Dec 29: Faith & What It Is Like Today

Faith & What It Is Like Today

I’m so grateful today to be celebrating 27 years of sobriety!! I take no “credit” for that ~ it is only by the Grace of God and this AA Program that I am “here.” In reflecting on “what it was like, what happened and what it is like today,” suffice to say, my life was a mess when I was drinking and druggin’ and it was always someone else at fault. My emotional pain and devastation finally brought me to an AA Step Study meeting where my first Sponsor “appeared.” She eventually introduced me to the Big Book of AA and the Steps, and I have been sober since that time. I’d like to focus on what it is like today.

First and foremost, through this Program I have come to know a Higher Power (HP) that loves, guides, and protects me. My relationship with my HP produces miracles when I “follow.” There is a parable (in my spiritual beliefs) that reminds me that all I need is a little bit of Faith in my HP – even Faith that is only the size of a mustard seed is all that is needed. I personally love the parable about the mustard seed. I like to remember how very tiny – really tiny! – a mustard seed is, and that it grows into a massive tree. It has been my experience ~ through this Program ~ that it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to accomplish great things. I don’t think I could make it without Faith. I still have fears and craziness, but thankfully, I can take refuge in my Faith and I am reminded that “there is One who has all Power” (BBp59), and I can (and should) “Let Go and Let God.” When I live these principles, whatever had been troubling me seems to resolve, or at least does not seem so overpowering.

Through this Program and the recovering people in it, I see again and again that “Faith,” working the Steps, and practicing the Principles of this Program are powerful beyond my human understanding, can transform lives, and create miracles. Please share what comes up for you.

Dec 22 interim topic: Pray First

Pray First

There once was a man who had nothing for his family to eat. He had an old rifle and three bullets. So, he decided that he would go out hunting and kill some wild game for dinner.

As he went down the road, he saw a rabbit. He shot at the rabbit and missed it. The rabbit ran away. Then he saw a squirrel and fired a shot at the squirrel and missed it. The squirrel disappeared into a hole in a cottonwood tree. As he went further, he saw a large wild Tom turkey in the tree, but he had only one bullet remaining.

A voice spoke to him and said, “Pray first, aim high and stay focused.” However, at the same time, he saw a deer which was a better kill. He brought the gun down and aimed at the deer. But, then he saw a rattlesnake between his legs about to bite him, so he naturally brought the gun down further to shoot the rattlesnake.

Still, the voice said again to him, “I said ‘Pray, aim high and stay focused’.” So, the man decided to listen to God’s voice. He prayed, then aimed the gun high up in the tree and shot the wild turkey. The bullet bounced off the turkey and killed the deer. The handle fell off the gun and hit the snake in the head and killed it. And, when the gun had gone off, it knocked him into a pond. When he stood up to look around, he had fish in all his pockets, a dead deer and a turkey to eat for his family. The snake (Satan) was dead simply because the man listened to God.

Moral of the story: Pray first before you do anything, aim and shoot high in your goals, and stay focused on God. 
— Author unknown

ASAP: Always Say A Prayer

I know that when I follow “that still soft voice” the outcome far exceeds any expectations I have. It’s hard to trust something that seems so far-fetched.

It’s happened to me a few times, and each time it gets easier and easier to “hear” that voice, and each time I am a little more willing to follow the directions.

Please share about the limbs you have climbed out on, the things you followed in faith, and how they turned out.

Dec 22: What Brought You to Your Bottom?

What Brought You to Your Bottom?

I apologize for not getting the topic out on time, but here it is: When I moved to Florida, I was asked: “Why did you pick December 23rd to get sober?” An Alanon asked me that question, it was all I could do but start laughing! The date had not relevance, but that’s where I hit my bottom.

My 38th anniversary has gone by, I have been far too busy to even stop (pause) for my brain to notify me. I am so grateful for all the sponsors, all the AAers who helped me in this journey.

When I came in finally sober, my brain I felt was hopelessly burnt. I could remember little except you don’t drink a day at a time. I had to take it 15 minutes at a time. My “crutches” – alcohol and drugs, were no longer good medicine for me.

I had a General Practitioner Doctor help me get cleaned up. If I needed hospitalization, it was to be without any mind altering drugs. I had many a sleepless night, and when up I swore the trees were moving around. In a daze I destroyed anything in the bathroom. I was on crutches in the snow and ice, trying to buy pants for the son I hadn’t given over to my ex. I was fearful terrified of driving because I had a bumper banger (no one in the car thank God) at which point I was arrested for bad checks I never remember writing.

I finally asked a woman to sponsor me, she had 18 years and had 12 stepped me with both alcohol and drugs. She was tough. She also unbeknown to me in the beginning was going blind. When I finally got driving again, she pushed me to drive to meetings further and further away, and thank God for her tricking me that way.

I was unemployable, and at about 3 months sober, the CETA program offered me retraining as a Nurses aid. I went, I grew, I became social a little at a time. When we were trained in death and dying, I let it all out and shared my story. The nurse instructing us already knew my story; she said she had been watching me grow. No detoxes, just winging it with help from AA and my Doctor. Little by little I tried to clear the wreckage of my past. Went to two more courts for checks, was let go free with payback.

In these 38 years, my life has been a full 180 degree turn or better. I hung onto my youngest son; I married at five years sober. (Kissed a lot of AA toads in there) I learned I had to like me, before I could like or love another. I had been rear-ended prior to that marriage, dealing with Workers comp, denials, courts for that, we struggled financially, but Bill worked a second job to keep us afloat. All thru the almost 32 years we were married, we had financial devastation on and off.

I pictured me in God’s hands; I knew he held me up when I thought I might fall! I am still in God’s hands. Three months after Bills death, the finances turned around, I can make it know. The Grace of God and AA! I could go on and on with the miracles that have happened to me.

My oldest son (that I had kept) called me not too long ago, he was helping a friend on parenting, and she said Your Mom did a great job, she trained you well. She was jealous because she is having child-rearing problems. My son kept going on about that, I reminded him had it not been for God and AA, we would not have made it.

If you wish my topic is: what brought you to your bottom? Or any other topic that is on your mind. I am here still a student, I am grateful for all who share.

Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas to all!

Dec 15: Relationships with Others

Relationships with Others

So many amazing things have happened and continue to happen in sobriety – as long as I work for it. That means working the steps with my sponsor and embracing the principles of the program in all my affairs as well as incorporating the tools we are taught to live by and with – meetings, readings, prayer, meditation, being of service to others and more. I continue to learn to be a friend both online and face to face. I isolated for most of my life, even before drinking so learning to feel real comfort around others and be the real me and share me openly and with love is a work in progress.

From pg 327, 4th edition:

“The real rewards aren’t material in nature. I have friends now because I know how to nurture and encourage valuable friendships … And, most importantly, I know who I am … I am so grateful that my Higher Power stepped in to show me the way to the truth. I pray every day that I never turn my back on it. I came to AA in order to stop drinking, what I received in return was my life.”

For our topic, I am suggesting relationships, inside and outside of the rooms and what those were like and what they are like today. For me, I hated myself and distrusted others, everyone, while drinking. Today, I am a work in progress about being in relationship, whether family or friends, and so very grateful to have tools to reach out as well as let people in today.

Dec 08: Acceptance


When I first entered the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous – I had absolutely no acceptance of my alcoholism, the reason I drank was due to what was happening around me, it was the worlds’ fault that I drank, but I couldn’t see that. Very early on I heard a man read the piece on Acceptance from the BB and somehow those words spoke to me, they still do today and for me are some of the most important words I read each morning. So as I break down the sentences, I am gaining awareness all the time, the words ground me for today.

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.”

For me, some form of serenity began when I learned to distinguish between those things that I could change and those I could not, the Serenity Prayer became and still is my special mantra. When I *admitted* that there were people, places, things, and situations over which I was totally powerless, those things began to lose their power over me, and I suppose that admission over time turned to acceptance.

I learned that everyone has the right to live their lives as they wish, to make their own mistakes, and learn from them, without my interference, judgment, or assistance. And it has taken time to accept that I do not have to accept unacceptable behaviour, I just have to accept that I am powerless over it! This ‘letting go’ has not been easy, but as I understand my powerlessness more and more, the better I stand back and bring the focus to improving my own life the better I hope. However, I do struggle from time to time with how my husband lives his life and this has been my greatest test of acceptance and letting go.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy.”

Another mantra of mine is ‘everything happens for a reason’ and for a time in early sobriety, while I accepted that, that wasn’t enough – I wanted answers – I know this has happened for a reason but why?? If I knew why I could fix it! As you can imagine that became a futile exercise and brought me on a merry go-round once more. Accepting life completely on life’s terms – I consider I am a work in progress on this, but I accept that is a part of my journey of recovery. I try to be gentle with myself.

Life each day presents me with challenges, and at the end of the day when I do my 10th Step inventory, I learn how I have done today, asking myself am I living life on life’s terms today? Today I feel happier than I have ever felt thanks to this program, and I accept that I need to work this program on an ongoing basis, particularly when I hit a ‘low’ – then I need to step up my program work, allowing me to look at life with a different set of glasses.

“I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

Known as the ‘family fixer’, standing back and looking at myself and change what I have power over within me has been a rocky road at times. It’s okay to be the ‘fixer’ to guide, support, but I must allow others take responsibility for their lives. Not easy for this fixer, but over time it has given me a great sense of freedom. I must allow others the dignity to make their decisions about their lives.

Thank you for allowing me to share, and for taking time to read this week’s Topic. I look forward to reading your shares throughout the week and learning from each one of you how you achieved acceptance and how you maintain acceptance.

Dec 01: I am not alone. Thank you.

I am not alone. Thank you.

In my mindfulness and 12 steps book, the prayer for one’s “taking refuge in community (sangha)” is just this: “I am not alone. Thank you.”

I will be attending my first face to face meeting Wednesday night at a women’s group 1/2 hour away. I tried about 9 months ago and panicked because I couldn’t find it – so I left and didn’t go back. I have held onto the GROW group and to my online sponsor because it’s all I’ve had other than my therapist. I’m afraid for a number of personal and professional reasons – some of them reasonable, others not so much.

After an emotionally rough weekend before Thanksgiving, my therapist and I talked about my isolation, and we both agreed I need to take some risk and have some trust if I want any relief. Isolating has made the past year harder and more painful.

A favorite poem by Hafiz has been helping me:

A hunting party 
Sometimes has a greater chance 
Of flushing love and God 
Out into the open 
Than a warrior 
All alone.

So this week is it. I have addressed my professional fears by planning to talk to my boss Monday, and I’ve already talked to my HR rep (who was very supportive).

I’m petrified, but it’s time to take this step and take refuge in a community beyond my computer screen.

So this week I would love for you all to talk about what it was like to gather a hunting party, take refuge in community, and trust others. And if this has been difficult for you to do, we need to know about that too.

Nov 24: No Reservations

No Reservations

“If we are planning on stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.” 
From Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, More ABout Alcoholism, pg. 33

I read the above quote the other day and got to thinking about reservations and relapse. While my story doesn’t include relapse (by the grace of God) I’ve heard others share their experience with relapse. They say that they got comfortable, they say they thought they “had it.” They say that they thought they could drink “normally.”

Thank God for those that have gone before me that have relapsed. I need to hear their stories. When they go back out, they say it never gets better. In fact, it’s worse than when they left off. One person shared that their disease is doing push ups, just waiting for them to slip.

I need to remember that. I need to remind myself that I can never, ever, drink again. I need to practice these principles in all my affairs. I need to be diligent. I need to be honest, open and willing. I need to remain teachable. I need to be of service. I need to do the next right thing.

Yes, it’s work. But the rewards are so worth it. Being able to hold my head up high, looking at myself in the mirror and liking what I see. It’s a life I never knew prior to coming to these rooms. So, I will never, ever, be immune to alcohol. My disease may try to tell me otherwise. But so long as I keep my HP big and my ego small, I will stay sober, one more day.

Please share about any reservations or lurking notions you may have or had … Or anything that may be on your mind!

Nov 17: The ABCs

The ABCs

I have been reflecting a lot this week as I usually do prior to my anniversary. It is hard for me to believe that 34 years ago last night I took my last drink until this moment and hopefully for the rest of the moments of my life. I must admit I have been wracking my brain to think up an *inspirational* topic that would knock your socks off.

