There’s the old say: you are what you eat. It makes sense, if you eat garbage you can’t expect to have the body of an olympic athlete. The movie “Supersize Me” demonstrated just how quickly that change can take place. There’s also another truism:
“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future” -Dan Pena
Hanging around with the same five or six people will keep all of you at the lowest common denominator in terms of interests, pursuits and goals. If I try to improve myself, those friends of mine will often, unconsciously and without malice, hold me back from reaching new goals. I do it to myself as well: I wonder what the ‘group’ will think if I do this? By the time I hit bottom in my addiction, I was mostly hanging out with others who used the way I used. If I was going to survive and recover, I needed to get away from that environment.
There was a study done years ago on fleas. A bunch of fleas were put into a jar and the lid was put on. After a few days of bumping their heads, the fleas learned to jump only as high as just below the lid of the jar. When the lid was removed, these fleas didn’t jump out of the jar. They stayed at their level because the believed they couldn’t jump higher than they were jumping. Even subsequent generations of fleas only jumped as high as their parents because well, that’s only as high as fleas jump. However, if you took one of the fleas from this jar and put it into another jar where the fleas were jumping twice as high, it didn’t take long before the flea learned to go far beyond its former limit.
The message for us is very similar. If we stay in an environment where limits are put upon us by social pressures and our own beliefs then making permanent changes in our lives is very difficult. For those of us in recovery, making the choice to be clean and sober is often regarded with skepticism by those we hung around with. It’s important in the beginning to seek out others in recovery to help us and encourage us to move forward. We don’t necessarily drop our old friend, but we spend less time with them. Our common interests are changing. As we move forward in our recovery, they may see the results and want the same, or not. Ours is a program of attraction; it can’t be sold.
I have little in common with those who are still in their disease. I hope someday they will receive their own gift of desperation and find recovery. I will gladly help in whatever way I can but it’s up to them. I am grateful for my friends in recovery. It’s a very different group of people from my old group. And they continue to assist and challenge me in my recovery. They help me soar in my recovery, showing me that I can not only jump, I can fly, higher than I ever thought was possible.