After many years of recovery I can still feel shame when this happens. And it happened again just this week: A man in my home group celebrated 6 months and he was glowing. His life was transformed, he had found a deep faith in his Higher Power, his surrender was total; he had completed his step work and was quoting the Big Book. His “share” was more lecture than personal story, but still I bit.
I was jealous.
I know better. I knew better. But I could feel myself become envious and annoyed. I knew that I should be happy for his newcomer’s pink cloud and his new life but my own smallness revealed my envy. After all these years and all this work—I’m still trying to surrender, have absolute faith, and be a perfectly perfect person.
I know, I know.
This is also why I wrote “Out of the Woods”. In this book I talk about the awkward things, the difficult things and even the embarrassing things that can happen to us in long-term recovery. Envying a newcomer is just one of them.
It is times like this that I wish for regular meeting for people who have ten or 15 or 20 years. Not to leave other people behind but to be able to say, “Does anyone else feel like this?” and to laugh at something like my envy of the newcomer.
I know better. You know better. We all know better. But still.
I’m know that I did exactly what he did when I was new to recovery. In fact, I was the young woman bringing recovery literature to my family Thanksgiving dinner and passing it around like hors ‘dourves.
So you’d think I’d have more compassion.
But what I know now—and what I have written about in “Out of the Woods” --is that life happens to all of us, and that we need those pink clouds and happy days to give us the ground under the harder parts of our recovery. And as we stay in recovery a long time those harder parts will come on their own.
My red-faced humility is this: When I hear those newcomers speak of their rapidly transformed lives and the perfect, lasting peace that recovery has given them, I still want what they have.
That’s why I keep coming back.