My older daughter, Wandalyn, walked quite early, but she was also fearful. She put her weight on her own feet and, if I allowed her to hold both of my index fingers she tottered across the room.
One day I had an idea, and I held a clothespin in each hand. She took hold of the other end and we walked. That went on for a few days. One day she grabbed hold of the clothespins and we started to walk. I let go of my end and she kept on walking. Before she reached the other side of the room, she realized what I had done.
She dropped the clothespins and after that she toddled around the room on her own.
I tell this story because it works like that for some men in recovery. As long as they have someone to hold on to, they seem to do well. It might be a therapist, a pastor, a support group, or a friend they've been able to trust.
At some point, they have to walk without holding on to others. When that happens, it means they've overcome their shame and a sense of failure. Their self-worth soars.
We also call it maturity, because they can stand on their feet. It's not to say that they don't need others—we always need others—but maturity means we can walk by ourselves and walk beside those we trust.
But as long as we hold on by depending on someone else, we don't mature. We have to let go and give up the human crutches. We might fall a few times, but once we know the freedom and joy of walking without holding on to some safe support, life takes on a deeper meaning because our pain diminishes.