Someone once cracked a joke about having to attend “Anonymous Anonymous” because they were addicted to meetings, AA, etc. For a moment, I thought that they were serious and my jaw dropped at the thought of something as absurd as a fellowship called Anonymous Anonymous actually existing. I should note that this was during one of my first experiences with recovery and I quickly discovered that this Anonymous Anonymous nonsense was a joke. Whether or not this demonstrates the quality of humor that floats around “the rooms” is a topic for another day, but it did confirm some of my own doubts about meeting attendance, sponsorship and Bill W. worship – is there such a thing as too much recovery?
Being human, many individuals in early recovery and even long term recovery can get burned out. At first, there is every reason to experience a thrill in establishing ones newfound long-term goal of recovery. All the new people and all the new friends we encounter at meetings, the feeling of one’s health and sanity returning, the reward of gaining self-esteem in knowing that this new way of life is both a genuinely positive decision and will be a life-affirming experience. I would go so far as to say it is akin to being a fresh religious convert or even the initial euphoria-phase of a new romantic relationship, but much like how our chemicals of choice brought us to a place of utter bliss and despondency, eventually the effects wear off and disillusionment (or addiction) settles in. We are then left with two options – do more in an attempt to recreate and sustain the effects or try something else.
Individuals who have had years of sobriety, a number of commitments, sponsors by the dozen and every passage of the Big Book memorized do go out. I do not assume to know why people who are seemingly taking all the right actions relapse nor do I feel that there is always a clear answer. Some might argue that alcoholism and addiction are “cunning, baffling and powerful,” but I think that is a cop-out. It suggests that there is not a clear reason for them going out, and we should not try and discover it. I find that to be an awfully irresponsible way of shrugging off the opportunity to learn something from another’s mistake. Perhaps there needs to be more of a discussion regarding what to do when someone feels that they are in a recovery-rut.
While it is evident that AA and other Anonymous programs have much to offer, one’s recovery does not have to begin and end at a meeting. It is possible to let the many facets of our lives fall by the wayside by focusing too much on our recovery. Replacing an addictive drug with an addictive activity is still addiction. I am confident that the trick to staying motivated and maintaining a healthy relationship with ourselves, our recovery and our lives is by finding balance and constructing our lives in such a way that each integral piece can complement and foster another.
By Cameron C.