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The Opportunity to Include the Newcomer

Chris Raymer, VP of Recovery Services


“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” ~Jane Howard


In 1935, a newly sober alcoholic named Bill Wilson came in contact with a drunk named Dr. Bob. What was to be a “15-minute” visit turned into a 5 (plus) hour meeting and a friendship that lasted 15 years. If you haven’t read the Forward to the 2nd Edition of the Big Book lately, go read it! There are probably thousands of history articles written about that fateful meeting but that Forward pretty well boiled it down.


“He suddenly realized that in order to save himself he must carry his message to another alcoholic. He NEEDED another alcoholic!” Big Book, page xii


All these years later, not much has changed as far as I see it. I had been going to 12-step meetings, on and off for 7 years. Never staying long. Not once did I go out after a meeting to coffee or attend social events with other recovered folks. I never went to conferences, workshops, or “eating meetings”. Picked up a new dry chip, got me some hugs, and went home. Isolation kills SO many of us! (Yep… you can isolate in a packed room.)


In 1987, I landed in one more meeting. Something was different with that bunch. A couple of guys asked me to stay afterward, explained the problem and, thankfully, the solution. The steps were clearly the key but so was the Fellowship! (Not just meetings.) They wouldn’t let me isolate. These folks made it clear that if I didn’t become a PART of a group, I would keep relapsing. I wanted to stay sober. They KNEW I wanted to, so they took a chance by pushing me past my comfort zone. They encouraged the “shyest guy in the room” to get involved with them. I’m still friends with some of those wonderful people. Many have passed but I will always remember the effort they took to include me. Hard to believe that’s been nearly 30 years!


I was at my Monday night meeting last week – setting up and visiting with one of my guys. Stupid microphone needed a new battery. I noticed an old guy with a BIG cowboy hat sitting by himself against the wall. Never saw him before but he had that look… new guy. I made a mental note to introduce myself and finished setting up for the meeting. Not sure when he left but he did. I have disappeared from meetings like that a hundred times. I’ll be watching for him. I will recognize the hat! Hope he comes back so I can show him what a REAL member of our Fellowship looks like. The opportunity to include that newcomer is a gift. One that I ignored that night.


I am SO looking forward to our Reunion visits coming up in October! Nice to talk to y’all on the phone but it’s WAY more fun to see you! Holler if you have any questions. See ya soon!


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