Sep 06: Step 9

We are all invited to share on Step 9. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 9 ***
“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s much more in Chapter 6 (Into Action), starting in the middle of page 76. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***

You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org

My experience with Step nine is a variety, I make living amends, to myself, and others. I ALWAYS talk to my sponsor or trusted AA friends before I make any amends. I have to be keenly aware of my motives. Amends based on reestablishing a relationship, or getting you to forgive or like me again, aren’t amends. Amends are for me, first and foremost, They give me humility and pride in my self. They actually are part of the process in giving myself, back to myself. My drinking career revolved around people pleasing and trying to fit my square peg into the round hole. I just don’t fit. But the process of amends, understanding what I did that hurt your feelings, and what you require to “fix it” is humbling and really asks me to “listen” not defend. When I am that vulnerable, and that open and the other person can receive me on that playing field magic happens. Magic didn’t happen in all my amends. Some have been flatly refused and this people refuse to have conversations with me. That hurts, and today I can let myself actually feel that hurt. It’s a whole lot better than trying to stuff it or drink at it.

This is one of the parts of growing up I missed as a kid, and thank god there’s a program out here to teach me how to do it.

The meetings yours, please share on Step 9

Aug 30: Changes in Perspective

Last week I was listening to a podcast and I heard the statement. When shame grows up into Guilt then you are able to take responsibility for your actions. WOW big AHA moment….. when shame grows up into guilt. According to me, shame and guilt were both negative destructive emotions. I came into AA with boatloads of shame and guilt. However, all I could do was feel them. I had no outlet, I had no tools, I had just a pit of self despair. AA gave me tools to use to transform shame into guilt, and then the tools to use guilt to take responsibility for my actions.

These are new words for me. I have not seen the process from this perspective. Steps 4 thru 9 took care of the majority of my past issues, Steps 10 to 12 take care of my daily maintenance.

Guilt has now moved from being a negative emotion to a trusted friend who guides me on the path.
The meeting is now open. Please share on what strikes you, or what you need to share about.
Laurie
2-99

Aug 23: Bringing the Message Home

I chose this topic from the Daily Reflections forAugust 23.

Can we bring the same spirit of love and tolerance into our sometimes deranged family lives that we bring to our A.A. group?
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pp. 111-12

My family members suffer from the effects of my disease. Loving and accepting them as they are- just as I love and accept A.A. members– fosters a return of love, tolerance and harmony to my life. Using common courtesy and respecting others’ personal boundaries are necessary practices for all areas of my life.

Throughout my drinking career I thought everything was about me, me, me, me. If it wasn’t about me then I did not really care. I had to be in control of every situation and if I wasn’t then I was done with you. I would sabotage relationships that I was in if things did not go my way. Sometimes this would lead to abuse, but at the time I did not care because it would give me an excuse to drink and I would easily forgive myself. I sabotaged my relationship with family and friends. I liked things done my way regardless if I was wrong or right.

When I first started to get sober I went the complete opposite direction and I let people walk all over me. I didn’t know how to say no or to set boundaries. My first sponsor was very thorough with me and helped and guided me in my self will. She helped me to learn how to set boundaries without compromising myself. I learned how to tell people no so I would not feel guilty about it. I did not like to tell people no, but I felt if I said no then people would not like me. I now know that I am not always right that there are other ways of doing things. I am more tolerant of people, family and most importantly myself. Self love has played a big role in my sobriety.

Mar 29: Powerlessness

With everything going on in the world today, powerlessness comes to mind. Our program tells us that are we powerless over alcohol but people, places and things as well. We have learned that we are not adrift if we don’t control things, our HP is charge. We may not understand this and sometimes it is hard to believe when things are as bad as they are right now perhaps. But we are told that God did not bring us this far to drop us now.

I have not met anyone that has been able to achieve and maintain a quality sobriety without His help. I myself tried many things to get sober and none of them worked because I was thoroughly and totally powerless over alcohol. I gave it all my power, I made it my governing power for so long I became powerless to regain control over my life. I could not get sober on my own. Once I totally surrendered to the God of my understanding and became entire willing to accept my powerlessness did I begin to feel my HP’s power enter and begin to change me. AA has taught me that I have no power over anything but myself and my attitude. This is a full time job right now with my anxiety, trying to just stay in the day and hand over my fears to God.

These times are scary for sure and it is easy for me to slip into panic. But we alcoholics have a program which can uphold us and restore our serenity in these uncertain times. Thank you all for being here with me and virtually holding my hand when I am frightened and need support.

