September 19: God won’t do for us what we can do for ourselves

Topic for the week:  GOD WON’T DO FOR US WHAT WE CAN DO FOR OURSELVES

I listen to How It Works and the Promises at all our meetings. “God could and would if He were sought” has always caught my attention. Underscore ‘if He were sought!’   But further clarification cautions,  “God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”  Like many things I heard when I first got here, I didn’t listen all that closely, and missed the nuance in that sentence.

My getting sober came about and surely it was something I could not do for myself.  A true gift of my Higher Power. However,  for many other things in my life, it seems I just need to keep work, work, working. I am capable of doing them.  I will just have to do my part.

My sponsor used to tell me to listen very carefully to the shares of those coming back after a slip.  True, so often I’d hear, ‘Well, to be honest, I was planning that slip for a long time.’  In the same light, I’d hear from those having a hard time, “It’s a fact–once I slacked off on my daily routines, I started to think about drinking.”   My sponsor did not believe in getting ‘struck drunk’ nor getting ‘struck sober.’  We have to participate to make those things happen.

I learned God won’t do for us what we can do for ourselves.  So I can’t just slip my list of to-do’s and wishes over and get them done without raising a finger?  How will I know which are the things I can do, I am expected to do?  What are the ones I can have done for me?  You know I am an alcoholic!  The answer to that is important to me.

Once again Bill W. knew I’d ask.  It is a simple Program for complicated people.  We have the Twelve Steps!  And the Traditions. We have each other.  There you go.  Those are the aids to prepare myself to carry out the work of my Higher Power. I can get help if I need it.  And clarification is always available from my sponsor!  The rest is on my Higher Power.  Did you ever expect your Higher Power to do something He was waiting for you to do?  No?  Really? Shucks, I did!  Please feel free to share on this topic.   hgz, b. 9/21/84

Personal Postscript

In September I am a year older and gratefully, add another year of sobriety.  This year I am having a ‘do-over’ of my sober 37th year.  I never remember dates. I sense them, feel them.  In sensory overload, I may not even do that.  I recorded the wrong year I came to AA.  I just realized it.  So, I’m having a do-over.  Progress not perfection. That can’t hurt. I am a word person.  Maybe it is the number in the date that blinds me!  Love to you all!  hgz, b. 9/21/84

 

September 12: Who? Me?! What’s been your latest spiritual growth spurt?

Topic for the week: Who? Me?! What’s been your latest spiritual growth spurt?

Ok, so, I read a random article that popped up in my Google feed this past week. It’s title was something like, “How to Recognize the Seven Signs of a Narcissist.” I’ve probably read dozens of articles about that particular topic & I tapped on it out of habit, really. I was married to a narcissist for 28 years & felt so vindicated each time I assured myself that he was sabotaging our marriage, which I knew for a fact because I’d read all those articles, you see, & reacted the same way to each one: “I knew it!! Geez he’s such an a. . . umm, jerk! He’s the reason I’m so damn miserable!” Imagine my surprise, then, when this time it wasn’t him I recognized, but me. I’m a narcissist, a “covert” narcissist. That article described the me I couldn’t, that I chose, not to see.

That was the first surprise. But not the biggest. The biggest, most dazzling surprise was that this time, for the first time, ever, I was willing to sit with & examine a destructive defect in me, rather than letting my brain bounce off of it & ricochet away toward something nicer & easier the way I always had before (& almost always with a nice merlot in hand, bottle, not glass.) This time I wanted to see, I wanted to understand this about myself, I wanted to know so that I can finally grow. Wait, what?! Who? Me.

This is excerpted from my daily gratitude list on Friday:

My name is Julie, & I am an alcoholic. I’m grateful to God today for:

  1.   another twenty-four hours free of alcohol
    2.   . . .
    3.   the quantum shift taking place in me, which has been triggered by acknowledging at last the narcissism of my past
    4.   the amazing only-God-thing seeing my defect, understanding the truth of it, & really wanting to somehow hand it over was, & feeling spiritually lighter, not weighed down by it anymore, not flattened by the ugliness of it & wanting to run & hide from it, or sit & drink at it anymore . . . seeing how something so bad can be so good in God
    5.   the opportunity to share this stuff on Sunday when I get to chair our [GROW] meeting
    6.   . . .
    7.   . . .
    8.   . . .
    9.   this weird kinda Twilight Zone sensation of my spiritual sober vision coming into clear focus
    10.  this day which God has made. I rejoice & am really, really glad in it <3

What’s been your most recent or most dazzling spiritual growth spurt? Please share it, or anything that’s on your heart or mind to share with us. AA really, truly is a “we” program. We help each other because we’ve all been there, to the bottom of that pit of despair. The only way to climb out is as a team ~ that’s us, a team of the redeemed!

Gratefully,

Julie <3

September 5: Step Nine

Hello ladies of GROW. Welcome again to newcomers and/or those who are returning. This week’s meeting is focusing on Step 9.

