April 14: Charging station for Volvo EX40

Topic for the week: Charging station for Volvo EX40.

My drinking problem turned out to be not only a drinking but mainly a thinking problem. When alcohol wasn’t my main obsession anymore, it became clear my drug of choice wasn’t alcohol or any other substance, My main drug of choice is using people to charge my battery. It is today, as it has been since I started this journey so called life.

My biggest pitfall as I look for conformation in the words of others. In place of the word of God. 

Codependency eat your heart out…

In recovery I have experienced that in all my relationships so far, in one form or another, I used people, for my own advantage, as a medicine for my dis-ease. With which I have not only robbed myself but also other people of their time and energy. 

I thereby have the tendency to suppress my true feelings in order to not acknowledge my restlessness, irritable and discontent about what’s underneath the surface. I am a con artist in disguise. Denial is my middle name. ‘

Exempel: yesterday, my ex sister in law and I crossed paths together. It was a trigger for me. Afterwards I shared my experiences with my family. Their reactions charged my battery, anxiety, fear, nervousness and resentment towards my past experiences. Setting in motion I was all over again creating chaos and chaos. 

Before I know it I am projecting my bullshit on a neighbour. “Normality” she’s more friendly. Today’s she’s more introverted. 

My sponsor tells me the world, not even of my neighbours revolves around me. I was using my neighbour as an excuse to deflect my true feelings. Wasn’t willing to dive into what I was really afraid of….!

My thoughts are misleading and inconsistent with reality. The neighbour across the street was my charging station because I did not use the program. I didn’t shared what was triggering me with my sponsor. Big mistake. 

Thank God, I have a 12 step program for living. A sponsor, prayer, meditation, a toolbox and a strong connection with all of you!

Are you encouraging “this” in recovery? 

How do you deal with feelings and thoughts that are not realistic or logical?

How do you find out it’s not rational or objective? What resource(s) are you using to recharge in recovery?

Thank you for allowing me to chair this meeting.

PS I don’t know if a Volvo EX40 is a fine car, but EX stands for all that’s in the past incl. all my exes :-)) and in my forties 40 I became sober. 

With love, 

Tanja 

April 7: Step Four

Topic for the week: Step 4

The Fourth Step is to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Another word for ‘moral’ is truth. By reviewing our lives — the people, situations, beliefs and fears we have engaged with in our past — we can begin to see the truth about ourselves and the role we’ve played in our troubles.

Why is it that the alcoholic is so unwilling to accept responsibility? I used to drink because of the things that other people did to me. Once I came to A.A. I was told to look at where I had been wrong. What did I have to do with all these different matters? When I simply accepted that I had a part in them, I was able to put it on paper and see it for what it was – humanness. I am not expected to be perfect! I have made errors before and I will make them again. To be honest about them allows me to accept them – and myself – and those with whom I had the differences; from there, recovery is just a short distance ahead…
 
Sometimes taking somebody else’s inventory can be most beneficial. When I was doing my Fourth Step, an old-timer suggested I list the names of those against whom I held resentments, followed by two or three sentences describing what they had done to earn my displeasure. Then, after putting the list aside for a day, I was to cross off each person’s name and replace it with my own. Grapevine; “Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall,” October 1987, Step by Step
 
The “truth” about myself?! Must I?? Going waaay back to childhood, I believed that if bad things happened anywhere in my general vicinity, I’d done something wrong, or had neglected to do something I should have known to do. By extension, at least in my brain, that meant I was wrong, bad, stupid. As an adult (ish), I’ve discovered that I’m human. Humans are flawed, every single one of us, some in obvious ways seen with the naked eye, and some of us in ways hidden and unseen, even to ourselves. I’ll continue to make mistakes, but so long as I make amends, and vigorously seek not to repeat the same ones, I can accept me in all my inglorious flawedness, I can accept you in yours — fair’s fair, after all — and we both can grow forward.
Something a sponsor taught me is that if you can name ‘it’ in someone else, then you can almost certainly claim ‘it’ in yourself; You spot it? You got it! Man, I did a lot of naming and blaming. Which means I have a lot to claim, more than enough to keep me busy on my side of the street. If I’m doing it thoroughly, I’ve got no time to supervise you filling the potholes on your side. The first name on my first Step Four, and one of the hardest to contemplate amends with, is my ex-husband of twenty-eight years, the father of our two daughters. Oooo boy did I have a list of grievances against him. I made him out to be such a baddy that the gentleman I dated for a while after my divorce refused to shake my ex’s hand because of the ugly portrait I’d painted for him.
Truth is, my ex is not an evil man. And I am not an evil woman so much as a deeply flawed one. I own that now. There are so many decisions I could have/should have made differently in my first marriage. I don’t know that the marriage could have survived in the long run, but I had to confess that I made moves that were self-serving, disrespectful, self-righteous, careless, and very, very wrong. I have gradually replaced his name with my own on the chart of grievances and resentments between us. My bad, indeed. Shockingly, it feels good and right to accept responsibility, and ultimately is so much easier than the emotional work it takes to keep on deceiving everyone, especially myself.
We are all invited to share on Step 4. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives. Thanks for attending this meeting!

*** Step 4 ***
“Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.”

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 a lot more in Chapter 5, starting on p. 64. 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/

March 31: To Thine Own Self Be True

Topic for the week: ‘To thine own self be true.’

AA medallions are given for lengths of sobriety and some have the saying ‘To thine own self be true’ on one side; I happen to have one. One night, after more than 20 years of sobriety, I found myself considering whether or not to start drinking with my English boyfriend. My medallion helped me to choose sobriety.

That evening, Steve and I had gone to a pub. As I sat across from him, the thought came to me that perhaps we could get “closer” if I drank with him instead of always being sober while he got drunk (we’d had many discussions about alcoholism and several times I’d told him I thought he was an alcoholic – he always disagreed). I’m not sure why I didn’t just order a pint right there and then, but instead I chose to go for a walk…perhaps that ‘think, think, think’ slogan was subconsciously at work. I took a short walk then sat down. Again, I’m not sure why I did it, but I took my medallion out of my wallet and read both sides.

I knew of the quote ‘To thine own self be true.’ and believed in its message, which I interpreted to mean be honest with myself, be accountable for my behavior, and follow through on what I say I’ll do. But that evening my sobriety was on the line, so after reading the quote my thoughts were: who was I, really – the alcoholic Michele or the sober Michele? What should I do to “be true” to myself – drink or not drink? These thoughts were swirling through my head for only about a minute before I had my answer: being true to myself meant staying sober. I didn’t want to go back – back to blacking out, being full of self-pity and angry at the world, creating problem after problem for myself, and alienating family and friends. Sobriety is difficult at times, but I wanted to keep the serenity I’d found in my years in AA, the trust I’d re-built with family and friends, and the belief that, in sobriety, I was becoming the person my Higher Power wants me to be, which was a far cry from the person I was as an active alcoholic.

Having made my decision, I got up and walked back to the pub. Steve was playing billiards with some people; I smiled at him and sat down at our table. I never told him about my thoughts, and since that time have never felt the need to reconsider my sobriety. He and I stayed together for about another year then parted ways, as friends. I often think of him at the beginning of meetings when we have a moment of silence for those alcoholics in and out of the rooms still suffering.

I believe that what pulled me through my moments of doubt and questioning include, in no particular order, my Higher Power, the many meetings I’ve attended, the numerous shares I’ve heard, AA’s slogans, service work, friendships in AA (making me feel I belonged), doing the Steps and gaining their benefits, developing a more right-sided view of myself (i.e., neither loathing myself nor having an inflated ego), and being at peace with myself knowing that I’m striving for personal and spiritual progress as I go through life.

I couldn’t be true to myself when I was drinking as I didn’t want to be honest, accountable, unselfish, and let go of resentments. In early sobriety I learned to once again listen to my conscience – I’d tuned it out as an active alcoholic – as I began to trust and believe in what my conscience was telling me…had always been telling me, i.e., tell the truth, be responsible, learn to let go of anger in an appropriate way, and so on.

I’m so grateful I had that medallion, that I thought to take it out and read it, and that I made the decision to remain sober. I’m also grateful for that moment of doubt and going through the thought process of considering who I wanted to be, what was important to me, and what I wanted in my life. In that short space of time I re-affirmed my commitment to staying sober, to being the person I believe I’m meant to be, and to giving myself the chance to be happy, joyous and free as a result of following the AA program.

The meeting is now open. Please share on what it means to you, as a sober woman, to be true to yourself, or how any of AA’s slogans/sayings have helped you stay sober. Thanks for letting me share.

March 24: Favorite tools or ESH to find poise and serenity

Topic for the week:

This reading is from a Hazelden app, I use them for guidance every day: 

Start your day with poise and serenity. If your alarm doesn’t go off, you can remain calm. If a traffic jam slows your commute, you can be at peace. If a friend cancels on you, you can be forgiving. You can do all these things when you decide “I will not allow anything to disturb my mental balance or throw my mind out of its serenity.” Facing life with inner strength means not allowing people, places, or things to destroy your harmony with the world. Facing life with peace of mind means you are in charge of your destiny and your recovery. Facing life with understanding and forgiveness means you have built a strong relationship with a Higher Power. Then you can view disruptions to your well-being and purpose as trifling, small incidents that are short-lived.

Today you can choose to be defeated by life’s little insensibilities, conflicts, and disappointments, or successfully handle whatever comes your way without disruption to your inner peace.   My achievements today will reflect my attitude. I will choose to face life with a serene spirit and calm poise.

Making the choice to be poised and serene sounds easy, and it is when life is going ‘my way’.  But when challenges come up in situations or relationships, emotions so easily swell while my 12 step tools (including God) are far from my consciousness.  It can take me hours or even a few days to reel in my thoughts, step back and determine how to get back to that inner peace.

These are some of the questions I’ve learned to ask myself in the past year, they are part of my toolbox now:

  • what amends do I need to make?
  • what does this emotion tell me really matters?
  • what does it suggest I need to attend to?
  • what fear do I need to face?
  • what behavior do I need to change?
  • what loss do I need to come to terms with?

If I can answer any of these questions and take appropriate action, the chances of picking up a drink to solve my problems is greatly reduced.  And that’s my goal today first and foremost, to cope with life free of alcohol (or any addictive self-sabotaging behavior).  I remind myself to talk to God about it too.  I don’t expect perfection, but I’ll take progress any day of the week! 

I would love to learn your favorite tools or ESH to find poise and serenity when life throws you a curve ball!

Grateful to lead this week,

Susan P.

March 17: My ESH (experience, strength, hope) in GROW

Topic for the week:  My ESH in GROW

I have been a member of GROW for close to 10 years. During that time there has been a lot of turn over in membership. There are a  number of women still here that were members when I first arrived and there are also some women that I looked up to that have died. GROW is an important part of my program but I’ve realized how little I know about many of the members whos shares I follow each week. Because we are an ’email group’ it is easy to hide behind our keyboards and not really get to know each other. I am guilty of not reaching out as much as I could. I chose this weeks topic in the hope that we might get to know each other on a deeper level and perhaps make the extra effort to get to know each other better. I thought we might do that by sharing how we found our way to GROW, our experience with GROW and how it has impacted our program/sobriety, and what things are like for us now as a part of GROW.

I joined GROW when I was 14 months sober. I had gotten sober in Eugene, Oregon at the ripe old age of 56. I am a slow learner. My husband and I are fulltime RVers and have been living that lifestyle since 2006. When I got sober in 2013 I went to rehab in Eugene.  We took a break from traveling for the next 12 months so I could get a solid foundation in my sobriety. I attended a number of Womens groups during that year. A woman at one of those meetings was a member of GROW and she suggested I check it out when she knew I was getting ready to start traveling again.

When we resumed our travels I continued going regularly to f2f meetings in each new location we traveled to. AA is one of the most welcoming, and loving groups of people I have ever had the privilege of being a part of. Even though I was a total stranger, each time I attended a new meeting in a new town, I was welcomed and made to feel ‘a part of’. After a few months though, I realized that almost every new meeting I went to, I was asked to share my story. It didn’t take long before I began to feel that I was missing out on hearing other peoples stories. Hearing the ESH of other AA members is a critical part of my program! It was shortly after this that I joined GROW. GROW became my Home Group. It is where a number of you know me from my shares and I have gotten to know some of you. It is the meeting where my absence would hopefully be noticed. GROW is where I do my Service Work and where I found my Sponsor. Because of the email format for sharing, GROW has been instrumental in a great deal of self discovery. Because I have days instead of minutes to think about what I want to say about our weekly topic, I have discovered things about myself that have resulted in real growth in my program. I am certainly not the confused, novice in sobriety I was when I arrived in this group. Even through the pandemic and the shift to ZOOM meetings, GROW has continued to be my meeting of choice, my home group. It suits me and my traveling schedule.

Recently I have seen a troubling change in our group. The membership numbers have decreased, the Trusted Servant positions have become difficult if not impossible to fill, and the number of women that share regularly has been spotty. I am deeply concerned about the health and future of GROW but I have turned that outcome over to my Higher Power. I know that what ever happens, my HP will direct me to the next right thing.

In the mean time, I look forward to hearing about your ESH with GROW: how each of you came to GROW, what has happened since you joined and what things are like now.

Thank you for taking the time to read and share on this weeks topic.

Yours in Service,

Cheryl B

March 10: Acceptance

Topic for the week: Acceptance

 

“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 my attitudes.”

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, Page 417 

 

When I first got sober back in 2015, I was spiritually, emotionally and morally bankrupt upon walking into this program. I had more wreckage than I even knew what to do with and the shame I felt ran deeper than I knew how to handle. I could barely even look at myself in the mirror. The year prior to getting sober, I unknowingly was doing a first step. I was stuck in a cycle of praying to God in my journal to help me get sober & then I would find myself blacking out from drinking on a regular basis. I felt completely helpless. I was a shell of a human that last year. I did know yet understand the power that acceptance would have in my life. It was in October 2015 that God placed on my heart that enough was enough. He told me to get help and showed me the way to an IOP & from there I found AA. Once I fully surrendered to the fact that I was an alcoholic, that’s when acceptance and healing could begin to take root. Since that time my life has had a dramatic shift. I’ve went onto be extremely successful in my professional life, made living amends to my husband and my now teenage daughter and have grown to love myself as a sober woman of dignity and grace. I’ve had the opportunity to clear the wreckage I caused while in active addiction. I am not the same woman who I was back then. 

 

In January 2023 God told me that I was going into a year of acceptance. I thought I had already fully grasped that concept, but I came to realize that acceptance of myself and others was something I genuinely lacked in my recovery program. Last year I had endless opportunities to show compassion, empathy and understanding towards many people that came in and out of my life. I was even in a car accident last March and was able to have acceptance and forgiveness towards the driver who smashed into me immediately after the accident occurred. I choose not to carry my anger with me because as an alcoholic I know this becomes a resentment, so I have to forgive immediately and have total acceptance around the circumstances. I have learned that true self acceptance is loving myself right where I am at today. Acceptance is the key to my happiness and peace of mind. It’s something I have learned that I need to practice in all my affairs. Without acceptance of people, places and things – I can not experience serenity. So I choose my peace and make acceptance an intentional practice every day. That is one of the ways that I stay in fit spiritual condition. 

 

Today, I live a life I never thought possible. I attend an AA meeting every single day because it’s my medicine & I’m clear that as an alcoholic, that is what I need to stay sober one day at a time. I sponsor other women and have a sponsor who I love dearly. I have worked the steps many times over the years. I know that I will forever be a work in progress and that’s okay. I have complete and total acceptance in the fact that I am an alcoholic who needs a program of recovery to have a daily reprieve. I’m so grateful for what this program has done for my life and that I get to call myself one of the lucky ones. Thank you for letting me share. 

March 3: Step 3

Topic for the week: 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/

Step 3 is for me the most powerful of all the Steps, particularly when I was new to sobriety. I fought it long and hard, fearing that the God of my misunderstanding wouldn’t handle whatever it was the way I wanted it done. That got easier the more I thought about my life before sobriety. Seems like the harder I pushed to get my way, the worse things went for me. After a while, I figured out that what I wanted had seldom been what I needed. Learning to give it all to God was a slow process. But the more I practiced letting go, the better things went. After a while, it became natural to give my life and my will over to a power much greater than me. I learned to trust that my Higher Power really did know better what I needed. The more I turned it over, the sooner serenity came.

The third Step prayer became a very important part of my days: “God, I offer myself to Thee – To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power,Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.  May I do Thy will always!”

Step 3 is a powerful foundation upon which to build a sober life – and to complete the rest of the steps. For me, life got easier because I don’t have to fix anything. I can leave it to a Higher Power with a lot more insight than I have. I don’t have to make other people behave the way I want them to. I can let them be who they are and follow the will of the God of their understanding. All I have to do is continue to work the program and let my God take care of results.

How does Step 3 manifest in your life and your sobriety? Please share on your experience with this Step – or on anything you need to talk about this week.

February 25: Service

Topic for the week:

It is the last Sunday of February so this week is a service meeting. As the lIstkeeper of the Grow Chair volunteers, I am honored to serve this group so that the suffering alcoholic has a place to find recovery and hope.

Last week, I thought it was the last Sunday.  I was trying to look at my list on my phone vs getting out my computer.  I wanted the easier softer way.  What happened was I did not catch that I was actually looking at the wrong week and I caused a bit of a mess.  Luckily, I have a program and I can accept my humanness, admit my mistake and right the wrong. It was not and end of the world mistake, like my head likes to tell me.  But one that I could make amends for nonetheless.

So even service can be messy.   The great thing is that in AA, we accept the mistakes.  I was not fired for this little oversight.  Matter of fact, no one knew except me, God and one other person.  I was gently reminded that life happens and was accepted, just the way I am – perfectly imperfect.

I was a few years in AA before I actually heard the responsibility statement.  ” am responsible, when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”

This is a program of “We”.  I need to show up and be a part of so these meetings continue.  This is not just a position that I hold, this is a part of my recovery.  Talking to the new comers, asking for their number, inviting them to coffee. I do also hold service positions, and I do have to be careful to over-commit.  But I want to be the hand of AA.

I would love to hear about how you join in keeping the AA meetings alive.  How are you the” hand” of AA?  How was this hand presented to you when you first came into the meetings?

 

February 18: Which is Your Favorite AA Promise?

Topic for the week:  WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE AA PROMISE?

I have to admit I made many promises that I did not keep.  I heard many that others didn’t keep either.  It took a while for me to realize there are AA Promises. Of course I met them with my usual skepticism.  Until I read them at the suggestion of my sponsor when I was complaining that sober life was no big deal for all the work I had to put in.  

   The Promises are a collection of miracles.  Favoring one is like asking me to pick my favorite candy from a box of chocolates.  Individual Promises, to me, seem to have more special meaning at different times in sobriety.  They are listed in this share for your reference.  This is the ‘sometimes quickly’ topic and all that is asked of me is to be painstaking about my development (or, as I would say, work, work, work).

   I will know a new freedom, a new happiness before I am halfway done.  These took effect little by little, as soon as I entered the AA rooms. (I admit I used to busy myself with figuring out what ‘half way done’ was!)   

   I will not regret the past nor shut the door on it.  As I work the Steps, I see myself in a different light.  I may feel guilt or shame. These feelings start to ease up.  I accept myself, I know my Higher Power accepts me. I know you will love me until I love myself.  

  No matter how far down the scale I’ve gone, my experience can benefit others.  I am not alone.  I am not the worst nor the best. I am not a saint. When I share my story, I share the hope that sobriety is possible, no matter what. Uselessness and self-pity go away. No more pity parties for me!

   My self-centeredness lifts.  I will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in my fellows.  When in all my drinking years could I say this!  Self-seeking will slip away. I will do service and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.  My whole attitude and outlook on life will change.  For me, a shift from being an angry, lost woman began.  

   Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave me. On my personal hierarchy of fear, these two issues are at the top.  These are some of the Promises that have trickled down for me.

   For this know-it-all woman, I learned to (really) handle situations which used to baffle me. You will recall, I was in charge and knew it all when I got here. This is powerful for me!

   Back to the first three Steps, I suddenly realize that God is doing for me what I could not do for myself.  No doubt about that!  This Promise comes true and keeps on recurring.  

My fav?  The ‘no matter how far down the scale…’ one is my favorite. What is yours? When did Promises start to come true for you? Have they ever stopped? Do you believe in them?  Aren’t they miracles!  hgz, b.  9/21/83

February 4: Step Two

Topic for the week: Step 2

We are all invited to share on Step 2. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

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

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 4 (We Agnostics), starting about page 44. 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/

Came to believe that a power greater than us could restore us to sanity.

I’m Sophie and an alcoholic.

What was your first experience of the Second Step? And what do you do today to keep the Second Step alive in your sobriety and in your life? Have you got a favourite reading that helps you with Step Two?

In 2013 in Auckland New Zealand I took part in an AA Women’s retreat where we participated in workshops over a weekend that took us through the 12 steps. It was an entirely new way for me to go through the steps as previously I had only gone through them with a sponsor, and then as a sponsor to others, or by reading and hearing sharing on them in a regular AA meeting.

At the workshops I saw many things about the program in new and inspiring ways. I learned I could meditate by reading one word of a phrase or in this case a step and allowing a few moments to pause and allow each word to sink in slowly. When I do this with Step Two I am reminded of Came….. Came to….. Came to believe… and how this was very much my journey into Step Two. I came along to AA meetings, slowly I “came to”, I began to wake up from the alcoholic fog and blindness and I came to believe. I came to believe that perhaps AA might work for me too, that perhaps I didn’t just have a bit of a problem and need to stop alcohol for a few months, that I was actually bodily and mentally different, I came to believe that there was something at work in AA meetings that I needed and didn’t find anywhere else in my life, that something spiritual happened when a Group of Drunks met or when one alcoholic talks (or writes!) to another. Slowly I began to have more spiritual awakenings and came to believe in a power greater than. I met that power in nature, in the voices and stories of others like me, in reading AA literature.

I began being sponsored in earnest at 5 months sober. That sponsor saved my life by guiding me through the AA literature and bringing it to life with her example. I learned that I was insane as far as the first drink was concerned. I may have had and still can have other kinds of insanity in other areas of my life but here in Step Two it was about me recognising and accepting and allowing that God could restore my sanity around alcohol so I was no longer seeking alcohol as an answer to how to do life.

Today I have been practicing that part of the AA Just for Today card, the part where it says to study something. I have read something new or revisited something from AA literature each day for the past month. It feels as if part of my brain is like a sponge but one that just needs a little moisture each day, something to direct my thoughts away from negative or self centred spiralling and outwards towards god’s will for me and towards others. I have been reading the AA book “Language of the Heart”, just a page or essay/chapter and also the AA book “Came To Believe”. I don’t think I have the answers, I just know I want to keep learning and growing in my sobriety and in life. Both of these books are filled with reflections and light bulb moments from a variety of alcoholics writing for our international magazine The Grapevine. I am in awe of the fact that in this tiny slim book “Came To Believe” there are 75 different stories about alcoholics’ spiritual experiences. I am filled up each time I read a page.

Step Two for me is the opening of something incredible. I can’t necessarily see it or put a flag in it but it’s there, that thing which I turn to. Every day I thank God for AA and thank AA for God. I thank God for being restored to sanity around the first drink and being able to be sober today and live a life beyond my dreams.

Please come back and share with us on Step Two or anything pertaining to your sobriety. All are welcome! If you’re new or shy please feel welcome to simply say hello to the meeting and identify as an alcoholic here in this safe space.

In love and service

Sophie F, Somerset UK

January 28: There is a Solution

Topic for the week: There is a Solution……

Solution

  • an action or process of solving a problem
  • an answer to a problem : EXPLANATION
  • specifically : a set of values of the variables that satisfies an equation
  • a bringing or coming to an end or into a state of discontinuity

“There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.
Pg 25 BB

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was wonderful to find out that there was an actual solution to the insanity that I had been living in my entire life. My mind, even before I found relief in drinking, was always “on me”. I was like I was literally being “thought at ” My mind started lying to me disguised as me, from the get go. I didn’t know there was a difference. I thought these were my thoughts-I thought I was those thoughts. I thought you were those thoughts. But in reality it was the noise of the dis-ease that even today, wants me dead but will settle for me drunk.

I’ve heard it said that we also have a thinking problem-in fact, if you have been here a while and the obsession to drink has been removed, then I suggest going through the book again and replacing the word drinking with thinking-it’s eye opening. That’s why when the alcohol gets removed and we are sober, we must continue to grow and strengthen our spiritual connection. More so now, then back then.

