Dec 25: How are you putting your sobriety first?

How are you putting your sobriety first?

In three days, I will celebrate 25 years of sobriety, and for that I am deeply grateful. I can officially say that I have now been sober longer than I drank and drugged. I’d like to say that, because of this many years of sobriety, I am no longer at risk for taking a drink, however, that would be a lie.

Though it is true that my life today is so much better than I could have even dreamed when I was drinking ~ I’ve enjoyed all of the Promises, and I would generally describe myself as happy, peaceful and most times reasonably serene. And it is also true that I would never want to go back to that drinking and drugging life because it is a hard way to live. (For me, sober recovery is the “easier softer way”.) However, three weeks ago, my 66 year old husband had a stroke and is now paralyzed on one side and is unable to speak, except for a few words. I was also told that he has two major blockages in his coronary arteries that will need to be treated because he is at risk for a heart attack.

Suddenly, my world shifted and nothing seems secure anymore. I don’t know what the future holds regarding his health, what function he will be able to recover, his ability to work, or our finances. I had worked while my husband attended school and received various degrees and, our plan had been for me to finally be able to retire soon, while he continued working (he is an electrical contractor and we own our own company). I could go on and on about what life was “supposed to look like”. But, all that has changed.

As I found myself reeling from the changes his medical condition caused in our lives, one evening as I was leaving the hospital after a long and stressful day, I felt so weary, afraid, angry and alone. Then, from out of nowhere, a thought and visual image “floated” into my head ~ it was an image of me sipping a glass of wine and savoring that warm, relaxed feeling ~ it felt like the most natural thing in the world I actually stopped walking and shook my head. The image was so vivid, it startled me. I immediately thanked God for my sobriety and asked His protection and care as I continue to make my way through these changes in my life.

That vivid thought/ visual image made me realize that, no matter how many years of sobriety I have, this disease is cunning, baffling and powerful and I have only a daily reprieve from that slippery-slope-spiral down to the black hole I was in before I got sober.

My sobriety is dependant on my spiritual condition and, I was reminded that I must do my inner (spiritual) work to address the outer challenges in my life. For me, that inner work involves talking to God (a lot), staying out of the way so God can do His work, talking and sharing with sober alcoholics, striving to live by the principles / Steps of this Program, and attending meetings. What this means for me is that, no matter what is happening in my life (good or bad), my sobriety must come first.

Please share about what you do ~ or don’t do ~ to put your sobriety first, regardless of what is happening in your life. Or, if you have a burning desire to share about something else that is going on in your life, please do so.

Dec 18: Road to Recovery

Road to Recovery

“Autobiography in Five Short Chapters” by Portia Nelson

Chapter 1: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter 2: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I PRETEND I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in this same place, But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter 3: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. It see it is there. I still fall in. It’s a habit, but my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
Chapter 4: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
Chapter 5: I walk down a different street.

This reading reminds me of the definition of Insanity by Albert Einstein: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Like – how many times did I tell myself after a day/night of heavy drinking and subsequent horrible hangover that I would never do that again? How many times did I make a promise to my God that if He got me out of the mess I had gotten myself into that I would never get drunk again? Too numerous to mention and I couldn’t keep the promises I made. I would justify my drinking by telling myself that if s/he hadn’t said or done that, or if you had my problems, you’d drink too, etc.

I would berate myself for doing this repeatedly and wondered why I couldn’t get off the treadmill of doing the same things over and over again. That hole in the sidewalk (alcohol) removed my feelings of self-worth and self-esteem and left me feeling useless, worthless, less than and a person who even I wouldn’t want to be around. When I became sick and tired of doing this, I prayed and cried out for help to my God to show me a better way to live my life.

My prayer was answered when a co-worker friend of mine with 9 years of sobriety saw the pain I was in and took me to my first meeting. I was relieved to learn that I wasn’t a bad person trying to be good, but a sick person trying to get well. This made so much sense to me that I admitted I was an alcoholic and that my life was unmanageable. At first, I choked on the word, alcoholic, until I learned about your struggle with this disease and it was pretty much the same as mine. For the first time in my life, I finally fit in with a group – a group of alcoholics who got sober and helped others to get sober by sharing their ESH.

What havoc is/was that ‘hole in the sidewalk’ playing in your life? What or who helped to get you onto the Road to Recovery?

I’ll be interested in reading your shares on this subject or on anything else that is happening in your life that you’d like to share with us.

Dec 11: Patience and Tolerance

Patience and Tolerance

As the holiday approaches I find myself getting impatient much easier than any other time of the year. Driving seems so much more difficult as more people hit the road to go shopping and visiting. I have to call up all my patience to get through the aisles at the grocery store or a department store as people seem to walk around in a daze, staring at products or socializing with neighbors they haven’t spoken to all year. My grandkids seem overly rambunctious and my kids seem a bit testier.

I thank my HP for this program for I have tools to not create wreckage for myself and others. In the 12 and 12, on page 141 it says: Could we then foresee that troublesome people were to become our principal teachers of patience and tolerance? I see it every day. Now I ask if I can help someone find something they are looking for, I let people get in front of me on the road, and I hug my grandkids and children much tighter whispering to them I love you.

St. Francis de Sales said: Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering our own imperfection, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.

Dec 04: The Power of the Pause

The Power of the Pause

I spent all of my conscious life considering myself a tenacious woman. I created myself as the person who rushes in and makes things happen. I was the go-to-gal if you needed something done at work or with my friends and family. I did not fail in this even in my heaviest drinking days, I always seemed to be able to power-through. But with my risky alcoholic behavior, this tenacious woman often rushed headlong into disaster as well.

My self-assured attitude proved to be a potential liability in AA too. I was thrilled to hear this was an action program. I immediately got busy and made coffee and drove women to meetings almost 7 days a week. I insisted that I do the 4th Step right away. Through sponsorship and reading (and writing in) my Big Book, I cobbled together what works as an instant fix for those moments when I feel compelled to rush in: Dont fight anything pause.

I have continued to find it important to my inner comfort (serenity) and my sobriety (physical and emotional) that I do not fight what comes my way. Instead I pause. If I am feeling or thinking negatively what I really need to do is dig deep and find some gratitude for what is working in my life in the big picture – deny the urge to allow the negative thoughts in and focus on the fact that I have indeed had a profound personality change sufficient enough to allow me to be sober today AND that serenity is possible if I do not pick up a drink. I need to remember that if I choose to take one drink I will be swept up in the phenomena of craving and will likely not be able to get back to this good place that I have seen can be a reality for me if I work, or pause, through rough moment.

Nov 27: 11th Step – Thy will (not mine) be done

11th Step – Thy will (not mine) be done

I read this reading in my morning meditation today (from As Bill Sees It) and felt like it hit home with me and decided to share with my GROW family.

Do It Our Way? p 329
In praying, our immediate temptation will be to ask for specific solutions to specific problems, and for the ability to help other people as we have already thought they should be helped. In that case, we are asking God to do it our way. Therefore, we ought to consider each request carefully to see what its real merit is. Even so, when making specific requests, it will be well to add to each one of them this qualification: “… if it be Thy will.”

The Big Book advises against praying for our needs, unless it would benefit others. I have a lot of experience in praying for selfish needs: “God please let me out of this speeding ticket” “please don’t let him know I spent this amount of money” (you get the idea, lol). My sponsor pointed out in the tenth step that the Big Book reads, “How can I best serve Thee. Thy will (not mine) be done.” It is my purpose to enter any situation as a trusted servant, opposed to my innate nature to seek for my own needs.

What is your experience, strength, and hope in practicing the eleventh step in your daily affairs, when praying for God’s help “selflessly”?

Nov 20: Things You are Grateful For

Things You are Grateful For

I feel blessed to be able to chair the meeting this week. I always like to chair around my anniversary because of the gratitude that I feel for this program and the life it has given me.

November is gratitude month and a good time around the upcoming holidays to feel and express the gratitude we have for our lives. I don’t know about you gals, but if you were anything like me at the end of your drinking you didn’t feel grateful for anything or anybody. My parents lived 3000 miles away, my children 1500 miles away and there was no one left in my life to put the blame on. If I could have left me I would have. I was drinking to die and it just wasn’t happening. The thought of living the way I was for the rest of my life was what finally brought me to my knees and gave me the gift of desperation.

It wasn’t easy. I fought against it and “yeah but” everything that was told to me. The pain of being dry was as bad as the pain brought on by my drinking and I finally had to surrender to the steps and to a God that I didn’t understand. I still cannot describe what God is, and I still don’t understand how He works, but I know that He is there. The longer I am here I can see more clearly where He has always taken care of me. I should not have lived through many of the things that happened in my life prior to and after coming into this program. I am truly blessed.

I was told that the gifts I would be given by staying sober and living this program daily would far exceed any dreams that I could have thought of back then and they were right. I would have sold myself short. Please share with us this Thanksgiving week the things that you are grateful for in your lives. Of course, feel free to share on whatever else is on your minds also. I encourage our new members to get their feet wet by sharing also.

Nov 13: Working It – Staying Sober Through the Party Season

Working It – Staying Sober Through the Party Season

I’ve had a whirlwind summer and fall this year. Travel was a huge part of my schedule. Plugged into the at time away from home was all the “regular” chaos of a multi-generational family was a few great things and a few disasters. “Hopefully” one of our Son’s Weddings last weekend signaled a bit of a break before the Holidays.

Why this long (probably boring) paragraph?

I’ve been sober for quite a few 24 hrs.. I have a long Gratitude list. I’ve not drank far longer than I did. I am an alcoholic. I was , I am, I always will be. As long as I remember this Truth and practice ALL the suggested life-saving behaviors, beliefs and admonitions the ladies of AA have taught me, I don’t have to drink one day at a time. I’ve learned that I’ve worked this Program so earnestly, the Program works me before I realize I’m in shaky emotional or spiritual ground.

Rather than fight myself about going up to the cash bar at John’s Wedding (who I got to Marry!!!!!), I was sitting back, rocking and humming the two youngest Grandloves to sleep (1 at a time) and praying for the few folks there who seem to be running toward this Fellowship, Jail or the Grave.

So, after my never-ending share, How are you working or not working this HP given Gift of LIFE. What needs tweaking to prepare for the Holidays so we stay sober through the party season of the year?

“It works IF you work it” is real.

Nov 05: Liberation and Strength

Liberation and Strength

From pg. 21, paragraph 3 of the 12 x 12:
“We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built.”

We all talk about the bad side of alcoholism. I thought we would look at what that “bad side” brought us. We have a lot of new members who are young in recovery. I know this will really help them.

So, it became obvious to me that until I was at my utter bottom with nothing left of my pride, ego, or life I would have no desire to go up. I just kept staying in misery – in fact wallowing in it. Yet, once at the bottom, the utter defeat, I can attest that I did indeed find freedom, a loosening of the bonds, and a strength I didn’t know I had. And as I gained another day of sobriety, and another, and another, and so on, the strength increased. As I worked the steps and started understanding why I had behaved as I did, within I found I had a strength I could be proud of and rely upon. I was truly liberated.

