: Learn it right and do it right for the rest of your life; Learn it wrong and do it wrong and spend the rest of your life trying to get it right. The hard way is the easy way.
5. Get a copy of the anonymous group's Big Book and read it cover to cover. Also, begin to read all the resource literature for your recovery group.
6. Get a journal and a feelings list (there is one on this site) and start recording your feelings everyday. After you've completed your feelings list, record what you are POWERLESS over that day; what is making your life UNMANAGEABLE (CONSEQUENCES) that day; what you are GRATEFUL for that day; and what you HOPE for that day. Then call your temporary sponsor and check in your feelings and these four points. This will help you start identifying your feelings (addicts have trouble with this!) and also the things that you need to surrender and those things you want out of recovery.
7. Pray and meditate everyday. A good place to start is reading the SERENITY PRAYER (see Prayers in Main Menu) and the Surrender Prayer (see Surrender in the Main Menu).
8. Find a therapist. Ask those in your meeting who they are seeing and get a referral. Then make an appointment to see her.
9. Take a piece of paper out and answer these questions:
What are the negative consequences to me/my family/my relationships/my job if I continue to act out ... in the next few months and in the long term?
What are the positive consequences to me/my family/my relationships/my job if I stop acting out ... in the next few months and in the long term?
10. With the help of your temporary sponsor, take out a sheet a paper and divide it into three sections (landscape). Put at the top of the paper three headings: NOT OK -- Unsure -- OK. Under each of these headings list the things that you do that you think are NOT OK, then those that you think that are OK. If you are unsure on any specific activity, put it under Unsure and discuss it with your temporary sponsor. This activity will help you get CLEAR and later, help you define your destructive behaviors, addictive patterns, accessory behaviors, bottom line behaviors, and ultimately your healthy behaviors.
You're off to a great start! Stay connected, surrendered, honest and accountable. The rest won't be easy -- but you'll have a firm foundation to build on.
10 Simple Steps to Live by Everyday:
1. Admit Powerlessness -- 'Lord please help me, I am powerless over my addiction! My will has failed me.
2. Surrender – ‘I can’t do it Lord, I don’t have the strength, wisdom, knowledge or experience to do this by myself. I give it to you Lord. Your will not mine be done.'
3. Acceptance – The Big Book -- Accept Life on Life's Terms. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.
4. Let go – especially of control, perfection, expectations and outcomes. 'I put it in your hands Lord, no matter how it turns out, for I know that it is YOUR will for me.'
5. Get and stay honest. Seek truth in everything -- but start with yourself!
6. Practice the shorthand version of the first three steps: “Lighten Up!”
7. Humility is the antidote to the disease -- Find ways to stay humble, admitting powerlessness and practicing surrender -- seek to be a garden variety human being -- not less than, not more than, just garden variety
8. Forgive – not for them but for you.
9. Trust – that no matter what – it’s going to be okay because I’m in the loving care of my Higher Power.
10. Practice willingness. Do the next right thing.
Things I've learned --
I don’t have to be perfect . . . my goal is to be a 'garden variety' human being.
I like to take my wife's inventory more than my own. It is easy to look at other people and see their faults -- it is much harder to look at my own. I need to look only at myself. I must trust that as I take action to fix myself their will be a carryover effect on those closest to me. I've learned that if I change first, others will change with me.
I have a hard time communicating with anyone, but particularly my wife. Instead of communicating my wants and needs to her or my family, I shut down emotionally and start to build anger and resentment because I’m not getting what I need. This quickly transitions into the roles of victim and martyr. I need to be open to telling her how I feel and allow myself to be vulnerable with her. This creates intimacy.
When I’m feeling a tremendous amount of fear and anxiety, control and perfection creep into my psyche. My faith and trust in God are the first things to go in this scenario. I become my own higher power trying to control my way back to certainty. I shut down emotionally and run around like the Tazmanian devil. I am no fun to be around.
I own my feelings ~ I get to determine how I feel.
Life has its up and downs ~ I must have courage to see the down times through because there will be an upswing!
I gotta work my program everyday ~ if not I will relapse ~ and if I do work my program I might relapse as well, but it will be quicker, less painful and I won’t beat myself up as much if you are working a program! Peace will be restored more quickly.
I have to get absolutely clear on the consequences of recovery and a relapse. I write the consequences down for both the short term and the long term.
I have to remember that Faith without works is dead. But I also have to understand what this means!!! I don't place a higher priority on good “works” than on my faith. Sometimes I have a warped sense of God’s love ~ feeling that I have to “earn” God’s love by working for it. My works alone cannot save me. Neither can my faith alone. Faith opens the door to God’s storerooms, making us “right” with God and able to receive His grace. I am saved by God's grace through faith. So my goal is to demonstrate my faith through my good works because I trust in God and my works are an example of my love for him. To demonstrate good works with little or no faith is putting the cart before the horse in some vain attempt to gain God’s grace and love. First I believe, then I trust, then I take a step in faith, believing in God’s promises of love and grace and I demonstrate good works because I am exercising my faith in God, not in spite of it.