My ego wants to tell me that because I have some sober “time” that I’m good. I don’t really need to pray today-I prayed yesterday. I don’t really need to read that meeting, I read something yesterday. I don’t really need to correspond with my sponsee, or ask God where he needs me today-I asked yesterday.

I never got drunk on yesterday’s booze. I didn’t get fed on yesterday’s dinner. I made sure I put on makeup and checked in to let all my “friends” know how cute I look or how my family is doing. I may have even worked out. I never rested on yesterday’s feeding of body, feeding the disease or feeding the ego, so why do I think for one second that I can rest on yesterday’s solution to a disease that will kill me? .

Having an allergy to alcohol (abnormal reaction), is just like a peanut allergy. Except, the person with the allergy to peanuts does not continuously seek to ingest peanuts. He is consciously aware and sane enough to know what will happen if he eats them. I, on the other hand, will obsess about it, try to find loopholes, bargain, think it through and then go to great lengths to find ways to destroy myself and end my state of sobriety. I can be stone cold sober physically, but drunk on drama and unmanageability.

We as alcoholics have a 3 fold disease. This was VERY significant for me to absorb so I could fully embrace the entire solution. When I was new, I didn’t have the capacity to comprehend the magnitude of what I was up against, I just didn’t want to drink anymore. I honestly thought I would hit a few meetings, not drink, do this step stuff and live happily ever after. That’s fine, because I couldn’t have handled much else at the time, but if I stayed there, in AA kindergarten, then I would be dead.

Mind-Obsession, incessant thoughts about other people, replaying the past, reliving past senorios, rehearsing conversations, manipulation, scheming, lying-sober or not:

“I’m gonna say this, so they will do that”, 

“I need to get this because if I don’t have it then….” 

“what will they think if I get this car” 

“did they see me do that? OMG, what if I get fired! What will I do?”

“I wonder if he will be there, OMG, what if she is with him” 

“If they ask me to do….then how do I tell them no, I know, I will tell them I’m sick”

“Why aren’t my neighbors aren’t moving their car, I think I will tell them how it makes me feel” 

“I need to tell her this so maybe she will….” 

“Remember when you did that at that party…I’m disgusting, I hate myself-I hate everyone.” 

“I hope I see him so he sees what I look like now and wants me back” 

“That bitch thinks she can do that to me?!?”

I MEAN…how in the hell could God/truth/good/beauty/gratitude get in through all that noise??? It’s exhausting juggling all that! That frequency/channel allows nothing in but static nonsense! I need to change the channel! But how do you change something you think is completely normal?? I learned I could change the channel from hearing the ESH of honest, spirit filled, recovered alcoholics who had no problem sharing the dark reality of what I was living in daily. It was gross. It was heavy, and it is NOT normal. And then offering me a way out. Normalizing the abnormal kept me sick.

Body-When I ingest alcohol I want more. It’s like a switch is turned on. A normal drinker will start to feel the warm and fuzzy feelings, get a little tired and call it a night. NOT ME. I’m off to the races! I instantly want more. I will go to any lengths to recapture the first time my body recorded that feeling of ease and comfort and I want more. I do not process alcohol normally so I can’t drink it. I can never drink it. But I need to further my growth so I never again seek to fill myself with poison of any form for ease and comfort.

Spirit-My spirit suffers when it disconnects from me when I am on a spree. The disease can manifest in sex sprees, shopping sprees, fear sprees, food sprees, drama spress, thinking sprees, anger sprees, politics sprees, news sprees, emotionally charged social cause sprees -all symptoms of obsession to consume or get more of something because my spirit is malnourished and without purpose. I can so easily go to extremes-so the solution brings me back to center.

If one or all parts of self are out of balance, we suffer. We can always get back on track-no matter how far down the scale I have gone-again, sober or not. I don’t care if you have 100 years sober time- if you are suffering because of a wicked case of untreated alcoholism-please ask for help. We have all been there!! The solution is in having a new experience with the Steps that paves the way back to the source that nourishes us. The things we may be seeking relief in are temporary/temporal-God is infinite, merciful, sustainable, safe and stable.

Asking the group to share one of your favorite passages from chapter 2 “There is a Solution”  and your personal experience with the Solution.

I pray you are all well wherever you are!!

Hilarie

4.8.14

 

January 21: Finding a Power Greater than Myself

Topic for the week:

‘Most emphatically, we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial.’

From Appendix 2, Spiritual Experience, p. 568 ed. 4

Due to some early life trauma that triggered my first drunk at age 11, I became both intolerant and belligerent about anything spiritual. Though not atheist, I was strongly agnostic and convinced it was impossible to prove God existed, so why bother with any of it? A loving God was out of the question. I stubbornly stuck to this through many years. I’m still not sure about a ‘loving’ God, but I became able to explore and accept spiritual concepts purely to save my sanity and my life. Finding a power greater than myself evolved with Creative Intelligence (p. 46) and electricity (p. 48). I haven’t really gone to religion, though I’ve studied several of them. But I have gained access to a Power greater than me (p. 50) that has brought about the miracle of my survival. I have fortunately had a few profound spiritual experiences. PLUS I can now say that I’m happy, joyous and free most of the time! The AA booklet, ‘Came To Believe’, has been very helpful in offering many different ways of approaching spiritual growth and fulfillment. I am mostly free of all the ‘bedevilments’ (p. 52), and can no longer state that there may be no meaning to any of existence – who am I to say . There is a Power greater than myself, certainly, and today I’m able to call that Great Reality ‘God’.

January 14: The good we do for others (and ourselves)

Topic for the week: The good we do for others (and ourselves)

Hi again, I’m Mari Ann and I’m still an alcoholic.

There are four of us at my home group who celebrate anniversaries in January and this year they all landed in the past week.  So we four, and our sponsors or a sponsee, went to dinner last night to celebrate the occasion for the first time together.

It turned out that the sponsor of one of the women was an old-timer known to most of us but whom we haven’t seen in years due to living in different towns some distance apart. I recognized Mary from a women-only conference where hundreds of sober women met for a day of workshops and where there was a sobriety countdown.  As each tier of time-sober women sat down, she was usually the last woman standing with a number of years sober that seemed impossible.

My own sponsor never attended those conferences and mentioned that she hadn’t seen Mary in 35 years – at least.

The group exchanged stories of experiences shared over the years, but the one that caused goosebumps to pop out all over me was when my sponsor reminded Mary that “You took me to treatment over 40 years ago.”

That simple acknowledgement of a single action that saved one more life took my breath away. How one woman, doing what was best for her own sobriety by doing service in bringing a teenage girl to treatment, had ultimately informed the lives of most of us sitting around the table.

Mary didn’t remember doing that particular good deed. Probably because over the course of her 49 years in the program she has done too many to recall.  Every time we share at a meeting, every time we give someone a ride, every time we do coffee, take a phone call, check on another person in the program we sprinkle the life-saving good in ways we can’t see, probably won’t remember, but do more good than we think possible.

I celebrated 36 years sober last Tuesday and every year believe more firmly that I am a conduit for this program. It passes through me to whomever needs it as long as I do my best to live it.

To borrow from the old Nike Ad “Just do it!” It saves others as well as ourselves.

Thanks for letting me lead this week.  Be assured whatever you choose to share will turn out to be needed by someone.

Mari Ann

January 7: Step One

Topic for the week: Step 1

We are all invited to share on Step 1. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 1 ***

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

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 – the Big Book opens with Bill’s Story (which details how one of the A.A. founders found that he was powerless over alcohol and that his life was unmanageable) and I think Chapter 3, “More About Alcoholism” talks about this in detail. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

I didn’t think I was powerless when I was drinking. I was in control and you weren’t like me. Then I found I’d feel like crying if I couldn’t drink. I am sure that is a normal thing, isnt it? Then I just felt I needed a drink, to get out the door (To get more drink)… Still couldn’t admit it was a problem…. I’d embarrass myself, in towns where no one knew me…. Still not a problem. I even embarrassed myself at my sisters 60th birthday in October 2018 ((She’s 65 now… That’s A positive hint))… Caus then they told me, I had a problem… And slowly slowly catchy this monkey, I finally caved and for the first time on day 2 of sobriety ((For the final time – I hope to HP) I learnt that first step and started to say it in public, to my sister and anyone else including myself who knew how to listen and what to hear…

It had a powerful spell on me and I couldn’t get out from under it. It took and took and left me with nothing but my virtual knobbly knees.

It was Jan 02, when I rang the facility. I was there for assessment on the third and I had a room on the 6th. I had my last hangover on the 01st of Jan and my last ever drink on the 05th Jan.

So on the 05 Jan 2024 – I will be 5 years sober. 5 years, since I realised the spell – and the only way to dismiss a spell, is to call it out. YES – I WAS powerless and YES – My life was unmanageable….

Not any more….. 🙂 True Story – LOL

So ladies, what’s your story? What or who whispered that you were stronger than that storm? How did you rise from your knees? Looking forward to hearing from you all xxxxx

December 31: Daily Resolutions

Topic for the week:    “Daily Resolutions”

DAILY RESOLUTIONS

December 31

The idea of “twenty-four-hour living” applies primarily to the emotional life of the individual. Emotionally speaking, we must not live in yesterday, nor in tomorrow.

AS BILL SEES IT, p. 284

A New Year: 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes — a time to consider directions, goals, and actions. I must make some plans to live a normal life, but also I must live emotionally within a twenty-four-hour frame, for if I do, I don’t have to make New Year’s resolutions! I can make every day a New Year’s day! I can decide, “Today I will do this . . . Today I will do that.” Each day I can measure my life by trying to do a little better, by deciding to follow God’s will and by making an effort to put the principles of our A.A. program into action.

From the book Daily Reflections.

Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. All rights reserved.

As we approach the New Year, I am always tempted to get carried away and make crazy resolutions to change my entire life overnight. I will get almost obsessive the last week of the year about all the ways this coming year is going to be better than the last. But what usually happens? I commit to such large sweeping changes that I can never keep up with it, and give up within a couple months, couple weeks, honestly, even sometimes after just a couple days or couple hours.

So this year, I’m going to follow the directions of today’s Daily Reflection and just aim to during these 24 hours ahead of me to be the best sober Emily I can be by applying the Steps, Traditions, and Concepts of this program to my daily life. I will each day start by being willing to be a beginner and to have a new experience. I will each day put down my will and pick up my Higher Power’s will for me. I will strive to Keep It Simple, and take the prescription Dr. Bob often wrote on his prescription pad, “Trust God, Clean House, Help Others.” I am going to trust that we really do have a program for living that works, even in rough going, and work that program to the best of my ability each day. Because I have found over the last 5+ years that I’ve been working an actual active AA program, it really does 100% work if I work it.

Over this last year, I focused on just one word as my…idk…”guiding light” for my spiritual path…”surrender”. The main thing was to do it every morning, just a simple “God, you’re in charge, not me, guide me from here” upon awakening.

In the past year, I have been brought to the end of myself in so many areas and really been able to let go of control, worry, fear, attachment, dependency, even in my closest relationships and even in my most challenging areas. Don’t get me wrong, it was painful, it was hard work, and I have to continue the work everyday. But the more 24 hours in a row I practice these principles, the better I feel inside and the more effective and useful I can be to my Creator.

What have Daily Resolutions done to enhance your recovery and overall life?

Thank you for the honor of leading this meeting. The floor is now open for sharing.

December 24: We were reborn

Topic for the week:

“…As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn.”

From page 63 of Alcoholics Anonymous (4th edition.)

When I first got sober, I had a friend scoff and say to be “Don’t tell me you’re born again.” I laughed it off because that sounded super religious and I wasn’t about that.

But as I reflect on my journey in recovery, the above reading and today, on Christmas Eve, I have to say that I am reborn.

I no longer need to be consumed with fear. I trust God and the plan for my life. My faith may waiver time to time but I have you women, my sponsor, my God to get me back on track.

I know there is nothing that can happen to me that will make me think a drink is the answer. That’s just for today. I’m grateful to be mentally and spiritually prepared for the holidays. I’m grateful to be in my right mind.

I also know that this is a gift that I have been given one day at a time. I must continue to do the work to stay connected to the source. The power I feel through me is not mine for ever. Just for today.

Additionally, as we are getting into the holidays. Please know you’re not alone. We are all here for you. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s, they’re just like any other day. Please don’t let the hustle and bustle of the coming days distract you from what works. We recover together. One day at a time.

Please feel free to share on the lead or anything on your heart. Also, please be sure to reach out to the group in the coming days whenever you need to. Just put off topic in the subject line and let us know what’s going on.

Julie Kreun

5/17/12

December 17: Listen, Share and Pray

Topic for the week:  Listen, Share and Pray

Thank you for allowing me to be of service. My name is Teresa S., I am a grateful recovering alcoholic. I am grateful for the GROW community of women who continue to support each other in our journey to, in and through recovery of the disease of alcoholism.

My life began to change the day I came to my first meeting of AA on December 21,1993. It was my mother’s birthday and right before the holidays. If I had it my way, I would have waited until after the fun drinking holidays!  Little did I know then, there was a HP taking care of me and running the show, I thought I was in charge of.

For almost 30 years, I have not taken a drink and yet, I did not have serenity or peace. I was not living happy, joyous and free. Most of the promises of each step had not become a reality in my life. I was sober, yes, free from alcohol but not free from the real disease and its symptoms: fears, ego, anger, resentments and self centeredness and self pity. I did not have contact with a HP/God.

The topic I chose for this week “Listen, Share and Pray” comes from the AA Daily Reflection on 12.21. my AA birthday. I believe my HP, who I call God most of the time, leads me to messages like this one.  I have been transformed and I can honestly say, I know what peace and serenity feel like today. I live a life of joy and gratitude and I am free from the obsessions, the self- centeredness, self-pity and the resentments that kept me sick, even without alcohol.

Over the years and most recently, working the steps again with a new sponsor, I have re-learned how to “Listen, Share and Pray” in new ways.  These are the three things that have brought me back to life, the life that my HP created me to live. I am becoming the person God knows.

Is my sober life free from pain, sadness, frustrations, disappointments and even anger and resentment?  NO WAY!  I am living in difficult times, my granddaughter is in the hospital, my husband and I are in marriage counseling healing our broken marriage of 21 years, I see people almost daily who have betrayed me…and on and on as life is life.

The difference now from then is that I know there is nobody or situation that can take away what God has given me. Today, I can listen and learn, listen to my HP/God, listen to my sponsor, listen to life’s lessons and listen to the shares of my fellow AA members.  I can share honestly and openly my own experiences, strength, weakness and hope. Finally, I can pray directly to my HP/God, my prayers are real conversations from my heart and soul to God. I can pray for you, for me, for my family, my dear granddaughter, my kids, my friends, my sponsor and sponsee…and the most amazing thing…I can pray for the people who hurt me! I am willinging to change. “Bless them, change me”

If you are new or “old”, trying to get and stay sober, or want to feel peace and joy in the midst of life’s craziness, I highly recommend and suggest: “Stop drinking, go to meetings, get a sponsor, work the steps, (you will meet your HP) help another alcoholic.” Learn how to and practice “Listening, Sharing and Praying” 

Thank you for allowing me to lead this week. I am looking forward to reading about what you learn when you listen, share and pray. How have these actions helped you in your personal recovery?

With sisterly love,

Teresa S.

 

December 10 How It Works

Topic for the week: How It Works

“Rarely have we seen a person fail…” At this stage in my sobriety, I find these words so comforting and reassuring. This was not always the case – for the longest time, not only did most of How It Works scare me, I also found a lot of it offensive. Looking back, I can see how that kind of thinking was a symptom of my disease. I realize now that I was fighting the idea that I truly was (and am) an alcoholic. Until I admitted, on a cellular level, that I am an alcoholic, I couldn’t truly begin to reap the benefits that AA has to offer. It is the first step, after all …

What is the “It” of How It Works? For me, it has changed over time. In the early days, I thought “it” meant I was supposed to get the entire program all at once, which was quite overwhelming. I was terrified by the demand for rigorous honesty, the threat of failure, the willingness to go to any lengths, the need to let go of old ideas absolutely, being fearless and thorough – all in pursuit of the mysterious and elusive “it”. I knew AA folks had something I wanted, but what was it exactly? I suspected it was more than mere sobriety – I already had stopped drinking but was more miserable and nasty than I’d ever been in my life. Then the chapter says, “Do not be discouraged.” Actual people were reaching out to me with all the earnestness at their command to bring me into the fold. And they offered help, the kind of help I didn’t even know I needed. God saved my life by removing the obsession to drink, but thank heavens I didn’t get my old life back. You AA folks gave me the means to a new life by sharing your experience, strength and hope and being there for me and with me through thick and thin.

One thing you had was patience…and I sure needed that!

I chose this topic because I realized the other day that I’ve been skipping right over How It Works in the weekly lead and going right to the chair’s share. If I were in a face-to-face meeting, I would listen as How It Works was read aloud. It occurred to me that I was doing that thing again – that thing where if something is working, I stop doing it. What’s up with that?? I’ve been missing the main part of the instruction book!

A few years ago, when I traveled abroad without my husband or family and couldn’t find any meetings I could attend, I made it a point to get up early, take a walk, and recite How It Works to myself. I’ve started doing that again, whenever I take a walk – I find it meditative and soothing. Those words work along with other recited prayers to keep me centered and focused on what really matters.

I don’t want to take anything about sobriety and recovery for granted. Skipping over any part of the program is a slippery slope for me – I could lose it all in a nanosecond. So I think I’ll be sure now to read every word of the weekly topic, starting with a moment of silence and the Serenity Prayer and going all the way through to the Promises and anonymity statement. Oh, and respond to the topic!

For me, “it” really is the whole program and all the people in it. One step at a time, it leads to a life I didn’t know was possible. No matter what “it” means, I’m pretty sure it works when I work it.

Please feel free to share what “it” means to you, or anything else that you may be going through. We are all here for you!

Thank you for the honor of chairing and for letting me share.

 

December 3 Step Twelve

Topic for the week:

Being the beginning of the 12th month, I would like to share on the 12th Step:

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

I like emphasizing different parts when I share the steps. The promise is right there, a spiritual awakening. Mine wasn’t like Bill’s p.14), A spiritual awakening means many things to many people. When I was new I expected something mind blowing like Bill had but mine was more gradual as explained on p.567

Carrying the message has meant many things over the years. My exuberance in the beginning only put people off. I have learned I am more effective if I lead by example—attraction rather than promotion. I also have to remember the step only talks about carrying the message, not converting the masses, I don’t have the special touch, where I can tap you HEALED.

So, tell me what does the step mean to you? How has it changed your life?

The meeting is now open you can share on the topic or anything else you need to share about. Don’t leave without sharing your burden, someone amongst us has been where you are and would be happy to share their ESH.

November 26 Keep Coming Back

Topic for the week:

Keep Coming Back, it works if you work it. what does this mean to you?  How do you work your program? I assume this changes over time and adjusts are made as life happens.

From day 1 when I began this program and meetings I felt like I finally found a place where I was understood.  I didn’t have to feel the shame of my prior way of living. I knew I had to keep coming back, and I loved the slogan. In the beginning I thought ‘keep coming back’ was meant for the newcomers.  If you aren’t sure on day 1 you should keep coming for some time. But as I just celebrated 5 months sober, the slogan means something different to me. I need to keep coming back. When we say this as a group at the end of a meeting, it has power. We know we will not have to feel alone if we keep coming back. We attend meetings to share our experience, strength and hope. Our shares give others hope. This is how we work it.

November 5: Step Eleven

Topic for the week: Step 11

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

*** 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/

Thank you for the honor of chairing this meeting, Theresa, alcoholic, welcome newcomers.

For me Step 11 has been my refuge. When I do it daily my life is simpler and when I don’t the old ISMs seem to crop up unmercifully. If I don’t get back into the grove, it gets messy. I know when my thinking gets sticky I’ve taken back the reins and I am in trouble. Those old character defects start popping up until I remember I am not in charge and fall into line. The show runs much better when I let my higher power be in charge.

When I was new, I was challenged by this step so I started doing research on the topic, I’d go to seminars trying to find the combination that worked for me–it was a non-conference-approved book. “Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they have to offer.” Alcoholics Anonymous, p.87

It is no accident that the prayer of St. Francis is tied to this step, for if we can live by its tenets this little part of my world is better served. When I remember to add “if it be thy will” (12×12 p.102) to each and every prayer it reminds me who is in charge and that I have turned my will over to s/he/it.

We live our lives forward, trying to do the next right thing but if we look back at our lives we can see “that God ‘moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.'” (12×12 p. 105)

So, how does Step 11 work in your life? What have you learned from practicing this step? Or whatever is on your heart today.

The meeting is now open, I look forward to your shares.

October 29: Relationships

Topic for the week: Relationships

I wasn’t very good at dealing with people prior to getting sober. I still have some difficulty at times, especially with particular personalities, but I’m much improved and most of that improvement is due to working the AA program (therapy has also helped).

As an active alcoholic I would either be a people-pleaser or if I didn’t like someone, I’d ignore/be obnoxiously passive-aggressive to them in social settings. I didn’t know how to deal with anger so I’d just blow up at someone, I didn’t know how to say “no” so I’d get a major resentment toward someone and never tell them why, I didn’t know how to set boundaries regarding personal information or physical space so I’d say and do embarrassing stuff sometimes, especially when drinking, and I had no idea how to apologize and repair a broken relationship (and didn’t make any attempt to find out how to do that).

I stole from family and friends, I slept with boyfriends or husbands of friends, I wasn’t faithful to guys I was seeing, I used people to get what I wanted, and I rarely thought of what I could do for others – it was all about me and what I wanted or needed.

All of this behavior fed into my alcoholism; the shame, anger, resentments, guilt, sadness, and frustration surrounding my inability to create and maintain healthy, loving relationships drove me to drink more and more often. I had a few long-term female friends throughout this time but family, work, and social relationships were strained, for the most part.

I gave birth to two sons during this time – one in Nov. 1982 and one in Sept. 1986. I wasn’t in a committed relationship with either of their fathers, I didn’t have the support of my family, and I didn’t know I was an alcoholic and drug addict but knew I didn’t want the responsibility of a child or children so I gave my sons up for adoption (the adoption in 1982 was open so when I found myself pregnant in 1986, I contacted the couple who adopted my older son and they adopted my younger son). It was both a selfish and self-less act, as incongruent as that may seem. I’ve dealt with a lot of sorrow, grief, and loss as the result of giving them up, but have never regretted my decisions as I firmly believe my alcoholism would have destroyed my relationship with them, and I might well have had my sons taken from me by state welfare authorities because once I started drinking, I couldn’t guarantee I’d be a responsible parent and am pretty sure I wouldn’t have been. I’ve heard stories from other women in AA who’ve said they’d leave their children at home and stay out all night, or be at home but drink until in a blackout, or do any number of the other things we do once we start drinking and can’t stop.

Repairing relationships and/or maintaining good relationships is a crucial aspect of being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s written into the Steps, and the Traditions place great importance on maintaining good relationships among AA’s Trusted Servants, our own group’s members, and society in general. For me, a good barometer of my sobriety is how well I deal with others, especially those I find it difficult to understand or accept. In all interactions I try to remember to put the principles of AA into practice and to really listen as others are speaking, to ask questions before assuming an answer, to know when to walk away, respectfully, when it’s clear we must agree to disagree, and to “err on the side of compassion” as I heard at a meeting long ago. These are my guidelines in relationships, and I’m acquiring other helpful ones as I go through each sober day.

Having spent so many years unable to create and maintain good relationships, I treasure the healthy relationships I have today. It’s taken a lot of work with some of them – getting over past difficulties and establishing better communication – and it’s a work-in-progress with all relationships as people change, life happens, and so on. But the fact that I have useful tools, the willingness to do the work, and I’ve received positive encouragement in the form of acceptance, forgiveness, invitations, fun shared memories, etc., has helped demonstrate to me that I have the power to change how I interact with others, how I interpret my interactions with others, and what I want to get from my interactions with others.