Then the words that were spoken to me in my first few weeks came into my mind and would not leave. I was not yet into working the steps, really had no concept of what they meant at that point but one of our old timers said to repeat the ABC’s every day in a condensed form:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
My version: I am an alcoholic and cannot manage my life.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
My version: Nobody else in my life has managed to get me sober.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.
My version: Maybe I should try their God.

Further condensed is: I can’t, He can, I think I’ll let him.

I didn’t realize at the time that by doing this all the time I was actually doing the first three steps of the program. I still use this every day when things come up that I have issues dealing with. Mostly medical stuff these days. I am too old and decrepit to get into too much trouble.

I would be interested in learning if the ABC’s have special meaning in your life or if not what in the literature has been a mainstay for you and your sobriety. I look forward to your shares as we share this well travelled path to freedom from booze.

Nov 10: Into Action

Into Action

Our program emphasizes action in our attempt to stop drinking. Those of you who are new to AA, what are you doing to help resist the temptation to drink? Those who have been around a while, what did you actually do in the early days, weeks, months to help you to keep the top on the bottle? What action do you take now? When life gets tough and you feel discouraged or at the end of your tether, what do you do these days to protect your sobriety?

I used to walk to the phone box to talk to another alcoholic. I asked for help (not as often as I could have done!) I walked the dog, again and again and again! I started to knit or do anything that would keep my hands busy. I ate chocolate and drank gallons of tea. I had a sponsor who regularly told me to wash the kitchen floor , I resisted that one but often had to comply!

I still drink gallons of tea and walk the dog and Ive added a few more things to do to keep me sober and peaceful these days. Im learning to meditate, I try to keep interested in various things like playing with the computer, drawing and painting, taking photographs and many more. Some of these things I used not to allow myself to do.

These are just a few examples but there was one thing that helped me above all else.

This piece of AA literature, the Just for Today card, was in the starter pack I was given at my first meeting. Ive shared about it before but I think its worth referring to it again. I carried it with me everywhere and it was my first line of defence when that urge to drink appeared.

I love the bit that reminds us that we can do something for 12 hours that would appall us if we had to keep it up for a lifetime. Of course, at first I tried to follow all the suggestions every day until a friend suggested I concentrate on one each day. So I cut them up and put them in a jar, taking out one at a time. I hope you will find some of them helpful.

Just for Today

Just for today I will try to live through this day only and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

Just for today I will be happy. Most folk are as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Just for today I will adjust myself to what is and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my luck as it comes and fit myself to it.

Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways. 1) I will do somebody a good turn and not get found out. If anybody finds out, it will not count. 2) I will do at least two things I dont want to do , just for exercise. 3) I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt. They may be hurt but today I will not show it.

Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, talk low, act courteously, criticize not one bit, not find fault with anything and not try to improve or regulate anybody except myself.

Just for today I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests, hurry and indecision.

Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself and relax. During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life.

Just for today I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.

AA Literature
Central Office

So, please share with us what action you take to keep sober and to keep growing in sobriety.

Nov 03: The Gift of Sobriety

The Gift of Sobriety

I would like to share a reading from Daily Reflections page 186:

For most normal folks, drinking means conviviality, companionship and colorful imagination. It means release from care, boredom and worry. It is joyous intimacy with friends and a feeling that life is good.”


“The longer I chased these elusive feelings with alcohol, the more out of reach they were. However, by applying this passage to my sobriety, I found that it described the magnificent new life made available to me by the A.A. program. ‘It’ truly does ‘get better’ one day at a time. The warmth, the love and the joy so simply expressed in these words grow in breadth and depth each time I read it. Sobriety is a gift that grows with time.”

This reading really spoke to me today. I’ve been writing out my “drinking story/history” which has been kind of grueling and long. I’ve done it sort of half-ass before with another sponsor. Now I’m really trying to get as detailed as possible (without trying to get into that trying to be perfect mode-lol) as I am reading “Bill’s Story” with my new sponsor. I am seeing similarities between Bill’s story and mine. It’s easy for me to minimize my drinking and say “oh it wasn’t so bad.” See I didn’t have a lot of the “yets.”

My drinking was for a long time a happy and joyous experience with family and friends. It did not last though. Eventually my drinking became isolating, dark, and depressing. I was using the alcohol to make me feel better and make it seem like my life was good. I thought that if I was drinking, my life would be better – I would feel better. It would make my problems go away, it would make me less afraid and anxious, it would make me happier.

Alcohol sure is cunning, baffling and powerful – and deceitful! Unfortunately it has taken me multiple relapses to make me realize that alcohol is NOT the solution. I kept thinking that it was the answer so I would drink again. Thank God my relapses only lasted one night!! I was able to come back to AA the very next day and talk about my relapse.

I will have 7 months on November 5 thanks be to my Higher Power, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and strong sponsorship. I kept saying to myself “am I ever going to get this program?” and “when are things going to get better?” I was always doubting myself because I kept relapsing and changing sponsors so many times. I can honestly say now that I feel like my life has really gotten better. My husband and I have been working on our marriage for a couple of years now ever since my affair, and our marriage has gotten better. I have a wonderful relationship with my two awesome teenagers, and I am always there for them.

I am grateful for the fellowship and for the friends that I have made all over the world. I am so grateful for AA and for this gift of sobriety! I never want to take it for granted ever again! One more thing- I was at my home group this morning, and we were reading from “Dr. Bob’s Nightmare.” At the end of the meeting, one of the women came up to me and said that she can tell that I have changed and that I am working the steps! Wow! I was so happy and practically speechless when she said that. “Progress, not perfection!” My sobriety really is a gift that can keep on growing with time.

Oct 27th: 10th Step Promises

10th Step Promises

As this 10th month comes to a close, I want to look at the 10th step promises as laid out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 84-85: (please allow for my own highlighting of this passage)

And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone-even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as if from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality – safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

.We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities.

I love these promises. When I first came into the rooms of AA, I heard the 9th step promises read at the opening of most meetings (still do), and they’re great, they’re amazing and they’re something that I strive for … but unfortunately, for me, when I was newly sober, they were also like reading a foreign language (one that I only had a basic working knowledge of).

I mean, sure, I would love to know what serenity and peace were like, but you were talking to someone who would rather stay in bed and cry, than get up and face the day. “Losing interest in selfish things, self-seeking will slip away,” what the hell is self-seeking, because surely it’s not me. Wasn’t I the one always buying drinks/dope for everyone; didn’t I let complete strangers come party and pass out at my house (some of them for days at a time)? I mean, how nice and *giving* can one person get, am I right?

“Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us…” Well … ain’t that nice? First, I’m about the most social person on the planet with a little booze in me and as for money? I don’t have any, I can’t see me ever getting any, so short of winning the lottery I don’t see any way that I won’t worry about money.

(Please keep in mind that everything written above followed my train of thought very early in sobriety…but isn’t that the most important time?).

I liked the 9th step promises then, in that same way I like fairytales … how cool and exciting … if it were true. But the 10th Step promises, those I could totally get behind. God, how amazing to not fight cravings, to have the problem removed?! Please, sign me up for that. Then you read a little farther and it says, “so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition …” Bummer. I knew there was a catch.

See, the God I grew up with was not a God I thought I could spend time with every morning and besides, after all the stunts I pulled, He probably didn’t want to spend any time with me either. He was a jealous, vengeful God. I grew up believing, if you think it, you may as well have done it … and if I’m honest here, I did WAY more than think it.

When I spoke these thoughts aloud to another woman in the program, she posed this question to me: “Mika, if God made you human, why would He be mad at you for being human?” and something in that struck me and rang true. Of course He created me as a human and, therefore, fallible. Am I so self-righteous that I honestly think He intended that I be perfect? No, of course He didn’t. If He created me, knowing I would sin, then He expects it, and if He expects it, there’s really nothing I can do to irreparably damage our relationship. That, my friends, is where I found freedom. The freedom to begin a relationship with a Higher Power that I never knew existed; a way to forgive myself for all my mistakes and past indiscretions.

And now, because I could believe in and begin to live out the promises of the 10th step, I’ve been blessed to experience a life beyond anything I ever could have imagined. The promises are true, in my life and in the lives of all of those you work the steps. I love this program, I love my life, and most importantly, I love my God in a new and fulfilling way.

Oct 20: The Family Afterward

The Family Afterward

“…A body badly burned by alcohol does not often recover overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling. We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restorative. We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health…” BB page 132

“…The alcoholic may find it hard to re-establish friendly relations with [her] children. Their young minds were impressionable while [s]he was drinking. Without saying so, they may cordially hate [her] for what [s]he has done to them and to their [father]. The children are sometimes dominated by a pathetic hardness and cynicism. They cannot seem to forgive and forget. This may hang on for months, long after their [father] has accepted [mom]’s new way of living and thinking.

In time they will see that [s]he is a new [wo]man and in their own way they will let [her] know it. When this happens, they can be invited to join in morning meditation and then they can take part in the daily discussion without rancor or bias. From that point on, progress will be rapid. Marvelous results often follow such a reunion.

Whether the family goes on a spiritual basis or not, the alcoholic member has to if [s]he would recover. The others must be convinced of [her] new status beyond the shadow of a doubt. Seeing is believing to most families who have lived with a drinker.”

— BB pages 134-135

These passages from the Big Book gives this alcoholic hope.

When I got into the program, I made a dent in the cycle of insanity that consumed my world. But I stayed in a toxic marriage and my emotional sobriety was very much affected. It was the path I had to take, nonetheless my ladies saw my recovery as flawed and it has made our recovery as a family hard.

My family is healing and is it the way I want?…no, it is what it is. Through this program I have hope. I have learned to face my storms with humility and grow from them.

I will admit that I continue to struggle with letting go. There are times I want to pick up their pebbles, stones or even boulders from their path however in doing so I take away the lessons of life that will help them to live life on life terms. My higher power guided me on my path as theirs with guide them.

Recently I painted a painting which embodies, for me, what it is like to be a mom. It is of a child snuggling into her mother and the mother holding her child close to her heart. A tear forms from the mother’s eye for she knows she has no control, no power to direct or protect the life of her child. All she has is love, unconditional love and compassion to help them realize their fullest potential.

That is all I have…unconditional love and compassion.

Do I fear they will make the same mistakes as I? Yes…however THEY are not ME.

I know I made mistakes, a lot of mistakes and I tried to do the best I could.

Today is one of my daughters’ birthday and she still has a lot of anger with me and little by little she is backing away. It is breaking my heart however by the grace of this program, I can let go without loving less. One day we will reunite when she is ready. Until such time by my example I can show her, show each of my ladies how truly strong I am and how that same strength is within each of them.

Just like the alcoholic that stills suffers…until they want to change, want to grow…will change happen and they will come to know that they are not alone.

How have you dealt with the family afterwards? How do you use the tools of this program to help you and those you love grow?

Oct 13: Favorite Sayings and Slogans

Favorite Sayings and Slogans

For this week I have chosen the topic favorite sayings and slogans.

In particular I refer to A Day at a Time; First Things First; Easy Does It; You have to give it away to keep it; share experience, strength and hope; think the drink through; love and tolerance of others is our code; Happy Joyous and Free; and Surrender to Win.

Most often do I think about A Day at a Time so I stop getting crazy over the past and worry myself sick about the future; realize the present is all we have in this world in this moment and Surrender to Win, another paradox that tells me if I just give up wanting all things my way they will go God’s way, the way they are supposed to and I can be glad.

Ladies, the floor is open for discussion; tell us how these brief mantras help you get through a difficult day, finally give up insisting things go your way and realize we are all to some extent spiritually sick and wrong much of the time.A I am very grateful for these Tiny programs-in-a-capsule that remind me what is important and get me back on track.

Oct 06: “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol — that our live had become unmanageable”

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

Growing up, I knew nothing of alcohol. Coming from a religiously conservative teetotaling family, I had never even seen it until I was in high school. It was a tool of Satan. Yet one evening when I was in puberty, I watched a TV drama about Bill W. I knew at that moment that I was an alcoholic or an addict. I recognized something in myself, and I just knew.

When I finally did start drinking on my first Friday night in college, I got drunk. I got drunk every time I drank after that. I loved the buzz. It made me more outgoing and less afraid. Had it not been for discovering marijuana a few years later, I’d have hit an alcoholic bottom very early on, I think.

