Finding your Tribe
Spoiler: sober.coffee does NOT have all the answers
On a recent episode of the sober.coffee podcast, a guest (Quint B) was sharing how irritating it was when somebody steps up at an AA meeting and begins to pontificate about how life was for US, how WE should feel, how WE should act, etc. We are in agreeance with Quint’s observation. Few like to be preached to or represented by somebody else. Alcoholism is an individual disease, not a group condition. In as much, it needs to be treated individually.
As spelled out below, group involvement could be the secret sauce that makes the whole thing work.
We (Mike and Glenn) do not have all the answers, and we are not always right. We are simply two humans battered by our addictive affliction who desire to share how we came to the other side, stay on the other side, and move forward with a better life.
What we have learned along the way is that there is great value in other people's stories and the help they provide. Many of their references may not be relatable to us, but their recount of recovery uncovers similarities we can deploy for our successes.
Sitting on the “knowledge nuggets” that were given to us so unselfishly and not sharing them with the next struggling alcoholic would be irresponsible. So, we share.
That is the beauty of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA is a community of support that teaches through individual openness. Mike and Glenn are not representatives of AA, as we are merely part of the community.
So then. Let us attempt to be “teachy” and not “preachy,” and let's look at the roles of the individual and the group:
According to the AA preamble, AA is a fellowship of people helping each other solve the drink problem. It isn’t a product or service that helps an individual get sober and stay sober. Instead, it is a community, a fellowship, a group, and a tribe.
As with any group, individual roles and input make up the net output. If you don't have participation from individuals, you have no group. AA Is a community built on the perfect balance of give and take.
AA goes through great pains to make sure that the organization itself does not stand in front of or in the way of its mission which is to bring people through sobriety. (link to 12 traditions)
In preparing for this post, we researched dozens of sites that talked about the benefit(s) of group therapy. We encourage those on the fence to do the diligence and learn how group interaction might benefit one’s sobriety.
Groups and tribe mentality
There is such an essential benefit to group involvement. Identity is found in numbers; a hockey team, a card club, a golf league, the PTO, the PTA, etc., extend a person's foundation by feeding their passion. This has proven to us as there is no better feeling than connecting with a group of recovering alcoholics whose purpose is to help the next struggling alcoholic.
Now, this is something that we might not include in our Facebook post (though some do), but we can tell you firsthand that when we are face to face (or in a virtual meeting room) that the camaraderie and connectedness build strength and confidence.
Our research has shown us that isolation exasperates bad behavior. The anecdote to isolation is socialization. The benefit of groups could be broken into the following categories:
Finding a group that understands your pain through their own experience draws immediate connection and support. Mutual respect and trust are built over time when we are less likely to be judged on our past or criticized for our goals.
As groups are made up of unique individuals, it follows that unique perceptions of struggles, and life in general, are generated for the benefit of others. So much experience to learn from as everyone will be coming from a different place based on time and life view.
There is an undercurrent of accountability that is spawned in connected groups. Accountability gets a bad rap, but in the case of recovery, it was, for us, a motivating element. By its very nature, the group supports improvement through change.
AA “Meetings?” typically last one hour. That leaves 23 hours of living in the created world apart from our pack. Yet, there is confidence as we head out, knowing we have a safety net to fall back on in times of struggle. The good news is that our groups can be omnipresent in this world of handheld devices.
“What you see here, what you hear here, what you say here, stays here…“ - this is read at the beginning of most meetings we attend. It's more than just a statement. It is a commitment of confidence that we have seldom seen broken. Though there is no guarantee of confidentiality, there is a spirit of trust amongst the broken. This goes a long way in our ability to be open and honest about where we are so that we can succeed in getting to where we want to get.
Have you found your tribe?
Just like any group, there could be members that you don't “feel.” We are pro-sobriety and hope that you find a tribe to connect to and resources to utilize on your journey to recovery. A great website called Feedspot lists sobriety podcasts that you might want to check out.
However you choose to take your journey, we hope that you will be involved in a group, providing value through your participation. By doing so, you are doing great work.
This group appreciates you!
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from sober.coffee podcast #102 Animation The podcast dropped on 4/9/2023. Click here to hear the podcast.
Shout out to Citizen Advocates for the framework
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own