Dec 28: My Magnifying Mind

My Magnifying Mind

It is amazing to me that I have been able to stay sober one minute/ one day/ one week/ one year/ etc and, I KNOW that it’s not me doing it. I have learned in this AA Program and from you recovering women how to allow a Power greater than myself to work in my life and guide my actions, words and thoughts (most of the time). God is my Higher Power and He works through you, your shares, the AA Big Book, the Steps, all of the things that make this AA Program what it is.

Before I got sober, my life was a rollercoaster of men, marriages and divorces, geographic cures, blaming and suffering, one upheaval after another, having abandoned my morals/standards/dignity, … after the “umteenth” divorce, I was in soooo much emotional pain that I went to a counselor who insisted that I stay “chemically free” (no alcohol, pills, etc) as we worked together. After about one week without alcohol, as I was sharing my justifiable anger about my life/pain/etc, she suggested that I go to an AA meeting. I was shocked and bewildered and figured I needed to find another counselor.

But I went to the meeting that she suggested. It was a Step Study and the topic was Step 12 (what a coincidence!) ~ “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” I sat and listened to those recovering folks share about how they quit drinking and worked this Program and the miracles they had experienced and how their lives had changed for the better. That was the beginning of the most amazing and wonderful adventure I could have ever hoped for ~ sobriety in this AA Program. Today, I generally like the woman I have become and I am more open to allowing God to do what He needs to do so that I can be who He would have me be. (He’s not finished with me yet!) Thank you, God.

As a topic I’d like to offer some passages from the Big Book, Dr. Paul’s chapter “Acceptance Was The Answer” (p 407-). He describes, “It was as if I had, rather than a Midas touch which turned everything to gold, a magnifying mind that magnified whatever it focused on. … If I focus on a problem the problem increases; if I focus on the answer, the answer increases… the best thing of all for me is to remember that my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations … I must keep my magic magnifying mind on my acceptance and off my expectations, for my serenity is directly proportional to my level of acceptance…”

This guidance is so helpful to me because my own “magnifying mind” can blow any issue or problem way out of proportion and I end up with “contagious misery” (I share it with anyone around me). The more I focus on the answer (i.e. the principles and steps and slogans of this Program), the more serenity I have in my life. And, for that I’m deeply grateful. Thank you for the opportunity to share.

Please share on anything I have discussed or however you feel led. Thanks.

Dec 21: Step 12 & Tradition 12

Step 12 & Tradition 12

The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives. The traditions are what guide most AA groups. The traditions certainly inform our group conscience decisions and the original structure for GROW. We look forward to your shares.

Step 12 : “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous(affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 60). There’s more in Chapter 7 (Working with Others), starting on p. 89, which is all about the 12th step. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

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

This tradition is listed in one of the appendixes in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous(see p. 562). There’s more in The Long Form; Tradition 12 starts at the bottom of p. 565 (in the 4th edition):

“And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility This is to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all.”

There’s more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. You can find the books “Alcoholics Anonymous” and “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places.

Dec 14: Tools for Living a Sober Life

Tools for Living a Sober Life

I came in the doors of AA frightened and knowing that if I took another drink, I would die. I had heard that AA did not work for many, and that was one of my fears. My brain was constantly racing, and it could not stay still. I found myself unemployed for the first time in my life from a carrier that I loved and alone because my husband had gotten tired and left. The holidays were coming up and after a terrible Thanksgiving and, coming from a family of drinkers, I was feeling hopeless.

When I attended the meetings during the first couple of weeks, I could not hear or understand what you were reading. The only thing that I got out of the meetings was the Serenity Prayer and The Third Step Prayer which I thought were awesome and stuck to me fast. I began using the tools that the program provides.

I did what I was told to do and I got a sponsor at my second meeting and began 90/90. I was told to read the Big Book, The Little Red Book, A Woman’s Way Through the Twelve Steps, and the Bible. After my first month, my brain started to listen to the slogans said at the meetings. By then, I was beginning to understand what you were reading. I still have some trouble with memorization, but it has gotten better.

My life has changed through the years using the tools I learn from you. I live peace most of the time; I do not desire a drink; and I have a great relationship with my HP. I am fortunate to be able to attend mass most days, I’ve learned that my children have to go through their own process in life.

I truly believe I am the product of a Miracle: I was given a second chance at life. The promises are being fulfilled in my life sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. I’m a work in progress and still need much support.

Please share what tools you uses and how they help you live a sober life or anything else you wish.

Dec 07: Turning Points

Turning Points

“If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were, we believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution. We were in a position where life was becoming impossible, and if we had passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid, we had but two alternatives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help. This we did because we honestly wanted to, and were willing to make the effort.” Pages 25-26 Big Book

“Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.” Page 59 Big Book

These two passages say a lot to me, and this past week I have been reflecting on my journey. I find it amazing to see the change from where I was and where I am today.

I find for me many “turning points” (even in sobriety) and through the twists and turns having a grateful heart turns the impossible into possible.

But how to have a grateful heart in the midst of a storm, when your world feels like it is falling apart? For me, I use a gratitude list of that which I am not grateful for and apply an AA principle to that which I face. I will be honest. I used to find gratitude lists as lame. I thought them weak and literally busy work given to me by my sponsor, however, quite the opposite.

In my story, my back has been against the wall many times, and when it is, I write that gratitude list and face that fear head on. I learned through your wisdom to find a grateful heart in the midst of storms.

I do not regret the past or wish to shut the door on it because it has made me who I am today. I do not know what tomorrow brings, and it is ok.

So dear sisters, on this journey of life, how did you face your turning points in life? What wisdom did you find facing those storms?

Please share your experience, your strength, and your hope.

For me when I share my story, I am reminded of Bill and Dr. Bob’s first encounter. We do not know when we share that the words we share may be those words that help another; however, more importantly, they may be the words we need to hear ourselves.

Nov 30: The Holiday Season

The Holiday Season

I recall a women’s meeting here last year- – – – the topic was “Insanity during the holidays”! As the sharing went around the room I found myself getting more and more “down”! Practically everyone was having a difficult time with the drama of the holidays, and it was definitely “catching”!

When it came my time to share – – -I took a deep breath (to unload any negativity), prayed for guidance, and what came out was the following:

This year I REFUSE to buy into the insanity of the holidays!!! I did this the first few years into sobriety – – -and, as a result, didn’t look forward to them and had many unnecessary fears about drinking. I came into this Program to learn how to live life in a happy, joyous and free manner without the necessity of anything mind-altering ! And when I stay in the “problem” I have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, and that leaves me with no foot to plant in the NOW! I prefer to look at “problems” as “opportunities for growth” and quickly get into the solution – – -rather than remaining in my “stuff” and treading water! Borrrrrrrrrrrrring!

Today I have ABSOLUTELY NO REASON OR EXCUSE to remain in any negative “stuff”! After all, haven’t I learned in this Program how to bring up, take a look at, unload the past, and get on with my life? Isn’t that what this is all about?

The tools are all here – – – -the path is laid out before me if I but just follow it in the suggested manner! It’s ALL right in front of my nose! All I have to do is DO IT! You’ve heard me before: IT WORKS WHEN I WORK IT, and it doesn’t when I don’t!!! Half measures availed me NOTHING!!! (And believe me, I tried!!!)

At the top of my priority list is to get and remain in CONSTANT contact with my Higher Power, praying for guidance all the way! I go to more meetings and remain in contact with a couple of recovering sisters on a daily basis.

Today I have the choice of enjoying life, or the alternative !



This is a test. It is only a test. Had this been a real life you would have been instructed where to go and what to do. I believe this is a reminder not to take life so seriously. It will ALL pass!!! Might as well enjoy the ride – – -for it isn’t too long at all!!!


HAVE A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY SEASON! We certainly have lots to be grateful for this year! We are sober!!!

I look forward to your shares on how you plan to put this Program to use and enjoy your holidays! Any little tips that might be helpful to our newcomers and/or others who are suffering are greatly appreciated!!! For you sisters who have a couple of holiday seasons under your belt, let’s show our newcomers what this Program is all about.

ACCEPTING AND ENJOYING WHAT IS! I hope you all are, too! / why not?

Nov 23: Hope


When I came to the rooms of AA, I was bereft of hope and I didn’t even know it. I was numb and confused, and I wanted someone to save me. I had no idea what was in store for me or what my future held. I went to AA at the suggestion of a physician. I stayed because I sensed that the men and women in the rooms felt as I had always wanted to feel. They laughed easily and hugged often. They listened to one another intently. They seemed to truly care. In short, they had something I wanted so I stayed.

