When a miracle occurs you will often find people talking about it. A little over two years ago I stumbled into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous a scared, confused, beaten man. I was welcomed into the rooms and a gentleman introduced himself to me, who later became my sponsor. He got me a cup of tea and asked how I was doing. He then proceeded to tell me briefly his story. The meeting then started and if I’m honest I don’t remember a great deal about it, only that  four members got up and shared their experiences with the rest of the room. Once the four speakers had finished people put their hands up and shared briefly accounts from their recovery.

When I said that I did not remember much that was said at that meeting this is not strictly true, it can’t be true, because I came out of that meeting with a sponsor. Now I didn’t come in with one, I wasn’t forced into having one; sponsors are not  like those sticky green buds that latch onto your clothes when you’re walking the dog in the countryside. The reason I came out of that meeting with a man who proceeded to help save my life, was because that is what I remember everyone saying at the meeting. Every single person that shared their experience indicated that having a sponsor’s guidance was the only way they would have got through the twelve step programme.

So there it is, if nothing else I heard people saying get a sponsor, get a sponsor, get a sponsor. It transpires that one of the key elements to our successful recovery is to tell new people our story. I know for a fact that if it had not been for the clear message I heard that night I would not be sober today, and it didn’t stop there. Over the next few months, as I kept attending meetings, I found a new hope in a wonderful future by relating to the stories and experiences I was hearing at the meetings.

So I embarked on the twelve step programme and it soon became apparent that  – after what is clearly one of the most profound exercises I have ever undertaken – step five meant I would be expected to share my story as others had to me. If I am brutally honest this is the one obstacle that could have prevented me from staying sober. The thought of standing up in front of one hundred people and sharing my experience, strength and hope was not an experience I wanted to go through. The other people share, so can’t they do it instead? Why can’t I do more behind the scenes stuff? The very thought of undertaking any form of public speaking was a ridiculous notion. Unless of course I was drunk, which thankfully I am not! THINK, LEE! The reason you are not drunk is because many people who are as nervous about sharing as you are have stepped up to be counted. They have shared their story to help the newcomer.

I am not sure there are many people who relish the idea of sharing at a group meeting, however, on the occasions I have been privileged enough to be asked, I get left with the most amazing  feeling of achievement. But I could do more; I have in the past been the last person to put his hand up in a meeting and only because the secretary is calling tradition 5. I know deep down that if I am not sharing I am cheating myself by not working my programme properly  and also cheating newcomers by not freely giving what was given to me. The reality is there is nothing to be afraid of, as my sponsor has said to me in the past when I asked his advice about my troubles sharing “everyone is capable of saying get a big book, get a sponsor and do the twelve steps.”

I must remember that two years ago I was a broken man and now I live a full and exciting life. My story is by no means an exceptional story but it is a miracle and it is my story. My miracle has and is occurring; I need to talk about it. Newcomers rely on us sharing our experiences, strength and hope even if they don’t realise that themselves.

Road to Recovery Plymouth, Jan 2009