The other part was admitting I was utterly powerlessness and when I did I earned a foundation for the rest of my recovery. At the start did I think it was bedrock? Of course not! It took time to realize what I was building. At first you just feel lost, you aren’t catching everything that’s being said, you’re scared (white knuckling it), you have little faith in yourself. You certainly don’t realize that you are building a bedrock foundation for the rest of your recovery. But, you are. And in time you stand up and feel the firm rock under your feet. You start taking more steps and you feel that liberation and strength filling your soul.

This, my friends, is the joy of recovery. The joy of realizing you CAN do it. The joy of realizing the misery is behind you and hope is in front of you.

Liberation, strength, and bedrock. Three words to remember. The floor is now open for sharing.

Oct 30: What Spirituality Means to You

What Spirituality Means to You

Good day ladies….Nachelle: alcoholic. This week I would like to discuss spirituality, our higher powers. We say that AA is a spiritual program…what does that mean to you? How has spirituality changed for you?

As for me…I believe spirituality is different for each person. There are probably 7 billion different ideas about this in the World! I was raised with a very strict, dogmatic religion. I know my parents were doing what they thought was right but at 16 I rebelled hard. I struggled for many years to figure this out. I had a hard time making sense of it all. I explored and researched many different faiths and belief systems. I found it all fascinating historically and culturally but couldn’t see how it applied to my life. I got drunker and drunker.

I knew when I came back to AA I would have to keep step 2 and step 3 simple. I couldn’t complicate it. So I started with asking the “Universe” for help in the morning and thank you at night. My spiritual journey began. I have met many people in AA and with my job I have been to meetings in Canada, USA, Belize, Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador, Portugal, Thailand, India. All very diverse Countries and different belief systems and that’s the beauty of AA….it’s INCLUSIVE!!!!!! Any higher power or God/Goddess will do. Even atheists and agnostics. I know that when I came in, my perceptions and thinking was so messed up and I was so self absorbed. The concept of getting out of myself and being a part of this World was refreshing. No one told me what to believe in, I was told to find my own truth. That was very important to me. If I’d been told what to believe, I would have left….and probably not drawn another sober breath. Today I have come to peace with the religion of my childhood and see the positives in it, I respect a great many religions and philosophies. My journey has led me to some fascinating ideas and people. I know that it will continue as long as I keep an open mind.

My higher power is more what I don’t understand…and today that is ok. I try to be content to live in the question. As some call is “the great mystery”. I believe to keep AA a safe, inclusive place we need to continue to discuss our spirituality in a general way. Keeping our arguments for or against any religion out of our meetings. As step 2 says in the 12 & 12, we resigned from the debating society.

Today my HP speaks through life circumstances, trusted friends, AA meetings. spiritual books and the more I pray & meditate, the more inspiration comes to me in the quiet and my intuition. I am grateful today for my quiet times of prayer and meditation and all the interesting things I’ve learned and people I have met on this spiritual quest. AA is my foundation.

For many years alcohol (and other unhealthy stuff) was my higher power, my God. I knew when I was new I needed to replace this. If you’re new here…I encourage you to keep this matter simple. Find your own truth, pray and hang on.

It does work!

Feel free to share about what spirituality means in your sobriety or anything you need to.

Thanks for letting me chair!

Oct 23: Letting Up on Disciplines

Letting Up on Disciplines

Sorry for the lateness of the meeting but just got a message from Laura B. that she needed a substitute so I really did not have alot of time to think so I’m going with something that I have a tendency to struggle with. That is “Letting Up on Disciplines”. The one thing I have come to learn about the program of AA is that it is a program of action. It is up to me, Carol D, to take the action today to not drink one day at a time. Now I have been given a tool kit with all new tools in it to help me to do this. In my tool kit I have prayer, meditation, daily inventory, AA attendance, and service to the groups. My daily routine when I get up is of course to use the ladies room, get cleaned up and ready for work. I just recently realized that I have this extra time in the morning to say my prayers, and do my meditation for the day instead of flipping on the TV and watching HLN. So here I am on my way to work saying my prayers and trying to meditate while all these cars are zooming by me or the deer are running out in the road in front of me.

Just this past week I have been changing my routine a little to get my prayers in as soon as I sit down after getting ready for work instead of flipping on the TV. At night when I go to bed (you are gonna love this one but the truth) I read AA literature and seem to have to have some candy. I noticed that I was getting very tired (probably from the candy) and forgetting to take my daily inventory but I have always thanked God (my higher power) for my sobriety for that day. So now I am doing my prayers and daily inventory before I read and eat my candy.

Prior to my retirement and getting this parttime job I would go from work to an AA meeting as I usually worked late. Now I get home anywhere from 12:30 – 4:30 pm so I will get comfortable and than not want to get cleaned up to go to a meeting, plus I am getting to where I hate driving so far all the time. So Friday night my sponsor and I were going to go to a meeting and on Thurs. she had a root canal done so needless to say was not feeling up to it. So now the stinkin thinkin comes in my head that I really don’t have to go to a meeting and I really don’t want to go by myself. My head went back and forth until finally I just got up and decided to go. My trip was 93 miles round trip but an awesome women’s meeting up north. I was so glad I went and felt so much better after I left the meeting for the drive home. So I am committing myself to that meeting every other Fri night.

I have noticed that I have not been doing alot of volunteering in the past year and I realized it was because if I did I would have to keep that committment. Hello, not sure I wanted to do that. It just amazes me at myself what this program has taught me. I am going to start volunteering again to set up a meeting and chair more often in my other groups.

This is all the things that have got me this far in my sobriety and has kept me from a relapse. The things that I was very disciplined about in my first 4 yrs sober so today I know that letting up on my disciplines gets me to stinkin thinkin and that I don’t like.

Thank you gals for letting me chair and for being such a huge part of my journey in sobriety. I hope all of you take just a little bit of your time to share this week as that is also service work and also helps me alot. Have a great week to all of you.

Oct 16: It’s My Choice

It’s My Choice

When it came to the *choice* of topic for today, the whole cloud of themes, thoughts, feelings, and phrases from the Big Book started swarming in my head, and I could not make a decision! They all seemed equally pertinent and important. I often struggle with making choices, and waste my time running backwards and forwards in my head, until the opportunity is missed altogether.

I drank for 20 years – and, looking back, it feels like the choice was made for me. I am an alcoholic, and I was enslaved, imprisoned, incapacitated by alcohol. Many times did I feel desperate because my drinking took me to really dark places, and I was hurting people around me, including my husband, my parents, who were devastated, my two lovely children… However, even if I could stop for a short while, I would inevitably go back to drinking – I couldn’t imagine life without alcohol. I didn’t know it was possible. I didn’t know there was a choice.

Today I *choose* to stay away from the first swig of booze. It is so liberating! The word “choice” for me is full of hope. I know – and I have learnt it the hard way – that nothing will get better or easier, if I pick up a drink. Now, that I am sober, I have a clear head, and it is a beautiful gift! No matter how imperfect I am, indecisive, inefficient, irritable, forgetful, still selfish, often confused, I know that today I can choose to make progress, to learn, and to grow.

I have been sober for 1 year and 5 months, and I am still learning to live. It is hard at times, my reactions are often out of proportion, and I struggle badly with planning and fitting everything in. I agonise over making *choices*, deciding what is important and what isn’t in everyday life.

However, I have acquired faith today. It is indeed a miracle. Today I believe that, if I stay sober and work the programme, if I try to be honest, open-minded and helpful, if I try to listen and not to rush, if I pray and don’t jump to conclusions, then gradually everything will sort itself out. The right decisions will become evident. The solutions will be apparent. The *choices* be “made for me”, in such a way that I can be useful and self-realised.

Today, I can choose to pause, ‘when agitated or doubtful’, and start my day afresh… Sadly, I don’t do it as often as I should… More often than not, I choose not to beat myself up about it, and I mumble as a mantra “it’s progress not perfection”. Despite all my shortcomings, I choose to be happy today. There is a long ‘road of happy destiny’ lying ahead of me.

Oct 09: Detachment


Just another aspect that I rather struggled with when I first came into the program. I don’t know about you gals but I find the longer I am in the program that so many different things I struggled with now comes so much easier for me. When I read the BB so many times things pop out at me that I know I have read many different times and now makes sense to me. It’s like the light bulb goes on for me.

Detaching myself from old habits, drinking friends and old hangouts was difficult. Now I have to admit that as far as the friends went most of them just disappeared and that was hard for me, I finally had to accept the fact that they were not friends but just drinking buddies. The ones that did still come around I had to lovingly detach myself from them if they were drinking but most willing to spend time with them if they were not. Did not go to showers, get-togethers or parties where there was drinking but thanked them for inviting me.

I had to do the same thing with my ole hangouts but just went, for instance, up the street to the bar for lunch with my grandchildren and daughter. When I went there, there was no one there but the owners and I did not even do that until I was 4 yrs sober and never went often.

Detaching from old habits was a toughie. When you do something for so long it is truly hard to break the pattern. My way of doing it, I finally realized, was I was isolating. I would go too work, go too meetings, come home get on my puter and than go to bed. This summer was the first time I even spent any time at all in my backyard, see I use to sit at my picnic table and drink in my backyard so I had a really hard time sitting in the backyard because I would think about drinking, this was all in my head before I would even do it. See for me detaching was similar to “letting go and letting God” and you all know how we like to take our wills back now and than. When things happen today that I feel I have to detach from I can do it with love and kindness.

Last week I went to (6) f2f meetings and it was really awesome as that is what I did for my first 3 yrs sober. I went to all different meetings and it just felt so good. I want to thank you gals for allowing me to chair this meeting and for being here with me helping me to stay sober. What does detachment in the program mean to you or feel free to share on any topic you wish.

Oct 02: Only for Today

Only for Today

Dear Ladies of Grow, I am choosing this topic because of our so many new members who have decided that they don’t want to drink today. This was given to me when I came into these rooms and it truly helped me to decide what was important and what wasn’t. If you would please share on one statement that rings true for you, or on any other literature that helped to shape you into the sober woman you are today, Please do so. Of course feel free to share on anything that is affecting your sobority. The meeting is yours, the floor is open…..

The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII

  1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
  2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
  3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
  4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
  5. Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
  6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
  7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.
  8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
  9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
  10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 24 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

Sep 25: Time: the Four Letter Word

Time: the Four Letter Word

Hi Ladies, Jennifer here, definitely and alkie and a grateful one despite the pain I am in today….was thinking about a topic and decided to read in one of my meditation books as this is a new assignment that my sponsor has suggested to me *winks* and it was perfect as usual…. the reading is not from an “AA approved” meditation book, not sure the protocol here so going to take a chance that I posting this is ok. If I have broken tradition, I apologize ahead of time:

This is from “A Women’s Spirit” published by Hazelden
September 25: 
“We can trust in the constancy of one thing—TIME will always move forward, taking us away from the old and gently guiding us to the new”–Amy E. Dean

“It’s human nature to want the pleasurable experiences to last forever and the painful ones to leave immediately. But we can’t move through anything faster then the hands of the clock will allow. A better response to our circumstances, regardless of their flavor, is acceptance that GOD/(HP) has put a lesson in them for us and we can’t adequately judge the long term value of any of our experiences. Nothing lasts forever. The slogan, “This too shall pass” promises us the emotional relief we need when times are hard. Time is our friend, always, even when we don’t like the lesson. We do get what we need, when we need it.