Since that time, I have discovered “what they had” was the awesome power of hope. Hope is the ability to push past our fears and open our minds to new possibilities. It’s the ability to see opportunity in even the most challenging life experience, knowing each challenge brings us to a new level of understanding of our life’s journey. Hope is inspiring. It gives us the motivation for living and learning. Hope gives to us even when we have little or nothing left. It is one of the most precious gifts we have in recovery.

The more I trust that my Higher Power will always do for me that which I can’t do for myself, the less anxious I feel. I know I have been prepared for whatever appears next on my journey. Nothing happens that hasn’t been divinely ordained. Our lives are never hopeless. We are in the right place, at the right time, walking with the people who are necessary to our journey. And our Higher Power is and always has been present, even when we feel we have been forgotten. Because of this program, I now trust that even in the darkest and coldest times, there is a warm and glowing ray of hope and faith all around us.

This week I would like to hear your thoughts about hope. Do you consider yourself hopeful? What do you see as the evidence of the presence of hope or its lack? How has hope enabled you to move forward in your life? You are also welcome to share on anything else you need to share on. Thank you for the opportunity to serve this week as the chair for the weekly meeting. My wish for each of you is that you may always have hope in your life. “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without words and never stops, at all.”

Nov 16: 10th Step Promises

10th Step Promises

I hear *The Promises* read at a lot of the meetings that I attend, and I can remember thinking to myself early on that these things would never come true for me. But in time and with work they did, and as it says “they will always materialize if we work for them.” However when the 10th step promises were first pointed out to me I found real honest to God hope for my future. I have that new attitude towards liquor that it talks about, and it was given to me without any thought or effort on my part.

If you will, this week, I would like to hear which of the 10th step promises means the most to you… Of course, if you need to share on some hidden pain that the promises bring out please do that. I didn’t realize until I had been here for a while that the hope given to me by *ALL* the promises throughout our Big Book opened up that morass of self-loathing in me and let it out into the sunshine of the spirit.

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, 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 how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

Nov 09: Getting Rid of Old Ideas

Getting Rid of Old Ideas

The topic for today is “Getting Rid of Old Ideas” from Living Sober, pp. 71-72, and follows that Chapter 5 admonition: “Some of us had to get rid of our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.”

The passage makes these points: the ideas that got so deeply embedded in our lives during drinking do not disappear quickly as if by magic the moment we start putting the plug in the jug.

Our days of “Sweet Adeline” may be gone but the malady lingers on; we new find it therapeutic to nip off many old ideas that sprout up again and they do over and over. We try to achieve a feeling of being relaxed, free from the bonds of our thinking and we measure whether a thought is useful against a specific standard.

We can tell ourselves this is what I used to think when drinking; does that kind of thought help me stay sober and is it good enough for me today as I live this new exciting sober lifestyle?

One of my old ideas is that it’s OK to let people criticize and disrespect me, one more manifestation of my too big ego whether inferior or superior. For years now, I have been standing up for myself and refusing to take the victim role or prey to bullying. It is never easy, but I can no longer be content as a doormat.

Setting boundaries is equally difficult. My oldest son always assumed I would do his laundry and also take care of paying for the food he eats while he is my guest. Without asking he stores items in my closets.

Recently, I said to him he can pay for his food, and gradually take home all of the things he stores here for convenience. I do not have space for much other than my own things. It feels awful but it is the right thing for me to do.

How are you doing replacing old ideas with fresh ones, old behavior with new actions? Did you notice that relationships with family and friends have improved since you applied changes?

Are you at first uncomfortable with new behavior, since they feel like stiff new clothes, tighter and smaller and we should be able to relax and wear sloppy, old, torn garments we are used to wearing.. Has it been the best thing eventually to become accustomed to the new clothing/behavior?

Nov 02: “More Than Comfort” – A reading from As Bill Sees It

“More Than Comfort” – A reading from As Bill Sees It

I really didn’t know what topic to write about to be honest. I’ve been in a very bad emotional state- I guess you can call it an “emotional hangover.” I’ve been so unhappy- my depression and anxiety have been in full force. I’ve also been sponsoring myself and have been afraid to ask anyone to be my sponsor. I’ve gone through so many sponsors, that now I have been extra cautious about choosing the “right” one. Sounds crazy, I know. I also haven’t been really working the steps and only going to two meetings a week. My disease is telling me that two meetings is enough. In the meantime, I’ve been so malcontent. Last night I wanted to go to the store and buy alcohol. I also realized that I do not know how to ask for help nor do I want to always ask for help. I feel “stuck” even though I am praying every day to my Higher Power for guidance.

Tonight I took action. I called a woman who had offered to be my temporary sponsor. She is an older lady, very spiritual, and I love her dearly. I reached out for help and asked her to be my temporary sponsor. I feel so much better- lighter, and I feel myself recovering from the “emotional hangover”. It’s difficult for me to put my thoughts on “paper”, so I hope that I am making sense.

From As Bill Sees It: More than Comfort p. 148

“When I am feeling depressed, I repeat to myself statements such as these: “Pain is the touchstone of progress.” …”Fear no evil.”… “This, too, will pass.”… “This experience can be turned to benefit.”

“These fragments of prayer bring far more than mere comfort. They keep me on the track of right acceptance; they break up my compulsive themes of guilt, depression, rebellion, and pride; and sometimes they endow me with the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Grapevine, March 1962

This reading is a good reminder for me! It’s a reminder for me how important it is to pray and do the footwork. To accept that I am powerless over people, places, and things, and that I can only change myself. It’s so easy for me to get stuck in those feelings of guilt, depression, rebellion, and pride. When I allow these feelings to take over and overwhelm me, I feel hopeless and full of fear. That’s when I want to run away and drink, because that’s what I’ve always done. So I need to ask for help, work the steps, talk to other alcoholics and go to meetings. I can’t do this alone- I have tried, and it doesn’t work! I need you ladies, other women in the program and my Higher Power who I call God to help me stay physically and emotionally sober.

Thank you dear ladies. How do you deal with lack of emotional sobriety? What are your thoughts on the reading from As Bill Sees It? Please feel free to share on this topic or whatever else is on your mind.

Oct 26: Negative Self-Talk

Negative Self-Talk

It is said that we alcoholics are “egomaniacs with inferiority complexes.” Often, I stay so stuck in the “inferiority complex” that I can’t seem to crawl out from under it. I do recognize that even feeling inferior to everybody else is very “self”-driven and therefore could also qualifies me as an “egomaniac.”

As a child, my parents raised me to aspire to only “girl” goals and always be subservient to others. My mom used to frequently tell me that when I set a dinner table and there is a glass with a chip in it, I am to take that chipped glass. A very simple etiquette rule that I took way too far into how I perceived my worthiness in all areas of my life.

My ideas, my wants, my opinions are all inferior if they do match “yours.” And I find myself going way overboard in trying to please others that I am so full of resentment when others don’t make as great an effort to please me. What’s worse is I probably wouldn’t accept anything from others without feeling like I have to pay them back with twice the kindness. Does any of this make sense? I hope at least some of you can relate.

What I would love to hear is some magic solution that can completely change my thinking about my worthiness compared to others.

I once had a man in my treatment group suggest “… that if I could only sit myself on the other side off the room and speak to me as I speak to others, I would be a great deal kinder to me.” Very powerful stuff! I often think of that man and his words when I’m feeling down on myself; however, it never quiets the distorted and self-effacing chatter in my head. How do I turn it off!?!? Thank you, Ladies, for being here for me and each other.

I rarely feel like a freak because of my thoughts and feelings when I’m in the presence of Alcoholics Anonymous . especially the women in this program.

Oct 19: Holy Days and Holidaze

Holy Days and Holidaze

One slushy, winter day, in the bumpy days just after New Year’s Eve – when I had been sober, thankfully – I stopped into a cafe for a coffee and met a friend there. He asked how I was doing so instead of saying “Great!” which wasn’t true, I decided to be honest, “Well, you know how it is – the winter and holidays are just bringing me down.” He said something that surprised me, “Sorry you feel that way. But – No, I don’t know how it feels. This kind of weather energizes me and I love nothing more than the holidays.” I was happy for him, but more used to hearing people grump along with me. Maybe a lot of us critters just like a chance to get a complaint in, any complaint, just to be sure to fill that day’s quota. 😉

Truth is, winter IS hard on my system. Not only with diagnosed bipolar depression which worsens in winter with a layer of seasonal affective depression on top of it, too, just to cover all bases, but also as an alcoholic, it is a notoriously tricky time for me. I’ve been sober through many, many holidays so I am no longer bothered by being the only one not lifting champagne at New Year’s Eve (mineral water is just fine), and everyone knows me well enough to know I basically don’t drink (not everyone knows about the relapses; I don’t talk alcoholism with most people, they just know I am not a drinker). So it is not the “not joining in” bit that bothers me; when I have relapsed in winter it was always on my own and secretly. I have been in psych hospital 10 times in my 50-odd years (and believe me, they were very ODD years!), and ALL of those inauspicious occasions have been on this or that day in November to late March. I have spent 3 Christmas Days on a ward. Not the best record. Other years I’ve come through with flying colours.

