89: Geographical Changes – Moving Into the Next Phase of Your Recovery (Sort Of)

We all know the old saying that geographical changes aren’t cures for our addiction. But what happens when we move in our recovery? We have some clean time and recovery, feel pretty “established” in our area, are used to the meetings, the people, the way it all works. How hard is it to just do that somewhere new? Well, as it turns out, it’s pretty damn tough. It’s hard to be a newcomer in a new area when you have some time, recovery, and steps under your belt. Meetings in a new area feel alien. We miss the way it was in our original recovery area. We even miss that one guy who shared that same crap at every meeting we saw him at. Jim joins us to talk about the experience of moving in recovery. We discuss how to meet new people, how to get plugged in to a new area, how to find a new network, and how to use our old network to help us fill in the gaps. This episode might be more of a “what not to do” episode, but still useful in trying to find our way in our new locale. Listen in and reach out with any of your tips on how to keep recovery moving forward when everything in the new area feels “wrong.” Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason and i have not picked up a thing to use today thank god not an illegal substance anyway well yeah i did drink some caffeine and i vaped and i might do something else later who knows but just so far day’s not over yet right long day uh my name is billy i’m a person in long-term recovery and we’re here with jim hi jim hi i’m jim i’m an addict all right uh and we’re gonna talk about moving in recovery uh like moving physical location moving to from one area to another while you were in recovery and have clean time and the challenges to that and and how we’ve done it pretty poorly i think is our general consensus and maybe what could help uh and and maybe stuff that doesn’t help so much i didn’t feel like what i learned really helped me a super lot maybe a little but uh to start off here we’re gonna let jim you know tell us a little bit about why he’s qualified to talk about moving and recovery hi everybody i’m jim i i’m in recovery um so it took me i was uh i was a chronic relapse i was in and out of recovery for um seven years before i uh finally surrendered and um decided to give this thing a chance and uh so for me you know i’m a member of the 12-step fellowship regular meeting attendance is part of what i just do i have a clean date it’s april 5th of 2004 and um and after seven years from 1997 through 2004 of uh constant relapsing going back to jails and institutions finally uh surrendering and deciding to give recovery a chance and you know i dove into a 12-step fellowship and i got involved and um you know i went to meetings uh daily for probably my first five years and that i actually was staying clean and then i cut it back to probably six meetings a week and um so i was really connected in the area i got clean in new jersey and i was in drug court in new jersey and i i finished that program early on and then i was just clean in new jersey and i belonged to a fellowship and um and then i i guess i had around seven years and uh where i was working was closing and i was told that uh if i wanted my job i could have my job but i needed to relocate to maryland and um you know i grew up two miles to the ocean my whole life um my parents lived a block away um i loved where i grew up i was a i was an hour to manhattan i loved the city and i loved being two miles to the ocean my whole life and uh and i didn’t want to move to maryland so that sounds nice i wouldn’t want to move to maryland not want to move the [ _ ] back part anyway and um and there so my wife and i both worked where i worked um i met my my wife in recovery and uh i had some connections and i’d been clean a while so i got her a job and um and we both made our living through where i worked and um so you know given the option of both being unemployed or moved to maryland you know we packed it up and we moved down to maryland and um and you know we did a lot of trips down here on weekends looking for a house and we would drive down and uh it’s so funny we passed it the first time we came down here looking for a house we we drove it it was two and a half hours we drove down here we looked at like 15 houses we had booked some [ _ ] we booked a stay in this some no-tell motel we [ _ ] you know we we checked in and we were there for like an hour we’re like well [ _ ] this let’s go home there’s some rough ones around here i don’t know how you stayed clean right and we were like all right so we got out and uh you know we we made a bunch of those trips down here looking for housing and um we’ve we never found anything and uh we ended up renting a place so we we moved down here in march of 2011 to um the aberdeen area of maryland and um and you know i didn’t want to be here i i i definitely came down here with a big chip on my shoulder and um i didn’t want to be here and you know it showed so you know i i did what i did what i was you know knew right so i went to a 12-step fellowship meetings and i tried to um i was heavily involved in h and i for my entire recovery up in in new jersey and um i started to go to meetings and um

you know i came down here with a bad attitude i didn’t want to be here and i just um you know how to win an influence friends when you’re new in recovery is like go into a meeting and just insult the entire room right right right so you know i continue i did that repeatedly and um you know i wasn’t really making a lot of friends and i was really okay with that i had a really small network of people in my life up in in jersey where i was and i’ve always been you know a handful of people core people that were in my life and they were still in my life and so you know when i got down here and i was and you know everything was different right they didn’t celebrate the same way that i did and and there was just a lot of differences and i i continued to do you know everything that i told was told don’t do right so you know i was comparing myself out um and i and i picked a home group and i showed up and um you know there was some personal personality conflicts between myself you know coming from new jersey i’m pretty opinionated and i’m pretty much have a jersey attitude i guess i’ve been told where and you know i i’m kind of myself right so i’m okay with my i’ve done a lot of work you know i belong to a 12-step fellowship i believe that you know the only way to uh stay in this process was to work some steps and um you know having been through the steps a number of times even when i got down here i’d been through him at least twice when i moved down here with seven wow and you’re beating most people here well so you know so that was different right so i wasn’t part of the step of your club which was what i heard a lot of down here you know it’s like it’s okay so where i came from that was like the only way to change was to do some step work um the same addict will use again and i had continued to prove that over and over again and uh so you know the message what i heard when i went to the meetings or from the fellowship i grew up in was um i had a lot of time clean and now i don’t right and so that message doesn’t work for me right but and that wasn’t the only message there that was just what i heard right so um it was because you know the you know so and and that’s not the reality right there’s a lot of people down here with long-term recovery and they’re um you know i’ve and and you know they’re they’re doing what works for them and you know so like when i got down here and i had an attitude there was this core group of people you know kind of like when i was a constant relapse up in new jersey there was this core group of people that always welcomed me back and there was this you know regardless whether when i was just coming back in and you know even every time i came back i was carrying a message that it still sucked out there and um you know so then i was playing around with um maybe it wasn’t the right fellowship for me down here and then i tried changing fellowships and you know that didn’t