Dec 30: Explaining Not Drinking

Explaining Not Drinking

Very soon, many of us will be in situations where drinking is more or less expected. New Year’s Eve may be the drunkest day of the year. So how does a newly sober alcoholic explain why they’re not drinking?

It’s important to realize that we don’t owe explanations to anyone. “No thank you” is a very short sentence. But when you’re new to sobriety, it seems like a huge issue. Won’t the people who know us wonder what’s going on? After partying hard for many prior New Years, we may feel like everyone is noticing the change.

I certainly feared what people would say or think. I already felt like a complete failure because I had to stop drinking. I was already guilty and ashamed of my alcoholic behaviors. I was ashamed that I was an alcoholic. I was ashamed that I couldn’t drink without making a fool of myself. I built the ‘explanation’ issue into a huge mountain that I just didn’t think I could climb. So, I stayed home alone – and lonely – through my first New Years holiday.

What was useful for me was to hear what other alcoholics had done to explain their sudden change. Over time, I worked out my own personal – and very true – explanation: “It makes me sick.” But my reason may not fit for everyone. Some people volunteer to be the designated driver – a wonderful way to both explain and stay sober!

For me, the short simple statement feels right. “I already have a headache” or “My stomach’s upset” work well. “I’m allergic” is another good one – and very true. “I’m driving” is becoming more understandable these days. But there must be a hundred other ways to tell your friends you’re not drinking.

There’s one other aspect of the dilemma: making sure you don’t get any booze by surprise. Bringing or pouring your own drinks is the best way to be sure there is no alcohol in your drink.

Sisters, how do/did you let people know you aren’t in the booze business anymore?

Dec 23: Staying Sober Through the Holidays

Staying Sober Through the Holidays

I am 48 Days Sober today and very grateful; however, I’ve been feeling some of the R.I.D. (Restless, Irritable, and Discontent) as we get closer to Christmas and the New Year. I not only have a drinking disease, but I also have a “thinking” disease. I have a disease that often tells me that I don’t have a disease, and I have a tendency to minimize things; i.e. my drinking history.

I’ve been in AA for over four years, and so this will be my fourth year in a row of being sober during Christmas and New Year’s. I thought by now that it would be getting easier, but I am still feeling vulnerable and feeling like an “outsider.” I still get those feelings of wishing that I could drink- especially around the holidays.

As many of you know, I went back to outpatient treatment for five weeks and finished last week. I just completed my first week back to work. I feel really grateful that I am back to work, and that it went really well. As much as I feel that I received extra support at outpatient treatment and now have a new sponsor, I still feel like it’s going to be difficult getting through Christmas and New Year’s.

I plan on going to plenty of meetings before Christmas and New Year’s. I will make phone calls to other women in the program and continue to talk to my sponsor every day. I will continue to pray and do my readings in the Big Book daily. I will have an exit plan in place in case things get to be too much for me, and I have to leave. My husband and children will be with me. I also will have another beverage that I can drink- maybe even bring my own to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. As of now, I don’t have any plans for New Year’s which may be a good thing.

I guess I also have to stop minimizing how bad things really had gotten when I was drinking. I need to “play the tape” over in my head. Sometimes I feel like I’m never going to get this program, and a feeling of hopelessness comes over me. That’s when it’s time to get to a meeting and make a gratitude list.

I’m fortunate to be part of Gratitude Group via email and also via Skype. When I concentrate on being grateful for being sober another day and reach out to other alcoholics it puts things more in perspective for me.

I would like to know how you all have stayed sober through the holidays and/or how you plan on staying grateful during the holidays instead of wishing that you could drink and feeling sorry for yourself. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and all the best for a happy, healthy, and sober new year.

Dec 16: Your Spiritual Journey

Your Spiritual Journey

It was my birthday this week, thirty years of sober living- that amazes me actually lol I truly can remember being overjoyed at having three weeks under my belt and, well, one YEAR was just awesome And to date, one year has to have been the best one –simply in virtue of having a whole year..mind-blowing for me! Gratitude oozing out of me, just to be fresh out of and living free from the nightmare I had been in drinking . . .

My connection to a Power greater than me began early on in sobriety – in fact, right from the start. And today I know I wouldn’t be safe, sane and sober (as Clancy likes to say) with that Power in my life – it’s an ongoing connection, a vital one.

My experience led me back to the religion of my youth. Different, mind you, than when I was a youth, because I was and am able to question and move freely within the spiritual path I choose. Others around me in the Fellowship led by example, guiding me into being able to look at all I had been taught, casting away all that didn’t ‘sit right’ with me (sometimes, at a later point, I would find myself revisiting and consequently accepting some of the things I had earlier on thrown away). Bear in mind, I was and am a recovering Irish Catholic taught by Dominicans hehe….a survivor I am much of what was conveyed to me then I have discarded. Many things that were said mean something totally different to me today, having been taken out of the harsh clothes of Irish Catholicism that the nuns served us up.

My reading of spiritual books began. I remember one having a profound influence — In Tune With The Infinite by Ralph Waldo Trine — I saw for the first time how love was an actual power, an energy, a force. How we are all connected as part of nature…My whole spirit exulted in this! Reading a biography of John Lennon too had a profound effect on me. My readings were diverse. Came To Believe – our own wonderful publication–opened my eyes to what others were doing. So many more — John Powell’s Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am.

If truth be told, my prayer life could do with a bit of reinvigorating at the moment. I’m being challenged in many ways lately, and my spirit is sagging, even though I am involved in service and F2F meetings and sponsoring –in other words, doing what the Book suggests.

I would love to hear about *your* journey, your insights, whether you’re a week sober or a decade. Are there any books have left you feeling inspired, excited? Are you having spiritual awakenings in little ways – big ways? Has your idea of your Higher Power changed as you’ve journeyed into sobriety?

Dec 09: Honesty


Growing up, my father was very strict, and he always raised us kids to always be honest no matter what the consequences might be for doing or saying something we shouldn’t have. I do not know if my parents had some sort of way of seeing inside of us kids or what but they could always tell when we were not telling the truth. It took me awhile to realize that but, once I did, I saved my bare ass many times for being honest. I tried raising my two daughters the same way, but I do know there were times that they were not completely honest.

When I came into the program, I just knew I was a very honest person so that was not a problem for me. Than I did my 4th & 5th step with my sponsor and realized I was not always the perfectly honest person I perceived myself to be, and not only to myself but others also. I was totally dishonest about my drinking and even got to the point where I would hide an extra 5th so I wouldn’t run out. Throwing empty bottles in the woods so I wouldn’t have to put them in the garbage and anyone would find them and know how much I was drinking.

I do not nor ever have wanted to hurt peoples’ feelings, so I was never completely honest with them when asked a direct question. I would maybe tell some little white lies. I stole money and cigarettes from where I worked but felt so guilty would pay it back. It was never a lot, but it was the fact that I did it and that was very dishonest. Today, I sometimes get myself in trouble with my children because I won’t lie to them and yet, if it’s something that I know will cause trouble, it makes me very uncomfortable and they know it every time. So today I let them know not to tell me anything they don’t want the other one to know because I will not lie.

It’s very confusing sometimes for me to honestly know how to handle certain situations where telling the truth can cause so many problems and hard feelings. I have recently gone through a situation like that, and it’s a situation where I don’t feel it’s anyone’s business. So how do you gals handle different situations where you know this program is a program of honesty but something happens you don’t feel comfortable being totally honest about it.

Dec 02: FEAR


I once heard that the word FEAR stands for Failure Expected And Received. I have allowed fear to rule my whole life. When I am fearful, I shut down. I believe I can’t do it, I’m scared to try, and I become hard on myself for thinking I can’t do something.

When I open my mind and heart to my higher power, HE guides me through the rough terrain. When I work through my fears, I look back and wonder what was I afraid of??? 🙂

As many of you know, I recently had a medical issue that made me fearful…but by discussing it, getting more information about it, and lots of prayer, my fear was almost nonexistent. When they took my blood pressure before the procedure, it was the lowest it has ever been, something like 112/70. The nurse was amazed and I told her I’d been praying a lot!

How have you dealt with fear?

Nov 25: The Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer

More than any other single pamphlet, slogan or book, THIS is the cornerstone of my AA program.

God: I immediately acknowledge my Higher Power in my life and turn to Him for help
Grant me the Serenity: tells me that in the midst of whatever is going on in my life at the moment, I need to take a deep breath and go to a quiet place inside myself where there is calm and peace; I should stay there until that serenity extends to my outer self
to Accept the Things I Cannot Change: and that is everything around me; my control over change starts inside me and goes halfway through my skin – after that, I control nothing; I may try to manipulate or influence or threaten but nothing will change because of that behavior on my part – I am not in charge
the Courage to Change the Things I Can: change is difficult and usually unwelcome; it’s a lot of work and it might be painful to me; if something is amiss in my life and there is no alternative available except to change, then I want you, Higher Power, to grace me with as much courage as necessary to do what must be done
and, the Wisdom to Know the Difference: I need to know the difference because if it is something outside of my control (see above) then I need to let it go (there’s a slogan for that! Let Go and Let God); if the situation is something that is within my power to change (also see above) then I had better get on with the job of doing something about it (there’s a step for that! Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings).
Applying the prayer in my day-to-day life for the stresses and situations (people, places and things) as I have outlined above has made a HUGE difference in how I interact with the world. This is the tool I use instead of running to hide, avoiding, over-reacting or, worst of all, drinking. It is simple; it is powerful and it is effective. When the Serenity Prayer was first discovered and brought to Bill W.’s attention he said: “Never had we seen so much A.A. in so few words”. I have to agree.

Nov 18: Happiness and Fulfillment

Happiness and Fulfillment

All my life, until I was in the program for quite a while, I looked *out there* for my happiness and fulfillment. It was always up to you, whoever you were, to provide it. It never occurred to me that happiness is an inside job.

After a few years in the program I got the book “Each Day a New Beginning” and the reading for Nov.17 finally clicked in. What the whole page boils down to is this “Happiness is my decision, every moment”. Happiness is the gift I get when I approach my life with gratitude. I wish that I could have this be present in my life *every* day, but I am human and my character defects and my fragile ego get in the way too often for that. If I were to compare my life now to the one I used to live – there is no comparison. I am fully appreciative and grateful for all the blessings I have and I try not to get too despondent when things are not smooth sailing. If I had made a list of the things that I wanted to get from sobriety when I got here I would have seriously short changed myself.

Every day when I wake I read pages 86-88 and ask my HP for sobriety and his guidance for my day. Then I try to do something worthwhile and be productive in some small way. I make phone calls and receive them. I stay in touch with sponsees and my sponsor and at night I thank God for my day. I truly believe that if I can keep one hand in my HP’s and the other in the hand of an alcoholic I won’t have a hand to pick up a drink.

This week please share with us your feelings on happiness and fulfillment or anything else that you need to share. It is your meeting.

Nov 11: “We”


I went it to a meeting on Friday that is a Big Book Study and we read from “Dr. Bob’s Nightmare.”