So since I have a lot of experience of doing skillful and not so skillful things to make my way through a notoriously hard part of year for me – and which I know from lots of other people is hard for them too – I thought it might be interesting to suggest a topic this week that circulates around:

a) do you find yourself projecting in negative ways as the holidaze descend and the nights get colder and draw in? When you catch yourself doing that, do you have a tool (or 2 or 3) for changing that decline from down back up to a reasonable level of mood?

b) how do we feel as the holidays approach in terms of our sobriety, i.e., an experienced sober woman may not be especially concerned about the alcohol part (but may be worried about illness or loneliness) while a newcomer may be all shaky inside wondering if they will be able to “make it” over a heavily boozy holiday period without picking up. We need to live in today, but AA also tells us to make sensible plans, so as the Chocolate Santas and Advent Calendars start being stocked up on the shelves in stores all over Gotham City, have you started making plans as to how you will handle the holiday season sober? Do any of you more long-term sober ladies have ideas as to how newcomers can approach the boozy season without relapse?

It may seem a tad early to get into this subject, but for some of us Halloween parties are just around the corner and it only just starts. Many of us have already started preparing menus and making seasonal decorations. The heat is on! Or is it?

Heaven knows the TV and mags are going to bombard us with glamourous, glitzy perfect people and ideal families celebrating perfect parties and ideal dinners in perfect houses in ideal worlds. The rest of us, even beauties, look pretty shabby compared to them. But then, that is fantasy and we are real, and in sobriety we have the wonderful opportunity to step back and say, no, I am not going to be pushed around by false values any more. I’m going to do the best I can with what I have, and that will be good enough.

That is one of my tools – keep my goals realistic. FEAR is False Expectations About Reality, and I can get in a very fearful, anxious state of mind as I plan my part in the holidays and start preparations. Keep it simple. These days my holidays are far from Martha Stewart. Also, I have learned the art of saying “No” to any invitations that I don’t feel comfortable about or to any task I feel put me “over the limit” of my tolerance. Just briefly, other things that help ***me*** stay well include daily devotional study and yoga, nutritional foods and not junk; daily outside exercise no matter the weather, or if impossible, exercise by a sunny window; use my SAD light; good sleep; stay away from negative people as much as possible; journal; take medication as prescribed; stay close to AA in every way, throughout the day.

I’m very interested in anything you all have to say about staying sane and sober over winter, both through the holidays and after them. Any tips? Please be as practical as you can be and any anecdotal experiences of your success would be a plus.

As always, if you need to talk about something else, please do so.

Oct 12: Gratitude


I was at a women’s meeting this morning and was quite moved by the reading and the opening share. Before going to the meeting, I really didn’t know what I was going to share on for this week – honestly! The topics are always so amazing, and I feel like sometimes I don’t have a “good enough” topic. Ok – I admit, I sound like I’m getting into that self-centered, “reverse pride” mode – LOL! Anyhow, the reading and share at the particular meeting that I was at made me think about how much I have to be grateful for, and how easy it was, and sometimes still is, to take my sobriety for granted.

My sobriety is truly a gift. We really are the lucky ones – I have heard that lots of times at meetings. There was a woman who went to outpatient treatment with me in 2012, and I just found out today that she can’t stop drinking. She is supposedly going to an inpatient treatment center. Thanks to my Higher Power who I call God, the A.A. program, and amazing sober women like you ladies, I celebrated 18 months of sobriety. I have worked the Steps up to Step 10, and then I was let go by my sponsor. I am grateful for all of the sponsors that I have had since 2008 – each one of them has guided me and taught me something. For whatever reason, I have had multiple one night relapses along the way. By the grace of God, I have been able to come back to A.A. the next day. I am so grateful that I truly believe now and have fully accepted that I am an alcoholic. I know that if I were to pick up a drink again, I would lose everything! And there is no guarantee that I would be able to come back to A.A.

In order for me to stay sober, I need to change my thinking and behaviors. I am such a slow learner ladies! I go along and do the footwork, do the next right thing – and then I get anxious, overwhelmed, and overcome with fear and self-centeredness. This is dangerous, because I start to take my own will back, and that is when I am most vulnerable to pick up a drink.

This is a program of action, honesty and willingness. I am still looking for the “right” sponsor – one who is spiritual. I’m trying to be open and willing, and I keep praying to God for the right sponsor to come into my life. I am grateful that I have a few ladies that I can call on for guidance and several lady friends in the program!

I am so grateful for this precious gift of sobriety. I never want to take it for granted ever again! I have a disease that tells me that I don’t have a disease! I am grateful that it’s progress not perfection! I am grateful that I don’t want to drink. I am grateful for all of you.

Oct 05: “Try not to live in the wreckage of the FUTURE”

“Try not to live in the wreckage of the FUTURE”

When I meditated on trying to figure out a great topic for this week, I was fortunate to be in a meeting at just the right time to hear just the right phrase that really saved me for that day – something that I use to help myself on a daily basis now. I thought that I would share with you all.

That phrase was “try not to live in the wreckage of the future.” We’ve all heard the phrase “try not to live in the wreckage of the past,” and through doing the steps – especially four and five and eight and nine, we get the ninth step promises. Or at least this alcoholic was able to.

However, 22 years or not, I am still human and still have challenges with dealing with “Just for today.” I am an admitted “projector.” And with everything that I am going through … even tho my last two surgeries were more successful than the surgeons predicted, I still can “catastrophize” anything.

This surgery that I am currently recovering from is the hardest thing, as of date, that I have had to deal with. The pain and the rehab are brutal, and the progress is very slow … very very very slow with two steps forward and one, sometimes two steps back. I am an alkie; I want it now!! And I certainly don’t want to have to work as hard as I have to to gain back what was lost! However, I must to the footwork!

Then the program kicks in … things like, “Just for today,” “progress not perfection,” “It’s the journey not the event,” and “Try not to live in the wreckage of the FUTURE.” I don’t know what my final outcome will be; however, it has been proven to me that my body is a lot stronger then I give it credit for. It just doesn’t heal like a normal person’s body. I have health issues that make it challenging, but not impossible … so … with that … I try to live in today. I celebrate the milestones like, I can finally drive very short distances and cook a bit on my own … and try not to overdo it (which I am good at doing … all or nothing … right?? NOT).

I am still a work in progress. It doesn’t matter that I managed to put 22 years of sobriety together. We all have just TODAY! And just for today, I will “try not to live in the wreckage of my FUTURE.” I will not project my outcomes. That is not my job. That is the job of my HP, and I certainly don’t want that job!!!

How do you stay in today? Are you a projector? Do you live in the wreckage of your FUTURE? I would love to hear your ES&H and again thanks for allowing me to share.

Sep 28: Many Paths to Spirituality

Many Paths to Spirituality

“Newcomers are approaching A.A. at the rate of tens of thousands yearly. They represent almost every belief and attitude imaginable. We have atheists and agnostics. We have people of nearly every race, culture and religion. In A.A. we are supposed to be bound together in the kinship of a common suffering. Consequently, the full individual liberty to practice any creed or principle or therapy whatever should be a first consideration for us all. Let us not, therefore, pressure anyone with our individual or even our collective views. Let us instead accord each other the respect and love that is due to every human being as he tries to make his way toward the light. Let us always try to be inclusive rather than exclusive; let us remember that each alcoholic among us is a member of A.A., so long as he or she so declares.” 
– Bill W. (A.A. Grapevine, July 1965)

“In our meetings people from all walks of life come together with a common purpose. Some members return to their religious roots, others find different spiritual paths. Some may find this “God of their understanding,” yet never become involved with organized religion. Still others make the A.A. group itself their higher power.”

“The first thing I had to do was resign from the debating society. That didn’t mean I started agreeing with everything I heard. It means only that I listened without arguing, used what I could use, and filed the rest for future reference.”

