Isolation. Hiding. Secrets. “In our own heads.” These are familiar concepts to us. There is a sense of comfort in them because we feel the illusion of safety and protection.
But alone. And separate. There is loneliness and desperation in isolation and hiding. We long for connection to God and others because that is how we were designed. Many of us are around families, friends, co-workers, and church members, but still hiding. Hiding in plain sight.
That is the beauty of the 12-step meeting: you start to come out of hiding just by being there; you don’t have to say anything. The other attendees know something about you that your loved ones may not know yet. That can be the first step in breaking the chains of addiction.
Attendance is only the start. As difficult as it may be, there will be a time when you will need to speak. Healthy relationships require communication and this is something you will have to learn. A meeting is a good place because when you speak, no one is allowed to talk back or correct you directly. You don’t have to say too much—after all, we all find long talkers a bit tedious—but say something about your experience and how you feel. Be honest and don’t try to impress.
Stay after the meeting and talk to someone. When someone invites you for coffee or to get together outside of the meeting, say yes, even if your isolating brain screams No! It may be safer to meet in a group but find a way to connect. Remember that you are in a group of other sick people so temper your expectations, but this is the place to come out of hiding.
I will tell you from hard experience that finding sobriety, recovery, and healing is not going to happen in isolation. We all wanted to think that we could get it all together on our own and then learn the relationship thing, but it simply doesn’t work that way. All of the good things we desire come through community and relationships.
It is interesting that when Job reflected on Adam’s sin, he didn’t mention the disobedience itself; he pointed out the fact that Adam tried to hide. “If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom” (Job 31:33).
“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:8–10, emphasis added).
And we have been hiding ever since. Hiding from God, hiding from others, and worse yet, hiding from ourselves. Going deeper into isolation, just where the enemy wants us, cut off from all help and hope for fulfillment.
Come out of hiding. Start small if you have to, but start. Take a step. Get into a group and get a sponsor. Ask God for help and direction. You can’t hide from Him anyway. God has been looking for you even if you haven’t given Him a single thought. He desires to see you sober, fully recovered, and healed. He is doing it for others and He will do it for you. But it won’t happen in isolation.
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