If there is any one thing in sobriety that will save your butt when everything else fails, it is the sober supports you make in these rooms. If you’re new, the idea of having a whole crowd of sober friends who have sober fun probably seems like the most nauseating thing in the world. Or, you could be one of those lucky people who has finally hit bottom and has the gift of desperation and the desire to have what those people have. Whatever boat you find yourself in, the bottom line is that your sober supports are your shipmates, and you are going to sink without them.
When we first come in here, most of us feel like we have entered some crazy episode of the twilight zone, where people are smiling and seem genuinely happy. Deep in the back, or even right up front in our minds, we tell ourselves it has to be fake or it’s all a lie or there’s some catch.
Well, it isn’t fake, there is no lie, and the catch is, is that they have worked the steps and are actually living better lives because of them.
So if you are meandering through your early days of sobriety, and knowing that you need to reach out and make sober supports but still feel too uncomfortable in your skin or uneasy about these people, here are three ways (and a few more suggestions tossed in) to help you find your people.
Go To Meetings
Listen, in the beginning, most people don’t want to go to meetings, especially on a Friday night or after a long day or work or iop or whatever busy activity fills up your day. The long and short of it is; you are never going to find sober supports, in the beginning, unless you are actively engaging in the community.
The cool thing is when you go, and you feel uncomfortable, try to remember that you are the only person judging you. No one else is looking at you wondering if you deserve to be there or need to be there, they are simply happy that you ARE there. They have felt what you are feeling, and they understand how uncomfortable and awkward and uneasy you probably feel as soon as you walk in.
The best way to meet sober supports at meetings is to SHOW UP EARLY and STAY AFTERWARDS. Don’t be that person who shows up late, sits in the back of the room, and darts out before the prayer at the end.
- Get there early
- Offer to help set up chairs
- Pass out books or literature
- INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO PEOPLE
Chances are, the home group members are going to realize that they don’t know you, so they will come up and introduce themselves. If no one does this, choose a different meeting next time. Try same-sex meetings. Try earlier in the day meetings. Try literature meetings and closed meetings. Try out different meetings until you walk into one that feels like home, and then keep going back to it. The more people see you at a meeting, the more they will get to know you. The more you become a little bit willing to step into the uncomfortability of being in a meeting and putting yourself out there, the more sober supports you will make.
Putting yourself out there at meetings is one of those parts about sobriety that is so uncomfortable at first, but really pays off in the end.
Continue to Reach Out
Once you have made connections with some people, it helps if you continue to make your presence known. YOU ARE NOT A BURDEN, PEOPLE WANT YOU THERE, and PEOPLE WANT TO TALK TO YOU. So engage! Ask them about their day, tell them about yours. Ask them questions about sobriety and working the steps.
The beautiful thing about sober supports is that hopefully, they have experience in the program. They can then share their experience with you. Having a hard time figuring out step three? Ask! Not sure if you should start making amends before you have worked a fourth step? First of all, don’t, but mostly, ASK THEM!
None of us come into these rooms knowing everything, although we probably feel like we do. We learn what we learn through the experience of others, and we take what we want and we leave the rest. Most of us will hear loads of good experience, and we will hear loads of mistakes people in recovery have made, and chances are, we will make the same mistakes even after hearing about theirs, but do you know what? We will then be able to share OUR experiences and OUR mistakes with someone new down the line.
When we make sober supports we must continue to reach out to them, we can’t expect them to reach out to us, and we can’t get angry if they don’t. Putting in the footwork, reaching out, lets people know that we are really in this thing and that we really do want to be clean and sober.
DO THE SOBER THINGS
Listen, I know the clubhouse potlucks and AA/NA picnics might sound worse to some but in the beginning, if there is one thing that holds many newcomers back from truly getting engaged in the program, it is the fear that they will never be able to “have fun” again without drinking or getting high.
In reality, that is the biggest crock of bull ever because most of us haven’t had fun with our using for a long, long time. Why else would we stop if it was still fun? Doing the sober things that we think will be a drag, usually, turn out being the first time we actually have one of those deep belly laughs.
Not sure what kind of sober activities to do? Try:
- AA/Na Conferences
- Concerts (with SOBER FRIENDS)
- The Gym
- Game Nights
- Family Dinners (with SOBER FRIENDS)
Truth be told, it doesn’t matter what we achieve in our sobriety, how long we get, or how much money we make. What matters more is that we ENJOY our sobriety. The easiest way to do that is to engage in life, to share our joy with others, and have people to rely on, who can also rely on us. If making sober supports seems worse than death to you right now, try to find just one person, ONE PERSON, in the program who has worked the steps and has experienced a spiritual awakening as the result of them. Keep that one person close, and it will open doors you never thought were there.