I finished reading a new AA pamphlet that one of our members recently posted. I saved the email for a time when I could read, focus, reflect and absorb. (These simultaneous occurrences don’t happen often! LOL) I have not got much “stuff” to bring to the meeting in terms of a topic, so I was looking outside of myself for some inspiration and the above is what I found. The pamphlet is awesome and if you have not yet read it I encourage you to do so. I have quoted a few lines from the pamphlet. It is lovely and quotes members of many different spiritual backgrounds and just how AA works for them.

It addresses the broad and roomy highway that we as alcoholics have given ourselves in the spiritual realm. My beliefs have changed over the years as I have stayed sober. Not so much in their core, but certainly in the particulars. And while my Higher Power has taken on a new form, the definition remains the same. I am to grow spiritually and seek the light one day at a time. There is work to be done, and that is something I have learned to embrace over the years, for I know it is the work that brings me ever closer to some measure of enlightenment & peace within. The beauty of Alcoholics Anonymous is that I don’t have to “buy” into any stuff. I have only to create my own definition of a power greater than myself. It was vague at first, but that worked for me.

Today was glorious. It began a few days ago as a plan to head to a nearby State Park for some “Leaf Peepin'” with a friend. I thought we would head out early and spend the day together, hiking, etc. Plans changed late the night before, and another friend was invited who could not go until late in the day. At first my buttons were a bit pushed, but you gals have taught me not to speak what first comes to mind. I let the whole thing “steep” in my mind and low and behold I found that I could be flexible, that God was in charge and this was not a case of Alison needing to say what is on her mind, but to sit back and relax and take it easy and let the day unfold. The thought occurred to me that perhaps my Higher Power was using me to be of service to someone else. It was a fun time with two friends, and the Fall colors were magical here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We ladies had a lovely time, I got to know someone a bit better and just be open and flexible.

That is an example of dancing with others that I believe our spiritual quest in AA brings us to at some point if we can remain receptive. No agendas, no pushing the outcome, letting my Higher Power reveal to me (if anything) what I am to do next. I don’t have to push my spiritual agenda on others, and I find that my tolerance in the rooms of AA has made me more tolerant outside the rooms. Perhaps you can share about your own experience of the broad and roomy highway. I love to hear about your path to spirituality.

Sep 21: The ABCs

The ABCs

The ABCs are the topic for the week.

a – that we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives 
b – that probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism 
c – that God could and would if He were sought.

When I got to AA, I was full-blown alcoholic, a daily drinker, angry, hopeless, lonely, full of fear, and desperate. But, I knew nothing about the disease of alcoholism. I learned about it by sitting in meetings and listening to people share about their recovery. I related to just about everyone in some way, and I got some hope that I too could recover once I accepted that I had this disease, whether I wanted it or not.

You also told me that you could not cure me, I had to do my own work, but there was lots of help if I asked for it and was willing to take direction and do what you did. I had a wonderful sponsor who showed me what she did as we read the Big Book together. Finally, I had to learn to trust God and put my reliance there. I started to pray in the morning and at night, something I still do. Daily, I got a reprieve from drinking and gradually things got better as I stayed sober and worked the 12 steps.

As a result of being a member of AA, today I have complete trust that God “could and would if He were sought.” I love my sober life and treasure all of the adventures – easy ones, hard ones, happy ones, sad ones, failures and successes. It all adds up to growth and a life I could not have dreamed.

I am anxious to hear others share about their experience with the ABC’s.

Sep 14: Sponsorship


I chose the topic of sponsorship, because I recently started working with a newcomer. It’s been about two years since I’ve worked with a sponsee. I am very grateful to be able to share with her what was given to me!

I read somewhere the acronym for S.P.O.N.S.O.R. is Sober, Practical, Noble, Spiritual, Open-minded, Respectful. The A.A. Pamphlet on Sponsorship states that “sponsorship is Twelfth Step work, but it is also continuing responsibility for helping a newcomer adjust to a way of life without alcohol.”

At first I thought there is no way that I am going to have time to sponsor this woman! My sponsor has been encouraging me to talk to newcomers and get their phone numbers. I’m so grateful that I have been doing that, and that I called this woman that I had met at my home group. The next thing I know, I was setting up a time to meet with her for coffee. I know that it wasn’t me doing this- my Higher Power was helping me! I truly believe that God puts people in my life for a reason.

I’ve been sharing with her what my sponsor has shared with me. I’ve suggested the readings in the Big Book that I read every day and several prayers that were suggested to me. She calls me every morning at around the same time. We’ve been meeting every week for an hour. We started reading from the Big Book- from the very beginning, and I read to her which is how my sponsor does it.

In the sponsorship line that I am in, there are sets of “homework” questions that we answer. So I’ve already had her do the first set of questions. We’ve been going so far to one meeting a week together. Hopefully there will be others that we can go together. She is still in outpatient treatment and prior to that was away at rehab.

At first I kept worrying about how am I going to help her. I realize that it’s not just me- it’s the entire program of A.A. that helps our sponsees, and of course their Higher Power. All I can do is share my experience, strength and hope. I pray for her every day, but I know that I can’t keep her sober.

Working with other alcoholics has helped me so much in the past with my own sobriety. I have to say that with my last sponsee though, I did end up relapsing. I have written an amends letter to her, and I will eventually be making a face-to-face amends to her. At that time I was not as far with my amends nor was I as thorough. I know that I have to keep doing the foot-work and not rest on my laurels!

I am grateful for sponsorship- both ways- for being sponsored and for being able to sponsor. My sobriety will be strengthened when I give it away. So dear sober sisters, I would like to hear how sponsorship has strengthened your sobriety, any challenges you have faced during sponsorship, how you sponsor other women, or anything else that is on your mind.

Sep 07: Healthy Relationships

Healthy Relationships

At this point in my life I am doing some major reconstruction in my primary relationship and my living circumstances. My kids are telling me I am having a mid-life crisis. It almost sounds like a joke, but living in it, I know it’s not. It feels like life is taking a hard left. So for today’s topic I would like to suggest Healthy Relationships. Here is a quote from a book I am reading which really puts some issues I am having in perspective.

You are able to nurture and grow others in a way that promotes their emotional well being and spiritual growth and that promotes their taking responsibility for themselves there by increasing their self-esteem.

When you love yourself, you are able to nurture yourself, focus on your own emotional and spiritual growth, and take responsibility for yourself – thereby increasing your own sense of self-esteem. When a partner asks for acts of intimacy or support from the other, each person can say yes or no in a healthy way without the other partner being diminished. The self-esteem of each individual blossoms when nurtured in a healthy relationship.

I am currently participating in a women’s group where we are reading Drop the Rock and focusing on Steps 6 and 7, to help me through this period. I am sharing regularly with my sponsors, one face-to-face and one online. I am also reaching out to many women who have been and are in my life today.

This prayer also seems to fit my situation, and I use it also: “God, I offer myself to Thee — to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always!” (Big Book pg. 63)

Where are your relationships – with yourself, with your higher power, and with others? Of course, if there is anything you need to talk about please share.

Aug 31: Using the tools of the program

Using the tools of the program

One of the folks at my morning meeting said something that struck me, and I’d love to hear what sort of recovery thoughts you have about it. My friend was sharing about what she does in seemingly impossible situations, and she said something like:

“I have to pick up the AA tools that I see, even when they don’t necessarily seem like strong tools at the time.”

That reminded me of something I’ve been doing lately. Now, I have lots and lots of personal evidence that “prayer works,” but somehow, sometimes, prayer seems like such an unlikely answer to me. I mean – I know that if I follow the directions in (I think it’s Freedom from Bondage) one of the stories in the back of the Big Book that recommends praying for 2 weeks for someone whom we have a resentment against, the resentment will go away. I know that, I’ve done it so many times, and IT ALWAYS WORKS but when I’m running around on my own, and I think about prayer, it kind of hides in its own meekness.

It just doesn’t “look” like a strong or likely tool to me. Yet, I’ve been practicing praying, out loud, every morning as I drive to work or to other things, for all the people I can think of, starting with those whom I am feeling not so great about. And I calm down. And I remember how to practice the principles of the program.

So, I’m wondering which tool or tools seem (or have seemed) like “weak” tools, but that when you use them have turned out to be very powerful.

Aug 24: The Next Right Thing

The Next Right Thing

Today I took care of business: I bought health insurance (my first in 15 years). In order to renew my Turkish residence permit this year, insurance is required. In the past I would have boiled over with resentment, moaned about spending the money, and done nothing until it was almost too late. Today, I did the next right thing. Or the next indicated thing, as someone in GROW so beautifully put it.

I recently celebrated one year sober and my willingness to take care of the business of living is the biggest change I’ve noticed in myself. I’m starting to believe that doing the next indicated thing is enough to get me through the rest of my life. I don’t feel the need to collect praise for *accomplishments* anymore. I want to take care of stuff.instead of waking up to find I can’t have a hot shower because there is no gas.

