Common (Irrational) Newcomer Fears
When I first came to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (a timid little newcomer), I was absolutely riddled with fear. I was afraid of people, I was afraid of failure, I was afraid of myself (of finding out who exactly I was). I was afraid of returning to my old way of life and afraid of beginning a new one. I was afraid of getting too close to people and afraid of being alone. I was a big fear-drenched ball of vicious contradictions. Come to find out, most of the fears that I desperately clung to were completely irrational. Part of me thought that those I came into contact with hated me as much as I hated myself at the time. I mean, how could they not? Look at all of the horrible things I had done. Look at all of the people I had hurt. The people who were in my life only wanted to see me succeed. Of course, I couldn’t see through the fear until newfound faith began to creep in and conquer.
5 Newcomer Fears – Debunked
1. “I won’t be able to drink at my wedding.”
I won’t be able to toast with champagne on New Years Eve… I won’t be able to taste that exotic craft beer I have always wanted to try. Okay, let’s be real for a minute – do you even remember any of the countdowns you lived through? When was the last time you bought a beer because you wanted to slowly sip and savor it? After awhile, not drinking becomes a natural part of life, just as waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth before bedtime. Sober weddings are amazing, and besides – you aren’t even engaged yet. Chill out a little bit; one day at a time.
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- “I will have to go to an AA meeting every day for the rest of my life until I die.”
We are typically recommended a ’90-in-90′ when we first get sober, entailing the commitment to 90 meetings over the course of 90 days (which is one meeting per day, for those who are super, super bad at math). Once we have completed this 90-in-90, we are typically recommended another. In general, our first year of addiction recovery should include a plethora of 12-step meetings and an overall head-first plunge into the 12-step program of our choosing. However, this intense involvement will not and does not need to last for the remainder of your life. Once you have gained solid sobriety, you will be given a meaningful and fulfilled life – one that requires a certain level of attention. AA gives you your life back, and while it should always be utilized as a tool in maintaining sobriety, it does not to become your entire life.
3. “I won’t be able to have fun.”
Actually, you will LEARN how to have fun. Being so drunk or high that you can’t remember any of what happened ever is not fun. Steadily accumulating anxiety-producing interpersonal and legal problems is not fun. Contracting a slew of sexually transmitted diseases because you engage in promiscuous and irresponsible sexual activities is not fun. You wanna know what is fun? Finding out what you like and doing it, remembering it, and really, truly experiencing it. Laughing – really laughing. Going on adventures and seeing the world in all of its beauty and splendor.
4. “I will never meet a romantic partner at somewhere that is not a bar.”
Meeting people at bars is easy, because your inhibitions have been totally annihilated by shots of Fireball and $3 Long Island Iced Teas. But the caliber of people that you typically meet while heavily intoxicated are typically the caliber of people that you will wake up next to in the midst of a vicious morning hangover, wondering whether or not a condom was adequately employed. Meeting people in bars is insane overrated. There are millions of other ways to meet people. Usually people just kind of… meet. Give yourself the opportunity to love YOU before searching out Mr. or Mrs. Right. Romance will happen when it is meant to happen.
5. “I will be living in fear of alcohol for the rest of my life.”
False. You might be exceedingly concerned about relapsing and things of that nature while in the very early stages of sobriety, which is absolutely understandable considering you have never lived drug or alcohol-free for an extended period of time. As you begin doing the work and focusing on yourself, the fear will begin to rapidly dissipate. Soon sobriety will just be a standard part of your daily routine – and while it will always be something you covet, cherish, and work for, it will stop being a source of stress and anxiety.
Overcoming Fear in Early Recovery
Alcoholics Anonymous is a true blessing – it is a tool designed to help spiritually deficient alcoholics regain a vital sense of interconnectedness and purpose. The goal of the program is to help give you a life back, not to consume your life. I remember one of my biggest fears early on was that I would have to dedicate the remainder of my life to AA in order to stay sober – attending meetings every day, taking hundreds of women through the steps, and constantly focusing on how much I needed to accomplish on a daily basis in order to stay sober. The first year or so of my recovery was dedicated to throwing myself head-first into the program, doing as much as I could to stay involved and give back as soon as I was able to. You will be okay – do what you are told to do, and let God handle the rest.