I was TERRIFIED to attend a 12 step meeting

I don’t know if I can adequately reproduce in words the absolute fear that I had about attending my first 12 step meeting.  “What would people think?”  “Who might be there?”  “What if someone found out?”  “What if someone I know is there?”  “What if it’s a room full of weirdos?”  After several months of fretting and “thinking about it” I finally got up the courage to … ask a friend to go with me.  Seriously!  I called a friend and asked if he’d go with me to a group meeting.  Did I mention that I was absolutely terrified?

It is still weird to look back with the eyes and experience I have today on the events from not too long ago.  I forget how locked up my emotions were.  I forget that I was a pressure cooker of stored up emotional baggage from years and years of locking it all away — there was NO WAY I wanted that sucker opened.  I forget that I was completely surrounded by the impenetrable COCOON OF SHAME!  I barely had the courage to tell a private counselor things.  I had only just started a 3 person private group meeting to discuss pornography addiction with a couple of close friends once a week.  I was not ready to open up to the world just yet.  Not by a long shot.

But, I had a friend who had beat his addiction and I wanted what he had.  He was a wide open book.  He wanted to shout it from the roof tops that “Pornography is addicting, it ruins your marriage, you need to stop, and it can be beat!”  I liked his courage.  I thought if I could just borrow it for a one hour meeting that maybe it would kick start my own courage and then I could become more like him.  Turns out I was right — you CAN borrow someone’s courage.

I will be forever grateful for my friend who went with me.  He didn’t care for the meeting, but it freed me from my fear and led me to my freedom from addiction and I want others to have the same opportunity.

If you live in my area, I’ll be passing out “Hi my name is Mike” business cards to local church leaders with my website so you can contact me if you need to “call a friend” to join you for a meeting.  I’d be honored to join you!  If you don’t have a friend in your area, look up a meeting at either SAAPP.org or the LDS Addiction Recovery Program websites and send me an email first.  I’ll send you an encouraging note and I promise that you can do it!  Nothing bad will happen.  You might get embarrassed (it is a normal human emotion after all), but that’s okay, it didn’t hurt me.  I got over it.  You might see someone there you know — I have, several times, and we’re better friends for it!  And you know, they will think something about you.  They will think, “Hey!  There’s a guy with an addiction who is fighting to overcome it.  Good for him!” or “Hey!  There’s a gal  with an addiction who is fighting to overcome it.  Good for her!”

Be BRAVE my friends!  You can do it.  You really can.  And once you go — just keep going!  Work the program.  Find a sponsor right away!  Ask for help.  You will be embraced and guided to your recovery.  I know because I’ve lived it.  The freedom is real.  The peace is pure joy.  You will be happy!

My name is Mike.

PS.  I didn’t actually Trademark the “COCOON OF SHAME” — I just thought it looked cool to put the symbol after it 😉

One thought on “I was TERRIFIED to attend a 12 step meeting

  1. I attended Sexaholics Anonymous meetings for about a year maybe seven or eight years ago. I had a sponsor, and I did extensive step work, especially on step 4, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” I wrote sixty pages on my sexual history, and shared it at meetings. I found this extremely helpful in terms of understanding my addiction, but it didn’t help me to stop using. I think part of the problem is that I never found or felt the “fellowship” that I was looking for. Meetings continued to feel like me revealing my soul to a group of strangers, which was painful and alienating. I empathized with their stories and their struggles, as they probably did with mine, but I was unable to feel a deep connection with any of my fellow sufferers. I eventually gave up and moved on, seeking other methods to stop, such as therapy and blocking software on my computer.

    I do still do step work, albeit without an official sponsor. I often touch base with my cousin, who is a recovering alcoholic with many years of sobriety under his belt. He has given me some great tips on how to work with the steps, especially those related to spirituality and connection with God.

    I know that I could go back. I know that I may have just not found the right group, and also that I am in a much different place now than I was eight years ago. I also know that traditional twelve step programs are not for everyone, and I may just be part of that demographic. I also know that I CANNOT DO THIS ALONE, and my own blogging, as well as my commitment to honesty with my wife, friends, spiritual community and (when appropriate) clients, helps to keep me honest and, much more than ever before, sober.

    And yes, I pray for the day when I do not have to qualify that word.

    Liked by 1 person

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