work for me either so but even when i was doing that and i was doing both fellowships and um you know that didn’t work for me and um so i just kept coming right i just kept coming and there was this core group of people um that were probably out of my very first meetings down here that welcomed us and um welcomed my wife and i and uh they made the difference right so they made a difference for me and i think we moved down here in march and our first um holiday christmas and new year down here we went to we were invited to um this individual a couple in recovery you know they go to two different fellowships long-term recovery in the area and we were invited to their house for new year’s and you know they were the beginning of our network down here and um and my wife is she makes friends a lot easier than i do right so so she’s just loving and caring and all the opposite things that i’m not right it’s my wife too it sucks i got a funny story about that but and you know so she so we she you know she eventually found the sponsor down here and um so you know i i continued to i did get a home group and um and slowly right so i i believe believe i belong in the fellowship i i i’m in um and i’m back to where the fellowship that i grew up in and um and you know nothing’s changed down here right it’s it’s my attitude has changed right i i need the fellowship and the program in order for me to stay clean it doesn’t need me right i’ve seen over my years in recovery i’ve seen you know so many guys just go out and die and uh that’s what’s waiting for me right jails institutions and death if i pick up um that’s what’s waiting for me and um it took me a really long time to get a solid first step in my life it took me seven years in and out and um i haven’t forgotten that and uh you know so i know that um you guys are talking when we when i pulled up you were talking about it outside and it was like i didn’t get high today right so i’m having a successful day no matter what else right so that’s the basis of my recovery and um you know so my wife and i we’re going to be moving again right so now we’re we just bought a house down in south carolina and um we just got back on uh a couple days ago we’ve been down there for a week and you know we’ve been we started going to meetings already down there and uh you know so for the last year and a half i’ve done almost entirely meetings online and i’m doing probably more i’m doing four to five meetings a week still and um i’m almost convinced myself i don’t need to go to in-person meetings right right which i know that that’s [ _ ] up so well i don’t know right so i i i don’t know so i haven’t been in a year and a half and um we we did go to one down there and we didn’t go in right so and uh it was like well do we really feel like going in then so i don’t know i’ll be facing that again because i i we’re not moving down we got a couple years before i retire so i’m i i hope that when uh when we actually do move down there i don’t do all the same things i did up here when i moved to here i try to learn from my mistakes i um you know i’m going to you know i belong in the fellowship that i’m in i i’m not confused about that i wasn’t confused to begin with but um it just takes some work for me to and some acceptance and uh and not everybody recovers in the same way or at the same time or and that um you know by continuing to work on myself i’ve come to terms with the area i live in i i live in a beautiful part of maryland i i wouldn’t say i love being here because i don’t i’m not that far right i’m still i’m still an ocean guy i’m still a beach guy and um you know that’s where we’re eventually gonna end up is back at the beach but um so i don’t know i don’t know if that was enough to get the ball rolling um so for me right so i need to keep an open mind um i need to show up on a regular basis i need to you know practice the seventh step right for me is um you know humbly ask the god of my understanding for some help when i’m encountered with uh just differences you know some patients i need to ask for some patience and tolerance and um and i need all you guys right like i can’t stay clean by myself right i’ve proven that over and over again um so i know that um a 12-step fellowship is the way for me i’ve i it never takes me long to use um i’m never that guy that’s like oh i haven’t been to a meeting in three weeks because i’ll probably pick up in three weeks right because it’s always for me that thought is very always near in my head that wouldn’t it be better if i just did one of these or whatever these and um and i’m not willing to risk it i’m not willing to go back to sheer [ _ ] misery that might was my life in active addiction so in light of it taking uh uh jim’s version of it taking seven years to work his first step the first time and then the seven years to go through the steps twice i feel a little better at least that’s like 14 years i’m like okay that’s realistic 14 years for two times through i’ll buy that uh i don’t feel so bad about myself anymore um you know it’s challenging to move in recovery right i so i got clean in uh an area of baltimore called hampden and that’s where my foundation was that’s where i knew people i it took me a very long time in fact i would stay i’m i would say i’m still in the process of learning to be able to use the phone without having anxiety attacks right so like i need to see people in person and show up where they’re at or i don’t talk to them a lot of times so i like that you had like the people in jersey to still kind of lean on when you weren’t feeling it down here but i’ve never felt when i moved that i had that that comfort zone i’m like if i can’t i get a drive to him yeah and so i had moved to to another area called parkville and there were meetings like i don’t know 15 minutes away but where i lived in hampden the meetings were like three minutes walking right so it was a little different like 15 minutes seemed so far for a meeting i’ll just skip right and then i was like well i don’t even like these people over here i’ll just keep driving back to hampden right but that’s like a you get traffic meetings are right after rush hour you’re talking 35 40 minutes it was a pain in the ass i went a month or two without hitting a meat and i was like [ _ ] it like i just won’t move to dundalk decided i i you know i’ll just hit dundalk meetings that [ _ ] didn’t work because i think i had four years clean and the great im couldn’t it’s it’s hard to be a newcomer even when you’re trying to be humble right if you’re not humble because i guess i was trying to be and i just wasn’t right so i’m like in meetings and and and i had the nice responses for when people tried to help me stay clean and i’m like man you got i got more time than you [ _ ] right like but i had the nice responses like i appreciate that that’s so helpful but i didn’t feel connected and it was hard to get connected to people and i ended up joining a home group that had just started out of people who weren’t tied into the area so it was like a home group of people who really weren’t plugged in in the area and i was like oh yeah this feels more comfortable well of course it feels more comfortable it’s a bunch of people who are trying to avoid getting plugged in right uh but i i got in there i i kind of sort of got a little plugged in with a few people but even those people weren’t plugged in in the area so it was kind of useless honestly and i hit that home group and my old hampton home group for like a year and a half two years straight i kept them both and it was a [ _ ] pain in the ass it was 45 minutes to drive to hampden in rush hour from dundalk it was it was and it finally got to the point where i had to let hamden go right that old area but i still it took me five six years to feel comfortable in dundalk and so i tried to not do that moving to cecil county i said i’m just gonna do all the opposite things i’m gonna run into meetings and wave my hand and say i’m new and get plugged in and i encountered all the same stuff you talked about i encountered that they do [ _ ] different they say [ _ ] different they have different little chants at the beginning and ends