Thank you for letting me share.
Lynn H

Mar 22: Connection

Good morning Growing Women! My name is Alison B and I am still an alcoholic. I have chosen the topic of connection this week. I was asked earlier this week by my very kind son-in-law; how my husband and I were holding up living such an isolated life? I explained that I am prepared, or have been prepared by my disease of alcoholism and also by my year spent in a China dormitory room back in 2012, when my bathroom morphed into my “Bitchen”. My husband was often sick by the gluten used in so much of the cooking in the dormitory that I found a way to cook food for us. My bathroom was where I washed and prepped most food, then I would run downstairs and cook in the dorm kitchen during “off hours” so as not to interrupt the Chinese cook during her working hours. Lol Now I have an entire 3 bedroom house with my own kitchen, two bathrooms, deep freezer, etc. I am far advanced in my needs and wants where I am isolated today than I was way back in 2012 when I first found GROW. So, I can do this. We can do this!

As for my alcoholism I explained that if I can survive the disease of alcoholism, I can “shelter in place” for a time, no problem. Do I have my ups and downs? Of course I do. I also have online meetings to attend. I can stay connected to the outside world through the internet and through the Grace of my Higher Power whom I choose to call God. It all requires some effort/action on my part. Oh, and I have a phone list too! If I can survive a year pretty much isolated in a dormitory room in the countryside of China (my husband and I lived in a boat factory as he was an engineer working for a boat building company.) I can certainly survive in my 3 bedroom home in Bend Oregon. Do I miss my kids? Sure I do, but we facetime quite a bit. My goal is to attend 90 online meetings in 90 days.

This brings me to my topic of connection, lol.

Page 17 BB “We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. We are like the passengers of a great liner the moment after rescue from the shipwreck, when camaraderie, joyousness and democracy pervade the vessel from steerage to Captain’s table……….The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us.”

I remain connected, through thick and thin. I am a survivor. I have discovered a common solution. I have a way out. In order to stay connected to my AA peeps and my Higher Power I must participate. So here I am, celebrating 27 years sober this week. I am a miracle as are you.

Thank you for being a part of my sobriety today and thank you all for the wonderful birthday wishes.

Blessings,
Alison B.

Mar 15: One Day at a Time

This was very difficult for me when I came to AA. It was also a new concept for me. For as long as I can remember I have been daydreaming of the future and reliving the past. I don’t remember ever staying in the now. I didn’t even know people did that. Talk about irritability. I wanted control of things that weren’t mine to have.

The idea of staying sober 24 hours at a time was also very foreign to me. I would hear people say how long they had been sober and it seemed so unattainable for me. I would make these great goals and never be able to achieve them because they were to hard. I couldn’t imagine making it through a day without a drink never mind a year or a lifetime.

I had to be taught how to stay present and in the now. At first I had this “whatever” attitude about it. I didn’t think it was that important. After several relapses I got that gift of desperation and decided it was worth a shot. I was surprised how hard it was. I had to actually train my brain. I remember thinking about some future conversations and stop a say ‘ I am putting on my eyeliner. I am putting on my mascara’ . My mind would drift back to my future conversation and I would have to immediately pull back again to the now.

This staying in the now has been such a gift. It helps me in so many different ways. It has helped me turn my will over to my God. It has helped me get over resentments. Most importantly it has kept me sober minute by minute and day by day. It has given me my life back.

What is your experience in staying in the now and how has it helped you in recovery?

Please feel free to share on this topic or whatever you may be going through or wish to share. The meeting is open and I look forward to your shares.
Thank you for allowing me to chair.

Amy
July 1, 2019

Mar 08: Conceding to our Inner Most Self that we are Alcoholics

Hey good Morning friends. Karrie here alcoholic. One of my “go to” readings is the chapter “More About Alcoholism” in the Big Book. If you haven’t read it in awhile I would encourage you to do so. I go to this chapter often, specially when those little nagging thoughts come—you know those thoughts that say …. “maybe I am not a real alcoholic“ OR “maybe I could take one drink and be ok” OR “maybe this time will be different”. Those are all lies that my disease whispers to me from time to time. Daily working my program helps me stay sober. It is the solution.

The sentences that are so important to me are—- “ We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.” I have to smash that delusion over and over. People say that we have to get step one completely. I agree but I have to remind myself that daily that I am an alcoholic. Conceding to my inner most self over and over that I am an alcoholic.

The topic for this week is “Have you conceded to your innermost self that you are an alcoholic?”

Please feel free to share to share on this or anything that you need to that will help you stay sober today.

Mar 01: Step 3

We are all invited to share on Step 3. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives

*** Step 3 ***
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 5, starting on p. 60. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***

You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org

I initially had a hard time with this step because of conflicting feelings about religion. However, this step isn’t meant to be a religious obligation; it’s meant to help alcoholics rely on something other than themselves to help them abstain from drinking alcohol. There are several ways I have used this step to make changes in my life.