Although *do the next right thing* kept me doing laundry, cooking dinner and attending meetings, up until quite recently I would have tried to get my boyfriend to refill the gas card. Or call the embassy to see what kind of insurance I needed. In other words, I am in the habit of enlisting other people to take care of things I really don’t want to do. I feel entitled to have others take care of me. Who knew?

This behavior was invisible to me before last week! Every time I read a GROW share that starts: “It wasn’t until I was 5 years sober that I realized.” I have to take a breath. And remember that HP is giving me just what I can handle today. So I’m gearing up for more surprise revelations down the road!

What was the most amazing change you went through your first year sober? What were some of the behaviors or realizations that took longer to uncover? Thank you for letting me be of service. I look forward to your esh.

Jan 19: Stopping the Insanity

Stopping the Insanity

Lately I have been working through a paralyzing fear of doing anything right and the crazy part is that I am an entrepreneur who should be fearless and welcome any opportunities to grow. However lately it is different.

I live by myself and I am a very capable lady of doing anything that needs to be done except whether it is with my own business or fixing my home…I just stall and feel like everything is closing in on me. It is agonizing and very frightening…and I struggle.

Then I find myself doing the same dance of reaching out to those that are unavailable. I just want that hug to say it is ok except I go to my ex for this. Hello…he is an ex for a reason. He is incapable of doing that and it is unfair of me in making him into something he isn’t.

This is the insanity…doing the same dance expecting something different. In this state I feel very alone.

And why in the hell am I here even after 15 years of recovery? It doesn’t matter about the years I have, it takes what it takes and in this case it comes down to fear, plain and simple.

So, as I have learned, I need to face this fear head-on like I am right now.

In a wonderful book that I used regularly (Daily Reflections)…I looked up “fear” and this passage spoke to me.


From Daily Reflections, July 6, p.196
Identifying Fear…
The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear…
– Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p 76

When I feel uncomfortable, irritated, or depressed, I look for fear. This “evil and corroding thread” is the root of my distress: Fear of failure, fear of others’ opinions; fear of harm, and many other fears. I have found a Higher Power who does not want me to live in fear and, as a result, the experience of AA in my life is freedom and joy. I am no longer willing to live with the multitude of character defects that characterized my life while I was drinking. Step Seven is my vehicle to freedom from these defects. I pray for help in identifying the fear underneath the defect, then I ask God to relieve me of that fear. This method works for me without fail and is one of the great miracles of my life in Alcoholics Anonymous.


This is how it works and it is about progress, not perfection. I now see my insanity and I have a choice…to walk down the same road or choose a different path. Saying it is the simple part…the action is the hard part.

So today I embrace its beauty, turn to my higher power and know I am not alone in facing my fears.

I am on a journey with fellow travelers each realizing our own fullest potential. Thank you for the gift of you.

Aug 17: Giving Thanks for Tough Times

Giving Thanks for Tough Times

Though I still find it difficult to accept today’s pain and anxiety with any great degree of serenity – as those more advanced in the spiritual life seem to be able to do – I can give thanks for the present pain nevertheless. I find the willingness to do this by contemplating the lessons learned from past suffering – lessons which have led to the blessings I now enjoy. I can remember how the agonies of alcoholism, the pain of rebellion and thwarted pride, have often led me to God’s grace, and so to a new freedom. 
Grapevine, March 1962

Thank you to GROW for giving me the opportunity to be of service this week and helping me to celebrate another day sober.

In all honesty, with my connection to my home f2f group at an all-time low and having finally admitted I am harbouring a deep-seated resentment with the God of my understanding (that led me back in March 2007 to a 15-hour drinking binge and the beginning of an 18-month period hitting bottom), I am now hanging on by a thread. I am very grateful to GROW for providing the support and guidance I need at this time.

It has been suggested that I pray to my HP to help lift my resentment which I am doing earnestly, and my early foundation of going to meetings no matter what is helping my feet and the rest of me to get there. I am grateful for these tools which are right now saving my butt.

This morning I decided to get out my only bit of hope for sanity and sobriety – the literature. Since I was a child I have found a safe haven in books, and I didn’t realise until I came into AA that this would be a line of communication where all else fails, I can still hold on to something. I opened “As Bill Sees It” randomly, and there it was: the passage I needed to read.

I have been thinking of all the times when I felt like there was nothing left, no hope, no possibility for an end in sight… like the time I came to AA and thought I’d be turned away as just another loony, or in sobriety when it was a struggle to get up every day, or when I thought I’d never have a relationship with my family. Each time, I’ve been shown that solutions arrive. Just not how or when I expect them to. But they do come *if I surrender.*

Moreover, I’ve had to learn a little about myself. What are my patterns? How do I sabotage including beating myself up? What have I had to let go? What did I have to accept? What is my level of self-honesty?

My latest trial is teaching me that I can only rest my sober life on faith and that my HP knows what he/she/it is doing, even though a part of me is crying out ‘you’re wrong, you’re so wrong.’ I look back at previous occasions and realise, ‘ok… so you had a point, you were right.’

So I guess I’m getting to another stage of trust in my relationship with my HP and that only life’s lessons can teach me that. Having gratitude for pain is so new for me – but I guess this is when I need to learn this, whilst still in pain.

As I write this I realise, I’m so glad I got to pick this week’s topic. Through gritted teeth I realise I have to be teachable again and perhaps my new experiences will benefit others. I am thankful… finally 🙂

What lessons have you had to learn in sobriety when going through tough times – habits, behaviours, attitudes, communications? How has this affected your relationship with your HP if you choose to have one? Or perhaps as an agnostic/ atheist, how you cope with life sober?

Aug 10: Freedom From Fear

Freedom From Fear

This quote from “As Bill Sees It” is the one I have chosen as our topic this week. As many of you know I have been dealing with some health issues which have been increasing for the past while and while I thought that I had achieved, for the most part, freedom from fear I have found that it has been an underlying corrosive thread which has raised it’s ugly head once more.

“The achievement of freedom from fear is a lifetime undertaking, one that can never be wholly completed. When under heavy attack, acute illness, or in other conditions of serious insecurity, we shall all react to this emotion – well or badly, as the case may be. Only the self-deceived will claim perfect freedom from fear.” (page 263)

I personally know of a few people on this list that are dealing with health issues on a daily basis and I can only speak for myself but there have been days when the fear has taken hold and had its death grip on my heart and soul. I will state unequivocally that I am not afraid of death itself, it is the dying in pain that the fear comes from. Some days I can stay in the moment and be okay right where I am, but there are other days when I am off into the future whining that “it is going to be like this forever*.

I try to remind myself of what my past sponsor told me before she died “we have to accept where we are right now and hopefully build on that”. She would remind me that we are never given more than we can handle in a 24 hour period. Sometimes I doubt that, but so far with God’s help and that of my fellow travellers I have made it through with a modicum of peace.

This program gave me a life and it is up to me to live it to God’s will and his service for as long as I can. I can look back at my life from the vantage point of my years (77 tomorrow) and realize that it is only by God’s grace that I have made it this far with my mind still functioning and my body not in a worse state that it is because I know for a fact that the illnesses I have been contending with are a product of the lifestyle I lived, not only in my drinking years but before and into sobriety. God has been good to me and I thank Him daily for my life.

I am sure that there are others here that are going through their own brand of fear, not just health but other things and I would like to hear how you handle it on a daily basis. What gets you through? Of course feel free to talk about what ever troubles you at the moment.

Aug 03: Step One

Step One

Upon arriving to AA, I was done drinking and wanted to find help around the tables. I was surprised to discover how often I identified with the men and women in the fellowship. It took a few months to completely accept powerlessness over alcohol.

I remember the day, time, and location where my head and my heart met. My sponsor asked me, “Nicole, have you completely accepted that are powerless over alcohol?” Having a belief in a God of my understanding did not help me to sober up. It took reaching that moment where I heard the little voice say “it’s time” before seeking out help. It was only then that I was willing to allow God to do for me what I couldn’t do for myself.

Have you conceded to your innermost self that you were alcoholic? If so, how did you lose the obsession over alcohol?

Jul 27: Truth in Sobriety

Truth in Sobriety

My choice of topic has been influenced by particular events and before I say much more, I would like to pay tribute in this share to the memory of Pat O. A charismatic, yet gentle spiritual man with an amazing service record in AA. Pat suicided with forty-three years of continuous sobriety. It saddens me deeply to tell you that nobody saw it coming.