Wow, when I read that I was like….whew…. and it is true. For me and everything that I have endured, the happy, sad, good and bad…has to be to allow time to have its allowance…and to turn it over the HP and know that it will pass….maybe not when I want it to…but it will pass.

This passage is Timely (eh see how I got that in there….) as many of you know and recently read everything and that wasn’t even everything, that I have gone through in sobriety…. especially my recent emergency back surgery….which was sorta like 2 months in the working…it just wasn’t until my last fall and almost 2 weeks later of agony that I chose to accept I needed to see what was going on. I knew something didn’t feel right and entered the hospital on Aug 31st….surgery a week later, 20 hours after surgery, released out of the hospital to a nursing skilled facility where the average age was ppl in their 80’s smiles…but it was the best and cleanest in the area and I didn’t care… I thought my doc was drunk when he released me 20 hrs after surgery, however, it was a blessing…and I got on the road to recovery as I needed….not my timing…but what HP knew was best for me…

As I do believe in lessons also…this has been a lesson in accepting the things I can not change for quite some years now…haven’t been good about it….but things happen for a reason and I am blessed that these falls happened and I got a chance to have one of the best surgeons operate on a disc that has been deemed inoperable for 19 yrs. This fall was a lesson and a blessing. I am not angry at HP at all….this whole process of my body changing and my health and having to learn to change my way of living is an ongoing lesson and process. I have had to accept HP’s time not mine with everything that has happened in life.

NOW: With this surgery, I have nothing but time….I don’t have a choice, and if I do something that I am not ready for …believe me, I feel it, so I have one choice….to accept that my rehab from this surgery is going to take time…maybe even up to a year… that I can not bend lift or twist for the next 6 weeks and possibly no bending or twisting for life…lifting is going to be in time… TIME…time….. and I would be lying if I am making it look like things are peachy and rosey…trust me…I am going through depression, frustration, anger, frustration, screaming at times when something as simple as something dropping I can’t pick up…and I am reminded by my mom or others around me, “This too shall pass…in time…things will get better”…heck…I am only a little over 2 weeks out of major surgery and I am somewhat mobile…ppl say I am doing better then anticipated…and with that, I must be reminded to take it easy….

This did not happen overnight, acceptance, working this program…turning it over…however, it does happen, with time.. The promises are promised to us, in time….and if I am lucky…this thursday I will be celebrating 19 yrs of continuous recovery…ironically, 19 yrs ago when I walked into the program, I was recovered from my first back surgery (Jan, 92), same disc, same procedure, other side of the disc and it failed..this time it, so far, is deemed successful…how is that for time and full circle!!

Please share what TIME means to you…or anything else you might have gotten from the reading….again, apologies if I broke tradition and look forward to hearing your ESH!! Thanks for allowing me the honor to chair with that I pass…. Hugs

Sep 18: Dealing with Difficult Situations

Dealing with Difficult Situations

Hi everyone. I am a bit nervous writing because I am coming up on a year next week without a drink and with a sponsor – – both being a very special blessing. What makes me nervous is I am thinking “how do I sound like someone who almost has a year??” Crazy right?! Because what you are reading is what someone, like me, who almost has a year sounds like. I have been sober before and I have been in relapse before…..and I have been a dry drunk before. The first time I really got sober was special. I had a sponsor at that time too. My life was very different. I was younger, healthier, and with only myself to be responsible for. Ghetto girl went to college and opportunities were limit-less. Although I have been in and out since that time I have never lost site of what could be for me. This time around is very different. My life situation is very different. My goals are different. I have a wonderful partner and a beautiful daughter. I am different.

So…I have been struggling with some medications issues lately. Not the usual what is safe to take/what is not safe to take stuff. I am starting new medications for my Hep C and they have to be authorized and sent through the insurance’s specialty pharmacy and after spending several weeks just getting things straight between my PCP and my liver doctor – – I now find myself spending time repeating the same info to the pharmacy, my doctor’s office and my medical insurance re: my policy information. (now I am worried this might be too long – – -) So trying to be brief I have had difficulty not only getting my doctor to agree to the medication (because of other medical issues), but then getting it authorized through my insurer and delivered to my door.

More of the story goes like this…I was also on two of these meds in the past and they did not work – now there is a new third med added to it and there seems to be a better response – – I have been on the first two meds for several trials so I know what to expect re: side effects. Also, I have a fear deep down “what if this doesn’t work??” So as you can imagine my head has been crazy at times. So when talking with my sponsor she said to share about what got me through all this; and my answer to her was that this is not my whole life. I know it would have been cooler to say the steps, the meetings, the support of the women in this program…but really, that is what I am saying because without you guys I would be drinking — this would be the perfect justification for that first (second, third, fourth…) drink. Instead I have been able to continue to work, be a mom, a partner, have fun and even start some trouble at times.

And, again, most importantly to not drink or drug. So this is a biggie for me. Being powerless in so many ways and just continuing to put one foot in front of the other and focusing on and in the moment. I have a sponsor that allows me to whine at times — which sometimes I need to do – -but my whining passes. I used to wonder why God would put me in a position to be sober and then not allow the medications to work to allow me to enjoy my sober life. Well, I think it has something to do with God allowing me to see that my sober life, which includes the Hep C, is worth something and that He will push me through when I am afraid.

So what I would like to read about is how other people have dealt with difficult situations in recovery (maybe some can share on health issues/acceptance), and how have these “situations” impacted their relationship with their Higher Power. Or just share about anything that is on your mind…This is your meeting.

Thanks for this opportunity to chair the meeting and welcome to all the new members.

Sep 11: Surrender/3rd Step

Surrender/3rd Step

For the past couple weeks I have wanted to drink. I guess you could say I wanted to experiment, you know to see if I really really was an alcoholic, understand one thing, in one hand I know that I am but in the other hand the thought has been crossing my mind that maybe I should try it. Been attending many meetings because of this and have been sharing about it at the meetings. Doing alot of reading on AA literature trying to find my answer to this dilemna. Understand the last thing I want to do is relapse. It all came about because of the corn roast I held Sat of Labor Day weekend. I can’t be around people drinking without it crossing my mind. The funny part about it is there is no one that knows me that would allow me to buy or would even sell to me any alcohol.

Well anyway the corn roast went well I have not had to relapse but thinking about it really bothers me. So in talking to a gal in the program that I attend meetings with as much as we can (our work schedules collide alot) has been very worried about me because of this. She was talking to me the other night and she thinks that the reason I struggle with this now and than is because I have not “surrendered”. I struggle with meditation as my head is alot worse than any squirrel cage you could imagine. I worry about everything and everyone even if I don’t know them personally. So a gal I used to work with also struggles with meditation and a gal at her church told her to say her prayers and do her meditation out loud. So I am trying that.

Personally I do feel I have surrendered but after she talked to me about that I am questioning myself as to exactly what “surrender” is. I try very hard to let go and let God in situations where I have no control but I still worry about it. I trust God that whatever happens is what was meant to be. Doesn’t mean it does not upset me. I believe I work very hard at my program and it really bothers me that thoughts of drinking would even come into my mind. I know when I first came into the program it seemed as though everyone at the tables had relapsed once or more. I than thought maybe that was part of the program until my sponsor here online (no longer in the group) told me that relapse did not have to be a part of my program.

I feel that I have turned my will and life over to the care of God as I understand him but now I’m wondering if I really have. Maybe my way of doing it is not the right way, I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve had any huge spiritual experience but I do feel it was a spiritual experience the night I called my daughter and said I needed help. I believe that was God tapping me on the shoulder telling me to reach out for help.

Maybe you gals can share your ESH on this and help me too understand this whole deal with surrendering. If anyone has something else they need to share on please go for it.

Sep 04: The journey, perfection, where God wants me to be

The journey, perfection, where God wants me to be

On September 2, 2012, I celebrated nine years sober. While writing my sober share, I wrote the following paragraph:

A lesson that I’m learning from God, many times via this room, is that I’m on a *journey* that never ends, and with that I never get to the ultimate goal. It’s always the goal. The goal is right now. There’s no hurry for me to be perfect, because perfect for me is to be in the place that God wants me to be, and that’s right here, right now.

Perfect is a human concept, I’m thinking today, not a God concept.

Please elaborate this, however you’d like the journey part, the perfect part, the where God wants me to be part your choice.

Or, as always, write on what you need to write on this week.

I’d like to let this ruminate in my brain for a while, and I’ll share later this week.

Thank you for being in this room.

Aug 28: How You Are/Are Not a Part Of

How You Are/Are Not a Part Of

I volunteered to chair this week because yesterday was my 61 st belly-button birthday. As I said to a meeting yesterday, I was planning to kill myself when I was 37.5 years old, and I can testify that this program saved my life!

So many topics possible! What I’d like to see discussed – because it has been so very important in my recovery – is to become “a part of” and to let go of being “apart from.” As I am typing all of this on my “smart phone” I will share more later but I wanted to get the meeting out. So how are you (or how are you not) a part of? (AA and/or the rest of life)? What does this mean for you?

So I’d like to hear from all about this. If you are still as I was not so very long ago and niot feeling a part of AA as it is called “a we program” or resent it I still encourage you to share with us. If you find it a confusing idea please share that. Everyone’s voice and thoughts help me!

Thanks everyone and have a great meeting.

Aug 21: Cravings


While reflecting this morning as to what I wanted to share, cravings kept coming to mind. Was it the physical craving of alcohol that kept you coming back when you knew it had become a problem or was the the “affect” of the alcohol that kept you drinking before you started your journey to sobriety?

For me it has been more of the affect of alcohol. I don’t desire to drink everyday but when I feel the strongest urge to drink is when I was upset or depressed about a situation and I have “given up”…I just didn’t care anymore and I would give in and drink…I am still struggling with this as I am still trying desperately to put together a good length of sobriety, but I realize what it is that’s causing me to fall and am more aware of my feelings and acting out. I have also started seeing a counselor to help with some of the issues that are causing me to become depressed.

Life is a journey, not a destination and that holds true for sobriety! Thank you for letting me share! Many blessed days/years of sobriety for us all!

Aug 14: I Want the Hand of AA to be There Always

I Want the Hand of AA to be There Always

When I first got sober I stuck around the rooms of AA for about 3 years. I had a sponsor, went to meetings, did my steps. Then I figured I was good to go. After all, I had no intention of ever e drinking again. Good heavens, I had almost died from alcoholic hepatitis. I surely would never be dumb enough to pick up a drink! No way. I had learned my lesson.

I wanted the hand of AA always to be there whenever someone reached out for help. But it didn’t have to be MY hand. After all, I had things to do and places to be.

Fast forward five more years and we find this alcoholic sipping some wines at a tasting event. Within weeks I was back in my closet, drinking nonstop from morning until “nap” time. I basically went from pass out to pass out for several months.

Luckily, six years ago (8-13-05) I put the plug in the jug and came crawling back into the rooms of AA.

“Whenever anyone, anywhere reaches out for help I want the hand of AA to be there. For that I am responsible.”

I finally got it. I only got this program because someone was willing to be the hand of AA when I reached out. I only get to keep this program by BEING the hand of AA.