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

The prior steps to me help get me “ready” for making amends (step 9). In my experience step 4 helped me identify the people that I caused harm to and showed me the harm or wrongs that I created in my drinking days. Step 8 helped me to become willing. I would like to share that when I first came to the rooms of AA I thought my list of amends would be very short because I thought and felt that I did not cause harm-I thought that the harm was done to me. Well, that view changed as I came to meetings, sought outside help, and talked with people in recovery. As time passed and wounds started to heal, I saw what I did, to whom I did things too and it was and sometimes is still hard to look at but a necessary task to keep growing in my recovery.

The Big Book and 12 by 12 teaches us that the purpose of Step 9 is to take action and make amends to those that we have harmed with our drinking. This step will provide us with peace of mind, relief and liberation from the chains of regret. In addition, I also learned that an amends is not an apology.  An amends is a clear and purposeful act designed to clear up a problem from the past. Finally, I learned that there are three types of amends (direct amends, indirect amends and living amends) to talk out each amends before I take action as well as decide which way the amends will be made. By talking out my amends and praying about each amends, it allows me to gain perspective on the nature of the amends as well as stay focused on what I am supposed to be doing. I have to keep that focus on what I have done, not what the other person may have done or said, which is not always easy to do. It is so easy for me to flip and say look at what he or she did or say, meaning I am pointing my finger at that person or situation. I was once told if I am pointing my finger out at someone or something else, I have three pointing in my direction which helps me slow down, take a step back and use the tools of the program to keep me in my lane and live the life in the light of my HP.

I can share that today in my recovery I am open to making amends and a few years ago I ran into my assistant principal who I did not have on my list but the moment I saw this person I knew I needed to meet so I could address my past actions. We did meet and had a positive interaction. My point in sharing this was that today I can see when the opportunity presented itself several years ago I cannot say with confidence that I would have recognized the gift my HP presented me with.

Each day I pray and want to stay open and willing to trudge the road of recovery which allows me to not regret the past, which I do not today and I have no desire to shut the door on the past because these experiences make me who I am today.

Thank you for listening to my share and please share how you work step nine in your recovery and/or share what is on your heart.

Wish you all another 24 hours of sobriety,

Hugs

Mary O

Wisconsin

August 29: Waiting

Topic for the week: Waiting

I’ve never been a particularly patient person and although I’ve gotten better over the years, I still have to remind myself that I can’t always get what I want when I want it.  When I was drinking I had no patience – definitely a case of self-will run riot! Once I got it into my head that I HAD to have something or someone, there was just no stopping me, and I never considered how my attempts to get what I wanted affected others (I lost several friends due to trying to get their boyfriends/husbands, among other things!).

When I was newly sober I read a wonderful meditation from Hazeldon about waiting and it really stuck with me. The gist of the mediation was that I could put all my effort into making something happen, and get quite stressed in the meantime, or simply wait until the the person, the thing – whatever it was – got sorted out and came to me naturally, if it was meant to be. I’d never even considered this option! Wait for what I wanted, and accept that I may not get it because it wasn’t meant for me??!! A totally alien concept then, but as I’ve grown in AA I’ve seen that yes, I will get what I’m meant to get at the time I’m meant to get it, and that using up all my energy to force an outcome usually means I end up stepping on people’s toes, making a fool of myself, causing mayhem, and making myself very unhappy.

The mediation also included these wise words – while I’m waiting, I can do more constructive things than stress out about what I don’t have or might not get. I can work on my sobriety, help another alcoholic, take a walk and clear my head, volunteer somewhere, take a class, and so much more. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted going over and over in my head, thinking how I could make that person or situation do what I wanted NOW! But these days I’m much more willing (not always, but most of the time) to let events unfold as they will rather than trying to create an outcome. That doesn’t mean I’m just an observer – I take action when I think it’s a good idea or when I must, as when I was recently bitten by my neighbor’s dog. However, I’m okay with waiting for outcomes, and if I don’t get what I thought I should or really wanted, I can usually accept fairly quickly that it just wasn’t meant for me. I’m more at peace this way, I feel more in tune with the universe, and believe I’m acting in a more sober manner when I’m willing to wait rather than forcing things.

August 22: Half Measure Sobriety

Half Measure Sobriety

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Half-either of two equal or corresponding parts into which something is or can be divided. (Not Whole)

Measures-a plan or course of action taken to achieve a particular purpose.

In AA, the equilateral triangle represents the three part answerUnity, Recovery, and Serviceto a three part diseasePhysical, Mental, and Spiritual, while the circle represents AA as a whole

I learned early on, and as it states in our preamble that Half Measures availed nothing. That if I am going to make a cake then I need to follow the instructions as laid out or else my cake will not come out right. That I need to apply that same mindset to my sobriety.

The recipe to treat my illness is the program Alcoholics Anonymous-AKA-The Big Book. I have a disease that not only affects my body, but also my mind, as well my spirit. This is all consuming-so like someone with a physical disease such as cancer, their disease is centered in the body.

The person with mental illness, their disease centers in the mind.

The person who has an immoral state of existence, just out running wild, blocked off from God, no care of consequences or how their behavior affects others, no care for people, their feelings or bodies, would be a spiritual disease…..in my opinion.