Pat O was one of the first people I met when, after drinking and drugging from age 13 to 31, I walked into the rooms of AA. In those early years I remember listening so gratefully to all the things he shared about his story and the lessons he had learned.

I have been sober now longer than I was practicing and thank God for this miracle one day at a time. I am grateful that these days my challenges do not relate to thinking about drinking or not drinking.

I know with all my heart that the disease of addiction is just under the surface and always will be, that my worst day sober is still better than my best day drinking, and no matter who is sharing about alcoholism I can always relate to the emotions and those instincts run amok being spoken about.

The illusion, delusion, and obsession is part of me just as it is written about so often in the Big Book. With this in mind, I take a deep breath before making the following comments. Once I might have said whatever might be most popular, the cool thing, or the right thing. Today I know there is only one thing I can say, and that’s the real thing. What goes around in my head! Anything else will not keep me sober. So here goes.

There are some days where I can scarcely reconcile who I am now with who I was pre-AA. The memories are hazy and it is like I am talking about someone else. On those days, talking about it feels more like living in the problem than the solution, and I tend toward silence because I am reluctant to dredge up the memories.

I find myself wondering what kind of challenges Pat O had in his recovery. Things he did not speak of. So in my recovery there are those living day to day kind of concerns, and challenges like making the time commitment to go through the Big Book and the steps again with a new sponsor (because I know I need to), or being vigilant for other kinds of sabotage in sobriety.

I have to work on remaining enthusiastic and on task throughout the long work hours in my chosen career while my brain is sending out urgent messages, trying to kick start my one remaining ovary with next to no estrogen left in my body. And a new turn up very recently has been dealing with the addiction to sugar and wheat that I let slip under the radar for so long. That is a different story full of triggers and emotional discomfort, although it has common threads within our disease of addiction and the same dependence on a power greater than me.

I have been thinking a lot about Pat O and I think those who have been in AA for years can just be so very vulnerable. We are all newcomers to the current challenges in our lives. I do so often feel distant from my drinking days and I am glad about that. I wish there was some way to say this without sounding so ungrateful, but sometimes, I just get tired of talking about my life as it relates to alcoholism.

I can always relate in a meeting but sometimes it just doesn’t feel like enough. I find myself asking is that all there is? How else could I have spent my time? I give heart-felt thanks every day, and yet it is almost like I have other changing needs and issues in sobriety that take my focus.

When I look around the rooms, I do not see any of the people I got sober with. Over the years many have relapsed and have not returned, while others have simply drifted away. Recently I was reading an article about a well-known celebrity with twenty years in recovery who has re-admitted himself back into rehab. To fine tune his sobriety, he says, and to seek more growth along spiritual lines. Yes, yes! I can relate to that, it is relevant to me.

Because I am so grateful for my sobriety however, and so aware of my responsibility to help keep the doors open for the newcomer, I hesitate before complaining or sharing in what might be considered a step away from our singleness of purpose. There is a trend I think, for longer sober members to share in a way that helps the newcomer to identify.

Who speaks left or right of centre, of living challenges like pain medication, menopause and depression, the challenge of keeping recovery fresh outside of AA, day in and day out (with no long service leave), or the little nagging things that knock on the door where my disease of addiction lives.

For me, I try to stay upbeat, positive and grateful, so I rarely speak of these things in a meeting. And often it doesn’t occur to me to ask another longer sober member if they are getting enough sleep, if they have a sponsor or have enough phone numbers. Or perhaps ask how they are they currently practicing step eleven. At present, I am grateful to have all of those things, although I haven’t always had them.

I think what I am trying to say is that if we make a bee line for the new comer, attend meetings, say sensible and or potentially inspiring things born of trial and error, serve and sponsor, determined to ensure that the hand of AA is always there for the newcomer, are we making sure to give equal time to discovering how to take best care of ourselves beyond what might be suggested or looking out for other longer time members?

AA needs all of us, whether we are sober an hour, a day, a decade, or more. With permission, I mention a woman I am coming to know, who recalls serving in an ever-increasing capacity to the point of resentment and relapse at fifteen years. She was out for three years and found she just could not put the drink down. Thankfully, a spiritual experience brought her home again.

It is said we can judge any society by how it treats its older folk. Do we look our longer sober members (not necessarily older) in the eye and ask them what is going on for them right now. And listen intently for their truth. Perhaps my point simply illustrates the need for an engaged sponsor and an active network regardless of how long we have been in the fellowship.

As a topic for discussion and exploration this week I pose the following questions.

If as a longer sober member you found yourself struggling, isolating and keeping it to yourself, who in AA would truly know you well enough to see through your words and call you on it? Does attending meetings and serving within the fellowship fulfill all of your needs and desires for growth? Are you really honest about your challenges today when you share at meetings or does our singleness of purpose limit your sharing (what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now)? Are you addressing every issue that may impact you and subsequently your disease of addiction? And if you are new to the fellowship, what do you expect your sober life might be like in a couple of years from now? Perhaps in five years, ten years or twenty.

What kind of impression do you get from those who seem to have been around forever? Do they seem to have it together? Do you suspect or expect that living sober gets easier with time? I invite you to join with me in a discussion about what Truth in Sobriety means to you, or to write about anything else that may come up for you.

Jul 20: Our Old Ideas

Our Old Ideas

I’m writing this share right now in Door County, Wisconsin. I am here for several days with my husband and two children. I attempted to go to a meeting tonight, and it turns out that the meeting no longer exists. I called a lady from the AA Hotline here in Door County and asked her about it. She was very nice, and apologized that the meeting no longer exists, but that it was never removed from the directory or the website. So here I am, at a “meeting” with you all, and I feel better already!

So the topic of “our old ideas” spoke to me these past couple of weeks. In “How It Works”: “With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition p.58).

I completed my 5th Step last week with my sponsor. First we met for most of the day, and I read my entire inventory to her. It also included my “Fact vs Fear” list and what my “ideal” relationship with my husband would look like. We broke for an hour, and I prayed to my Higher Power, who I call God, if there was anything I needed to add to my list. I did think of a few more resentments and a few more fears. I wrote about them at a later date, and my sponsor and I met a second time for an additional 5th Step.

My sponsor had written down a list of my “Old Ideas” based on what I had read to her from my 4th Step. What a wake-up call! I can honestly say that I wasn’t shocked or surprised to read about them. I am realizing more and more what kind of twisted thinking and behaving I’ve been exhibiting all of these years – even after I stopped drinking. Even though I know what they are, that is not enough. Now comes the most difficult part- I have to take action and change my thinking and behaviors. I have to let go of them and change, otherwise I will surely drink again!

Some of my “old ideas” are: I don’t need to be rigorously honest; rules don’t apply to me; AA is not the solution; people are responsible for my happiness; if I avoid men, I will be a faithful wife; I can’t ask for help; people will leave me; I am entitled to whatever I want without having to work for it; looking good is the solution; attention (especially from men) is the solution; and many others.

In order for me to change and keep growing, I need to continue to work the steps. My sponsor wants me to start writing three amends letters a week. Part of me says: UGHH!! Are you kidding me?? But I know that in order for me to really change my behavior – to let go of my “old ideas” and truly have solid emotional sobriety, I have to do the work! It will result in me having a closer relationship with my Higher Power – I really believe this, and a much better relationship with my family, friends, co-workers, neighbors.

Jul 13: Being Here

Being Here

Page 113 of the AA book, Came to Believe, says this:

“The nondrinking alcoholic discovers in AA that you cannot Get Ahead until you learn to be Here. We discover from our Serenity Prayer that one of the things we cannot change is time. The Here-and-Now is the only reality, whereas in the unreal world of the drinking alcoholic there was only yesterday-and-tomorrow.”

This coincides with a saying I have on my bulletin board: The ego seeks the destination; the soul seeks the journey.

Accepting what is now, staying in this moment, has forever baffled me. However, when I first read the saying that is on my bulletin board, I made a giant step towards getting it. I can conceptualize my ego from my soul — the part of me that sees myself as different / separate from others (ego) from the part of me that sees us all as one (as in “of one value”).

The ego side of me charges forth to the destination of accomplishments to gather evidence for my badge of okay-ness. All the while my spiritual-self knows that I’m already okay simply because I’m a child of God. (As is every other human on the planet.) Maybe the point of my life on the planet is to — simply — grapple with life here for a while and not so much figure out what to do, or say, or sing, or write to make me okay. I’ll stop here before I overstate (which I’m very good at).

Thank you for attending this week’s meeting. Please write whatever reaction you have to anything I’ve written or — as always — please share what you need to help you in your recovery.

Jul 06: 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 that 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?