Finally, regarding my sons, I was able to meet them for a number of years, together and separately, starting in 1996. I was invited to my older son’s high school graduation, which I attended, I had lunch with my younger son several times once he was older, and I was invited to and attended my older son’s wedding in 2011. However, it was at that event that I was made aware that our relationship had changed and I’m still not sure why. Both of my sons fairly avoided me during the wedding and I haven’t heard from either of them since then, with my younger son unfriending me on Facebook. It’s frustrating to not understand what has happened, and I feel I can do little about the situation other than continue to remain in touch via Facebook with my older son (he doesn’t respond to my posts, but at least he knows I’m still here) and I’m also in touch with my sons’ adoptive father and his (second) wife via email. I hold my sons in my heart and am willing to wait to see if they want to re-establish a connection, but it’s like losing them all over again only this time it wasn’t my choice.

Relationships are really hard sometimes, loving people is really hard sometimes, forgiving people is really hard sometimes, and accepting people is really hard sometimes. But I believe my HP is always with me, helping me navigate life and my relationships, and that I’ll be okay as long as I stay sober, help others, and stay grateful for the many gifts I’ve received in sobriety.

The meeting is now open to anyone who would like to share on any of the following: (1) how you’ve repaired relationships, (2) how you’ve changed your behavior in dealing with others, or (3) what you do when it’s clear a relationship (family, friend, romantic partner) isn’t able to be repaired.

Thanks for letting me chair this meeting.

Michele R.

October 22: A surprising ‘GIFT’ in sobriety

Topic for the week:

A surprising ‘GIFT’ in sobriety.

I frequently introduce myself in f2f meetings as ‘I am Cheryl B, alcoholic who was given the gift of desperation on April 30th, 2013’.

When I first entered the rooms of AA I was desperate to learn how to live without needing to drink alcohol. I had come to that awful point in my life where I couldn’t live without drinking but I certainly wasn’t living in any true sense of the word. I was defeated, beaten down to the point I wanted to die, to end the pain. When I wasn’t successful at ending my life it was suggested I go to rehab. I was willing to do anything suggested to me that might help me learn how to live without alcohol.

Today, I only have to think about that period of my life, the desperation I felt, the utter isolation I endured, to remind me of what I would be going back to if I ever picked up that first drink! Knowing I don’t ever want to be in that place again keeps me from picking up. That knowledge is the ‘gift’  desperation gives me.

I understand now, that AA is about so much more than not drinking. It has utterly changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. I like to think I am a better person than the one who first walked into the rooms yet I know the work will never be done. AA is a lifelong commitment.  As a sober woman, I look forward to whatever time I have on this earth trudging this road of happy destiny. I hope all of you will continue on this path with me.

The meeting is now open.

Please feel free to share on ‘a gift’ you have received in sobriety or on any topic you need to help you stay on your sober path.

Thank you for allowing me to be of service by chairing this week’s meeting,

Cheryl B

October 15: Voluntary “MUSTS”

Topic for the week:   Voluntary “MUSTS”

I am grateful for this opportunity to lead our GROW weekly meeting. My name is Teresa, I am an alcoholic, gratefully recovering one day at a time. If you are new to this group or to AA, welcome!  If you stay close to the program and the women who have recovered, you will be amazed and never regret the changes in your life. Thank you all for being here.

I am in the process of writing my fourth step under the guidance of my sponsor and my HP. I really believe that my HP/God guides her to guide me because she could not be that good on her own! 😉  She is an example of how the program works and reminds me that my disease is always waiting for me to fall into self pity, remorse, anger, or fear. When I “dwarf parts of our program to suit our (my) own distorted viewpoint” I can become just as physically, mentally and spiritually ill as I was when I started, 29 years ago.

Thus, the solution, for all of us:  stay connected to our HP, whom I call God most of the time, go to meetings, and use the 12 Steps as a way of living each day of our lives.  “It works if we live it.”

My topic comes from “The Little Red Book” , published in 1970 as a study of the 12 Steps of AA and a way to carry the message to other alcoholics.  I will quote parts of page 172:

“We Don’t Have To…But!”
In desperation we joined AA for one purpose, namely: to get sober. …our 12 Step recovery program was entirely suggestive. 

Living the 12 Steps was not compulsory, yet as we grew in understanding our new way of life, we realized that it embraced many voluntary “MUSTS”. 

It is interesting to note the “musts” found in the Big Book, requisites for successful (sane, peaceful, free) sober living. These are some of my “musts”.

  1. I must remain spiritually connected to my HP
  2. I must pray and meditate every day
  3. I must make amends when I am wrong
  4. I must be grateful
  5. I must let go of old ways
  6. I must trust my HP to care for me, my family, friends, the world
  7. I must admit when I am wrong, promptly!

If you are inspired to share some of yours, I’m sure it will help me and others.

Thank you!

Teresa S. 12.21.93

October 8: Chairing & Sharing

Topic for the week: Chairing & Sharing

As I was struggling over this meeting topic, my husband came in from his outside chores and asked how it was going. [Side note: He is celebrating one month of sobriety today whoop!!! whoop!!!] I told him I was struggling to come up with something to share. I talked about how, after a while in the Program, it seems that all possible topics have been covered up one side and down the other, many times over. I talked about having nothing to talk about. He told me that he’s been speaking up more at meetings because he’d had an interesting insight. He said we struggle because we think we have to come up with some genius insight the likes of which have never been heard before by civilized man. Like, as an English major and a lover of words, I’ve always wanted to write and/or illustrate a children’s book, or a devotional, or really the next great American novel. As a former professional musician and one half of the writing duo and lead singer, he was always trying to come up with the next rock-n-roll record-breaking, platinum-selling song. But remembering that axiom, “Keep it simple, sweetie” (I prefer ‘sweetie’ to some of the common alternates – silencing that critical inner voice, ya know?) he reminded me that there are people with more time in than me, but lots of folks with less, and for whom anything said might be the very thing they need to hear. I might say something in a way that gives even an old-timer pause to think. My ho-hum might be someone else’s ta-dah! I can only honestly share from my own experience, and while there have been many ta-dahs, there have been many, many more ho-hums where life is simply putting one foot in front of the other right where I’m at and doing the next indicated right thing. So, this is me putting one foot in front of the other and sharing the challenge of sharing after having been in Program a while!

What prompts you to want to share with the group?

What keeps you from chairing/sharing?

Does sharing seem like a burden? something that’s “just not for you?”

Does sharing seem like a blessing, that you both give and receive?

Do you hesitate to share because you believe you have nothing to say?

Do you hesitate because you trust that someone else will?

Thank you for the opportunity and privilege of chairing and sharing!

Julie K <3

October 1: Step Ten

Topic for the week: Step 10

We are all invited to share on Step 10. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 10 ***
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

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 in the middle of page 84. 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/

Topic for the week beginning Sunday, October 1st – Step 10

September 24: Peace in the Pause and Silence

Topic for the week:  Peace in the Pause and Silence

Growing up as a teen in the 1960’s, one of the messages I took from the culture and my own therapeutic experiences was I should always express my feelings, regardless of the impacts to others or whether it was an appropriate response in the given situation. As long as I was completely open in this way all would be well.

I gave it a try, but this transparency did not serve me well.  When I did express feelings to family, friends, acquaintances, it was often from a place of anger in attack mode, leading to more relationship problems, not less.  I truly didn’t have insight or skills to deal with my emotions and selfish was my middle name.  This is one of the reasons I turned to alcohol when the going got rough and I indulged in a new pattern:  numb the painful thoughts and feelings with alcohol, lose my verbal filter along with rational thought, decide to ‘express myself’ with this newfound liquid courage, wake up the next day with feelings of regret/remorse/shame/guilt for whatever emotional mess was on display the night before.  Rinse and repeat.

Fast forward to my early days in AA… one of the phrases I heard often was ‘peace in the pause and silence’.  I became curious to this contrary idea, paying attention to how others utilized this approach.  In the past it never occurred to me that being quiet, not always expressing every thought on my mind just might be a better response.  I didn’t realize that during difficult situations, sometimes being quiet and listening is more appropriate, peaceful, kind, and dignified.  I didn’t recognize that the pause and silence allows time for needed perspective, hearing God’s will for me, and an opportunity to be a better listener.

There are definitely times when self-expression is important, but I’ve discovered it’s usually best to pause first, then consider my audience and timing carefully.  For example… a couple of nights ago I got into a heated discussion with my husband on a very sensitive topic about our daughter and grandchildren.  This was definitely an opportunity to put duct tape on my mouth and just listen.  But instead my emotions got the better of me.  I did not pause, I kept arguing my differing position, discounting his valid perspective.  This created an uncomfortable divide between us, I was upset and later very frustrated with my response.  Amends are now in order, and I regret how I handled the conversation.

I’ve learned that there are ways to express my feelings at the appropriate time without alienating others, from a place of vulnerability.  Being vulnerable requires courage, I no longer see it as a sign of weakness. I’m grateful for these lessons, it’s been a significant factor in my sobriety and has brought added peace to my relationships.

Please feel free to share your perspective and ESH on this topic, and thank you for being here!

Susan P.

September 17: Triggers

Topic for the week: Triggers

The meeting topic from last week (to relax and take it easy), got me thinking about the types of things that could threaten my sobriety. Being stressed, overly busy, caught up in drama, are things that I can work on daily to better manage my response and avoid relapse.

However, sometimes we’re hit with bigger things to manage. When things happen unexpectedly like illness, job loss, death of a loved one– really any negative event, I know that staying sober would become even more important. In the times I’ve been sober, I haven’t yet dealt with something like that. So sometimes it makes me wonder what it will be like when it happens. Am I vulnerable to potential triggers, could something get thrown at me that could spin me out of control?

As I come up on the anniversary of my father’s suicide, I’m reminded of how I responded to his death — years of harmful drinking to try to numb the pain, which didn’t help at all.

Since then, I’ve gained knowledge from this program that shows me, my actions/response are my choice under my control, with the help of my Higher Power, regardless of external factors, triggers, or “excuses” to drink.

In the AA Big Book, Appendices II, Spiritual Experience, it says, “Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance
or belligerent denial.
We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty, and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.” (pg. 568)

Today I believe I’m strong enough to handle anything life throws at me as a sober woman. I don’t need alcohol to deal with emotions. I have ways to deal with life other than drinking, and having a plan in mind for when bad things happen can help me feel prepared.

Ultimately, even though there will always be potential triggers to relapse, I’m responsible for working daily on my emotional state with help from my Higher Power, to get me through.

What are your thoughts on triggers to relapse? How have you handled unexpected events in your life to maintain sobriety? How do you prepare for this and strengthen yourself in daily life?

Thank you,

Katie

September 10: We Relax and Take it Easy

Topic for the week:

We relax and take it easy.

My first AA sponsor, Suzanne, told me early on, when I was still freaking out a lot of the time, that AA took the urgency out of living for her.

I had no idea what she was talking about.

At the time I didn’t understand that my old habits and patterns that predated my alcohol abuse still ruled my life. Chief among these habits was and is exposing myself to drama.

These days it’s not the drinking drama: not being able to work due to hangovers, not being able to remember what I did the night before, lying about everything followed by full-time lie tracking.

I can still generate this kind of stress with overworking, overdoing, watching the news, seeing my family of origin, or calling friends who are still generating drama in their personal lives.

Which is not what Bill and the writers of AA’s Big Book wanted for me. Suzanne also asked me to read page 86 of the Big Book each morning. This part was my favorite:

“In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.”

We don’t struggle. Ten years on, I realize that almost all struggle and internal stress and strain I feel in my body comes when I am trying to do more than I have time to do, get someone to see things my way, make someone do something they can’t do, or acquire something my higher power doesn’t want for me.

When I feel that struggle I try to surrender. Relax. Remember that I have a higher power who will not drop me on my head.

How has your relationship with struggle changed in sobriety? What challenges remain?

How do you find ways to be gentle with yourself and trust your higher power? Are there other passages in AA literature that you draw on?

I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this or whatever is on your heart to share this week.

Kirsten

September 3: Step 9

Topic for the week: 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

Today I would like to share the reading from our daily readers, Daily Reflections:

BUILDING A NEW LIFE

September 03

We feel a man is unthinking when he says sobriety is enough.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 82

When I reflect on Step Nine, I see that physical sobriety must be enough for me. I need to remember the hopelessness I felt before I found sobriety, and how I was willing to go to any lengths for it. Physical sobriety is not enough for those around me, however, since I must see that God’s gift is used to build a new life for my family and loved ones. Just as importantly, I must be available to help others who want the A.A. way of life.

I ask God to help me share the gift of sobriety so that its benefits may be shown to those I know and love.

From the book Daily Reflections.

Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. All rights reserved.

My share:

I was physically sober for 8 years, and that was my whole program other than praying to God like he was Santa Claus and trying to be a decent person.

It wasn’t enough at all. And only through working the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have I found any real ability at all to have healthy and loving relationships with other human beings.

All the steps up to this need to be thorough and complete, and then this one rockets us into the fourth dimension once we walk through it with good judgement, courage and prudence.

Thank you for the honor of chairing this meeting the floor is now open for sharing.

 

August 27: Service

Topic for the week:  Service

Hello, my friends.  This week has been set aside as a service topic meeting.  I understand that to mean that I am to share on what service in AA means to me.

So, here we go.  When I came into AA, I came in from Al-Anon so I already had an idea of what service meant.  For me, it was essentially the same in both programs, so I already knew where many of my strengths would be.  I learned what service meant, what tasks could and would be involved, and that many, many things can be service to AA.

First, I learned that helping with the physical tasks in face-to-face (in-person) meetings such as setting up/taking down chairs, preparing/clearing up coffee, greeting people as they came into the room, chairing meetings, reading in front of the group, giving my interpretation of slogans, handing out sobriety chips (my first home group had chips, rocks, and marbles for sobriety, having a rocky day, and when we’ve lost some of our marbles and need replacements), and many other tasks.

Then it was taking on roles in the group, being the secretary, treasurer, intergroup representative in urban areas, group service rep, or any other group level job. I wasn’t group treasurer, but did hold the other positions at one time or another.  After that came service at the district level.  I acted as treatment chair for the district for one two-year term.  I am currently secretary for a two-year term.  In GROW I act as topic archivist, and like many, I take on a week’s topic from time to time.  In one zoom group I am involved with I regularly Host meetings and sometimes chair.

I often thought that sponsorship was a main goal of service, but that is something I haven’t actually done.  I am willing to listen and talk, but I have doubts about my ability to mentor someone in the program.  Maybe I’m complicating it too much for me to do.  My interpersonal skills need some work.

I know that there is much more than this with respect to service.  I would like to hear what you have done or are doing in the form of service to AA and your fellow/sister alcoholic.  Small task or large, it all counts and helps another alcoholic with their sobriety.

Please share on service in your AA journey.

August 20: Powerlessness

Topic for the week: Powerlessness

In the last week of living on life’s terms I have been reminded about being powerless over my alcoholism as well as people places and things. 

Prior to recovery I thought I was in control of my drinking as well as every other dimension of my life. I even tried to control the outcomes of various situations and how people would respond-it worked out-go figure right

I once saw or thought being powerless as weak but today when I am feeling powerlessness I have learned it is an opportunity to make sure I am using the tools of the program, to grow at a deeper level, to heal and/or see which character defect may have resurfaced only in a different way.

How do you deal with powerlessness? What does be powerlessness over people , places and things mean to you? Or what is on your heart today?

Thank you ladies for letting me lead this meeting.

Be well

Mary O

 

August 13: Acceptance

Topic for the week:   Acceptance. 

Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), 4th Edition, P. 417

“When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away. From that moment on, I have not had a single compulsion to drink. 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. 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 my attitudes.” 

By the grace of God I have been sober one day at a time since December 21st 1993 and for this I live with gratitude every day. My HP put people in my life who got me here, showed me how to live sober and what it means to love and serve others by living the 12 steps of AA. I reach out for help when I need it and read, pray and meditate every day so that I can remember where I came from and how I have changed and am STILL changing. This is truly a program of progress, not perfection. I write a daily (almost) gratitude list with my sponsee. Today, I will reflect and write an “acceptance list”:

I accept:
1.  I cannot live happy, joyous and free without working/living the steps of AA;
2.  I must be honest, open and willing to learn and grow in my recovery;
3.  I cannot control my partner, family or other people in my life or neighborhood or the world;
4.  responsibility and results for my own choices;
5.  life can change in seconds, it can be unpredictable and bring surprises
6.  my HP/God has a plan for me and others and I don’t need to intervene;
7.  my daily work is to love and serve;
8.  my attitude and reaction to situations or problems can make things worse or better;
9.  my expectations can easily become premeditated resentments
10. I cannot change the past and with the help of my HP/God and support from you I can make the future better for me and others.

What is on your “acceptance list:? How does acceptance fit into your life right now? How does it help keep you sober, make you happy, bring you serenity or struggles?

If you are new or coming back to start again, thank you for being here for all of us. Thank you for allowing me to serve as lead this week.

August 6: Step Eight

Topic for the week: Step 8

We are all invited to share on Step 8. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 8 ***
“Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”

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 in the middle of page 76. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

Theresa, alcoholic, the first time I did step 8 I was handicapped as I had burned my fourth step. If I had kept my 4th step I could just go off that to make my list of persons I had harmed. I have since warned sponsees to keep their fourth as it comes in handy down the road.

When I thought back to my fourth and was able to make a list of those I had harmed. The ones I forgot, I dealt with as they came up. My sponsor told me to put my name on the top of the list, and when I did that it required a lot of soul searching to come to terms with my actions. By seeing my character defects I realised that a living amends was my only course of action. To be a little nicer to myself was a good start.

Making a list is not so hard, becoming willing is the key to most of the steps for me. Then honesty about my part in each situation, and then openness.

The meeting is now open and I look forward to you shares.

*** 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/

July 30: The F.D.I. Index (Fear, Doubt and Insecurity)

Topic for the week:  The F.D.I. Index

Although my life has been happy and even joyful for the most part, Fear, Doubt and Insecurity sometimes sends me reeling. An F.D.I. attack can start if I step too far out of my comfort zone, or if I feel belittled or rejected by someone I trusted. Sometimes I don’t know where it comes from….

I started using alcohol to calm emotional discomfort in my early thirties, and within three or four years, I was drinking myself into oblivion daily. I was hooked. I reached out for help and found it quickly in Alcoholics Anonymous. What a miracle!

Fear is often mentioned in our Big Book.

How has AA helped you manage fear or other negative emotions? 

July 23: Tolerance

Topic for the week:  Tolerance, from p. 203, in ‘As Bill Sees It’ 

‘Gradually we began to be able to accept the other fellow’s sins as well as his virtues.We coined the potent and meaningful expression “Let us always love the best in others – and never fear their worst.” Grapevine, Jan. 1962

‘Finally, we began to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong. When this happens, we approach true tolerance and we see what real love for our fellows actually means.” 12&12, p. 92

I have been an intolerant and judgmental person for most of my life. The long-term and often subtle messages on this from AA have slowly brought me to a feeling of acceptance for most of the human race. I’m not perfect! But I’ve learned that every person comes to their opinions and world view honestly, based upon their personal and family experience, cultural training, education and other reasons. This change has helped me see the real people behind the masks that we wear to fit in with other people in the world.

Please share your experiences of how AA has helped you become more tolerant of those different from yourself, or just in general about your experiences with becoming more tolerant of just about anything!

July 16: The Power of the Serenity Prayer

The Power of the Serenity Prayer 

I distinctly remember the first day in rehab, sitting in the dining hall. I was scared but I was grateful to be there. I was trying to not feel so alone but also trying to keep my head down and blend in to the background. No one else was seated at my table yet so I stared at this little placard on the table. On one side it had some statistic  about what % of people that went to rehab maintained long term sobriety. I took note of that fact, feeling better about where I was. On the other side was the Serenity Prayer. I had seen the Serenity Prayer before but on this day, in this place it took on a whole new meaning and importance for me! It spoke to my heart. This was the first of many ‘God shot’ moments I experienced in early sobriety. 

As the days went by I found myself repeatedly using the Serenity Prayer to ‘evaluate’ the challenges I confronted. It had a way of making things crystal clear for me. Was this situation something I could change? Was it something I should change? Was it something I needed to ‘let go and let God’? It became the ‘touchstone’ I used anytime something disturbed me.

Today, I still find solace in that prayer. It is the ‘Benchmark’ for me when I am questioning how I am handling any given situation. It reminds me that I am powerless over people, places and things.  It reminds me where my responsibility is in a given situation.  I am not the one in control. I am not God! It has taught me to ask for help and then trust the process. It has also brought me closer to my Higher Power. 

The Serenity Prayer is a tool I have found useful in nearly every situation life has thrown at me.  It helps by returning me to a feeling of peace so I can focus on what really matters in the present moment. The 3 lines in that one short prayer have altered my life in ways I never could have imagined!

Do you have a particular tool or prayer that has been significant in working your program? You are invited to share on that or any other topic that will help keep you on the road to recovery.

Thank you for letting me be of service this week.

Cheryl Baughman

July 9: Let go + Let God = Peace

Topic for the week:

“Peace is possible for me only when I let go of expectations. When I’m trapped in thoughts about what I want and what should be coming to me, I’m in a state of fear or anxious anticipation and this is not conducive to emotional sobriety. I must surrender – over and over – to the reality of my dependence on God, for then I find peace, gratitude and spiritual security.” Daily Reflections, p. 197, And Letting Go of It.

Or anger or frustration or contempt or despair. When I’m trapped in thoughts about I/me/my wants/needs/deserves/entitled to’s…well, I’m miserable. And chances are good my misery will slop out onto you. Self-centeredness is sloppy stuff. It complicates everything, doesn’t it? It’s a fascinating thing, having been in the program for a while now, to be able to recognize this about myself thanks to the Steps, not wanting to be mired in my ego pit, and yet, there I be. Eventually, sometimes quickly sometimes slowly, I realize that I’m trying to tread water in quicksand, and I holler for help. Friends in the program, my sponsor, anything from the archives of AA, but the ultimate authority in these situations is always HP, my God.

Example in point: my husband is a depressed, active alcoholic; my sister, for whom I am guardian, is mentally ill and in declining health; my daughter is getting married in September, a ‘destination wedding’ here in WI from their home base of San Diego, CA. Lots of fragile plates spinning on the top ends of thin sticks like some kind of magic trick. It’s my job to keep them spinning or they’ll surely come crashing down and shatter, so spin I must. Right?

Well, no actually, Julie, neither the plates nor the sticks nor the spinning are your job. These are real life people with real life challenges in a spinning, often off-kilter world. My job is to recognize that God’s in charge, not me. My job is to come alongside my husband and love him in the midst of his disease and depression. Come alongside, not push or pull or persuade, but be present and patient, as God is with me. My job is to love my sister just as she is, same as she has always loved me, just as God has and does. My job is to step aside as my daughter and her fiance plan the wedding of their dreams, not mine, hoping only that God’s invited to the ceremony.

When I let go of expectations, when I stop trying to control people or outcomes, which is impossible anyway, and let it, and them, be, I stay out of God’s way. I stay out of my husband’s, my sister’s, my daughter’s way, and leave room for what will be, despite myself. I respect and honor their individual journeys. When I loosen my grip and let go, the tension and stress and anxiety and fear can slip from my grasp. I’m free to pick up hope, trust, and to hold faith that the same God who carries me has the people I love in his strong arms, too. If I pay attention, watch and listen to what He’s doing, I may even get the opportunity to contribute, if He allows it. But I can’t do that if my eyes are always on me, myself, and I.

Let go + Let God = Peace. A simple formula that proves out every time. Please share your experience, strength, and hope on this or anything that’s part of your sober road journey right now. Thank you for the opportunity to chair this week’s meeting.

Gratefully,

Julie K

July 2: Step Seven

Topic for the week: Step 7
We are all invited to share on Step 7. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 7 ***
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

By the time I finished my 4th and 5th Steps, I was more than ready to change, to have my character defects removed. Without knowing it, I had done Step 6, but I didn’t think I could make the changes that were so obviously needed. Thankfully, the Big Book contained the 7th Step Prayer, and that explained a lot. It was a great relief to know that my Higher Power would remove my defects. What I didn’t realize is that it would be in HP’s time, not mine.

Another thing I didn’t notice right away is that HP would remove those defects that were a barrier to my service to God. HP wasn’t going to remove something just because I wanted it gone. HP would make me useful to other alcoholics first and other human beings second. I learned to rely on that prayer to help me heal and become whole.

Celebrating 27 years means nothing. I still say the 7th Step Prayer every day:My Creator, I am now willing that You should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that You now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do Your bidding.” Of course, I say it in my own words, but the sentiment is the same.

