It seems like newcomers to recovery often ask about 12-step meetings: “why do I have to hear the same stories over and over again?” Many times I’ve heard things like “because it works,” “my sponsor says it’s important,” “just do it,” “stop asking questions, or “your thinking got you here.”
I’ve only recently realized that stories make us who we are. I happen to be Jewish. I’m Jewish because my parents and all of my relatives are and were Jewish. Some of them spoke Yiddish, especially when they didn’t want me to know what they were talking about. I still know a few Yiddish words. I had an uncle Saul that got drunk at every Bar Mitzvah. His wife, who was kind of hot, was fairly loaded too. When I was 13 she looked pretty good.
I don’t go to Temple. I do not practice any Jewish religious rituals, but sometimes I miss them.
My wife is Catholic. I think every Catholic has stories to tell about nuns who made their lives miserable. I’ve heard her laugh with her relatives about priests who could barely stand up on Sunday, about numerous Sunday celebrations that began with communion. My father-in-law once lobbied for his wife to have her own parish. The fact is that she was truly spiritual and helped a lot of people.
My wife doesn’t go to church either. But she will always be Catholic and I will always be Jewish. It’s got nothing to do with going to houses of worship or religious rituals. It’s all to do with the stories we grew up with and who we have become. I enjoy being with my wife and her relatives when they share the stories they grew up with, but I can’t get it like they do.
We share our experience, strength, and hope because our stories bind us together. When we share our stories we know each other. I think the sharing of our stories is the “We” in the first step. It is the essence of spirituality. Without “We,” there is no spirituality. Without our stories, there is no “We.”