You cannot do recovery alone.


A few days ago, Rae pointed out to me that I’m giving away my power in the post where I complained about not fitting in because I’m an atheist. When I read that I thought she just didn’t understand what it was like. I phrased it a little differently to myself in my own head. Bad words were involved.

But that comment has been nagging at me. She said the only person who isn’t at peace with me is me. Of all the nerve!

I really was feeling left out and all alone. And angry too. But now I’m wondering,  is it possible that I’ve been suffering from terminal uniqueness? That loneliness that happens when you sit by yourself with your head down contemplating how much different you are from every person who passes by?

Thinking about how vast the universe is renders the whole atheist in recovery thing moot because in that moment, it just doesn’t matter. The awe I feel fills up all the cracks and there’s no room for feeling shut out. There’s no room for anything but awe and gratitude.

Thinking about myself is absolutely a necessary part of recovery. I need to understand what triggers me, how to stay sober, how to take care of myself. All of that requires a degree of introspection and it helps me stay sober. But like everything in life, introspection can be overdone. When it devolves into navel gazing I get the opposite of numinous, which is isolation.

It’s imperative to have others in your recovery. You cannot do it alone.

Let me repeat that. You cannot do it alone.

Because no matter how smart you are or how many books you read, you cannot see some of the mistakes you’re going to make.

It’s like the TV show, What Not to Wear. It’s always a shock to the people when Stacy and Clinton go through their wardrobe. And so far I haven’t once seen someone react to that with pleasure. They know it’s for their own good. They’ve seen the secret footage where they look horrible. And they still argue to keep the clothes that don’t look nice on them. They’re often snide and downright mean to Stacy and Clinton. Those two remind me of good sponsors. They don’t back down and they don’t sugarcoat anything. But they genuinely care. That’s obvious.

Almost everyone cries before the hairdo and makeup day. Letting go is painful. But afterward, people clearly look and feel beautiful and they thank everyone for caring enough to help.

In recovery we say that our friends care enough to tell us our slip is showing.

Most of the leaps I’ve made while trudging this happy road of destiny have come on the heels of cursing some jerk who had the temerity to point out that my slip was showing.



  1. This post gives me some needed courage to point out some slip-showing in an SAA friend of mine. As always, GP, thanks for a well thought out and interesting post.

  2. The “opposite” approach is exactly what I was talking about. I just took more words to say it! 🙂

  3. Oh, and I also wanted to say, but was interrupted,

    I hope you do try again, and this is coming from someone who has felt silenced. If you are in pain, there might actually be some relief. My therapist, and others’ have suggested the “opposite” approach, which is what GP might be suggesting, too. If you’re normally silent, try speaking (sorry for repeating, just trying to reinforce). My take on the opposite approach is that if what you’ve been doing all along gets the same result, it has helped me to do something different.

    I just heard the pain, and offered my 2 cents, in the spirit of not being alone. Hope that’s ok.

  4. Codependents die from suicide, too. We have that in common.

    I just want to say that perhaps your slip was showing, sometimes mine is around my ankles, but my sharp, reproving looks and throwaway lines keep anybody from pointing out the obvious. But some of what was showing was the way in which you are unique and proud of it, and sober because of it. That doesn’t have to mean terminal.

    There is a balance in your posts, as far as I can see. I want to say, “Keep the____” but I don’t know how to fill in the blank. My lapse. But just keep it, whatever it is.

  5. i have been trying to do it alone for some time now and i can see that its not working. a while ago i tried going to some meetings but it just didn’t work for me, i couldn’t open up, i didn’t feel that i could trust anyone there, i felt too embarrassed to say anything and i dreaded the moment when the main speaker would ask me if i wanted to share. in the end i stopped going but I’m no better off now than i was then.

    i don’t feel that i could ever go back to a group like that again, it wasn’t there fault, its just the way i feel.

    • As my sponsor said to me nearly every day for the first year I was in recovery: feelings are not facts.

      Since recovery alone isn’t working for you, why not try something a different? Go to a meeting and speak. Ask for help. What you’ve written in your comment is a good, honest place to start. I can absolutely guarantee that everyone in the room will understand how you feel.

      If you do, it’d be cool if you’d post back and let us know how it went. Besides, it sounds like you won’t be worse off, other than being embarrassed in front of a room full of sex addicts (or whatever your drug of choice is). You won’t die from embarrassment but you might die from addiction.

      And for those who are wondering how the hell you die from sex addiction, generally it’s suicide. Sometimes hep C or AIDS. Sometimes rough sex that gets out of hand. Sometimes an anonymous encounter with a murderer. But usually it’s suicide.

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