And how do I put that idea into action? By doing service for the AA organization. By being willing to sponsor women. By being as generous as I can when the basket is passed both here online and in person. By taking part in the fellowship here and F2F. By participating and sharing even when I don’t feel like it.

How about you? What do you think about that quote? How does it affect the way you live your life?

I look forward to reading your shares. Thank you all for helping me reach six years of continuous sobriety…and for keeping me connected.

Aug 07: Isolating


Isolating has always been my first response to anything difficult. When I look back I realize that I did it as a child and if I couldn’t isolate physically I could certainly escape mentally, I thought it made me feel safe.

I drank mostly on my own. Isolating was a friend to start with, until I got sober and realized it could be my greatest enemy.

When did I isolate? Whenever I felt uncomfortable, when there was pain of any sort, when I felt I was a failure or felt threatened. Sometimes there was no reason, sometimes it was just habit.

Why did I isolate? So many reasons. I didn’t think I was good enough, I couldn’t tell you my secrets in case you wouldn’t like me……and so on. When I came into AA I was afraid that if you got to know the real me you wouldn’t accept me. I remember times when the one thing I needed most was a meeting and I really, really didn’t want to go. To be with people and let them see I was hurting, tell them about my problems, was sometimes too difficult. Sometimes I would leave a meeting feeling vulnerable – the advice of those who had already been down this path was always -phone your sponsor as soon as you get home!

What effect did it have on me? It made me feel different, lonely, unworthy, misunderstood, less able to think straight, less able to follow the program. There were so many effects I can’t list them. Possibly the worst effect was that it enabled me to perpetuate the myth that I could do this living business on my own.

What makes me stop isolating? New, learned behavior, behaviour I have to reinforce day after day . As soon as I recognize what I’m doing, I pick up the phone to another AA member even though that’s the last thing I want to do. Excuses spring up like, they might be having dinner, perhaps they’ve got company. Most powerful excuse of all – they certainly wouldn’t want to hear from me. Hopefully, by the time I get to this excuse I already have the phone in my hand!

I’ve used past and present tenses. Isolating can still be an instinctive reaction to life.

When I recognize the behavior and make the effort to connect, it increases my self worth and reminds me that I am part of a family now. It puts space between me and a drink……

…..and it sweeps away the loneliness.

Whether you’re trying to stop drinking, have hours, days or years of sobriety it would be great to hear your experience. Please share with us when you isolate, why you isolate, what effects it has on you and how you manage to stop doing it….and, of course, share on anything else you need to even if it’s not connected to the topic.

Jul 31: Patience and Understanding Succeed Every Time

Patience and Understanding Succeed Every Time

Patience: Too many times discouragement has been the bonus for unrealistic expectations, not to mention self-pity or fatigue from my wanting to change the world by the weekend. Discouragement is a warning signal that I may have wandered across the God/HP line. The secret of fulfilling my potential is in acknowledging my limitations and believing that time is a gift, not a threat.
– Daily Reflections, p. 70

AA Acronym – P A U S E = Patience And Understanding Succeed Every Time

Hi All, Jennifer here, definitely and alkie, and one who must of accidently prayed for patience. I had a tough time picking a topic…it was between Fear, Asking for help or Patience…this one won. I have had to practice a lot of patience lately.

Back when I was using, I prided myself on being a master manipulator!! If I wanted something, I would get it when I wanted it and if I couldn’t I would figure out a way to get it!! I was a master actress and didn’t even know it. Today, I have to be careful of this character defect. My friend in AA and I tease and say that we are “creative” not manipulating…however…if I am not careful, it can go into manipulation and I have to be very vigilant of this. I know I am manipulating when I am not patient about an outcome or a forthcoming thing. When I have “unrealistic expectations…self-pity and/or fatigue of wanting to change my world in a weekend”, or that day for that matter. It is when I try to take over the show….

Recently, I have shared about how I am going through yet another physical set back which then plays on my emotional and spiritual side and can set me back if I am not careful…(talking to my sponsor, working the step I need to for the situation, staying in solution and most of all, turning it over). Patience this last week was going on Doctor’s timeframe not mine. And being patient waiting for the results. It has been a chore for me to be patient enough to wait for my MRI report I will get with my doc tomorrow. She is a stickler for having to go back to her for results, she WILL NOT allow other docs to get the report until she gets it first! Usually, being the good alkie I am, could manipulate the results same day…this time, I had to sit back and wait, and I hate it, but it has been a great lesson on Patience. What I learned is that the results are the results, either way, there is nothing more I can do then what I am doing. Bed rest (which I haven’t been that good at), ice and meds (again, under doing that too), and making appropriate doc follow up appts (which I did do in the event I needed a neurosurgeon). PT I am starting anyway on Tuesday…Asking for help (hard to do but have been reaching out) so, really there is nothing more that I can do…the results are what they will be whether I got them Fri. or Monday.

The second part of the patience thing is I do have unrealistic expectations that my back “should be” better by now. I do have to admit, I go into self pity, some fear that I have gone backward again and not knowing what the future holds. Again, I am reminded to keep it simple…be patient. stop and meditate…read each day from a meditation book or AA lit. and become centered and ask HP to walk with me. “The secret to fulfilling my potential is by acknowledging my limitations and believing that time is a gift, not a treat”… Today, I need and have to acknowledge my limitations and believe that in time….things will get better….solutions will present themselves….I may have to re-arrange my life again, or make adaptations to how I do things, I have had to do this all through sobrietyand what a special gift it is that no matter what, I don’t haave to drink over any of it today!!!! In Closing, I threw in the acronym that is always sent with our daily thought and I think it appropriate for me today:

PAUSE: Patience and Understanding Succeed Everytime….this I know for sure..I may not remember when going threw my stuff, but if I PAUSE and connect with HP, let go of unrealistic expectations…I do succeed through everytime.

So please share on Patience or anything else you might have gotten out of this share….(I think I kinda got a few different topics mixed in there, sorry, not the greatest in expressing via writing, made sense to me, smiles) I look forward to hearing your ESH.

Jul 24: Progress Not Perfection

Progress Not Perfection

Good afternoon ladies Colleen here alcoholic. This program of AA is works if you work it. I know for me I must work these steps on a daily basis. I must believe there is a higher power who guides me and protects me. Drinking is no longer an option for me. It has taken 30 plus years to finally learn that this program offers so much more than not drinking.

As Dr Bob said “Try to find your own God. . .as you understand Him.” When I start doubting God I remember how powerful that first drink could be for me if I let I – so God must be all powerful. I accept that I am sober by God’s grace.

I was in a crabby mood the other day; I am human. I said some things to my husband which weren’t very nice. We talked it over the next day and I had to make amends. I have no right to let my bad mood hurt him. That is why I love this program we can start our day over when we need/want to.

Please share on this (progress not perfection) or anything else you need to discuss

Wishing you a peaceful and cooler week! Thanks for reading me.

Jul 17: Intuitive Guidance

Intuitive Guidance

I want to share with you something that I have come to rely on which I have enjoyed as a benefit of working the Steps in this Program.

You know, there is a passage in “Stepping Stones to Recovery For Women” (p116) which says: “Knowing how to climb up the stairs does not get me to the top. The action I take may get me to the top, but if I rush or jump over some of the steps, I may fall. I find that taking them one at a time, one right after another, I will get where I want to go.”

This has been true for me (despite my desire to “work” Steps 1 through 12 over a long weekend in my early sobriety. Thank God for my Sponsor who advised me to just re-read the Big Book (BB) and Twelve & Twelve and write about Step 1 !! 🙂

The benefit I want to talk about that I have enjoyed as a result of working the Steps is described in the Promises that are listed on page 84 in the BB. “We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.” My Higher Power’s (God’s) voice is as close as within me and no matter where I go or what I’m doing, I only need to “pause when agitated or doubtful” (BB p87). When I quiet myself and humbly and sincerely ask for guidance, it is always – always there for me, and it is the perfect answer for the situation. This intuitive guidance does not come from my head, it seems to come from somewhere around my heart and when I “get it” ~ there is a clarity that comes to my thinking that is unmistakable and I feel comfortable with going forward with that “decision”.

For me, working through all the Steps seems to have cleared away the “junk” and shown me that my thinking did not serve me, or others, well. This process reinforced my reliance on a Higher Power to direct my thinking and my actions. The Step work built within me a greater trust in God and His guidance, and therefore opened that “intuitive” channel for Him to lead and guide and solve all my issues and problems. How cool is that? J 🙂

The trick for me is to remember to pause when agitated or doubtful ! Clearly, God’s not finished with me, but at least I’m more willing to listen for His voice.

Thanks for the opportunity to lead this meeting. I look forward to your sharing on how “intuitive guidance” works or doesn’t work for you ~ anything else that comes up for you as you have read my share, or whatever you feel a burning desire to talk about.

Jul 10: Step One – Powerlessness

Step One – Powerlessness

Hello Everyone. I’ve been absent lately and some of it has been due to ill health, some of it because I have been so busy with “other stuff” which always seemed more important than AA.

What have I learnt in the past weeks?
a that I could not manage my own life
b that a Power Greater than myself really wasn’t a nebulous thing
c that I had to actively seek for this Power that could and would help me out
d that I am utterly powerless over anything but my words/actions/deeds

My friend died last Wednesday she had the same disease (MS) as I do – her death was anything but easy – I have been watching her die over the last year and the last 3 months have been awful…. she lives/lived right next door to me…….. I wanted the power to stop her dying……… I tried so hard to stop it – I bought a book – the answer – I cooked meals (until I tired myself out and had to admit that I couldn’t do it) – I tried to make her laugh (laughter is the best medicine)………. all to no avail….

I am powerless – over other people – over life – over peoples’ actions and words – in the last few months Kerrie’s mum was acting very bizarrely (as one might expect a mum to act)…….

I am powerless over life and people and places and things – my husband is leaving me but in the nicest way – we are still best-friends but living apart for over 4 years has this effect on a marriage – he wants to move on and by definition moving on means moving away – I know that this isn’t happening because we have “differences” or he’s having an “affair” (he may very well be) but because I could no longer live with him – and I am powerless over that chain of events…..

I have only realised that what I have been trying to do is deny my powerlessness – I want to be able to control people/places/things and the more I try the worse it gets – I get angry and then I start having attacks of the its someone’s fault or attacks of self-pity or attacks of denial…….. I don’t want to life to continue any more……

But really that’s not real – what I have learnt in 3 days has been that if I pray hard enough my God will turn on a light – and I will come to believe that God could and would if s/he/it were sought – what I need more of is the courage to seek……….

Jul 03: Bled of Self-Sufficiency

Bled of Self-Sufficiency

Today let’s look at pg. 21 of the 12 x 12:
“Alcohol…bleeds us of all self-sufficiency and all will to resist its demands.”

Until we figure out that alcohol takes so much more away from us than it actually gives us, we cannot see that it has indeed bled us dry and left us empty of all things of worth. To see we are powerless over alcohol, or anything else for that matter, we have to get that clear picture of what our life really was like; not, the version we see through our beer goggles!

We were so positive alcohol gave us courage, confidence, fun, and friends. When we step back and take an honest look at things we will see that for one, alcohol courage and confidence are not courage or confidence by any means. They are lies…lies told us by the alcohol which only seeks to bleed us of anything worthwhile. Fun? Would you want your “fun” posted on the internet or shown to your mother? Not me! Friends? Those fellow drinkers are only friends as long as we drink. That’s just not a friend.