The point is that I knew I was an alcoholic. I had the first half of the first step down pat for many years before I finally managed to see the second half come true for me. I even made jokes about it. At the bars, I’d say, “I’m an alcoholic, so bring them two at a time.” It was funny, but it I meant it.

I had many good years as a pothead and sometimes drinker. I felt very superior to drunks. I didn’t slur my words. I didn’t stumble. I didn’t act like a fool in public. But I was stoned every hour I was awake for about 20 years. While others outgrew the habit, I did not. Then it started getting hard to find since I didn’t hang with the druggies. So, I started relying more and more on booze. And booze brought me down.

For many more years, I was a “functioning alcoholic.” I performed well at work and got promotions. Never had a DUI. Never came even close to a jail. Lived a seemingly normal life. Yet, every day when I left work, the drinking started, and it didn’t stop until I was unconscious. Sometimes it would include friends and drunken parties, but usually it was me alone with my cat and the television. I had to check the kitchen sink to see if I’d had dinner the night before and check the towels in the bathroom to see if I’d bathed. That was my life. But everything was under control – as long as I didn’t make or answer phone calls in the evening.

In 1996, unmanageability could no longer be ignored. I married a man with whom I had never had a date and who didn’t speak very much English. I thought I was making my stand for the Third World and really helping someone. Then I started helping him more by giving him cash I’d gotten off my credit cards. My explanation for marrying him? I didn’t have anything better to do at the time.

It took only three months for me to finally understand. I was powerless over alcohol and my life was truly unmanageable. Alcohol had sunk into my brain and made me insane. I was completely delusional and absolutely hopeless. I began to rage at him. I tried to kill him.

One day, he asked me what I wanted out of life. My answer was a blank stare. I had no idea. I had gone too far into the bottle to know or even care. The only thing that mattered to me by then was when and where I could get a beer. All I wanted out of life anymore was to get and stay drunk.

But I thought about it. After a while, I had an answer: “I want God. I want Him here and now, not someday after I die.” My world was spinning out of control. A month later, I returned to AA. This time, I understood the first step. I am an alcoholic, and my life is unmanageable. I have no control over my drinking, and I certainly have no clue how to live life.

It’s been many 24 hours since those dark days. I haven’t had a drink in a long time. My life is simple, manageable. It’s not that I learned how to control or manage it. It’s that I gave up and gave in. I finally was desperate enough to let people who had been there teach me how to stop and stay stopped. I was finally desperate enough to hand everything over to a God I do not understand and trust that God – most of the time. Today, there is no doubt in my mind or heart that I am an alcoholic and that, if I choose to drink again, my life will be unmanageable – as long as I live (which will probably not be long).

It took me at least 15 years to do Step One where alcohol was concerned. It took longer for me to let go of my romance with pot even though I stopped using it long before I quit drinking. For me, I know I am an alcoholic and an addict, and I will never be cured. There have been enough incidents over the years to make that clear to me. Even when I abstain from alcohol and drugs, they can dominate my thoughts and behavior if I am not vigilant about working the program of AA.

So, that’s the topic for this week. Step One. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.” Please share with us your experience, strength, and hope surrounding this absolutely necessary beginning to a sober life.

Sep 22: Surrender


When I was new to AA, I was at someone’s 10 year celebration and she said “It’s still all about surrender.” I have always remembered that and I was thinking about it this week. I knew I had to surrender and I was willing because I was so miserable, but I didn’t know what that meant. Looking back, I surrendered when I said I was alcoholic out loud, when I committed to 90 meetings in 90 days, when I asked someone to help me and took directions from her to work steps and when I started praying every day to stay sober.

Today surrender is not much different. I still try to live the 12 steps. I have added a sincere “Thy will be done” to prayer because I have learned to trust and rely on God.

So, I would like to hear about what surrender means in your life or what/how you struggle with the idea of surrender.

Sep 15: How Do I Practice Step 10?

How Do I Practice Step 10?

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

Back when I was a newcomer I was told to read Step 10 every morning before I got started with my day. In the many years since that first year I no longer take a complete, fearless and thorough moral inventory of each incident that causes me conflict and requires self-examination to lead me away from resentment. I do what is called a spot-check inventory, written or just talking to a spiritual adviser, and that usually shows me what role I played in the situation, where I was wrong, whether I should make amends and how quickly.

Step 10 is my gateway to emotional sobriety, an attribute I want as part of my persona and a difficult one to achieve. The literature tells us we no longer have hangovers from too much to drink but rather hangovers created by excesses of emotion.

We read that instincts for food, love, and sex are natural and God-given but we have problems when those instincts go awry. Fortunately we have the 12 steps and the AA philosophy to guide us back to a reasonable approach to the problem and to life in general.

This step asks us “do we pass the acid test…can we stay sober, live to good purpose and keep in emotional balance under all conditions?”

Step 10 reminds us that gossip makes us feel comfortably superior to the people we are talking about, that we are not trying to be helpful with constructive criticism but rather seeking to punish the other person and that all people are to some extent emotionally ill and frequently wrong. If we can adopt this view only then can we approach true tolerance of our fellow men.

How do you work the principles in Step 10? Do you practice inventory taking on some level when life doesn’t go your way? Do you agree that even so-called jusfied anger is not for us; it is the dubious luxury of normal men; do you examine your motives and clear them of wrong doing? Do you practice restraint of tongue and pen, telephone and e-mail? Do you try to bring the spirit of this incredible program into all areas of your life?

Ladies, please share with us anything you feel about this life-changing step. The floor is now open for discussion.

Sep 08: Habits


Two weeks ago I did my first step 5 and found it to be a helpful experience. It was not as scary as I had pictured. Then came step 6 – it came more easily than I thought – and here I am at step 7.

Here’s the rub: I can see that my defects manifest as really deeply, thoroughly ingrained habits. The behaviors show quickly and in rapid succession – and I can’t always see it coming. I want badly to break them. I aim to give them to my higher power … and at the same time I am aware that this isn’t magic – I will need to do some good old fashioned hard work along the way.

Here are a few of the biggies that I’m working on:

1 – dishonesty
2 – carrying grudges
3 – passive aggression
4 – playing the victim
5 – impatience
6 – cruelty to myself

So … within days of step 5, I caught myself lying and being passive aggressive – it was toward my mother after all and after years of drinking and berating me, does she deserve honesty?!? Carrying a grudge and being a victim much, Mindy? Yikes. So I caught those and corrected my course but not before I berated myself for being stupid and mean. Of course, I said that to myself with many varieties of curse words and insults. Well, that was impatient and cruel behavior toward myself – oops – have to stop that too – aye aye aye!

But as much as this process is overwhelming it’s equally empowering. I don’t have to live this way forever! How fabulous!

So here’s what I pose to you, GROW ladies, this week – what habits have you broken – and how? What habits have you struggled with? How has it felt to do this work – to succeed and to struggle? Feel free to share on this topic or anything else you find helpful to your recovery. Thanks and happy 24!

Sep 01: To be one in a …

To be one in a …

*”We have not sought to be one in a family, to be a friend among friends, to be a worker among workers, to be a useful member of society.”* (p.53, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions)

*”Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us” *(p.77, Alcoholics Anonymous)

Thank you so much for letting me lead the meeting for this week, congratulations to all those celebrating an anniversary and welcome to all those who have recently joined GROW. I am very grateful for the help I receive here and throughout AA – the fellowship has not only given me a life but a set of tools to handle it.

I decided to select the lines above because over the years they’ve helped me come back to reality. When I came into AA, full of fear, pride, ego, and a lot of hot air (some of which still remains :), I wrestled any concept of ‘equality’. I simply was better than anyone else and a miracle child or an absolute disgrace to humanity, scum of the earth. That dual superiority-inferiority complex was the only way I knew how to handle life, and words like *’a worker among workers*’ nearly made me keel over in horror!

I mean, me — one amongst many? Do you not know of all my true talents, gifts and abilities?!

That’s when my first sponsor said: “great , lets put all your talents, gifts and abilities to be of service to God and those around you!”

I have to say, I felt the tables were turned. I was so into self I hadn’t really thought of being *of service* to anyone and it reeked of the implication – doormat! I thought that would make me weak!

But like many things in AA, it is far from weak. Today I find more and more that when I see myself as an equal, one amongst many, a member of a family, another friend, another employee, another AA, I truly find liberation and strength. Its not always been easy and I do often struggle with it. But that sense of apart instead of a part of is just another mask of alcoholism which keeps me separated from the fellowship, from humanity, from my HP and tied to the bondage of self. It is through regular taking my own inventory, prayer and being of service have I found that sense of equality and belonging.

So the lesson for me is , if I want to continue to grow and be an equal in society, to stand shoulder to shoulder with others and look them in the eye, instead of down or up at them , I need to be of service to my HP and those around me , in the home, office and meeting. Today I love being able to help another person, even if its just sharing my experience, strength and hope in a meeting or listening to them over a coffee. I am working on carrying this attitude into other areas of my life.

Id love to hear how you have put into practice being one in a family, an AA group, an organisation, a social group, a community or any other part of your life. Please feel free to share on this or anything else related to recovery from alcoholism.

Aug 25: Practicing the Principles in All Our Affairs

Practicing the Principles in All Our Affairs

For me, the Twelve Steps offer a “design for living” that means more than not having a drink or not using. Our new way of life in recovery requires us to change a lot of our old attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, and behavior by applying these Steps and program principles to our lives.

There is no “treatment plan” other than working the Twelve Steps. All sponsors can do is share their experience, strength and hope concerning their own recovery. The Twelve Steps are about spiritual growth, not therapy. A sponsor is not our therapist.

To work a Step means to understand its principles and apply them to daily living. The term “work” is appropriate because the process involves a lot of effort.

According to AA cofounder Bill Wilson, their author, the Twelve 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.”

Today my path is the Twelve Steps. They are the heart of recovery. To work the program is to work the Twelve Steps. Applying them means practicing them in ALL my affairs – – –actually living them!

The principles of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (Steps) are:

Step one: Surrender – honesty
Step Two: Hope – faith
Step Three: Commitment
Step Four: Honesty, soul-searching, courage
Step Five: Truth – integrity
Step Six: Willingness – acceptance
Step Seven: Humility
Step Eight: Reflection, willingness, judgment, compassion
Step Nine: Amendment, forgiveness, balance
Step Ten: Vigilance, maintenance,perseverance
Step Eleven: Attunement – making contact; spirituality
Step Twelve: Service, gratitude, action

My HP places before me whatever it is I am to learn each day and points me to the principles that will help me in this task! This process never fails me as I trudge the road of happy destiny. I just have to be honest, open-minded, and willing to go to ANY length for my sobriety – –which is my life today!

If anyone wishes to know more about these principles and how they came about – –go in your search line on the net and type in “The principles of Alcoholics Anonymous” and click on the site that spells that out.

All I can relay to you is that this program works for me – – – –and I did not receive the total benefits until I had THOROUGHLY and HONESTLY worked ALL TWELVE of The Steps! In the first couple of years in the program I worked the Steps at MY convenience – – – -even starting out with Step Nine, as I thought I didn’t need to do much more! I hurt a lot of people in this process, as I knew nothing about “how it works”! Basically I had to suspend what I thought I knew!

Also, I found that the first “go-around” of the Steps is basically understanding them conceptually. After that comes the practical application of the Steps in my daily living.

Today, when I am faced with any type of decision, and/or “opportunity for growth”, I pause – –as is suggested in our Big Book —- run it through the Steps, pray for guidance, then wait for the intuitive thought or solution to come through. Sometimes nothing becomes obvious —so my answer is “do nothing” – –at this moment! One thing that remains constant is CHANGE! Today I know that nothing remains the same —so tomorrow the solution may be placed in front of me – – –God’s will – –not mine!

Aug 18: Staying in the Moment

Staying in the Moment

Hello ladies, with today being my belly-button birthday, I truly have to practice staying in the moment. Having a birthday was one of the worst days ever in my past since I knew it was a day that my mother regretted and has expressed this to me several times. On a daily basis, I have to use the tools of the program to keep me out of the bad neighborhood that exists between my ears.

I can sit and recall all the things that happened in my past and start to wonder why I am here. Then I can take that and start running the other way with it and start projecting into my future and start playing all these bad tapes through in my head as to how my life is going to take a drastic turn for the worse. I used to want to send a sympathy card to my mother each year for my birthday, but never did. I have been working on a project doing consulting work in Central NY where I grew up and it has taken quite an emotional toll on me and has tested me to stay in the moment.

