From the moment I started my journey in recovery, the term “fellowship” was thrown around a lot-not just in meetings, but within my own sober living community as well. I was new and didn’t have a full understanding of not only what it meant, but also why it was so important to my newfound lifestyle.
Sobriety is a Lifestyle Change
Acknowledging that sobriety is a lifestyle change rather than simply the act of not drinking or using is a huge admission for anyone attempting to stay abstinent from drugs and alcohol. I know for me, because of the way alcoholism and addiction is portrayed in popular culture, I was under the belief that rehab was just something I would do for a short period of time and that following it I would be “better” and be able to go back to my old life. Now, with two and a half years of sobriety, it’s funny to think about how incredibly wrong I was. Being sober constitutes an entire lifestyle change, no small part of which is changing who you spend your time with.
Finding My Fellowship
I was too confused to know it at first, but with the benefit of going through sober living I was already surrounded by a lot of like-minded individuals. These guys were my age, all with varying lengths of sobriety that had experienced being new and finding something to hold on to in recovery. This newfound fellowship was instrumental in getting me to come around, for at first I did not want to stay sober.
Being able to see guys just like me that I could relate to that were sober and ultimately happy changed my perception about what recovery was all about. Not to mention, nearly all of them had been through very similar situations where I had found myself, both in and out of sobriety. I always had someone to talk me through my cravings, problems and concerns every step of the way.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
What ended up being the most key component for me was getting out of the comfort zone of the fellowship in my sober living and branching out to the people who were going to meetings on their own. I realized that, ultimately, even though I shared a strong bond with the other guys in my sober living, we all had our own individual lives. I drifted apart from some, others went to different meetings after moving out, and most unfortunately, some relapsed.
But finding a solid home group with friends who had all lengths of sobriety helped me form yet another reliable group of people who I could count on when I needed them. It took a lot of courage and practice walking through fear in order to go up to old-timers who I didn’t know but the payoff was incalculable. I have guys older than me that I can go to for career or family advice as well as those younger than me that I can relate to or that are newcomers that I can in help in the same way I was helped.
My fellowship now consists of my long-time friends I went through sober living with, my sponsees, my sponsor and his friends, his grand-sponsor and other old-timers as well as the newcomers and regulars at my home group. I have a wealth of amazing friends who help keep me inspired and coming back to meetings. My closest bonds are all friends with each other and even outside of meetings we hang out and take trips together. None of these things I had when I was using and I really had no clue what I was missing.