“Of far more importance was the fact that he was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what he was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience. In other words, he talked my language.”

The preceding pages talked about the horrible place of drinking uncontrollably and not being able to stop. I flashed back to my first meeting and remembered the woman who told me her story after the meeting ended.

No preaching and no instructions, she just told me what her drinking was like and what she had done about it as a member of AA. I thought she was an angel. I too had never heard that kind of honesty about an alcoholic’s drinking.

So I would like to suggest the first word in step 1 “We” as a topic and hear how people related to other alcoholics. I will share that my most shameful ‘secret’ was that if I didn’t have to go to work, I started drinking when I got up, passed out about noon and started back up when I woke up. I was so sick and so dead inside and wishing for the end outside too. It was only in the rooms of AA that I could talk out loud about where alcoholism had taken me and listen to others share their bottoms. Remembering the ‘We” in AA has helped me so many times over the years to know I am not alone.

Nov 04: Amends


A mend is a tear of fabric never looks like it did, but can be stronger than it was originally.

It’s like that in the fabric of my life, too. When I think about making amends, I have to recognize the behaviors that were hurtful to me and others (step 4/5), and then I had to stop doing those behaviors (step 6/7) eventually some of those behaviors have even become objectionable. 🙂 Then I became willing to be honest with those people in my life that I had harmed.

An amend isn’t an I am sorry. An amend is about what I need to be, who I need to be, to make it right for YOU. The beauty of ALL my amends is that I have already changed in the process of steps 4 thru 7. They can see that it’s not just about “I’m sorry.”

What mends have you made in the fabric of your lives?

Oct 28: Letting go of bad memories

Letting go of bad memories

In the process of forgiving others I had to let go of that hope that my past could have been different or better. Intellectually I understood that the past cannot be changed but foolishly those thoughts would creep in my head.

By daily asking God for help, many times!, this alcoholic realized that life does not change without apology and forgiveness. Life is what it is, and acceptance leads to great freedom, as long as there is also accountability and healing in the process.

I will share later in the week on my experiences, but please, if you wish, share how you have been able to let go of the bad memories of your past.

Oct 21: Relieve Me from the Bondage of Self

Relieve Me from the Bondage of Self

Page 63, Paragraph 1 and 2 of the Big Book:
When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn. 

We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: “God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!” We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.

When I signed up to chair this meeting today, I was truly in a very different place and I am eternally grateful for this program and for you. This is a “we” program and together we share a special bond that transcends understanding.

My journey towards recovery takes me back on a cold winter night. My ex and I drove to a treatment facility . I remember that drive was long and silent. That was December 5th 1998. He had no idea . I hid it so well from everyone. I was the super mom, a mom of four beautiful daughters; I was a leader in my community and on the school board. I pride myself being active in my children’s lives and in my church.

But who was I fooling? I wore the abusive words and actions of others as my own. My God was rejecting me as I was rejecting myself. Drink took the pain away however slowly it took my soul. I was dying . dying spiritually. I reached out to friends, to my church and to my doctor. I tried to stop drinking but I couldn’t. I heard of AA but what if someone saw me? I was a mom, a leader and I would disgrace them all. However I was sliding into this black abyss and nothing could stop it . nothing. So there I was.

Upon my admission, I remember entering my room at the end of a long hallway and it was dark. My roommate was asleep. I entered quietly and sat in the far bed and looked up at the mesh window, wondering . “What have I done?” Man, I felt so lost and felt that God was punishing me and I deserved the life I had . I had no hope. I was a misfit, a mistake. I wanted so desperately to leave this world. Alcohol was my friend and how quickly it became the devil himself and he won.

Somehow through that pain, I taped the pictures of my ladies (my daughters) on my desk, and they became my higher power during that dark time. I had to get better for them. The weeks ahead I slowly came out of the fog and saw how God held me through my pain. Then came the time for me to leave this sanctuary, this secure place . I lost it, I was scared. What if I fail? And something inside made me strong . we truly don’t realize the strength within ourselves during our trials. I was discharged two days before Christmas and I was determined to make that Christmas special for my children.

It was also the start of my journey in AA. I went to my first meeting that weekend and, as I entered the room, it was as if my heavy armor fell on the floor and I was allowed to be me . broken, confused and scared. And they embraced me lovingly without judgment even when I so was fearful of them. I had a bad stutter and I shook those first few months. Listening the Promises were particularly hard at that time . I thought I was one of those that were “constitutionally incapable of” and one of those who were getting the promises ever so very “s-l-o-w-l-y”. I truly felt I would never see those promises. Many times I wanted to run out of those meetings but . and the big ‘but,” I kept coming back. My sponsor was the toughest one there, and she was my angel. She taught me that suicide is a very selfish act and it devastates those left behind. And when I just wanted to give up . I kept coming back. I made coffee or chaired when I could, I worked the steps and my program.

So each December, I take flowers to the nurses of the third floor and thank them for giving my life back. The God that brought me to my knees was a god that was critical of everything I did; he was like a cranky old man looking down at me with a magnifying glass, judging me over and over. Now my higher power is like a nurturing loving parent holding me tightly, loving me unconditionally, protecting and guiding me home.

People that I know laugh when I talk of surrender. That was an area I had a lot of problem with and now have come to embrace. The bondage of self truly is a hard one to let go of and by the grace of my loving higher power I will celebrate 14 years of sobriety this December . that is a miracle. However what truly matters is that I am sober just for today.

Through those years, I have faced many trials but nothing compares to seeing your child walk a path you have walked and knowing there is nothing you can do except wait for her to see that she is not alone. I admit that I was promoting shamelessly AA to her rather than letting AA speak for itself. I found myself acting as a dry drunk wanting to control and making it all about me. I was so close to losing my own sobriety . so ever close. I never felt so helpless during that time. I found that truly this program works when you work it . I am an alcoholic, and I need another alcoholic to talk to. I was judging myself and so unsure of everything . it was like I was tightening the noose around my soul all over again.

It was during this time that I found you (the ladies of GROW), and I went to many f2f meetings . I was not judged, I was not alone in my pain and was loved for me.

My daughter has to see for herself how her actions and thinking are killing her . and those around her.

It was like watching me . I started drinking in 10th grade and crossed the line in college. I had so many blackouts that I am truly amazed I made it through school. I ignored all those signs, and AA was not even an option at that time. Through those years the self-hate grew and the relationships I had were abusive and despite marrying a man I truly love . that marriage failed.

So here I am watching my precious daughter suffer, struggle with the bondage that has gripped her life. I surrender all, knowing that I am not in control, trusting (blind trust) that she is in her higher power’s hands. She took the courageous walk to taking care of herself and is where she needs to be right now. She has to ask her higher power to relieve her from her bondage of self and allow her radiant beauty shine. And I am working on my AA and Alanon programs.

My family has a second chance of breaking the cycle of bondage that destroys lives. When I left treatment those many years ago, I changed . but did I really? . I stayed in the insanity of an abusive marriage.

My daughter is not like me and is taking those steps to recovery. Her strength and courage are being felt by my family and friends. We all have a chance to heal. Her journey will be a long as the ones each of us tread and like you, her eyes are now open.

My daily prayer is “God relieve me of the bondage of self, remove the defects of my character so that I may do your will and better serve another. Please dearest Lord have mercy on our children and help them to find their paths.”

Oct 14: Courage


Page 68, Paragraph 3 of the Big Book: “The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men of faith have courage.”

I don’t know that as a child or teen growing up I thought I had courage. I was going through bad things and surviving, but I was too young to see that as courage. I was definitely a child of faith. I believed in God and stayed close to Him. In college I lost my way on so many levels. I began drinking and lost my faith in anything but the bottle. All I needed to make it through the day and night was plenty of booze. All I needed to make it through whatever happened in life was plenty of booze. I just wasn’t living. I was so oblivious.

After 15 years of drinking and having nothing else I had to find the courage to ask for help. I had to dig down deep. I had to ignore the butterflies. I had to put away my booze and take hold of things that really mattered.things that could really help me.things that could give me back my life. I found those things in AA. My sponsor, the Steps, and the Program taught me how to have real courage and use it daily to make a real life. Being well doesn’t mean I won’t need courage anymore. It just means I will know how to better use my resources and courage is one of those resources.

Please don’t think I never faltered. I am far from perfect. I stepped in it frequently over the last 7 years of sobriety. I had to learn how to use my Toolbox and that takes time. Once I did I could face anything. How? Courage. There it is again! Now that I know how to live when life hands me a lemon I have the well of courage to draw from. I am ever so grateful for those who have played a part in my sobriety. The AA-ers who have been full of experience and strength and hope have been priceless.

How has courage played a part in your life both before sobriety and after?

Oct 07: Emotional Jail

Emotional Jail

“Many people are living in an emotional jail without recognizing it.” – Virginia Satir

The quote above jumped out at me. It reminded me that once we put down the booze and whatever else … our pursuit is for sanity, serenity and emotional sobriety. However, these things do not come naturally to me. I feel more comfortable with drama, chaos, tragedy & sadness. I’ve talked about the “big 5” before…I have used and abused: alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, sex and food. Of course I have been off the first 2 for 8 years now but I have struggled with the other 3 over the years.

A recent song has a line that I like……”we can be addicted to a certain kind of sadness…” How true for me. I can create situations or thoughts that keep me in darkness and sadness.

As I journey through recovery I have learned that my shadow self are my wounds…I’ve learned rule 62…not to take myself so damn seriously! To reach out when I’m in an unhealthy mind frame. Healthy tools to deal with uncomfortable emotions. My mind can bind me emotionally.

I look forward to your shares about this subject in sobriety or whatever else is going on in your recovery.

Sep 30: Never Say Never

Never Say Never

“Never say Never”, this topic says a few things for me…. First off when I first became sober, it was very difficult for me to say that I would never drink again. I knew that I heard people share about relapsing, and this really scared me an early sobriety. My sponsor assured me that this would never have to happen to me if I chose to work steps, invite HP into my life on a daily basis, follow some program suggestions and practice these principles in all of my affairs.

Today, I celebrate my 20 yr. anniversary with AA, I can say I have no plans to drink. I need to keep coming back to meetings, invite HP into my life on a daily basis, I still work very closely with a sponsor and try to do service work whenever I can. This allows me a daily spiritual reprieve and to be able to say today I choose not to drink.

That’s one way of looking at never say never, for me even today, I can’t say that I will never drink again. When I get into the mind set of I’m safe, is probably when I most vulnerable–so I keep coming back!!

But for me, when I was thinking about this topic and I came up with “never say never” I was thinking about all the times and especially recently not having an open mind to new experiences and closing the door on old experiences.

As many of you know six months ago I was in a major car accident. This wasn’t the first time that somebody used my bumper to stop their car. Needless to say this time around (with some pretty strong PTSD, I went into that close minded I can almost say alcoholic thinking that I am never going to drive again.

Many people said to me, “never say never Jennifer, you will be driving again, you just need to have faith and build your confidence”.

How many times did I hear that in early recovery, “Jennifer, all you need to do is find your higher power and invited into your life on a daily basis and have faith, even if it’s blind faith, and just don’t drink today”.

