In recovery, we learn to be of service to others. I am a big believer in planting the seeds of recovery with others. I think service has less to do with a specific addiction whether alcohol, eating disorder, gambling, or smoking and more of living into the solution. I believe “the principles” of twelve-step recovery are a particularly fertile soil to plant seeds.
I taught a student a while ago who was recovering from an eating disorder and dealing with other issues. She graduated a couple of years later and has gone on to further studies. We have moved from a teacher/student relationship to more one as a colleague/collaborator/friend. I see her a couple of times a year. For her birthday I always send her a stack of books – a mix of recovery literature, fiction, graphic novels, and such.
Her birthday is one week after my sobriety anniversary. I got sober in early August 1984 and she was born in mid-August of 1985. I started including my previous year’s AA anniversary coin to her with the stack of books for her birthday. The AA coin seemed symbolic to pass along in some way marking her birthday and her own recovery. I suggested she pass the coins on in some equally symbolic way to others in the future.
She had a rough time this past spring and wrote me:
I’ve been meaning to email or call you lately. I’ve been battling what I only recently recognized as crippling anxiety which led to near relapse about two weeks ago . . . I thought of you and went to my box that has your AA chips in it last week and it actually snapped me out of it in a sense… That might seem weird but I have always assumed you gave me them not to remind me of where I have been, but to remind me of where I might go. I think I need to visit and have chats and do some biking. I would be happy to house and puppy sit if you all have other plans.
Of course, I will include my 28 year coin when I mail her the box of birthday books next month.