of the meetings for whatever reason and they’re all the wrong ones up here obviously right and and the meetings here are so different the fellowship the culture of this 12-step program is so different here where i come from you get clean meetings are in walking distance if not they’re close enough you can get rides you’re hitting seven every week right or six or something right you’re hitting meetings and not through your whole life but in the beginning and then you’re you know still hitting three when you’re after that and you’re established up here everybody i ran into was either they were in recovery houses and then none of the old timers went to the recovery house meetings and then if you went on the outskirts to the old timer meetings they it felt like they weren’t really serious about recovery and they basically showed up for an hour once a week and that’s the only thought they gave to their recovery and i was like what the [ _ ] world is this this does not feel like recovery for me and where do i fit in it do i show up for an hour a week and like that’s the only thing i do for my recovery that doesn’t feel right and so i did get more plugged in but where i got plugged in was with the recovery house meetings which is a bunch of people who either ain’t around no more because their recovery house meetings and they moved or used or whatever and i couldn’t get plugged in with the older established members i guess and i still haven’t i mean i’ve been here three years i don’t know where the hell the older established members are like i really don’t like i i know a couple now at my home group but and cove had made that worse copen made that super worse yeah that was a year and a half and it was bad before it’s worse now right right and and now i’m in a place where you’re talking about like do i even need a meeting i don’t know like you were more do i need in-person meetings but i’m kind of like do i need a meeting i definitely need a meeting well i’ll get that twisted i it’s not that i don’t think i need a program i definitely think i need a program and people to stay accountable to but i feel like i do that outside of any meeting attendance i’ve been doing and so that’s and look i just signed up for another year-long commitment in my program so it’s not like i’m going anywhere but i question it a lot i’m like do i what am i getting here what am i doing like and i had an interesting experience early in recovery so i had six seven months clean and my wife and i took six weeks we weren’t married at the time but we took six weeks and drove around the country went all over the place and we went to meetings in all these different areas and so with just a few months clean it was fascinating to go to these different areas and see the broad spectrum of how they did different stuff you’d see anniversaries that were completely different than anything they do the whole meeting format would be completely different the way that they did sponsorship would be i mean just everything was completely different and that was so eye-opening to be like holy [ _ ] what i’ve been doing in you know here in cecil county the last six months isn’t like the only way that you’re supposed to do this like there is some uh was the autonomy is really what it is but different areas do stuff different and we would go to areas where meeting attendance was so limited or it was in such rural areas that the same people would do the aaa meetings and the n a meetings on different nights of the week and we talked to them they would go oh yeah it’ll just be us back here on tuesday nights with the aaa literature but there’s only five of us and we just try to keep a meeting under the different titles so that anybody looking if somebody’s got a preference for one or the other they’ll find us but we’re really just the same five people that are meeting here all the time and just to see [ _ ] like that was like holy [ _ ] like that’s crazy you know that’s the most spiritual thing i would judge the [ _ ] out of yeah but that helped me to see so then a few years later i had who turned out to be one of my best friends and my sponsor for a long time a guy moved down here from philly joined my home group he had more clean time than anybody else told us how the [ _ ] we were doing everything wrong we were reading the wrong readings he threw out some readings we changed all this stuff about the meeting and since he was the guy with all the time and i’m the one going wait a minute you can’t [ _ ] come in here and do that i don’t care how much time you have i’ve been at this meeting for like at that time i think i had been there seven or eight years it had been my home group i’m like you can’t just come in and change all this [ _ ] but everybody wanted to listen to him and i hated him him and i didn’t get along at all and of course later he became my sponsor and one of my best friends but it was fascinating to see like he was so stuck and he had i guess the philly equivalent of the jersey accent which is confrontational and loud and i’m gonna be the louder you know voice in the room and then i’ll get what i want and uh i don’t know it was it was been interesting to see i guess the changes in this area it’s taken me three years just to get over the fact that they say the wii version of the serenity prayer up here yeah i don’t get it where i came from they said the wii version didn’t exist it’s not written anywhere it’s not real it’s like i don’t know does it matter at this point i’m like why do i care but it was a big deal yeah people say all kinds of [ _ ] that yeah but yeah it’s weird there’s like four or five different things people holler out in the just for today reading i’m like what in the [ _ ] i have a program and things feel wrong yeah it feels so weird and yeah i mean so i have traveled at this point in time i’ve seen some different areas and they do things different and maybe you speak for your anniversary maybe you get somebody to speak for your anniversary maybe they don’t do anniversaries but once a month everybody that got one gets five minutes to talk or something like i’ve seen that it’s weird everywhere so where i came from the clean time whatever meeting celebrated clean time it was whether you were celebrating 30 days or 30 years everybody had the same amount of clean time they asked you your name and how you did that so when when i moved down here like that was the biggest thing for me like to me it was this big ego trip and a down what so i i still struggle with it right so you know when i joined the home group so to me it was just this big ego trip about your clean time and you’re telling your story not i don’t know i’ve been to um you know i’ve we all got a story and and experiencing strength and hope meetings i i don’t go to a lot of them because i’d rather go to a topic or a step meeting because that’s how i continue to change is how you’re applying this stuff in your life but when they were when i moved down here and all the meetings were like oh well where are you celebrating it was so suspicious to me it was like i’m like that just sounds [ _ ] horrible it just sounds [ _ ] horrible i’m like no i’m not doing that right so so you know for me that’s it’s and it’s still a struggle right so and that you know and you were talking about so you know my wife and i when we travel we go to meetings all over the country and and and i have a completely different attitude because i don’t live there right so and i and i i know i’m there just there visiting and i can i can adapt anywhere right tolerate it right i can be like oh that was interesting but when when i have to live it and it was like thrown in my face this is the way we do it and i’m just like well that’s [ _ ] stupid so you know and i used to verbalize it when i first got down here you know i’m still not a fan of how they celebrate clean time here but um you know i finally found a home group where whenever it was my clean date i shared on whatever step it was so you know it’s because that’s what they did so you know and when i joined that home group every single person whether they were had a year or 20 years they would still tell their story every [ _ ] year and i’d be like i