I know when I came in the doors the 2nd time in 2005 I was definitely bled of self-sufficiency. The bottle was my crutch so I wouldn’t have to stand on my own two feet or deal with life as it was. Bit by bit my tank has been re-filled with the things that count eternally: joy, peace, love, compassion, honesty, friendship, kindness, and a healthy respect for where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.

What has your experience been?

Jun 26: Let Go & Let God

Let Go & Let God

It has been some time since I put my name forward for the weekly topic, I thought, yes no problem I have lots of topics to write about! Seeking inspiration in the last few days I seemed to hit ‘blanks’, I handed over to my HP and suddently this topic of ‘Let Go & Let God’ seemed appropriate

I came to the AA Fellowship in January 2009 and was very blessed to meet someone who took me through the program in my first year of sobriety. I loved those months working through the steps, I was hungry for relief from the awful pain of my secret life of alcoholism. I am forever grateful that I had reunited with my HP a couple of years prior to coming into recovery, I had prayed for help, knowing I was in deep trouble, and having no control over my drinking and my life, not able to put down that bottle.

Each morning now when I rise, I take time to myself to write a little on recovery, talk with my HP, read some literature, and express my gratitude, all suggested in the BB. At night, I take my inventory. These practices each day have become a very important and much needed part of my life.

Step Three tells me:

‘Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him’

I hand my day over to God ‘ take this day and do with it as you will’. However when I take my inventory at night and walk through my day, it seems to me time and time again, I ask to Let Go & Let God, to hand over and trust. but in taking my inventory – I see where I took back control, didnt listen, tried to fix. I can see where I allowed those defects of mine to take over?

What I am beginning to realise – this is Raidy seeking pefection – not progress.

In the past two months I have had some personal challenges. Firstly having surgery on my hands, this was a real test for me of Letting Go & Letting God, its now on reflection that I see what I learned from this experience – I did hand each day over and my HP got me through showing me parts of myself that needed some work – my impatience, my need to control, my lack of trust in others, my stubborness – not wanting to ask for help.

My second experience recently, I had my brother come to stay with me for six weeks while he had daily treatments for throat cancer. What I have learned from this experience is that I can see how my program is working in my life, Letting Go and Letting God, taking this period of time One day at a time. I am also seeing parts of myself that show – caring, empathy, strength of character and being available in an unselfish way, and I feel its ok for me to acknowledge those to myself. I was not available in this way when I was drinking.

I can now see that when I do hand over my will and my life to God each day, it works, there are no flashing lights, drum rolls or messages falling out of the sky, just my HP paving a way for me each day on my recovery journey. Its about me accepting life on lifes terms each day, Letting Go and Letting God.

I would love to hear your shares and ESH on this topic, and to learn from you how you Let Go and Let God into your lives.

Jun 19: Emotional Hangovers

Emotional Hangovers

I know that I’ve had many, many hangovers from drinking in the past where I was sick, sorry, disgusted, fed up, anxious and full of worry from my behavior the night before. Sometimes I get those feelings in sobriety so today I’d like to touch on the emotional hangover. What is it anyway? Please keep an open mind.

Pages 88-89 of the Twelve and Twelve tell us: “But there is another kind of hangover which we all experience whether drinking or not. That is the emotional hangover, the direct result of yesterday’s and sometimes today’s excesses of negative emotion – anger, fear, jealousy, and the like. If we would live serenely today and tomorrow, we certainly need to eliminate these hangovers. This doesn’t mean we need to wander morbidly around in the past. It requires an admission and correction of errors now…”

Yes I have had emotional hangovers in sobriety and still do today and they usually end up with me thinking that I’m a terrible person and saying, ‘when will I ever learn.’ I used to get them when I lost my temper and got into arguments. These days, I ‘intuitively know’ when I have said or done something that not only has hurt another person, but has destroyed my sense of well-being. I get a feeling of a hole in the pit of my stomach and my head begins to review what happened and what I can do about it. My sponsor is a great listener and provides me with meaningful suggestions that have worked for her over the years.

Through working the Steps, I have gained insight into the cause and consequences of my actions and have lost most of my passion for arguments and temper tantrums. Steps 1 through 9 teach me how to deal with my feelings towards people, places and things so that I avoid a resentment, and Steps 10 to 12 show me how to do it to maintain my serenity. Specifically, Step 10 tells me how to deal with a budding resentment and that is to deal with it immediately before it becomes full-blown and to make the appropriate amends.

If I find myself hanging on to a resentment, I ‘intuitively’ go to my favourite story in the Big Book: Freedom From Bondage – Page 552 – and pray for the person I’m resenting until I can see him/her as just another person who can make mistakes just as I do. What I’ve found out over time, is that the very thing that I can’t overlook in others is the very thing of which I am guilty. Over time, the resentment is gradually relieved and my sense of personal well-being and peace returns. What a program we have through the Big Book which I’ve always referred to as my “Guide to Life.”

Before I go, I would like to tell you that I went to an AA meeting on my 22nd AA birthday and it felt great to be there after a number of years away. I met folks I knew from my last home group and it was great to rub elbows with fellow alkies. I surely miss the handshakes, hugs, greetings, smiles, and discussions before and after the meetings. This was a further affirmation that AA is where I belong.

Do you have moments/times of “Emotional Hangovers”? How do you deal with them? Please feel free to share on this topic or on anything else that’s going on with you.

Jun 12: Compassion


I’ve had things come up in the past few weeks where the solution appears to be that I do a fourth, fifth, six, and seventh step on my judgmental instincts. The answer of course, becomes turning over my judgment to the HP of my understanding and prayer.

What then happens the next time I encounter the individual in question – or a situation where people are saying the same sort of things, is that I experience a wave of what I can only call compassion. It’s not pity – I don’t feel sorry for the other person. It’s not resignation – I don’t have the feeling of “giving in” to something. Instead, it feels like tolerance, acceptance, and a form of love that isn’t the romantic kind or something “sweet.” That “something” that I’m thinking feels a bit like something new and kind of nice I can’t call anything but a touch, a hint, of a sort of unconditional love. Maybe unconditional acceptance. Anyway…

What I know is that I want to somehow fit myself to feel this more and more often. I don’t think I can force the situation or feeling. I want to find ways to fit myself to my HP’s will so that particular form of inner peace, that serenity, comes to me more and more. I think it’s the state that HP would like me to walk around in the world with.

Anyway, I’d love to hear more about what you have discovered about compassion in your sober journeys.

Jun 05: Rigorous Honesty

Rigorous Honesty

I was flipping through my 12 & 12 yesterday and saw that I had highlighted an expression on page 57–‘anxious apartness’. The paragraph reads, ‘When we reached AA, and for the first time in our lives stood among people who seemed to understand, the sense of belonging was tremendously exciting. We thought the isolation problem had been solved. But we soon discovered that while we weren’t alone any more in a social sense, we still suffered many of the old pangs of anxious apartness. Until we talked with complete candor of our conflicts, and had listened to someone else do the same thing, we still didn’t belong. Step Five was the answer. It was the beginning of true kinship with man and God’.

I remember the day I highlighted ‘anxious apartness’. It was one of those expressions that described so vividly a feeling I was very familiar with, and one I still experience in some situations. I was in one of those situations recently–it was a funeral for the father of a friend of mine. Other than my friend, I didn’t know a soul there and I didn’t really want to go to the reception after the service, but I wanted to be there for my friend. Even though he is in the program, very few other people were, so there was drinking, which usually doesn’t bother me. However, when you add ‘anxious apartness’ to an event serving alcohol, it can be an awkward situation. I couldn’t wait to leave. What is interesting is that when I called my partner after the funeral and mentioned I didn’t know anyone, her response was, “Well, it won’t take long for you to change that!” Most anyone who knows me would guess the same thing–I’m generally friendly, and seemingly fearless in social

situations That’s the outside of me I put on display, but the inside is a different matter entirely. I am full of fear, terribly uncomfortable, certain that I will bore you within the first 5 minutes of a conversation, and feel completely out of place. Those old insecurities are still in there–and they’re ones that call for some kind of ‘social lubricant’ (if you catch my drift…) Only in the safety of AA can I ‘talk with complete candor’ of conflicts I grapple with like this, and would love to know if anyone else still experiences ‘anxious apartness’ and how you alleviate those old feelings of dis-ease.

Thank you for letting me lead this week. I will be celebrating 19 years this coming Wednesday and I have nothing but gratitude for this life-changing program and for women like you who walk this journey with me.

May 29: The Pencils

The Pencils

My mind has been flitting around all week from one thing to another as I tried to think of a topic for this week’s meeting. I kept landing on a story that my first sponsor told me in the beginning of my sobriety. It was a story about a cup full of pencils on a school teachers desk. She said that during a normal week that cup would get knocked around pretty good and sometimes fell to the floor. After a while those pencils that were on the outer edges of the cup would get scuffed up or broken, sometimes broken so badly that they were no longer able to do their job. Only the ones in the middle of the pack remained unharmed. She said it was like that in AA. If you stay on the edges you are likely to get all scuffed up and maybe fall to the floor, but if you remain in the center of the pack you will stay safe.

During my time in this program I have found myself on occasion getting complacent and finding excuses to stay away from meetings and isolate. From somewhere in the deep recesses comes the story of the pencils and I am reminded once again that I stay safe by staying in the middle of the pack. My sobriety is contingent on a daily reprieve and that means my connection to God and to you. I get that connection by going to meetings, talking to my HP, my sponsor and my fellow alcoholics and letting you know what is really going on with me. I need to remember where I came from and what is needed to be on this journey. If I have one hand in yours, one hand in God’s I do not have another to pick up a drink.

There have been times of tragedy in my sobriety where, had I not been in the center of the pack I don’t know if I would have survived. If you have had similar times, please share with us. Of course, please feel free to share whatever is on your mind also.

May 22: Making Amends

Making Amends

Making amends is something that has stopped me in my tracks. The thought of making direct amends sets off every alarm in my brain. I have heard people share about “cleaning their side of the street” and of blessings they have received as a result of their willingness to do this step. I pray to God for willingness, but only half heartedly.

So, this week I would like to invite those who made amends and those who have not to share on this step. I always hear people share about their thorough amends and I am aware that the program says without this step we will likely drink again…. that is why I want to hear from the group how they have worked this step or not worked it – I don’t want to drink again.

I am looking forward to your shares on the topic or whatever else may be floating around in your mind. Thanks for allowing me to chair the meeting.

May 15: Hearing the Truth

Hearing the Truth

I’m Melanye and I am an alcoholic. Recently I have been faced with having to tell others things they turn out not to be willing or able to hear. I have found that whether you are talking about it involving another alcoholic or not they all can pretty much react poorly, even explosively. You never know when you are saying it that it won’t be taken well. I’ve come to accept that it is a possibility. Alcoholics do not always use the tools they are taught to handle these things. But, I have to admit it still makes my heart race a bit when hearing/reading a response that just isn’t appropriate.

