Service is one of the basic tenets of sustainable recovery. We learn early on that we can’t keep what we have without giving it away. We do that by being a greeter, making coffee, setting up or putting away chairs, chairing, or sharing at a meeting. We also have group work like H&I representative, regional and national service, and locally, close to home as a sponsor and sponsee (both integral to the benefits of “service”.)
Sometimes that acts of service are small and unseen, some are more visible, someone to one, and some in a group (as when you bring meetings to hospitals, jails, and institutions.) We gain self-esteem by doing esteemable acts. Feeling useful does wonders for the growing sense of self.
In other parts of our lives, taking these ‘principles in all our affairs” we also no longer perform acts of service in our community or need to find new sources. No longer being greeter or host at places of worship, no longer able to talk to people when delivering meals to those who are immobile, tutoring kids, reading aloud in the library- so many sources of contribution have fallen away or changed in a manner that we can no longer enjoy. There are many NEW opportunities, and this is change and we hate that.
During the shutdown, whatever that looks like in your area, we are allowed fewer and fewer sources for service. Sure we can continue the sponsor sponsee relationship over the phone or in video chat. We can continue attending meetings (sometimes in a worldwide forum!) using technology. But what about service opportunities? We can be tech helpers at meetings and the regular secretary and chairperson spaces available, but there is no longer the opportunity to set up or make coffee or greet. We can meet online for the meeting after the meeting; however, there is no meal sharing or coffee time afterward.
Being sequestered has engendered a lot of wonderful opportunities for self-care, self-discovery, and self-examination. It can be a time to learn and practice daily rituals or regular times for contemplation. But even that requires balance: a balance of reaching OUT as well as looking IN.
I know of several people who have relapsed; due to loneliness, isolation, and an overabundance of self-examination. The usual sponsor admonition to “go help another person who is suffering” is not such an easy direction. You can’t easily go to share your experience strength and hope with others in H&I work. It is harder to get new sponsees. Going to meetings is always critical- but with so many to choose from you may “forget” your homegroup and remain anonymous and isolated in the plethora of meetings you might still be attending.
Service is important. We may need to change the way we do it, what we do, and when we do it but DO IT WE MUST! Reach out to the treatment centers, the jails, the houses of worship- find out what you can do for others- just one hour a week. Include, but don’t over-do, a reconnection with service as well as the useful internal growth and self-care we have been learning over the past eight-plus months.
YOUR DISEASE WANTS YOU ALONE, ISOLATED AND SEPARATED. LIKE A LION CULLING THE ILL AND LAME FROM A PACK, YOUR DISEASE WILL HUNT YOU DOWN AND KILL YOU. Your defense is the company of others. REACH OUT. This is a serious matter. Be of service, and reach to others in support of their service. We cannot do this alone.