Five years ago when I walked through those doors I was exhausted. Listening to others share about their exhaustion, experiences and lessons learned made me comfortable enough to exhale. Is this an answer to one of my many prayers? And so I kept going. Weeks turned into months; then a year; two years; and now 5 years today.
My first experience with a 12-Step Program was over 20-years ago when an "angel"-friend invited me to join her in celebrating her 5th Birthday of sobriety. I felt honored that she would share this very personal & private part of her journey with me. I distinctly remember thinking to myself as I listened to the shares of mothers, fathers, spouses, adult children, etc. that the individuals who found themselves in one of these rooms were no different than me. S/he just chose another way to cope with life that did more harm than good. I was both baffled & amazed.
These were every day people from all walks of life. Whatever title one would use to divide people, you will find in these rooms. Some were unemployed and/or homeless. Some were actively pursuing recovery in full time sober living programs. Some were stay-at-home moms/dads. Some were working professionals like doctors, nurses, teachers, students, entertainers, athletes, executives, religious leaders, politicians, military soldiers, police officers, firemen. These were not the faces I had come to believe were addicts. I was awakened to the reality of addiction & its impact on our society as a whole.
This is when The Lord began to develop my compassion and taught me how important it is to meet people wherever they are on their journey. It was simple. It's not about me.
It was ironic that I would find myself in a similar room twenty-something years later listening to parents, spouses, adult children and others share their experiences and encouraging others to learn healthy ways of supporting loved ones who are finding their way. We all were waiting for our loved ones to learn healthy ways of living with their physical and mental illnesses. Illnesses like alcoholism and addictions as well as other types of compulsive behaviors most consider "bad habits" like habitual lying & gossiping; compulsive spending; overeating; shoplifting; narcissism; manipulation; anger; sex; pornography; gambling; prescription/over-the-counter drugs; and, codependency (better known as "I hold the power to fix or save you").
On this day 5 years ago, I put into action what I'd heard & learned in those rooms about how to support someone as they find their way. I made the hard decision to stop doing for others what they are capable of doing for themselves. I no longer felt guilty for not helping, especially when s/he caused their situation and was capable of finding a solution without my help. It became easier to say no to requests for help from repeat offenders.
I put myself first & did the right thing for me. My life changed. I was no longer exhausted. I was once again breathing properly. My health improved. My sleep returned. I was focused. I made better choices. I got my joy back!
But more importantly, I received His peace.
Now, when prompted, I share the blessing & lessons with others who find themselves on a similar journey. Today, I thank those "angel"-friends for trusting me with their journey and for supporting me as I learned healthy ways of accepting, forgiving and encouraging the loved ones in my life as they find their way.
God Will ALWAYS Get All The Glory!
Friends of teachAFIA
Open sharing about the journey of becoming better. "I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."