This experience with the car accident I’ve had many spiritual awakenings, and one of them was how strong I believed I would never drive again. I said it with all intent and conviction.

Through the support and love of my sponsor, my network, and prayer to my higher power and faith, I did start driving again about 2 weeks ago. It’s not always comfortable, I still have a lot of fear driving, however, if I want freedom then I need to have faith that I will be okay. After all, I think of it like this:

In order for me not to drink today, I have to protect myself against outside influences … or even inside influences … I do this by having a daily plan. I invite HP in my life, work the steps and practice these principles in all my affairs. It is not a 100 percent guarantee that I won’t drink today, but the odds are good I won’t. The same with driving, I have a plan before I drive … I pray to HP, drive much more defensively and have faith that I will be ok. I am not guaranteed this, but it makes it more likely I am protected (if that makes any sense at all).

“Never say never” could be a catch 22. When I talk with people who are looking for recovery (I work in the field) I even say to them when sharing and they asked me what success rate, I would say it’s up to the person and how much they want recovery. I go on to say that even though I have 20 years, I can’t say that I’ll never drink again.

What I can say is that I know for sure that I’m not going to drink today. And what I’ve learned through my experience with this car accident, as are a lot of things that I never thought I’d be able to do again. I thought I wouldn’t drive again, It was not 100 percent sure I would gain my right leg strength back as much as I did and so on….”Never say Never!!”

It’s too concrete, it’s too final, and if I’m not on my toes and I’m not careful then I may slip up on a wonderful experience, close the door on old experiences that still have lessons or even worse get complacent and possibly drink again.

Thanks for allowing me to share, thanks for all your ESH, and thanks for being a part of my journey and helping me stay sober today and especially to all those who help me get back into my van again. Yes it’s scary, but I enjoy the freedom, and I enjoy wanting and needing to connect with my HP on a daily basis.

Sep 23: Adventure Called Life

Adventure Called Life

I never paid attention to anyone but myself, as I recall of life before sobriety! I thought I was “hip, slick and cool”, when I was actually a disaster waiting to happen! Welllllllll, it happened – – -and I saw myself as someone no one could love – – -especially me! It has been a slow process to “uncover, discover, and discard” here in the program of AA. And that was all necessary before I could love myself! Thank God you women loved me while I was learning to love myself! I could not have done this without the encouragement and loving hands of the women in AA.

I am not judged (hopefully) by whether or not I stumble. I can only judge myself by the direction I travel. To arrive is not important. To travel in the right direction, making a little progress every day, is the true test of life, for me. My search is never done. My progress within the inner mind is never finished.

I have found that growth is the only thing which can be pursued through a whole lifetime without inducing a feeling of boredom. Things lose their appeal. Ideas become commonplace. People come and go. But growth always remains exciting – –full of surprises and promise. It is through growth that I have learned to love myself.

To remain in the world of beginning again I must continue to make the effort to grow. The alternative is slow death. I have found that my only REAL time is in the PRESENT moment . Today I give it my best shot to find something enjoyable in each precious moment. I will not come this way again. Why not enjoy it?

My sponsor often reminds me that misery is optional. Misery is inside one’s self. It is part of one’s own feelings. Today I can change the way I feel about things, people or circumstances.

Today I would not have the full appreciation of life or inner serenity without being forced to face my own weaknesses, my own limitations and my own inner failures. I had a choice of whether to continue along the road to ego-centric self-sufficiency – – -and die; or whether to make an effort to achieve self-understanding – –and live — -to enjoy life!!! THE ADVENTURE!

This has all come about through the Program of Alcoholics anonymous, for which I am eternally grateful! This is why I always say I am a “grateful recovering alcoholic”! I would never have come to this understanding without being led to this wonderful path of life through being an alcoholic.

Today I believe in myself and love myself (wellllllllllll – – -most of the time)!!!!

I find serenity and peace of mind at those times when I am in balance physically, spiritually and emotionally. I make sure that I focus on each of these at least once a day — – -just a quick spot-check, like in Step 10.

I also would not have made it without ALL the experiences BEFORE AA which led me here!

I look forward to hearing your shares on your adventures from the end of your drinking life to now – – – – getting here and changing through AA!

IT WORKS WHEN I WORK IT, and doesn’t when I don’t!

Sep 16: Survival


Surviving meant being born over and over.
———— Erica Jong

We have decided to live. And each day we make the decision anew. Each time we call a friend, work a Step, or go to a meeting, we are renewing our contract with life. We are being reborn. Before coming to this program we died, emotionally and spiritually, many times. Some of us nearly died physically. But here we are, starting a new day, looking for guidance from one another. We are the survivors. And survival is there for the taking.

We will have days when we struggle with our decision to live. We will want to throw in the towel. We will want to give in or give up. But we’ve learned from one another about choices. And the choice to survive, knowing we never have to do it alone, gets easier with time.

I am one of the survivors. Today is my day for celebration.

Taken from ‘Each Day A New Beginning’ — Daily Meditations For Women

I chose this week’s topic after much thought and perusal. When I came across this meditation it struck me how true this topic is for each of us in this group as well as all the thousands of other groups and even those who are in situations where there is but themselves — each person a great example of an inner grace which has risen, even if quietly, to make a decision to want to overcome our common disease which desperately tries to destroy us. We come to these decisions in all possible ways and in all possible conditions.

I forget for the most part that I am a survivor because life has its daily tasks that require my attention. But I need to take a moment every now and then to look at myself and where I am today which is vastly different from many years, months, weeks and even days ago. Even as close as yesterday. I have made great changes, decisions, mistakes, growth, setbacks and successes. I need to take pride in the fact that I am daily surviving without the need for the alcohol which fought like crazy to keep me in its grip. Of course, not that kind of pride which will cause me to forget where I was and how hard I had to fight to get to where I am right now.

I thought it might be good for each of us to speak of her own survival. Do you look at yourself as a survivor and how do you feel about it? What did it take to get you here? And how do you feel about where you are now in your journey? I almost feel at times that we need a huge celebration because we have been so fortunate to have found the solution for our addiction. I realize that we only have a daily reprieve but nevertheless even a pat on the back for a job well done. But that job is ongoing. I will take each day as it comes and continue with your help to count myself as one of the survivors and do my best to carry the wonderful message so that some other suffering woman might find herself as one of us.

Sep 09: Practice Practice Practice

Practice Practice Practice

For our meeting, I am sharing ‘practice practice practice’ as our topic. When I came into the rooms of AA, I could focus on next to nothing … slowly but surely, I started hearing and listening and seeing the sayings around the room. Looking at those, sometimes, was all I could manage in early meetings. This one stood out to me though it took time, as always, to grasp it’s meaning … at least to me.

Our AA co-founder, Bill Wilson shared that the 12 steps “are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel, the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.”

That word practice means living, for this alcoholic today, in terms of our 12 steps. They guide my living and thinking for today as long as I work them. I have learned and continue to learn how to stay sober and live soberly by step work. The answers to how to manage a challenge, accepting it as a lesson and an opportunity for growth, watching my tongue and pen so as to not have to make another amend (though know it is the way when needed), knowing that my HP is in charge, that my life, today, as a sober woman is about service while living a spiritual life….and so so so so much more.

Ladies, the meeting is yours and look forward to reading your shares on how practicing the steps enhances your life and sobriety or whatever you need/want to share on!

Sep 02: To Thine Own Self Be True

To Thine Own Self Be True

Lately I’ve been quiet in this room, though not quiet in my own brain with recovery-type work. Through FaceBook, I’ve been participating in a support group for survivors of traumatic brain injury, and I’m experiencing some healing in a way I could not have if I didn’t know the Program.

Although a quote from Shakespeare (Hamlet) and not the Big Book, to thine own self be true is a phrase AA has adopted. For example, I’ve seen it on posters on the walls of our room.

I recently purchased a coffee mug from an AA gift shop with the phrase imprinted on it. Above the phrase is a bunch of fish, all but one the same color and going in the same direction. I got this particular mug because this phrase unveiled a bunch of little realizations in my brain about what the phrase to thine own self be truemeans to me.

It didn’t just say to me that it’s okay to be different; it tells me that other people’s attitudes, words, or behaviors do not determine my value. It reminds me that yes, really!, it is okay to be unique. With my value settled, I can move on to being the authentic person I am supposed to be–a person in recovery.

This week, please comment on what the phrase to thine own self be true means to you; or, as always, write about what you need to write about.

Thank you for being here and helping me in my recovery.

Aug 26: Simply How It Works

Simply How It Works

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.”

Good morning Ladies! I signed on to chair this week awhile back and did not anticipate my life changing as much as it did. Grateful for a solution today in my life. I am grateful to be a part of the best program EVER. We are a part of a program that has changed so many lives whether through our twelve steps or the lives of our friends and family who participate in the “sister” program, or for those who identified in other twelve step programs who were able to make change in their lives as a result of “following this path.”

What is this path?? I read the emails and could see the members who are struggling with this fatal, progressive disease. Please find a sponsor, read the Big Book, work the steps, get involved in this program. Work all the steps, honestly. There will come a time where we will not have a defense against that first drink, and it must come from a higher power.

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” What is this path? “Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.” The word “Honest(y)” is mentioned three times in the first couple paragraphs in Chapter Five “How It Works”. What do we need to be honest about?

For me, I was dishonest about my alcoholism for so many years. I remember my father walking with me outside suggesting to try Alcoholics Anonymous for my drinking, because he felt I was an alcoholic. It was easier (at that time) to say the following: “Dad, I don’t believe that I have a drinking problem. I do think there is something wrong with me and that I am crazy. I might need help because I do the same things over and over and can’t stop.” Deep down inside, I was angry that he could even suggest there was a drinking problem. The day I finally asked for help was when a little voice inside said “it’s time.” I placed myself into treatment first because it was impossible to stop drinking for one day on my own. Upon leaving treatment, I was led to an AA meeting that became my home group and found my first sponsor.

“. usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.” A doctor diagnoses you with cancer, diabetes, (fill in the blank). I will go to any lengths to fight this disease. An alcoholic hears “you have a drinking problem, and it is fatal/progressive which will kill you” and we say, “I have it under control.” The lie that we can control our drinking is insanity.

At the end of How It Works, we read the ABC’s. Alcohol is a power great than me. I must surrender to the fact that no one can cure me of my alcoholism. It must come from a power greater than alcohol! Lastly, I have to seek out the power greater than myself. The path mentioned in the first sentence includes the remainder of the steps. Trust God, clean house, help others. What is your experience, strength, and hope for the suffering alcoholic? Do we accept this disease is a fatal, progressive disease? How do we arrest this disease and what is the solution?

Aug 19: The “ISM” of Alcoholism

The “ISM” of Alcoholism

When I came into the rooms of AA seven years ago this month, I was desperate to quit drinking. I had reached bottom, and was willing to do whatever it took to remain sober. I was instructed to attend 90 meetings in 90 days, introduce myself as a newcomer each day (which got really old, especially around day 78 or so), call my sponsor daily. I did this gladly, because AA gave me the hope I could indeed escape the madness. I saw women just like me who no longer felt compelled to drink, who walked through life with grace and dignity. I wanted that freedom and that courage, too.