I began to distinguish between what is in my control and what isn’t. I often covered up feelings of being out of control by attempting to control everything in my life. Including my own drinking ( how’d that work – NOT) Sometimes I drank to forget painful things in my life that were beyond my control. One way I have learned to use step three is to ask myself “ Do I have control over what is upsetting me ?” Learning to let go of things that are beyond my control has helped me to reduce the desire to drink.

I learned to cultivate a positive attitude. The feelings behind my alcoholic addiction are painful; frustrating or angry. I often drank to not feel them, By learning to turn my feelings over to some sort of higher power, (for me it started as the rooms and the fellowship) I began to feel more capable of dealing with life’s challenges. This step helped me to learn to be more open to guidance. Listening to other AAs share solutions helped open my closed mind and become more willing. Learning to share my “issues” with other alcoholics and then the larger world and listen to the suggestions given have proven themselves time and time again. The more I practice this the easier it gets.

Step 3 suggests that the alcoholic should be open to help from whatever source it comes from, because whatever higher power (including my own best vision of myself) I am working with, might be directing me towards better behavior. A friend once shared with something with me that I would like to share with you. She used to have resentments towards people she thought she was supposed to be counting on, until she realized that she always received the help she needed, just not from the source she thought it should come from. Once she realized that it became easier to be grateful and receive the care of ….her higher power. It’s true for me as well. Many times the person I thought would be there to help, can’t – but there has always been someone else to step up. It’s simply amazing when I look back over events. Try it sometime when you’re not feeling grateful. (LOL)

The meeting is now open, and as always if you have a burning desire to share something, this is the place to bring it.
Thank you for all the birthday wishes, 21 years is an amazing gift, ONE DAY AT A TIME.
Laurie C

Feb 23: Putting Sobriety First

Hello all ladies of GROW.

My name is Rene and am an alcoholic.

In recovery it is often said that you risk losing anything you put in front of sobriety. If you place your family, friends, job, ahead of sobriety, you risk losing all these things and slide back into alcoholism.

Taking it one day at a time and focus on the now, worrying about what will happen only slows my recovery, that includes not dwelling on the past as it happened, can’t change that (my sponsor repeatedly told me this- also avoid negatives, change it into a positive – she a very wise woman).

If I devote as much time to recovery as I did with alcohol, all the hours spent drinking and feeling sorry for myself. I can now put my sobriety first, attend meetings, reading the literature, sharing on topic and service work (no matter how small).

I am unfortunately one of those people who speak before I think, my sister politely says I only open my mouth to change feet, naturally this lands me in trouble at times, it the learning from it (am still learning), putting principles first.

My first f2f meeting is 22 April, day I land in Jhb, they asked and I agreed to share at my first meeting (15min), at first the thought terrified me as been an introvert I prefer to stay in the background, now this is something I can say “have done”, as who knows what might happen, my circumstances can change and in a place with access to f2f meetings.

The Oxford dictionary says of perseverance :(persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success)

I have said it before AA (including this group and my online meetings, it is my safety net or cocoon). Their is times I would prefer not to “deal with the world”, but then that would be counter productive.

Someone said to me once:
Today is the beginning of the rest of your life.
May we treat, each day like that.

Thank you for letting me share, would love to hear other thoughts and shares.

Feb 16: Acceptance

Hello all dear GROW Members, my name is Nancy C. and I am an alcoholic. It hardly seems possible that almost 23 years ago this alcoholic stumbled into another online email group and I am so grateful to God and AA !!

This short quote about acceptance is one of my favorite recovery messages. It’s from the 3rd Edition, page 449 and 4th Edition, page 417 of “Alcoholics Anonymous”,The Big Book: The chapter was written by Dr. Paul Ohliger, who died Friday, May 19, 2000, in Mission Viejo, California at the age of 83.

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

If I had not accepted my alcoholism, my road to recovery would have been very short and I would not be about to celebrate 23 years of sobriety. When my dear husband and best friend died suddenly 3 ½ years ago, accepting his death was major in my grieving process. Going on with my life and not doing the “if only” questions and “what if “ questions. It has not been easy but by accepting and not fighting the process life has become better.

This week I would love to hear your stories of acceptance in your sober journeys. Thank you for the honor of leading this week’s meeting.

Feb 09: Self Centeredness

I’m Valerie and I’m an alcoholic. I’m so grateful to be part of this group. Thank you so much to everyone who reached out yesterday for my 32nd anniversary. There’s no chance I would have been able to attain days, months or years of continuous sobriety without the support of others who truly understand the nature of this illness. In particular, in the past several years it has become increasingly difficult to get to f2f meetings. So many of you here at this meeting have helped me at various times to hang on for one more day.

