In The Parking Lot Doing Pushups

“I am in this meeting because I know my addiction is outside in the parking lot doing push-ups.”

There are a lot of sayings (clichés, truisms) that are often repeated when you attend 12 step recovery groups. There are times when people may get frustrated hearing the same thing over and over. And there are probably some visitors who think to themselves that these trite statements are nothing more than that: trite.

However, once people have experienced life in recovery, those clichés hit home more and more frequently.


“Why do you keep going to meetings?”

It’s not a rare question. Perhaps it is even a fair one. Why keep doing this thing repeatedly? What is the point of continuing to gather, greet each other by first name, drink a lot of coffee, drop a dollar or two in the basket, and talk about our addictions and paths of recovery?

Some people genuinely seem surprised that after a number of years, people would still be going to their recovery groups. It seems there are those who believe the problem is overcome, cured, licked, under control. And to some extent, maybe that’s true.

But when people ask me why I keep going, I immediately see faces and remember names. I recall the people I know who worked really hard on their recovery. I hear the broken voices and see the tears as people who had previously received coins marking years ask for a coin to mark the first day.

Now, I don’t tell people all of this when they ask me the question. I don’t tell them about the people I know and the relapses that I have witnessed. I don’t even always talk about my own relapse.

But an answer that I can give is that trite saying that I have heard so often, “I still go to meetings because my addiction is in the parking lot doing push-ups.”

It has been a long time since I last had a drink. But I am aware that my addiction did not just happen to go away. I know that if I let my guard down, if I get lazy, if I quit doing the things that have brought me to this point, I could very likely end up right back where I was.

Only this time it could get a lot worse.

To say that my addiction is doing push-ups indicates that the factors that led me to behave addictively still exist. If I am going to stay sober, I am going to continue to work on my sobriety. Because alcohol doesn’t change. It looks the same, tastes the same, creates the same sensations. The escape provided by alcohol is still there. And still as inadequate. Still as deadly. Alcohol didn’t go away. It is still singing its siren song.


Is this really any different than other temptations we face? If we don’t intentionally and diligently practice the necessary discipline consistently, we will often find ourselves back in the trouble we tried to get away from.

I acknowledge there is still a temptation. I acknowledge there is still a possibility of turning back. But I keep doing the things I have done that brought me to where I am.

So join me at the meeting. Because the addiction is doing push-ups outside. We are going to be ours inside.