Little by little, step by step, my life began to get better. I regained my physical health. I worked through the steps and made amends to friends and family, regaining the trust and affection I had lost. Life was just better sober.

However, when alcohol was no longer an issue, I began to notice I could obsess in other ways. Whether it was ice cream or potato chips or not eating at all or too much exercise or computer games until 3 a.m. or shopping for stuff I didn’t need with money I didn’t have, I could use other substances to change the way I feel.

After all, if you take the ALCOHOL out of ALCOHOLISM, you are left with ISM. I was told in the rooms of AA that stands for: It’s still me.

So in the past few years I have come to realize I need spiritual fitness to keep my life serene and balanced in all ways. I need meetings and the energy of my sisters in AA. And I need to be always vigilant about the fact I am an addict at heart.

I recently had a nasty equestrian accident which resulted in 5 days in the hospital and lots of narcotics. Now, I never have been a drug person. But I have heard enough stories in the rooms of AA to know that cross-addiction is a real possibility for me. So I asked the doctors not to send me home with any prescriptions, preferring to treat the pain with ibuprofen. I wasn’t willing to risk another dance with the 800 lb gorilla of addiction. If I hadn’t been close to my Home Group and part of this group and firmly committed to the program of AA, the story could have had a tragic ending.

Aug 12: How do you measure your progress in sobriety?

How do you measure your progress in sobriety?

I am relatively new to this online group (I think I found you in mid-May) and I thought this would be a good way to get to know you all a little better. This move to China has enabled me to find AA online, and what a blessing GROW is for me. I have moved geographically a few times during the course of my sobriety and have learned to reach out to each new fellowship to become “a part of.” That is progress for me.

The dictionary defines progress as: 
progress: n. 1. Movement, as toward a goal; advance. 2. Development or growth: students who show progress. 3. Steady improvement 4. A ceremonial journey made by a sovereign through his or her realm. (Nice one, thanks dictionary!) 
intr.v. progress: 1. To advance; proceed: Work on the new building progressed at a rapid rate. 2. To advance toward a higher or better stage; improve steadily: as medical technology progresses. 3. To increase in scope or severity, as a disease taking an unfavorable course.

I was the typical alcoholic, afraid of my own shadow as a child and isolating in the end. The booze softened those “nameless fears” that I had as I grew into adulthood and made them more manageable somehow. I have been thinking about a topic for this week. Uh oh, maybe overthinking is more like it! LOL

A topic that might benefit the newcomers a bit as they muddle through early sobriety and might aid those of us who have been here longer, is how do we take measure of our progress? On the surface it appears to be a difficult thing to measure spiritual progress as there is nothing tangible about it, or is there?

My first thought is how as a child we marked the door jamb with pencil marks and dates while we were growing up. I can measure my spiritual progress today on that proverbial door jamb! Sometimes I measure my progress by how quickly I can pause when I am uptight or in doubt. Sometimes I measure progress by boundaries I can set for myself, practicing self-care by not going into slippery situations. Sometimes I can measure progress by my level of serenity when I am surrounded by inefficiency, complacency and confusion (or mysterious China). And sometimes I measure progress by how quickly I can drop to my knees and ask my Higher Power for help.

I am a work in progress, ever advancing, growing, developing, and improving. This evolution we call spiritual growth is a process. It is all about the journey for me today and not so much the destination. Some days it is two steps forward and one step back, but as long as I don’t pick up a drink today, I am still making progress even if it does not necessarily feel like it to me! I know I am one notch higher on the legendary door jamb as long as I don’t drink even if my ass falls off.

Thank you for being a part of my “ceremonial journey through this realm”. How do you measure your progress in sobriety today?

Aug 05: A Short Study of the Twelve Steps of A.A.

A Short Study of the Twelve Steps of A.A.

We are all at different stages of our sobriety and have all had a variety of experiences with working the steps. In the Twenty-Four Hours A Day book it says for Sept.16- AA Thought for the Day ” The first step is the membership requirement step. The second, third, and eleventh steps are the spiritual steps of the program. The fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and tenth steps are the personal inventory steps. The eighth and ninth steps are the restitution steps. The twelfth step is the passing on of the program, or helping others step.

Have I made all these steps a part of me?” Where are you at in working the steps and have you made the steps a part of yourself?

I work step 1 every day, and it is the only step that I have to do perfectly. I admit every day that I am powerless over alcohol and that my life was disturbed. I believe in a Power greater than myself (who I call God) and say the Third Step prayer and the Seventh Step prayer every day.

I work steps 2, 3, and 11 every day and try to remember to constantly turn my will and my life over to the care of God. I must turn to my HP for help because I am helpless without Him. I trust God for the strength to keep me sober.

I have taken an honest inventory of myself by working Step 4, Step 5, Step 6, and Step 7 (still working on getting to Step 10). I had to see myself as I really am. I am currently working on Step 8 and Step 9 and will be starting to work on my amends letters.

I practice Step 12 by carrying the message to other alcoholics and am currently sponsoring two wonderful women.

Jul 29: Spiritual Experience, BB Appendix II

Spiritual Experience, BB Appendix II

I didn’t have any bright lights or even a minor dizzy spell as a clue that I was now a different person. In fact, I am not as different as I wish for some days! But I haven’t found it necessary to take a drink since August 1, 2009 and I am grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous and the Fellowship for that.

I don’t know when the desire to drink left me, but one day, I was driving down the highway and I suddenly realized that I hadn’t thought about have a drink in quite a while. Since I was on the highway, I had some time to think about it. think about how much time I had in the program (then about 6 months), think about what was working for me and exactly what had changed.

Later, when I read the Big Book, Appendix (pg 567 & 568) and underlined these parts, which ironically come together to describe my daily approach to this way of life! Especially when times are hard and I need to get back to basics!

“.spiritual experience. the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself. experience. of the educational variety. a profound alteration in reaction to life.”

Yup! That is me for sure! Reading on I find out I am not alone! “With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource.” Some say that God resides within us, so perhaps this is what they mean. For me it was the same “inner-most self” talked about in Chapter 3, where I personally took Step 1.

Further, it says “(The alcoholic) can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance and belligerent denial. contempt prior to investigation.”

The reading finishes with, “Willingness, honesty and open-mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.” (H.O.W.)

Jul 22: Your Favorite Parts of the Big Book

Your Favorite Parts of the Big Book

This week, I’ve given a lot of thought to what today’s meeting should be about. I found it deeply moving that the Library of Congress recently honored the Big Book as one of the books to have shaped America. How cool is that?! I often think everyone, even the non-alcoholic, could benefit from reading it just because of the basic lessons in human psychology that it offers.

I think it would be interesting to talk this week about what parts of the book speak to you the most. What are the go-to segments you seek out when you need it? I’ve found that I never read the book the same way twice. There is always something that will jump out that I may have read over a million times before, but that million and one time can be a moment of clarity with a specific part. I recently read about freedom from self-will in the “Into Action” segment, which, again was like a lightning bolt at just the right time for me. If you are a newcomer (welcome, by the way!) what parts of the book have been especially powerful or comforting for you?

So …. tell us … what are your favorite parts of the Big Book?

Jul 15: Remembering Why We’re Here

Remembering Why We’re Here

In this neck of the woods our face to face meetings usually begin with the words, *Shall we have a few moments silence to remember why we’re here, and to remember the still suffering alcoholic*.

I wonder if this week we can *remember why we’re here* and think about why we came to our first meeting.

When I’m asked, I usually say it was because I drank far too much, far too often for far too long. I keep it short because I’d rather talk about my recovery but sometimes I need to remember in detail why I’m here. Here are a few of the reasons.

I came to my first meeting a crumpled, drunken mess with little brain power available to think clearly. I came because I was frightened when a friend picked me up after I had slid down a pillar at a Christmas midnight mass. (This memory stuck!) I came because I could no longer control my alcohol intake. I no longer knew whether one drink would just lead me slowly into oblivion or whether one drink would make me unconscious. I was terrified I would lose my job, comments had been made. I had been homeless for a short while and was so scared that if I lost my job I couldn’t pay for my accommodation.

I was tired of waking up, or coming round, thinking, *Did I really do that?* or, *Did I phone that person or not – and if i did, what did I say?*. I was fed up with responding to the people I’d rung without knowing it and having to create my version of events around what they were saying to me.

I’d been in relationships which had hurt me and other people and which usually ended in disaster. I had attempted suicide several times and woken to the awful realization that I hadn’t succeeded and that life would have to go on. Unsurprisingly, I had lost most of my friends.

Alcohol, which had promised me so much had led me to this point.

I like to concentrate on recovery in meetings but I also need to *remember why I’m here* because if I don’t, I might end up back where I was, and much worse. Every newcomer who talks about why they’ve got to their first meeting helps me to remember my pain, helps me to remember why I’m here.

Please share with us what you would think of in those few moments at the beginning of a meeting where you are asked to remember why you’re here. Those of you who are new to sobriety let us know what brought you here.

To end on a positive note, despite the state I was in, the decision to get to that first meeting was the best decision of my life. Beyond that despair was a new life, new purpose, new peace and so much more.

As in all our meetings, please feel that you can share on this or on anything else relating to getting sober and staying sober. I feel that every time I share I think I grow a bit and our shares certainly strengthen our Group so I look forward to listening to your experience, strength and hope.

Jul 08: Lessons From Sponsorship

Lessons From Sponsorship

One of the joys of my sobriety has been sponsorship. I was recently asked by two young women if I would be their sponsor, and it has taken me back in thought to all the lessons being a sponsor and being sponsored have taught me along the way.

I think that we sponsor the way we have been sponsored. I was told in the beginning by my sponsor that I must attend a step meeting, a big book meeting, and a women’s meetings as a base for my meeting schedule. However many other meetings I attended these must be my base. I have tried to pass on this message to those I have sponsored. My sponsor had me into service very early. My first job was as a greeter at the Saturday night speakers meeting and for someone who could not look people in the eye it took a lot for me to comply. I did it and I learned a lot. I have been in service to AA one way or another all my sober life and it has given me accountability and responsibility.

One of the first benefits I received from my early sponsor was the fact that she listened to me. I mean she *really* listened to me. I hope I have been able to do that for the gals I have sponsored. It is so important that you hear what *isn’t* being said, you know, the stuff that is underneath.

As nurturers, I think we can get too attached sometimes. I know that I have, and I had to be told by my sponsor that I can’t get them sober and I can’t get them drunk. That was said to me after a gal that I sponsored drank again and blew her brains out. I learned a lesson that day that I still use to this day and that is “If your sobriety becomes more important to me than it is to you, it is time for me to let go.”

During my years in the program I have had four sponsors, three have passed and my current one is very near the end of her life. She is in a long term facility in Virginia Beach with end stage COPD and lung cancer. I speak with her on a daily basis, and I am already feeling the loss of this great lady who in the very beginning of my sobriety took we new girls into her home, fixed our hair, made us tea, talked to us, and gave us dignity.