I remember when I was newly sober and I heard a speaker with over 30 years of sobriety. I was so in awe of her. In fact, I was very much in awe of anyone who had been able to be sober for more than a year. I had been a daily drinker for 10 years. For some, that doesn’t sound very long, but in those 10 years I gave up everyone and everything that competed with my compulsion to drink. I quit college, quit playing competitive tennis, walked away from friends, boyfriends, jobs and anyone who questioned my drinking. I was unable to do the smallest of tasks without drinking first, and by the end I had to go home on my lunch hour and drink just to get through a day of work. Once, when there was a rare hurricane in Massachusetts where I lived at the time, others were out stocking their homes with food before the storm hit, but I was running from one liquor store to the next to make sure I didn’t run out of alcohol. Without AA, I have no doubt I would have drunk myself to death

For any newcomers that are here, we’ve all been where you are, and we all know we’re just one drink away from our next drunk. Years ago at a large speaker meeting, I heard a speaker say, “I have a disease that wants to kill everyone in this room.” It’s a cunning, powerful and insidious disease that’s lying in wait hoping we become complacent or forget where we came from, or that we forget we need each other to remain sober. Together we can do what none of us can do alone.

For this week, I’d like to suggest the topic of self-centeredness. In the Big Book on page 62, it says

“Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt. So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making.”

I remember reading that when I was new and feeling confused. I didn’t think that I was a self-centered person at all.

Boy was I wrong. I have come to recognize that I did make many decisions based on self that hurt me and other people. Self-centered fear affected many of my decisions personally and professionally. For me, self-centeredness tends to manifest most often as self-pity, and I have to be vigilant about my tendency to wallow in the “poor me’s”. Self-pity is driven by a tendency to think only of myself, my problems, my pain.

What a gift that the Steps give us the tools to recognize and work on defects of character, such as self-centeredness.

How has self-centeredness manifested in your life, in the past or in the present? I invite you all to share on this topic or any other topic that you’d like to share on this week.

Thank you all for letting me lead this week, and for letting me be part of this wonderful group.

Hugs to all who need or want one,

Valerie D
DOS 2/8/88

Feb 02: Step 2

Step 2

Step 2: “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

I used to believe I was in control of everything. I spent decades making poor choices and decisions about how to cope with the challenges of life. As a young teenager I turned to overeating, then it was drugs, then boys/men. Eventually king alcohol joined the party – all to avoid emotional pain or anything uncomfortable. Of course any relief was only temporary, which kept this vicious cycle going in my head, in my heart and my life. The high price I paid not only impacted me, but those I was close to.

It wasn’t until I began to truly practice my faith through this program called AA (and eventually OA) that I began to realize there is another path. I started this journey 5 years ago today and so far so good.

My faith in steps 2 and 3 specifically are definitely being tested as we speak. I’m in what feels like an unusually challenging marriage, sometimes I am overwhelmed with loneliness, hurt, sadness and fear about the future. I’m also planning to retire later this year after full time work for 40+ years, lots of emotions swirling in my head about that. Lately I’ve been praying more, counting on my belief that God will help restore my sanity. And when I *pause* long enough to *listen*, it is such a tremendous relief to believe, it gives me hope to know that I’m not alone in this journey.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and experience surrounding step 2.

Thank you for being her ladies!
Susan P.

Jan 26: God Consciousness

God Consciousness

Hi! I’m still Julie and I’m an alcoholic. Last night I had a few friends over to my house. We did an at home meeting since my husband is out of town (and I have two small kids.)

We read the chapter into action and this jumped out at me… from page 85 of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous:
“Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But we must go further and that means more action.“

The idea of becoming God-conscious really resonated with me. My life is very full, as a married, working full time, mom of two. I used to be so selfish, self centered and insecure. Self conscious. But now after a few 24 hours of working this program of recovery, I feel as if I’m becoming more God-conscious. I try to align my will that to the God of my understanding. I ask for help in the morning, thank my God at night. All throughout the day I am given several opportunities to make conscious contact.

I am just so relieved that I no longer have to feel the feelings that consumed me. That took me away from everyone and everything, and drove me inward. There is a God, I believe that today. l trust and have faith today. I am aware that their is a plan for my life and yours. That it may not make sense to me or I may never understand it. But I accept it because this is the easier, softer way. My God didn’t put me on this planet to numb out and go inward. I am living my life and trying like heck to enjoy the moments… Because this is the only life I’ll ever get to live.

Today I feel strong, inspired and that I’m heading in the right direction. How about you? Please feel free to share on this topic or anything that may be on your mind.

Julie K
5/17/12

Jan 19: Replacing Old Ideas

Replacing Old Ideas

My favorite thing to do when I am to take the lead in any meeting, general topic, is to take my Big Book off the shelf and open it to a page. Read a little bit and come up with a topic. I have to laugh … I opened to page 414 and that could be because it’s my favorite story and part of the book I read often.

