Whenever 77-year-old Anne comes to Recovery Café Longmont, she sports a hat with a matching scarf tied around the brim, a coordinating outfit, and novelty socks, which she shows off to give everyone a laugh. Her smile is infectious, and her hugs warm and loving. Since she became a member in February 2021, she has brought incredible knowledge and support to our members, which she gained through her own recovery journey.
Anne started her path to recovery many years ago. Though she was passionate about being a schoolteacher and committed to her marriage, she realized she was acting out: “Even negative attention was better than none.”
There might be something else
“When I first started my recovery journey, I thought alcohol was the problem because I wasn’t willing to see there might be something else. For maybe 20 years, I was in and out of AA. I’m not sure when I started going to Overeaters Anonymous (OA), but I couldn’t stay with either program. I felt like I was letting God down. I couldn’t stay on the abstinence thing; I didn’t like doing the work, and I didn’t like doing the food journals. It was a whole bunch of stuff that I managed to make into excuses to not go,” she said.
Four years ago, Anne found an OA group that uses the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. “To me, it contains the clearest explanation of the road to recovery. My program is designed straight off of that. That was attractive to me because it was so simple. It is just the 12 steps.”
Lonely for faces
Since joining that OA group and becoming a member at Recovery Café, Anne has really been able to focus on her recovery. She learned about the Café from a mailer. “I was lonely for faces, and when the postcard said ‘recovery,’ that got my attention. Faces of recovery – I thought that was something I’d like to try.”
Anne is like many of the members at the Café whose recovery journeys have followed many different pathways. Recovery is highly personalized and often nonlinear. Setbacks happen, but continued growth is key. At the Café by practicing radical hospitality, we work to support everyone wherever they are on their journey and encourage multiple pathways to recovery.
Anne especially likes our Recovery Circles, which every member is required to attend once a week. “The sharing that we have with each other during our discussions, where we support and listen to each other as a group of women, that was another draw for me – that I would be able to say some things that I might not be able to say in front of the guys.”
Thinking about others
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot; I’ve changed. I no longer care so much about what I want and what I need. I think about other people and what they might need. That’s what I do in Circle: I try to give people something that will help them or inspire them or reassure them. I try to bring them to another level of knowing where they’re at, through what I hear in their shares.”
Anne also believes that her recovery is a spiritual path of connection and willingness to be vulnerable. “Recovery is living in a way where I know that I have a place where I can say what I need to say, get the help that I need, ask for the help that I need, and be on a spiritual path I hope for the rest of my life.”
Anne is truly representative of the guiding principles that all members agree to practice when they join the Café:
- Connect with divine Love in ourselves and others
- Show respect
- Cultivate compassion
- Practice forgiveness
- Encourage Growth
- Give back
And she gives back to the Café in so many different ways including contributing financially.
Anne is a GEM contributor, meaning she gives an automatic monthly donation to the Café. Anne says she donates because “the Café needs and deserves support. It feels good to give back for all the love I have received… It is a place for comfort and support for us. So I can contribute with some of the green stuff.”