Posted by: innerpilgrimage | July 28, 2013

Outreach Call: Isolation and the Loss of Newcomers

      I have had a thawing of feelings–all bad–and I am angry that I cannot reach out to anyone in program. I resent everyone who sings the praises of 12 Step programs right now because I see I am on the outside looking in, and I resent that I am there again.

      I have trouble reaching out. I have a list of people to contact from the CoDA group and the ACA group, and I cannot bring myself to reach out to them. I don’t think this is unique to me, seeing as isolation is not unknown as a symptom of growing up dysfunctionally. Unfortunately, in 12 Step, this can be the beginning of the end for people wanting real help. To all the oldtimers out there . . . please reach out to newcomers. We need it because we just hit rock bottom, and it’s not a sweet and neat world we live in when we’re struggling between Steps One and Two.
      When I started out in program, I reached out. I made phone calls. I got sponsors. I became a Step One-through-Three sponsor and talked to a sponsee daily, until she got a face-to-face sponsor. I called newcomers. Today, nearly 4 years after I first entered an OA room (and have not been back for a very long time), I have no sponsor and I make no outreach calls.
1. When I reached out, I didn’t get callbacks when I got voicemail.

2. When I reached out, it became clear I was imposing–the person was too busy, and I didn’t get callbacks.

3. Sponsors are few and far between in the programs I am part of. The sponsors I was able to find:
      Dropped me as a sponsee because of the sponsor’s lack of sobriety;
      Were too busy with their own lives, even when I called at scheduled times;
      Were uncontactable and I didn’t get a chance to leave a message.
      Home group lists are often old, most of the people on the list aren’t in meeting any more. This is less important than the fear that keeps me from calling. What do I fear? Well, I fear that I have nothing to say that anyone gives a damn about. I am afraid of hearing that tone of voice that makes it clear I am such an unwanted distraction that even calling makes me feel shame for having a problem which I fear will either be gossipped about, or I will be shunned at meeting for daring to reach out at all. Mostly, I am just tired of having nobody but my core family, and I am pushing them away, too, because I doubt they will stick around. That’s a pretty awful thing to feel, that my core family is waiting for the moment when it will hurt the most to drop me like the useless lump I think I am. That when I finally try to trust, I get slammed with loss and rejection and grief right then, as the reward for trusting anyone at all.
      I am about to give up if I can’t find a newcomer to reach out to just to feel of service to any of the programs–if I ever go back to program or recovery or meetings after this. I hurt so much at feeling precisely as I did while I was forming the addictions which would warp my adulthood that I am very close to scrapping the whole thing and crying because of the money I spent on program literature when I believed in it.
      No, I don’t believe in program any more, though this pain is something I appreciate feeling. I can’t think my way out of this. I feel grief at this depth of loss, that I am utterly and completely and irrevocably unimportant to the meeting save for the two bucks per meeting I toss in the basket. I am raw, I am resentful, I fear, and I am alone because my family doesn’t understand compulsivity regarding food, sexual/romantic approval, general human approval, or even the compulsivity to live in my childhood and try to will someone to rescue me from it all 40 years ago. I am a lost child because no one cared to save me when it mattered, and the inner judge or inner critical parent or inner addict or just simply my cruel ego-driven self is tearing me completely apart inside. My mouth is closed, even as I am crying sliently in public or trying to smile or are just impatient out of fear of being harmed.
      Welcome to Jess’s rock bottom. Or relapse. Or whatever this is. I would put my effing hand in yours if I believed it would be there when I reached up for it. I resent humanity, and if I am supposed to turn to God-the-Father to make it all better? Screw it. That deity some folks cling to for personal salvation left me in an abusive situation and let me wander in Hell for decades before pulling the biggest cruel and sadistic trick of them all: Letting me think I had reason to hope. I don’t want to hear how a loving God is waiting for me, because that “loving” God inspired NO ONE from the church I was in to try to find out about the abuse. They judged me a shy little girl who showed up once a week and tossed her dollar in the collection plate. If I am just money to a church or program? There is no reason to have faith in anything any more, except that if “God” exists? It is evil incarnate by every religious standard out there.

      I hope this anger subsides soon. I have to be honest to my feelings, to the resentments, to the grief I am feeling. I need to accept I have had bad days, and this is one of them. I am having a really bad day, compounded by isolating and fearing finding out that I am supposed to be one of the people who is lost to addiction. That hurts a lot, to wonder if my whole purpose is to die after decades of living in despair, a moment of hope, then even greater despair as I realize that food nor sex nor an enmeshed friendship nor drama-induced adrenalin hits can make this go anywhere. No shopping therapy. No smoking, no caffeine high. And I don’t want booze, because it’s a depressant, and I don’t want drugs because they impair my decision-making process. So, I sit here alone, away from people who can read the despair in me and abuse it; I sit here alone, and I wish some person who is supposed to have had that spiritual awakening as the result of the steps or perhaps is living the promises reaches out because I fell in an oubliette.



  1. Dear Jess, thanks for writing. I am sorry that this is such a bad day. I am wondering if it would help to sing. I have a little video at my elder-care blog with a chant called “In This Moment, With This Breath.” It’s about willingness. Here is the link:

  2. Jess, I used to feel similar things–resentment towards program, feeling like I was on the outside looking in. I stopped going to meetings, too, and I broke up with my sponsor. But the important thing I took away was that I had learned how to be free from compulsiveness. Even if just for moments at a time. So I used what I learned, I was patient, I made changes in my life, and eventually it’s come to the point where I no longer use that behavior anymore because–bottom line–it doesn’t serve me and I know I don’t have to. Program is useful, and I know for some it’s the only solution. But I think there are times it’s possible to transcend it, to move beyond. In the BB there is a part that describes how you know you can’t work without it. And for some people, I think they wake up one day having weird feelings about Program and realize they don’t need it anymore…

    Call it serendipity but I haven’t read your blog in a long time, either. I was logging on to work on another website I’m setting up for a friend, and stumbled upon this entry. Love to you and I hope you are able to work through this and find your right place and community.

  3. Please don’t stop writing. I have just found you – and just stepped through the doors of my first meeting. They are pretty crap in my town and you made me feel less alone. Like someone holding my hand in the dark. Thank you.

  4. Please write more. Write to me. I was where you are and found my faltering footsteps leading me back to the only way out for me. I too am agnostic and sober in AA (27-1/2 years) and OA (nearly 9 mos abstinent after another horrific relapse). I agree with what you say about unavailability in OA. And the lack of treating the disease of food addiction seriously. Soft words after relapse have never helped me.
    Stay safe. I care.

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