The first paragraph on the page …
“I was locked up. One has to be pretty sick to do that, and perhaps one has to be even sicker to come back every day for a new list, as she did. (Today we don’t have to live that way. Max still works with me in the office, but we have turned our wills and our lives and our work over to the care of God. Each with the other as a witness, we took the Third Step out loud-just as it says in the Big Book. And life keeps getting simpler and easier as we try to reverse my old idea, by taking care of the internal environment via the Twelve steps, and letting the external environment take care of itself.)”

Yep … A great reminder for this alcoholic. Today my life seems simple and easy when I remember that I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to my higher power. The problem isn’t the outside world but from within me. Life may present its challenges, but I have a choice in how I view them. Are they problems? No. They are challenges for a moment, but thanks to this program, my mind goes from “challenge” to “opportunity for growth.” (Someone in one of online meetings mentioned “challenges” the other day and I just loved it. Kind of like a middle ground between problems and opportunities for growth.)

When I “reverse my old idea” and draw upon all that I have learned via the program, the steps, and the fellowship. When I remember to take action to deal with me and my thinking … When I don’t know what action to take and turn it ALL over, life is EASIER.

So ladies, please feel take what you want from this lead and share your ESH. Or whatever may be on your mind.

Dec 01: Step 12

Step 12: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Joy of living is the theme of the Twelfth step. Action its keyword. Giving that asks no reward. Love that has no price tag. What is spiritual awakening? A new state of consciousness and being is received as a free gift. Readiness to receive gift lies in practice of the Twelve steps. The magnificent reality. Rewards of helping other alcoholics. Kinds of Twelfth step work. Problems of Twelfth Step work. What about the practice of these principles in ALL our affairs? Monotony, pain, and calamity turned to good use by the practice of the Steps. Difficulties of practice. “Two Stepping” and demonstrations of faith. Growing spiritually is the answer to our problems. Placing spiritual growth first. Domination and over-dependence. Putting our lives on give-and-take basis. Dependence upon God necessary to recovery of alcoholic. “Practicing theses principles in ALL our affairs.” Domestic relations in A.A. Outlook upon material matters changes. So do feelings about personal importance. Instincts restored to true purpose. Understanding is key to right attitudes, right action key to good living.
(From, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions Table of Contents).
This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 60). There’s more in Chapter 7 (Working with Others), starting on p. 89, which is all about the 12th step. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

Holy Cow Batman, There’s a lot to talk about in this step. Please feel free to pick the line that speaks to your heart and share on it.

For me service is not about fixing changing or helping anyone, service is about myself. It’s about giving what I have to offer without expecting recognition or reward. It is about doing what needs to be done, as I am asked, to the best of my ability. It means giving 100 percent of my attention to what I am doing, as long as I can do so without causing myself harm. Anything more is an attempt to gain control, and anything less is a dis-service. There is a fine line between being of service and trying to help someone.

For many years I have alienated people by being helpful – controlling in their eyes. It’s been a journey to learn how to be of service, to listen — truly listen — to what someone actually needs, and do JUST that. It’s also become a journey to freedom. Freedom from the insanity in my head of trying to figure out what people want. I have and am learning to ask what someone needs.

Please feel free to share on any part of this step that resonates with you. Ladies, the meeting is now yours.

Nov 24: AA and God

Tools in AA that are parallel to tools in my Christian walk:
Take a day at a time; worrying today is interest that may never need to be collected.
Have the faith that God will always be there for me. Wherever I travel AA will be there for me.
I do not have to face anything on my own, God proves over and over he will be there for me. AA is a we program. People in the rooms keep me sober.
AA is my strength, God is my strength.
AA works if you work the program, God works if you believe in him.
Alcohol is the enemy. The secular way of the world is the enemy.
The more we read the Big Book the more we understand about alcoholism and how to live a joyful content life. The more we read the Bible the more we learn about God’s word and how to live a joyful content life.
What is a God shot we hear in AA versus Divine intervention?
The longer I am sober and the longer I hang out in the rooms of AA whether it is f2f meetings or online meetings, I experience the promises of AA as I have experienced the promises of God.
I would love to hear of your similarities in AA and God.

Nov 17: Isolation

I am so grateful to be sober and be able to lead this meeting. Thank you for being here.

Isolation has been a big thing for me all throughout my 20s as well as my first handful of months of sobriety. While drinking, I always wanted to drown out the world and the noise in my head. It was always self inflicted isolation.

Now, in sobriety, I am what is referred to as a loner in the AA lingo, as in I do not have an AA community where I live here in Indonesia. I never have had local meetings and thank God I found GROW in the first week of sobriety and finally an online sponsor a little later on or else I don’t think I would’ve gotten very far. Here, I have experienced physical isolation with being in a new country and community all while getting sober.