I guess what I am asking this week is for you to share with me and the rest of us what blessings and lessons you have learned from sponsoring or being sponsored. Of course, you can always discuss whatever is on your minds. It is your meeting ladies and I look forward to your shares.

Jul 01: Miracle of AA

Miracle of AA

I sit here on the 7 year anniversary of my sobriety very grateful.and realizing how much a miracle it is that I got here at all! It is truly by the grace of God using the hand of AA that I am here. I did not think 7 years ago that I was worth a second, or really third, chance. In time I found out otherwise. There are lots of things AA has taught me while saving me at the same time.mostly from myself.

I grew up believing I could do anything I set my mind to. I did well in school and graduated high school with honors, as well as college. I saw teaching as my future and thought I would grow old doing it. I had it all planned out. Then, life happened.

First, I began having health problems. Mainly a nagging pain in my spine that made it tough to be standing for long periods of time.sitting wasn’t a peach either. At the same time I discovered the pastime of drinking. A boyfriend believed I needed to learn how to do it properly. I was a drunk from the start. But, a functioning much so I hid it from everyone for a multitude of years. My life deteriorated and I could no longer teach. I began drinking in solitude and lived in misery. I was on pain killers and was Diabetic. Two things which meant I wasn’t supposed to drink a sip. I didn’t care. I had pain, emotional and physical, and I used booze to quiet it. It only sent my life deeper into oblivion. I was on the fast track to death. In fact, I would say my game was Russian Roulette.

I attempted suicide in 1994 and my mother put me in rehab. I stayed sober for a year then gladly picked up again. I spent the next 10 years becoming someone I couldn’t recognize. And someone I couldn’t face in the mirror. Somehow in the midst of it I met my husband, a non-drinker. He maligned my drinking for years, but the words and sad face didn’t get to me until 2005. I finally heard him, deep within my heart, and my hold on this alcoholic life broke. I stepped into AA once again.

This time I actually put effort, real effort into living the Program and working my Steps. I faced my demons and slated them with God at the helm. I gave over control to Him and became a changed person. And 3 years ago I got off pain killers for good. I suddenly had a personality again. I got online to find AA groups as my health deteriorated to the point where I wouldn’t be getting out in the world. I found you. A group to understand my woes and gripes, hold my hand through the tough times, and call me on the bull. I have developed a fellowship of friends, real friends that I can count on. And I know other people who daily live the Program of AA.

Not only is this Program called AA a miracle, I am a miracle.

Now, tell us about your experience with the miracle of AA.

Jun 24: What You Heard in Early Recovery

What You Heard in Early Recovery

There are many things that come to mind when remembering my first weeks in AA. Many different people shared many different things with me but a few really stick in my mind.

My online sponsor shared with me that “No” was a complete sentence, what a revelation that was and it has saved me & others much grief and time! She also told me not to drink, to pray to God and not to die, & read the BB!

A close AA friend explained to me that too many people were being loved into their graves. If I wanted what the AA Members had there were things I HAD to do. If I was not prepared to work and make many changes then my misery I came into AA with would be returned!

These are just a few things that came to my mind the other day and I thought I’d love to hear from you, what you heard early in your recovery that stuck with you and worked.

Jun 17: Fellowship, A Substitute for Alcohol

Fellowship, A Substitute for Alcohol

The following is taken from the Big Book… Page 152, from “A Vision for You”:

“We have shown how we got out from under. You say, “Yes, I’m willing. But am I to be consigned to a life where I shall be stupid, boring, and glum, like some righteous people I see? I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I? Have you a sufficient substitute?

“Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you find release from care, boredom, and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence will lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.”

I have so many things for which to be grateful today and it actually began when I quit drinking, started working the program, and found new friends in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. If I had continued on my path of self-destruction, I would likely be dead or institutionalized. I have good friends today…both alcoholics and non-alcoholics.close relationships.and I’m no longer alone.

Although I learned about identifying myself as an alcoholic, sharing, and relating to others at the discussion tables, my greatest experiences were in the meeting after the meeting when we would get a group together to either sit outside after the meeting and smoke our lungs out, or go to the restaurant for more coffee. The time spent with them kept me busy until the beer stores closed and I think that was one of the reasons they included us newbies – to keep us pre-occupied until it was time to go home.

It was there that people shared more personal stories and I was amazed that they could laugh at themselves and didn’t take themselves too seriously. I so looked forward to those times as they replaced my boredom, my emptiness, my aloneness, and negative thoughts. From their example, I learned to take the risk to share some of my personal story with them, which made me feel a part of, and then I was able to share at my discussion meetings.

Some of the nicest people I know I have met in AA. The program of AA, the friends and the fellowship, and the support of others are irreplaceable to my sobriety and wellness. If we don’t have friends, we don’t have support; and if we don’t have support, this leads to feelings of isolation. That is not why we are here. These days, GROW is a huge part of my fellowship. I have established some wonderful contacts online and some great friendships along the way.

How do you experience this Fellowship in your recovery and how has it helped you?

Jun 10: Self-Acceptance


Good morning, Ladies. I’m Judy, and I am an alcoholic. I have been very quiet in this group over the past several months. There have been things happening in my life that I have permitted to seize control of my emotional energy and attention. I apologize to the group for my silence. I heard a joke once that asked, “What’s the difference between a ‘good’ habit and a ‘bad’ one?” The answer is, “A ‘good’ habit is easier to break.” How true that is.

I maintained my bad habit of drinking for many, many years–it took very little effort or energy. Recovery was a different story. It took all the effort and energy I could muster–especially in the beginning. I did love going to meetings and I went to tons of them. I have discovered lately, however, that once I start to slack off of meetings (face to face or cyber ones), it seems to get easier to stay slacked off.

My sponsor loves the quote, “Eternal Vigilance is the price I pay for my sobriety”. She is so right–I have to commit every day to maintain the ‘good’ habit of my recovery–which means prayer, meetings, fellowship, and the steps. It is an absolute miracle that I was able to celebrate my 20th sober year this past Friday. Thank you to all those who extended birthday wishes. This is your’s and God’s victory, not mine.

The topic I need to hear about is Self-Acceptance. I have really been struggling a lot with that lately. I thought I had made some progress over the past 20 years, but it can change in a heartbeat. I once had a man in my out-patient treatment group say to me, “Judy, if only you could sit yourself on the other side of the room and talk to yourself like you do us–you would be so much gentler on yourself.” That was so profound to me and I’ve tried to use that advice often.

Sometimes I even imagine it’s one of my children I sit across from me and I treat them with love, forgiveness, and compassion for any mistakes or struggles they might have. Then I tell myself, “if I want that for my children, why can’t I want that for me? Don’t I have an obligation to ‘model’ that for them and not just put lip-service to it?”

Most of the time this exercise works very effectively. But the truth is, I don’t think it has done much to alter my overall opinion of myself; because if I make just one mistake, I am capable of unleashing the most horrible verbal self-abuse and absolute loathing towards myself. It erupts in such fury–it is terrifying!

I had one of those self-loathing sessions on Wednesday. And just like always, I think, “Maybe I’ll drink and then ‘they’ll’ know how much I’m hurting”…Really, Judy? Fortunately, I have spent enough time in meetings, working these steps, thinking ‘through’ the actions that dance through my mind at these times and acknowledge that following through on thoughts of drinking, smoking, homicide or suicide are devastatingly permanent solutions to very temporary (and often trivial) problems. Yet, I fear the day that my disease will win unless I can find some peace and a genuine self-acceptance of who I am–‘warts and all’.

I started saying the Serenity Prayer with some alterations, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the person I am, the courage to change the things I can about myself, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Please share how you practice self-acceptance and how you make it ‘stick’. 🙂

Jun 03: FEAR


I have come to realize that all my trouble with living has come from fear and smallness within me.
-Angela L. Wozniak

Good day ladies….this reading struck me when I read it and also this topic has come up a lot recently in my local meetings…FEAR.

-False Evidence Appearing Real
-F&$% Everything And Run
-Face Everything And Recover

I like these acronyms I’ve heard over the years! Very true in a lot of ways. I know that all my anger and any uncomfortable emotion comes from self-centered fear. I have removed myself from the sunlight of the spirit and remain alone…in the dark.

I do believe today I am responsible for my reality and I refuse to play the victim. Living in fear is truly no way to live…it is a harsh survival.

I fly airplanes throughout conflict zones in Africa and recently in Afghanistan…I do not let fear interfere with my outward life, and yet a friend asked me at a meeting what I was scared of…and I said emotional intimacy! I will blaze an empowered path for women and yet inside I can be a scared little girl afraid to be hurt!

I am grateful for this process of recovery/discovery to become more aware of myself. Once I am aware, I can be empowered and take action to let go of the fear and let in the miracles.

And I have many miracles in recovery to be grateful for.

Welcome to the new ladies…feel free to share or just “listen” for a while. I look forward to your shares this week on FEAR!

May 20: Relieve Me of the Bondage of Self

Relieve Me of the Bondage of Self

I think that line in the Third Step prayer is one of the most provocative lines ever written. Whenever I read it I picture myself in shackles and chains, trying desperately to free myself. Once I start drinking those shackles and chains wrap around me as if by some magical force and I take myself hostage.

For me the shackles and chains are a metaphor for a disease of the mind so insidious it wants to either kill me or drive me to complete insanity.

I’ve heard it said that alcoholism is the only prison where the key to freedom is on the inside.

What do those shackles and chains represent to you and how do you use the program to break free?

May 13: Mothers and Sobriety

Mothers and Sobriety

This is Mothers’ Day, and I have been trying to come up with a topic that fits. The truth is that I am not a mother. Never have been and never will be. The fact that I don’t have children has been a sensitive spot in my heart – to the point that I sometimes become annoyed with the self-congratulations I see mothers give each other. That is my truth.

I do have a mother, but she is not on my list of favorite people. In fact, she was the first on my list of resentments. My part of the resentment – I wanted a loving mother. I got a hyper-critical cold fish that I couldn’t or wouldn’t accept. In fact, I think she did much to instill my low self-esteem and the resultant lifetime of self-medication.

But it was not her fault. She did the best she could with what she was given – a very self-centered, self-seeking mother and an absent father. She also has a congenital birth defect that is becoming an increasingly difficult problem as she ages.

So how does this fit with alcoholism and sobriety? In just about every way. My mother is both the cause and part of the cure. Repaying her for her lack of emotional depth, I spent my adult life as far away from her as I could get. When we were together a few times a year, it always ended in tears (mine) and anger (hers). We just didn’t click.

But I moved to Texas this year because of my mother. After years of asking my HP about his will for me and how I could serve him, it became clear. I was to be here to help care for my mother in her “golden” years (believe me, they are not golden for her). She has a lot of pain, and her mind is failing. After 62 years with my dad, she is a widow. There is no one there to cater to her every whim. Dad spoiled her rotten. And I do mean rotten.