Jun 29: The Fourth Dimension

The Fourth Dimension

“We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.” -There Is a Solution, Alcoholics Anonymous

I love this sentence in the Big Book, and I was hoping some of you amazing ladies would share on what it means to you. Have you been rocketed to the fourth dimension? Have you found much of heaven in sobriety? Is it different than what you imagined?

I’m Julie M., and I am definitely an alcoholic. I’m grateful to be chairing this meeting. When I first heard this sentence read, I was in rehab, and I couldn’t even understand what the Big Book was talking about. The only way I had ever been rocketed anywhere was through addiction, and I didn’t believe that sobriety could bring me health, let alone heaven.

If only I had known how wrong I was! But at 19 years old, during my first attempt at sobering up, I had no idea about anything. For some reason, that sentence stuck with me, though. I’ve heard it time and time again, sometimes when spiritually fit, sometimes when not, always with a sense of hope attached to it.

When I came into AA after my last relapse, I was Empty: spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically empty. I had nothing left, no excuses and no friends. I was 23 years old and I couldn’t take it anymore. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I had lost myself so completely that I had to rebuild my life step by step, moment by moment. I had to learn how to live, from basic things like what to eat, to big emotional issues like who to date and when to end a relationship. Before getting sober, the only way I knew how to end a relationship was to cheat on someone, then get drunk and tell them about it.

Part of the fourth dimension of existence that I inhabit today is my relationship with my husband. On Monday, June 30, we will be married 2 years, and I requested to chair this meeting because it was close to my anniversary and my marriage, to me, is a beautiful reminder of how much I’ve grown in this program.

When I met my husband, I had just under three years of sobriety. I feel like I’ve grown up with him, because in a way I have. My life today is not fabulous or perfect all the time, but it’s honest and true and real. I have a family all my own. I have a job that I love more than anything in the world. I have friends, and I am a friend.

This is my heaven – it’s right-sized for me, and in it I stay humble. I have found myself over the past seven years of my sobriety. Some of what I have found is not pretty, and some of it is just surprising! But it’s all based on truth that I discovered through the Steps and my HP.

This fourth dimension I’ve been rocketed into is nothing like what I imagined. When I got sober, I dreamed of a big, fancy life with a big, fancy job. In sobriety, I discovered that what I needed wasn’t big or fancy. What I need is to live this program to the best of my ability, and sometimes that means donating my last dollar. Sometimes that means admitting I’m wrong.

Most days, my program is a simple matter of HOW: honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. I hope this topic resonates with some of you, and that you all have a lovely 24 hours ahead! Thanks for letting me share.

Jun 22: Service


I have chosen ‘Service’ as my topic this week in memory and appreciation of how my AA journey started 25 years ago.

Being of service in AA is something to which we can all relate from the minute we start showing up at meetings and sharing at the tables. From there, the possibilities and opportunities for service are many. Thank heaven for all of those alkies who came before me to keep AA going and growing! Without their service, who knows where I’d be today?

From the get-go, my first sponsor gave me a great picture of how alcoholics pass on to others what they’ve been given. At my 6-month sober mark, she and her husband took me to a meeting in a correctional institute for men that they set up every week and had been doing so for a number of years.

Although I was a bit leery at first, the meeting was worth it (driving through a snowstorm, getting checked out by a guard, and drinking whatever it was that they called, “Coffee” LOL). To see a rough, tough-looking group of guys sitting up, paying attention and sharing was an eye-opener for me. Grant you, some of them were likely not alcoholics but they were there and were well-behaved. (I half-expected trouble of some sort but that didn’t happen.) Because of this experience, a few years later I applied for, and received, clearance at the women’s correctional institute to help put on meetings there once a month (groups in the area rotated on chairing the meetings). However, once I realized that this was not the best kind of service work for me, I stopped going and continued with my service at the group level.

During my first 6 months, I learned how important it was to participate in service to my group. ‘Someone’ had to open the church, make coffee, set up the meeting, pass out the books at the discussion meetings and put them away again, clean up after the meeting, and lock the doors.

I volunteered to make coffee for 3 months and was paired up with someone to show me the ropes. That was a fun time for me. I made fast friends with the set-up people and my co-coffee person, and really got to know the people who always arrived early to the meetings. Once the coffee was made, I’d go outside to have a smoke and shoot the breeze with whoever was out there.

After the coffee pots were cleaned and put away, a group of us would then go out for coffee and a light snack. I heard lots of great and horror stories at those after-meeting meetings and came to realize that those AAers weren’t saints but were very much like myself. It helped me even more to realize that I finally fit in somewhere – here with a bunch of drunks/good people who I would never have met if I were not an alcoholic.

I took the risk and began to share at meetings. I had a sponsor (a lady who had what I wanted) who encouraged me to share with others about how I got sober and how my life had changed. As a result, I was privileged to sponsor women, most of whom are still sober today.

For many years, I’ve been involved in AA online (email) groups and have held positions such as Secretary, Listkeeper, Birthday Announcer, and Business Chair. Also, as part of my giving back to AA, I maintained and updated the Toronto Intergroup Meetings on their Website which involved approximately 400 meetings.

I am also an online sponsor and enjoy the challenges and joys of working with sponsees.

Part of my service also involves donating to the 7th Tradition in order to help keep AA alive. Because I go to very few f2f meetings any more, I contribute annually during Gratitude Month in our area. Also, I have the opportunity to contribute financially to GROW on a monthly basis when the 7th Tradition is passed in order to cover expenses such as list server, website fees, and contributions to the General Service Office of AA.

In AA, we learn that the more we give away, the more we receive. Have you started your service work yet? I would like to hear from each of you about how you got started in service and the rewards/blessings you have received or are receiving as a result. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jun 15: Willingness, Patience and Labor

Willingness, Patience and Labor

In looking for a topic, I found this paragraph from Chapter 11, A Vision For You, from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (page 162-3.)

“Thus we grow. And so can you, though you be but one man with this book in your hand. We believe and hope it contains all you will need to begin. We know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself: “I’m jittery and alone. I couldn’t do that.” But you can. You forget that you have just now tapped a source of power much greater than yourself. To duplicate, with such backing, what we have accomplished is only a matter of willingness, patience and labor.”

Willingness, patience and labor. These were skills that I did not possess prior to coming to these rooms. I was irritable and discontent, to say the least. I was rigid and impatient. I wasn’t doing to do any work. I did the minimum, I did enough to get by… I was afraid of failing, and I was afraid of succeeding. I didn’t realize that all my defects were rooted in fear. I don’t know where the fear came from. But as I drank more and more, the fear grew more and more.

I am so grateful that when I entered these rooms, I was desperate enough to follow suggestions. I was able to listen to what you all had to say. I didn’t have to pray to be willing, I didn’t have to pray to be patient. I was told that I had to do the work and it would happen. And it did. A miracle!

By working the steps, I have developed a relationship with the God of my understanding. I no longer feel alone. What a gift! What’s even better about this feeling I have today, is that it keeps growing. By doing the next right thing, the peace and serenity grows day to day… Some days it may not be as strong, but I don’t worry. I pray for willingness, patience and love. Life happens and today I trust that if I stay the course, I will be ok.

Please share on growing in willingness, patience and or labor. Or whatever may be on your mind. Thank you!

Jun 08: Change vs. Complacency

Change vs. Complacency

“Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.” page 84 Alcoholics Anonymous. There are so many references to change in the Big Book. When I came into AA, I had no idea that it was so much more than just quitting drinking. I knew that I had problems with anxiety and depression and thought that I could just drink to self-medicate. I didn’t realize at the time that my thinking was self-centered, selfish, and warped. AA has given me an “Attitude Adjustment.”

I’ve had to change my “playmates and playgrounds.” For me, it works best if I stay away from slippery slopes. I still have a long way to go. I just completed my 4th Step for which I am so grateful! As I go through more of the Steps with my sponsor, I will continue to grow more in this program and can hopefully maintain a positive, helpful attitude. With this “new” attitude, I need to continue to carry the message and constantly look for opportunities to be of service.

“Change we must; we cannot stand still.” from “As Bill Sees It,” page 25. This is such a good reminder that I cannot be complacent! I need to be active in AA. This is a program of action that we hear all of the time. When I start putting other things before AA and make excuses for not going to meetings, that should be a red flag for me. This past week I was not going to hardly any meetings, and I was procrastinating completing my 4th Step. My anxiety began to increase, and I felt more overwhelmed. I went to my homegroup today, and I felt so much better.

Ladies, I would love to hear what you have to say. Please feel free to share on what changes you have had to go through in AA and what that has meant for you in sobriety and also if you have had times of complacency in your AA program.