For a long time I didn’t feel comfortable letting anyone but my therapist know what was going on so I just stayed with my familiar habit of thinking that others ‘just won’t get it.’ I made myself miserably sad those first few months.

I found out there was one other AAer in town at around 6 months of sobriety and soon after was able to go to my first F2F meetings in Bali for a weekend. Connecting was key to moving through some of my self loathing I still harbored as I worked through steps 4 & 5.

My AA friend in town moved away a couple of weeks ago and I’m observing the difference between being ‘alone’ now versus what I felt in the beginning.

As the Big Book says, by sticking with the program and working the steps:’… we shall get rid of that terrible sense of isolation we’ve always had.’ – 12 &12 Step 5

Now, after working through step 7 and having a lot of conversations with God, I don’t feel isolated. I am alone in a lot of respects, but I don’t feel lonely. I like to think of this as feeling safe and finally honest in my solitude with God instead of feeding into the sadness and stinking thinking. This particular pity party is over and I intend to keep working on my emotional sobriety to keep it that way.

I know that this grounded feeling has been gifted to me by my Higher Power as well as the step work I’ve done with my sponsor and the support I’ve found here in GROW. Daily meditation, prayer, breath work, the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, sobriety podcasts and spiritual texts are the biggest tools that I use to keep this connection strong.

Please feel free to share about your relationship with isolation past or present and how you are growing beyond that damaging coping mechanism.

I look forward to hearing from you all.

Hugs,

Sarah M

Nov 10: Amends and families

Hello, ladies, my name is Suanne and I am an alcoholic. Thank you for allowing me to be of service by chairing this meeting. We have had some great topics lately and I was a little nervous about chairing. I wanted to write something profound and “wow” you (old alcoholic thinking)! I’ve been sober for a few 24 hours and realize that even though alcohol has left my body, I’m still left with the alcoholic mind. 🙂

Yesterday, I had lunch with an old friend who is a normie. She asked me if she could talk to me about her son, who is drinking heavily and “doing what we do.” Her husband and her brother are also alcoholic. I listened and it brought it all back fresh as to how I hurt my family while I was drinking. She’s asking me what she could do and honestly, I could say only to pray for him. It’s so baffling to me even as an alcoholic how crazy our disease is and how crazy it makes us and I HAVE the disease. So think about how our family members are confused. The difference in cancer and alcoholism – both equally fatal diseases – is that alcoholism destroys families, careers, finances, health along the way. Cancer doesn’t do that. And a normie looks as us and says: why can’t you just stop?

I can’t tell you the number of times I swore to my son that I would not drink again – and meant it with every fiber of my being – yet by the time the hangover started wearing off, I was figuring out which liquor store to go to that day. It was a cycle born of addiction.

The good news I could tell her was that there is a solution — after alcohol takes you down (and the elevator only goes down if you are an alcoholic like me). But most alcoholics won’t stop until we do hit bottom. I told her I was grateful for my bottom because I remember it like it was yesterday and that anytime a drink starts looking good, I remember that bottom, play the tape all the way through, and it looks like poison again. I told her the solution gave me back my life and gave me a connection to God that I would not have had without it. Relationships have been restored, finances better, health better… but that all came after I hit bottom and started working the program.

I was happy I am in AA and could show her that recovery is possible. Every day is a living amends to my family. I now have a blended family of 4 kids and 7 grands with another on the way .. Only my son has seen me drunk but he has forgiven me (thank you God) and life is much better than I could ever have imagined, all thanks to God and the AA program and you.

So I’d ask you to think about your families. Where has your journey led you with amends and your families? I know some are struggling, some have restored families, some have new families. Can you share some hope for those who are still struggling? God works miracles and please don’t leave 5 minutes before your miracle happens.

I hope this wasn’t too long.

Suanne G
DOS 6-20-01

Nov 03: Step 11

We are all invited to share on Step 11. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives. We look forward to your shares.

*** Step 11 ***
“Sought through prayer and meditation to increase our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 6 (Into Action), starting at the bottom of p. 85. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***
You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

Hello friends, my name is Emily M and I am an alcoholic. Today, I am sharing with you about Step Eleven: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”

I have found many times, that while I think I’m working this step, or want to be working this step, I feel some sort of block in prayer. Like I’m not sure I’m “doing it right”. Sometimes upon examination, I find that I’m maybe praying for selfish wants and not for the will of God to be done and instead for the will of Emily to be done.

My ego, my self on its own, as an alcoholic woman, really can get strong, really can become cunning baffling and powerful like only this disease can, and only crisis situations force me to truly humbly seek my HP in prayer and meditation the way this program actually says to. And funny thing is, once I get out of my own way and begin to do that, sure enough God had a plan the whole time, I just needed to seek Him and stop talking and crying and thinking long enough to receive that plan…aka meditation.

