This surprising lesson from 12-step fellowships

I entered the 12-steps fellowships hoping to get rid of my cravings.
And I did! But I had no idea how it would transform my entire life.
From my internal dialogue, my fears, my relationships; my mental health was miles better!
But the most valuable and surprising lesson I received is an undercurrent throughout all of them.

Our common welfare should come first;
personal recovery depends upon (AA) unity.
Tradition 1 of AA

Everybody knows that there are 12 steps to the 12 step programme (duh).
But did you know there are 12 traditions too?
The traditions are to the group what the steps are to the individual, but they also teach each other how to act with peers.
And other people is where the most valuable lesson of my recovery journey came in:
While interacting with other addicts, you need to have great boundaries.

Our leaders are but trusted servants,
they do not govern.
Tradition 2

Be it with your sponsor, your sponsees, recovered old-timers or erratic newcomers:
your boundaries and communication skills will be tested.
The temptation will be to take advantage of the deep vulnerability in the room and to trauma bond with the first attractive person who comes your way, but boundaries resits.
When someone in your regular group proves annoying, you might want to lash out or exclude them from your daily call list, but boundaries say principles before personality.

The only requirement for membership
is the desire to stop drinking.
Tradition 3

As anybody and everybody can be a member of your fellowship, you will have to learn how to get on with people (and not let it get to you when you don’t!).
I see the groups are one big family; we don’t have to like, but we do have to respect each other.
Also, we do not fall for each other. Obviously this is a personal rule and great general guideline, but everyone’s path is different. But it’s been great to put strict lines down and follow them!

Each group has the purpose
to carry its message to the
alcoholic who still suffers.
Tradition Five

With any other social groups, people fall away, openly judge or form hierarchies.
Here, every group is autonomous and literally saving lives.
The stakes for others are high, but our own recovery is also on the line.
If we do not follow the principles of total honesty, sobriety and compassion we might relapse.
You might think people are addicted to substances, but really they are addicted to their old way of thinking and acting. This can be judging, self-pity, denial or selfishness.
And working on our boundaries helps with all of those!

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