To Share or Not to Share
Beginning a path to recovery may involve attending 12-step meetings. When you first attend a meeting, you encounter many people who are unknown to you. There could be many people in attendance or there could be just a few. You may feel alone and not know what to do. As you enter the room, a stranger may approach you and ask if you are new to the meeting. You reply, yes, and they ask your name. You are provided with a little book and maybe some other materials. You take a seat and wait for the meeting to begin.
As the meeting starts, you may hear that 12-step meetings were built on recovery, hope, and strength through sharing stories of recovery. You might start to feel uncomfortable, as you thought you just had to attend and listen to the other attendees; the ones who had been around for awhile. You think of leaving but decide to stay. You hope you are not called on to talk about yourself and your addiction.
The meeting progresses and you hear the others share their experiences; how much time they have in recovery, what brought them to recovery, and why they continue to attend meetings. One after the other, stories are shared, tears are shed, and some may even laugh. The part of the meeting where new members are introduced is nearing and you are hoping you do not need to say anything. The organizer asks if there are new members and you reluctantly raise your hand. Everyone is staring at you! You say your name and everyone says welcome or hello to you. You may feel uncomfortable or nervous as someone asks if you would like to share.
At this point you can say no, I just want to listen and that is totally fine with the group. The meeting ends and you may talk to a few people and then head home. For the most part it was a good experience. You do think about whether you could share with this group of strangers and you start to think about what you might say next time.
Sharing personal stories of your addiction and what brought you to the meeting can be scary for some. There are many people who attend 12-step meetings who may say very little even if they have attended the meetings for months or years. In addition, there are people who speak at every meeting and seem to have a lot to share.
To share or not to share is your choice; however, there are benefits to sharing your stories of recovery, strength, and hope. First, it gets it out of you and into a place where there is no judgment of what you say and there are no barriers to what you can talk about. Twelve-step meetings can be very therapeutic as you get the opportunity to talk to others and work on a program of recovery. In the process of sharing your stories, you might even help the new person who is there for the first time.