by Mark H.
Early sobriety was a confusing, hard time of radical change from a life of substance abusing dysfunction to living sober.
When I was about a month sober, I learned a very important lesson from an AA friend Marty. I trusted him because he was a kind and happy man.
Marty could tell I was struggling. He had some years of sobriety and knew what to suggest.
“Why don’t you come with me to this small treatment center and speak,” Marty asked me. “It will be good for you.”
The thought of exposing myself like that in front of others frightened me. I seldom even spoke in meetings at that time. And besides, I had a hard time imagining how I could help.
“What could I possibly offer them, I’ve only been sober a month?” I asked Marty.
“Well, a lot. You’ve been sober longer than all of them. Some have only been sober a few hours,” Marty responded.
Luckily, I was in that classic state of willingness, sick and tired of being sick and tired. I really didn’t know how I could help, but I agreed to speak anyway. I decided to trust Marty, I made a leap of faith.
On the way to the center, I asked Marty what I should speak about. “Tell them how you did it,” he said.
“Did what?” I asked.
“How you have stayed sober,” Marty responded.
I was still internalizing my new identity, that of a sober person. It was all so new. Marty and this experience helped me let go of my old, using identity and strengthen my new sober identity.
So, I swallowed hard and got up before a group of about 20 folks and told my story of recovery, short although it was. Nevertheless, the experience helped me start to give myself some credit for my achievement, it helped me feel good about myself, something I desperately needed back then.
The guys were appreciative and even applauded. Some of them asked questions afterward. The biggest thing I learned from speaking was the importance of getting out of myself, getting out of my very confused head, my troubled state of mind for at least an hour or so. It taught me I could find relief from my troubles in ways other than drugs and alcohol.
I also felt good about helping my fellow recovering people…..giving freely of what was freely given to me.
I never forgot the lesson Marty helped me learn that day decades ago: give to others and you also improve your own sobriety. Thanks Marty, thanks AA.