There are anonymous rooms in cities, towns and villages across the world where people gather in Love and Friendship to edify each other in their honesty. There is no pretence; no posing and we all share both the good times and the not so good. We understand and empathise; we have all visited the same hell.
C.S. Lewis states; “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
That, I think is the starting point for the substantive friendships that evolve in recovery groups. Suddenly you realise that there are others like you, others that understand and truly empathise with what you are experiencing. The relief and the sense of belonging are both liberating and empowering. I’ve been asked, on occasion, how friendship is possible in anonymity. I would argue that it is the anonymous aspects of these groups that allow us to open up in honesty. The context that we share is free of the associations and assumptions that we might make if the anonymity is missing. And; “No!” it isn’t a mask to hide behind. Shakespeare too has a hoard of pithy comments;
“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
That is why I/we derive so much emotional sustenance from our regular get together. Talk is kind, talk is gentle and talk is not judgemental. We are all at a stage in a spiritual journey (if we work the 12-step program) and that journey is similar for all of us. We understand each other.
We are also all at the end of a telephone call, and if a friend’s sobriety is at risk, I, at least, feel the effects and a phone call from a friend at two am. will be answered. The support group of friends provide a safety net, if you choose to use it.
Although we share a common goal; staying sober or staying clean, the eclectic mix of distinct and different personalities that meet with weekly, add to the experience and if we lose even one of our Friends we are all lessened by the experience. Lewis again:
“… In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets… Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend.” (My italics: qualified= want to get and stay clean and sober!).
In my limited imagination; I imagine God’s infinity as a multi- faceted jewel and each person that I share Friendship and Love with shows me one of those facets; a fresh and deeper understanding of my higher power. God is Love and the Love that I find and give in these meetings edify me and hope that the sharing of my experiences edifies them.
I will sign off with another quote that I hope explain the substantive nature of the Love that we as recovering addicts share:
“Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend. The rest of us know that though we can have erotic love and friendship for the same person yet in some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love-affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest. Above all, Eros (while it lasts) is necessarily between two only. But two, far from being the necessary number for Friendship, is not even the best. “