I’m all three in that when I consume alcohol I develop an mental obsession of the mind that will sicken and destroy my body, and I won’t give a crap how my behavior affects you as long as I get what I want, when and how I want it- like a spoiled brat. I will complain and throw fits like a child, but I won’t do it in front of people-because my God “what would they think”… I will do it in the car, in my house, I will nut out because the world is not how Hilarie wants it. I would bitch and complain to all that would listen but do nothing about it. I would drain my battery, and yours, because you weren’t who I wanted you to be even though I chose to be with you. I will beat people up in my head or with my words for not being perfect and then scream “how dare you!” if you called me out on my imperfections….LOL! Exhausting.

If I am half measuring in my sobriety, this selfish and self seeking disease will manifest in other ways. I may not drink, but I will start thinking too much, not caring about my health properly, justifying and not caring how my behavior affects others when life isn’t going Hilarie’s way. I may walk away from trusting in God and put my faith into things of this world.  I may sit in fear of the future, or morbidly reflect on the past. I may start trying to control and manage others. I may condemn others for just being themselves because they are not doing what I want them to do. I may not be waking up first thing in the morning asking God to show me how I may serve him and my fellows. I may have stopped sponsoring, I may have stopped participating in meetings, I may have stopped growing all together because I am paralyzed by fear of what that growth will look like.

Do I care more about how others see me as opposed to how God sees me?

Am I doing the right thing even when nobody is watching?

Am I seeking God at all or is he just an after thought when I have hit an emotional bottom from running on self will?

However this nasty 3 fold illness shows itself, there is always HOPE. I always have a program just sitting here waiting for me to come back. God didn’t leave me, I just blocked him with defects for a season. There is always someone here willing to help me get back on track. I just have to humble myself and admit that I need help, even in sobriety-especially in sobriety.

My personal half measure sobriety which keeps me from experiencing the whole delicious cake, is fellowship. I do not fellowship with others. I am aware of this, and that one part of my three fold illness isn’t getting the “vitamins” it needs. I am an introvert I suppose. I love being alone. I never feel lonely-which is good, because when I do fellowship, it’s not out of needing people to fill me, that part is filled by God-but I have been told human beings are not designed to be completely alone. I am not completely alone, but what I mean is that I do not have many people I call “friends”-So I am working on that. I have other programs to deal with that, so I won’t expand on that here. My point is that we have Three Parts of our Program to ensure that all parts of our Three fold illness is treated so that we do not slip into untreated alcoholism/dry drunk-which I have, and it sucks.

My interpretation of it follows:

Recovery-Working my program, practicing the principle in all my affairs, still looking to grow spiritually, prayer, meditation, BB study, spiritual studies, daily inventory, annual reworking of my Steps, growth-not maintenance .

Unity-Fellowshipping with others, actually caring how other people are doing, connecting to others, letting them “in”-remember names, wishing them well, sharing experience and giving love and support.

Service-Sponsoring/Working with Others, carrying the message, service commitment, finding ways to give- not just take, volunteering, etc…

Working all three sides of the AA triangle, balanced, then we are fully treating our three fold disease. Wholeness, whole, wholly, complete.

So I lack on the fellowship part right now, which I admit and am actively seeking to treat. Where are you falling short in your recovery? Are you just a meeting maker-not sponsoring anyone or being of service? Are you heavy in the fellowship with no real interest in growing spiritually? Are you too heavy in sponsoring others and not seeking guidance from anyone else because you have it all figured out? Are you busy in service distracting yourself from getting to know God better? Have you not opened the Big Book recently? I have experienced all these.

I admit to my fellows that I am flawed and that part of my recovery are untreated, These things should be, and can be discussed here in our supporting and loving environment. None of us should get stuck spiritually because somewhere down the line we started to celebrate sober time instead of the quality of our sobriety.

Setting my pride aside because I don’t want to half measure anything anymore…How can I get the most out of this divine and intelligent God given program so that I may get whole.

August 15: Do I want to be right, or happy? How important is it really?

Topic for the week: Do I want to be right, or happy? How important is it really?

“Perhaps the best thing of all for me is to remember that my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of Max and other people are, the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. But then my “rights” try to move in, and they too can force my serenity level down. I have to discard my “rights,” as well as my expectations, by asking myself, How important is it, really? How important is it compared to my serenity, my emotional sobriety? And when I place more value on my serenity and sobriety than on anything else, I can maintain them at a higher level—at least for the time being.” (p.420, Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed.)

Thank you everyone who took the time to message me for my anniversary. Yes, I turned 13 on Friday the 13th! My HP loves the irony :). I am now fully hitting teen recovery and blossoming complete with mood swings, strops, dark lipstick, and a whole new level of adulting.

Like any human, I fall into the expectations trap and for the past 3 weeks I found myself dealing with a unfair unexpected customs fee of 22 euros for an item. That’s right, 22 euros (26 USD). It escalated into over 15 emails, several calls and two companies involved (the platform and the vendor). At some point, I had an out-of-body experience and realised, this is insane! And that’s when a friend said, erm, “How important is it, really?” and then the clincher, “do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” I wanted it all, because then I would be ok. God forbid I might not win this one?!