A wise old man in my Virginia meetings pointed out to me that the word “remove” does not mean a defect will be taken away forever. He said it would be set aside. I could have that character defect back anytime I wanted. All I had to do is stop working the program and stop striving to be of service. Soon, I would find myself repeating old behaviors and making the same old mistakes. I might relapse. (Someone else suggested that HP would remove them in the order in which they were killing me.)

When I ask in prayer that HP remove my character defects, I trust that it will happen. But I have to do some footwork. I have to stay aware of what I’m saying and doing. I have to continue to apply these principles in all my affairs. I need to be aware of what others might need that I can give, and I have to give it with love. I have tried to do all of these things since I put down that last drink. I haven’t been perfect, but I have changed. Most of that is due, I believe, to Step 7 and my HP’s willingness to help me a better person.

I’d love to hear about your experience with Step 7. What does the 7th Step Prayer mean to you? What have you done to make change real in your life? Have your character defects been “removed?”

*****************************************************************

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 top 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/

June 25: Resentments/Acceptance – how they go together

Topic for the week:

Resentments / Acceptance – how they go together.

Struggling today.  I know everyone has life stuff that happens, and I know things happen.  I just am a bit bogged down on doing what you say and saying what you do.  I get angry when others don’t do what they say they will do.  Even though I am sure I do it too.

I can either hold on to the resentment or accept and move forward and do the next right thing.   I have to let go, accept what I can and take action to resolve the situation.  Struggling between these two right now.

I would love to hear from all of you on this topic.

June 18: Obsession

Topic for the week: Obsession

For many years I didn’t realize I was an alcoholic. I thought I abused alcohol, used it to self-medicate, ended up binging because I’m not good at moderation, etc. This program has shown me how wrong I was. When I read the Big Book, I felt like it was written about me.

Something that especially stood out was the great obsession of every abnormal drinker being, “somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking” (AA Big Book, page 30). The methods described on page 31 to try to control it, like limiting to beer, never drinking in the morning, taking more physical exercise, I related to so much. I had tried most of those things! (unsuccessfully)

The mental obsession around alcohol was not something I could get rid of on my own. But I didn’t believe at first that a higher power could actually help me to remove this obsession. Regardless, I worked through the steps of AA and tried to trust the process of honesty and spiritual action.

Slowly, I started to feel differently. I never thought I could hang around with people who were drinking and not drink myself. But to my surprise, I have actually been able to do this when I have to. I am no longer fighting to keep myself from drinking, because I just don’t want it.

In the description of step 10, the Big Book says, “by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part” (page 85).

The obsession is no longer with me and I am so grateful for this. I have no interest in picking up that first drink, even when it’s sitting right in front of me. It amazes me. I know that I need to work daily on the program in order to keep this miracle. It is worth working for.

Please share your thoughts or experience with the struggle and/or relief of the mental obsession of alcohol from your higher power and spiritual awakening. Thank you for letting me chair this meeting.

June 11: Step Six

Topic for the week: Step 6

We are all invited to share on Step 6. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 6 ***
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

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 about page 75. 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/

Link to Step Six in the 12 X 12:  https://www.aa.org/sites/default/files/2022-01/en_step6.pdf **

Hi ladies, my name is Emily M., and I am honored to lead us today in our Step Six meeting.

For this meeting, I would like to “read” Step Six in the 12 and 12 together and share what most stands out to each of us, whether it’s quotes from the reading or our ESH around what we are reading or questions we have about the reading. 

These are the quotes/passages that most stand out to me: 

when I became willing to clean house and then asked a Higher Power, God as I understood Him, to give me release, my obsession to drink vanished. It was lifted right out of me.” — pg 63

This is what helps me understand God has the power to remove my defects if I have the willingness to be rid of them.

So far as we know, it is nowhere on the record that God has completely removed from any human being all his natural drives.” — pg 65

When they drive us blindly, or we willfully demand that they supply us with more satisfactions or pleasures than are possible or due us, that is the point at which we depart from the degree of perfection that God wishes for us here on earth.” — pg 65 

This helps me determine what’s an outright defect, what I just take a little too far, and what a natural and ok human desire is.

If we ask, God will certainly forgive our derelictions. But in no case does He render us white as snow and keep us that way without our cooperation. That is something we are supposed to be willing to work toward ourselves. He asks only that we try as best we know how to make progress in the building of character.” — pg 65

So it isn’t just *poof* they’re gone and no work on my part…I need to become willing to “act as if” and practice the opposite of my character defects.

No matter how far we have progressed, desires will always be found which oppose the grace of God.” — pg 66

I am reminded of how the Big Book tells us that we are not saints, that the point is to aim for spiritual progress rather than perfection. I am also reminded that one of the major shifts in recovery is a shift toward humility. 

What we must recognize now is that we exult in some of our defects. We really love them.” — pg 66

This is what makes Step 6 a step of its own. We have to become “entirely ready” to be rid of even our most cherished character defects, and this takes some work from my experience. 

Self-righteous anger also can be very enjoyable. In a perverse way we can actually take satisfaction from the fact that many people annoy us, for it brings a comfortable feeling of superiority.” — pg 67

This is one of my “favorite” defects, absolutely, one I really do have to watch for each day.

few of us can quickly or easily become ready to aim at spiritual and moral perfection; we want to settle for only as much perfection as will get us by in life, according, of course, to our various and sundry ideas of what will get us by. So the difference between “the boys and the men” is the difference between striving for a self-determined objective and for the perfect objective which is of God.” — pg 67-68

This “only as much as will get me by” mindset is a big part of what got me wasted. Just do as little life as humanly possible to get on with the party. I have found numerous times, this does not do me any favors, drunk or sober. The time has passed for half-measures, after all, “they avail us nothing” and this applies to our choosing character assets over character defects, one choice at a time.

The only urgent thing is that we make a beginning, and keep trying.” — pg 68

Immediately getting “into action” does not mean being perfect at it from the beginning, it means finding the willingness to take baby steps in the right direction, the direction we feel would be cooperating versus fighting against the will and designs of our Higher Power.

At the very least, we shall have to come to grips with some of our worst character defects and take action toward their removal as quickly as we can.” — pg 69

Many of our defects, we do wish to immediately be rid of. If we are having a difficult time becoming willing to be rid of all of them, it’s at least a good start to start embracing character assets where we can as quickly as possible. 

Delay is dangerous, and rebellion may be fatal.” — pg 69

It is essential to remember why we are doing this: when running the show ourselves, acting from our egos and our disease, the show never came off as planned, our lives were unmanageable and we had realized only a power greater than ourselves would restore us to sanity. This Sixth Step is vital part of that restoration process we are allowing our Higher Power to perform. 

Please share what most stands out to you as you read Step 6 in the 12 and 12, whether it’s quotes from the reading or  ESH around what you are reading or questions you have about the reading. 

Thank you for the honor of chairing this meeting. The floor is now open for sharing.

June 4: The Waltz

Topic for the week: The Waltz

Hello ladies, TheresaB alcoholic, I was in a meeting recently when several newcomers shared about difficulties they were having. One of our sisters wrapped it up nicely by reminding us of the need to practise steps 1-3 whenever we are faced with an objectionable person, place or thing. It is the foundation of our program.

Steps 1, 2 and 3 are our lifeblood. In Step One, reminds me that complete surrender is necessary, I am powerless over, followed by the admission that our life has become unmanageable, even though I would go down kicking and screaming that it wasn’t my fault, if only …

In Step Two I have to admit that there is a power greater than me. Then I have to admit that I need to be restored to sanity–my alcoholic life certainly was insane, no normal person would live that way.

All that is left is a decision to let God take over. It seems so simple! But I am continually reminded that everything that seems so simple, often requires a fair amount of work on my part. As we say, of course I’ll let go of it but there will be claw marks to prove it.

When I first heard the first three steps referred to as the waltz, it was somewhat disparaging, about being stuck on 1-3. Further down the road, I see it differently now. Just like a waltz, there is comfort in the simplicity of it, surrender, acceptance and action. When I remember to keep it that simple, my life works much easier, I don’t have the resentments or the anger.

How do Steps 1-3 fit into your life today?

Thank you for allowing me the honor of chairing the meeting this week. May you all have a Blessed week.

TheresaB

May 28: Care

Topic for the week: Care

I’m Sophie and I’m an alcoholic, here to lead our weekly topic meeting this week.

Thank you all who are here, to listen or share or be of service in anyway here or to another alcoholic or AA group.

Care, in the form of the loving care and loving kindness I’ve found in AA, is our topic this week. But you are of course welcome to share off topic also, the group just asks it be on matters relevant to an AA meeting and sobriety and alcoholism when sharing to the group.

I’m grateful this week to have celebrated a milestone and have been feeling the closeness of all my sponsor’s words and pearls of wisdom.

The idea of taking care of myself or trusting anything to the care of anyone else let alone a god I didn’t believe in, well those were alien concepts prior to being in AA and my sobriety.

A dear lady called Shirley was my sponsor in NZ for 4 years. She was a huge part of our NZ lives and my sobriety journey whilst there. A longtimer who found AA and got sober in her 50’s, found god eight years later on the surgeon’s operating table during her cancer surgery and died over 40 years sober a few months ago age 97 (she always said she didn’t want to live to 100, and I know she was peaceful and ready to be with her loving god and her dear departed husband). She was Kiwi-Nana to my son who was born in NZ. Her granddaughter was my age, born with a Learning Disability and opened my eyes to life as an adult with an LD. I now work with a group of adults with LD’s.

I wanted to share something Shirley talked about, that was a key to her peace and serenity and her long term sobriety. She showed me her god of loving kindness. The loving care of her god was in her veins. She was a living breathing example of turning each day over to the loving care of a loving god. Every day she thanked that loving god for another day of life and she lived it.

I learned so much from Shirley.

I never have known who or what is around the corner and seeing her live in the loving care of her god is one of the most beautiful eye openers for me in my sobriety.

I wonder what kind of loving care or loving kindness or loving god you may have experienced in your sobriety?

AA has pulled me close and wrapped me in the wings of angel’s when times have been bumpy. The little things; an offer of a cup of tea at a meeting, the offer of a chat over coffee afterwards, the phone call midweek, the emails of support or encouragement or thanks, the sharing with my gratitude gals, the demonstration of how a particular principle or step or page or paragraph from the book might help.

The big things; members walking with me through the really bumpy times, the women in my closer circle, the ones who’ve let me stay at their home when I had nowhere safe to be because I was in yet another destructive relationship but this time sober, the ones who’ve been at the end of the phone or email when I’ve really needed that… so many examples of loving kindness along the way.

If you’re out there somewhere in Grow and haven’t yet felt the loving care of AA I encourage you to be brave and reach out either individually or to the group.

I am constantly amazed at the love there is, I just have to remember to turn towards instead of turn away.

Turning has been a theme of my sobriety. Turning towards is my lifeline.

Loving care for me has been about finding the god of my understanding. And I’ve only found that and continue to find it because I’m sober and participating in AA.

Finding the silver linings, continuing to trust god’s got me no matter what, that the care of god will hold me and my needs will always be met no matter what.

Finding god in the detail, those incredible god-incidences.

The times when I’ve looked back and can see the footprints in the sand or feel that loving angel’s wing.

I’ve included below my favourite lines from our AA literature that to me demonstrate the power that loving care has in individual sobriety, the AA 12 Step program and in this incredible fellowship itself.

“Isn’t it true that in all matters touching upon alcohol, each of them has decided to turn his or her life over to the care, protection and guidance of Alcoholics Anonymous?” 12&12 Step Three p.35

“I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction.” BB Bill’s Story p.13

“the lawyer gave his life to the care and direction of his Creator, and said he was perfectly willing to do anything necessary.” BB A Vision For You p.158

“In fact, the effectiveness of the whole AA program will rest upon how well and how earnestly we have tried to come to “a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.”” 12&12 Step Three p.34-35

“If I keep on turning my life and my will over to the care of Something or Somebody else, what will become of me?” 12&12 Step Three p.36

“We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems.” BB Into Action p.87

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.”” 12&12 Step Three

“We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.” BB How It Works p.59

“We believe there isn’t a fellowship on earth which lavishes more devoted care upon it’s individual members; surely there is none which more jealously guards the individual’s right to think, talk and act as he wishes.” 12&12 Tradition One p.129

“Concept XII. The conference shall observe the spirit of AA tradition, taking care that it never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power, that sufficient operating funds and reserve be its prudent financial principle; that it place none of its members in a position of unqualified authority over others; that it reach all important decisions by discussion, vote, and, wherever possible, by substantial unanimity; that it’s actions be never personally punitive nor an incitement to public controversy; that it never perform acts of government, and that, like the society it serves, it will always remain democratic in thought and action.” BB Appendix, Twelve Concepts short form p.575

Thank you for having me be of service today and this week.

When I got here I was the hole in the doughnut. I trusted enough to copy others in turning my will and life over to the care of god and today, whilst not always easy or smooth, the path lies before me and I get to walk it knowing and feeling I’m cared for and sending that care outwards and onwards to others.

The meeting is now open.

 

May 21: Making Comparisons

Topic for the week: Making comparisons

I was reading in the book Days of Healing, Days of Joy and came across this quote: “Comparisons are odious.” Comparing ourselves to others is something we start doing at an early age. At school we become accustomed to comparing ourselves to others regarding our academic and sports abilities and as adults advertisers love to have us comparing ourselves to others with regard to our looks, weight, possessions, and much more.

In sobriety we might want to compare our progress with others’ progress; it seems especially easy to fall prey to this in the early stages of getting sober – I know I did. I was newly sober in Miami Beach and would be at a meeting wondering how so-and-so could seem SO together when she or he had the same or even less time in the program than I had! I’d get depressed thinking about this, comparing every facet of their appearance, shares, and AA social life to mine, often finding myself coming up short. I’d talk to my sponsor and she would tell me to stop “shoulding” on myself, e.g., stop telling myself I should be x, I should do y, I should have z. Comparing my journey in sobriety to others’ journeys was a complete waste of time, I eventually came to understand, because their sober journey wasn’t mine (and vice versa), and my life prior to sobriety wasn’t theirs (and vice versa).

We share our experience, strength, and hope because as active alcoholics we did a lot of the same things. But even if we didn’t, we certainly felt a lot of the same feelings, e.g., guilt, remorse, embarrassment, hopelessness, and so on. However, even though we share some of the same experiences and feelings, we still have our own path in sobriety. Getting sober seems to me to be a very personal experience even when it’s done the same way, for example, going to rehab. We can relate to one another’s stories of drinking, getting sober, and working the program of AA because there are similarities, but out journeys are each our own. No one has lived the same life I’ve lived, had the same parents, had exactly the same personal interactions I’ve had, just as I’ve not lived anyone else’s life and therefore can’t know 100% accurately what they’ve been through, what life is like for them now, and how they’re managing their sobriety.

A quote by Theodore Roosevelt is apt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I know this is true for me because so often it’s a case of comparing my “insides” with someone else’s “outsides”. Social media is a prime source for this…people posting their best photos, best meals, best holidays, best besties, and on and on….ugh!! I have to remember that even though others have some of the things I’d like to have but don’t, that doesn’t mean I’m any less. I’m okay as I am, right now, and am grateful for what I do have, especially my sobriety. There are those who would give anything to get sober but for whatever reason, they can’t. I’ve been given the best gift anyone like me, i.e., an alcoholic, can be given…truly, I wouldn’t be alive if I had not gotten sober – I’m sure of it!

So, when I start down that road of comparing myself to others I remind myself that I’m sober, I’m healthy, I’m not incarcerated (I could’ve been arrested for any number of things I did while drinking), and I have the love of family and friends (more so since getting sober). I’m extremely fortunate to be where I am considering the life I’ve had and some of the choices I’ve made. And maybe that person I’ve been comparing myself to is also fortunate, or maybe not. Either way, I need to focus on my life, my behavior, my choices, and my attitude. I can live and let live, and leave making comparisons to others as it does me no good.

The meeting is now open. Please share on your experiences of making comparisons. Thank you for letting me share.

 

May 14: Expectations

Expectations.

Prior to getting sober, I did not even understand that my expectations were causing me harm.  I wanted what I wanted and did not care who or what the consequences were, until I did.  Then the self loathing and the pain of my actions weighed me down so badly, I wanted to die.

AA has taught me that my expectations, when not centered with my HP’s will, cause me pain.  Most recently, I realize that my put HUGE expectations on ME.  What I should be doing, how far in my recoveryI should be, how quickly I accept my part and how connected I am with my HP.  My expectations of what I can control and how I can “fix” them are off.  I feel judged by my sponsor.  I feel “wrong” for not simply letting things go and giving them to HP.

I have moments of peace though when I realize that I am exactly where I need to be.  Talking to other women in the program, seeking outside help from professionals and talking to my HP, are helping me get back on track to loving myself AS I AM.

I would love to hear your ESH on this topic.

 

May 7: Step Five

Topic for the week: Step 5  Admitted to God, ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I worried a lot about Step 4, mainly because of how hard I heard it would be.  Of course, it was not easy, but it was incredibly freeing.  My early Steps were done with my most sincere effort and awareness, mixed I can admit, with fear.  I wanted to stay sober and I was determined to do what it takes.

I really hadn’t realized that Step 5 was scary too!  I was told that I am as sick as my secrets and since I buried so many of them so deep, I wasn’t really aware of all of their nature.  But I did know, ‘soul sickness’ as the Big Book calls it.  Such spiritual sickness, fear, isolation from my fellows, and shame were quite apt to make me drink rather than look squarely at myself.  It kept me from exercising the honesty I needed to advance in sobriety.  Once again, I was afraid.  I’d chosen a loving God but my resistance blocked out His love.

I think of Step 5 as the application of the character defects I uncovered in Step 4.  For me, not making the connection allowed me to imagine that I might own the defects, but surely I hadn’t acted on them!  Examples were the way I became enlightened.  I did need the ‘coaching’ of a sponsor with whom I was doing my Step 5 to be assured I was not unique, not the worst, and I could allow myself to recall and say out loud what I’d done in my past.  We are not bad people getting good, but sick people getting well.

I had another misconception.  I assumed that the fifth step referred only to those missteps I’d taken when I was drinking.  That belief would have cut my list in half if I hadn’t learned that the ‘ism of my alcoholism had affected my behavior from early on, way before I picked up a drink.

I came to the rooms very short on trust.  I was sure I was the worst, I was sure that anyone I told the exact nature of my wrongs would blab it all over the neighborhood, and my admission would just send me home feeling worse for even opening my mouth.  It didn’t happen that way.

The quality of my Step 4 and Step 5 improved over the years.  These steps are not one-and-done and support my sobriety all through my life.  Some ‘wrongs’ were not available to my conscious mind for many years.  Some I’d rationalized and left off the list.  And lo and behold, I’d created some new ones along the way!  The 10th Step can keep me out of that muck and mire if I am faithful to examining my actions of the day before I go to sleep.  And owning them.

An example:  It wasn’t so many years ago that I became aware of the need to do a 4th and 5th step on some behavior of the past that had come to my consciousness and began to bedevil me.  It started to make me sullen, depressed, fearful and angry.  I knew it was going to cause me a lot of trouble unless I took action.  That soul-sickness I spoke of.

I had just moved to a new area and had no one to talk to.  I chose a priest whose spirituality matched mine and made an appointment.  My idea, yes, but the closer the appointment came, the colder my feet became.  But I prevailed. I needed help to get out the details, time to cry, time to feel shame. In the process the priest revealed that he too was in AA and was well able to help.  I cried some more.  A huge burden was lifted from my soul.  I was ready to start anew and once again felt the love of my Higher Power who put this person in my life.

When I got home, I was so ecstatic that my husband believed I was having an affair. Never did. In fact, he believes that even today and I have not been able to persuade him otherwise.  The irony of that makes me laugh so hard!  In a certain way it is once again my Higher Power’s sense of humor.  hgz, b.  9/21/84

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

We are all invited to share, at any time this month, on Step 5 and Tradition 5. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives. The traditions are what guide most AA groups. The traditions certainly inform our group conscience decisions and the original structure for GROW. We look forward to your shares.

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, starting on p. 72. 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/

April 30: My AA Savings Account

Topic for the week: My AA ‘Savings Account’

I was given the gift of desperation 10 years ago on April 30th of 2013. I say desperation was a gift because that feeling of desperation is one of the main things that keeps me sober and in my seat in AA.

Now that I have a few 24 hours under my belt it would be easy to let up on my program. It might seem like I’ve ‘got this’ sobriety thing down. I can afford to go to less meetings… I don’t need to be as intense about working my program. That would be my disease talking though! My disease that is just waiting for me to give it an opening back into my life.

As I’ve approached my sober anniversary this year I have been especially focused on re-energizing my program. I was taught  early in sobriety that 5, 10, and 15 years sober can be dangerous year’s for an alcoholic. We get comfortable with sobriety. We get bored and start taking it for granted. If we aren’t careful a relapse might be just around the corner. Because that seed was planted I find myself evaluating my program on a regular basis. I ‘qualified’ once for a seat in the rooms. I don’t want to repeat that process!

Recovery is not a straight line. There will be hard times in our program and there will be hard times in our lives. That’s the way life is. It helps if we accept this and prepare for those hard times. Even after 10 years, I make it a habit to put time into my recovery every day. Developing good habits is like having a ‘savings account’. When hard times come, and they will, I can take the investment I’ve made and work through my problems.

My daily deposits into my ‘savings account’ help build up my faith. I know my faith is weak so I work at strengthening and building up my faith, increasing the deposits into my ‘savings account’. I do this in several ways. I have daily habits I follow. Prayer, meditation and checking in with GROW are the way I start each day. Having daily habits assures me I have something to fall back on in my ‘savings account’. I share regularly in meetings and I do Service when I can. I invest time each day building up strength for the times when temptation comes.

AA isn’t something that you ‘join like I once thought. It is a way of life. If I want to continue to live this life, free from alcohol, I have to work at it each day.

Sobriety isn’t an object that we acquire and then put on a shelf. It’s a never ending journey, one day at a time! I have to take care of it because permanent sobriety is something I will NEVER possess. The quality of my sobriety will always depend on today’s thinking, behavior and my continual deposits into my AA ‘savings account’.

Thank you for allowing me to lead the meeting this week. The meeting is now open for you to share.

April 23: AA is not a cure-all

Topic for the week:

Introduce the Topic of the Week – AA is not a Cure-ALL as Bill See it page 285

I thought that our meeting this week could be from AA Daily Reflection which is the following:

A.A. IS NOT A CURE-ALL

April 23

It would be a product of false pride to claim that A.A. is a cure-all, even for alcoholism.

AS BILL SEES IT, p. 285

In my early years of sobriety I was full of pride, thinking that A.A. was the only source of treatment for a good and happy life. It certainly was the basic ingredient for my sobriety and even today, with over twelve years in the program, I am very involved in meetings, sponsorship and service. During the first four years of my recovery, I found it necessary to seek professional help, since my emotional health was extremely poor. There are those folks too, who have found sobriety and happiness in other organizations. A.A. taught me that I had a choice: to go to any lengths to enhance my sobriety. A.A. may not be a cure-all for everything, but it is the center of my sober living.

I have been in the room’s of AA for quite a for years and I can recall that many people would say that all the answers of recovery are in the Big Book. There was a person who said to me all you have to do is read and live the Big Book-you don’t need to spend the money on therapy, just work the steps and talk with others.

Well, I wish my path was like the path she suggested. It was not, I love this reading by Bill. Why? Because it helped me feel that I was not the only one integrating support/resources to continue on the road of recovery. Being a recovering survivor of sexual abuse and a child of an alcholic home created a walls of protection around me as well as a deep disconnection that took many years to work through. Without the help of a skilled therapist I would not have been able to heal my inner child and learn about other survivorial patterns that I have carried with me for many years- which served me to get through my trauma, and today are being “unlearned” as I learn to connect and care for myself in healthy ways.

As Bill mentioned, being in therapy enhanced his emotional health. I have learned that being in therapy was the first step in learning to take care of myself and has brought me to a place where I can hear that wisdom and gifts that are present in the Big Book of AA (as well as other books related to recovery). I have also come to understand that my practice of yoga, walking my pup, going to meetings, using HALT on a regular basis, and working at connecting with others are all components of a recovery program.

Thank you for attending the meeting and please share what this reflection means to you or what are your thoughts about using additional resources besides the 12 steps of AA to enhance your recovery or talk about what is on your heart today.