don’t [ _ ] get it so you know but and it was a step meeting right so then i started sharing every time it was my clean date on whatever step we were supposed to be on that’s what i did and they were like oh that’s pretty interesting right so then people started doing that so i mean there’s still ways not that my way was right or theirs was wrong it’s just you know if it’s a step meeting in my home was a step meeting i kind of want to hear about the steps and it’s okay if you didn’t [ _ ] work it like but so i don’t know it’s just um those kind of things were i struggled with right did you say you don’t like speaker meeting um experience strength and hope ones i’d rather hear somebody talking about their experience on the step than just telling me their story i i got clean when you know a story is part of everybody’s got one right so for me having been here 17 years and seven years in and out i don’t get a lot out of that myself right right um so i’d much rather hear about somebody that’s telling me how they worked a four-step or worked the seventh step in their life for any of the steps in life because to me the program is how i stay clean and and how i continue to change practice this these principles in all my affairs so to me that’s just my opinion on what i would rather hear out of me so i’m just finding it interesting because i i come from an area that is almost exclusively completely making this number up probably like 95 percent speaker meeting some topics thrown in there right but even in the topic meetings a lot of times people just kind of share their story anyway right and coming up here where at least on this side of the bridge you’re in harford county right yes yeah so on this side of the bridge there is virtually zero speaker meeting so sitting in all these meetings that are just round robins was so weird for me i’m like i’m used to the majority of the meeting being somebody telling their story and you try to you know you try to go to meetings that get good speakers so to speak that keep your attention so to sit here for all these like five minute shares of all the most of the time in a meeting down near baltimore the people who talk after the speaker it’s like what the [ _ ] were you even talking about are you high like i don’t even understand where you’re at what’s hilarious so being in this area the whole time for one it’s changed at least again this side of the bridge i can’t speak as much for the harford county side but it’s changed dramatically over the years from we used to have more step meetings there used to be past the basket meetings there used to be tradition meetings and now it does seem like most all that’s gone and now it’s just almost all round robin meetings we that’s basically almost all we have but i personally like that the best you know for me it’s like i want to hear about all right what struggles are you going through in your life today and how are you using recovery to deal with that like what you know so what kind of crazy [ _ ] happened at your work and now you’re trying to apply these principles to your life to get through that that’s more helpful to me than hearing same like where you came from and what crazy [ _ ] you did and what recovery house you were at like every goddamn meeting up here reads it just for today for that day every last one up do they do that in hartford county do they read that at every meeting uh do they read it yes no not the one at the end the the actual like the attitude the one page yeah right they read at it every goddamn so one of the things i can say too and this is again from from being here early on and i think if you were in bigger areas you didn’t have that in the beginning when i got cleaned so i’ve been here i first started coming to meetings let’s see i was 17 so that would have been in the early 90s 91 92 and then i got clean in 2000 there was six eight people at a meeting maybe 10 was a big meeting you know and you just didn’t have a lot of people so when people were celebrating years like 5 or 8 or 10 like that was a big [ _ ] deal like you just didn’t have people that had 10 15 20 years that came to meetings on a regular basis and we’re out in the middle of nowhere like a lot of people don’t want to drive out here to speak at speaker meetings so you can only ask the same circuit of six or eight people that are actually good entertaining speakers to speak before you get [ _ ] wore out of that [ _ ] no i i get the limitations and why i just i don’t know i mean my home group reads the living clean which i think we’ve outgrown that some too and and i would say the area hasn’t changed for like we’ve joked about at my home group now we’re like let’s stop celebrating anniversaries except for like the important ones like you get a one year then you get five ten then twenty and then all the in-between ones don’t count like you don’t get to celebrate that sounds [ _ ] miserable that sounds [ _ ] such as i eat the [ _ ] way they do clean time i think you know every i think all those really count yeah and that’s so we were like let’s do that and then we haven’t done that but that’s kind of how we’ve like 17. who gives a [ _ ] about 17. like it’s 20s i just celebrated 17. well right it matters but that’s you know who knows and for a long time i thought that too i’m like why the [ _ ] did they give us a cake for not shooting heroin like who the [ _ ] like as a normal person you’re not supposed to shoot heroin like why the [ _ ] you get a cake for that i mean i should come up with excuses to get cake every goddamn day i don’t whatever so i i think i don’t want to get too far away from the topic we talked a lot about the differences in the areas and how hard that adjustment can be because i think i will say everybody hates change billy will say you know as addicts we hate it more than others i don’t know if we do or not but change is difficult right and especially a change to so this i don’t know we don’t hold the church in as high regard as we used to but for people who went to church in the previous generation before me i guess like if they would have just changed their church ceremony or if those people would have tried to go from being catholic to going to a baptist ceremony like that’s really really different right and if church was something you held dear to your heart and sacred that [ _ ] you up and i think 12-step meetings are kind of like that for us right they’re they’re very sacred to us they gave us life at one point and so we hold on to that format and that the way they do it and the faces we see and and to change areas is so abrasive and abrupt and it feels so wrong and and i totally understand why you would feel like [ _ ] all these people down here right they’re all [ _ ] and doing it wrong and ego filled and and i think one of the things to keep in mind at least for me is that i can view anybody else as ego filled or or you know judge them in a critical way i remember learning that people in southern maryland get other people to share their anniversary forum and coming from an area where we shared our own anniversaries i was like that’s egotistical as [ _ ] which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense right you would think the other way but i was like they’re too important to share that’s crazy like so i i can make anybody feel egotistical or look you know i mean i can judge that no matter what they’re doing and i guess it’s just one of those things we’re gonna have to accept when we move in recovery is that things are gonna be different and we are gonna feel like the outsider and the newcomer all over again which is super uncomfortable and we we are gonna have to sit in that and walk through it to get to the other side of it like that’s what i learned for me at least it’s not gonna get better taking the night of the week and going to my old area like it’s not going to get better by not going to meetings it’s not going to get better by starting my own home group with a coffee pot that’s not plugged in right maybe it will but not really so it’s just not gonna get better avoiding it right i gotta walk through it and maybe for me i needed to be more honest about it like i tried to play that humble role like oh i have four years i’m so zen and and thank you for offering to help me stay clean but maybe i need to own up and be like dude that kind of [ _ ] pisses me off because i’ve already been clean for a while like no offense to you i appreciate it but like i’m not new this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopemaryland.org and consider donating to our calls

