To my friends in 12 step programs

Whether because of my work in HIV/AIDS or just the company I keep, I get invited to sobriety celebrations often. I am always honored to be trusted to go to an open meeting. While I don’t self identify as an addict (my challenges lie elsewhere) I certainly value the times I have been in the rooms to bear witness to the fellowship & support my friends get out of 12 step programs.

As an outsider I sit silent, listening, and am always amazed at the open & honest sharing that happens at celebrations. I am thankful that you trust me to see this space, your friends and your support.

I got to go to 3 amazing celebrations over the past 12 months. A member recognized me and thought I was an addict just starting my journey to recovery. I appreciated the offer of support but wondered how to say I was a friend to many in the rooms without seeming to feed stigma around addiction. So I simply said that I was a friend and glad to bear witness at open meetings. I noticed that at these celebrations outsiders are few and I consider myself very lucky indeed to have friends who trust me to know they are in a 12 step program. I’m always happy to be at sober events or be sober in solidarity at places where others are drinking or whatever.

It is such a small thing for me to consciously abstain and be with a friend when they need a visible bit of support. I learn so much from my friends’ journeys. I am happy they have found something that works for them. It reminds me of the feeling I get at Buddhist meetings when everyone is chanting in unison. A sense of being connected. A small step in overcoming the alienation that seems to permeate this day & age.

For my friends who have disclosed they are in 12 step programs to me, thank you for that gift. I feel honoured to be a part of your circle of support whatever that looks like for you & me.

To my friends who go to meeting that I don’t know about, I assume everyone is in recovery (or about to be in the next moment). You don’t need to tell me anything. Just know I’m rooting for you and I believe in you 🙂