So today, I read in the 12 and 12, and I found this “guide” for how to make a start. It suggested finding a good prayer, one you relate to, and it suggested this one and said the following:

“Lord, make me a channel of thy peace—that where there is hatred, I may bring love—that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness—that where there is discord, I may bring harmony—that where there is error, I may bring truth—that where there is doubt, I may bring faith—that where there is despair, I may bring hope—that where there are shadows, I may bring light—that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted—to understand, than to be understood—to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.”

“As beginners in meditation, we might now reread this prayer several times very slowly, savoring every word and trying to take in the deep meaning of each phrase and idea. It will help if we can drop all resistance to what our friend says. For in meditation, debate has no place. We rest quietly with the thoughts of someone who knows, so that we may experience and learn.

“As though lying upon a sunlit beach, let us relax and breathe deeply of the spiritual atmosphere with which the grace of this prayer surrounds us. Let us become willing to partake and be strengthened and lifted up by the sheer spiritual power, beauty, and love of which these magnificent words are the carriers. Let us look now upon the sea and ponder what its mystery is; and let us lift our eyes to the far horizon, beyond which we shall seek all those wonders still unseen.” Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pp. 99-100

For me getting back to our texts always helps me find answers to my life’s problems whether they be big or small. I’ve found there’s no problem bigger than my HP. This meeting and text reminds me that it’s not all about me, but about serving others and being “on the beam” ourselves, in all our joys and in our trials.

I invite you to share about your relationship with Step 11, where it’s taken you, what practices you’ve found work, what you’ve found gets you in trouble.

Thank you for the honor of chairing this meeting.

Love,
Emily M.
DOS 9/1/10

Oct 27: Gratitude

Hi Growing Women. My name is Alison B and I am an alcoholic. I had an opportunity to travel with a group of AA women to Mexico last week for a women’s retreat. I did not attend with any expectations; I had no agenda for myself. As some of you know, I lived in this same area of Mexico for 10 years, 8 of which were on my sailboat raising my two children with my now ex-husband. The journey this past week was an interesting one for me, in that from 1991-93 while living in Mexico aboard my sailboat I was still drinking. These were the last two years of my active disease. I sobered up in La Paz, Mexico in 1993. So the memories for me in Mexico are a mixed bag.

The first AA meeting of the retreat turned out to be the topic of gratitude. As it was a meditation meeting we were led by one of the members. She took us all on quite a journey into the past, the present and the future. As soon as I opened the door to the past I saw myself on my sailboat anchored off shore from where I was currently staying. I found gratitude in my past. It was so very clear to me and the tears began to roll down my cheeks. And in fact, for the entire 20 minutes of the meditation/journey the tears just streamed down my face. (The tears were accompanied by copious amounts of snot near the end. Lol )

The significance of being able to at long last find gratitude in my heart for my past drinking life was a surprise to me. I have been in the rooms of AA for many years, and acceptance of my past was a key to staying sober. But what I did not realize was that the acceptance of my past was very different from gratitude for my past. Something shifted in my perception during that meditation in a most profound way. I became one with my past. It was no longer something that happened, but an integral part of who I am today. It was a warm and friendly feeling towards my past. It’s difficult to put into words.

All I know is that I keep coming back. I love AA and all that it has to offer. I remain open to new ideas and my Higher Power reveals those new ideas to me as I age in the AA program. Gratitude has taken on a whole new meaning for me. My own definition has shifted. This is a gift. It is the gift I traveled to Mexico for, unbeknownst to me. My Higher Power and the 11 other AA women I was sharing the week with gave me the greatest gift of all. They gave me myself. I was whole once again. There was perfection in the moment that words do not convey.

Do not leave before the miracle happens. Keep coming back. This AA sober life is amazing. Thank you to you ladies for the many gifts that you have given me. I love the definition I found. “….kindness awakened by a favor received.”

Webster Dictionary

Gratitude(adj)

the state of being grateful; warm and friendly feeling toward a benefactor; kindness awakened by a favor received; thankfulness

Origin: [F. gratitude, LL. gratitudo, from gratus agreeable, grateful. See Grate, a.] She sent them a present to show/express her gratitude.

Take this as a token of my gratitude for all your help.