yeah and so we did some traveling a few years back and before that i had sponsored a guy up here and he moved to florida and never having that experience i gave him all the [ _ ] best advice he could have ever had because you know i knew what i was talking about even though i didn’t have that experience you know oh you need to go down there you need to just hit a bunch of meetings you need to do this and that pick a home group all this [ _ ] and he struggled and he he would call me still and he’d be like man i go to these meetings and they’re all [ _ ] up and you know just i don’t like it and and all his struggles and i you know talked him right out of his feelings you know or tried to talk him out of his feelings and you just got to stick with it and he did and and eventually you know did okay down there right what do you want what’s that so you were right well what he started doing for himself was he started traveling out of the immediate area that he was in and going to i guess the next area over which was a little more of a drive but he seemed to like the meetings there better so he found what worked for him but when we traveled then we went out on the road and i could come up with every excuse why not to do all those things like we were traveling uh around we would only be in a certain area for a couple of months so we’d be there for three or four months then we would leave and go to another area and the plan was only ever to be there for a few months so i would go when we first started i’m like oh yeah i’ll hit some meetings it’ll be great you know went to a couple meetings went ah this is awkward as [ _ ] like i don’t know who the people are with recovery and who aren’t and who are the people that are just talking a bunch of [ _ ] you know and and i don’t want to feel like a new person and my anxiety was through the roof so i would go to the meeting and soon it was over couldn’t wait to get the [ _ ] out of there i mean as soon as it was over i wasn’t hanging out to talk to nobody i would show up five minutes early stand outside like nobody’s talking to me a bunch of [ _ ] [ _ ] you know what i mean like what are they don’t they know you know i’m new don’t they recognize and just you know all the [ _ ] that i’m sure he felt when he moved down there to florida that i tried to talk him out of i felt and i didn’t embrace it at all i just went uh i’ll be out of this area in a couple months [ _ ] that and you know drift it up meanwhile my wife she goes shows up at meetings i think the second meeting she went to she just joined it made it her home group and before we would leave an area she’d be [ _ ] sponsoring people and have these relationships and doing great and i’m like oh the meetings here suck and these people are terrible and then we would go to the next area and i would have the same experience you know what i mean oh the meetings suck the people suck everybody’s terrible i don’t like this and she’d be [ _ ] making friends and sponsoring people so it sounds like you and i are like two peas in a pod because my wife same thing happens with my wife when we go to a new area so yeah she’s uh so what does that what does that tell me i i don’t know i need to be more open-minded and uh than i am right so and and i’m not so i i can say yeah i’m gonna do it different or i’m gonna um you know i i learned through pain right so i found that um i found it painful right when i when i moved and i found it painful to go to meetings and feel alienated into in a fellowship that i loved and that changed my life and you know and i i have the same sponsor today that i did when i moved 11 years ago he’s been my sponsor for probably 15 years and um and you know i talked to him on a regular basis and uh and so i didn’t go through that like my wife changed sponsors when we moved and i’m down here and uh so i don’t know i i having that so a lot of my networks is still the same from back in jersey so i i fall back onto that a lot right so like i can reach out to um those guys that were there when i first got clean at any point i go to um so you know this is how [ _ ] up i am right so i just it was a guy from down here right i do have i sponsor a couple guys down here and i and i have people friends down here and um in recovery and i called him it was his birthday and he didn’t [ _ ] call him like he didn’t even acknowledge and i’m like oh [ _ ] him that’s why i don’t i’m just like it means nothing right and it’s like you know it’s just but that’s how my mind works right so you know i was right all along you know right and i’m not right i’m [ _ ] wrong most of the time so um you know who knows what’s going on in that guy’s life why he didn’t call me back and uh and it’s not that big a deal it really just isn’t so i learned from pain right so i found it painful to go outside the meetings and stand there so i i suffered definitely some kind of um social anxiety right so i mean you know that’s why i drank i or did drugs because if i do nobody was talking about i can talk to anybody when i’m [ _ ] loaded right so you know when um when i’m feeling that kind of stuff right so you know i just [ _ ] leave right i just run and uh so um moving in recovery it teaches me that i need to just stick around as awkward as it is and talk to people and um because it is awkward i find it [ __ ] really uncomfortable and um and yet you agreed to come on here and talk to us yeah right i’m not going to see you guys again always south carolina

i don’t know it took a lot of work and it takes a lot of work for me in order for me to stay here and to um continue to have the willingness to do walk through uncomfortable [ _ ] recover well i wonder how much of that is like a and i don’t know it’s an easy cop-out for me but is that like more of a male thing like it’s harder as a male to have like intimate vulnerable relationships like i know going into these new meetings where i don’t know nobody one of my first [ _ ] walk in the room things is i gotta like assess the room and measure out like all the people in the room to figure out where i fit in that pecking order and i know that’s an old bad way of looking at things but that’s just a habit of mine you know is to come in and assess the room and see where i fit in that hierarchy of stuff and like with you know say my wife like you don’t just walk in the room with your ego and know you’re at the top no and with my wife like she would immediately like and i’ve seen her do it she would have no problem coming in yeah we just moved to the area you know we’ve been cleaning a while we did and she would just put all that [ _ ] right out we’re trying to get connected i’m like you can’t i couldn’t even think of doing that like i got to come in and try to find some subtle yet intelligent way to slip in my clean time without sounding too much like an egomaniac you know like no i’m not a new guy i mean i’m not that [ _ ] guy you know and and just all that weird weird insane [ _ ] that i got going on in my head you know it’s it’s so weird but i wonder if that’s like a male thing more than a women thing like it took and what i mean is it took me a long time to establish relationships where i felt like i could be myself and be intimate and vulnerable with certain guys or around certain people and to have that not available anymore you know or to have to re-establish all that is is tough yeah yeah i mean that’s a microcosm of of the way we you know socialize our young men in our society we’re socialized to be self-sufficient and all hard and on our own and we don’t share anything like the thing that breeds connection is vulnerability right emotional vulnerability is when we truly connect with other people when i tell you something and give you the chance to possibly hurt me i’m risking something and then that brings us together like if i just talk about the weather and sports teams and stuff like that there’s no risk so there’s no real connection being fostered there um so yeah i mean i i would imagine it would definitely be different for men but i i that’s not i don’t say that as a oh it’s different for men it’s harder right i say that is like man we need to like really go to therapy and practice some other things in our lifetime that we can also do this thing where we open up and talk to people for sure and for myself what ended up happening in that time that we traveled is my desire or willingness to want to go to meetings just got less and less and less and i went through weeks and months where i didn’t go to meetings and i never considered myself like out of the fellowship like i always knew quote-unquote knew that i needed it and knew that it was something that i couldn’t use or i would destroy my life but i didn’t [ _ ] go to meetings or do anything which is hilarious to me for years if you’re not going to meetings and not working steps like why do you consider yourself a member