But that isn’t what matters. What matters is what I do. Tomorrow I will take her a special dinner and spend Mothers’ Day with her. I will bite my tongue when she gets nasty (which she will) and smile when I don’t want to. No matter how I feel about her, she will feel loved. That is my HP’s will for me. That is my amends. Right now, it is the biggest part of my sobriety – learning to do for others without wanting for myself. HP has a sense of humor, no?

So, it is Mothers’ Day. My question to you is: how does being a mother play into your sobriety? Or . what role does your mother play in your sobriety? But please share on anything you need to.

May 06: Patience/Persistence


Thank you all for allowing me this service work. This week is a special one for me…I like to honor my grandmother’s passing which was May 9, 1989. She was my angel while alive and continues to look over me…I only wish she lived long enough to see me sober!

I wasn’t sure I would be able to share today … it is still difficult to type so I shall be brief. About 6 weeks ago I was rear ended while stopped … I was just healing from major back surgery only to get severely injured with a women who was looking behind her while driving. She did not carry insurance to cover this accident, only enough to get my Van fixed which, thank you HP, has been restored (it should have been totaled).

Now I am looking at least one other surgery, possibly two. I was supposed to go for major back surgery again (this time much, much more involved surgery) Tuesday, but it got postponed due to over-booking … So now, I wait patiently, anxiously for May 22nd where I will undergo back surgery again. Instead of less than one day in the hospital, it will be 4-5 days then a skilled nursing center for undetermined time period.

I am having another body part evaluated that may need surgery also. All due to this accident. I could go into the why me’s? Well, I did, but my program is allowing me on a daily basis to work on letting go of that and the resentment and anger of it all … It’s not helping … so I turn it over.

Talk about Patience … I have had to completely go from … healing and finally out and about with the hope of being more active than I have been in years cuz I had this awesome surgery to fix my back … to bed rest, not able to walk for more than a few feet and more pain then I care to acknowledge!! All in a single moment …

Patience for me today is about patience with myself … Persistence for me is about finding the best solution for my situation . which surgeon and surgery procedure to go with. And I am going to need to practice patience after surgery with myself and those who will be caring for me. It really is going to be a huge challenge.

With that being said, I have a program, thank you HP, and I have HP. I don’t know why this happened to me, that is none of my business at this point . that is up to HP, I may never know. But it did, and I have to accept the things I cannot change … and be patient with self and HP that I will be ok. I have to be OK!!

I am not able to share on topics….but I read each and every one of them…thank you all who share and chair!! Hopefully, in a few months from now, I will be able to get active again.

How does your program allow you to practice patience?

Apr 29: Wasted & Lost Opportunities

Wasted & Lost Opportunities

As an alcoholic many opportunities that come along in life get wasted or completely lost with us. We squander what is given to us and we let the best of life slip through our fingers. We may try to keep control or even get control back; but, the alcohol is the one in control and we lose again. The following list is just a smattering of what I lost/squandered due to my drinking.

  1. good health
  2. friends
  3. memories of my college years
  4. healthy relationships
  5. chance to have children
  6. retaining teaching jobs
  7. self-respect
  8. morals
  9. productive personality
  10. respect of others

Sobriety could not get all of these back, for it can’t turn back time; but, some things did come back to me. I worked very hard to become a productive member of society and a loving, giving human being. I can’t wipe away my past. I can only face it and move on. The following list are the opportunities and things that have come to me since getting sober on 7-1-05.

  1. self-respect & morals
  2. true friends
  3. healthy relationships
  4. loving, kind, and supportive husband
  5. service work
  6. productive person and personality
  7. respect of others
  8. peace, love, joy, happiness
  9. redemption
  10. step-daughter
  11. grandson

I cannot say I do not have moments when I am sad at what I let get away from me. But, the opportunities that have come to me in sobriety are life-changing. I have learned to have no regrets. I am who I am BECAUSE of my past NOT in spite of it. What about your lists? Can you voice your lost opportunities and shout your gains???

Apr 22: The Twelve Rewards

The Twelve Rewards

I do not know if you have seen the movie “The Natural” with Robert Redford and Glenn Close, but there is a great line in it that got me thinking lately. Robert Redford plays a baseball player who is unhappy because his life did not turn out as he expected, and Glenn Close tells him, “You know, I believe we have two lives…The life we learn with and the life we live with after that.” When I think about this quote in relation to my own life, my own struggles with my alcoholism, I realize that I am very subtlety moving into my second life the longer I stay sober, embrace the program, and do my best to live the steps; it is a great place to be. There is a prayer that I think provides, for me, a good measuring stick to see how far I have come already, and where I still need to grow–it is called “The Twelve Rewards.”

Spirit of the Universe,
I humbly ask for Your help so I may continue to realize the rewards of recovery:
1. Hope instead of desperation.
2. Faith instead of despair.
3. Courage instead of fear.
4. Peace of mind instead of confusion.
5. Self-respect instead of self-contempt.
6. Self-confidence instead of helplessness.
7. The respect of others instead of pity and contempt.
8. A clean conscience instead of a sense of guilt.
9. Real friendship instead of loneliness.
10. A clean pattern of life instead of a purposeless existence.
11. The love and understanding of my family instead of their doubts and fears.
12. The freedom of a happy life instead of the bondage of addiction.

When I was drinking and newly sober there is no question that I was always deep in the negative on all the things the prayer talks about, now just a year later after a lot of hard work and a lot of meetings, I am definitely usually somewhere on the positive side of things. Not that I don’t have my moments where my character defects consume me, but now I am not my moments–they do not define me anymore–I think that experiencing each of these Twelve Rewards of sobriety is starting to define the new, sober me. What about you?

Apr 15: Step Work

Step Work

Hello Ladies It is my pleasure to chair this meeting on my 50th birthday. There was a time I didn’t think I would live that long, or cared to live this long. Boy, things have changed..)) For our topic I would like to suggest a discussion on Step work.

How many times have you gone through the steps? What motivates you to go through them, again? What have you gotten out of it as a result of the work you put into it?

The reason I am asking this, is clearly marking a milestone such as this one makes me take stock. Is this all there is? What could I have done differently? Am I happy with the relationship I have with my family, friends and my sponsor?

For me, I am not. I have relationships with siblings that are better left alone. My sponsor is in the midst of her own life changing times and we have parted ways. So I am starting over with a new sponsor, and she has sent me my first list of “assignments”. I am to read the third step prayer, and then read step one, for 14 days, everyday in first person.

I got that email this morning, and it is indeed an answer to a prayer.

Ladies, the meeting is yours, I am looking forward to reading your experience, strength and hope.

Apr 08: Seeing the World Through New Lenses

Seeing the World Through New Lenses

Before I came to the rooms of AA, I had a very terrible, horrible, icky, way bad attitude about life. Mind you, I wasn’t an alcoholic. I just drank too much because life was so wickedly unfair, people were always out to get me, and I always ended up in the slowest line at the grocery store.

Once inside the loving arms of the AA fellowship, I was shown that most of the unhappiness in my life was caused not by other people or circumstances, but by my negative reaction to everything and everyone. It was “suggested” I get a new pair of glasses with which to view the world. I might want to tint the glasses rose.

I immediately understood the concept: The implementation took a long time. I had to start by understanding that no one woke up in the morning musing, “I wonder how I can annoy Nants today?” Traffic was not created on the freeway to specifically irritate me. A slow store clerk was not out to make me miserable. Most things in life were not about me at all.

When I finally moved from merely having faith in a Higher Power to absolutely trusting my Higher Power, it got easier. My mom used to say, “This is the day the Lord has made.” I began to see that life was not a series of events I needed to judge and determine this situation is bad, this is good, this is acceptable and this isn’t. Instead, it was an unfolding dance of experiences which my Higher Power used to teach me lessons. I could choose to live fully in each moment and learn the lesson, or I could bemoan my fate and be miserable.

Since that old attitude still wants to stick its head out of the cave and cause trouble, I work at keeping a positive outlook on life and its peccadilloes. I count my blessings instead of my woes. If someone does something to annoy or hurt me, I consider what might be going on in his or her life to cause this action. I perform random acts of kindness (letting the pregnant mom with a toddler go in front of me at the grocery store). I smile at strangers, help other alcoholics and try to be the change I want to see in the world.

My rose-colored glasses have helped me see a brand new world where love is abundant, kindness is the rule rather than the exception and my Higher Power has me safely protected in loving arms.

What about you? How has being a member of AA shaped your attitude and outlook on life?

Apr 01: No Reservations

No Reservations

From page 33 of the BB of Alcoholics Anonymous: “If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.” Also in there:

. that most who have gone beyond stopping drinking on their own should try to stay sober for at least a year, and that many won’t make it. Some may pick up the day after they made the resolution.

Hi, Mary Lee here alcoholic addict sober by the Grace of God and AA. I was one of many who did not get sober the first time I entered the rooms of AA. For some who know from my shares, my (now) third attempt at getting sober was 36 years ago. When I give my name, and say I’m sober by the Grace of God and AA, I mean that sincerely.

I believe for me, living with an active drinker (husband) who had crossed the line, that the day I picked up again, I had a reservation for whatever excuses I chose to present to myself and others. Like “I can stop after tonight”, “I’m not that bad” “I don’t wish to stand out as being different”, and on and on.

I had remarried the same man, was on my second failure at staying sober because I stopped going to AA (No 1), I chose to listen to his statements because he didn’t wish to be alone drinking (No 2) and because I placed myself in situations (No 3) after doing all the wrong things that the devil alcohol came down from my shoulder and said “Mary go ahead, you’re not an alcoholic”.

Blackouts started, so I thought “the bartender is making the drinks stronger”. And to top it off a local Dr. offered to keep me in my shots of Demerol, if I would be his mistress. Thank God I turned him down on all of the parts of his offers. I finally left hubby, went on my own with our two kids, to end up having the oldest removed at my request after we argued and I hit him on the cheek (meant to) and instead gave him a nose bleed. That was the beginning of my “end” of drinking and drugging.

I came back into AA, totally whipped, my mind totally wiped out of remembering most things being said to me, homeless, helpless, with the hand of AA still out there for me. I became very needy, felt very worthless and very hopeless.

On my first two entries into AA, I believe that I thought I could return to social drinking. However, when I got honest finally with myself, I “was never a social drinker”. My first drink wasn’t one; it was many and turned into a drunk. Then as I kept coming back into AA, eventually picking up again, I thought I could “catch that buzz” again. I never could, never did.

I won’t sit here and share that I haven’t wanted to drink again, but I picked up the phone to say I wanted to drink again. I certainly did! But I had gotten the message ingrained in my brain, that a hand of AA would always be there for me. Just pick up that “two-ton phone”.

I had three years sober, things were bad, Fla. conditions were hot and horrible, a snake kept haunting the doors of our home, a mouse was in my toilet, I was dehydrated (no air conditioning) and called my male sponsor and said “if this is sobriety I don’t want it”. And Al’s hand was there, he pressed me to a lady sponsor a newly relocated member, who had a spiritual program, tons of patience, and was there for me.

I knew then, as I know now, should I ever pick up a drink again, I will not return to sobriety.

