Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Love and Camaraderie

On Thursday nights, I meet with a group of men from Narcotics Anonymous. It’s not an NA meeting. Rather, it is a group of men who are connected through sponsorship.

I was skeptical at first, having seen such meetings appear to be elitist from the outside looking in. However, after a good bit of encouragement from my sponsor to attend, I went to my first such gathering earlier this year.

What I found was not an elite group of know-it-alls, but rather, a group of guys from various backgrounds with the same purpose: to get the very most out of recovery, and help one another do the same.

In time, these men have become my brothers. When one of us celebrates a victory, we all celebrate. When one of us hurts, we all hurt. Our time together is full of laughter and camaraderie. We are all so different, and yet we are the same.

There’s a lot of wisdom in having a group of people around us on whom we can depend. It’s a network of guys who care. Like a safety net to someone on the flying trapeze, just knowing they are there instills confidence. Knowing that they love me takes it yet another step further.

I’m not talking about a hypothetical “I’d step in front of a train for you” kind of love. That’s a love that is almost never going to be experienced. After all, I haven’t walked along a railroad track since I was a child! No train is going to come plowing through my living room at night.

The love I’m talking about is that kind of love that says “I’m here for you. I’ll listen when you hurt, and offer encouragement. I’ll grieve with you when you lose something or someone. I’ll offer hope when you need it, and rejoice with you when you feel joy.”

Not only that, but it’s a love that flows both ways. It allows me to listen, encourage, grieve, hope, and offer joy. After all, few things in life feel better than being there for a true friend.

There is another kind of love I experience on Thursday nights. It’s the love Amanda offers me when it’s time for me to go spend time with these men. She not only encourages me to go, she insists that I go. Despite a hectic work schedule that can keep us apart on weeknights when I travel, she knows how important time with these men is for me.

Through NA, I am learning to love again. Perhaps the best part of the process has been learning to love myself again. As a result, I have recaptured the self-respect and dignity that had disappeared during my active addiction.

The first eleven of twelve steps in Narcotics Anonymous begin with the word “We”. The significance of that simple two-letter word must not be overlooked. In NA, recovering addicts acknowledge our interdependence. The shared experience of the group benefits the individual, and visa versa.

“We” not only implies love, it demands love. The love I have found in the rooms of NA, as well as that deeper love shared among my Thursday night friends, reminds me to share that love with the newcomer. After all, I can only keep what I have by giving it away.

Have a remarkable day!

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