because i didn’t want to not what i wanted was to be back here where i felt comfortable and safe and to have the meetings and the people and everything that i was used to be where i was if it was that if that was there i would have kept going but it wasn’t so i didn’t want to go rebuild all that stuff so there’s no one-size-fits-all i get that right there’s never going to be a do this this and this when you move and you’ll automatically fit in and in this amount of time it’ll you’ll be a part of that area but is there some general good practices that we can come up with that would probably help people moving to a new area like just in i mean i think there’s probably quite a few if we were gonna make a list yeah absolutely i think you for me i would wholeheartedly suggest going and just whatever meeting you’re going to like i see people that are new doing it i see people that are

Changing Areas

do it i see people on um they’re just saying that yeah i’m i’m new to this meeting i’m new to the area and i’m trying to get connected and i think wow i wish i did that right right why could i just do that you know and i see them and then i see it like you know i’ve seen them people that come to this area doing that and i’m like that [ _ ] amazes me i’m like i judge the [ _ ] out of them people i’m like you couldn’t just say you’re new you guys say you’re new to this meeting so that we all knew you’d been here before you unhumble [ _ ] oh see i’m the other but so for myself now having my experience and i think that’s kind of how we really met is like i try to recognize when people do that because i understand that uncomfortable feeling of trying to go somewhere and get reconnected so if people do that i try to go out of my way i mean i try to do that with all new people or people that i don’t see at my home group but i mean specifically if i see people at a meeting even that’s not my home group and they say i’m not from this area or i’m new to the area or we just moved up here like i try to go out of my way to talk to them so before we get any further in our list of suggestions is our list of suggestions going to be the exact same list of suggestions we’d tell a new 12-step member are they the exact same or there are there some differences for people that move to a new area that have already been here for a while or do we just say pray go to meetings and don’t pick up get involved get a sponsor good service commitment so i i think that there are some differences i mean i’m not you know so in the area i got cleaned in they ready suggestions at every single meeting right so you know avoid all people places and things you use with rad like use the fun phone get a home group you know so if i’m moving to a new area i don’t have old people places and things so i think that that’s different but so but you know old places and so i can go i copped in many [ _ ] places i’ve never been to before so i can find that old place in a new right very quickly i was very adapted topping in places i’ve never been before so so i guess that i guess it’s the kind of the same but it’s a little bit different for me that one suggestion but i think the rest of them are they they finally added you know get a service commitment to now in jersey where i where i got clean that they have nine suggestions and you know get a service commitment so each and i was always a very big part of

my recovery and uh i joined h i down here and it just it was so this is going to be so judgmental i’m with it i love it already so it’s it was so different and like you know to me an each night commitment was you know there was a a panel like four or five people on the panel they showed up every single week we went into the same facility every week and the same people showed up every week and anybody could join that panel but and and you know those people in that facility saw the same people coming in every week and you just started building the you know some rapport with those people right so i went to the jail up in jersey for four years the same jail that i was in it took me three years to get cleared and then i continued to go to that jail but those guys seeing the same guys come in every single week they started opening up right so down here it was well no you’re going there this week and then you don’t show up for another month and to me that that’s not really a commitment that’s like it’s a once a month thing where and then it’s just a then it’s just a presentation of what a narcotics on this meeting would have been and so for me that was um it was missing something right so so for me so so going into a facility once a month here so i joined h i down here and and i like well this doesn’t really [ _ ] work for me i come in once a month these people don’t they don’t trust me they don’t know me they’ve seen me because whoever i saw a month ago isn’t there anymore um so so from that perspective i would certainly suggest you know getting a commitment whether it’s on a group level or an h i or a pi commitment in a new area i mean regardless that didn’t pan out for me um it certainly was helped me meet a whole cast of characters that were trying to do the same thing as me in the new area so um from that perspective it was helpful all right so interestingly enough we’re doing an episode about

Moving In Recovery

and uh we just had to move we got kicked out of our last location uh we don’t know what the hell jim just said i know he ended on something it was probably like the greatest thing we’ve ever heard part of the whole podcast solve my whole recovery right billy walked off i walked out of the room but we did want to finish up with just like what are these good practices right i know that’s the direction we were going hitting meetings is helpful uh one of the things when i was talking about that i did of going to my old area right one night a week to hit my old home group and i i thought at the time i’m like this is really useful i can hit my old home group for a while i can hit a new home group at the same time i’ll get plugged in both places and you know i’ll have what i need i almost wonder if it wasn’t counterproductive though i wonder if i would have taken that extra night of meetings because at that time i had a family i had kids i couldn’t hit seven meetings a week i was limited to three-ish or something like i might have been better served getting plugged into the new area by not going to my old area and by just being all in and i kind of wondered that when you said how you had that the people in jersey right that network to lean on i wonder if that’s almost a hindrance definitely so so i i would agree so i mean if jersey wasn’t two hours away and um so i i think you’re gonna definitely run into a situation where you’re not gonna be able to go back to that area right so two hours it certainly wasn’t manageable to go back to a home group in jersey so i wasn’t right so um covert has changed that a little bit so now i my i still had guys that were in my network from jersey so now there’s an online meeting that we all go to it’s a meeting on wednesday night um so we so i’m i’m still plugged