This past Wednesday was my 13th anniversary of sobriety which is so much more important to me now. So as I sit here on the patio and just have a quiet time with me and God, I am trying to stay in the moment. I look around and see the birds, the sun in the sky, my wonderful husband that I adore with all my heart, our beautiful home, I am getting texts from my real family from AA saying happy birthday.

I received a call on Thursday that my project in NY is ending this coming Friday, and I will be out of work temporarily, but I am more relieved than upset, and then I can beat myself up for that, haha!! The sick mind of an alcoholic, so glad those call-out boxes or clouds do not exist above my head to show people what goes through my mind, really is a bad neighborhood up there at times.

I believe that any obstacle we go through is God trying to teach us a lesson and, rather than get down about it, I try to stay positive and focus on the lesson. I have a new family now in AA and I get the love and support that I have never had before… I heard before that God gives us friends to apologize for our families, and He truly does know what he is doing. I can’t think about what happened yesterday or focus on what’s going to happen next week… if I do that, then I am going to waste the precious time that I have right now, TODAY!

So I am asking you ladies to share with us how you stay in the moment? What tools do you use to accomplish this?

Aug 11: 10th Step Promises

10th Step Promises

I was talking to someone earlier this week and mentioned that the 10th step promises became more important to me than the 9th step promises quite late in my recovery. During my early recovery I would gauge my progress by how many of the 9th step promises were coming true in my life. It does say before we were halfway through, and I guess I thought that meant when I got to Step 12 I was done. Not so. I have discovered that the steps are a continual part of my life and something that I live on a daily basis. The 10th step promises are also something that lives with me daily.Topic for the week:

The 10th step Promises …

And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

page 84 85 AA Big book

How are these promises working in your daily life? Share with us your experience, strength and hope please. Of course, if there is anything else that you need to share about please do so and I look forward to hearing from you.

Aug 04: Ahhhhh! Thank you!

Ahhhhh! Thank you!

In the 80s there was a pet rock craze. One time, while waiting to knock on a friend’s door, there was a rock by the door. It said:

“Please turn me over.” Hmm. I looked around to make sure no one was watching. I felt silly. But I did it. The other side said, “Ah! Thank you!” How delightful I felt!

We talk about ‘turning it over” all the time in AA. Until we turn it over, so to speak, we can’t see what’s on the other side. And yet we have such delight waiting for us when we do!

We talk about turning things over in our mind. Contemplating something we need to make a decision about. When we make the decision about what we are ‘turning over’ in our mind, we feel relief, grateful for the answer to our dilemm a. “AH! Thank you!”

Sure, we feel silly about it. We may even look around furtively to be sure no one is looking before we turn over the pet rock. But the relief! The delight!

After thinking about it, I turned the pet rock back over so that someone else could experience what I did. So like AA. We go on to show others how we ‘turned it over.” And the message we get? “Ah! Thank you!”

Jul 28: Getting Over the Shame

Getting Over the Shame

Thank you for all of the well wishes on my 6 month birthday. I feel blessed to be sober and not craving a drink. It is truly a miracle. I am also grateful to my sponsor for her love and support especially during the early days of sobriety and my relapse. I am also grateful to all of you for your love and support during the last nine months.

Being sober is truly a blessing. I look forward to each day. I am productive, creative, loving and compassionate. But sobriety is also a journey that allows one to closely examine oneself. How many people get the opportunity to look inside and change who they are for the better? At times during my journey I have an overwhelming feeling of shame associated with the disease of alcoholism. It is not self pity, but sadness that I feel because I have let down those close to me. Have any of you had the same feeling? Have you overcome it? And if so, how?

Jul 21: Annihiliation


Today, our topic comes from this paragraph of “There IS a Solution,” on page 18 of the Big Book:

“An illness of this sort – and we have come to believe it an illness – involves those about us in a way no other human sickness can. If a person has cancer all are sorry for him and no one is angry or hurt. But not so with the alcoholic illness, for with it there goes the annihilation of all the things worthwhile in life.

It engulfs all whose lives touch the sufferer’s. It brings misunderstanding, fierce resentment, financial insecurity, disgusted friends and employers, warped lives of blameless children, sad wives and parents – anyone can increase the list.”

It’s pretty clear which sentence dominates the paragraph. It’s the one that called to me as I was hunting for a topic for this meeting. I thought about it for a long time, and decided this was it. TRUTH. Alcohol truly did annihilate everything that was worth something in my life, especially those I loved the most.

It took my most meaningful relationships and threw them in the trash; it took my license; it took my freedom; it took my pride and ground it into the dirt; it took control of my LIFE. And not just MY life, but my husband’s life, my mother’s life, my son’s life. All who truly cared about me got pushed aside when alcohol came around, which, let’s face it, was ALL the TIME. But, on the bright side, at least I can say “WAS.”

I am currently sitting at 385 days, 12 hours, and 29 minutes. I have EARNED my One Year token and it feels amazing. I can’t wait to add more to my collection. I keep them in my wallet and when I’m feeling low I pull them out and look them. I need to learn to do that when I’m angry, too. Otherwise I might end up letting alcohol take control and you know what that means: TOTAL ANNIHILATION. Because anger breeds resentments. And we can’t let that happen. So I work my Step 4 like a BOSS and keep coming back.

This paragraph jumped out at me because it’s HAPPENED to me. Has it happened to you? Please feel free to share your experience with this disease and how YOU annihilated it. Strong language for a strong substance. I love it.

Jul 14: When It Works

When It Works

It doesn’t matter how much time you’ve accrued in the program. Life can still reach up and bite you in the arse. I’ve learned this recently from personal experience. An aging and ill mother and a family of neurotic daughters have presented me with a most valuable lesson: it only works when I work it.

Since I moved from Virginia to Texas 1-1/2 years ago, I’ve been relaxing my work at the program of AA. Really backed off meetings, reading, contacting other sober people. The vast majority of my sobriety was linked to GROW – and that is the saving grace. But when the family s&^t hit the fan, I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t on solid spiritual ground. It threw me for a very painful loop.

This is my history in AA. I work it, and things get good. When things are good, I think I can take a little vacation. Then things get bad. They can get real bad before I finally realize what I’ve done. When the pain gets bad enough, I pick up the tools again. Then, low and behold, things get better.

This week, I’ve been going to more f2f meetings. I’ve given out my phone number and picked up a few. I started working the steps again with a woman I admire greatly. I’m working it again. And I feel so much better. I’m no longer upset at the sisters. The pain is almost completely gone. Isn’t it amazing what a difference it makes when I actually do what I preach!?!

So, that’s what I’d like to hear from you wonderful women. What happens when you ‘take a vacation’ from the program of AA? And what do you do about it?

Jul 07: Troubles of My Own Making

Troubles of My Own Making

Monday made 8 years that I’ve been without a drink. That is staggering to me. It feels like I was just getting sober, yet at the same time I can feel the years behind me. What I have learned through those 8 years is that all my troubles were of my own making. Even now, when things come up, I can point the finger right back at myself. I’m the culprit. All those days for 15 years I made my own trouble. I feel like kicking my butt from here to the end of the street!

Knowledge that I caused my own problems is major. I stumbled through recovery for several years trying to get the hang of it. I surely didn’t see that I was the problem at first. But once I finally did, wow! It was like the skies parted and I could finally see where I was going and I could see the plan and understand what AA was offering me. I realized I had to work on myself first before anything else. I certainly couldn’t help anyone else until I’d worked on myself.

Now 8 years down the road I am grateful, so very grateful for my journey. I figured out A LOT and I took the steps to fix them. I couldn’t wipe away all I had done to myself and others, but I could make amends, even daily amends for the wreckage of my past. I had to learn that I am responsible for my own life and if I didn’t alter how I was living, thinking, and doing the problems would start all over again. The recognition that I caused my problems is KEY to my recovery, but it must be followed up with a change in behavior. That change results in different actions in my life and it results in a renewed me.

I’m grateful for each and every day under my belt. To have 8 years makes me tear up and leads my mind down the path of memories.not the memories of my pre-recovery life, but the path of memories of my life in recovery. I accept who I am, am proud of the immense growth, and am humbled by every day as well. From here on out I have to keep one foot in front of the other and keep living the Program. I must recognize that my life is what I make it and that it should be made up of joys and gifts not drunkenness and misery.

Have you come to the point where you recognize your problems were of your own making? What are you doing to fix that?

Jun 30: The Need to Change

The Need to Change

The need to change Laura came to me through my HP and long-time AA members. Once I experienced the relief and blessing of not having to take a drink when I was happy, sad, glad, angry, upset, etc., the ‘need’ to change became a ‘want’ instead. As the saying goes, AA is not for this who ‘need’ it but for those who ‘want’ it and I wanted desperately what you had.

I couldn’t change everything all at once, but by learning and working through the Steps with my sponsor and listening to those who came before me, I realized that I had to change many things about myself if I were to remain sober. Thankfully, I learned that ours is a lifetime program and that there is no graduation date because it will take more than a lifetime to change/remove some of my character defects.

What have I needed to change? Many, many, many aspects of my character; i.e. I had to admit that I needed help from others instead of being too stubborn to ask for it or to even admit that I needed help. I needed to accept myself for who I am and am still working on loving the person I am. A former sponsor of mine told me that every time I looked it the mirror, I was to say, “I love you” which would help me to change my opinion of myself (this one, I’m also still working on J.

The first thing I needed to do was to get help to stop drinking and my HP provided exactly what I needed. In sobriety, I have been able to build and maintain friendships and leave my drinking buddies behind. I needed to make time to listen and help others by giving away what was so freely given to me. I needed to become more health-conscious about what I put into my body and how I take care of it; i.e. quit smoking. I have had to follow instructions and advice given by healthcare professionals instead of dismissing them without even trying their suggestions (contempt prior to investigation?). I have become aware of and grateful for the many, many blessings I have received in my life.

I would not change the last 24 years of my life in sobriety for anything. I have slowed down quite a bit due to age and health reasons but due to the Grace of God and you people, I am sober today. The compulsion to drink was removed as soon as I became serious about getting sober. I have regained my self-confidence and self-esteem, and have learned a lot about what makes me tick, found my Higher Power who I call God, joined online AA groups, became a sponsor to a few, and found my niche in the AA way of life.

What changes have you been able to make so far in sobriety? How do you feel about these changes? Please feel free to share on this topic or on anything that may be troubling you. I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jun 23: Expectations, Escape, and Practicing These Principles

Expectations, Excape, and Practicing These Principles

I’ve had this one year anniversary in my life before with this program, but the big difference is that this time I am now truly a “grateful” alcoholic. For some reason, it kicked in at some point in the last year that I am not being punished by the fact that I am “unable to drink like a normal person,” but that I have instead been blessed with an affliction that spurs me, almost every day, to have spiritual and emotional growth.

Much of that is about the tools I am learning to address my “expectations,” and “practicing these principles” on a daily basis. This is a focus of Chapter 6 and Step 12 (and kind of a continuation of last week’s topic from Leona). We don’t have to have “gone through” the other steps (I’ve realized we are never truly “done” with the steps, they are circular and need to be continually revisited) to use these words of wisdom on a daily basis to help our entire life feel more manageable and joyous. The following quotes help capture this topic for me:

“When we first read that we were to “practice these principles in all our affairs,” some of us didn’t understand. How could we use the Twelve Steps to deal with conflict in a personal relationship or a decision about buying a house? Gradually we realized that “practicing principles” means taking specific usable pieces of truth out of larger truths and applying the smaller principles to a different situation …” – A Hunger for Healing, by J. Keith Miller, p. 196, 199, 210

“There is an old joke about the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic. The psychotic truly believes that 2 + 2 = 5. The neurotic knows that it is 4, but can’t stand it. That was the way I lived most of my life, I could see how life was but I couldn’t stand it. I was always feeling like a victim because people and life were not acting in the way I believed they “should” act.” – Robert Burney M.A,

“As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.” We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.”- Page 87 of the Big Book

I grew up taught to expect that if I was “good” and did “the right thing,” then I would be rewarded (money, success, love, happiness). At some point during my early adulthood, I realized that this is not always the case. I could wake up every day and try hard and yet still not get what I thought I should. People don’t always treat us right just because we treat them right. Money doesn’t always come right away just because we work hard. Health isn’t always ours just because we eat right and exercise.