I need to remember that my serenity is the price I pay for emotional booby-traps and when serenity goes, it starts chipping away and at some point, I lose sanity too. I am grateful I get the help I need not to be down-sized, but right-sized!

Thanks for letting me lead this week.

 

August 8: The Twelve and Twelve Promises

The Twelve and Twelve Promises

Hello GROW!

I attend a weekly literature meeting that reads The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. A few months ago someone pointed out that there is a set of promises in the Twelve and Twelve:

“Still more wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy. No many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be. Service, gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the well-understood fact that in God’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self-constructed prisons, the surety that we need no longer be square pegs in round holes but can fit and belong in God’s scheme of things—these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions of right living for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes. True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.” (12 x 12, p. 124-125)

That’s quite a paragraph! As I read it this morning I had a new appreciation for the changes I’ve experienced since coming into AA.

Passing the buck, lying, and manipulation have been replaced by self-responsibility. My outsized ambitions have (mostly) been replaced by the desire to be kind and useful. I don’t work so hard trying to “figure things out;” I have a HP to guide me.

I feel amazing about myself every time I make the choice to be this new person—someone who acts according to a higher purpose, in partnership with her Higher Power.

Is there a phrase in the 12 x 12 promises that is especially meaningful to you? How do you take action in partnership with your Higher Power? Please feel free to share on topic or on whatever else is current in your program.

Thank you so much for being a part of my sobriety x

August 1: Step 8

This week the topic is Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

I have only recently been through Steps 8 and 9 for the first time, but what I learned was that from the inventory in Step 4, we already have a list of people we have harmed. With Step 8, we are preparing to go out to repair damage we have done in the past, even if some of that damage was unintentional.
“We attempt to sweep away the debris which has accumulated out of our effort to live on self-will and run the show ourselves. If we haven’t the will to do this, we ask until it comes. Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.” (AA Big Book, pg. 76)

The idea of making amends to people I had harmed was a scary one.
Step 8 however is not yet actually making the amends, but being willing to make amends. Something I love about the 12 steps is that along the way, they allow you to make the decision, become ready, and prepare your heart and mind before taking action. To think about being willing to make amends before doing it ensures that you are mentally and emotionally ready to do so.

For me, actually writing down the list instead of just keeping in my mind and dwelling on it made it less scary. Something my sponsor helped me with was separating my list into categories, which made it more concrete and less overwhelming. It helped me to just start with the people in category 1 and make a plan for the rest:
1. People to make amends to now
2. People to make partial amends to so not injure them or others
3. People to make amends to later
4. People we may not be able to contact

One of my amends was to my husband and I already tell him most things, but it still took a couple weeks of me thinking about it and planning what I would say, and when would be a good time. I prayed to my Higher Power to give me strength and courage to just speak the words I needed to say. This led me to become willing to make the amends.

Please share on the topic of Step 8 or whatever else is going on in your program. I look forward to reading and learning from your experiences.

Thanks, Katie.

July 25: The Promises

Greetings to my GROW Sisters:  I am Barbara, a grateful recovering alcoholic, with the help of AA and my Higher Power.  I am your pinch-hitter lead for today.  Welcome to newcomers–you will be so happy you found AA!  Glad you are back, those returning.  Special hoorays for AA anniversary celebrants.

It took me well into sobriety to trust I would get sober.  It took even longer for me to think that the Promises applied to me.  In fact, I just ignored them.  Should have attended meetings just on the Promises!  But knowing me, I’d have been too focused on wanting to know when they would come true instead of working my Program.

When I suggest that newcomers read the Promises I always put in a disclaimer “spoiler alert” because in some many ways they are like reading the last chapter of a book first: you want to know how everything turns out.

The Steps build to the Promises, but the Promises start coming true,  in their time and season.    They even overlap the Steps and each other.    Sometimes they seem to come out of nowhere.  They even grease the way to carry out the Steps.  They show up even in bad times.

Pretty much the Promises are the exact opposite of the way I lived when I was drinking.  Bill W. is a winner again!  He just knew it.  Not that I ever take issue with Bill W’s use of language, but it helped me to read the Promises with my sponsor.  As straightforward as they are, it was hard at first for me to apply them directly to my life and see what all I had to be grateful for.  They are an amazing cheat-sheet for doing gratitude lists!  And in the event I forget how my life was before sobriety, they are an incredible in-my-face reminder!

I can’t pick out my favorite because it is like kids: who is your favorite child?  Can’t do that.

Running down the highlights, it alerts me to the fact that before I am halfway through (half of what, of course, I ask my sponsor!) I will be amazed at a new happiness and peace. (new? never had any!)   Early sobriety for me was a constant flood of amazement.  I felt it all: enraged, sad, pain, confused, etc.   But glimmers of happiness and peace were starting to sneak into my life.  It was surely better than drinking!