in with those guys but i would definitely see how it would have been counterproductive if i was running back to up to jersey to go without spending that extra night of me trying to get plugged in for me that would be something i would not repeat again right even if i moved a half hour away i would um even that’s too far like i’ve seen people move a half hour from where they were and do that half hour commute because oh it’s only a half hour right so um so i i i would think that that would would be a hindrance in trying to connect in a new area for me i’m thinking and i know this is awful and i’m not saying it’s the wrong thing to hold on to those relationships that you had previously but like i think what helped me in the beginning of my recovery was the fact that i had nowhere else to go right i had to get plugged in here i couldn’t go back to the people that were getting high i was running from that generation yeah and i think having that comfort of well i don’t really have to get plugged in in aberdeen i got some jersey people all call on the weekends and be okay like i think it really it it gets in the way of us making i’m not saying we have to get rid of it in order to push through it but maybe just being aware that we don’t want to rely just on that we also want to push into this uncomfortability yeah i i mean i didn’t do that i didn’t i didn’t push through i didn’t have the opportunity to go back to the meetings that i was from because it was so far away and i didn’t really build a new support group so my i didn’t either i just became self-centered more you know i mean it’s really what happened i don’t know declined deteriorated whatever you want to call i still did some other things i still tried to practice recovery principles i did get a lot more into meditation i did keep in touch with my sponsor somewhat but i definitely got very lacks in going to meetings or working steps or doing any of that actual work you mentioned getting plugged in in h i and i was thinking something of a similar idea and actually jason who was on last week talked about being of service and helping him to be accustomed to the area and i think in moving maybe one of the best things if you’ve got some clean time already is to be the gsr like nobody ever wants to be the goddamn gsr anyway right like go to a group join it be the gsr because you’ll find that a lot of people at area have time and they’re the same people that always show up to be a service and you can kind of get plugged in in that way i think yeah so and one of the limitations interesting one of the limitations we had when we had moved was the work schedules we were on we were doing a lot of night work so i didn’t have a bunch of nights to run around but what is nice to be able to do if you can afford the luxury is to hit a bunch of different meetings in an area before you kind of make a general assessment of how terrible it is you know because you can hit certain meetings around here that’ll be completely different than another me you know the tuesday night meeting could be completely different than the wednesday night meeting or the friday night meeting absolutely and if you just make the opinion of the whole area on one or two meetings that you hit that could be rough so up in this area they give out like if you raise your hand in the meeting and say you’re new to the area as a newcomer just want a phone book whatever they give you like this meeting schedule pamphlet and it’s got everybody in the meeting’s number on it that put it on there well the men’s numbers for the men women’s numbers for the woman you think that’s useful i i have never found that useful so in the area where i got clean you needed 90 days clean to write your name and phone number on that meeting list so i found that useful because it took me seven years to be able to sign that because i was i never it took me seven years to get 90 days so from from that perspective um it was something i always was striving to get to so i could write my [ _ ] name on that and um so and do i find it useful i’ve actually when i used to get those meaningless when i was chronic relapse or i did call some people occasionally um i think it is useful because it at least gave me a listing of where the meetings were locally and it did give me a so and i for me early on i said if i ever get a a phone call because i would call people on that wouldn’t even ever leave messages and i wouldn’t ever even get a phone call back so i learned that i was never going to be that guy when i finally could sign that list so i made it a point of my recovery that i return every phone call right it may not be that same day but i returned every [ _ ] phone call right because i never wanted to be that guy that somebody was talking about i called six people from that [ _ ] list and six [ _ ] none of them called me back so for me i didn’t want to be that guy and so i mean it’s a valid question why do you write your name and phone number on there if you don’t want to be called so so for me i think it is helpful um and actually i think it was helpful because i may not have caught everybody’s name but if somebody shared and like i didn’t i i don’t want to talk to everybody in the meeting today right but if but if i heard both you guys i would like i would talk to either what i would call probably you guys maybe yeah maybe i’d be like oh yeah i heard billy cross that name off but you know like if i heard one of you guys sharing about something that i may be going through i would absolutely reach out so from that perspective i think it’s helpful i gotta be honest with your first point the fact that it took seven years and three months to sign it i would say it wasn’t useful so that doesn’t work too well you’re coming back man and there’s always the thing like so people have called me over the years and i don’t necessarily know where they got my number from maybe they got it from the meeting list maybe they didn’t they don’t necessarily tell you i got your number off this meeting list you know they may just call so i mean is it besides you know go to meetings don’t pick up pray maybe announce yourself as new whether that’s to the area or not just know if you stayed new to the area i’m judging you in my head never outwardly uh is there other things like is there just something that really you know get involved in service i think all those same things we kind of tell the newer member but like is there maybe be more honest about where you’re at like is that something that’s useful like can i would it be helpful if i went into the meeting and said look i’m new to this area this is like the third week i’ve been here just the fifth meeting i’ve been at and i [ _ ] hate it and i really want some help i i want to be a part of so so i did all those things right i really [ _ ] hate it i did that for a long time probably even five months so i don’t know that that that type of honesty wasn’t helpful right because it was just negative energy from me about how much i hated being here so and i wasn’t asking for help i didn’t say i’m looking for some of you guys to plug into i would just [ _ ] spew on how much i hated it here so i think it depends on what my motive motive would have been or would be in the future right so i try not to repeat mistakes so i i haven’t grown in my recovery since when i first moved down here if i move again that’s i’ve learned what not to do i’m not going to go in there and just be insulting to a whole room full of [ _ ] people trying to recover because that’s what i did i insulted the area that people love [ _ ] maryland that are from maryland so do you think sometimes yeah they both got maryland [ __ ] hats on