Have a good day, and I wish you all another 24 hours of sobriety,

Mary o

April 16: Peace and Serenity

Topic for the week:  Peace and Serenity

My name is Statia and I am an alcoholic.  My life was riddled with fear and anxiety from the age of 6.  Growing up in a split family with alcohol  being abused heavily, my little brain and body were on constant high alert.  Unfortunately, I continued the cycle for 15 years of my adult life.  I felt like I was in a pinball machine most of my life.  Today, by God’s grace, I celebrate 13 years without alcohol.  I can sit still and just be.  That is a miracle!  What a blessing to learn a better way of living that encompasses all aspects of life.  Who knew?

Peace and serenity to all!

Statia 💜

April 9: An Aspect of Life on Life’s Terms

Topic for the week: An Aspect of Life on Life’s Terms

For my topic this week I want to remind myself and you wonderful ladies:
Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. As I write this I am at a crossroads. I am working towards a promotion but the stress levels and current workload are extreme, when I ask for help from multiple sources within the organisation, I get brick walls. I feel stressed and without support. My Ego wanted the promotion, but my body and soul want peace. I know what I need to do… Ive done it before for my drinking. This current path is not my friend. I need to acknowledge the problem and recognise life –  ON life’s terms. Its a get busy living or get busy dying moment here.

I remember the day I knew enough was enough. It was my inner trusted voice. That inner child had reached her limit and cried for help. My first day of self respect. No one else could do it for me. I had to forge my own path. When I was finally in control of my destiny, the results were amazing. No lie, it wasn’t easy…. But…. Its a beaut now.

This current crossroads hasn’t revealed itself fully but I know I need to change something and I trust my inner voice to lead me to something greater.

So Ladies- Over to you… Since you quit alcohol, what else have you been brave enough to undertake?

Thank you for the privilege of chairing this meeting.

*** 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/

April 2: Step Four

Topic for the week: Step 4

We are all invited to share on Step 4. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 4 ***
“Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.”

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 a lot more in Chapter 5, starting on p. 64. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

I’m currently on my second time through the Steps, and I’m finding it much less intimidating than the first time around. Before I got sober, I wouldn’t let my brain go to scary places to do scary things like inventorying my flaws and weaknesses, my resentments and anger. That’s what drinking was for! When I did Step 4 the first time, I was afraid – a fairly permanent state of being for me then – that I’d (a.) forget something and it had to be perfect (of course) or I’d flunk, and (b.) I’d shock the sh*t out of my sponsor and she’d run for the hills screaming. Neither of these things happened. My list wasn’t perfect, (of course,) and I had to fill in some gaps as I reviewed my inventory with my sponsor, including one of the most heinous of my crimes against humanity which I guess my mind suppressed subconsciously at first. And my sponsor didn’t run for the hills, screaming or otherwise! Instead she graciously shared much of her Step Four with me. I was the one who was shocked, because of our many shared or similar experiences. It reinforced for me that I’d found my people, my tribe, the ones who “get” me. Finally, I belong.

This second time through the Steps, I have far fewer qualms about seeking out my flaws, weaknesses, resentments, and anger. Instead of my brain bouncing off these uglies, I’m able to engage and think through them to find understanding and, more importantly, the antidote to the poison they can brew, turning them over to my HP to do with what He will, and making appropriate amends. It’s a cleansing, and ultimately a refreshing, process that will last a lifetime. A prayer that I’ve been saying daily lately asks my HP to illuminate the darkness within me and around me. Where before I preferred to keep the lights off and just fly blind, now I choose to invite the light to see the tangle of cobwebs and the sticky corners so that we, my HP and I, can get to work scrubbing and cleaning, chasing the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, and heart and soul, too. Through the filter of the HP of my understanding and some kind of amazing AA alchemy, those dark places and ugly cancers within me are spun into gold to be shared with other folks. It magically multiplies when I give it away!

What was your greatest fear about Step 4? What has been your greatest satisfaction as a result of it? Please share your experience, strength, and hope around Step 4.

Thank you for the privilege of chairing this meeting.

*** 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/

March 26: Life on Life’s Terms

Topic for the week:  Life on life’s terms

The first topic for me that came to mind was ‘life on life’s terms’ and it’s taken from Dr Paul’s chapter from the Big Book – which is chapter 16 entitled, Acceptance was the Answer.  Here is an excerpt from this chapter:

“For years I was sure the worst thing that could happen to a nice guy like me would be that I would turn out to be an alcoholic. Today I find it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. This proves I don’t know what’s good for me. And if I don’t know what’s good for me, then I don’t know what’s good or bad for you or for anyone. So I’m better off if I don’t give advice, don’t figure I know what’s best, and just accept life on life’s terms, as it is today—especially my own life, as it actually is. Before A.A. I judged myself by my intentions, while the world was judging me by my actions.” 

This is one chapter that always resonates with me in my life which is my sober life now.  Grateful to have just celebrated 36 years of continuous sobriety but it is one day at a time.  I also trudge a lot at times.  I have been sober since my late teens so I have grown up in AA – worts and all.  I have had to go through things without a drink or drug to soothe or compensate or reward me.  Drink was my go-to and living life sober is living life on life’s terms (not mine).  It’s hard sometimes – sometimes hard but I get through it by reaching out to friends in the fellowship and connecting.  I still go to meetings, have a sponsor, and try and be of service whenever I can.  I love AA because it offers the solution and not just about putting down the drink (which of course had to happen first) but AA gives me a solution for living if I choose to show up, work the steps and be of service.

I always tend to share what’s going on with me today as that’s all I have is today.

This month has been very busy with work and life on life’s terms.  I have been dealing with a lot of emotions in particular grief.  My mom passed away from cancer last July.  It was this time last year that we only found out she was ill.  We found out she was terminal in May and then she deteriorated quickly and passed away on July 9th.  My sister and I took care of her in her home the two months before she died and it was really difficult but grateful I was sober and was able to be there.

Life has lots of ups and downs and life is full of new beginnings and deaths and closures.  Grateful to have AA and the tools to always meet me when life delivers ups and downs.  Acceptance was a new concept to me when I came into the rooms and now grateful that it is part of my vocabulary and toolbox.   Look forward to hearing about your experience with life on life’s terms.

 

March 19: Willingness

Topic for the week:  Willingness

My name is Alison B. and I am an alcoholic.  Welcome new gals & congratulations to anyone celebrating a milestone this week.  I actually turn 30 years sober on Monday and I for one, am flabbergasted at this development.  It is almost as if it is someone else’s birthday, not mine.  A different Alison that is somehow connected to me.  (Never mind that I have been hauling her butt to meetings for 30+ years, lol.)

I have been mulling over a topic for a while now.  What popped up for me today is the topic of Willingness.  When I was new to sobriety my sponsor used to say things like;  “Willingness is the key that unlocks the doors for you.”  “Just be willing to try on new ideas.”  “Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness are all you need to make this program work.”

What was that???  What did she just say?  I’m so confused by all of this………that was my take on this AA stuff all those years ago.  It was a bit like listening to someone babble in a foreign language that I did not know!  So, I just kept showing up and not drinking in between meetings.  I trusted in the process.  I have shared in the past how I used to sleep with the Big Book hoping that I might somehow assimilate some of the magical information during my resting hours, as I could not comprehend the stuff I read.  I simply could not focus on the material.  When I was really struggling, my sponsor used to suggest that I pray for the willingness to…………………..fill in the blank for yourself here.

From the Cambridge English Dictionary:

the quality of being happy to do something if it is needed: [ + to infinitive ] She shows a willingness to work on her own initiative.

Throughout his career he has demonstrated a willingness to compromise. Synonyms. desire (WANT)

For me the happy part came later in sobriety, lol.  I was not happy when I first walked into AA.  So, I became willing to take direction, willing to do the work, willing to make amends, willing to clean house, willing to believe in a Power greater than myself, willing to sacrifice, willing to move forward, willing to take inventory, willing to be honest with myself and others, willing to show up, willing to grow, etc.

And my doors opened, and the light came in.  Here I am nearly 30 years later, and I have been given the gifts of sobriety.  I can say that I am Happy, Joyous & Free today.  Happy to seek God’s Will for me.  Joyous at the life I have been given.  Free from alcohol.  There is a solution for any problem that comes up.  And that my friends, is the most freeing of all.  Thank you to all the women who have come before me and illuminated my path to spirituality.  Because, the point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines, and willingness is the key!  It unlocks the door to a new way of life.

Blessings,

Alison B.

March 12: A Day’s Plan

Topic for the week:

A DAY’S PLAN March 12

On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. 

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 86

Every day I ask God to kindle within me the fire of His love, so that love, burning bright and clear, will illuminate my thinking and permit me to better do His will. Throughout the day, as I allow outside circumstances to dampen my spirits, I ask God to sear my consciousness with the awareness that I can start my day over any time I choose; a hundred times, if necessary.”

From the book Daily Reflections. Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. All rights reserved.

Everyday for some time now, I have started the day with taking my dog outside. I used to see this as a bothersome chore, especially in winter months. A few years ago, I decided to change my perspective and look at it as a time to get into conscious contact with my creator and make it into a walking meditation.

Starting my day this way gives me appreciation for small things like the sun, sky, trees, plants, and animals around me. I notice all of God’s creation and that I am a part of that creation and from that space, facing the day seems more manageable. And if my day starts to go south, I’ve realized I can step outside again, immersing myself in Gods creation once again and come back to that peace.

What kind of morning routine do you practice? How do you start your day over if you need to? Where are you able to find conscious contact with your creator when you need it? Or anything else that’s on your heart in relation to this reading or your sobriety, please share.

March 5: Step Three

Topic for the week: Step 3

Hello again, I’m Sophie and an alcoholic.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for having me serve as your Chairperson this week.

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.

Starting with the 3 pertinent ideas on page 60, the a,b,c’s, I became convinced to my innermost self and at depth that I cannot safely drink, that I cannot take that first drink, that I am bodily and mentally different in the way I react to alcohol, that nothing I’ve tried in the past got me or kept me sober and that finding a god of my understanding is my only solution. This was pretty much my learning from the first two steps and the chaos of my life and drinking before AA. These are my foundations to my new sober life. So now at Step Three, where was I? How was I to do this “turning over” business? What was I actually turning over?

My experience is that this step is daily. But that it means I continue to turn to the solution in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous – the 12 steps. Once I start thinking I know best again or that I have to create an outcome or control a person or situation I know I’m back in Sophie’s will. It’s uncomfortable and it leads me into the spiritual malady of restless, irritable and discontent.

But the hope is I can start again at any point. I can reaffirm my desire to stay stopped and to continue to grow in my sobriety. I have reached that turning point so many times in my sobriety in pretty much every area of my life. Sometimes I write to God. Sometimes I get down on my knees. Often I pray sitting down with my arms and hands open. Or I talk to God in the pause before I tackle something new. Or I reach out to another AA or another person. I need to check my thinking and my actions. As my disease of alcoholism lives in my head it doesn’t help to try to do this alone. Better I pray or talk to someone in the program.

I’ve heard the first 3 steps distilled into I can’t, He can, so let Him. If the male word for god doesn’t work I can replace it with my own Them, She, It.

Step Three is me getting out of the way. Me taking my place alongside the god of my understanding. Stepping back to allow that “good orderly direction” to flow through me. Consciously pausing or waiting to allow my Higher Power in before me. Gosh, how many times have I rushed into the day and been coming up against everything and everyone then realising I’ve jumped in the driver’s seat, opened my Book of Complaints Against The World and been hurt or caused hurt.

Today I have AA that gives me choices.

I can say the prayer but it’s the actions I take that show I’m actually letting go of my old ideas, my old thinking and willing to continue learning and growing and practicing in the 12 steps. I can make the decision but without acting differently this step for me becomes lip service and an intellectual neck up exercise.  I want the freedom AA has given others so for me I want to continue to take the actions of the rest of the program.

Before Step Three I needed to have admitted my powerlessness over alcohol, to begin accepting this as a fact about myself and to have something I could understand as a power greater than myself. I couldn’t do that alone. I needed to hear it shared about in meetings by other alcoholics. I needed to ask questions, to read AA literature, to find a sponsor to walk with me.

Saying the Third Step Prayer for the first time with my sponsor was not a blaze of trumpets and angels. It was a turning point. I was doing something I’d never done before. I was seeking and accepting help and guidance from someone in my sobriety journey. I was saying alone I can’t.

I know I’ve turned my will over today when I’m not full of fear, when I’m in the flow of trusting all is well and my needs are met. Often the big things (the elephants) I find easier to turn over whereas the smaller day to day things (the bunny rabbits) can have me tripping over into impatience and anger and self justification or self pity. Watch out for the bunnies!

A program friend stayed with us recently. He used this phrase his sponsor used with him… “have you turned your will and life over to god today? Then what are you worrying about?”. What I loved about this is that it reminded me, in my first two years of sobriety I faced redundancy twice in the same organisation. Even though I was a relative beginner at practising this 3rd Step principle of trust, I had turned my will and life over to my HP, and when the news arrived I was filled with calm rather than dread, with the feeling of being held and looked after rather than cast off into the abyss to fend for myself. And both times things happened that were better than anything I could have dreamt of for myself. Sure it wasn’t all plain sailing but I had program friends, meetings, my sponsor, the steps, god, and I got to experience new things that wouldn’t have happened had I got in the way of god’s will for me. I always say, thank God for AA and thank AA for God. I get carried, held, loved, guided, nourished and all when I trust and get out of the way.

The words of the Third Step Prayer (page 63 of the Big Book) continue to be a core of my daily connection with my God;

If you wish to say them with me I’m including them here.

God I offer myself to Thee 

To Build with me and to do with me as Thou Wilt.

Relieve me of the Bondage of Self, that I may better do Thy Will.

Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of Life.

May I do Thy Will always. 

Amen

I open the weekly meeting for all who wish to share on topic on the Third Step, and off topic for anyone needing to share on anything else related to alcoholism or sobriety. Third Step in the third month…. step shares always welcome, if you miss this week just post your share as off topic. Or if you have a question,  post it as off topic and members will reply to you personally.

Thank you for having me be of service.Growing and loving in Grow, in AA and in life.

Sending out love and prayers and hugs to all my Grow sisters.

Sophie

*** 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 for free online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

February 26: Service in AA

Topic for the week: Service in AA

While I was an active alcoholic I didn’t do much for others or if I did, I expected something in return. When I came into AA my sponsor told me I needed to get involved in AA and doing service was an ideal way to do that. I wanted to stay sober and was willing to do what I was told would keep me sober so I started my service in AA, as many of us have, by making coffee. It was a great way to get out of my shell and actually talk to others instead of hiding in the back of the room, and as I attended more meetings, listened to what was being said, and started to understand the program more, my service commitments expanded to leading meetings, taking part in a local conference, and just about anything else I was capable of doing. Along with not drinking, doing AA service was just as important for this alcoholic as far as staying sober as it got me to meetings, got me to open up a bit about myself, got me listening to others – I found I didn’t know it all 🙂 – and got me to finally feel a part of something that was good for me, that would help me change the deeply unhappy, destructive life I led as an active alcoholic.

There are several reasons service is an integral part of the AA program…why service is one of the three Legacies of AA. For one, Alcoholics Anonymous wouldn’t survive if we didn’t have volunteers and “special workers” to do the work that’s needed to keep the program going, i.e., from organizing a meeting place, paying the bills, coordinating with hospitals and prisons, publishing approved materials, and so much more. In addition, as AA’s co-founders showed, we have to “give it away in order to keep it”, meaning that as members of AA we cannot stay sober unless we give of ourselves – our experience, our time, our effort – to others. As it states in the Big Book on page 89, “To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot in our lives.”

Through the years I have always aimed to do something for AA which includes not only overt service work but also talking with others after a meeting, especially newcomers, or in the case of this online group, responding privately to a member’s share. And I still enjoy making coffee/tea at meetings as I get to meet just about everyone and chat with them for a bit…for me, it’s AA at its most basic. Service has been and I trust will continue to be a fundamental part of my sobriety…there is no AA without it and I know I can’t stay sober without AA. I need AA because sobriety is much more than just not drinking – it’s a way of life that I want to maintain and the only way to do that is to practice the program and take an active role in it, i.e., make service part of my recovery.

Service work may seem burdensome but speaking for myself, my sobriety has been enriched and strengthened by the service work I’ve done as a member of GROW. It does take time, which some of us may feel we don’t have, and other things such as effort, patience, etc. which some members may also feel they don’t have but as with so much in AA, when we give, we get something in return.

Here is the link to ‘AA’s Legacy of Service’, by Bill W. It’s an excellent read and will, I hope, inspire you to consider increasing your service to GROW and AA as a whole.

https://www.aa.org/sites/default/files/literature/assets/p-44_AAWSlegacy.pdf

For this week’s meeting, please share on your experience of service in AA.

Thanks for letting me chair the meeting.

Michele R. (former GROW secretary)

February 19: Prayer

Topic for the week: Prayer

Over the last couple years in this program, I’ve learned how important prayer is–part of the 12 steps, a way to surrender and let go of control, ask for guidance from a Higher Power, quiet the mind and focus on gratitude. When life gets so busy and my brain gets crazy, I need to remind myself to continue taking care of my spiritual self. When I get stressed out, I tend to only think about my mental and physical issues. The AA Big Book (page 64) says we have not only been mentally and physically ill, but we’ve also been spiritually sick. “When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” The spiritual does not come easy to me, I need to work at it.

Prayer is the way I’ve stayed connected to my Higher Power and stayed sane while being sober, and the meeting topics the last couple weeks (step 2, letting go) helped me realize that I haven’t been spending as much time on prayer lately as I should. Besides the Serenity Prayer that I can use anytime throughout the day, I had created a morning/evening routine of prayers to keep myself grounded and connected. I’ve been making more of an effort to keep to that routine.

One of the prayers on my list that I find helpful is, “God, please direct my thinking today so that it’s divorced from self-pity, dishonesty, self-will, self-seeking, and fear. Guide me through the day and show me my next step. Give me what I need to relax and take care of any problems. I ask these things so I’m of maximum service to You and to the people around me. Amen.”

How do you use prayer in your recovery and in your daily life? I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for letting me share,
Katie

February 12: Letting Go

Topic for the week: Letting go

I’ve never been good at letting go of what I want, what I (think I) need, and what I love. Alcohol was something I wanted, felt I needed, and loved because it made me forget my life, at least for a little while. When I was told I was an alcoholic and that I would need to give up alcohol in order to get sober, I was aghast…I had never, ever, contemplated life without alcohol.

However, when alcohol took so much more from me than it gave, when it made me want to kill myself rather than face my life each day, when it made my life so very unmanageable, I was finally willing to let it go. I’d got to the point where, if I continued to drink, I was going to die (I’d fallen down stairs more than once and had driven in a blackout), I’d end up in prison (I’d already been arrested once and spent a few days in jail), or I’d end up in a psychiatric ward with a mind so totally gone I’d probably never be released.

As it turned out, giving up alcohol saved my life; it actually gave me a life worth living. But it was scary letting go of something I relied on so much, which is why I started to rely on my Higher Power rather than my own self-will. I couldn’t have let go of alcohol without turning to my Higher Power, and then AA, for comfort, strength, sanity (little by little), and much more.

Even so, letting go of alcohol was only the beginning of letting go of the other things in my life that made it unmanageable and stressful. In order to gain some sanity and serenity I had to learn to let go of some people in my life who didn’t want what was best for me, some places that made me think it might be okay to take a drink/drug, situations I had no control over, and everyday stuff that just wasn’t worth getting stressed out about (I’m still working on this!).

I’ve found that letting go of alcohol (& drugs) and what I can’t control eases my mind and soul, makes me more loving to others, and aligns me more closely with what I believe my HP wants for me and wants me to be. Letting go gives me so much!

Please share on your experiences of letting go, or whatever is on your mind regarding sobriety.

Thanks for letting me share.

Michele

February 5: Step Two

Topic for the week: Step 2

We are all invited to share on Step 2. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

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

Hello Ladies of GROW, Welcome to our newcomers and congratulations to those who have celebrated a sobriety birthday to this date. Today’ our meeting is on Step Two. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

When I was re-reading step two there are three words that stand out as I read about the step in this moment.  The first word is CAME. I would like to talk about this word at the end of my share. The second word is POWER. I believe when we talk about a POWER greater than us refers to someone or some force that is much wiser than I am and provides guidance to the elements for the universe. In addition, when I ask my HP for the strength, grace, and guidance he does. Furthermore, my HP helps to keep, maintain my level of sanity so I can be of service to those who need it as well as keep me living a sober life. Yes, I must do the leg work, but my HP is always with me.

The third word is SANITY.  I know when I read the word sanity, I immediately thought about insanity which I was taught as doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Like going out to drink and thinking that I would not black out or get drunk-I think we all know how the evening went, right. Or turning to my biological family thinking that this time they would be there for me which never happened – it was like trying to put a square peg in a round hole. For years my kid within keeps thinking and feeling that this time would be different. Today I understand that they are who they are, and they are not able to connect as a family and this inner wound has healed over time.  So today when I say the word sanity, I think of peace with oneself, with the trauma of the past, a connection with my HP and/or a sense of harmony with my program.

The first word CAME TO I would love to end this share by saying that I simply came to believe that my HP could restore me to sanity the first time I read this step. When I came to recovery/AA, I believed that there was a HP who I call God. Where my block was thinking and feeling that he had it out for me. That I was on his I will mess with you list. It has taken time but deep within my heart I believe my God never wanted to mess with me, life happens, and he has always been there leading me back to a life of sanity, a life of recovery.

Please share how step two works in your program today? What does Power mean to you? What does Sanity mean to you?  Or share what is on your heart.

Thank you for listening and attending today’s meetings.

Hugs

Mary O

January 29: One Day, One Hour, One Moment at a Time

Topic: One day, One Hour, One Moment at a Time

In just a few days (God willing!) I will be celebrating 8 years of sobriety.  When I think back to the very beginning of this journey, I recall being a white knuckler – i.e., it was a struggle to just get through the day.  Between 4pm and dinnertime was the hardest because this was when I would normally dive into my liquid serenity, just to ‘take the edge off’.  For many years, I would only skip this ritual if I was in a place where alcohol just wasn’t available.  By design, I didn’t let that happen often.

So these 2-3 hours every day were challenging to say the least, the ‘edge of life’ was very hard to deal with booze-free.  Going out for dinners with family members that made me anxious and reaching for the drink was especially challenging.  I would watch everyone order their drinks and have myself an inner pity party, green with envy.

What got me through that first year was two things. First, I kept my hands busy with a hot cup of tea instead of a wine glass, and second was the expression that I read and heard a lot: take it one day at a time.  I had to dig a little deeper during the rough hours, telling myself if I can just get through this one hour or this one moment, I could make it to dinner and then eventually to bed without alcohol.  Honestly, if I had to accept that I would never be able to drink again I’m not sure I would have stuck with it.

AA is filled with so many helpful people and tools, but I’m so grateful that I had the sense to focus on this concept of time in the early days.  That is truly how I managed to stay sober. I’ve learned so much more on this rich journey, but were it not for the simple basic lessons learned at the beginning I might not be here today. And, I’m happy to report that with enough days, hours, moments of sobriety, my knucles eventually returned to a healthy skin tone 😊.

Wherever you are in your sobriety journey, how important is taking life one day, one hour, one moment at a time?  I’m ready for your stories ladies!

Grateful for all of you,

Susan P.

 

January 22: Personality Change

Topic for the week: Personality Change

“It has often been said of A.A. that we are interested only in alcoholism. That is not true. We have to get over drinking in order to stay alive. But anyone who knows the alcoholic personality by firsthand contact knows that no true alky ever stops drinking permanently without undergoing a profound personality change.” [As Bill Sees It; p. 1]

I have two daughters, both grown now. When my youngest was in college, and before I was scheduled to arrive for a visit, she was describing me to a friend and said, “Mom can be … “‘extra’.” (I know this because her friend is now my friend, too, and she told me!) I, of course, thought: “Oh, like, extra fun, extra cool, extra sweet!?” Came to find out that “extra” meant “over the top,” as in “buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!”

My emotional life before sobriety was a roller coaster, for me and anyone who breathed in my general vicinity. I felt my feelings screaming out loud and flapping my arms in the air. Sobriety has gifted me with the temperance of my emotions. Sober, I have the bandwidth to feel my feelings rather than zoom past them in a blur, process them from the stable foothold of the Steps, and to respond rather than react. I’m off the emotional carnival ride!