I have to remind myself that I cannot control how my words are received. I can only pray before speaking, then speak from the heart. What comes next is out of my hands. The newly sober or “repeat sober” people tend to be worse at accepting what they are hearing, even when it comes from a place of love and caring. I am known for saying to my Sponsees, “I will continue to gently knock at the door until you are ready to answer it.” But, I’ve also said, “I’m not going to sit here and allow you to abuse me just because you don’t like what you hear.”

On the flip side I have to pull out my toolbox when someone is telling ME something. Sometimes it’s on target; sometimes it’s hateful and uncalled for; sometimes it’s warped; sometimes it’s nonsense. No matter what it turns out to be I’m rummaging around that box for the right tool for the job. I do my best to react and respond appropriately. However, last time I checked in the mirror, perfection wasn’t standing there. Like anyone else there are times when I must make amends. This thing we call recover is a lifetime journey and therefore a lifetime of lessons.

What experience have you had with either side of this coin?? The floor is now open for sharing.

May 08: Got HP (Higher Power)?

Got HP (Higher Power?)

Hello Ladies of GROW, and happy mom’s day to whom celebrate. Mother’s day depending on the day it lands is both a joy and sad for me. If it lands on May 9th, that is the day my grandmother passed away. It also happens to be my brother’s bday…yikes.

The reason I bring this up and it is bitter sweet each year as it passes is that my grandmother was a very special lady…not only in her own way, but to me also. She was the only person in my life growing up that gave me unconditional love and accepted me just the way I was. Don’t get me wrong, my mom is a very special lady too, I can see that now in recovery!! I didn’t always feel that way, but she had the daughnting task of raising not only one but two addicted children and I also had very severe Learning Disabilities and ADHD in a time when they didn’t know much about it….so while my mom was doing her best to keep me in check which was a lot of times ended up in yelling…my grandmother (and father for that matter) were my buffers. I am blessed that today in recovery (going on 18 plus years) my mom and I have a wonderful relationship!! I do miss my grandma tho even tho tomorrow it will be 22 years since her passing….ok, on to the topic…

The reason why I bring up my grandma is becuz when I first arrived into the program, they told me that I needed to go to meetings, get a sponsor and work the steps…awesome…no worries….went to meetings (I was ready to), got a sponsor, but then came the steps….step one…got it….step two…ummmm….ooookkkkkk….step three….eeeeeerrrtttttt….at a stand still….I need GOD or HP in my life?? hmmmm…not sure about that one….so my sponsor said to me, “It just needs to be greater then yourself…it can be a door knob….an animal….a feeling….the AA group and meetings…GOD–Good Orderly Direction—HP–Higher Power (greater then yourself). So…ok…I think I can do that….I adopted my grandmother’s cat when she passed. It waas a living thing that I felt my grandma’s energy with, so…I started talking to the cat (she didn’t answer back….or did she??? smiles) but I started to do what would eventually become prayer to me. I sensed my grandmother around me, I could still hear her words of wisdom and that got me by until I could actually form what my HP looked like.

Today, it is the rooms of AA, the ladies words, the breeze that wisps by me when I am praying for faith and understanding, it is an unconditional love feeling that something out there is taking care of me. When I have difficulty turning things over, or feeling stuck and not “feeling” HP, my network of ladies or for sure my sponsor will say something that allows me to get back to faith and HP.

So, today, without my HP (along with everything else mentioned) I know for a fact, I would not be able to stay sober….or…maybe stay sober, but not sane and I kinda prefer both!! smiles…I have done the dry drunk thing….didn’t drink…but wasn’t sane either, and it wasn’t pretty….I prefer HP in my life today…

For those ladies who are new….finding your God of Your Understand, HP, is and doesn’t need to be as hard or scarey as it may have been in childhood. I loved that my first sponsor gave me permission to let go of that HP and find an adult one, one that worked for me…again, so long as it wasn’t me….my prayer for the newcommer is that you find your HP and learn to turn it over….

So with that, Got HP?? and what does she/he/it mean to you?? or talk about whatever you may need to share!!

May 01: Humility


Humility, I find, is a topic I like to muse on. Even though I’m not 100% sure what it is (that’s because I’m an alcoholic, it doesn’t come naturally), I know it’s an attitude I would like to learn to embrace.

In the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions it says, “The whole emphasis of Step Seven is on humility.” (Page 76) Reading Step Seven again, I found that it takes its time defining the wordI was looking for an entry like that found in Websterr’s, but I read the entire Step before the idea sunk in.

From what I glean, humility, simply is that itattention, respectis not about me. “The Seventh Step is where we make the change in our attitude which permits us, with humility as our guide, to move out from ourselves toward others and toward God(italics mine).” (Page 76)

Movement in my attitude towards God. Page 75 has a really good quote that sums my attitude before, then the movin’ on me (pun intended): “During this process of learning more about humility, the most profound result of all was the change in our attitude toward God We began to get over the idea that the Higher Power was a sort of bush-league pinch hitter, to be called upon only in an emergency. The notion that we would still live our own lives, God helping a little now and then, began to evaporate Refusing to place God firrst, we had deprived ourselves of His help. But now the words ‘Of myself I am nothing, the Father doeth the works’ began to carry a bright promise and meaning.” (Page 75) I am no longer the wee girl with a quarter in her hand, standing before the Vending Machine that is God, demanding with a prayer what is behind G-6.

Movement in how I consider others. This part I won’t get into now, maybe later this week.

I’ll add one more comment, from Page 75: “A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than as something we must have.”

Please comment on humility, or whatever you need to talk about.

Apr 24: Moving On

Moving On

I want to share with you the lyrics from a Rascal Flatts song that speaks about so much that we as alcoholics go through in recovery. For me the sharpest point in the song is that there are faces that will never let me change and that Ive taken lots of blame. This was particularly poignant being that I recently had to cut my brother out of my life. He IS that song to me. The accusations, the blame, the insults…all from someone who has not seen me or spoken to me in 2 years. The biggest lesson in this: move on…just move on…for your sanity, for your recovery, for your own self-respect…move on.

Please share what these lyrics mean to you.

“I’m Moving On”

I’ve dealt with my ghosts and I’ve faced all my demons
Finally content with a past I regret
I’ve found you find strength in your moments of weakness
For once I’m at peace with myself
I’ve been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long
I’m movin’ on

I’ve lived in this place and I know all the faces
Each one is different but they’re always the same
They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it
They’ll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong
I’m movin’ on
I’m movin’ on

At last I can see life has been patiently waiting for me
And I know there’s no guarantees, but I’m not alone
There comes a time in everyone’s life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind that those days are gone

I sold what I could and packed what I couldn’t
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I’ve loved like I should but lived like I shouldn’t
I had to lose everything to find out
Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road
I’m movin’ on

I’m movin’ on
I’m movin’ on

Apr 17: The Journey to Feeling Safe

The Journey to Feeling Safe

Good Morning Ladies of Grow. I have thought long and hard about what topic to suggest for this meeting, and I keep coming back to the fact that we have so many new members joining our ranks. First I would like to extend a warm welcome to you all. This group of women, have shown me so much caring and support on the good days and the bad ones. This group of women are very active in their support, and communications. They ARE different from any other group I have belonged to, and I want to let them (collectively) know that they have made me feel safe.

Safe was something unfamiliar to me when I came into the rooms. I was as addicted to crisis as I was to alcohol. Safe just didn’t fit. Safe didn’t excite me. Safe feels like a warm toasty blanket on a cold night. Today, I treasure and like, safe.

So, keeping all our newcomers in mind would you ladies tell them the stories of your evolution to feeling safe, what tools you learned to use to help you feel safe. Also, would those new to our meeting please talk about what makes you feel unsafe.

Please remember, those of you who have just stopped drinking are the most important person/s in the room. Without you, I don’t remember what I felt like walking into this room. I need you as much as you need me, maybe alittle more. So please share whats going on with you, the good and the bad.

Thanks for being here, and I look forward to

Apr 10: Freedom through Sobriety

Freedom through Sobriety

Good morning Ladies and thank you for allowing me to chair this week’s meeting. The past week or so I have been thinking about the freedom I have today through my journey in sobriety. April 1st I ended up in the ER and was than sent by ambulance to another hospital about an hour north of where I live. I had an e-coli infection in my bladder and urninary tract, kidney stones, was septic and was miserable. I spent 5 days in the hospital and am still on the mend but doing well. The Dr’s. told me if I had waited another day to go into ER I would still be in the hospital as I would have gone into septic shock.

Laying in the hospital gave me alot of time to think about how grateful I am today for the freedom that this program has given me being sober. Had I not been sober I truly could be dead today because the alcohol would have covered up how I felt and knowing how I was when I was drinking I would never have gone to the ER for anyone. When I was sick I covered it with alcohol.

Alcohol took away my freedom to make good choices and decisions. I did not take good care of myself healthwise. The total freedom to be rigorously honest about what is going on with me and to know how to use it without hurting people. The freedom of my feelings and to be able to feel them and not be ashamed of how I feel about something.

Just this past Thurs. a friend of mine here in town committed suicide. I just cried and cried as I was so sad and did not understand it because he just was not the type of guy that I ever felt would do something like this. He had a very good business but got hooked up with the wrong friends. I think to myself if it were not for this program of AA how I would have been up the street to the bar Thurs night drinking.

God has given me the freedom through this program today that I know that no matter what happens in my life today I do not have to take a drink.

Apr 03: Admitting We Were Alcoholic

Admitting We Were Alcoholic

Admitting we were alcoholic. On Page 30 of the BB in the Chapter call “More About

Alcoholism” the chapter begins “Most of us were unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to they he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore it is not suprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people.”

How many vain attempts does it take us to get here…I know for me it’s been quite a few. How long did it take for us to admit we weren’t like other drinkers…that alcohol possessed us? For me I am still working through this. But my desire to live a life of sobriety keeps me coming back!

Mar 27: Dealing with Resentments

Dealing with Resentments

I’ve been grappling lately with a resentment that has affected my serenity. D Thankfully, the Big Book offers an extremely effective method for dealing with resentments. It has been my experience in the past that it works – plain and simple, “it works if you work it”.

“It you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred you now feel compassionate understanding and love.”

It was my first Sponsor years ago who suggested this exercise for dealing with resentments ~ except she suggested that I do the praying for 30 days ~ I guess she figured I was a slow-learner. J But, I have found repeatedly over the years that this works ~ in fact, I usually find that at the end of two weeks I have forgotten to pray for the person because the resentment was gone, it just was not an issue anymore. If it happens that I get to the end of two weeks and I still feel the resentment, I extend the time another two weeks. Rarely have I found that necessary, but certainly the resentment is gone before the end of that second two weeks.

I encourage you to share about how resentments have affected your sobriety or your life in general and how you resolve them. Or, please feel free to share if you have a burning issue that affects your sobriety.

Mar 20: Being of Service and/or Sponsorship

Being of Service and/or Sponsorship

When I first came into AA, I had a wonderful sponsor. She got me into service right away. Up North, in meetings, we sold raffle tixs at meetings for books, I would do that. Sold lit at the meetings, help clean up, etc. At about 18 months, I think, or about 2 years sober, I was asked to sponsor a gal. I gladly took on that job. It was rough, she was not completely ready, and subsequently relapsed and went all over the groups and blamed me. At the time, it crushed me. I didn’t realize then what I know now that I am just not that powerful!! smiles…

And all through the program and doing my steps, I was always concerned about, “Am I doing them right?” Is this person guiding me “right”. This was a theme all throughout my Masters program also…am I “counseling” right? I did everything by the book I was too afraid to be myself and what kind of counselor I wanted to be, I felt I needed to be what the department wanted me to be, and when I graduated, real life was not in my books. I was afraid to be my authentic self when counseling.