Bad things happen. A lot of bad things have happened in my life (just like I know have happened to most all of us). In my early 20’s I discovered that alcohol could help temporarily ease my disappointments. When drinking, I could “escape” for a little while. I could have “fun” and forget that I didn’t have what I expected, or think that most recent bad thing hadn’t happened. As long as I kept drinking, I was let off of my expectations and I wasn’t responsible for whatever happened.

After many years of using this form of escape, I realized that alcohol was not a choice anymore – it was out of my control. It was making me fat, sick, and stupid, and it never really lasted long enough. The temporary escape was followed by pain, and I could not keep drinking enough to blot the disappointment away or I would die. I had to look for a different solution.

Through AA and study, I realized that my life was truly “not that bad” in the grand scheme of things, and I found *gratitude*. I’m still scared sometimes about money and losing everything, or seriously losing my health, but overall things are going pretty well. This last week was one where I was tested daily and my expectations had to constantly be adjusted.

I mentioned to a friend that things were overall pretty good but I was just “waiting for the other shoe to drop” (go bad again). She said, “Teresa, what if this good life now IS the other shoe? What if you are on a path that since life earlier dealt you so many bad things, now life will be good for you?” Hmmm. So I am thankful for “what is”.

I’ve learned to use healthier options when expectations are dashed and the urge to escape arises. I now mostly use prayers, meditation, time in nature, time with family, friends, and others in this program, and positive activities like reading, writing, music, hobbies, and movement. Sometimes nutritious food, or a nap or good night’s sleep is just what I need.

I’ve come to realize that while I cannot control things, people, or events, I can use my connection to my higher power and let go of the things I can’t control. I can focus my energy every day to make the changes that I am able to make, so that my life is one where my expectations are realistic and positive, and I usually don’t feel the need to escape. I am truly grateful for where I am today, and thankful for this opportunity to lead this topic. questions for you ladies to consider this week are:
– Which AA principles and practices are you using to manage your own expectations?
– How are you using this program to build a better life for yourself, so that you don’t need to escape?

Jun 16: Prayer, Meditation and Self-Examination

Prayer, Meditation and Self-Examination

For this week I have chosen the last paragraph of Step 11, page 105 of the 12×12 (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions).

The sentiments expressed about prayer, meditation and self-examination hit the nail on the head for me because those three activities interwoven for us and by us alleviate the awful loneliness deep in the heart of every alcoholic. The paragraph follows:

“Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us. We no longer live in a completely hostile world. We are no longer lost and frightened and purposeless. The moment we catch even a glimpse of God’s will, the moment we begin to see truth, justice, and love as the real and eternal things in life, we are no longer deeply disturbed by all the seeming evidence to the contrary that surrounds us in purely human affairs. We know that God lovingly watches over us. We know that when we turn to Him, all will be well with us, here and hereafter.”

Please share your feelings and ideas about this section; for me it underscores the great meaning of spiritual over material values making truth, love and justice the real and enduring things in life despite seeming evidence to the contrary that surrounds us.

Jun 09: HOW you work the program determines WHO you become

HOW you work the program determines WHO you become

It takes honesty, open mindedness and willingness to become Willing, honest and open-minded.

Page 47 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

” When, Therefore we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book. Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you form honestly asking yourself what they mean to you. At the start, this was all we needed to commence spiritual growth. To effect our first conscious relation with God as we understood him. Afterward, we found ourselves accepting many things which then seemed entirely out of reach. That was growth, but if we wished to grow we had to begin somewhere.”

For me – I was told to stop fighting, everything and everyone. That mostly meant I had to stop fighting me. I had to give up my preconceptions and my “belief system’ After all, look where it got me. . LOL. I find this paragraph was very important to me to “make a start” on my spiritual journey.

It gave me permission to examine, and explore. It gives me permission to evolve and change. It gives me permission to throw out what isn’t working. If it don’t feel right, chuck it out. I tried to be a good Christian, I listened in church, heard the hypocrites on the church steps even louder. It felt wrong, and uncomfortable. I searched for a spiritual solution in alcohol, pot, and other things … I took a very long road to get here, demoralized and shunned by my family and friends.

I held on to my belief system until I was in so much pain I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to start asking questions. I had to become honest enough to be open- minded and pain will make me willing every time. The relationship that has grown out of the exploration that I started with drugs and alcohol, has led me full circle back to the “beliefs” and knowings I held true as a child.

Since we have so many new people struggling with a concept of a higher power and our topic last week that a psychic change is “necessary” to this new way of life, I thought we might discuss this paragraph. Let’s see how willing we were to become honest and open-minded. I look forward to reading all your journeys.

Jun 02: Personality Change

Personality Change

I am celebrating 1 year of continuous sobriety on June 3rd, 2013. I can honestly say it has been the best year of my life. I was at a f2f meeting Saturday morning and we were talking about sobriety being like a flower blossoming.

It doesn’t matter how far down the scale you have gone, or how old or how young. Something that was once so closed off and buried has now opened up to greet the world. That is truly how I feel. It is spring and the flowers are all around me, not only in the natural world, but in the invisible spiritual realm.

One of my favorite pages in the Big Book is 567 & 568. My spiritual awakening has been about “the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism.” I thought I was a pretty decent person when I came into the rooms. I just had a little drinking problem that could not be self-willed away. I had been lying to myself, of course.

I was so selfish, I couldn’t even see that my biggest problem was me, not the alcohol. After a couple of weeks of meetings, my husband said to me, “I am really proud of you. I like the changes you have made.” I didn’t really understand at the time what was going on inside of me, but it was producing good results. Other people were seeing things in me I could not see. I went to 5 meetings a week during my first 3 months. I stayed close to the program and continue to do so.

I began to form a relationship with my HP that I call God. I realized I had been turned off by religion because of other people’s opinions. It had nothing to do with God. This I learned by reading the bottom of page 568, “the principle of contempt prior to investigation.” After I pushed aside all the opinions which I felt had been pushed on me, I began to realize I had never checked things out for myself.

Today I know that God loves me, as he loves each and every one of you. I have “tapped into an unsuspected inner resource.” With the help of my higher power, I live in the essentials of recovery, willingness, honesty, and open mindedness, 24 hours at a time.

I heard a fellow alcoholic share recently, “This disease is about character defects.” Then another chimed in, “Well I’m definitely a character, and I’m definitely defective. With AA, I’m a whole lot less defective than I used to be.”

Please share about your own personality changes/spiritual experiences or anything on your heart.

May 26: Coping With Wanting to Isolate

Coping With Wanting to Isolate

This meeting is a miracle! I am typing as my daughter sleeps next to me. She is 10 months old now and has been very ill all week. I was only able to get to one F2F meeting this week. But I can get to GROW no matter what is happening, and the fact that it’s my week to kick off the meeting feels like my HP watching out for me.

I signed up to lead the meeting because I am still relatively new to GROW, and wanted to make myself “a part of.” Before I started AA, I so wanted to feel a part of, but I didn’t. Most of my life, I felt different and alone. I truly believe that I was born with the “ism” of alcoholism long before I picked up a drink, and that that “ism” told me I wasn’t good enough and that I should isolate – the same mindset that tries to get me to isolate and drink today! And then I went to my first meeting, and I felt so loved and so comfortable.

The point is, the fact that I feel welcome in AA meetings – that I feel I belong and that I keep coming back – is nothing short of a miracle. We are people from all walks of life but who share a past and a hope for, a commitment to, a different future. I see this whenever a newcomer turns up – we are all thrilled for him or her, though we are strangers. Where else do we see that?

Of course, it is important to work on our part in this – continuing to attend meetings and helping newcomers feel welcome the way we felt welcome, and continuing to resist that isolating tendency in ourselves.

So my question for you all is – when you feel the need to isolate today, how do you cope with it? And (which is perhaps a related topic) how do you help newcomers today? Or, if you are relatively new, what keeps you coming back?

I ask this because I find that I still have that tendency to isolate in me, and I have to fight it – especially in the wake of postnatal depression. I look forward to hearing your experience, strength, and hope. Thank you so much for letting me share.

May 19: Because I am Sober…

Because I am Sober…

This has been one of the most difficult weeks I can remember. It started with a major car repair, but that was only the start. My 85-year old mother, who has dementia, fell and shattered a femur. Emergency surgery was required. Yesterday, I spent several hours at the hospital trying to keep an agitated old woman in bed. It was very hard in more ways than one. This experience has brought to mind the mixed blessings of being sober.

Before this event, I was going to talk about all the wonderful things in my life that sobriety has brought. Now, it’s more than that. It’s the fact that I can be present in the most difficult times when before I would have been as far away as possible. Yesterday, the first thing I’d have done on leaving the hospital was buy a six pack. I’d have drunk myself into oblivion and then pouted the rest of the weekend.

Today, I can be present. I can be there when I am needed. I can also make mistakes. I know now that, if I had left the hospital earlier, my mother might not have become so agitated for so long. I didn’t know. My sister had to tell me that long hospital visits are not good for her.

I made a serious mistake. But I am not beating myself up over it today. I can make mistakes, and it’s okay. I am slowly learning to forgive myself, to show the same tolerance for myself that I would for anyone else. Now, THAT is a MIRACLE!!!

There are so many more blessing of sobriety. Courage is one. Courage to make a loan application. Courage to buy a house. Courage to retire. Courage to walk into a room where I don’t know anyone.

Willingness is another. Willingness to try something new … without booze. Willingness to listen to people and follow their advice. Willingness to keep my opinions to myself rather than start an argument. Willingness to sit in a hospital for five hours with a bat-s%^t crazy old woman. Willingness to leave. Willingness to entertain a new concept of God and to build a spiritual life.

Freedom is a big one. Freedom from slavery to a bottle or a pipe. Freedom to be who I am without fear of others’ judgment. Freedom to live in the moment. Freedom from fear. Freedom to feel my feelings without letting them dictate my behavior.

Being sober has changed everything. But mostly, it has changed me. Today, because I am sober, I can live a relatively normal life with relatively normal relationships. Because I am sober, I have a longer life expectancy, a happier family, stability, and peace of mind. What more could I want?

What has being sober done for you?

May 12: Practicing These Principles in All Our Affairs & Thinking Things Through

Practicing These Principles in All Our Affairs & Thinking Things Through

In order for me to stay sober today, I must practice the 12 steps every day and invite my higher power into my life every day, and I try to be mindful to thank my higher power for the day sober and take an inventory at night. The only thing that I’ve been diligent about is working the 12 steps. The second thing is definitely asking my higher power to guide me. I do forget in the evenings to be thankful and that is something I need to work on.

For me today the way to be diligent in my program and to continue my sobriety is to remember to “practice these principles in all my affairs” and “think things through”. I’m blessed to have had a spiritual awakening as a result of the steps, and I try to carry the message to those still suffering in and out of these rooms. And practicing these principles in all my affairs means not just in the rooms of AA, but also out in the “real world”.

In the past year- year and a half, I have had what others may look into my life and say, “plenty of excuses to drink and get drunk”. In September 2011, I had emergency back surgery which was the second time in my life same area of the back. Seven months later while stopped to make a turn I was rear-ended subsequently having a second emergency back surgery on the same area this time much more serious having disc replacement screws and rods. That was May 22, 2012.

In December 2012, my mom had hip replacement surgery and had to take care of her. Talk about practicing these principles in all our affairs and standing by our 12th tradition, “placing principles before personalities” that was a true test of my sobriety, seriously!! I love my mother; however, she is a very difficult person to live with. After that, it kicked in my illness and I have been struggling ever since.

End of January, I was laid off my part time job I had been doing for the past 5 years. It is and was the only job I could do with my disability as it was from home, and I got to design the job around my needs. About that time, I was diagnosed with a rare disorder that I’m told has probably been misdiagnosed for many years. It at least explains why I’ve been feeling like my health has been declining. The good news is there is a possible solution for it which I am engaging and now. And I believe that HP took care of my job situation. I was going to have to resign. (HP works!!)

There were many times, especially when I was caring for my mom, when I was so broken down emotionally, physically, and spiritually that the thought of a drink pass through my mind. (Yes it is true, even with 20 + years, it still happens!) But that’s exactly what it did it passed through. You see today I’m able to stop, pause, and “think things through.”

