Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | May 27, 2017

You can’t keep what you don’t give away

By Jim Turner | May 04, 2017

To the editor:

One of the lessons addicts and alcoholics learn in recovery is that you can’t keep what you don’t give away. Getting sober can be an exhausting ordeal, with lots of one step forward and two back. It can also be relatively easy, depending on the person and the circumstances.

But either way, the job of staying sober is the most challenging of all – the data proves it. The real question is not how to get sober. Almost anyone can do that. The question is how to stay sober.

Most of the addicts and alcoholics I know say the same thing: the best way to stay sober is to give it away, i.e. help others achieve the same goal. What does this mean? It means going the whole nine yards as often as you can. It means to help and keep helping no matter what the short term results are. In other words, the recovering addict who helps the active addict is really helping himself whether the addict gets sober and remains so or not.

It is of course much better for both the recovering addict and the active addict if the sobriety holds. There is a lot involved. Doing a 12-step program works well, avoiding people, places, and things is essential, too. Finding a meaning and purpose in life through gainful employment can be an enormous help.

Faith in a higher power is the sine qua non of recovery from addiction. But after that, it is helping others; helping others to achieve what you did. How does a higher power help others? How does a higher power help you? Through the next person you meet in many cases. You only need to be open, receptive, and honest when the help comes. Recognize it for what it is.

“You can’t keep what you don’t give away” is not just an adage used by people in recovery; it is axiomatic. Anyone can benefit from the wisdom of these words. Whatever you may want in life – love, admiration, sympathy, understanding – you must first be not just willing but actively seeking to give it away.

As one becomes more used to this habit, one naturally and honestly becomes more humble. And we all have reason to be humble in the lives we are so blessed to have been given.

 

– Jim Turner, Fairfield

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