Well, this leads me to service work, sponsorship and the program for me today. After many years of whatever by the book was…I realized that all things are guides!! I was reminded by I think my awesome and wonderful current sponsor (and I mean that *winks*;) that Bill and Bob did not have a book!!! They allowed thier HP’s to guide them. AA did not start out with a Big Book or the 12 and 12…. And I learned throughout the years that so long as I use these materials as guides, then I am doing the next right thing in guiding another or myself. We are not all the same. For me, I have learning disabilities, and when I did my first 4th step, the way the book stated, it was kinda confusing…years later, I used a different kinda guide via workbook that Joe McQ suggested, and wow, that was what I needed to do what I needed to get my 4th out of me and on paper. It worked for me.

Today, I sponsor two ladies. The first one is a gal who has time in the program, so I agreed to sponsor her because I “swore that I would never sponsor a newbie again” this was said out of fear. Well, becasue it is difficult for me to get to meetings f2f due to physical limitations, I am a part of not only this awesome online group, but another one that has real time meetings and chat.

A gal whispered me a couple weeks ago in need of help and goes through very similar health stuff as me…we talked on the phone and she really needed a sponsor but didn’t know how to go about it. I, not even thinking so much about it, offered to assist her until she was able to either find one at a f2f meeting or found another in her area if she so chose to find a different one…..WOW…what an HP thing!!! She reminds me of me when I first got here…exactly like me…she says there are no coinsidences, it is working for her so far, she is following suggestions, and my HP which I am relying on heavily and my own wonderful sponsor, are guiding me to humbly assist this lady in her new journey.

You see, it isn’t about me!!! It is about just simply sharing my ESH the way it was so freely given to me. If this gal relapses, that is not on me…I am not that powerful! I was, however, thus far, blessed with a gal and a new experience that is allowing me to begin to experience sponsorship with a newbie again and boy is it keeping me sober!!!

So, my point is, that for me today, I just try to do the next right thing….Sponsorship for me is kinda like parenting (I am not a parent, however, I play one on TV…no seriously, I have neices and friend’s with babies, I am also by degree a School and Guidance Counselor not working in the field but have) so I have a feeling what it could be like or look at others in my life who are parents…we all have different styles…sponsoring, to me, is kinda like that, for me it is not one size fits all, some follow strict Big Book, others pass on the way they were taken through the steps…for me, I just pray, let HP work through me and try not to mind freak over am I doing this right or wrong…so long as my intentions are out of kindness, love, honest, openminded and willing to carry the message, I am doing ok.

So, I hope that all made sense….I am still trying to just be in the moment myself and remind myself everything above as I sponsor this newbie….just being of service whether it is sharing at a meeting, chairing, sponsoring or just being a sober person today…Thank HP for this gift and for all of you and with that I pass and open the meeting to this topic, or whatever else you may need to share.

Mar 13: Letting Go of Old Beliefs

Letting Go of Old Beliefs

Good morning ladies of GROW, my name is Colleen and I am an alcoholic. The shares that have been posted the last few weeks have been awesome. I am so grateful to be a member of GROW. For this week, I am choosing the topic of letting go of old beliefs.. One of my old beliefs about God/HP/Goddess is a punishing God. Even today, at times I feel that I am being punished by God.. I yell and scream about my life thinggs don’t go my way.. Thank God I don’t stay in that mode. How immature is that

Another old belief is that I am in competition with you. I am not in competition with anyone. How sick is that line of thinking? When my mother was still alive, she talked about her friend’s health issues ending with with “Look at me-my life is more tragic.” When I was sober in the late 80’s, I needed to have a more tragic life than you. Today, I know none of that is important.

I thank God for this program. It is teaching me to live one day at a time. I hope I am making sense. Please share your views on God and character defects that keep you separate from others.

Mar 13: Change


Thank You for letting me chair this meeting today. I will celebrate 29 years of sobriety on March 15th. Especially during the time near a milestone date for me, all of the chaos and desperation that I was feeling at that time is very clear to me. I’ve been told that our “special” date can also become over whelming, and lead to a relapse. I’ve seen it happen. I have tried to learn from the mistakes of others. Especially when they begin the conversation with “Don’t do what I did…….” IMHO it’s OK for you to say “Congratulations” or something like that.

But I’m here to warn you not to be overly impressed with *quantity* of sobriety. Look for *quality* of sobriety. Many “long timers” take their sobriety for granted … big mistake! They then become IMHO “Good, bad examples”.

I remember being told, the only person who has been sober longer than I me, is a person who got out of bed before I did today. Considering that I obviously stay up late, and don’t have to get up to go to work, it’s pretty easy to have more sobriety than me. 😀 I have so much I want to share with you. No one thing seems more important than another.

In the beginning I stayed sober out of fear of returning to what *was* before AA. I still get urges to drink, and I’m still afraid of becoming worse than I was when I came to this program.

The “Serenity Prayer” has been very important to my recovery. I had a Serenity Prayer necklace that I wore constantly, the first few years I was in the program. At work I would hold that necklace and stay close to my program, while I did my work. I always have it right in front of me. So far the only thing I’ve found that I can change is me. My attitude. Set boundaries (that I never had before), and either ignore people who don’t respect them, or simply get away from those people. I can’t please all of the people, all of the time. Crap! I’m lucky if I can please myself some of the time. I *work* at doing what is best for me … my “Elf”. I don’t always know what that is. But I do know I will always find the answer to any questions I have at an AA meeting. I don’t even have to ask the question. Someone at that meeting will undoubtedly share their ESH in a way that will help me find that answer in myself.

I was told I must remain *teachable*. One might think that at 29 years sober & 70 years old, I’d know a whole lot more answers than I do. The answers are still the same today as they were 29 years ago. I have to be flexible and willing to change, or I’m going to be miserable. I don’t want to be miserable. I want to make the changes in myself that I need to do to be happy. I like happy.

“Change” may be the one word that all of this boils down to. I think that about says it all.

Mar 06: Appreciating Where We’ve Come From

Appreciating Where We’ve Come From

Appreciate: be fully aware of; hold dear; recognize with gratitude This topic is on my mind because for Valentine’s Day my husband got me a membership to This was very important to me because for my WHOLE life I’ve known NOTHING about my father’s side of the family. The whole Martin family refused to talk about our history or simply tell any of us what country we emigrated from! This always made me furious and it was much worse because my father, who might have told me things, died in a car crash 7 months before my birth.

So, after working for several weeks on I have traced the Martin side all the way back to the 1100s in Scotland and England!!!! While I did find 1 ancestor had 1 male slave inherited from his father and that one ancestor fought WITH the British against America, I can see NO reason to hide anything from me. Needless to say I’ve been very emotional for these last few weeks. Knowing where my family came from is very important to me. Just as important as appreciating the fact that I am, and have been for almost 6 years, sober after 15 years of active alcoholism.

I now fully appreciate the gravity of my prior behavior and the road I was on. I feel the appreciation to my bones that I am no longer “that person” nor am I doing “those things” which were destroying me and my life. Each day I breathe another breath and each day that I wake up I can increasingly appreciate the struggles, traumas, and lessons which brought me to today. I appreciate the difference between a life as an alcoholic lost in the bottle and misery versus the life of a sober alcoholic smelling the roses with each step. And above all I appreciate those who’ve gone before me that learned the Program which saved my life.

Do you appreciate fully and massively what you came from in alcoholism? Tell us what this has brought up in your heart and mind.

Feb 27: Think Think Think

Think Think Think

Hi, my name is Lori and I’m an alcoholic. Thank you for allowing me to lead this week’s meeting.

When I lived in Traverse City, Michigan, the club I belonged to was in a dingy old house just a couple blocks south of Lake Michigan. I think it was the nicotine stains that held the curtains together, and the spots on the carpet were, indeed, stains, not polka dots.

But what I remember most about that room were signs on the (yes, stained) walls. One Day at a Time. First Things First. And my favorite, Think, think, think.

Think, think, think. For my wee brain, I’ve taken that to mean think the thought throughwhatever the thought happened to be at that time.

When I first got sober, and still sometimes now, the first think in the series is drinking alcohol. Whenever thoughts of good old days want to be entertained, I find, the best way for me to deal with them to entertain them thoroughly. In other words, move on to the second and third think.

For example, back when I was in the service, I had some really good friends. In the present time, sometimes I think about a friend I served with, what we did, and wonder what s/he is up to now.

Think number one is all well and good, but it can easily move on to think number two, which is turning the slice of time into something way super much more meaningful than it was.

Like the times living in the second platoon barracks of 15th Transportation Company, at Nellingen Kassern, Nellingen, Deutschland, listening to Ozzy Ozbourne’s Crazy Train in Mook’s room, while drinking Stutgarter Hofbrau out of 2 liter bottles, enhanced with shots of German liquors were were discovering. Oh, but weren’t those just the best, best times ever?

If I stop there, take my thoughts no further, I’m doing myself a disservice. I have to move on to think number three.

It takes think number three to remember the night I woke up from a black out and a guy was getting off mea guy I never would have invitedd up in the first placemy panties and tampon laying off to the side.

I have to think the good times through enough to remember that I, as the result of my drinking, put myself in many vulnerable situations, and many times the result was not such a good time.

I have to consider all, all, all the thinks, otherwise I fool myself into thinking that, by not drinking, I’m missing out on the best of times.

What think, think, think means to me is to go beyond the first summons thought, beyond the glorious musing thought, to reality thought, how drinking alcohol is destructive to me.

Remembering that I quit for a reason (that through my drinking, myself and others get hurt) keeps me quit. And helps me remember that these are the best of times, the ones in recovery.

And all this from a nicotine-stained sign on a road I can no longer remember the name of.

Ladies, this week please share on the AA-ism think, think, think, or anything that you need to this week.

Feb 20: Our Personal Spiritual Experiences

Our Personal Spiritual Experiences

The Big Book tells us that alcoholism is a physical, emotional, and spiritual disease. Getting sober does much to address both the physical and emotional aspects of the disease, but the steps are the key to curing the spiritual malady. In fact, the 12th Step says “Having had a spiritual awakening as THE result of these steps, ” (In the meetings I attend, most people read “a result” instead of “the result.”)

Before I put the bottle down, I believed in a Higher Power, but I could not make contact. I would read the Bible with a joint in one hand and a beer in the other and then wonder what was missing. I was missing. I couldn’t have a spiritual life while drowning in spirits.

AA and the steps have given me the most valuable gift of my life – an ongoing, deeply internal contact with the God of my understanding. It is so deep and personal, in fact, that I seldom talk about my own spiritual experience.

Today, I choose to share about it. I am not a religious person. Raised a Christian, I have spent years studying the Bhagavad Gita and Zen Buddhism. Recently, I have read the Qur’an. My heart tells me that there is only one God, no matter what humans call him/her/it (even when the name is “Serendipity”). My Higher Power is the core of every particle in the universe.