I won’t regret the past: I either regretted or denied it so getting that off my mind was great.  Even today I re-read that when I am down on myself.  That is further covered by learning that a terrible past can help others.  That gives me something to do with it.  My woe-is-me era passes and I start to care about those around me.  Attitude adjustment?  Oh, for sure.  Sponsors seem to be on that topic all the time.  Me, an attitude?

As a worrier, less time spent on the what-if’s of money fears and how unsocial I was,  freed up a lot of time.  And I seemed to be getting some good common sense–after all.  Why?  Because God was handling things with me.  That amazed more than just me.

Sure, I thought they were ‘just saying this’ to keep me coming.  But these things were coming true.  Of course between quickly and slowly, I always chose quickly.

And in summary, it still is all about work, work, work.  I can do that.  I do do that every day.  That is why it works if I work it.    Check it out: Page 83 of the Big Book.  No room here for all those words.  Keep on keeping on–we all will!  hgz, b.  9/21/84

July 18: Slogans

Topic for the week:  the slogans.

I thought perhaps this week we could talk about the AA slogans. Do you use them? What is your favorite?

When I first came to AA, I REALLY disliked the slogans. They sounded hokey and patronizing. I wanted “real” answers. I wanted specific instructions to help me feel better and to feel better RIGHT NOW.  Slowly over time I have come to see the wisdom in these tiny phrases.

There are so many slogans that I have heard over the years. “Let go and let God”; “turn it over”; “One day at a time”; “keep coming back”; “it works if you work it”; “do the next right thing”; “left foot right foot”; “3 miles in-3 miles out”; “we are going to love you until you can love yourself”; “don’t quit before the miracle”; “don’t drink even if your ass falls off”; “easy does it”; I am sure you can help me with some more. Lol.

The one my sponsor often says is “turn it over” and pray.  It seems kind of trite when I’m in the middle of a family crisis but really what else can she say? And that it is the best thing I do.

Sooo the floor is open. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on the slogans or on anything else you wish to share.

Thank you.

Kind Regards,

Karrie.

July 11: Living Serenely and Emotional Hangovers

Hi GROW

I’m Sophie, an alcoholic.

I’m glad to be here and to be of service.

I’ve unexpectedly been asked to step in to send out a topic for this week.

Living Serenely and Emotional Hangovers have been popping up intermittently for a while in my life.

My emotional hangovers tend to happen when I think I’m helping someone but find in fact they didn’t ask for my help! Or when I’m allowing someone to do what’s right for them even when it feels uncomfortable to me, not speaking up for my needs. The emotions afterwards are uncomfortable. My head can get into replaying scenarios over or becoming resentful or activating low self esteem.

Each time I experience an emotional hangover I take it to my sponsor, or go to a (Zoom) meeting and share it, or talk it through with a trusted AA friend. This is my “admission”. My disease of alcoholism lives in my mind so I can’t think myself better alone. I need to take action. And sometimes I’m in such a tangle I can’t see which action to take so I freeze and stay stuck in the emotions.

Thankfully I’ve learned to reach out, to trust that others will hear me. Sometimes the simple acknowledgement of myself as being human from a fellow AA melts away the feelings and I can forgive myself for being imperfect and move on.

Other times it takes more action. Such as checking in with my gratitudes, abc’ing my gratitudes, getting out of myself by being of use or of service to someone else. It might also be about revisiting something in some way, or letting it go. It might be about reviewing it in column inventory and asking myself where I was dishonest or self-led or fearful and addressing what I learn. It might be about a amends or forgiveness or acceptance. This is my “correction”.

And then there’s the part where I can put my program into practice before those emotional jags get out of balance. Not getting too Hungry Angry Lonely Tired (HALT), dialling life down to the “irreducible minimums” when I’m sick or tired. Keeping some humility – reminding myself not to think less of myself but to think of myself less.

Writing notes for my god box.

Picking up the literature and reading to find something that might help where I’m at.

Keeping in contact with my fellow AA’s regularly, especially my sponsor. This way small stuff on the horizon can be shared about before it tsunami’s.

Before AA I don’t think I had even heard the word serene or serenity. I imagined the graceful swan gliding across a still lake but paddling furiously underwater unseen. AA showed me that serenity is possible even in stormy times. If I’m right with god I can have peace in my heart. When I start to get out of balance and something is dominating my thoughts it’s a pink flashing neon sign to take notice of it, bring myself back to the principles but I can’t do it alone. I’m grateful for the mutual encouragement and support here in GROW and in AA.

If you have experience of working your program, or the actions that have helped you around emotional hangovers or living serenely, please share with us this week.

If there’s anything else you need to share on please do, using “off topic” in the subject line.

I’ve stepped in here to send a topic for this week’s meeting as it’s usual that you’d have received it by now. We may end up with two topics if the original weekly leader sends hers out too. Apologies in advance for any confusion and feel free to share as you need or want to.

Sending hugs!

Sophie

July 4: Step Seven

Topic for the week:   Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Humbly, being the operative word.