Fear does not keep us sober, but I have the faith that as long as I am willing to go to any length to stay sober, ask God for help, do readings, thank him at night, be vigilant in being a part of AA, that I can stay sober no matter what is going on that is negative.

For any who may be struggling, I suggest you go to any lengths to get sober. Get the booze out of the home (to give you think time), go to as many meetings face to face especially if you are able, get a sponsor, ask God for help to keep you sober, ask God to keep your “bottle” that He can have it, you can’t.

Our disease is a killer, it almost killed me. It is an eraser, it takes away family members, friends, money, homes, our minds, and renders us useless.

Please stand still sober and wait for the miracles. I have had many.

Mar 25: The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements

My husband has been attending a class at our church the past few weeks and I was given a bookmark which I am using in my monthly Grapevine. Each time I look at this bookmark I am reminded of our program and all the things that it stands for and that I have learned through the years. This class is called the Four Agreements and they are this.

1. Be Impeccable with your words. Hmm, am I always? Do I think and pause before I snap back with a sarcastic comment. Not always I am afraid, but looking at this bookmark has certainly made me more aware.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally. This I find very hard to do Along with the bookmark I was given a little card that on one side says “It’s ALL about me” and on the other side ” It’s NOT about me”. I keep this in front of me at the computer with the Not about me facing me at all times It is a constant reminder that I am not the center of the universe.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions. You know the old saying about assumptions. It makes an a** out of you and me. I don’t know about you but I am always assuming that I know what is best for those around me, especially those I love and are close to me. I also assume that I know what you want from me and what you expect without a word being said. I think I am a mind reader and that those who love me can read my mind automatically and know what it is that I want from them.

4. Always Do Your Best. I try – I do. I am very hard on myself in this regard because of my age and my health the “best” I can do today is a lot less than that which I could do a few years ago. I don’t know why I expect to be superwoman. I have more tolerance for others than I do for myself in this regard. I would no more expect someone I sponsor after having knee surgery to be up on a ladder sorting out top shelves of cupboards, but I put that expectation on myself. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not God and that this gift of sobriety that he has given me is precious and that God does not expect me to be superhuman. He just expects me to do my best.

I am glad that I was afforded the benefit of these gifts as a result of my husband attending this class and I hope that they will give you something to talk about in the coming week. If not, please just talk about whatever you need to in order to benefit your journey. Thanks for being here.

Mar 18: Whatever It Takes to Stay Sober

Whatever It Takes to Stay Sober

Hi Ladies, I was told when I came in, to put as much effort into staying sober, as I put into getting drunk. Little did I know that it meant instead of running to the bottle when my feelings got hurt, it meant swallowing my pride. Little did I know that when my first sponsor shared my “secrets” with mutual friends outside the program, that it meant I had to work on forgiveness. Little did I know that when I tried to read out of “Only for Today” instead of the Daily Meditation at our morning meeting and offended some because I chose non-sanctioned material. I had to chalk that up as a learning experience. Little did I know that I would become a defender of those scared coming into a meeting and that THE ONLY REQUIREMENT IS A DESIRE TO STOP DRINKING. You don’t have to declare allegiance to AA.

All those painful experiences have taught me that I am not as fragile as I think I am, that I ALONE am responsible for the quality of my sobriety, that I can’t do this alone. AND most importantly I need the program of AA to learn to place principals before personalities.

Seeing what happened this week at this meeting, I just wanted to suggest that we share our AA horror stories and how we survived them.

Thanks for the opportunity to lead this meeting. I look forward to your shares on this topic, or anything that you feel the need to talk about.

Mar 11: Forcing Solutions

Forcing Solutions

As a topic for this week, I’d like to introduce a quote from Pocket Sponsor, a book published by Day by Day, Recovery Resources.

“It is our experience in recovery that a Power greater then ourselves places the answers before us that we need to hear when we need to hear them. Often we don’t like the answers and practice self-will by trying to force our solution. Forcing solutions is the same as ignoring Step Three. When I force the solution, the solution becomes the problem.”

I can see, looking back, that there were many, many times when my Higher Power, whom I have nicknamed “God,” J put people, places, thoughts, and/or things in my life at just the right times to give me the guidance and opportunity to move to a better place in my spiritual/ mental/ emotional/ physical growth. Such times may have been filled with turmoil and pain or happiness and joy. But, always, it seems God was providing intuitive guidance regarding the “next right thing” to do.

However, sometimes, I would start listening to that squeaky hamster wheel in my head and would ignore the “still small voice” within me that was nudging with intuitive guidance toward a favorable solution. It could be that the “still small voice” was not coming quickly enough, or it was too “still” or too “small” or it wasn’t saying what I wanted to hear. I would get into self-will run riot and try to force what I thought was the best solution. Unfortunately, before long I would realize that I had made a bigger mess of things, and my “solution” had indeed become a bigger problem.

Thankfully, I am reminded repeatedly in this Program, to pause when agitated, let go and let God, and to listen for intuitive guidance in all things. Though it is sometimes hard to wait (for the answer or opportunity), I remind myself of how perfectly God has handled things in the past. And, with the help of this Program and my recovering friends, I am better able to stop and listen for the inner voice that intuitively guides me into the best solution. By reflecting on the times when God clearly was guiding me, it helps grow my Faith, so that I am less inclined to jump into a situation with a plan to fix things “my way”. J

I encourage each of you to share about how your Higher Power places the answers before you just when you need them, and/or how forcing your own solution may have caused more problems.

Mar 04: Fear of Change

Fear of Change

In the Serenity Prayer we ask for “courage to change the things we can” and everyone reading this has had the courage to admit that they can’t go on drinking. Most of us have been able to admit that we are alcoholics and have surrendered to change in a big way. Sometimes we decide to change something, other times change can just happen in our lives and we have no control over it.

We could all write a book about changes like this, bereavement, changes in relationships, changes in financial situations and so on. One particular area of fear for me is to do with health, what I’m able to do (or not do!) because of illness and disability. When my energy levels are really low I’m afraid they’ll get lower. When walking is particularly difficult I’m afraid of the next stage. Changes in pain levels make me afraid that the pain will get even worse…..and so on. Less understandable is an extreme reaction to unexpected hospitalizations (there have been a few!) Anyone would think I’m being sent to Outer Siberia 🙂

If I’m not vigilant, fear of change in any area of my life can cripple me and stop me from being able to live in the day. HOW (standing for honesty, open-mindedness and willingness) do I deal with it? Probably, when the fear shows itself, with a moment of panic 🙂 I’ve learned through the program and through listening to the experience of folks in AA to shorten that moment as much as I can before it screws up my brain, so I talk about it as honestly as I can with another alcoholic. Then I have to live through the feelings that could overwhelm me. With the help of my Higher Power, AA meetings and usually more and more talking, I survive. Then comes the need to wash the kitchen floor (I wish my sponsor had thought of something nicer!) or to do other things that can occupy me while the initial feelings of fear subside.

I was a bit afraid I wouldn’t get this share posted in time because I’ve got an infection and am feeling a bit rough. An AA friend of mine said, “Talk about it!”. Simple really, in this case, fear gone

When I drank I lived in fear. The biggest fear was to do with the changes I’d have to make if I stopped drinking. So, whether you’re trying to stop drinking, have stopped for a day or quite a few days, please share about what changes make you afraid today and let us know how you stop that fear from growing.

Feb 26: Restraint of Pen & Tongue

Restraint of Pen & Tongue

This topic was suggested by a beloved member. It brings many thoughts to mind, and because I know I can get long on the keyboard, I’ll try to be concise.

Drinking can cause our tongues to loosen up. Sometimes when we sober up we don’t lose this quality. Consequently, sometimes we hurt, sometimes we’re hurt.

One of the side effects of my traumatic brain injury is reduced inhibitions; a neuropsychologist equated it for me by saying I have the inhibitionscompletely soberof someone who’s consumed a couple of drinks. That just means I have to be careful. For me, my lack of restraint means I get overly friendly. I will, for example, approach someone at Wal-Mart and remind them how blessed they are to have those two beautiful children (though I usually approach it by asking the children if their parents know they’re blessed to be related to you?). Most of the time is a welcome reminder; however, there have been times when I’ve over-done the props. But, not always.

When drinking I would flirt a bit too much with a cute guy. Enough to make my husband feel very uncomfortable if I was with him; that behavior was one of my reasons for sobering up. My amends is to stay sober and not repeat the behavior.

Lack of restraint with the tongue also includes giving someone our opinion of just what we think of either them or their behavior.

Now that we’re in an era of the Internet, we have another way to apply our tongues, and it’s less personalthough it still feels personalthan face-to-face contact. So, it’s easier to let others really know what we think.

This week, please discuss if you’ve used your tongue (or proverbial tonguethe Internet) to hurt someone,, and how you made amends. Or, conversely, if you’ve been hurt, and wereand howwere amends made.

Or, of course, anything you need to discuss this week.

Feb 19: Dealing with Feelings

Dealing with Feelings

I would like to propose the topic of dealing with feelings. How have you dealt with feelings of loss and sadness? I sometimes have a feeling of sadness overcome me out of the blue and it doesn’t always seem to have a reason; just a general feeling. I am often at a loss for dealing with this and would like suggestions about how others handle this. The feelings usually pass but I wonder if sometimes my thoughts are causing this.

For example, one day as I was driving I was overcome by a really sad feeling and when I tuned into my thoughts, it seemed that I was telling myself something mean and self-critical every 20 seconds or so. I caught myself in the act.

I realized that my thoughts were causing my feelings. At that point, I became fed up with my thoughts and repeated over and over to myself “No Depression!” This seemed to stop the thoughts and the feelings of sadness.

So for me, I need to keep a strict eye on my thoughts and try to catch my stinking thinking before it turns to negative feelings which could lead to drinking. Sometimes, I just accept my feelings as unchangeable when in fact, if I examine the thought behind the feelings, it seems that I can change the thought and that changes the feeling. Other times, I just need to feel the feeling and go through it to the other side.

Please share with us how you deal with negative feelings in your life. Or feel free to share whatever is on your mind this week.

Feb 12: When God Has Been There for You

When God Has Been There for You

Ladies of GROW, this is such a wonderful time for me, I am staying at the home of my online sponsor and she and her husband are spoiling me rotten! We are having great chats about AA and life is so totally different than it was 15 years ago. The Promises have all come true for this alcoholic, how blessed I am. Next Saturday, God willing, I will celebrate 15 years sobriety and that is a gift and a miracle that my gratitude knows no bounds for.

When I think back on my drinking years there were so many times that God was there for me and of course I did not realize it at the time.

One incident comes quickly to mind, I had prepared a meal of Corned Beef and Cabbage, put it on the stove to cook, had another drink and passed out. My husband came home for his supper and saw smoke billowing out the window, the meal had burned dry, the pot had melted down to a single piece of metal on the burner but … the kitchen and the house and me had not burned. God had to have been there, how the whole house had not burned was a miracle. I still have that piece of metal and it reminds me of one of the many times God was there for me.