My youngest and I were looking at her sister’s wedding pictures recently, and she said, “Mom, you look like a completely different person now.” That’s because I am a different person – not completely, but I’m on my way.

What has been the most profound personality change that sobriety has gifted you? Thank you for the opportunity to chair and share.

Gratefully,

Julie K

January 15: Connections/Passing it on

Topic for the week: Connections / Passing It On

Hi again, I’m still Mari Ann and I am an alcoholic.

I woke up in the middle of the night last Monday filled with awe and gratitude at being 35 years sober and that it has been connections with other women in the program that made it possible.

I was a loner my whole life. Growing up I waited for the spaceship from my home planet to swing down and retrieve me because I sure didn’t belong wherever I was.  Once I went out on my own, I learned to like being independent and alone.  Fast forward to decades later when I was in treatment. The topic in one of the group sessions was the slogans. The one I was given said “you never have to be alone again”. Yeah, right.   I preferred being alone, I wanted nothing to do with you people.

That was then. Two events in recent months made visible to me just how different my life is today.  Last October I attended a dinner/meeting where one of my sponsees spoke on her actual 25th soberversary.

One of her sponsees caught my eye and gestured from me to my sponsee, then to herself, then to her sponsee who then pointed to her sponsee and ultimately to that one’s sponsee. Six levels of sponsoring at one large table. Six levels of one woman passing her experience, strength and hope to the next in the desire to stay sober herself!   It still gives me goosebumps.

The second event was this week when a local woman celebrated 45 years the day after my 35. I wrote a card to her in which I explained that she, at about 5 years sober, attended a meeting crying about how awful she felt because her son had been killed in an accident and she wanted to drink so badly that she came to a meeting instead.

I wrote how her example – at that meeting – inspired my own sponsor (who was newly in the program) to stay sober too. As my sponsor said, “If that woman could stay sober after her son was killed, I had absolutely no reason to justify ever picking up a drink again.”

My sponsor celebrated 40 years last October also.  It was only after listening to her share at a lot of meetings, I came to the conclusion that she had probably faced all the same kind of demons that I was facing and she stayed sober so maybe she could show me how to do it. At which time I asked her to be mine.

Putting all that in the card made me shiver with awe and gratitude again for the miracle of one woman, daring to be honest and share her truth at meetings to save her own sobriety, actually wound up saving many more.

I am richly blessed with a host of women I can call on locally, across the country, and a few who’ve been godsends from overseas. Every single share I read or hear adds something to my own recovery. Every phone call, WhatsApp text or call strengthens another connection.  You may not know me personally, but you have enhanced my own program and recovery every time you share.

One of my wise women said she really liked a hardware store ad because of how well it fit the AA program. The ad said “You can do it; we can help”.

May Serendipity bless all of you for all of you helping me.

<done>  <=== from the old chat room meetings

 

January 8: Practicing Gratitude

Topic for the week: Practicing Gratitude

My name is Karen and I’m an alcoholic, sober today through the grace of God and AA. Welcome to all.

My efforts to incorporate a daily practice of gratitude ebb and flow. My life feels particularly challenging right now and I know it’s a time I need to be vigilant in my sobriety. Practicing gratitude is something I can do every day and even though it seems such a simple thing, I know that when I’m in a state of gratitude I’m not going to dark places in my head.

Like many of the tools we learn about in AA—aren’t we the lucky ones😊—practicing gratitude can be a powerful tool for anyone. Studies have shown that people who tend to be more grateful have more brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the area associated with learning and decision making. The effects can be long lasting and people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed. A focus on gratitude can take the focus off those toxic emotions of resentment and envy that this alcoholic tends to gravitate towards.

I love this quote from author Melody Beattie ~ “ Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity … it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

I struggle with keeping up a conscious gratitude practice. I know that it’s a journey, not a destination. I know that real gratitude is feeling the emotion, not just saying “thank you” or “I’m thankful for” without any real feeling attached. I’ve tried to keep a gratitude journal and will keep it up for a while, but it can start to feel rote.

In the past months I’ve realized that for this alcoholic it was time to put a gratitude practice front and center. I’ll share a few things I’m trying to help me consciously bring more gratitude into my life.

Sometimes I read what I have written in my gratitude journal aloud. Just as writing it in the journal helps me FEEL it more than just thinking it, saying aloud what I am grateful seems to help me be more present with the practice.

I like to meditate and find the ambience I create can really add to the practice—lighting, a candle, music. I’ve tried this with my gratitude practice a couple of times when I’ve needed something more and it’s been powerful. Kind of a meditative mantra of gratitude.

My children are grown and when we are together at Thanksgiving we spend some time saying what we are most grateful for in the past year. This idea came from the kids and it’s something we all love; the sharing is heartfelt. When we share our gratitude with others it helps us feel connected. For me, that helps with both acknowledging that yes, sometimes my life is tough but I’m part of the shared experience of humanity. Expressing gratitude for what I have to others and expressing gratitude for what they give me helps me to feel connected and I know isolating in grief is not a good place for me to be. I hope to make this practice more than an annual one and am thinking of all the people that are important to me and how much I have to thank each of them for. My goal is to send a couple of these hand-written expressions of gratitude in the mail each month. For me that extra step of making it more than a text or email will help me really think about what they have brought to my life.

Ladies, thank you for listening to me. I would love to hear from each of you on how you practice gratitude.

Tight hugs,

Karen H

January 1: Step 1

Topic for the week: Step 1

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

I was in complete denial until the very end of my drinking even though there was ample evidence demonstrating my complete powerlessness over alcohol. I believe I was an alcoholic from the first drink; I was a prime candidate considering I had a strong desire to escape reality as often as I could starting at about age 12. I turned to drugs first as they were, oddly enough, easier to get. But by the age of 17 I could pass for 21 – the legal age to drink in Pennsylvania in the late ’70s – so I started hanging out in bars with people (most of whom were a lot older than I was) who drank like I did.

I liked alcohol because it allowed me to come out of my shell and “be myself”, or so I thought. I cultivated the image of a bad-ass who was reckless, refused to obey authority, and could out-drink anyone. The reality of the situation was that I slept with friends’ boyfriends, I stole items from friends and stores (and got arrested for that once), I had no plan for my life so I drifted from job to job and place to place, I wallowed in self-pity most of the time and when really drunk I often cried, and I had almost no people/social skills, which was most evident when I was drinking. I was filled with remorse, embarrassment, shame, and unhappiness most days so I drank to make it all go away, not seeing that I was only making matters worse.

I remember once sitting in a bar, alone, looking at all the bottles behind the bartender and the thought came to me that I wanted to have them ALL…all of the 70 or so bottles of alcohol that were in front of me! It didn’t occur to me that it wasn’t normal to think that way. I remained in denial for about ten years, until the day I woke up/came to one morning after blacking out – again – and heard a voice in my head that said, “That’s it.” I’d woken up not knowing where I was and was trying to get dressed when I heard this voice. I thought, what does “That’s it” mean? I heard it again, in the same measured tone, and knew instantaneously that I was an alcoholic and that if I continued to drink I’d end up in a morgue, jail, or some kind of institution. After figuring out where I was, I took the train home and within a few days called George, a guy my mother had been seeing who just happened to have six years of sobriety. I’d been to an AA meeting with him two months prior to this but it had had no noticeable affect on me. But the voice did, and I can only think it was my HP doing for me what I could not do for myself.

From that day in August 1989 until now I’ve never doubted I’m an alcoholic, thankfully. My sobriety date is April 8, 1991 though because I continued to use drugs until April 7th; it wasn’t until I eliminated all mind- and mood-altering substances that I truly got sober so I changed my sobriety date to reflect this.

My life was unmanageable for a long time and a severe case of denial prevented me from seeing the cause – alcohol. Accepting Step One was such a relief; I finally knew what the problem was! And knowing the misery, confusion, and difficulties alcohol causes in my life has made it relatively easy to refrain from picking up a drink. Once in a while I get flashbacks regarding things I did while drunk and I inevitably shake my head and wonder how I could have done such a thing…that wasn’t the “real me”, it was the “drunk me” and I don’t want to be that woman again. Starting with Step One, I’ve learned who I really am, I’ve learned to live life on life’s terms, I’ve learned to think more of others than of myself, and so much more. Alcohol took so many things from me, important things, but sobriety has given me some of those things back. But I could never have started on this road to recovery if I hadn’t accepted my powerlessness over alcohol – this was the key to everything as far as my sobriety and following the AA program.

We are all invited to share on Step 1. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 1 ***
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

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 – the Big Book opens with Bill’s Story (which details how one of the A.A. founders found that he was powerless over alcohol and that his life was unmanageable) and I think Chapter 3, “More About Alcoholism” talks about this in detail. 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/

December 25: Bill W Christmas Message

Topic for the week:

Bill W Christmas Message

Greetings on Our 10th Christmas, 1944

Yes, it’s in the air! The spirit of Christmas once more warms this poor distraught world. Over the whole globe millions are looking forward to that one day when strife can be forgotten, when it will be remembered that all human beings, even the least are loved by God, when men will hope for the coming of the Prince of Peace as they never hoped before.

But there is another world which is not poor. Neither is it distraught. It is the world of Alcoholics Anonymous, where thousands dwell happily and secure. Secure because each of us, in his own way, knows a greater power who is love, who is just, and who can be trusted.

Nor can men and women of AA ever forget that only through suffering did they find enough humility to enter the portals of that New World. How privileged we are to understand so well the divine paradox that strength rises from weakness, that humiliation goes before resurrection; that pain is not only the price but the very touchstone of spiritual rebirth.

Knowing its full worth and purpose, we can no longer fear adversity, we have found prosperity where there was poverty, peace and joy have sprung out of the very midst of chaos.

Great indeed, our blessings!

And so, Merry Christmas to you all—

from the Trustees, from Bobbie
and from Lois and me.

Bill Wilson

December 18: Settling Into Peace

Topic for the week: Settling into peace

I recently celebrated 3 years of sobriety, and it feels so sweet.

In my drinking years, I thrived in chaos. Anytime there could’ve been peace, I actively sought out problems, stress, anything to keep my adrenaline up and have a ‘reason’ to keep drinking. I loved being the victim. Life was never fair and I was always happy to tell you about it.

In sobriety, I have hated and enjoyed the process of cleaning up my past. Just recently, I did  a couple of big amends, and I’m settling into the calm that follows cleaning my side of the street.

The last few years have been a struggle financially, but I’ve been putting in the work to stand on my feet again. That part of my life is coming together. So now, I’ve suddenly found myself in a place of peace. It feels weird, but for the first time in my life I don’t want to fight it. I know that everything passes and there will be new/different stressors that come and go, but I am enjoying this sense of calm while it lasts.

I’m still uncomfortable with having down time sometimes. My brain has been conditioned to always be productive. I’m making a point to move slower through my day, take time to read, and spend time with people. It feels odd and I still have so much to learn about living this way. The steps, my sponsor, and my sober sisters have truly guided me through many growing pains. I am definitely not the same person I was when I came into this meeting in 2019.

Thank you for being here,

Sarah M.

Dec 1, 2019

December 11: Acting As If . . .

Topic: ACTING AS IF . . .

 

My name is Louise and I’m a grateful alcoholic, sober through the grace of God and AA today. Welcome to the newcomers.

 

Tomorrow I celebrate 40 years of living this way. I am filled with awe that I’ve stayed sober and not wanted a drink all this time. Actually, I still had the obsession for alcohol for the first 7 months but I didn’t have to drink. Since then the problem has been removed: “we feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality– safe and protected.” P 85 Big Book. No matter what tragedies have unfolded, I have not wanted to drink. That blows me away because, of myself, I’d be drunk as a skunk at every opportunity. So it’s a case’ of ‘of myself, I am nothing—the Father doeth the works’. Translate that into whatever belief system works for you.

 

When I first surrendered to my disease, and attended meetings, I soaked up all the suggestions that came my way through meetings and through the literature. I was teachable for the first time ever.

 

One of those suggestions, given me by my sponsor and by other revered old-timers was “act as if”. No matter how I felt, they said, I was to act as if the opposite were true. If I felt hopelessness, I had to act as if there was hope. I just couldn’t see it –yet.

 

If I was resentful of my mother, who in my mind was responsible for so much angst in my life, I was to go make her a cup of tea and keep it buttoned. And instead of yelling at her, I’d make my way into the kitchen…

If I felt small and not of importance to man or mouse, I was to ignore that “stinkin’ thinkin’” and act as if I was a child of God and had a right to be here.

If I felt people didn’t like me (well, how could they, I was unlikeable in my head), or didn’t treat me the way I thought they should, I was to pray for them and act lovingly towards them in small ways.

I was told to open my mind to the possibility that my thinking was all skewed. God, that’s so hard when you’re accustomed to believing all the tripe your mind tells you…

 

A story the great Clancy Imislund often recounted has stuck with me. When he got sober, his sponsor asked him “What’s the colour of that wall?”

 Clancy immediately replied “It’s blue”. 

His sponsor yelled back at him (Clancy was a pretty arrogant know-all, like I was and maybe you were or are) “Well, I want you to ACT AS IF it’s blue!”

 

Now if I see a green wall (my old ideas) and am told I’m wrong, that it’s really blue (new ideas) and to act as if that were true, well, that’s pretty hard to do… But I was willing … and still am today. I use this when my head is causing me grief and telling me something that I suspect is not quite true!

 

These are just some examples. If you were or are like I was, your head would be stuffed with old ideas that kept you a victim. In my mind, I’d been hard done by all my life. Given a raw deal. I clung on to these ideas like grim death.

 

But the new ingredient in the mix was my honesty, open-mindedness and willingness. With a Higher Power now part of the equation, things began to happen. I began to change. In spite of myself…

 

I was told I couldn’t think my way into a new way of life. That if I took action, my thinking would follow later! So I’d get up every day, hand my life over, attend meetings, get into service of all sorts (cleaning the AA room was one of the first), go through the Steps with my newly found sponsor and leave the rest to God as I understood God.

 

I began to act as if there was a Power who loved me, that I was lovable, that I was a good person, that the world really did have meaning only I had missed it due to the deadly disease of alcoholism, that other people really were good for the most part, and that I could be a part of, not apart from. I acted like this even when I didn’t believe it. And I began to see a pattern.

 

This new way of being began to bear fruit. At least some of the time I’d feel lovable, be conscious of a loving Presence guiding my life, and I’d connect with other people in a way that I’d never really done before. Larger possibilities opened up. Life started to feel as it was precious where before I’d contemplated suicide. And that has been only the beginning.

 

I’ve heard it said that for the believer in Something, life constitutes an ocean of doubt. .  . when life’s problems surround me, I don’t have a certainty about it all. I struggle in that ocean and somehow, so far, I act as if that God of mine is in charge of it all.  I’m told that there is a space, an interplay, between my thinking and my actions. My thinking catches up with my actions.  I’m rewarded by experiences that tell me it all makes sense.  Somehow, acting as if is the only way that grants me access to the truth. This is an action program.

 

Ladies, I look forward to hearing your experiences of acting as if. But feel free to share on anything you need to.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Hugs

December 4: Celebrating in Recovery

Topic for the week: Celebrating in Sobriety

I chose this topic for several reasons. It’s the holiday season and this Friday, December 9th, will be my belly button bday which will be my 30th sober bday.

Before I got sober,  celebrating with booze was the highlight of my month.  Bday, Hanukkah, Christmas- I celebrated it all,  any excuse.

Early sobriety was tough because of the muscle memory of alcohol use.  But as I learned that I could celebrate sober and how much more fun it was to remember the party and wake up not hung over,  it got easier.

Today,  I love to celebrate with friends and having parties full of good food and fun games and regular old punch or soda. I have a plan of escape if I need to leave an uncomfy situation. I have phone numbers to call if I feel squiggly. I bookend AA meetings before and after if need be.  I have a tool kit I can pull from.

How do you celebrate/plan to celebrate the holidays in sobriety and what’s in your tool box to ensure having fun and safe guarding your continued sobriety?

Thanks for letting me be of service–

 

November 27: What Service means to me in my recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous

Being of Service and what it has meant to my sobriety.

 

Dr. Bob, one of the co-founders of AA, often said, “Love is Service in Action.”

I was fortunate to belong to an active Home Group where service commitments were strongly encouraged.

 

After I had been sober about a month, my Sponsor suggested I get two service commitments a week. One would be at my Home Group and the other would be at another meeting I regularly attended. She told me the importance of Service was for the following reasons:

·      It was an important factor in feeling a part of; and for an alcoholic whose default position is feeling apart from, this would make a profound difference in my recovery.

·      It would keep me coming back to meetings on the days when I didn’t want to come to meetings.

·      It would teach me about responsibility, about the importance of being accountable to the group- that I was never to miss my commitment and if some calamity should be-fall me and I did miss, it was up to me to contact another AA member to fulfill my commitment; I was to call the Secretary and let her know I wouldn’t be at the meeting and who was filling in for me.

·      It would help me to get to know the faces in my meetings and just as I would get to know them, they would get to know me. She told me this was important because Alcoholics tend to isolate. If I was not attending the meeting, other regular members would call to check on me. Also, she said, I was to check on them if they weren’t present.

 

Service became another tool of my sobriety. I was taught by my sponsor to ask the Secretary for a commitment and ask, “Where can I be of service to the meeting? The Secretary would tell me what commitment I would have.

 

I was in my first year of sobriety and we were rotating commitments. I asked the Secretary what commitment is available? She said, “cleaning the women’s restroom.” Oh my. I was so offended! I didn’t say anything but went directly to my sponsor and told her. My Sponsor asked why I was so offended. I said, “Cleaning the bathroom is beneath me!” She said, “I think that would be the perfect commitment for you then. Your ego will thank you later.”

 

One more story on service and then I’ll stop.

 

 I was at the same meeting a couple of years later and a friend of mine who was new to the group was called on to share. He went on a tear about the meeting, he said he didn’t feel a part of, and everyone was in cliques at the meeting. Another member was called on to share after this and said, “if you’re not feeling a part of, ask yourself if you are taking the action to be a part of.” I have never forgotten that. Whenever I feel apart from at a meeting, it is imperative I self-inventory and question myself, “Am I giving to the meeting rather than taking?”

 

TOPIC: “What Service means to me in my recovery in Alcoholic Anonymous”

 

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you my experience, strength, and hope! Great blessings to each of you.

 

Kim O’Connor

July 1, 1990

November 20: Self-medicating

Topic for the week: Self-medicating

I have learned so many things from this program, about alcoholism and about myself. I know that I am powerless over the first drink and that I must have spiritual help in order to stay sober. I need to quit trying to play God and turn to a higher power for guidance. Above all else, no matter what happens, just don’t take that first drink. “We are without defense against the first drink.” (AA Big Book, page 24)

When I was first sober, that was all I focused on. Just don’t drink–each hour, each day. As the days and hours went by, I realized the other issues I had to deal with that contributed to my drinking, such as anger against my mother, trying to be in control of everything around me, fear of failure. Once the blurriness of being drunk and hungover was out of the way, I could see these things I had to work on to heal myself.

Recently, I was diagnosed with ADD. This was a relief after 30 years of being told it was hormones, too much work, depression, etc. I have more understanding now of why I have felt and behaved in certain ways, and I can work on it. This complicates my alcoholism, because I realize that part of why I was drinking in the first place was self-medication.

For me, and maybe for some of you, it’s not so simple as just not drinking. That is key, but to know that I will actually stay sober, I need to deal with the dual diagnosis and underlying issues that could cause me to drink again. With dual diagnosis (when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously), there is a mental or neurological disorder that may require medication or therapy, and without that, it’s possible I could turn again to self-medicating with alcohol.


That is what I’ve been dealing with and learning about the last couple months. What are your experiences with dual diagnosis, or other underlying issues that caused you to self-medicate yourself with alcohol? I look forward to hearing your shares. Thank you for letting me serve the group with this meeting.
Katie

November 13: 5th Step – Completing the housecleaning

Topic for the week: 5th Step, Completing the housecleaning. pp. 72-73, ‘Into Action’ chapter, BB

Time after time, newcomers have tried to keep to themselves shoddy facts about their lives. Trying to avoid the humbling experience of the 5th step, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably, they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness & honesty, in the sense that we find it necessary, until they told someone else their entire life story.

I remember my first 5th step. I was terrified. I felt that no one I’d ever want to talk to had done some of the things I’d done. What saved me was p. 74, where it says that we can go to clergy, a psychologist, a doctor, a close-mouthed friend, or a family member, and I’ve heard of people approaching a total stranger that felt ‘right’. On pp. 74-75, it mentions approaching the person by explaining what we are needing to do and why, which makes them receptive to listening seriously.

I used a couple of different people for different parts of my story. For one part, I had to hide my face in my hands as I spoke, my shame and fear of rejection were so strong.

There are still a few degrading things I did while drunk that I rarely discuss unless it can be helpful to someone else who is struggling with the same or similar bits of personal history.

The biggest thing I learned from the 5th step process was that I had not committed a single original sin; therefore, I was still a part of the struggling human race. For the first time, I felt ‘a part of’ something rather than ‘apart from’ everything. AA’s 5th step gave me permission to join the world I’d excluded myself from with my drunken behavior and thinking.

Please share your experience with doing a thorough, fearless & honest 5th step, or what is holding you back from doing so.

October 30: Darkness and Light

Topic for the week: Darkness and Light

Ladies – Thanks again for allowing me to host. In this part of the world, the nights are getting longer and I am seeing less and less of the Sun. Being Irish with my pale skin I yearn for the Sun to feed my vitamin D mood… In these winter months, my mood can take a turn, my motivation lessens and like hedgehogs and groundhogs (for you American folk…), I don’t want to go out…

I take comfort in warm fires, electric blankets and fluffy coats. But I also look to these emails, my nightly readings, my step 10s, my online meetings, new ways to reach out to others, my sponsor.

When my brain needs a break, I watch tv, read a good book, learn something new, put furniture together….

Bottom line, If I am not AAing, I am keeping busy…. Because I know, if I don’t… I can enter the bottle and Ill never get out…

So my question for you, as the days get colder and the nights get longer, is how do you deal?

Thanks for taking the time to read this 🙂

October 23: Patience, love and tolerance is our code

Topic for the week: Patience, love and tolerance is our code.

Last night at my home group, a woman I have seen come in and out, was obviously under the influence. She sat in her seat, mumbling, swaying, eyes half open. She would say some random words, but generally not too disruptive. I felt my heart rate speed up. I was trying to so hard to focus on the speaker.

The woman started getting louder and making comments. I repeatedly asked her to be quiet. I sat there telling myself she has every right to be here, so long as she’s not disturbing the meeting. It was awkward and uncomfortable. A minute later, she shouted out something terrible to the group and I said “Ok, that’s it, time to go.” I stood up and with the help of another woman, we got her outside.

We were trying to find out how to get in touch with her mother, to get her a ride home, she was belligerent, trying to get back into the church, screaming, she raised her fist, and grazed my jaw, trying to hit me. It was scary, sad and disturbing. One of the men came out and sat with her and calmed her down.

We ultimately called EMS. Her mother came up as she was getting into the ambulance. The look on her face was so sad. She looked defeated, scared and sad.

After they were on their way, we went back to the meeting, just in time for the Lords Prayer.

It was the first time that I experienced something like this in my sobriety. It was a reminder that I must be diligent in working on my recovery. My last drunk landed me in an ambulance and the hospital, just like this woman. I know the most I can do is pray for her.

As I drove home, I was thinking of my former sponsor (who also recently relapsed) thinking that she taught me that patience, love and tolerance is our code. While I felt selfish (annoyed) that I missed my meeting, I knew that I was responsible for helping this woman and I was grateful to grow in patience, love and tolerance. There before the grace of God, go I.

Please share on patience, tolerance, love or anything that might be on your mind.

October 16: Acceptance, getting what we need vs getting what we want

Topic for the week:

I have been thinking a lot about this quote on acceptance that can be found in Alcoholics Anonymous (commonly referred to as the Big Book), pg 417 of the Fourth Edition:

“When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, 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.”

There have been many situations I have been struggling with the last few years, particularly a sense of a lack of control over my own time. It feels like there’s not enough time to do all that’s on my plate. At the same time, I’m struggling with the sound of the clock ticking, because I am aging and so are many of the people I am closest to.

