He discussed a little about his old behaviors and how they hurt one of the most important people in his life -- his wife. He started choking up when he talked about how his drinking had hurt her, and was so proud of himself to have stopped his unhealthy behaviors, not just for himself, but for her as well. His speech in particular really stood out, because she was there waiting by his side when he came to his emotional finish. For me personally, it wasn't the verbatim of his speech that was so powerful, but rather the love and hope which I saw firsthand as he and his wife interacted after he was done speaking to the crowd. That was one of the highlights of the night, as a love that strong is something one rarely forgets.
Yet, one of the most recurring themes of the night was the concept of helping oneself as the crucial step towards being able to accept help from others in a healthy way. The discussion was initially started by a middle aged man who was moving back in with his parents, as he recovered not only from his addiction to alcohol, but also his loss of his job. He expressed to the group that he was worried about accepting his parents help, and how he had felt guilty and ashamed for having to move back at such an old age. He believed that his problems were his own, and that he did not want to burden his aging parents with his issues. However, several members of the group were quick to explain how he could only feel guilty if he refused to help himself along the process. He deserved to feel guilty if he sat in his parents' house doing nothing and enjoying free rent. Yet, if he was active in looking for a job and continuing his participation and progress through attending meetings, he was essentially helping himself and so thus should not have to feel guilty about accepting help from others in a healthy way. This was one of the more interesting perspectives I learned from the night, as many of the participants were detailed in expressing how they had to make the conscious decision to help themselves in order to feel comfortable accepting help from their friends and family members. Yet, this is apparently an important process in recovery, as it places greater expectations on the self and creates boundaries for unhealthy behavior in terms of accepting or looking for help from others, either family or friends.
Overall, I was impressed with the level of empathy and respect most of the participants showed for each other. These sentiments were even extended to the attendees that had not participated directly, as many of the older attendees encouraged the younger group members to be more active in the next meeting they attended. It was definitely a meeting that encouraged self-exploration and group participation, and was all about stressing the need to reach out to others in a healthy manner in order to augment one's own…