There’s been so much that has happened to me in my 20 years of sobriety that would bring a person to their knees. When things bring me to my knees, it’s exactly where I need to be to ask my higher power for assistance. It’s exactly where I need to be to think things through, “is it worth taking a drink over this? What will I feel like afterword, and what will it do to my health both mental and physical?” All of my answer is always points to absolutely NO WAY is it worth drinking over this.

I am not a complainer the only reason why I explained the top things was is just a snapshot of one year. I deal with so much more on a daily basis being physically disabled and having chronic illness, however drinking is just not a part of my life anymore, and thank HP nor is it an obsession. Over the last 20+ years the program has proven to me that if I choose to work the steps, invite my higher power into my life, practice these principles in all of my affairs and think things through – I can, have and hopefully always will be able to get through anything that life throws me sober. For me when the road gets rocky, I’ve learned to look for the solutions rather than live in the problems.

In the last year I’ve been more active in another 12 step program which deals with my chronic pain and chronic illness. The reason why I am mentioning this is that although chronic pain and chronic illness is a big part of my life, I am an alcoholic first and foremost. I’ve notice that in the past couple of months I’ve gotten very what I call “squiggly”. The other 12 step program, although I’m very active in, I do service work, sponsor and what have you, does not and is not addressing what needs to be addressed and that is my alcoholism and behaviors.

Just because I stopped drinking doesn’t mean I stopped being an alcoholic and this has been a huge reminder that I must stay diligent in my AA program. There was a time in my program when I went away from meetings, didn’t have a sponsor, and I can tell you that I felt the way that I feel now. Sort of disconnected and acting as if I am “drinking (behaviors of negativity, discontent, etc).

I’m happy to say that I do have an AA sponsor, and it had been suggested that I up some meetings in AA hence wanting to go ahead and chair this meeting and hopefully start a commitment to start sharing here and making my online meetings for AA.

I’m also very excited to report that my back surgery appears to be successful, and I am able to get to the computer better than I had before. I’m not quite ready to be able to make face-to-face meetings; however, I hope to be held to do that by the end of the year. I am left with some perm. damage to the nerves and such, but am learning to live with it. Thank HP for online fellowship and meetings! No excuses for sure!

So as for a topic, I originally had the second part of the 12th step in mind, “practicing these principles in all our affairs;” however, I also seem to have talked about, “thinking things through”. When I look at the two together I guess they go hand-in-hand at least for me. So I look forward to hearing your ESH (experience, strength and hope) on one or both of those subjects.

May 05: We will love you until you can love yourself

We will love you until you can love yourself

I didn’t know why I drank when I came into AA. I drank to feel, I drank not to feel, I drank because it seemed to be the answer but I didn’t even know what the question was. By the end of my drinking, all I knew was that I drank because I had to. I truly believed alcohol was my lifeblood. I thought it was keeping me alive.

I’ve often heard it said in the rooms that we stop when the next thing we have to lose is more important to us than alcohol. The next thing I had to lose was my life, and I was getting to the point where I didn’t think I was worth saving.

Numerous overdoses, where I took dangerous amounts of painkillers after a night of drinking, and didn’t know whether I’d wake up the next day, were a daily part of my life. I was constantly suicidal, in and out of emergency psychiatric units and didn’t really expect to make it past the age of 26.

I’ll never forget the love and kindness that was shown to me right from the moment I walked through the door of my first meeting, even though I would burst into tears whenever someone was nice to me. It felt so alien, so wrong. I just didn’t believe that I deserved to be treated so well after all the bad stuff I’d done through my drinking.

It was that kindness that kept me coming back – the glowing smiles from people who seemed so content, the people who gave me a hug when I was in the depths of despair, the people who encouraged me to share what was going on for me and the people who said ‘come back next week’. I felt safe, I felt like I was being held.

A woman in AA once described the ‘razors stabbing my soul’ and how I needed the spiritual equivalent of lavender balm to begin to heal the wounds of my past.

Even though I was sober, I was so full of self-hatred. And without the alcohol to cover it up, I had no escape from it. I felt so far from being happy, joyous and free, and so I needed a new solution that couldn’t be found in a bottle.

My experience of working the steps with a sponsor, talking to other alcoholics, attending regular meetings and committing to the program has been just the ‘lavender balm’ I’ve needed. I’ve been given the time, the understanding and the love I need to feel like a worthwhile person.

When I first heard someone in a meeting say ‘we will love you until you can love yourself’ I laughed. The concept was completely alien to me. But as I get further into recovery, I’m beginning to be able to accept myself exactly as I am, and even finding that I quite like some parts of myself.

I have learnt – I am enough.

I do my best to treat myself and others with the same loving kindness and compassion that was shown to me today. Even if it’s just a smile, a hug and a ‘welcome’ to a newcomer who is going through the same agonising self hatred and despair. Someone might just come back because of it.

Apr 28: Dealing with Resentments

Dealing with Resentments

from “As Bill Sees It” p. 39

“Resentment is the Number One offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have also been spiritually ill. When our spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.

In dealing with our resentments, we set them on paper. We listed people, institutions, or principles with whom we wer angry. We asked ourselves why we were angry. In most cases it was found that our self-esteem, our pocketbooks, our ambitions, our personal relationships (including sex) were hurt or threatened.”

“The most heated bit of letter-writing can be a wonderful safety valve- providing the wastebasket is somewhere nearby.”

1. Alcoholics Anonymous, pp. 64-65
2. Letter, 1949

I’m grateful to be here and grateful for all of you. I have been quiet and haven’t been posting for quite some time. This is good that I am chairing as it forces me to actively participate. I always read all of the posts and am grateful for each of them. To be honest, I have been very overwhelmed with reading all of the posts, because I also participate in another online AA women’s group besides GROW. Then I get down on myself, because I have trouble keeping up. Before I know it, I have another resentment brewing which leads me to the topic/reading that I chose.

I am feeling pretty angry at this time, because I have some resentments. Some of you may know that I relapsed again three weeks ago. At that time, I wasn’t going to many meetings, and I was having some resentments towards my work and some of the people that I work with.

I also had stopped working on my 4th Step. I completed my first 4th Step last summer with my previous sponsor. I have no problem doing another 4th Step inventory with my current sponsor. Since my relapse I’ve been going to more meetings – just about daily. I’m going to women’s only meetings, and I have changed my location of where I go to meetings. I have to drive over 30 minutes to get there, but I feel that it is well worth it. There was a lot of rain and flooding which resulted in road closures. As a result, I couldn’t get to my meetings – there was absolutely no way of getting there.

Instead of going to other meetings somewhere else, I chose not to go. Not a good idea. I missed a few days of meetings but doubled up on some of the other days. I’m now back to going to my regular meetings – the roads are now open! Well you can imagine that I was resentful about the roads being closed.

Today I have a resentment towards my husband. You see, he called me to see where I was – he just got home, and I was doing an errand. I answered it while driving, and I got pulled over by the police. The town I live in has a hands-free cell phone law while driving. I got a ticket (my first in many years) and have to pay $120! Not only do I have some resentments, but I am also upset with myself!

I feel very overwhelmed and anxious at times and have such a hard time prioritizing and getting things done. There are so many things that I want to do: lose weight, start exercising, dog training for my three beagles, put away Christmas decorations, work on my 4th Step, read the Big Book, go to meetings, etc, etc! I know that my sobriety has to be Number 1 – I do know that, and I do want that!! I am so sorry ladies to be all over the map and rambling! I have such a hard time putting my thoughts in writing!

How do you deal with resentments? How do you prioritize and get things done? I feel like I still have this spiritual malady that I just can’t seem to overcome. How have you overcome the spiritual malady? I look forward to reading your shares! Thank you so much for reading all of this! I am very grateful to be of service!

Apr 21: Dr. Bob on Humility

Dr. Bob on Humility

Two years ago while my job, my family, my health, and my sanity were all in jeopardy from my drinking and drugging, I realized my bottom as I found myself cold-heartedly calculating if it was better to carry out my own suicide or follow through on my plan to murder my husband. I did not feel that I had any other options, so I believe God put his finger on me right then and turned me towards AA one last time, where I found myself in an online women’s email group like this one. The support from those women just amazed me! I found my sponsor there, and even though she lives 2000 miles away from me, it works!

Despite the distance, I believe it works because we are both willing: she has always been willing to carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous and tirelessly share her experience, strength, and hope with me, while I, for the first time in my life, have been willing to listen and follow directions no matter what I thought about it.

I immersed myself in AA online and locally and knocked myself out to follow directions because I was terrified of what I might do if I drank again. I learned that my problem is that I have alcoholism, a three-fold disease (physical, mental, and spiritual), that I have an allergy to alcohol, and that when I drink I compulsively want more no matter what the consequences might be or what my intentions were not to drink again after the last time I sobered up; I am powerless over alcohol.

I learned that the solution to my alcoholism is not in my hands; it is in my Higher Power’s hands to restore me to sanity, but I have to be willing to ask for the help and do the work. My sponsor taught me to pray on my knees first thing every morning and ask my Higher Power to please keep me sober that day, and then thank my Higher Power on my knees again last thing at night for keeping me sober that day. I did not really understand what was happening, but I followed directions, and the miracle was that for the first time in my life I was staying sober!

I will never forget when I was about a month sober I was going to drink over a family drama early one morning. It was too early to call my sponsor, and I sure wasn’t going to call anyone else, so I had one foot out the door with my car keys in my hand to go buy a bottle of vodka when I realized that if I talked to my sponsor she would tell me to get down on my knees and pray for my Higher Power to please keep me sober.

I really didn’t believe it would work, but I went into my bathroom, locked the door, got on my knees and really prayed for the first time in my life; I begged God to please, please keep me sober! It was an amazing experience, and when I stood up I did not have the compulsion to drink anymore! It has become my truth now that I have never drank any day, any time, any place when I have asked God to please keep me sober–it is a relief that I do not need to worry about drinking today, so long as I keep following directions!

My favorite line in our Big Book is “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” I really thought I was too sick to get well when I got here this time, but I took that line to the bank when I surrendered first to following my sponsor’s directions and then to my Higher Power as we worked the steps.

I think the beautiful thing about this program is that my experience is not unique, it can be duplicated by anyone who gets a sponsor and just follows directions. There is not one area of my life that has not been markedly changed for the better as a result of immersing myself in this program!

I love all of the AA literature, but by far my favorite reading is about humility in “Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers.” When I am in meetings in my home group, they usually pass the reading to me to read because they know how much I love it. Here it is; I hope you get as much out of it as I do.

“Christ said, ‘Of Myself, I am nothing — My strength cometh from My Father in heaven.’ If He had to say that,” Dr. Bob asked, “how about you and me? Did you say it? Did I say it? No. That’s exactly what we didn’t say. We were inclined to say instead, ‘Look me over, boys. Pretty good, huh?’ We had no humility, no sense of having received anything through the grace of our Heavenly Father.

“I don’t believe I have any right to get cocky about getting sober,” he said. “It’s only through God’s grace that I did it. I can feel very thankful that I was privileged to do it . . . If my strength does come from Him, who am I to get cocky about it?”

On his desk, Dr. Bob had a plaque defining humility:

“Perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. 
It is never to be fretted or vexed, irritable or sore; 
to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing 
done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises 
me, and when I am blamed or despised, it is to have a 
blessed home in myself where I can go in and shut the 
door and kneel to my Father in secret and be at peace, 
as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and about 
is seeming trouble.” 
(Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, p. 222)

Please share about anything I have touched upon and especially please about Dr. Bob’s plaque defining humility, for it describes the way I try to live my life sober, and it always does me good to hear how you try to live your life sober! Thank you for my sobriety today!

Apr 14: Letting Go

Letting Go

I am a grateful alcoholic. Isn’t that an oxymoron. How can anyone be grateful for a deadly. disease that nearly destroys everything in its path. However I am truly grateful.

My higher power never gave up on me even when I gave up on myself. By the grace of my higher power I am alive today. I understand now why it is important to give away what I received because it is in giving that I truly do receive. It is one of those many paradoxes of our program.