There is a poem by Mary Stephens called “Footprints in the Sand” I unsuccessfully tried to copy it here (I’m using an unfamiliar email program while away!!) but I’m sure you have all read this beautiful poem.When there was just one set of prints in the sand was when God was carrying us.

My daughter-in-law did a needlepoint of this poem and gave it to me my first sober Christmas, a very treasured gift.

I’d love to see you shares on your times when God was there for you. Thank you for allowing me to chair this week.

Feb 05: Every Dark Cranny

Every Dark Cranny

Pg. 75, paragraph 2 of the Big Book: 
“We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye. We can be alone at perfect peace and ease. Our fears fall from us.”

This excerpt is full of golden nuggets. Let’s look at it bit by bit.

If we DON’T put away our pride we will never be able to sort through the mess we’ve made of our lives and ourselves. We just can’t. So, we take every ounce of it and pocket it away to begin our work.

We have to shine the light on every slice of our lives, character, attitudes, behaviorsthe whole pie! This will allow us to go into “every dark cranny” and clear out the rubbish. This will leave a clean slate on which to build our new lives/selves. If we don’t keep any part of it back in the end we WILL be joyous, thrilled, and finally, after so many years of embarrassment, be able to “look the world in the eye.” It is a great joy for me to be able to look at myself in the mirror each day. I no longer look away, cringe, or glare. My shoulders are back, my head held high, and a look of pride on my face.

I am at peace.

I no longer feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

I am no longer afraid.


What about you? Have you searched every dark cranny? Are you at peace? Are you still afraid?

Jan 29: Ego & Self Pity

Ego & Self Pity

Carol D., alcoholic, and thank you ladies for allowing me to be of service and chair this week’s meeting. I decided to put out a topic that I have had some issues and feelings on.

I can remember when I came into the program and was doing my 4th step with my sponsor and she said something to the affect that whatever the issue was it was my ego. I absolutely could not believe she could think I had an ego. Not Carol, the people pleaser, no way. In my mind a person with ego was a person that walked and acted with arrogance and thought they were better than anyone else. Well just recently it has come up again and the bottom line was I just plain do not understand what ego is. I have been doing a lot of reading on ego and the only thing I have really understood is that “ego” can be good or bad. It is a defect when I am right and the rest of you out there don’t know what you are talking about. Life will always be a struggle with our “ego”, but we can keep it manageable , if we ask ourselves the question, is it to make me look good, or will it benefit others more.

I guess I thought when I got sober that my daughter’s would want to spend more time with me and I was so looking forward to it. Now understand I did not spend much time with them when I was drinking because I knew they did not want me drinking and I did not want them to know I was drinking as much as I was. My oldest daughter lived with me from Dec. 2010 until Sept. 2011 as she was going through a divorce than she got a job and moved out. I do hear from her more frequently than when she was married to her ex. Now my younger daughter I have always been very close too and hardly ever hear from her anymore. So here I sit on the pity pot, which I also believe is “ego” because she has not called me in a few days. I have to stop myself and realize that she has a family and a job and a life and she is busy. Here again is not just “self-pity” but also “ego”.

On the 18th of this month I celebrated 6 years sober and what a blessing for me, have not had to go back out for any reason, and what I love about this program is I am continually learning about myself and who I really am and that I can use the tools to make the changes that I need to make. When I first came in I wanted 10 years sober right from the get go, lol, but today I understand why this is a lifelong program. God is revealing to me in steps he know that I can accept and work on.

Jan 22: Traditions & Slogans

Traditions & Slogans

My name is Gigi and I am an alcoholic. Today, by the grace of a Power greater than myself, and with the help of you and all my other A.A. comrades, I celebrate 23 years of continuous sobriety. I like the vein that we have been pursuing in the past weeks, because it is literature based. My recovery depended upon the literature early in my recovery, when I was too sick to go out for several months at a time and did not yet have a computer. I was given a list of the Steps and Traditions and the underlying principles. When I read the list of principles for the Traditions, I was surprised to see that many of them are our slogans.

Usually when I am in a f2f meeting and it is announced that the topic will be a Tradition, there is a round of groans around the room. 🙂 Nevertheless! reading the Foreword to the Second Edition, we see that it states on page xix: “As we discovered the principles by which the individual alcoholic could live, so we had to evolve principles by which the AA groups and AA as a whole could survive and function effectively.” These I have found to be helpful to me in living with and functioning effectively at home, at work, and in any group of which I am a member. If I am having difficulty with others, it often comes back to one of these.

(That page lists the Traditions, out of order and more as they are mentioned in our Preamble. I will send that as a separate post.)

So here they are, the Tradition and Slogans:

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A. A. unity. 
Principle: Unity

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority–a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
Principle: Right Relationship to HP; Let Go and Let God

3. The only requirement for A. A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.Principle: 

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A. A. as a whole.
Principle: Live and Let Live

5. Each group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
Principle: First Things First

6. An A. A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A. A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
Principle: Keep It Simple

7. Every A. A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
Principle: Self-Support

8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
Principle: Altruism / Selflessness

9. A. A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
Principle: Service, Taking Responsibility

10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
Principle: Harmony

11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
Principle: Personal Humility

12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Principle: Tolerance

Please share with the group something about one of these principles or slogans. Which one is your personal favorite; which do you use the most right now? Do you aspire to one of these? Does one of them make you want to run the other way?

For me, First Things First is one I am using a lot right now. It’s interesting to me that it fits right in with the job I do in GROW. As Back Up Listkeeper, I’ve been helping new members get into the group. It’s a lovely service for me because I get to serve as one of the first contacts, along with my sister Listkeeper and the Greeters. We have a lot of newer members to AA lately, so it feels like First Things First is acting in my life. And our primary purpose of carrying the message is getting done (Tradition 5).

I have been struggling with my health the past year and a half, and staying in balance means that I have to prioritize my days well. First things have to come first or it all comes crashing down! It is a much simpler way to live than I would do on my own. 🙂 Which is probably really good for me, and why I am in this position. When I let my HP take charge, I have to have First Things First. It means that sometimes I have to put dinner on the table for my husband and me rather than snack on stuff and sew or read. Again, really good for me, keeping life in balance, and eating a good meal instead of junk food.

Jan 15: The Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I would like to share what it means to me and how it has affected my life. Then, I would like to hear what it means to you ladies and how/if you use it on a daily basis. For those of you who may not have found your God, maybe you could just repeat it without “God” in front.

I originally wanted to chair today because today is the 22nd anniversary of my father’s death. Through God, The Serenity Prayer gave me courage and wisdom to accept his being gone.

Lately it has meant much more and helped much more. My mother passed away on Dec. 29 after many months of illness. She too was in the program and had 36 years of sobriety at the time of her passing. She would say the prayer often and I was able to see that it gave her much courage. She truly accepted that there was nothing she could change and that she was in God’s hands. She passed with courage and grace.

For the funeral, I arranged to have The Lord’s Prayer and The Serenity Prayer put on her prayer card. Many people there knew why. Some didn’t know why. Anonymity meant a lot to her and we honored that to the end.

My brothers and sister didn’t even know the prayer. But, by the end of her interment, I think they all knew it and found comfort in it.

Just repeating it over and over is calming. It helps me to stay positive and on track. I was familiar with it long before I came into A.A. I knew it because of my mom. I honor her each time I say it and I know it has to be the first thing I say in the morning to myself. If I ever have a desire to drink, I hope it will keep me on the right path of sobriety.

Jan 08: Your Favorite Story or Passage of the Big Book

Your Favorite Story or Passage of the Big Book

This topic came up recently in another recovery group I am a part of, I hope it wasn’t here also…smiles…I am kinda losing it. I loved seeing all the different passages and stories that folks related to. I love everything about the BB. The Promises which Laura lead us on last week (by the way, my fav. part of the promises and I always say it to myself when read at a mtg is: “We will intuitively know how to handle situations which baffled us”. However, the one story that I really relied on in early recovery…and still do til today is…can you guess?? It might have something to do with my screen name…it is from the 3rd Ed. of the BB –“Dr., Alcoholic, Addict” and it is Dr. Paul O’s story…which on page 449 in the 3rd Ed. and page 417 in the 4th Ed. starts by saying, “And acceptance is the key to all my problems today…”. I had to read that passage every AM before calling my sponsor when I first got sober…it has saved me many times….I even was blessed to have met and had Dr. Paul O sign my BB. His whole story was great. Many folks stop at 449 or 417..however, he has so much more to say after that famous passage. If you read on he goes on to say, “He goes on to say, “when I focus on what’s good today, I have a good day, and when I focus on what’s bad, I have a bad day. If I focus on problem, the problem increases; if I focus on the answer, the answer increases” (page 419 of the 4th Ed.).

That is what I try to live my life with today….focusing on solutions…its not always easy, esp when everything is crumbling around you…I usually, with the help of talking to my sponsor and others…can get myself there….

So, what is your favorite story or passage and how has it helped your sobriety today?

Jan 01: The 9th Step Promises

The 9th Step Promises

When I first arrived in the rooms and when the promises were read, it was just as though people stopped reading in English and started reading in Chinese, or ancient Greek, or Basque, or Egyptian – some language that wasn’t even from western Europe. Then, when they were done with the promises, they switched back to English.

For those who aren’t sure of them, these are the 9th step promises (they are repeated also after this part of our meeting) (I am going to space them, not as they are printed, but as I “hear” them):

  • If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
  • We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
  • We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
  • We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
  • No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
  • We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away.
  • Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
  • Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
  • We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
  • We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
  • Are these extravagant promises? WE THINK NOT. They are being fulfilled among us, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
  • They will always materialize if we work for them.

It wasn’t as though I couldn’t understand the individual words – it was that I did not comprehend – I did not in any way understand how the 9th step promises were possible or even relevant to my life.

But slowly, I began to hold on to “we will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.”

That particular promise (or two promises, I suppose) began to be something for me to grasp, as a drowning person grabs onto anything in the water that is floating. I so wanted that lack of drama. It began to be the touchstone through which I could surrender to HP – because I began to *know* that HP would help me comprehend “serenity” and to know peace. Lack of internal drama. Quiet acceptance. Knowledge that I’m doing HP’s will – that I am choosing to live a truly sober life.

I began to realize that they don’t make sense trying to find them before doing the 9th step – they make total sense coming at the amends phase of the Program of AA. And the promise that “they will always materialize if we work for them” is also so true, I’ve found.

I think during the rather dramatic and chaotic years of my early sobriety, this promise was the one that kept me praying. Not for serenity (I prayed a lot more often for the willingness to be willing to be willing…) but to know that it would come, as long as I kept doing the next right thing. It may have been – now that I write this – one of my early understandings that HP works in HP’s time – and that it’s not part of Laura B.’s job description to try to get HP to do things faster.

Anyway, I would love to hear what you think of one or all of the 9th step promises. They aren’t, by any means, the only promises of AA, so if you’d rather write about a different AA promise, please do. And please, don’t worry about it if you haven’t gotten to Step 9, I’d still like to know about your experiences and thoughts around the promises.