S-Anon had been my support for years, and I had grown. My career was blossoming, my marriage was healing, and I was pretty happy. I couldn’t see any need to “reach out” because nothing major was wrong in my life. Now I only called my sponsor when my spouse fell back into some annoying habit like picking on me or demanding my attention when I was feeling stretched. Feeling more and more aloof, and less and less a part of the groups I attended, I decided I must have outgrown the need for too many meetings. I cut back to one a week.
Now, when I did get to that one meeting, I really felt like an alien. I participated in the discussions but it was as though I wasn’t there. One weekend a family crisis hit. I went scrambling through my desk desperately looking for my long-abandoned phone list. Of the few people I knew fairly well, none were home. I was forced to call people I’d only exchanged casual greetings with, though we attended the same meetings. I felt awkward as I explained that I had sort of drifted and hadn’t been reaching out and now I had a problem. Everyone was wonderful! Soon, when I walked into meetings, there were warm smiles and hugs from people I’d spoken with earlier. Gradually there were shared lunches, a shopping trip here, a movie there. I felt at home in my group again.
Now I know that no matter how busy (or happy!) I am, I need to protect the only real source of support I’ve ever had, with a little daily care. I made a commitment then, to call one person in my program every day, besides my sponsor. Not necessarily to pour out my guts or solve problems, but just to stay connected. Some calls were just, “Hi! I’m rushing out the door, but I need to hear an S-Anon voice before I go to work.” Or, “I’m checking in. I had a good day and I don’t want to forget why. I’m glad I have a program and I’m glad you’re in it.” Other calls were longer and more intimate. But what a difference it made!
I’m glad to be reminded of that time, because over the holidays I began to slip back into that isolation. I need to remember this; the phone isn’t just for unloading or solving problems. It is a way to reach out so I won’t ever feel left out. It creates the sense of belonging I need, while living with a disease that, by its very nature, can cause me to feel left out, shut out, or different. I find my sense of belonging in S-Anon now, whether circumstances around me are great or awful.
Reprinted from the 1990 issue of S-Anews©.