Blessings,

Alison B

Oct 20: We Are Not Alone

We Are Not Alone

“Our first woman alcoholic had been a patient of Dr. Harry Tiebout’s, and he had handed her a pre-publication manuscript copy of the Big Book. The first reading made her rebellious, but the second convinced her. Presently she came to a meeting held in our living room, and from there she returned to the sanitarium carrying this classic message to a follow patient: “ We aren’t alone any more.“
AA Comes Of Age, p18.
In AA I have found more fellowship and more genuine friendship with women than I ever did when drinking. When I was drinking I was always in competition with other women. I never felt comfortable in the presence of other women. I always felt inferior to other women.
Of course, one of my major complaints about going to AA was the fact that I was a woman. In my mind I was convinced that only men were alcoholic. That I would only find dirty old men at AA.
My first meeting was a young person’s group held in a church hall (of course), and the first people I met were three young ladies. It was these women who kept me coming back. Coming back keeps me sober.
One of these young ladies gave me a Big Book. When I got to the chapter, “There Is A Solution”, I knew this was going to work. Chapter 5 taught me I had to be prepared “to go to any lengths to get it .“ I was, because by the time I got this far in the Big Book, I had been to enough meetings to know I wanted what you had.
I have been reading the Big Book ever since. I love the stories in the back, especially the women’s stories. I read and reread the chapters. It’s where I start my day and it’s where I end my day.
This group, GROW, has been my mainstay for a long time now. I joined in ‘99. I have been very quiet in the past few years because my physical health has been bad and I’ve spent a lot of time in hospital. When I’m in hospital my Big Book goes with me.
Please share with us this week on your experience as a woman in AA or how coming into AA you’ve found affinity with other women, or what the Big Book has done for you. Or on anything else.
Bobby
DOS 12/6/89
PS: the Big Book is the book entitled “Alcoholics Anonymous”.

Oct 13: Speaking to your newly-sober self

Speaking to your newly-sober self

Dear friends in G.R.O.W.– I’m Louise and I’m an alcoholic, very grateful for the sobriety I have today, both physical, emotional and spiritual.   Welcome to all our newcomers too.
What would I tell my newly-sober self to put her at ease if the mature sober me, well over three continuously sober decades later, could go back as I am now and sit with her for a few hours…?
The newly-sober me was 30-yrs old, an emotional mess, with such a past gathered up behind her, which she carried about inside her.   She’d been hospitalized many times, and had left a trail of chaos in her wake.    She gave a child up for adoption, and lost custody of her son and her marriage broke up. She’d married a father figure in the rooms of AA—almost 13 years older than her.    She suffered from what our Book talks of as a ‘grave emotional and mental disorder’.     Today she might even have been classified with a personality disorder.     She’d been in and out of AA since 19 years of age.   She truly thought she was different.    AA didn’t work for her. And no matter how hard she tried to stop (hundreds of times), she always went back to drinking. But she’d come back one last time, as she knew (like the psychiatrist told her a year or so before) she’d be dead by 30.    She came back, broken and willing to be taught.    She put down that first drink, for one day.

I’d gently tell her the following:
Louise, if you only knew the peace you will experience, and how it will all work out, you would let go and let God in fully now. 🙂
Get a sponsor, go through the steps, and let the magic of this program unfold little by little within you. Don’t listen to your head’s stinkin’ thinkin’. Get to a meeting instead.
Get into service in any way at all in meetings. Stay with service always.
You don’t need to worry any more. You are safe in the hands of a Power greater than you.
Don’t be scared; you are going to experience a way of life beyond your wildest dreams, even when the going is tough. Life is tough at times for everyone but you will grow through it all.
Keep trusting that you are being looked after and guided. You ‘have entered the world of the spirit’. (p 84 BB)
You will experience a growing peace that deepens through the years of living this way.
You will have lost the desire to drink by the time you are seven months sober (for me, that is, up until today).
You will come to listen to that still small voice within, which guides you in your decision-making.
You will build a relationship with a Power that gets more intimate as time goes on.
You will begin to leave your world of self and move out into an other-centered world—there will come a point when you realize that you genuinely can put others’ needs before your own. Even when your own problems are looming– especially when your own problems are looming you will look to help others!!
You will come to a point in your life when it becomes hard to even imagine how you are now. That’s because your true personality will have a chance to emerge. And you will love it. You will no longer feel lower than a snake’s belly…
All the conflict within your mind that you find hard to live with will lessen, little by little, through time. Just keep sharing..
God will untangle all the mess that no psychiatrist ever could do.
You will be a rock for your sons and family.
You will build a life which involves going back to school, new career, and you will become a person people can rely on. You will be valued in the society in which you move.
You will learn to accept that you are powerless over people, places and things. And this is a lifetime job but you will get better at it as your experience of life and being sober grows.
You will sit and marvel that you have been fortunate enough to have been given this gift…

Ladies, I invite you to share on what you would tell your newly-sober self if you could go back in a time machine and sit with her for an hour or two..
And for those newly-sober members of our group, please just share on anything I have brought up.
For the new members of our group, we’d truly love to hear you share.