As is described in the Big Book (p 60), as alcoholics we want to be in charge, arranging the lights as we see fit, even dictating what others say and how they act.

It’s a grand illusion though. I am not in charge. And that’s probably a good thing.

Early in sobriety, I learned a powerful lesson and that’s that even though I don’t always get what I want in recovery, I always, always get what I need.

Another important lesson I was taught is that alcoholics have only one problem and that is the disease of alcoholism; everything else is just situations.

Alcoholism is a cunning, powerful and baffling illness that wants all of us dead. Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for sobriety.

It’s important whenever I’m feeling disturbed that I ask myself, “Are you getting what you need today?” I have found that the answer is always yes.

I also remind myself that when I’m not getting what I want, a power greater than myself has a better idea.

Accepting that everything is playing out exactly the way it’s supposed to, even if it doesn’t make sense at this time, is an important key to sobriety and serenity.

This week I invite you to share on acceptance, getting what we need versus getting what we want or any other topic you feel moved to share about.

Together we can do what none of us can do alone.

Thank you all for being part of this group and for letting me lead this week.

Hugs to all who need or want one.
Valerie D
DOS 2/8/88

October 9: The A B C’s

I’m Sophie, an alcoholic.

I’m aware we’ve had lots of new ladies join us in recent months. I wanted to bring a topic to the meeting to share something that helped me when I was new in AA and new to the idea of sobriety. 

I found I loved reading the AA Big Book, especially the stories in the back. Those chapters in the back, I could read by myself and they made sense. I related. It slightly scared me but I could see easily lots of similarities despite often glaring differences too. The words in those chapters soothed me. Especially at night, alone and lonely and scared and unable to sleep in those early months. 

But one of the sections in the earlier chapters is one that began to make sense in those early days and continues to be a huge help now. 

When I need to recentre or regroup myself, the a,b,c’s in Chapter Five make a huge difference to me. Re-reading these simple statements sum up the core of who I now know today I am.

In those early days I kind of felt it but the words were in my head. Then as I gave AA and the fellowship, the people, a chance to enter into my heart those words became an anchor. So I’m sharing them here today…. 

“Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.”

Is there anything in these statements that helps you today or has helped you? 

Today I apply the idea of “no human power” far beyond just my alcoholism. But in the beginning that was enough and that’s what AA exists for after all. And today I know the solution to all my problems lies with the god of my understanding, the Higher Power I found here. Anything I don’t address with my program and with the god of my understanding has the power to affect my sanity, my serenity and and my sobriety. 

I love the phrase “personal adventures” and I often wonder if the newcomers here might need a little more of our before and after stories as they settle. I know for me I got so much out of hearing how things were different for people in their sober lives. Speaker shares online are the main way I connect to hearing peoples Experience Strength and Hope shares these days. And, past the initial identification of losing the power to control how often and when or where I drank, what brings me so much is hearing the miracles of this program and of god at work in the lives of fellow alcoholics. 

The word “sought” reminds me its up to me to take the action to move towards god. And then I find the peace and serenity and sanity I need and guidance to know the next right action and courage to take it. 

How have the a,b,c’s helped you in your sobriety or in your life? Do they continue to help you? 

I’ve needed the reminder that no human power could have helped my alcoholism and that the god of my understanding is there for me. I can apply this to all aspects of my life and to my AA home group. I’m here to serve and my primary purpose is to stay sober and help another alcoholic. 

The meeting is open for sharing from anyone in GROW.

Please share on topic, the a,b,c’s or off topic related to alcoholism or sobriety as you wish.

The meeting is yours. 

In love and fellowship and with warm hugs.

Thank you for having me be of service.

Sophie 

October 2: Step 10

*** Step 10 ***

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

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 in the middle of page 84. 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/

As a Catholic, the Tenth Step can feel routine to me. Apologizing for sleights was second nature, to the point where I wondered if my amends had any meaning. But then I realized that I wasn’t going deep enough. It was easy for me to apologize and make amends for the easy stuff (i.e., sorry I didn’t respond to your email more quickly, sorry that I missed your call, sorry that dinner was late, sorry, sorry, sorry). But it took some work to make amends for the harder stuff (e.g., I am so sorry that I was not there when you needed me; I am so sorry that I treated you like an object and not my partner; I am so sorry that my choice had a negative impact on you).

I knew that I was really working my Tenth Step when the people to whom I was trying to make amends either needed some time to process my amends or still have not offered them. Some of the things I did in my drinking days (and even more recently) have really hurt people and as a result, people have drawn boundaries. In the past, those boundaries would have really hurt me and I would have done anything for someone to forgive me. But now I realize that the purpose of the Tenth Step is for me to have an awareness for how my actions impact others and if they have a negative impact, I need to be accountable. For me, the gift of the Tenth Step is that accountability, not whether someone forgives me. I cannot make anyone forgive me -(that’s up to them and their higher power) — but I can strive to be the best person I can be.

I went to confession yesterday and at the end, the priest told me to keep coming back, that the purpose of going to confession on a regular basis was not to achieve perfection but rather to keep on trying to be a better person. There’s a lot of similarities between what he said and the Tenth Step — as recovering alcoholics, we don’t strive for perfection — we try to be better people, one day at a time.

If you are looking for a tool to help you on your Tenth Step journey, check out the “My Spiritual Toolkit” app. I am grateful to my sponsor for introducing this app to me, as it includes nightly and spot check inventories. And yes, these tools have helped me go deep. 🙂

September 25: Self-confidence, before and after sobriety

Topic for the week: Self confidence before and after sobriety

When I was using I had no self confidence at all, not one speck unless I was loaded. Everyday was a merry-go-round of what-ifs and how things were always my fault. I was always trying to fix things, trying for other outcomes. I was absolutely paralyzed with devastation if someone didn’t like me or blamed me for something. The self recrimination and self abuse was round the clock if I was not drinking. Alcohol has me so beat down I did not feel I deserved better, I was a worthless excuse for a person. Everyone was going to see what a fake I truly was. So pour on more alcohol to numb that feeling which always came back even stronger when I sobered up.

I do not feel that way today. Working the steps in sobriety, I have slowly gained self respect leading to self confidence and self love. Each worked step not only put the thought of a drink farther and farther away, it also brought about a spiritual and mental change. The many gifts of this program permeate into every aspect of my life, attitude and personality. I no longer grovel and beg you to love me. I do the right things which lead me to be proud of myself. I don’t need others and alcohol to validate me today, I am whole. I have self confidence in my life now. If I don’t have the answer to a problem I can go to my HP or others in the program for direction and advice. Even after that, if something does not go well, I know that day is still a success because I did not drink and stayed close to my program.

I celebrate an anniversary soon and upon reflection I realize that more miracles come to me each day.

Please share about your journey to healthy self confidence in the program or anything else you need to talk about today. Thanks for letting me lead.

Lynn

September 18: What It Was Like (My Early Days in A.A.)

Topic for the week:  WHAT IT WAS LIKE (My Early Days in A.A.)

I’d vowed I’d never drink.  Surely I wouldn’t be an alcoholic.  I was afraid of drinkers and they made me mad.  However…well, you know.  Celebrating a sober anniversary, I try to explain.

I was a late starter but soon realized I was proficient at this thing called drinking.  Perhaps not even getting drunk, I thought.  LOL!  Early on, I’d perfected my character defects. They did yield to some inhibitions.  When I drank they were full blown.

There came a time when the frequency and progression of my drinking sped up.  One day I couldn’t stop at all.  I was scared.  I called an ex who was in the Program who took me to counseling. I was sent to AA.  I thought it was a mistake but what else could I do?  When I got to that church basement I was bewildered but felt at home.  I am an inveterate people watcher.  I watched and listened to everyone.  I  really couldn’t make sense of what was happening.

Nothing seemed like it would stop my drinking.

I had to agree, I was powerless over alcohol.  My life surely was unmanageable.  But I stopped drinking on the spot. The obsession was lifted. I have no idea why.  For sure I didn’t make it happen.  Without alcohol I couldn’t stand the emotional pain and thought I’d die.  I was losing my mind!  This one was beyond me.  Now what?  I had long dropped the ‘god’ of my childhood for non-performance!  I tried to make that work but it just didn’t.  I didn’t know where to turn.  I couldn’t deny there was ‘something’ out there. If I coulda, I woulda!

I came to the rooms with a smattering of spirituality.  I think that for a long time the group was a power greater than myself.  All these people doing what I couldn’t.  So many of them found a god they liked.  I considered trying one of theirs.  A most amazing chapter of  ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, our Big Book, We Agnostics, Chapter 4 explains it all. I’d have to stay in this limbo for a while first.

I was a poster child for the first 3 Steps.  I saw them as one chunk of a step.  I was there for a good while.  Slowly the message began to seep in.  I was in wild emotional pain but I didn’t even want to drink.  I just wanted to get better from the hurt and rage that drinking alcohol powered. I found out that I’d had one of those nice Higher Powers who looked after me all along, but who was just waiting til I settled somewhere in life to finish the job.  I understood that.  I continued to marvel at the meetings and how others managed their lives without drinking and not giving up.  And every meeting gave me more hints.  It started to work.

Sometimes I still read How It Works again to find out just how indeed it did work.  You know, like the details. I know it was a MIracle-but what in particular helped me stop drinking at that meeting. Right there.  I only just arrived.

I am forever grateful, a day at a time.  I guess newcomers look at me and wonder too.  That’s okay.  It’s part of the process.  Maybe my experience, strength and hope will help.  September makes me think about things: the month I was born, the month I got sober. That’s what it was like.  I would never have imagined. So glad I’m here.  What were your early days like?   What a gift to join with all of you today!  hgz, b.  9/21/84

September 11: Joy of Sobriety

Topic for the week:

Last week, Hilarie L’s share on AA’s history included Dr. Paul’s Interview, excerpted from the July 1995, issue of Grapevine. Here’s a quote from Dr. Paul’s interview:

*I got a couple of friends together and we started a “joy of sobriety” meeting. It’s a one-hour topic discussion meeting and it has to be a topic out of the Big Book and it has to be on the program and how you enjoy living the program.*

I’d like to suggest that this week’s meeting be a “joy of sobriety” meeting! We often discuss working the Program in order to continue living a sane, sober life. Sometimes that work can feel like drudgery, like with that mythological guy Sisyphus forced to roll a humongous rock uphill for all eternity (or is that just me?!) There were no rewards in store for Sisyphus, but there are huge payoffs for us when we do the work. Joy is just one of them.

Here are some of my deepest joys, courtesy of AA & working the Program:

– knowing that I know that God’s got me right where I need to be…sometimes I may not feel it, but I know it

– when I know my place, I’m right-sized…rather than thinking less of myself anymore, I think of myself less – in a good way

– learning to know when I need to make amends to re-right myself, because I own my life…I’m no longer a victim or a saint

– I accept & respect that you own your life, so my focus stays where it should, on my own business & not yours

– it’s not my job to fix or rescue everything or anyone…what a relief!

– I can respect the woman in the mirror, remembering where she was, where she is today, & where she has the potential to be tomorrow…I even like her

– my daughters know these things, too…& they love me

– I’m a living example for them of what is possible…the good, the bad, the ugly, the insane, the restored, & the hopeful

– the joy of hope…Andy, a character from The Shawshank Redemption said, “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, & no good thing ever dies.” Turns out my hope wasn’t dead after all 🙂

What are your joys of sobriety? Please share them with us! Thank you for the opportunity to chair today’s meeting. It’s been my privilege & pleasure.

Gratefully,

Julie <3

September 4: Step 9

Topic for the week: 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.

Making amends….not something I was familiar with while an active alcoholic! It’s a good thing I went through the Steps starting at Step 1 as I surely couldn’t have done Step 9 if I hadn’t done the other Steps in the order in which they’re written – there’s just no way. I wouldn’t have had an understanding of what it means to make amends, I wouldn’t have known who I needed to make amends to, and I wouldn’t have had the calmness of spirit to understand that making amends to those I’ve hurt is for their benefit and also mine. For me, it’s the step that allows me to begin being of service to others by cleaning my side of the street, trying to mend broken relationships and therefore finally making an attempt to connect with others in a meaningful way (i.e., not just to get something from them), and starting the process of forgiving myself for what I’d done while an active alcoholic.

I don’t know that I consciously made the decision to do this – it may just have been that they were the ones I was in contact with most often – but most of my initial amends were made to family members. It wasn’t easy; I found myself getting choked up due to nerves, wondering how the person I was making amends to would react, if they’d be angry, and so on. But every time after making the amends – every time! – I felt SO much better…truly, it felt like a weight had been lifted from me. In making my amends I tried to remain focused only on myself and my part, which wasn’t easy when it came to my parents. In all honesty I don’t think I did a good job when it came to my mother; she was a single parent for much of my childhood, raising my older sister, brother and me. However, it’s not too late to “update” my amends as she’s still alive and well, and I’ve certainly made a conscious effort to live my amends to her by being a helpful, honest, loving daughter, none of which I was when I was actively drinking.

One of the first amends I made was to a former employer; as an undergraduate I worked part-time in a convenience store. While at work I’d occasionally take a soda or an iced tea, I’d eat a sandwich (I worked in the deli area sometimes) and I’d often take the Sunday newspaper insert that had the comics, TV guide, grocery store coupons, etc. I didn’t pay for any of these things. Because the company is a large one with many locations I didn’t feel that making amends to the manager of my store was appropriate, after all, he didn’t own the store. I discussed it with my sponsor and we came to the decision that I’d write to the office of the company’s president and, along with my written amends, I’d include a check for the estimated amount of money I owed for all the items I stole. I sent the amends and check, and about two or three weeks later I came home from work, listened to my phone messages (this was long ago, in the days before cell phones) and there was a message from the secretary of the company’s president asking me to call her. I thought, shit – they’re going to press charges! I shouldn’t have sent the letter!

Once I’d calmed down and remembered that we make amends in order to stay sober and leave the outcome up to our HP – I have no control over how my amends will be taken. I called the secretary, and with numerous fearful scenarios swirling around in my head, I told her who I was and that I’d received her message. She then told me the most wonderful thing; her boss had read my letter and was overcome with gratitude because his wife had just begun in AA and he was so happy to see what AA might do, could do, for her. The secretary couldn’t thank me enough for sending the letter, and it was I who was saying “You’re welcome.” several times throughout the conversation!  Now granted, not all of my amends have been like that, but this one is such a great reminder to me that I never know how my honesty and willingness to work the program will affect others.

I know this is a long share but I’d like to mention one other amends. I happened to be in Paris a number of years ago and was in a park when I turned around and thought I recognized a man as someone I owed amends to. I wasn’t sure so I hid behind a tree and tried to get a better look at him. I was pretty sure it was him so I started to think about what my amends were as I really hadn’t expected to ever see this guy again – I didn’t even remember his last name even though I’d shared an apt. with him (and another friend) in San Francisco for about six months in the mid-’80s

As I was trying to recall what I’d written on my 4th step, it looked as though he was leaving the park. I started to debate in my head whether or not to go after him…I wasn’t exactly thrilled to have the opportunity to make amends, and while on vacation in Paris! I kept hiding behind the tree and debating until it was clear he was definitely leaving. I thought, Michele, you made a promise to yourself to go to any lengths to stay sober and here is your chance to make amends to Scott – you may never get this chance again! So, I made the split-second decision to go after him and after walking up to him (he was waiting at a bus stop) I excused myself and asked him if his name was Scott; it had been about 20 years since I’d seen him so I wanted to be sure I had the right guy before making my amends. He smiled and said, “No.” I said, “Oh, okay.”, and walked away, laughing at myself for being so nervous when I didn’t even have the right person! I never confirmed this, but I think the guy I spoke to was an English actor as a few months after this incident I saw a program about British spies in France during WWII and one of the male actors looked just like the guy I talked to, and this actor looked a lot like Scott.

For me, making amends for the things I did, or didn’t do and should have, while an active alcoholic has released me from much of the self-hate, guilt, and overall negative feelings about myself I carried around for many, many years. And as I mentioned earlier, it has allowed me to start connecting with others in meaningful ways, ways I’d never been able to before due to my selfishness and dishonesty. Making amends is still somewhat difficult for me, but knowing the benefits of making them is what keeps me willing when the opportunity arises. As for Scott, our paths have yet to cross, but I remain willing 🙂

Thanks for letting me share. Please share on your experience with Step 9.

August 28: Service

Topic for the week: Service

When I first joined the program, I had this lofty vision of what service was — being a sponsor, chairing a meeting — all things I could not imagine doing in my early days of recovery. Working the program to keep myself sober one day at a time already took up so much time and effort — how on earth could I find the bandwidth to do more? As I did my 90 meetings in 90 days (over Zoom during the pandemic), I heard old-timers talking about what service looked like in in-person meetings: making coffee, setting up chairs, cleaning up.

But what does service look like in a virtual world? Responding privately to someone who posted to provide words of encouragement. Sharing reflections in response to the weekly topic. Volunteering to be a greeter to respond to prospective new members. Volunteering to lead a meeting. I wasn’t ready to do any of this until I reached the 12th step. And what I found was that I was indeed ready — I just needed time to work the steps and let the miracle unfold so that things would happen in my Higher Power’s time, not mine.

What does service in AA look like to you? What are some of the challenges you face in your service? What are miracles you have seen unfold as a result of your service? The floor is open to your thoughts and reflections.

August 21: Fear or faith, which is it to be?

Topic for the week:  Fear or faith, which is it to be?

“This short word (fear) touches about every aspect of our lives. It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us great misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling? Sometimes we think fear ought to be classed with stealing. It seems to cause more trouble.

Perhaps there is a better way–we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns, Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.” (p.67-8)

Hello all, TheresaB alcoholic here. This has been the most common thread for me this year, I keep hearing “which is it? He either is or He isn’t, the choice is mine. Do I allow the fear to overtake and pervade my life, or do I act on faith even when I am not feeling it?

For me the solution is to pray, incessantly until the fear leaves me. Some nights I fall asleep saying God, God, God ad infinium. It is very unsettling to have all these days of sobriety and still question the basic premise of our program. Intellectually I have faith but every so often doubts overwhelm me and I am faced with the basic question, which is it to be? I know the answer even when the path is unclear.

How do you face your fears and how do you overcome them? Thanks for letting me chair, the meeting is now open and I look forward to your responses

August 14: Integrity

Topic for the week: Integrity

Integrity, noun.

  1. The quality of being honest and having moral principles; moral uprightness.
  2. The state of being whole and undivided.

(From: Oxford Languages online dictionary)

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to be of service! I got sober in this meeting nine years ago Tuesday. And this week I realized that the greatest gift of sobriety has been learning to act with integrity.

I had a growth opportunity last week–standing up for myself. I was scared to do it, and I did it anyhow, because that is what you taught me to do.

The response I got surprised me. The person thanked me for being so clear and honest. And I realized that it was very difficult to be clear and honest when I was drinking and trying to hide my behavior and my real self from everyone because I felt ashamed and/or entitled!

Before I got sober I lied in order to manipulate outcomes, even when I had nothing to hide. I felt entitled to act without considering others. I stole from my employers and the government, and refused to take care of myself. I farmed that out to partners, boyfriends, my parents.

Integrity is what I feel every time I act despite fear in order to take care of myself, every time I take action in a way that reflects my values and my sobriety. When I see myself giving to a sponsee or someone I’ve never met without thinking “now you owe me something,” I feel as though I have won the lottery. Who is this person!? She’s me. And I’m so grateful.

What does integrity feel like for you? What is the greatest gift sobriety has given you? I’m looking forward to reading your shares!

The meeting is open. Have a beautiful day!

X

Kirsten

August 7: Step 8

Topic for the week: Step 8

We are all invited to share on Step 8. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 8 ***
“Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all”

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 top of page 76.

I have experienced this step once myself, and I appreciated that it didn’t just leap right into making the amends. I love how the 12 steps in AA take each part of what is being done and focus on just that – become willing, make a decision – before acting. It ended up feeling less overwhelming than I had imagined (I guess most things are).

Step 8 came after the action of asking my Higher Power to remove my shortcomings (listed during step 4). So next would be making things right with the humans in my life. The list of all persons I had harmed was included in that step 4 inventory list, so I already had the starting ground.

I had to take a look at my list of people, and become willing to make amends. What would that look like? The Big Book says, “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.”

For me, having a plan helps with anxiety and at the suggestion of my sponsor, I took each person one-by-one and figured out the best course. Just planning it out – Who could I make amends to without harming them, who could I not make amends to because they were dead or no longer in my life and not willing to contact? (For them, I decided the plan would be to write a letter and then throw it away.) Who could I start with first, and who would come later? Having a plan helped me to be less afraid of the action to come in step 9 and it helped me to become willing. And able to complete step 8.

Please share any thoughts or experience you’ve had with this step, how it has helped you, and any challenges you’ve gone through. I look forward to reading your shares. Thank you for letting me serve the group.

Katie S.

July 31: 4 horsemen and bedevilments

Topic for the week: 4 Horsemen and Bedevilment

July 30, 2022

Hello ladies, Welcome everyone to this week’s meeting. Also. Congratulations to those who have celebrated an anniversary in the month of July.

I can not take credit for this week’s topic. Last week Hilaire sent out an email about the four horsemen and the 8 bedevilments. Being honest my first thought was where did she read this in the Big Book because I don’t remember this. Then I felt embarrassed having all this time in the rooms of AA and not knowing about the terms four horsemen and the bedevilments. Yep, so I spent a short period of time in my head (which is not a good choice to make putting myself down). After talking to another person, I was able to take a step back and re-read the book and did some additional reading.

It was said that they used the 8 bedevilments are yardstick as to whether the person was going on a spiritual level. Will here is a short summary of the four horsemen

Four horsemen

Four Horsemen are said to be terror, bewilderment, frustration, and despair which describes the alcoholic at the end of his/her drinking “career”. Boy, I can relate to being at this stage the despair for me was so consuming.

 

8 bedevilments of AA

The AA Bedevilments

1 We were having trouble with personal relationships

2 we couldn’t control our emotional natures

3 we were prey to misery and depression

4 we couldn’t make a living

5 we had a feeling of uselessness

6 we were full of fear

7 we were unhappy

8 we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people.

 

Now I looked at the 8 bedevilments of AA and it was said that alcoholics would use this as a yardstick about how well the person was living the spiritual principle of the program. It is also said which I agree with that the four horsemen and 8 bedevilments can describe the state of any member who does not practice a life of rigorous honesty and practice this principle in all our affairs.

I have taken time to look at the four horsemen and can say that since I have put down the drink these behavior patterns are quiet, far in the distance but if I step away from the program they will return with force.

As for the 8 bedevilments, coming into recovery I would have had yes to all but making a living. For some reason I was able to do this. As a matter of fact, my career gave me a purpose in life to live for a very long time.  I still struggle with developing personal connections, being happy, and feeling useful. To be fully honest at this moment, I feel like I am in time square (in NYC, I grew up on Staten Island) and I have no idea which way to go, a sense of emptiness. This state will be worked out in time. I have the tools at my feet, I connect with my HP and I have to accept that life is filled with ups, downs and everything in between.

Where are you at with the four horsemen and 8 bedevilments? What do the four horsemen and bedevilments mean to you? How do you keep your spiritual growth of the program progressing whether you have a little time in or a lot of time in? or please share what is on your heart.

I wish you all another 24 hours of sobriety

Hugs

July 24: Instincts

Topic for the week:

“CREATION gave us instincts for a purpose. . . . these desires— for the sex relation, for material and emotional security, and for companionship — are perfectly necessary and right. . . . Yet these instincts, so necessary for our existence, often far exceed their proper function. . . . Nearly every serious emotional problem can be seen as a case of misdirected instinct.” pp 42 Alcoholics Anonymous

My greatest challenge in sobriety is not not picking up a drink. That desire has been taken away, thank God. But understanding where my instincts/needs/rights end and yours begin does not come easily to me. Finding a healthy balance, setting appropriate boundaries, is a slippery slope, tricky sticky stuff. I know that I can never drink alcohol, but I don’t have the right to tell my husband that he can’t, even though he’s had his own battles with the bottle and I’d feel better if he’d abstain. I know that my most important job is staying sober, that I need to do what I need to do and invest the time and effort to continue to grow and serve to remain sober, but not to the exclusion of meeting my other responsibilities in my home and community. I know I need your companionship to walk this sober road with me so that we can help each other stay between the white lines, but not to the point of neglecting my God, my spouse, my family and my other friends, or even myself. What is a healthy margin and what is encroachment? What is sufficient, when is enough, enough? What is compromise and what is caving in? What is sober, and what is selfish? I am learning, thanks to our Steps, to feel/sense/identify when I’m stumbling into the emotional/instinctual danger zone, but I don’t always know, honestly still often don’t know, where the actual border is, or where to set the fence.