Humility has been in short supply at my house over the past few (scorching hot) weeks. I’ve been cranky with my HP, assuming that I know what is best for me and everyone who lives with me. When I’m in this place I’m not asking the god of my understanding to remove my shortcomings—because I’ve convinced myself I don’t have any. Instead, I’m demanding HP get with my program and change what I can’t—outside circumstances.

Humility, the 12 and 12 reminds me, is to approach my HP with requests, not demands. And since I love the paragraph this information is embedded in, I’ll share it:

“The chief activator of our defects has been self-centred fear—primarily the fear that we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded. Living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands we were in a state of continual disturbance and frustration. Therefore, no peace was to be had unless we could find a means of reducing these demands. The difference between a demand and a request is plain to anyone.” (12 x 12, P. 76)

Because I am imperfect, I need a higher power. Because I am not my higher power, I am imperfect–I have character defects. Step 7 reminds me that I can ask my higher power to remove them. Then it’s up to me to take the actions indicated.

For those who conflate humility and humiliation, there is a wonderful definition of humility in Step 5 of the 12 and 12.

“To those who have made progress in AA, [humility] amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.” (12 x 12, p. 58)

I wish you all a beautiful sober week. I’m looking forward to reading your shares on the topic of Step 7 or whatever else is going on in your program.

X

Kirsten

June 27: Just for Today

Topic for the week: Just for Today

Assuming I do not drink between now and next Wednesday, I will be celebrating 24 years of not drinking (not sure I have that much sobriety). As in every sober anniversary, I can’t believe it. I was not capable of going more than 36 hours without a drink for several decades. I tried AA once, and I failed. When I came back with my tail between my legs, I was sure I couldn’t do this deal. I was sure I’d fail again. But I didn’t. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, and suddenly I’m looking at 24 years. It’s a true miracle.

After a week of great shares about fear and freedom from fear, my favorite topic seems appropriate. Taking sobriety one day at a time has been golden for me. Without it, I’m pretty sure I’d be drunk right now.

I can do anything just for today. I can delay picking up a drink until tomorrow – and tomorrow never comes. I can handle any problem if all I have to do is what I can do right now. I can make plans and then laugh when they fall through. I can bear pain if it’s just for this one day. I can also do what is necessary to address that pain with a doctor.

First things first. Just do what is in front of me – as long as it’s the right thing. Pay attention to what I’m doing now rather than ignore what I’m doing so that I can think about what happened yesterday or what could happen tomorrow. Odds are what I’m doing now will be a disaster, and I’ll have made no progress on what did or could happen.

Mindfulness. Be Here Now. Stay in the moment. Keep my head where my hands are. Call it what you like. Staying in the present day is for me the greatest blessing of this program.

Living just for today is the most valuable tool in my sober toolkit. It was golden the first sober day, month, and year. But it’s gotten even more valuable every day that I haven’t picked up a drink. It helps me stay grounded. It helps me stay sober. It helps me stay sane. And it makes my relationships better. It makes life better.

How does living just for day work for you? Please share about this or anything you need to today.

June 20 – Fear and Freedom from Fear

Topic for the week: Fear and Freedom from Fear

I’ve had a quote from the 12 and 12 on my mind a lot lately. It’s from the 12th step and it says, “We found that freedom from fear is more important than freedom from want.”

Fear has been a character defect that has reared its ugly head on multiple occasions in my sobriety. When I was a newcomer, I think the thing that most terrified me was that I didn’t believe I’d be able to stay sober. I stuck close to meetings and to others in recovery, and I worked the steps. I heard some people say that fear was stopping them from doing a 4th and 5th step, but I was desperately afraid of what would happen to me if I didn’t do what I was told.

Fear has come up in many other circumstances for me over the years, often because of financial insecurity. Certainly the pandemic has brought on a lot of fear for many of us.

I have heard that Fear stands for several things:

False Evidence Appearing Real

Forget Everything and Run

Failure Expected and Received

I was taught in early sobriety that fear is the absence of faith, and I find that the shakier my faith is, the worse my fear gets. As a single parent most of my life, my fear can grow rapidly when I give in to the illusion that I’m alone to face the challenges of my life.

An early sponsor used to say that each day she’d remind herself that nothing would come up that day that she and her higher power together couldn’t handle. Living with that faith is a great way to reduce the sting of fear.

The program encourages us to be “fearless and thorough from the very start.” I continue to work on being more fearless.

Thank you for letting me share. I invite you all to share how fear has affected your recovery and if you’ve attained freedom from fear.

Valerie D

June 13: Gratitude

Topic for the week:  Gratitude

Greetings!  My name is Nicole & I am an alcoholic.  In the past sixteen months, we have faced a shutdown, illness, disaster, loss, grief, as well as community spirit, love, grace, and gratitude.  My anniversary is next week – one day at a time, of course – and I reflect on what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now.  I remember the old-timers who faced major life problems and persevered through all of it with the help of a loving God and spiritual principles.  This year, I have faced death, cancer, trauma, pain, loss, friendship, love, and more.  Through God’s grace, my recovery is still in tact.  My sponsorship family persevered through some major issues.  Our recovery community is walking in the doors with tired eyes and gratitude to return to a sense of normalcy again.  I had to laugh about turning 21 years sober this month since my 21st birthday cost me $3600 in hospital bills for alcohol poisoning (.49 bac).  Life is a lot different today from back then.  Homeless and drunk.  I would love to hear from all of you fabulous GROW women about the topic of gratitude for where we were at, what happened and what it’s like now.  Keep trudging!

