Step One, Finding a Spark of Hope

Attending a 12-step program

Contributor: Richard Anderson, author “From Darkness to Light: A Primer for Recovery

How many of us, now that we are clean and recovering, would repeat any of those same behaviors given a choice? Although many treatment centers are overly fond of telling addicts that we didn’t know how to feel our feelings, nothing could be further from the truth.

This is a specious platitude with its roots in indulging the self-pity of addicts turning to them for help. It simply isn’t true. We had no choice but to feel our feelings, if we hadn’t experienced feelings like guilt, remorse, self-pity and degradation, how could we have possibly hit a bottom?

Where did the desire to get clean come from if we weren’t capable of experiencing emotions, especially negative emotions about our behavior? This doesn’t even pass the common sense test.

Knowing Powerlessness Doesn’t Help Alleviate Powerlessness

One thought on step one: If I am working under my car and the jack stands give way the car will land on my chest. The weight of the engine and my position beneath it precludes any possibility of my removing the car from my chest or extricating me from under the car.

I can completely understand that I am utterly powerless to move the car, but this understanding does nothing to remedy my situation. This is what so many people fail to understand. Being powerless and understanding powerlessness doesn’t do anything in and of itself to improve my situation. What I really need is a jack.

Moving the Jack into Position

I have used jacks before; I have seen others use jacks and seen the results of the use of a jack in moving enormous weight. Therefore I have hope that a jack can work for me in this situation. Reaching with everything in my being to move the jack into position is acting out on my hope in the form of belief. This belief that the jack will get the car off of me gives way to trust that this jack can work the way I so desperately need it to work.

sea-81251_640As I get the jack into position I begin working the handle. Yes it is unwieldy from my position, yes it is awkward to use the jack when I am trapped in this fashion, and nevertheless I know it will work. Working the handle up and down is an act of faith carried out based on my firm trust that the jack will work.

The trust was born of my belief in my jack, and this belief had its origins in my hope.

Finding the Strength in the Fellowship

While the above analogy has its weaknesses, it is easy to visualize and is compelling in a visceral way. I do not have to do it all alone, and this is the point of the fellowship. I find myself surrounded by thousands of others that have at one time been trapped in a like manner. They found a way out. I can turn to them for help and inspiration. If it worked for them certainly it can work for me.

This is the spark of hope. My first experience with hope for freedom from active addiction was born of this observation. I sat in a room full of recovering people feeling desperate and alien, and realized that all of these people had one thing in common…they had once felt as I did.

They experienced the hopelessness and found a way out. They could help me and it was possible that I could get better. This was hope. The first concrete example of my acting out on my new-found hope, belief and trust was attending my second meeting without coercion.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

Have you found help and inspiration through fellowship with others in the addiction community? Did you find lasting relationships with other recovery addicts as well? What are your thoughts on the importance of fellowship in the addiction recovery community?

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addiction. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 31st, 2015
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