so i don’t know maryland but i love new jersey right so my wife and i were just talking about like because we were like people that are from maryland seem to [ _ ] love it right and um you know i never saw jersey state flags anywhere when i was in germany i just got a pretty flag it’s not a love for the state it’s just nice-looking it sure does fly a lot wherever the [ _ ] i go there’s a maryland [ _ ] flag right so i i did so i i think i just need to check my motives and i’m i need i need people in recovery to help me stay clean right that’s my bottom line that’s my reality so um and i don’t want to i’m not i don’t want to go through the same things i went through when i moved here right so i would just go in and i would insult a whole room full of people and the place that they loved and you know people when you do that they could give a [ _ ] about you well and i think you’re giving a good model of like that middle path right because you’re saying i came down and insulted people in the area they were in and i felt like i tried to ignore that i didn’t like the recovery area i had moved to right i tried to just completely act like that feeling didn’t exist and not acknowledge it and i and i’m thinking is there somewhere in that middle path of that like hey look i i am feeling like not connected to this recovery area and it’s hurting me and it’s making me feel judgmental i know that’s all made up stories right i know you guys are the same loving people as you are in the area i came from but i got to be honest that like i’m i’m hating it right now and i need you all to help me to get plugged in like somewhere in that middle path where we acknowledge we do feel that because i don’t think ignoring it helped me but also not being a dick or to just acknowledge the difference you know hey it’s different here it’s in what i’m used to it’s uncomfortable you know like i got clean in an area where we did stuff a certain way and things were a certain way and i was established and that’s what i’m used to and now this is not that and it’s hard i think it opened so having been here now 10 years and seeing other people come to this area from outside of this area i think i’m more empathetic for them and when i hear them sharing that they’re new and not from the area i definitely try to reach out to them i’ve i’ve seen other people share similar things about coming to this area right or it doesn’t need to be this area but just coming to a new area and um i think that you know the longer i stay here and the more work i continue to do it myself i’m more open to that and reach out and um you know not everybody is the same i and uh that’s okay right i’m not i’m not gonna connect with them with a lot of people right and that’s okay too right so there’s some people that you they can walk into a room and they’re friends with every [ _ ] right i’m not i’m just i’m like um social anxiety i’m like i’m doing pretty good here today but like you know sometimes and it’s you know some it’s just like your recovery some days i’m better at it than others so some days i’m better at going up to that guy that just shared that he’s new to the area and other days i’m like ah [ _ ] him right right right i got [ _ ] i gotta be i got my [ _ ] work hours today i’m [ __ ] tired i’m going home right now i don’t know is there some kind of prep work we could do like you talked about you said you visited a meeting in south carolina but you didn’t go in now so you know we i haven’t been to an in-person meeting since covid and um although i’ve had my shots i it’s we just weren’t really sure what’s good and it’s very different down there so yeah yeah no matter anywhere yeah right everybody

so we didn’t go in right so that’s just this northeast corridor apparently everybody carried around here and i guess the other coast but anywhere off of this ghost people just didn’t even care and i will say as far as homework i know and again it’s more my wife than me but she’s always like look and see if the area has a hotline number or a phone she has called the hotline number and said hey we’re trying to find a meeting where’s a meeting and they’ll tell you because meeting lists aren’t always up to date and online [ _ ] isn’t always up to date but usually if you call the hotline that’s a person that knows the area and they can typically tell you what meetings are there and and just saying like hey you know what’s it what’s a better meeting with you know anything about the meetings i mean most of the time they’ll tell you people tell you if you ask if you don’t ask you don’t [ _ ] know that’s funny to me because i still i’m like no you don’t [ _ ] call anybody [ _ ] that right yeah right i’ve just established the best way to look it up online which is don’t use like the n a world services website right the area use the estate right you go to the smallest possible area website you can and that’s usually the most accurate but i’m like call somebody i’d rather show up at a beat that doesn’t exist that’s what i do too and then get pissed off about this [ _ ] error their schedules get mad another reason to hate them is there anything else is there like a special way to reach out to somebody can you try to pal around with people when you first get a place is there like a is there like a dating site for recovery network people in the area no i i think my biggest suggestion is don’t be a dick right so i was a dick when i came when i moved down here and it hurt me right so um you know i tried so that was that was um and be more accepting and open and ask for some [ _ ] help right so i mean um i think for me it it’s what it’s all right to go in and share that i’m struggling because i i learned early on that anything that’s affecting my recovery is this game game on for sharing in a meeting right so that’s how that’s how i get through stuff as i continue to talk about it until i don’t need to talk about it anymore and and if that’s because i moved to a new area well then i should do that so and and although i did that and when i first got here just constantly bashing the area and the and um the recovery and everything about it was not helpful so it just wasn’t and you know i i will never do that again right so i learned right so that no matter how i’m feeling it’s still an inside job and for me it would have been okay to share about how much i’m struggling keep it on me but i i just openly shared about the area and all kinds of [ _ ] that just made me look like a judgmental dick right right and i think there’s a point like for myself where just allowing myself to feel uncomfortable needs to be okay like i want to tell myself like i tried to psych myself up and go to these new areas you know because at that time i had i forget 15 16 17 years and i just thought oh i’ve been around n a enough i [ _ ] you know i’m trying to psych myself out like i [ _ ] belong here i earned my seat here you know they can’t and all that [ _ ] and then i go in i’m like oh this is really uncomfortable and awkward and instead of just trying to accept and own that i just let it overwhelm me and then i’m [ __ ] running out the door as soon as the meeting’s over you know and just recognizing like it’s gonna be tough it’s gonna be awkward it’s gonna be a little off-putting at first but let me just try to kind of get through that phase and and accept it and i think something you just said jim really hits the nail on the head when we got here i felt like we were so desperate and so beat down and so clueless as to where to go next it was easy to ask for help right but then as we get more established again some of those old what we talked about societal male behaviors come back in about you know we don’t need to stop for acid directions we’re good right we’ll figure this out and i think that’s where we got to be man that vulnerable state of like hey i need help i’m new in this area i’m not feeling it i need help and if we can get there we’re probably in a pretty good place to make some connections and get plugged in all right i think we nailed it so if you’re moving in recovery uh we just fixed you yeah yeah i have no clue uh good luck to you it’s a tough one right it’s definitely a tough one just try as best you can to you know make yourself vulnerable and ask for help and and do what you can to get plugged in uh everybody take it easy we’ll see you next week did you like this episode share it with people you think might get something out of it check out the rest of our episodes at recoveryswordof.com also while you’re there you can find ways to link up with us on facebook twitter instagram reddit youtube anything we’re always looking for new ideas got an idea you want us to look into reach out to us