I will always remember my first exposure to the unfamiliar culture of S-Anon meetings. The Twelve-Step lingo was so foreign that I felt like they were speaking a different language! The readings, the shares, and the slogans were all so unfamiliar. Everything from “Hi, my name is…” to “Keep coming back” felt odd and even artificial to me. Did these people really mean what they were saying, or were they just going along with the program?
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the answer was somewhere in the middle. Some of us “newbies” were simply mouthing the words, sensing the truth of it, but still trying to grasp the meaning of it all. Other members who were further along in the process had varying abilities to relate to and apply the principles of the Twelve Steps to their lives. I have come to appreciate how the readings and practices of the Twelve Step meetings are designed to help us grow into the significance of what we are hearing and saying. Every week, we build up our understanding of the S-Anon Problem, the Keys to Recovery, the slogans, and the rest.
One area that was especially peculiar to me at the beginning was the positive affirmations I heard other S-Anon members practicing. I saw positive affirmations in the Gifts of the S-Anon Program. I felt uncomfortable reading statements about my recovery that were not yet true. After reading our literature, I would sometimes feel challenged by the passages. How could I say, “I let go of outcomes, and my burden is lifted,” when I was clearly not letting go of outcomes? Or, “My sobriety is not dependent on my partner’s recovery,” when my current emotional state noticeably proved otherwise?
Gradually, I began to discover that verbalizing the truths of recovery was helping me to grow into them. I didn’t have to be the epitome of the statement, “I practice detachment with love,” in order to legitimately express my desire to live that way. What I found was that the more I said it, the more it came true!
Reprinted from the Fall 2010 issue of The S-Anews©.