Do you have similar challenges in learning about and maintaining healthy margins of integrity with your instincts? Please share them with us. Or share how your own sober journey is challenging, or rewarding!, you right now.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve our group. Thank you!

July 17: I am enough

Topic for the week:      I am enough.

Hello my Ladies of GROW

I have chosen this for my Topic today for many reasons, particularly as it has become a daily affirmation and a truth I now believe.

When out there rockin and reelin, I never felt like I was good in any way, let alone enough.

Today, because of the program of AA, and the fellowship of wonderful people like you, I get to be enough each and every day, and gratefully sober on top of it.

Gone are the days and feelings of “only”  ~  right/wrong    good/bad    enough/or not     on top/at the bottom  black/white      and are replaced by greys and lavenders and middles of the road. Stability, consistency, accountability, responsibility and kindness have taken their place.

I am so fortunate and in gratitude. Thank you for letting me be of service. Taylor D.

Please share on your “enoughs” in your life and recovery today.

July 10: How To Handle Sobriety

Topic for the week:

 “To Handle Sobriety” (Story on page 553) –

“But above all, it [AA] taught me how to handle sobriety” (p. 558)

”How do we do it? By learning—through practicing the Twelve Steps and through sharing at meetings—how to cope with the problems that we looked to booze to solve, back in our drinking days.  For example we are told in A.A. that we cannot afford resentments and self-pity, so we learn to avoid these festering mental attitudes.  Similarly, we rid ourselves of guild and remorse as we “clean out the garbage” from our minds through the Fourth and Fifth Steps of our recovery program.  We learn how to level out the emotional swings that got us into trouble both when we were up and when we were down.

We are taught to differentiate between our wants (which are never satisfied) and our needs (which are always provided for).  We cast off the burdens of the past and the anxieties of the future, as we begin to live in the present, one day at a time.  We are granted “the serenity to accept the things we cannot change”—and thus lose our quickness to anger and our sensitivity to criticism.

Above all, we reject fantasizing and accept reality.  The more I drank, the more I fantasized everything.  I imagined getting even for hurts and rejections.  In my mind’s eye I played and replayed scenes in which I was plucked magically from the bar where I stood nursing a drink and was instantly exalted to some position of power and prestige.  I lived in a dream world.  A.A. led me gently from fantasizing to embrace reality with open arms.  And I found it beautiful!  For at last, I was at peace with myself.  And with others.  And with God.” (p. 559).

July 3: Step Seven

Topic for the week: Step 7

We are all invited to share on Step 7. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 7 ***
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

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 top 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 personal take on this Step is evolving as I grow in this program.

In my home f2f group this morning, we read and discussed this step from the 12 & 12.  So much of what is written refers to humility, and quite a bit of what was discussed around the room was related to humility.  One person reflected that “Humility does not mean to think less of yourself, it means to thinks of yourself less.”

The reading of the chapter ended with the person before me, and I was on the spot to start the discussion portion of the meeting.  I admitted that I often “demand” rather than “humbly ask” God to remove these shortcomings.  However, over time, this has changed somewhat and as I ask, I also ask to be shown how to make the changes necessary to replace the shortcomings with positive characteristics.

I consulted a therapist for a period of time several years ago, and she started me on the tool of journaling.  I hated it at the beginning, but it has become a very useful tool that is definitely part of my recovery.  I sometimes find that as I write down my thoughts and thought processes, my HP is showing me where I need to make changes, and some of the ways I can actually make the changes.  I often squirm under this guidance, but I know that it is for my betterment.  I am finding that I am truly learning from these moments.

Many of the changes that are taking place happen as a result of my HP showing me a change in my attitude.  The key of willingness is definitely involved here.  I have to be willing to co-operate with my HP in changing my attitude.  I cannot do it on my own.

How are things changing for you as you work this Step?  I look forward to reading your shares.

Pat S  DOS:  06 July 2012

June 26: The Gift of Desperation

In just a few days, I will have been sober for 26 years. This is for me a miracle and beyond my understanding. I drank for more than three decades before I made my first attempt at quitting. But even then, I wasn’t ready. I wanted to drink more than I wanted to stay sober. It was as simple as that. I loved being drunk or high more than anything else in life. I wasn’t ready to give it up. My first go-round in AA lasted 15 months. I always knew I’d drink again, but I acted “as if.” I got a sponsor and did the Steps through Step 5. But Step 6 was a step too far. I wouldn’t admit to character defects. With my low self-esteem, I thought I was just one big character defect, and there wouldn’t be anything left if a Higher Power removed it. So, I walked away from AA, vowing never to return again.

Little did I know that alcohol would drive me back to the rooms. After five more years of heavy drinking, my disease had progressed to the point where I was truly enslaved by alcohol. I was making very unwise life decisions. I’d gone from party animal to solitary drinker. My mind was occupied with all the wrongs that had been done to me over the years. I was drowning in self-pity. I was cut off from other people and from God. I was alone and miserable. I wanted nothing more than to die, but I didn’t have the courage to do it.

Then one night, a power much greater than me showed me what I had become. I was full of anger and capable of violence. I was in a rage. An invisible mirror dropped down in front of me, and what I saw shocked and terrified me. I couldn’t be that middle-aged, raging, drunk woman another day. It was time to go back to AA. But I didn’t believe I could quit. I had no hope. But I’d run out of options. AA was the last house on the block. So, I went to a meeting. I have not had a drink since that meeting almost 26 years ago. I know now that I had been given the gift of desperation. I was desperate not to be the woman I’d seen. Never again.

Because I was desperate to change, I was willing to do what people suggested – without questioning them or their instructions. I was willing to listen with an open mind and to recognize how much I was like everyone else in the rooms rather than how different. When I listened, I learned. When I found the right sponsor and did the steps, I didn’t hesitate at Step 6. I wanted with all my heart to change, and I needed help – both from the fellowship and from the God of my misundertanding. But I did the footwork they told me was necessary. I read the literature, took on service positions, gave people rides to and from meetings, and started feeling less like one big character defect. I worked the program, and the program worked for me.

Looking back, I don’t think I’d have made it had I not been desperate to change mySelf and my life. That vision of myself as I was, rather than who I wanted to be, was what it took. I still believe there was a Higher Power who wanted me to live and had a job for me to do. For me, that job is helping other alcoholics get and stay sober. I do what I can. And I have changed. I’m now the person I want to be, although I’m still driven to be a better person than I am.

My suggestion for this week’s topic is the Gift of Desperation. Please share with us what that phrase means to you and how it has and has not worked for you. If you have anything else you need to talk about, please feel free to share it with us. 

 

June 19: living sober 24 hours a day and your daily sober routine

Topic for today:

Greetings!  Yesterday, I was sitting with my husband when the thought popped in my head that my last drink was consumed at 430am, 22 years ago, at age 23. I did not wake up on the 18th with the intention to sober up. Sick from the booze, everything tastes like cardboard, and another promise broken (to my boss) that I would show up to work.  We closed the office at 2pm.  I talked him into to a day drink with the promise that I would not miss work the next day. My first day sober, I went to work and was sent home. My boss was not happy with me again.  Annoyed, I went to my mom’s house who was scared for me. She would not stop yelling and lecturing from the other room.  Sitting with my 15-year-old sister, I said, “I’m an alcoholic and I need help.” I heard this voice say, “it’s time”.  Opened the yellow pages, ripped out a page from the rehab section, and proceeded to look for the treatment center.   22 years later, I have the freedom to wake up sober and lead an A. A. meeting through the internet.

There is a lot of life packed into 22 years of sobriety.  Both positive and challenging, painful, and exciting, serene, and stark raving sober.  AA members stressed that I could face anything sober so long as the program comes first in my life.  The members told me to keep it simple by practicing a sober routine, work the steps with a sponsor, use the telephone, follow direction, and attend meetings.  Members taught me through their sober walk how we can face anything life throws at us and stay sober.  Their actions convinced me that A. A. works so long as I put this first in my life.  What I found difficult was to live one day at a time.  Wake up with prayers, to ask Higher Power to remove the obsession from alcohol.  Kick off the day with meditation books (e.g. daily reflections, 24 hours day).  Use page 86 in my morning prayers.  Ending my day with page 86 was key in early recovery.  Communicating with my sponsor daily.  Attending meetings regularly, super active in the first two years.  When I thought about two weeks from “today” or the past, I felt an overwhelming sense of fear and dread.  To stay sober for one day was something simple.  I could see myself trusting God with my sobriety for today.  Surrender did not happen overnight.

I have learned that nothing, but God, this way of life, and time can ease the pain when everything feels like it is falling apart.   In the book “Pass It On”, a cofounder shares about his depression.  How he would lay in bed for days, feeling the overwhelming sense of despair.  He was a World War I veteran who had bouts of depression.  When he would rise out of bed, head to the local hospital to 12 step detox patients, Bill Wilson left a new man.  This gives me hope. Living this way of life, one day at a time, offers me the chance to keep things simple.  Living one day at a time has allowed for days to turn into weeks to turn into months to years.  I have not had to pick up any mood-altering substance since the last drunk.  I have learned that “tomorrow” does not exist and to place all of it into God’s hands.  Trust God, clean house, and help others.  This is my formula.  One day at a time.

Thank you, ladies, for paying a 12-step call on me.  I would love to read about your experience, strength, and hope with living sober 24 hours a day and your daily sober routine.  Have a beautiful day!

June 12: Gratitude for our Fellowship and its 87th Anniversary

Topic for the week: Gratitude for our Fellowship and its 87th anniversary

Hi friends. I’m Louise and I’m a grateful alcoholic.

Yesterday we celebrated 87 years of AA’s being in existence. I have been in touch with AA for 50 of those years, and continuously sober for the last 39. It’s made me sit back and take pause to think that the Fellowship was relatively young when I was first introduced to it– it had been going 37 years only. My next thought was to wonder what would have become of me if I hadn’t been introduced to AA.. Now that makes me shudder…

I have very good reason to believe that I would not be here today, that the disease would have taken me. Where would I have got the help that took me and transformed me when I became hopeless and helpless enough to surrender to it. Where would I be without the groups of fabulous women and men who can relate to me, and me to them, for we have all been in that dark pit of despair. I love you people for you know what it’s like to turn to the bottle again and again even though you know it’s destroying you– the big hallmark of the disease. Only someone else who has ‘been there’ knows what it’s like. I’m so very grateful for each and every one of you.

Bill and Dr Bob’s meeting when they did, the springing up of this now global fellowship, the 12-Step program which has been adopted by so many other organisations today– because it works– these are just amazing facts which save lives! And in many cases the lives of those who love us.. .

To my mind, AA’s 87 years of thriving is cause for remembering, reflecting and celebrating the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous. And one of the greatest gifts it’s given me is to realize how powerful having an attitude of gratitude is in my life. I practice this every day by writing out what I’m grateful for and sending it on to a group of other women. In return they send back to me what they’re grateful for. Often, if I’m feeling a bit low, caught up in self, and self pity or resentment has started to creep in, this gets me back on track. Writing it, yes, but also listening to the truth behind what others share with me.

I can look at the same world, same set of circumstances, on two days and see different things. One day I could be focused on what I haven’t got, and how my loved ones or friends either aren’t changing or not doing it quickly enough …I could look at my home and want things beyond my means. .. I could focus negatively on me and what I haven’t achieved. But throw a pinch of gratitude in there and everything changes, starting from the inside out…it truly is an inside job. Chuck C called it wearing ‘a new pair of glasses’. Inventorying daily is part of how I live today. I can easily see when I’m ‘off’. It doesn’t always mean I get out of it easily– some things take me longer than others…I struggle. But mostly I turn pretty quickly to my Power and ask for self to be removed.

Gratitude is an attitude that is worth cultivating, in my experience. And what underpins it is my relationship with a Power greater than me. I can turn to my God as I understand God each and every day, moment by moment. And as I’ve heard it said– the more of God, the less of me.

I’d love for you to share about gratitude in your life this week. About what the Fellowship means to you. And maybe even how it’s changed or evolved throughout the pandemic.

Thanks for being here, ladies, and for reading. I look forward to your shares this week.

Hugs

Louise

June 5: Step Six

Topic for the week: Step 6

This was not an easy step for me. I’ve always been rebellious and contrary. I wanted to be noticed. I wasn’t a popular kid, so I acted out a lot. I also wanted to feel superior to those who seemed to not want to be friendly with me. These traits led to all sorts of attention-getting behavior. A lot of the time I had to act ‘as if’ I wanted to change, but I really didn’t want to. I enjoyed people’s reactions to my behavior, positive & negative – at least they noticed me! I was afraid that I’d disappear if I wasn’t outrageous. I have taken comfort in the line (p. 65, bottom) that says, ‘How many of us have this degree of readiness? In an absolute sense practically nobody has it. The best we can do, with all the honesty we can summon, is to TRY to have it.’

But as time passed, I was surprised to discover that I was making progress. Some of my defects were less obvious, and others had lost their status as rock-hard parts of my individuality.

Now I try to remember another line (p.68, pp. 2), that only step 1 can be practiced with absolute perfection. I was a perfectionist for years, in my own way, in sobriety. I worried a lot that I’d never be good enough, spiritual enough, enough of anything truly worth being.

Not true. I’m much better than I used to be; I’m no longer a perfectionist in any way, and I’ve stopped judging myself so harshly. I am good enough, and open for growth where needed.

We are all invited to share on Step 6. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 6 ***
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

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 about page 75. 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/

May 29: Altered Attitudes

Topic for the week:

Sophie, alcoholic, here to lead our topic this week; Altered Attitudes.

Welcome to everyone who’s been joining GROW recently and especially those who’ve joined or re-joined AA.

When I came to AA I found that many of the slogans and bitesize pieces of AA were the things that stuck in my mind between meetings.

I remember my mantra in my early days was part of the AA Preamble; my primary purpose is to stay sober. I found this slightly adapted line from the Preamble kicking in at all sorts of times through my week. A big difference from my pre-AA thinking which had been along the lines of “one won’t hurt” or “it’ll be different this time”.

Other new ideas that came to me in bitesize chunks was the idea of powerlessness and unmanageability. Wow, this was a totally new idea too. One I couldn’t reach on my own. That I was powerless over the first drink. That it was the first drink that set off my craving for more. That I had an obsession, an illness that centred in my mind. That one day at a time it was possible to live sober without turning to alcohol.

These ideas were seeds planted in my mind. But I needed to hear them brought to life through the sharing I heard in meetings. This was the sunshine that helped these ideas grow in my heart and become the foundations for my today. The rain was my tears. Crying, letting go, grieving the losses. And the healing and growth was this whole process, continually, a day at a time turning up for my recovery and learning to give back so others could experience sobriety too.

Today I’m finding a very simple prayer is the thing that is coming into my thoughts and altering my attitude and lessening the power of my need to be right or my need to have things my way. The words of this prayer are; “Bless them, change me”. It is coming to my mind at all sorts of times and again is a big difference to my thinking. I picked it up in a share here in GROW and it’s been invaluable. I can’t change anyone else, that much I learned early on, but it’s still taken a while to tie that up with it’s me that can change or rather me that can be changed by my Higher Power and through the power of living the steps in my life as best I can. I was shown here how praying for someone sets me free of the past and these four simple words “Bless them, Change me” bring me freedom.

I’ve heard AA can stand for Altered Attitudes. My attitude can certainly need altering at times and I love that line “some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely” from page 58 of the Big Book. That’s my reminder for when I’m banging my head against the metaphorical brick wall of Sophie knows best 😉 and a sure pink neon flashing sign that I’ll feel better if I find a way to a new perspective.

I know all this is possible with AA, with prayer, with trusting a god of my understanding has a different way for me, with the Steps, with reaching out to my sponsor or AA friends.

So I invite everyone to join us with a share on this topic – what attitude are you needing or have needed to alter and which prayer or slogan or AA tool helped? What old idea needed changing? Or please share “off topic” with whatever is affecting your sobriety or serenity today. Thank you for having me be of service. The meeting is open.

May 22: New happiness

Topic this week: The Promise… “We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.”

I have learned much about happiness in the last few years and felt inspired to pull this wonderful promise into our meeting this week.  Back in the old days (pre-12 steps, pre-sanity), I thought that happiness was the end goal to reach in this life.  The ticket to get there was the degree, the job, the husband and family, the friends, the house, the wardrobe, the gadgets and toys, the food, the drug, the drink.  You get the picture.  I believed getting everything in this list would lead to ‘true happiness’.  Yet even as I walked through those milestones and experiences, moments of happiness were generally few and far between.  This was especially the case during the years that drinking was my crutch of choice.  I just couldn’t figure out why my happiness never lasted for any length of time.

I’m ‘happy’ (pun intended) to report that my perspective is very different today.  Since I began working the 12 steps, I no longer see happiness (aka joy, peace, contentment, serenity) as ‘the goal’, yet I experience more of it.  Joy seems to be a by-product of what I give, not based on a self-centered pattern of what I get.  Helping someone when I don’t feel like doing so brings far more serenity than buying a new outfit.  Sharing and listening well in a conversation, stuffing envelopes for my women’s group, thanking my husband for working so hard – all of these small things make me feel happy.  Choosing to be grateful for the blessings in my life also brings peace and calm during dark moments.

Most importantly, I know that I alone am responsible for my happiness, there is no legitimate reason to blame others for my moods or state of mind.  I can decide to be happy at any given moment.  Today I’m very grateful for this program and understanding how to live this promise.

Please feel free to share your experience, strength and hope in regards to the promise of knowing a new happiness.

Susan P.

May 15: Resentments

May 15

It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. . . . But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 66

Know God;
Know peace.
No God;
No peace.

The topic of resentments being a block to progress has surfaced in many meetings that I have attended in the last couple of weeks. Prior to recovery and even throughout my journey of recovery I have taken the view and still fall into the pattern that I was/am entitled to my resentments. For example, I had and still have resentments towards my parents, and others who have caused me pain especially the persons who sexually abused me as a child.  What I could not see is that my pain of the past trauma, pain that I created at work, or in personal situations because I would give the person the silent treatment was connected to my wall of protection. And who was this really hurting them-I think not

Where am I today, well  I have been able to let go of resentments better today because I have learned and continue to be reminded of the difference between being angry or hurt vs holding onto the resentment and beating myself up.  I need to hear my little girl and acknowledge how and what she is feeling. Then I must ask if my reaction, feelings and views of the situation are accurate and I do not do this by myself, this is where others in the program/rooms of AA, and a connection with my HP helps me see what the truth is. Once I can see and talk about the situation as it really is then I can work to let it go and give it to the universe/HP. Sometimes it is quick and other times it is slow, and I choose to pick it back up and let it go again until I hit that wall that is not working for me and really let go. By letting go of resentments I can and have experienced progress, growth, and a deeper connection with my HP.

Thank you for letting me lead this week’s meeting and I invite you to share about the daily share for May 15 or whatever is on your heart.

Take Care with hugs

Mary O

Wisconsin

May 8: Waiting for the miracle

Topic for the week:

I have been in survival mode my entire life.  The state of hypervigilance is still just under the surface, living in constant fear, waiting for all hell to break loose and something terrible to happen.  The years of pain, grief and perceived failures are a heavy load to bear.  I turned to lying in hopes of avoiding punishment.  Lies were found out, more punishment. Respect was something I never got growing up.  I was supposed to have it for others, yet I never seemed to get any for myself.

I needed to read, practice and pray to find change in my life.  I still have feelings and fears totally out of proportion to the situation.  In my own thoughts, no matter how hard I try, I am still in the wrong, subject to criticism.  The shame can be unbearable. I want to crawl out of my own skin.   Today I can let go, trust that all is well. Right here right now. I live with the faith I found as a result of the 12 steps. I have confidence in things unseen, a fundamental goodness in the universe, living each day in Good Orderly Direction, with willingness, gratitude, love, humility, honesty, and compassion.

By attending meetings, finding a sponsor and working the steps, I learned that I had to look at my survival skills, the places I was vulnerable. Through the steps I found what no longer serves me.  Here is where I found HOPE, hearing other peoples experiences.  Today the steps still serve as a way to live my life, work through the unmanageability of life on life’s terms.

There have been many times that “God was doing for me what I could not do for myself.”  Finding answers, putting one foot in front of the other. In the last 26 years, 24 hours at a time, I have completed tasks I would never have accomplished had I been drinking.  At the age of 55 I went back to finish my Bachelors Degree.  I completed it the same time the bottom fell out of the economy. I was unable to go on to the Masters program.  Instead I had to get a real job.   I would not have been able to work for that employer had we followed through on our plans to declare bankruptcy. I held that job for 8 years. That is the longest I ever stayed with one employer.

Today I seek help outside the rooms when I need it, taking suggestions and still finding my way.

Gratitude is important to me, recognizing the small things and saying Thank You for the efforts made on my behalf by my DH.

All that I say and do related to the program and fellowship is not unique to me.  I am simply passing on what has been so freely given to me by others in the rooms over the years.

Today, I can’t bring myself to attend F2F meetings, online meetings creep me out.  These email meetings are sustaining me and helping me stay sober. Thank you for being here.

What part of my story reflects your story?  The meeting is now open.

May 1: Step Five

Topic for the week: Step 5

 

We are all invited to share on Step 5.

 

This Step is described on pages 72 – 75. The directions for taking Steps 5 are on page 75:1, the first sentence of 75:2, and 75:3. The results of taking Step 5 are on page 75:2 after the first sentence.

 

*** Step 5 ***

 

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

 

I was raised a catholic. My parents, did the needful for me to graduate in this, so I was like everyone else…. But it was a graduation of attendance and not study. For example my first confession, it was by rote. Perhaps all confessions afterwards. I am not a sinner, but I don’t know if I ever admitted my wrongs.

 

Go to mass, stand up, sit down, kneel at the right bits… Go less and less…. Forget to go…..

 

I became accountable to know one and found a better God….. BOOZE 🙂

 

Booze never expected me to pray and I was always right.  My pedestal was high and mighty.

 

Fast forward to the sleepless nights when I wrote my step 4. For the first time in my life, I wanted to scream my sins. Firstly I registered that they were bad,,, Some my bad, some others… Then I wanted to admit…. Just to talk about it for the first time ever…. I realised…. The days of bullshite were over…. 

 

The relief was immediate…… I was like a teenager again. The heaviness of the adult life left me… My first true confession. And like all good confessions (And hers something they don’t teach too often), but once your done it big… You will want and need to do it again and again 🙂

 

So ladies…. Do you remember your first confession? Looking forward to hearing from you xxxx

 

Carmel

April 24: Courage and Prudence

Topic for the week:

Courage and Prudence.  When fear persisted, we knew it for what it was, and we became able to handle it. We began to see each adversity as a God-given opportunity to develop the kind of courage, which is born of humility, rather than of bravado.  

Prudence is a workable middle ground, a channel of clear sailing between the obstacles of fear on the one side and of recklessness on the other. Prudence in practice creates a definite climate, the only climate in which harmony, effectiveness, and consistent spiritual progress can be achieved. “Prudence is rational concern without worry.” 

AA World Services Inc. As Bill Sees It .  

I love finding readings in As Bill Sees.  I always seem to find readings that need to talk to me.  This reading jumped out to me as I found out my mom has cancer and it’s not good news.  It was hard hearing the news from my sister last Monday and I know this year is not going to be easy.  I live in London and my family are in So Cal.  I used to always say that having 6000 miles between me and my crazy family was a good thing.  It doesn’t feel like that today.  I have been through a lot of things in my sobriety.  Life is life and it’s on life’s terms, not mine.  I have learned to accept and ask for help and prayers when needed.  I am so grateful that there are sober ladies available to offer me support by email, message or phone call – some of who have already been through what I’m going through.  Prudence is rational concern without worry – I so need to hear that today.  I can’t worry myself sick (which I can so easily do) but it’s okay for me to have rational concerns and acknowledge my fears.  I am going back to California 8th May for about 2 ½ weeks.  I’ll be there for Mother’s Day and then for my mom’s birthday.  Grateful that my sister was able to help me with my plane ticket. It’s one day at a time.   Please share your experience of courage and prudence.