Going through a sober living taught me a lot about what it means to give back and how I can go about giving back to others whether it is in the sober community or outside of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have learned multiple things about giving back and how it can help benefit my life on a daily basis.
Basically what I was taught, was that by giving back to other people what was given to me, I am able to achieve a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that keeps me excited, motivated, and inspired to stay sober. There are a few things that I do in my sobriety that allow me to have the same type of internal feelings that I had achieved when using drugs and alcohol, I mainly achieve these feelings in two ways. First, by walking through fear and uncomfortability and second, by being of service to others and giving back. Basically, AA gives me the same sense of satisfaction over time, that drugs and alcohol gave me immediately by implementing those two things in my daily life. The holidays have given me the opportunity to really focus on this aspect of my recovery.
What I have been able to learn about giving back is that it is always more meaningful when it is not necessarily convenient to me. During the holidays and throughout the year, there are a few different ways that I give back to people. I give back by giving guys in the sober living rides to appointments and taking them to AA meetings. I also give back by taking dudes through the 12 steps and carrying the message of AA to them. Another way I give back is by setting an example to others of what their life can look like in recovery and try to be inspirational to others. The holiday season has allowed me to really get in touch with the joy that these kinds of actions bring me. By taking guys to AA meetings and giving them rides to appointments, court, passes with family, etc. I am able to give back to them and allow people to receive the message of AA, get to spend time with family, and allow them to show up and handle their life responsibilities. It is probably the least convenient form of giving back but sometimes it is the most inspirational as well.
At the very beginning of this holiday season, I had the chance to take someone to his brother’s college graduation – seeing his brother graduate inspired me to put more effort into finishing up my own college degree. It’s funny, because I have always heard during the holidays that when you give of yourself, you actually end up receiving more. This was a great example of that – I am about halfway done with college myself and had been really stagnant in getting back into it in my sobriety before this experience.
Sober living and working through the steps with a sponsor was able to give me a strong enough knowledge of the steps to allow me the opportunity to be able to sponsor other people in the program as well as people in the sober living. I get the opportunity to share my experience going through New Life House with others that are going through the process right now. This is the most fulfilling form of giving back I get to live on a daily basis. I get to inspire people to get through their struggles, which are similar to the struggles that I experienced going through the house. I also get to take these guys through the steps and help them to set up a foundation for the rest of their lives in Alcoholics Anonymous. By taking others through the steps, it helps me realize and learn new things about the steps for myself. By taking time out of my day to help others with their problems it takes me that much further away from my next drink and allows me to feel the satisfaction of having a meaningful purpose in someone else’s life and gives me the fulfilling feeling that I am making a positive impact in someone else’s life and hopefully something I do or say may be able to help change another individual’s life for the better. This was taught to me by my sponsor and the managers of New Life House. This Christmas I want to continue seeking to be loving and tolerant of others.
I have been taught to be a positive role model and be open and honest in all of my affairs by going through New Life House. What this translates to in my daily life with almost 3 years sober, is that it allows me to be a positive role model to other people. When I went through New Life House, there was nothing that was more inspiring to me than to see all of the alumni with substantial time sober, and see how their lives were full – they had cars, good jobs, girlfriends, friends and they had a huge presence in Alcoholics Anonymous. I aspired to be this, and the graduates were role models to me when I went through the house. I was excited to see them come around the house in their spare time. When I was new, it baffled me that they would come around and hang out with us in their spare time. I always wondered why would someone with a full busy life would spend their free time hanging out with us. As I got time sober and I started to understand more and more about sobriety, I realized that they came around because they enjoyed it and loved the opportunity to participate in our recovery. This holiday season I have been able to be a part of helping to not only work with the other guys on their personal programs, but to insure that they have a great Christmas. I remember my first holiday season and a big part of what made it so special was the experience of having the older guys be involved with me. The alumni program at New Life House is unlike any other sober living.
Today I am blessed with the opportunity to be able to do these same things, come around and show up for the dudes in the house. I can honestly say that I have great relationships with almost all of them, and I am able to inspire them the way that I was inspired when I was new. I get to donate my time to make sure that they are stoked on life, and if they aren’t I take the time out of my day to do what I can to help them turn their attitudes around. These are the ways in which New Life House taught me about giving back as well as how I implement them in my daily life today. This is what the holiday season is really about for me.