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By: Diane Cameron

Oh, it’s a complicated thing, this recovery. And even after many years, I find myself tangled in some pretty funny thinking.

Here’s an example:

I got a call from the sister of a woman I’ve been sponsoring for a couple of months. She knew I was her sister’s sponsor and was calling to tell me that her sister had been drinking.

When I called my sponsee to ask, “What’s going on?” She told me that she had tried a drink, didn’t like it, so “no problem.” For a second, I thought, “Oh, that’s good, no problem.” Then it hit me, “What!?”

But every now and then, I fall for the confidence of a newcomer. The confidence of the ease of recovery or the rapid personal growth—the uncanny way that a newcomer gets so wise, so fast.

After years of recovery, I still get hooked. It happened again with a man in my home group. He celebrated 6 months and he was glowing. His life was transformed, he had found a deep faith in a Higher Power, his surrender was total; he had completed his step work and was quoting the Big Book. His “share” was more lecture than personal story, but I bit.

I know better. I knew better. But I could feel myself becoming envious and annoyed. I knew that I should be happy for his newcomer’s pink cloud and his new life, but I started to compare, and I got mad. After all these years and all this work—I’m still trying to surrender, have absolute faith, and be a perfectly perfect person.

This is also why I wrote Out of the Woods. In my book, I talk about the awkward things, the difficult things and even the embarrassing things that can happen to us well into long-term recovery. Envying a newcomer is just one of them.

It’s also why there are times I wish for a meeting that is just for people who have ten or fifteen or twenty years. Not to leave other people behind but to be able to say, “Have you ever seen yourself do this?” And to laugh at something like envying a newcomer.

I’m sure I did exactly what he did when I was new. In fact, I know I did. I was the young woman bringing recovery literature to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner and passing it around like hors ‘dourves.

You’d think I’d have more compassion.

But what I know now is that life happens to all of us, and that we need those pink clouds and those “I have this figured out” days to give us some ground under the harder parts of our recovery. And when we stay in recovery a long time those harder parts certainly do come.

What keeps me humble when I get to one of those places is this: When I hear those newcomers speak of their lives transformed overnight, and the perfect peace that recovery has given them, I still want what they have. And so, to get that, I keep coming back.

Women new to recovery find much support; sponsorship and fellowship are new, and everything about the recovery life seems fresh and exciting. With time, recovering women face challenges from complacency to burnout, menopause to overweight. Author Diane Cameron has faced these issues, and shares her experience, strength, and hope to teach readers how to handle the unexpected trials of double-digit recovery.

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