It reminds me of a special prayer…the peace prayer or the St. Francis prayer which too is about the paradoxes in life:

Lord, Make me an instrument of your peace. 
Where there is hatred, let me bring love. 
Where there is injury, pardon. 
Where there is doubt, faith. 
Where there is despair, hope. 
Where there is darkness, light. 
Where there is sadness, joy. 
Where there is discord, harmony. 
Where there is error, truth. 
Where there is wrong, the spirit of forgiveness.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek 
To be consoled as to console. 
To be understood as to understand. 
To be loved as to love. 
For it is in giving that we receive. 
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. 
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Our program offers nothing new only a way for us to live life on life terms. The other prayer which is inscribed on our chips and truly inspires me is 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.

Bill W once said, “Never had I seen so much A.A. in so few words”. It is so true. The amount of courage it took for me to take that very first step to admit, to surrender that I am an alcoholic, that I was not in charge…was intense, to say the less. I was in an hopeless and lifeless state of mind and as someone said “the over-reliance of self blocked me from the solution”.

Even in the BB on page 62 “.[the alcoholic] is an extreme example of self-will run riot”. I was. I was scared to let go. I was trying to survive the only way I knew.

Not one of us realize the amount of strength we have until we actually do the work. For me I wanted to recoil because the intense pain and inadequacies I felt I couldn’t do it however somehow my higher power believed in me more than I did myself.

So what is this higher power? No one has ownership over it or can package it. Whatever belief or non-belief we may have, it does not matter…it is so different for you and for me. For me when I surrendered and let go…I open myself up to receive. My teachers are everywhere…in service, prayer, meditation, nature or on a busy street, even in the trenches of life. The opportunities for growth are there.

Lately, loneliness has entrenched itself deep inside me and this as we all know is truly a deadly recipe for any alcoholic. The intensively of it just radiates throughout my body and simple things trigger all the negativity within my soul. It is that feeling that I want to run from, to drown out, to deaden. As I spiral, I find myself wondering aimlessly doubting my every step.

Funny how easily that wanting to control the uncontrollable comes back. To take back that power I so freely gave as the point of desperation. By the grace of my higher power in helping other alcoholics, giving away the gift of life I received. I receive the gift of remembering where I came and where I am today and in doing so I gladly turn it over, I surrender. Like my many teachers, even a feeling of loneliness can become an opportunity to grow from.

My dear GROW sisters, we travel this path together. Please share your experience, strength and hope of letting go, accepting the opportunities of growth … so that another can grow.

Apr 07: “It’s the gnats that get us”

“It’s the gnats that get us”

I don’t know about you gals but I have learned to walk through the big trials in my life with the lessons I have been taught in this program. Over the years there have been family deaths. Suicides of friends and a sponsee. Loss of dearly beloved pets. Financial losses. Illnesses etc. etc. etc. This program and good sponsorship has given me tools to handle these things. Reaching out, getting to more meetings, talking at depth about my feelings to God and another human being. Prayer and lots of it. Of course there is a grief process to go through and I usually go through all the stages until I get to acceptance, but I can do so with some degree of serenity and dignity.

Then here come the gnats I have to be somewhere and I am stopped at a light while it changes from red to green 3 whole times. Don’t they *know* I have to be there. Someone does or says something that hurts my iddy biddy feelings and I brood and have conversations in my head and build up a good resentment. Then I get that knot in my stomach that tells me I have to go to that someone and make amends because I have usually said something bitter and sarcastic by this time. This absolutely can ruin a whole day when you let it, as I did recently when I got through the whole day until reading Page 86 when going to bed. I had to get up and go find my husband and make amends for my retaliatory comments which were cruel.

So ladies, how do you handle the gnats? Does the honesty and integrity learned in this program force you to come clean?

I look forward to your shares. Of course, please feel free to discuss what is troubling you. Glad that you are all here.

Mar 31: Acceptance


Acceptance is the answer so I’m told by the wise ones who’ve gone before me. We have to accept used cars AS IS when we purchase them. All the flaws and all the good points have to be accepted. A used car is NOT perfect and never will be. It will always have something not quite up to snuff. So, we also have to accept ourselves AS IS, for we are not perfect … we have faults, flaws, gashes, and welts. We have good qualities and we have bad. We have bad times in our memory banks and good times. Why, oh why, are we so very reluctant to accept ourselves AS IS???

I think it starts with the fact that acceptance itself is hard. We want to be different people; we want a different past. We stomp our feet in protest, “Why should I have to accept myself?” It’s actually really simple. If you ever want to heal, if you ever want to grow, if you ever want to move on, you must, must accept yourself. And that means accepting yourself just as you are. Sure you can improve on yourself, but the starting point is to accept your present self. Once you’ve done that you have the answer to the riddle … the key to the castle … the golden egg.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been there! I’ve crawled those roads, I’ve figured out the answer, and I’ve come out the other side. I spent a lifetime hating myself and not accepting a thing about me. I wanted it all changed. I fantasized about the person I really was … I escaped my misery with those fantasies. I was miserable until I worked the Steps and found the courage to accept the person I really was. Then, and only then, I could move on from my past and work on who I was. I’m still not perfect, like any used car, and I never will be. I have flaws. I just no longer have flaws that cripple me.

Have you accepted yourself AS IS? How did you do it? If not, can you?

Mar 24: Trust


“You will be amazed before you are half way through.” When I read that I think about my life, that I am amazed before I am half way through each day I live sober! Take for example that my husband and I could laugh together as the water began to drip/pour through our bathroom ceiling yesterday. We were grateful that we had a ceiling and that it only leaked in one spot! If that’s not making lemonade out of lemons I don’t know what is! (We knew this bathroom ceiling had an ice dam problem when we purchased the home, but as it was already covered in snow by the time we closed escrow we were just going to have to wait until Spring to repair it.) At any rate, my dear husband was on the roof in no time yesterday and cleared the dam of ice and snow so that all of the melting snow remaining on the roof no longer drains INTO the house!

OK, here is the TRUST part. The laughter was able to flow because I just knew that my God had it covered. I TRUSTED that He would lead us to the solution. It was not just an idea or a pinch hit prayer, I just knew to my core that everything would turn out perfectly! I happily dropped everything I was doing (I thought I was painting the OTHER bathroom this particular afternoon) hopped in the car and drove the 30 miles to the “salt store” for supplies. In the past, my old behavior would have made a big deal out of the leak (drama), made a big deal out of having to give up my afternoon agenda (martyr) made a big deal out of the drive (inconvenience) and probably figured out a way to blame the one I love for the ice dam! Good grief.

Happiness for me, is born of TRUST. I see faith as something in my head, an idea I suppose, and TRUST is an action I take and it is an action born from my heart. Many years ago while on a quest to increase that conscious contact with my Higher Power I was given a book titled “Ruthless Trust”. The first five pages of the book knocked my sox off! Today I know that there will always be “……an endless supply of pancakes.” I know that “The most urgent need in my life is to trust what I have received”. And that it is not clarity that I need, in fact in the words of Mother Teresa; “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” When I was reading that quote in the book, a light went on for me.

I had been looking for clarity all my life. Clarity in the bottle, and then clarity in sobriety. What I realized was that I don’t need to understand why I am living in a house with a leaking roof, I just need to TRUST that my Higher Power will lead me to the solution and that while leading me, He will put enough pancakes on my table.

So there you have my day in a nutshell. It has taken me 20 years of not drinking to get here! I would not change any of it. Nope, because again, that is the stuff that weaves the tapestry of who I am today. If I were to pull one thread from the past and discard it, the rest of me may completely unravel! I TRUST that all of it has happened for a reason and I no longer need to understand why. There is so much freedom in TRUST for me. Thank you for being a part of my sobriety!

Mar 17: ‘Pearls’ of Sponsorship: What has worked for you?

‘Pearls’ of Sponsorship: What has worked for you?

I have heard vastly differing opinions on when you are ‘ready’ to be a sponsor, ranging from ‘as long as you are one step ahead of them’ to ‘x’ number of years. ‘Sponsoring styles’ also differ tremendously….. the amount of contact – “call me if you need me” to “call me every day”…… ways of doing the steps – ‘”follow the outline in the big book” to the in depth Hazelton style…..and the relationship with your sponsee – best friend, impartial advisor or something in between. Having frequently read the chapter ‘Working with Others’ in the Big Book I chose this topic to tap into the wealth of experience that I know is within this group and also to help new and newer-comers like myself with the growing pains of this aspect of our recovery.

I know there will be many differing views and encourage them all to be shared in this non-judgemental forum, where we learn from each others’ ESH. I also invite shares on specific ‘sponsee issues’ we may be dealing with as sponsers that may be helpful to others when answered to the group as a whole, keeping in mind the importance of preserving the anonymity and confidentiality of our sponsees.

So there is our topic, and I have nothing to offer on the ‘what has worked for you’ section but would like to start the ball rolling with a sponsee question.

I have just reached the two year sober mark and have had my first sponsee for about 6 months. It was both an exciting and scary prospect to take on the role of sponsor, and has been both a rewarding and frustrating process. I have experienced the lessening of the focus on self as I work with another alcoholic but have also found myself falling back into the role of ‘director’; meaning, ‘if my sponsee would just listen to me and do what I tell her to do she would do much better in her recovery.’

Even though I utilize my own sponsor’s experience and strength there have been times I felt I needed a 12th step call for me from the group as I was so baffled on how to proceed! My sponsee and I are different in every way except for our experiences with the disease of alcoholism. I have struggled with how to respond to problems that, only by the grace of God, I have never faced and I wonder whether our differences are an obstacle to my sponsorship. As a first time sponsor I think I am probably willing to do more and accept more excuses than maybe I should. How do I find the line between enabling and helping?

I am excited to read your ‘Pearls’ as I believe that in everything we build our own style by ‘taking what works for us and leaving the rest’ of the experiences of ourselves and others.

Mar 10: Firsts


Being new to sobriety, I find myself experiencing a lot of “firsts” without alcohol. It has been a step-by-step process, doing things for the first time without alcohol.

For example – the first time I had steak without the wine. It had gotten so that the steak was just an excuse to have the strongest wine I could get to go with the steak.

I love to walk in my woods. But it had gotten to the point that I walked in them mainly so I could drink the alcohol stashes I had out there.

Then there was the first time I went to a family gathering without being fortified with alcohol first. I hate those gatherings, because I never really fit in with my family, even as a young girl. Eventually, I could not face them without drinking first, and hiding some to drink while there.

Grocery shopping is another thing I did alone so that I could buy all the alcohol I wanted and hide it before I got into the house. Just after I stopped drinking in August, I got deathly ill and it was a long time before I could drive myself. I remember going grocery shopping alone not long ago, and freaking out when I passed the alcohol section. It was like looking at a rattlesnake!

So, about how to do those firsts without alcohol. I have made myself focus on the moment of the first. The first steak without wine, I made myself focus on the smell, the texture, the taste, the beauty of the steak. I love iced tea, so I made myself think about the taste of the tea with the steak and how it actually let me enjoy the taste of the steak better than the wine did!

The first walk in the woods without alcohol was a little scary. Not because of the woods – I have never been afraid of the forest. What I found that I feared was the exquisite sounds, colors, smells that I now experienced for the first time in years! It was almost overwhelming! So I focused on just a foot in front of me. Just that tree. Just that one bird. Just the next step on the path.

And the first family gathering? I wore something that pleased me. I put on my favorite fragrance. At the gathering, I focused on one person at a time and let myself really see them and really listen to what they were saying. I refused to let myself dwell on past feelings. I stayed only in the moment. Each moment. I took a lot of photographs to stay busy and to watch family members interact with one another.

Grocery shopping has become a joy now, as I peruse all the aisles and enjoy choosing products. I still feel a little weird going by the alcohol aisle – so I make sure to look the other way and focus on some product or display and truly SEE it and process it – not the alcohol display.

I guess what I am saying, bottom line, is ALLOW the first to happen. Breathe deeply and focus on each moment of the first. Remember, as you experience a first without alcohol, what that activity was like when you were drinking – how it turned out, how self-centered or angry or whatever you were when you did it drunk.

With each first, I am seeing what I was missing when drinking through it. I am now grateful to actually be in the moment without the drunken haze that hid so much from myself.

Share the first without someone who knows that it is a first for you. Tell someone before you do it, and process it afterwards. My sponsor has been great, as has my husband and adult daughter for me to do this with.