Nicole

June 06: Step Six

Topic for the week: The Sixth Step

“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”.

Hi GROW

I’m Sophie, an alcoholic and grateful to be here with you all and to have the opportunity to be of service.

Our topic this week is Step Six, but I believe our GROW group conscience is that we can share on this Step this week or at any time during June, it being the sixth month!

I find it helpful to return to our AA literature and I love sharing our literature with other alcoholics.

Our AA website has it available, I’m sharing links to help anyone who doesn’t have access to the AA literature and would like to.

Read online:    https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_step6.pdf

Or Listen online:    https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/twelve-steps-and-twelve-traditions-audio-version#audio-player

I like these sentences, taken from p.65 Step Six in the 12 Steps & 12 Traditions book;

[God] “asks only that we try as best we know how to make progress in the building of character.”

“This does not mean that we expect all our character defects to be lifted out of us as the drive to drink was. A few of them may be, but with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement.”

“The key words “entirely ready” underline the fact that we want to aim at the very best we know or can learn.

And from As Bill Sees It – no.10; Out of The Dark

“A clear light seems to fall upon us all – when we open our eyes. Since our blindness is caused by our own defects, we must first deeply realise what they are.” (Letter, 1946)

The emphasis with italics and underlining are mine, these are the things that really resonate for me on Step Six for today.

I didn’t get much of an insight into Step Six until I was around 5 years sober and working through the Steps and a Big Book study with a new sponsor after having moved cities. Previously I’d had lots of awakenings around other areas of the program and living a sober life and using AA principles as a guide.

But it was the inventory I wrote at that time that my second sponsor then sat with me and helped me see which defects were at play. It was as if I’d been in a fog around things until then. Things my first sponsor had talked with me about finally became clearer. It was also the beginning of me getting a deeper understanding of how the questioning process of inventory taking opened me up to understanding the exact nature of my defects or my part in things. I guess I was just more ready at that point in my sobriety.

In my experience I am ready when I’m ready and all I can do is practice willingness and courage and keep moving forwards.

Last week the Serenity Prayer long version talked about being patiently ready for those changes that take time. This idea is true for me too here with my defects.

There was a slogan in my early days I used to see a lot; “Give time time”. I always feel it’s a reminder to me saying Give God time.

Step Six for me is about having those insights and understandings into how I tick, where my choices and behaviours and actions are coming from, and accepting I can’t fix myself, that I’m spiritually sick with this disease of alcoholism and that god can and will in god’s time. I find the best way to see myself is to be in regular contact with my sponsor and to use questions in my column inventories and actually put pen to paper.

Things are revealed.

Healing is possible.

Growth and change are possible.

I no longer have to stay stuck struggling and miserable or in self pity and digging myself into the quagmire even deeper.

Step Six for me is about facing myself, the me from my immediate past or longer ago, having opened up to my sponsor and being clearer about my part and the character traits that I’ve used. Uncomfortable at times. Really painful sometimes too. But always the same message; once I know what the problem is I can do something about it and move into the solution; acceptance, giving it to god, applying the principles of our beautiful program.

I can call my character traits defects or shortcomings but to me they’re part of me, they’re the behaviours or skills I developed to survive my life without god, pre AA, and in my drinking and as a child. They’re my battle armour, my Mrs Fix-It armour, my Mrs I-Know-Best/Better armour….

But now I have god and am sober I can be different. Now I have AA and all of you I am inspired to be different.

It’s all here, everyday, I get to tap into this beautiful rich resource and live sober and better and different.

Please share on whatever you need to, and around defects or being ready or entirely ready or whatever your journey is with Step Six.

I know we have over 200 women here so there’s a lot of gals listening to whoever chooses to share… I was told no one knows when the thing you share may be the thing that changes someone’s day or even saves their life. I grow because others are willing to risk sharing.  Thank you all for being here. I can’t do this alone.

AA hugs to anyone who needs one today.