Every spiritual text I have read has a simple message. Love God, and love each other. This, I believe, is the base of the 12th Step. When I help another alcoholic, I am serving my Higher Power. And that’s why my Higher Power gave me the gift of sobriety – so I could be of service.

After years and years of being self-absorbed and self-centered, AA and the Steps have placed my in a position to be of service, to love God and to love my fellow creatures. And with that gift comes the responsibility to serve, whether it be another alcoholic, my family or friends, strangers, and even animals. That is my spiritual experience.

Basically, I would use a modified John F. Kennedy quote to express my spiritual experience: Ask not what your HP can do for you. Ask what you can do for your Higher Power.

Please share with us this week about your unique spiritual experience in sobriety.

Feb 13: Doing the Next Right Thing

Doing the Next Right Thing

First I want to thank my online sponsor for graciously offering to let me Chair the meeting this week, she had been scheduled and I had not requested the date early enough. February 18 will be, God willing the 14th Anniversary of my sobriety. What a blessing, what a gift that I need to keep treasuring.

“Doing the next right thing” is an excellent piece of advice that my online sponsor shared with me in the very early days of my sobriety. The “next right thing” lines up our tasks so that we are not overwhelmed with lots of demands that can confuse us. We only deal with one at a time, which is much more manageable.

I find that the “next right thing” is often small. It may be as simple as taking a deep refreshing breath or doing something caring for a friend. My action

grounds me with the principles of the beautiful program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Or it may just as easily be some small chore. Whatever it turns out to be, the act of asking the question, helps me decide the appropriate response, and I am not as likely to make a poorly considered choice that I will most likely, later regret. Think of “Doing the next right thing” as a compass that always points in the right direction.

When I found myself totally dependent on others, after having my leg broken during knee replacement surgery last August, “Doing the next right thing” became particularly important. Doing deep breathing, trying to get out of myself by helping someone else, taking little steps which eventually added up to actual steps was such an important part of my staying sober & sane!

I would like to hear how you have used this principle in your sobriety. Wishing you all another 24 hours of sobriety.

Feb 06: Making Your Way Back to a Daily Life of Sobriety

Making Your Way Back to a Daily Life of Sobriety

Whether you are finding your way back to real life after years of drinking OR coming back to living day by day sober and healthy from a time in complacency or maybe rebellion, it is a daunting task. So many emotions, fears, resentments, losses, and darkness. No matter your geographic location, age, marital status, or anything else peace is only found by taking one step at a time with a solid Program. I’ve been lost in drinking and I’ve been lost in complacency. Neither place is one somebody ever wants to be and it takes courage and faith to fight your way out of them.

Some never find their way back at all. All of us in this group have made our way out of the darkness of drinking and even more still from the despair of just not caring about living the Program. The latter can lead you right back to the very darkness you fought your way out of in the first place. While it would be wonderful if all who found life beyond alcoholism stayed there…we all know it just isn’t true. There are so many speed bumps out there to trip us up and trip us up royally!

I would like us to consider our own experiences with such and what “bright light” or two showed us the way back. And with that let us all share our gratitude for making it back, whether this is your first time here, 3rd, or 10th.

Above all else, please remind yourself frequently that some just never find their way back at all.

Jan 30: What I Gained in Sobriety

What I Gained in Sobriety

Yesterday I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a beautiful wedding of the daughter of people who have been friends with us forever. Attending a wedding is one of those things I could never picture doing without a glass in my hand. But I had a fabulous day, toasted with Martinelli’s, danced a bunch, remember the whole thing and woke up feeling great this morning.

I was afraid when I got sober my best days were behind me. I didn’t think I would be as humorous, I didn’t think romance could blossom without the bubbly, I didn’t think sports events would be as fun. Turns out I was absolutely wrong. My life is richer, fuller and more fun now.

Part of it is that alcohol gave me a theatrical, false sense of emotion. I could build a drama around a moment, making it appear more romantic, funnier, etc. Turns out, I was just drunk enough to be stupid!

The other part is that the Big Book has taught me how to live life sober, and taken me on a spiritual path which has given me compassion, appreciation and true caring for others.

May you all walk in the sunlight of the spirit while you ponder the topic of the week: What I thought I would lose in sobriety, and what I gained instead.

Jan 23: It Works When I Work It

It Works When I Work It

I guess I am one for slogans, they sure helped me keep my thinking simple. You know I can complicate things pretty badly. When I got here I needed simple.

It works, when I work it.

hm-mm In the beginning that meant, I didn’t go to parties and out with my drinking buddies. It meant that I had to be honest enough with them so that I could protect myself. My real friends didn’t judge me and didn’t pressure me to continue drinking if I didn’t want to. My drinking friends, did. Pretty soon I didn’t feel comfortable being the only non drinking person with a bunch of drinkers. I felt out of place. But I found a place where I felt safe, and at home. In the rooms of AA, at tables or at a computer I find a sense of belonging that I always used alcohol or other substances to find. Gradually I went from being at home in a bar( actually my story is I was home alone on the couch passed out), to being at home in the church, hospital, or fire station or where ever the meeting is held.

By working the 12 steps of this program as suggested by the big book and taught to me by my sponsors, when crisis arises I have a ” kit of tools” that I can use to protect myself. It works when I work it, and I reach for it when I have pain. Just like I would reach for the bottle of aspirin.

More importantly, this is a program of spiritual maintenance. My sobriety, serenity and happiness is a daily reprieve based on my spiritual fitness. To stay spiritually fit, I have to pray, meditate and act on the guidance I receive. The big book tell me that there will come a time when only my higher power will stand between me and a drink.

Frankly, everyday, my higher power stands between me and that drink. Without him, I would. I would love to, I am an alcoholic.

Thank god for this program and that I still remember how bad I felt when I did drink.

It works, WHEN I work it.

I hope that something in there, sparks something in you, and if it doesn’t please share on what’s affecting your sobriety today.

Jan 16: One Day at a Time

One Day at a Time

Keep coming back it really works.

You are all probably wondering about my topic but this coming Tues. I will have 5 yrs of sobriety and it has alot to do with this AA quote or slogan, whatever you want to call it, that I have this straight sobriety. Last night I was at a meeting and there was 19 members at the table and out of all those members there was only 2 of us who had straight sobriety with no relapse. One gentleman just recently celebrated 55 yrs but when he came into the program he got 3 yrs and than relapsed. This seemed to be how all their stories started out as we were doing a 1st step for a guy.

In each of their shares they told how they quit praying in the morning, going too meetings, calling their sponsors and yadda yadda. I have, with God’s help, kept coming back to the program on a daily basis and I strongly believe that it is why it has worked for me. I have a huge fear (good fear) of relapse and so have been taught from around the tables that if I work this program and keep coming back and do not pick up that first drink or take the first sip that I will not relapse. This disease of alcoholism is very cunning, bafflling and powerful and so when I get up in the morning and (once in awhile forget) open up and talk to God first thing I have set my day of “one day at a time” and that is all it takes.

I am so blessed and grateful for my upcoming 5 yrs but know that I made it by just working this program “one day at a time” and “keep coming back” to it daily. Jean had or maybe even still has a quote “Sobriety is a gift of which the price to pay is eternal vigilance”.

Thank you for allowing me to chair this week and gals you can share on this topic or any topic you would like to. I am open to anything.

Jan 09: Contempt Prior to Investigation

Contempt Prior to Investigation

While considering a topic for this week I opened the Big Book – not sure what I was looking for, but looking none the less. I ended up in the back of the book – reading the Appendices – landing on #2 Spiritual Experience.

Initially I thought that what fit for me right now was to share about my own spiritual experience. But after reading I found at the end a quote from Herbert Spencer – – and this is what really fits where I am right now – in the moment.

“There is a principal which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a (wo)man in everlasting ignorance —–that principal in contempt prior to investigation.”

Today, I think my spiritual experience can be found in this quote. I was a world class screw up. It was my claim to fame ! For real. I started drinking and drugging at an early age and there wasn’t much I thought I could do well in life – – other than get high. People in my family got high, I got high, my friends got high, and many of my neighbors got high (and still get high!). It was expected.

Throughout the years I learned, very well, to hate myself – for the things I did, for the things I didn’t do, and basically for being me. In 1991 I put the needle down. I put the bottle down too, but picked it back up several times since then. I have been in and out of AA over the years – lately more out than in.

But over the years I have done some things that have allowed change to my life. I received my HS diploma, I went to college, I went to Grad School, I have been at the same job for almost 10 yrs, I own a home (though at times I miss the “ghetto”!), and I have a wonderful partner AND more important than anything else — I have a 10 yr old daughter who lights up my life! For real.

More recently I have gotten a sponsor, I am working the steps with my sponsor…I am making a conscious effort to be honest. My life has gotten better, and at some level, God has helped me to get better on the inside too. HOWEVER, I find myself judging myself based on the past – – despite the evidence of change in the present. And this is what the quote made me see – – that I am not fair to myself. Everyone else is ok – but not me – I am a bad person…rewind…everyone else is ok but not me !!!

Well, this has to stop. I have to ask God to help me – not only with forgiving other people – – but with forgiving myself. I was the victim of others actions for a very long time — but not lately — lately I have been a victim of my own contempt…what better way to stay a drunk, right?

So, I would like to hear whatever it is you have to say – – on this topic or on another. Because you never know where you are going to find what you need at the moment — I never expected to find it in the back of the book!

Jan 02: God Could and Would if He Were Sought

God Could and Would if He Were Sought

To introduce a topic, I will restate a portion of “How It Works” here:

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.

After many hard years of drinkin’ and druggin’ and “men-in’, and thankfully, a number of years of sobriety, I’m convinced that (a) I am alcoholic and I have come to understand and accept that I (by myself) I cannot manage my own life; (b) I’m also convinced that my alcoholism ~ and all the other “isms” connected with it ~ will not be relieved by me or any other human being.

I say convinced because I need to be reminded (through meetings, Sponsors) that my best thinking got me drunk, hung-over, in a blackout and married to someone I didn’t like. 🙂 What helps me most NOW is working and re-working the Steps as outlined in the Big Book, and through that process, I discover and re-discover that (c) “God could and would if He were sought.”

For me, this is an ongoing process ~ my brain/psyche is still alcoholic and I get caught up in (or create) the current drama in my life and I need to be reminded to “pause when agitated” and ask for GOD = Good Orderly Direction. Otherwise, I find myself off in the ditch.

When I do take the time to put God in the center of whatever is going on, everything comes together well — much better than I could have created on my own. I find myself noticing that God did for me what I could not do for myself. Examples of that include my recent celebration of 24 years of sobriety; my marriage of 20+ years when, prior to this Program, I could not maintain a relationship for longer than 20 months max; the enjoyment of good, fun, meaningful relationships with my family members, with healthy boundaries and loving support; and reasonably healthy boundaries in my work that has a tendency to be all-consuming.

The list could go on but, suffice to say ~ God has done for me what I could not do for myself in every area of my life. Wherever I let Him in, it gets better.

Please share about how, in your own Program of recovery, “God could and would if He were sought”.

To the NEWCOMERS and new members, I send a special request that you share about wherever you are at the moment because it helps me stay sober to read your stories and to share with you what it was like for me. Words don’t have to be fancy. Just share from your heart.