Mar 03: Practicing These Principles in All Our Affairs

Practicing These Principles in All Our Affairs

I have been a lurker for quite some time now and I really have no excuse except fear. There have been numerous times when I have felt the need to share but always I have managed to convince myself that what I wanted to say was irrelevant or something that had already been said or even on occasion thinking that no-one would care to hear what I have to say especially because I have lurked for so long! I took on the lead because I knew that way I would share and maybe break the cycle in my head!

What I would like to talk about is how we go about practicing these principles in all of our affairs. This has come up for me in terms of honesty. It can sometimes be easy to behave and talk a certain way when face to face with AA people, but what am I like when away from the meetings or with people who don’t have a clue I’m in AA?

Am I still scrupulously honest or do I whitewash my dishonesty calling it ‘little white lies’? Do I cheat the shop assistant wherever possible? I have to admit that my own brand of honesty makes it impossible for me to steal anything even ‘accidentally’. I take back to the shop anything I find after I leave! (Which is very easy for me to do as I’m in a wheelchair and often I pile things up on my lap and when I get to the checkout occasionally things fall down into the cracks).

Do I justify my anger? Do I disagree with people, insisting that what I believe is the only way or that I’m right and therefore you must be wrong? Do I gossip? Oh yes, and disguise this with a, I don’t usually talk about others but have you heard? Or, did you know? Am I self-supporting or do I insist others bear my costs because they earn more than me or they’re luckier than I? Am I controlling? Do I swear? Do I indulge in self-pity? Am I a glutton? Do I get jealous and hurtful or spiteful with it? The list goes on.

What I do to combat all this is write a journal with meditation, prayer and AA reading. Although I have to admit that I have only recently taken this up again after an absence of some months. The thing that had become apparent o me was I was not practising these principles in all of my affairs.

So, I would love to know how other women in GROW “practice these principles”, and what tools you may use to help.

Feb 24: Attitude of Gratitude

Attitude of Gratitude

This week’s topic is gratitude in our lives. What are you grateful for in your life?

Contemplating things we are grateful for in our lives increases our blessings and makes us realize how blessed we are. I was told early on in sobriety to make a gratitude list every night before going to bed and list ten things I am grateful for.

Although some days it was hard to find ten things to list, I did it anyway and found that once I got started, it was hard to stop at ten things. I could list many more! It changed my focus from thinking how awful things were ( an attitude of self-pity) to one of realizing that my life was pretty darn good.

Please share how an attitude of gratitude has worked in your life and share some of the things you are grateful for in your life.

Feb 17: Terminally Unique

Terminally Unique

What a great time of year for this alcoholic, remembering my first days in this awesome program and being so grateful for all those who helped me so much.

One thing that comes to mind is being gently told & sometimes not so gently that I was not unique. If I wished to be “terminally unique” the chances of my drinking again were darn near 100%.

Terminally unique is an alcoholic’s idea that their “uniqueness” exempts them from some part of the AA program or the Twelve Steps. AA does not deny that each individual is a unique creation. However, as alcoholics we have far more similarities than we have differences. It is unwise to focus on the differences. There is an expression sometimes heard in AA which seems appropriate, “Always remember that you are unique — just like everyone else.”

This was an important lesson for this alcoholic that I try to keep fresh in my mind. When I say yada yada but…….then I know I need a refresher course and / or a kick in the butt on being honest!

I would love to hear how all of you have approached “being unique.”

Feb 10: Going on a Guilt Trip? Who’s Your Travel Agent?

Going on a Guilt Trip? Who’s Your Travel Agent?

We ALL have them: guilt feelings! They center around pretty much the same old things for everyone, even as alcoholics. Guilt about parents, guilt about parenting, guilt about things we’ve done (or not done), guilt about not doing enough (at work, at home, for someone, etc.), guilt about our failings, and so on and so on and so on.

We often finding ourselves saying things like, “S/he sends me on a guilt trip…” But, really. WHO sends you on that guilt trip? Your mother about all you didn’t do right? Your kids about your failure as a parent? Your boss for work less than stellar by his/her standards? Your husband? Brother? Friend? Neighbor? The bottom line is, we are our OWN guilt trip travel agent! WE listen to them, and WE decide to go on that trip. WE decide all the time to listen to the stuff that ‘sends us on a guilt trip.” But, in truth, we go searching for those trips ourselves when we allow ourselves to be convinced to go.

So. That means we can also decide NOT to go searching for those destinations by not being around those who seek to send us. If we cannot avoid them, we can choose not to listen, or at least not to be sold on the trip. EVERYBODY is guilty of SOMETHING. But we don’t have to exhaust ourselves by continually travelling those roads. We can go down new roads to new destinations; take detours off the old, too-traveled paths. We must consider new destinations of our own choosing, and then bravely step into the mode of travel that will take us there.

Feb 03: Discovering Your Understanding of Your Higher Power

Discovering Your Understanding of Your Higher Power

Yesterday at my f2f meeting we discussed step 2. So the subject of God as we understand him came up. This has never been an easy topic for me. One member shared that when he got sober he claimed to be an atheist but he was so angry at God that he wasn’t an atheist because if he was that angry at God he had to believe in him so…. not an atheist. I never claimed to be an atheist but when I walked in I thought God wanted me dead. That was my best thinking drunk. Hard to ask for things from a power that I didn’t think want me alive.

So at first I was told to borrow my new AA friends’ Gods. They told me their HP loved me and wanted good things for me and would keep me sober just for today. They said it didn’t matter what I believed about HP at that moment because their HP worked, they were proof of that. It was a start.

They taught me to pray, when I said I couldn’t remember to do it in the mornings they told me to put my shoes under the bed and when I got up in the morning when I went to get my shoes from under the bed ask HP to keep me sober that day, and when I went to put my shoes under the bed at night thank HP for keeping me sober that day. I did it because I trusted them more than me at that time.

Over the years I have struggled to define what I believed HP to be for myself. I have searched and read many things, but I also made sure that I kept an open mind and continued to work the rest of the steps to the best of my ability.

I have tried on many religions over the years and learn about what others believed asking myself if that fit what I believed to be true about my HP. I have let go of many old ideas, including that God wanted me dead, although there are still days when it’s hard for me to believe that HP wants good things for me and that is when I go to the HP with skin, the fellowship of AA, to remind me that HP does want good things for me today if I surrender my will (definition in dictionary: used to express desire, choice, willingness, consent).

Since no step can be worked with anything like perfection, this journey is a process that continues. This is all a spiritual journey. Ask me on any given day what I believe my HP to be and it will change from day to day. So the question is not what I believe so much as what am I doing to define my HP that day.

So how are you currently discovering your understanding of your higher power. What are you doing to define HP in your life today?

Jan 27: The Family Afterward

The Family Afterward

I have 3 grown daughters, 26, 25, 23….amazing, brilliant, dear, kind, beautiful through and through young women. It says in Chapter 9 of the BB, pg 123, ” It will take time to clear away the wreck. Though old buildings will eventually be replaced by finer ones, the new structures will take years to complete.”

The girls needed to share about certain things from the past….not asking for anything from me except to listen. They asked about Step 9 and amends and we talked about that as well. They asked questions about AA and recovery in a way they never did before. We cried, I cringed some, they were fervent at times, well, all sorts of emotions. It felt like heaven and hell at varying times.

Having the girls (each in their own way) share what they needed to, feel what they needed to, was a miracle ladies, a miracle….yet another step in our healing as a family and in their healing as magnificent women.

Having a program that I work on a daily basis, a sponsor that I am extremely close with and work my program with, a strong relationship with HP, and strive to use a variety of our recovery tools one day at a time, (and all of this is what I was taught like all of us!), it was ok, more than ok….listening to others is a gift of this program as well and knowing that everyone has their own path to follow and it isn’t all about me. (whew!!) Healing is a verb and we were taking action as a family!

Jan 20: Journey from Self-Hate

Journey from Self-Hate

When I was drinking no one, and I mean no one, could hate me as much as I hated myself. This hate was fostered when I was a child growing up without my father and with a venomous stepfather. The world wasn’t much less venomous. I was smart, tall, and wore glasses, so I was constantly made fun of by my peers and strangers. I tried to put up a good front, but inwardly I was full of festering hatred for myself. Becoming an adult and beginning to drink to excess made the situation so much worse. I would look in the mirror and scowl. I was literally disgusted by what I saw. I’m not an ugly person yet inwardly I was hideous.

Time went by and I became this hideously deformed creature and the hatred bubbled to the top of the surface. It was now peppered in my words, actions, and expressions. I kept losing friends. I was so alone. I spent years in turmoil. I couldn’t see one good thing about myself, not one redeeming quality. My misery made anyone around me miserable. They could see the hate. I couldn’t. I was so blind to what it had been doing to me all those years and how it had contributed to my drinking. I had no self-respect, no self-image that was an iota positive. I’m unsure exactly when it happened; but, by some point I could no longer look at myself in the mirror.

All of this certainly contributed to my feeling I lacked worthiness to be saved. I felt I was right where I deserved to be. It took the love of a man, a man who saw who I really was and could be, to knock sense into me. His love made me put down the margarita and say, “That’s it. No more. I want more than this. I need help.” I sought out help in AA and immediately felt something I had never felt in all other groups: acceptance. Acceptance for me exactly as I was. I was in tears. I’d never, never felt accepted in my entire life. It took until age 36 before I felt it. Then I learned about the Steps and how they are used to retrain our brain and attitudes. I learned in sobriety I could learn to like myself. I’m afraid I didn’t believe that at first and for a while. I had SO much hatred!

In time I became a new person.a person I truly like and love. I can look at myself in the mirror now and even smile. I’ve come so far it’s bringing me to tears. All the misery is gone and replaced with love and joy. I have bad days like anyone; but, I never dislike myself. I’m no longer ugly inside and what’s brimming on the surface now is happiness, true happiness. God is responsible for that, fully and completely. And I’m grateful for my first sponsor who accepted me and included me in her little group of women. She taught me so much and stays with me today.

What has your journey been like?

Jan 13: Balance


Living a sober life turns out to be far different for what I thought a life-without-alcohol would be. It is a whole lot more fun than I would have believed back in the early days. It contains way too many choices, positive choices, than I would ever have believed possible and it seems I still have my training wheels on for that aspect.

I believe in service-to-AA and routinely do my part to do coffee and chair each of my regular meetings during the year. Then the chance to contribute service to our local annual Women’s Day In Recovery event became a choice so I added that for the past four years. Our district lacked an Answering Service Chairperson a little over 2 years ago, so I volunteered for that. I’m Treasurer for my Home Group and I took on being “Literature” chair for a different meeting.

Bet you can see where I’m going with this. The upshot was I had no down-time left for anything spontaneous. I began to dread having to go anywhere, especially in winter, so all my AA service stopped being a joy. My internal “forgetter” works more generally than I would have guessed because I did not see that doing too much – of anything – is being out of balance.

So I rotated out of Answering Service chair, and Literature person, and Event participation all by the end of December. I’m into my second week of “normal” living and it feels odd. It feels like I’m slacking off. I’m in awe of how my alcoholic brain can twist healthy ideas into warped one.

There are many women in this group whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet in person, some whom I’ve gotten to know and value through their shares and all who teach me. If ever there were a group of sober women who understand the seesaw nature of ‘balance’ in a program of recovery, it is you.

So I ask, how do you balance all the priorities in your sober life to avoid getting tilted into harm’s way of drinking?

Jan 06: Your Go-to Mantra

Your Go-to Mantra

I am sober today by the grace of God and the fellowship of AA. There are so many things I am grateful for when it comes to AA and my sobriety. The people, the experience, the strength and the hope. Also the amazing literature out there, as well.

I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister, employee, coworker and friend among other things. I am also an alcoholic and try to carve out time to make three meetings a week, as well as my three online groups, too. When the moment strikes and my thinking goes sideways on me, I am not always able to carve out time to sit down and open the Big Book.

So, I am especially thankful that I can draw upon the many wonderful one liners, if you will, that have come from those in the program. Many I’ve heard from my sponsor. Some of my favorites include: “How important is it?” “Would you rather be right or happy?” And my personal favorite, she is a big Eagles fan and she says she “strives for that peaceful, easy feeling.” So I remind myself that I want that, too! It’s these simple thoughts that can bring a sense of calm over me in seconds flat!

It is so important to make the time to read, meditate and pray to your HP. But when you’re in a pinch, what are some of your “go to” mantra’s!?