Sophie

May 30: Serenity Prayer Long Version

Hello Ladies, my name is Mary O and I have the pleasure to lead this week’s meeting. I must admit that I was all worked up about finding the right topic for our discussion this week. I asked HP for guidance and picked a number from one to four hundred and 221 was the number which guided me to the daily reflection titled A Prayer for All Seasons. When I read this reflection, I thought of the long version of the serenity prayer.
I like many of us have said serenity prayer which goes like this- God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the change to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
For years I have said this prayer which correlates to the AA Fellowships. When I would say this prayer it reminded me that God was in the lead, and that if I accept life on life’s terms I would find serenity and by working the steps I gain the wisdom to know how to cope with life through working the program and staying connected to my HP.
Recently a longer version of the serenity prayer was shared and I would like to share this version with all of you ladies. It goes as follows:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting the hardships as the many pathways to peace, taking this world as it is not as I would have it.
Trusting that all things will be right if I embrace compassion, understanding and acceptance.
Grant me patience for these changes that take time. Appreciation for all that I have. Tolerance for those with different struggles and the strength to get up and try again, one day at a time.
When I heard and read this version I was, and I am moved on an emotional level and spiritual level. I see and I am reminded of the steps of the program by saying this prayer as well as many slogans that were taught to me since coming into recovery such as First Things First, One Day At A Time, Keep it Simple, and/or Easy Does It. The first paragraph I am reminded that God guides me to serenity when I stay connected to him and the people of the program.
The second paragraph tells me to live one day at a time and sometimes one second or minute at a time, which allows me to enjoy the small events, things of each day, like seeing nature watch up from winter, or seeing how my pup loves his morning walk, and/or starting the day off by talking with my life partner Pete or face the challenging situation that I may be facing at that moment. I am also reminded that life has its up and down and through these experiences I grow, and sometime growth is through painful experiences and I am not alone on this journey of life/recovery. I must remember that things are not always the way I would like them to be and that I need to make sure that the focus is on my side of the street and not someone else.
The last two parts of the prayer reminds me to trust the plan/journey that my HP has for me and that all things in life will work out and I that I have been given the tools by the program to live life on life terms and strive to be the best person by showing compassion, understanding and acceptance. Finally, I am reminded that I will fall but my HP, the tools of the program which includes each person that I am with in a meeting helps me to get up and try again- which is progress not perfection.
Thank you for listening and I invite you to share how this prayer works in your recovery or whatever is on your heart.
Mary o
(Wisconsin)
Ps. Happy Memorial Day

May 23: Navigating Relationships – Risking Emotional Intimacy

Navigating Relationships – Risking Emotional Intimacy

Two program passages I came across recently that really hit home. I like to hike and can relate to the analogy of climbing up a mountain:

“Intimacy means disclosure—full expression of ourselves to another person. Nothing held back. All bared. There are risks, of course: rejection, criticism, perhaps ridicule. But the comfort we feel within is directly proportional to the peace we’ve come to know.”

“Not letting others see or know who you really are—your thoughts, feelings, dreams, past experiences, hobbies, and your wants and needs—is like spending hours climbing up a mountain and then stopping just short of the summit. Being outdoors, feeling the physical exertion of the climb, and ascending higher with each step are all enjoyable activities, but not bringing your journey to its intended destination shuts you off from being able to fully appreciate and understand the experience.”

While I have made progress taking better care of my relationships since becoming sober and joining AA, it is still a challenge. Probably for all of the same reasons that I became an addicted, dependent person, I decided as a young girl to “hide out” and isolate both physically and socially as a coping mechanism. To this day I often struggle to reveal who I am and how I feel, and I’ll do just about anything to avoid conflict with family and friends.

I know my shield keeps an intimate relationship out of reach, but it’s high time (pun intended!) to summit the ‘risky intimacy mountain top’. I want to feel that peace of being known more often, even if it costs me the relationship (which probably means it wasn’t a healthy one for me to begin with). I fight my nature to expect instantaneous results; intimacy doesn’t happen overnight – patience is required! But I keep climbing, one step at a time, one relationship at a time. I thank God, the steps of this program, and all of you for leading me on this vulnerable part of my journey.

I would be most grateful to hear any thoughts or experiences you have to share on this topic. Thank you!
Susan P.

May 16: Expectations

When I think about all the times I’ve been in emotional turmoil, it seems like I can always trace it back to my expectations. When I was working, I expected people to be professional, smart, and respectful (of me). Needless to say, people didn’t always meet my criteria, and I’d allow my disappointment to become frustration and anger. I’d take it out on them. When I’m with family, I expect them to always be loving and gentle with me. When they aren’t, I get my feelings hurt and fall into self-pity and anger. With contractors working on a project to maintain my older home, I expect them to arrive on time, do excellent work, and clean up afterward. When they don’t, I fall into a ‘justifiable’ rage – so much so that I can’t even speak to them. There are many examples of my expectations not being met and me going on an emotional bender.

What I’ve learned is that my expectations set me up to feel unloved, disrespected, hurt, and/or angry – anything but on the beam. Of course, there is an element of acceptance here. But, for me, the expectations come before anything even happens. I get an idea of how things are supposed to be in my mind, and I judge the world – and everyone in it – based on that idea.

The fault is not in everyone else. It’s in me. Deciding I know how things are supposed to unfold or how other people are supposed to behave is my Achilles’ heel and the biggest threat to my sobriety and most certainly my serenity. For me, there’s a very long learning curve on keeping an open mind and just letting people and things be. Restraint of tongue and pen helps me avoid becoming someone I don’t want to be. Recognizing when I am working on my expectations before a social event helps me a lot with acceptance.

Do expectations set you up to fall off the beam? What do you to manage expectations and stay on the beam?