No matter how you carry the message, remember that you aren’t obliged to sell recovery to anyone else (it doesn’t work anyway) or to think of yourself as a representative of a particular Twelve Step program. Instead, you can be genuine and give what you have to give: your experience, strength and hope. You may want to communicate the basics of the program as well as your individual perspective.
Carrying the message is like sharing a recipe with a friend. When you get a recipe you like, you might start to modify it, adding a little something here and taking away something else there. Eventually the combination of ingredients suits your personal taste.
When you give the directions to your friends, you might wonder if they like your personalized version of the recipe. Perhaps they would like the original better. Most probably they will want to create their own individual variation, just as you did. So we suggests giving both versions to your friends.
With recovery this can mean that we offer a straightforward explanation of the Twelve Steps as well as our own personal experience – how we reworked, translated, revised, or otherwise molded the Steps until they were relevant to us.
We all have more to offer than the party line and a by-the-book recitation of the Steps. We can share our story any way we like. As long as we’re honest and sincere, we can’t go wrong. It’s as simple as saying, “This worked for me and it might work for you too.”
Something amazing happens when we share ourselves: when we hear ourselves describe our recovery experience, we see how far we’ve come. For most of us it’s been a long, miraculous journey from Step One to Step Twelve. We feel a profound gratitude when we share our recovery story with someone else. It gives us a chance to appreciate the new way of life we have – how alive, present, and aware we’ve become.
In telling our story, we may see more deeply into ourselves. Sometimes we don’t know who we are or how we got from there to here until we describe our journey to someone else. So our sharing continues the upward spiral. We gain more by giving it away. In the mutually supportive environment of recovery, we depend on others as they depend on us, to constantly grow and evolve, to become our genuine selves. Having had a spiritual awakening, we become integrated and whole. We find new direction in our lives and the joy of balanced and purposeful living.
“We make a living by what we get.
We make a life by what we give.”
― Sir Winston Churchill