Sharing your experiences with addiction and recovery is a cornerstone of 12 Step programmes. It allows you to tell others your story and let them know they aren’t alone. It helps you get clarity on your challenges and applause for your victories. It keeps you honest when your thinking goes astray. It can also be very difficult, especially at the beginning. If you have trouble sharing, here are some thoughts to consider.
Start small. You don’t have to share more than you are comfortable with. You don’t even have to say you’re an alcoholic or addict. You can say, “Hi, I’m Jim and I want to quit drinking.” No one can force you to keep talking. In fact, it’s better to share too little than too much. You don’t want to be kicking yourself for having said too much, especially if you are already prone to anxiety. If you wish you had shared more, there’s always next time.
They’ve heard it all before. The odds are low that your behaviour in active addiction was uniquely bad. No one decides to seek help for addiction because everything is great. People get help when they have alienated their families, lost their jobs, gone to jail, or worse. Whatever it is you’re ashamed of is probably pretty common in the world of addiction recovery. The strength of the group is discovering you aren’t alone in your pain.
Get a sponsor. Some things really are better not shared with the group. If you feel compelled to talk about something potentially damaging to you or others, or if something is just too hard to talk about publicly, you might do better to discuss it with your sponsor. Your sponsor is not legally obligated to keep your confidence, but she should be someone you trust enough to discuss personal problems with.
Go to more meetings. Or try different meetings. Every group has a different dynamic. If you don’t feel comfortable talking in one meeting, you might feel a little better in another one. You might also feel more comfortable after attending a few meetings and becoming more familiar with the group. It’s weird to be the new person and feel like the other people already know each other. When you feel more comfortable with the people and the way meetings go, you might find it easier to share.
Smarmore Castle Private Clinic in County Louth, near Dublin was founded in 1988 as a residential rehabilitation hospital treating people suffering from drug and alcohol purposes. Smarmore Castle believes in helping patients lead a life of abstinence through 12 Step programmes, detox and medical treatment, psychotherapy, and complementary therapies. For more information, please call 041-214-5111. For those who live out of the country, the international number is 00353-41-214-5111.