Jun 01: Bondage of Self

Bondage of Self

The Buddha said that Self is the cause of all suffering. Krishna said that the Self is our worst enemy and our best friend. A dear AA friend said, “I may not be much, but I’m all I ever think about.” I think all of those quotes apply to me.

I believed this for many years, but I couldn’t seem to do anything about it until I finally put down the bottle, worked the 12 steps, and made recovery my top priority. Doing the steps helped me see that the more I focused on *me,* my needs and desires, my pain and disappointments, and my image, the less happy I was. AA and the steps taught me that the more I stay out of Self, the less unhappy I am.

I think “I may not be much, but I’m all I ever think about” could be the best self-description. Even today, it’s true. But today, I know that devoting mySelf to serving my HP and serving him through others is the only way to stop thinking about me.

AA has taught me that what others think of me is none of my business. It’s taught me that what *I* think of me is none of my business. Focusing on me, for me, inevitably means focusing on my disappointments in life, my shortcomings, what I want that I lack, and how life has generally let me down. It is always about Self-esteem. It always ends there.

AA teaches me that the only thing that is important is that I do the right thing one day at a time. Focusing on others leads me to recognize how fortunate I am, the positive contributions I make, what I have rather than what I lack, how beautiful my HP is, and how I am loved. Focusing on the needs of others keeps me sober.

Now, to be honest, I am not very successful at moving the spotlight of my mind away from Self and onto Others. It is hard work, and it takes a lot of practice. But the rewards motivate me to keep trying. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Practice, not perfection.

Please share with us this week about what “bondage of self” means to you and your sobriety.

May 25: Belief in a Higher Power

Belief in a Higher Power

For today’s topic I have chosen our society’s journey into the realm of a Spiritual Awakening through our belief in a Higher Power.

Chapter 4 in the Big Book, pp. 47-52, We Agnostics, debates this: “… we did not have to consider another’s conception of God; our own however inadequate was sufficient to make the approach and effect a contact with Him.” Then, “… as soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence and a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things we began to possess a new power and direction provided that we took other simple steps. We found that God does not make too hard terms on those who seek him. To us the reality of the spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek; it is open we believe to all men.

Later  our ideas did not work. But the God idea did.”

Perhaps read Chapter 4 for the first time or read it again and recount how you came to believe in the Power needed for a spiritual experience; we learned that power could be a great figure: Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Moses or a peasant, a doorknob or even the Alcoholics Anonymous Group. No edict says we must believe in God to be a member of AA.

Tell us how you came to believe and whether your concept of God is changing.

May 18: Living the Serenity Prayer

Living the Serenity Prayer

I chose this topic because since I admitted I was an alcoholic to the point of reaching out for help and going into rehab, the Serenity Prayer has many times been my lifeline. Being raised a strict Catholic all my life and attending 12 years of Catholic school and one summer at a convent thinking I would become a nun (for my Dad), I am sure somewhere along the line I had heard the Serenity Prayer, but it was not at all what I knew until I went into rehab. We gathered together, held hands and said this prayer often in rehab.

When I got out of rehab and went back to work I used the prayer often as I had to deal with pricing alcohol on a daily basis and I would say the Serenity Prayer over and over.

Then one night, I was sitting at home wanting to pick up that drink so I immediately starting saying the Serenity Prayer very slowly and dissecting what I was saying. God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change. I could not change the fact that I was an alcoholic and I could not ever pick up another drink no matter what, and I could not change people, places or things.

The Courage to change the things I can. To me that meant changing within myself and not trying to change situations that were beyond me. I could only change my thoughts, feelings and emotions maybe brought on by other people, places and things.

And the Wisdom to know the difference. Your will God not mine be done. This part was a toughie for me at first because I did not know where that wisdom was going to come from. Then it was like a spiritual awakening for me when something happened, and God gave me the answer through another person. Wow that was the wisdom, going to meetings getting a sponsor, working the steps, committing to service work, but most important of all this was surrendering my life and giving my will to the God of my understanding, and he in turn would give me that wisdom to know the difference.

One day at a time and living the Serenity Prayer has truly gotten me to where I am in my program today. It has made the tough times so much easier, the sad times and the good times. When I say the Serenity Prayer every morning and every night and often times during the day it helps me so much to live life on life’s terms. Now I am by no means perfect at this, but I put as much into it as I can.

Thank you ladies for allowing me to chair this week and being such a big part of my journey in sobriety and the beautiful spiritual life I have gained from being an alcoholic. Please share on this or any thing that you might need to share on this week.

May 11: The Ninth Promise

The Ninth Promise

“Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us”. Searching around in my mind for a topic, this is what settled with me. All the Promises have materialized in my life except … economic security. I constantly feel I am either doing or not doing something ‘right’ here. I’ve been sober a long time, yes, and I don’t mean that I am afraid of losing what I have in terms of financial security. Rather, I mean that I never truly have enough!

Now, this has something to do with me being a single mother for many years, and us surviving on one income. Bringing up a son and attempting to give him the best I can costs not just in emotional terms but in financial terms. And I also think it has to do with my being an underachiever, which is still there to a degree with me. I’m getting older (a youthful 61, I like to think!) but I have so much still in me in terms of unmined talent, I feel, if I am being honest. I would like to put any gifts I have to good use before I expire lol.

Money – materialism- has never been to the fore of my mind. When I walked away from my marriage in 1981, the year before I got sober, I walked away from a beautiful six-bedroomed home, and financial security (my guilt at the time stopped me from pursuing what would have been rightfully mine as half of that partnership, but that’s water under the bridge now). If I had stayed in that marriage, I would never have gotten sober, I do believe.

And sobriety has brought me undreamed-of rewards in terms of a wonderful peace of mind, healed relationships, self-knowledge, ability to go out to others, an education to post-grad level, the chance to be a mother again, but not the job that might have come with it, bringing increasing financial security.

I’m asking God as I understand Him, lately more than ever, for guidance and awakening in this area. I lost my job of twelve years recently and am about to attend my second interview about going self employed e.g. private tuition, proofreading, community association classes. I’m not naturally a business-headed woman so I’m a little apprehensive about this!

What are your experiences around financial insecurity/security? Are you an overachiever or an underachiever? Do you feel there is potential within you that has still not been realized (I guess this relates to last week’s topic here- the woman I would like to be).

We’re all different- and that’s good! My strengths might not be yours, and your might not be mine. So, I invite you to share on your strengths and weaknesses in this area 🙂 I remain teachable, thank heavens, and I have much to learn.

May 04: The Woman I Always Wanted To Be

The Woman I Always Wanted To Be

Before sobriety I was that hopeless “victim,” expecting everybody to take care of me, be responsible for my actions, and meet my needs! I honestly thought the world owed me a living and that I was that “hip, slick and cool” chick who lived so very spontaneously and was a rare human being — and definitely the most popular! I had it all — so I thought!

The funny part about this today as I look back is that I had to make MANY geographics, as when people got tired of my “act” and stopped taking care of me, I had to move on to new proving grounds!

My life, as it were, changed drastically when I entered the rooms of AA and a very tough and feisty woman became my sponsor! She started talking about my Ego!!! “What is that?” I thought. “Not me! I don’t have an ego!” Wellllllllllll, she immediately started me working the Steps, which I did not do honestly the first time around! It wasn’t until about my 2nd year of sobriety that I actually got down and worked our beautiful Steps thoroughly and honestly — which totally changed my life! I started my journey from “her majesty, the baby” to the emotionally mature woman I always wanted to be!

I recently read in a meditation that to the Greeks, excellence was achieved when people became all they could be. And accomplishing that meant finding as many balances in life as possible. Their ideal, unlike ours, was “moderation in all things”!

I have found that my only opponents are my own deficiencies! And to understand my own personal brand of self-defeating thought patterns is to be forewarned!!! The survival of my self-esteem requires adaptation!

Successes, like disappointments, are opportunities for surrender. I have to remind myself that I will never fully experience how positive is this moment of success if I move right into the next available negative emotion!

Today I celebrate a success, large or small! I am becoming the woman I always wanted to be!

Are you the woman you always wanted to be? Are you on the path of being the woman you always wanted to be? Are you the woman you don’t want to be?

Apr 27: Dealing With and Accepting Loss

Dealing With and Accepting Loss

Hi everyone, I am so honored for this opportunity to chair the meeting this week. To tell you the truth, this is the very first meeting that I have ever chaired so I am a little nervous. First of all, I would like to say a big welcome to all the new members. I wish you many blessings on your journey.

For this week’s topic, I would like to share about what is going on in my life. My family and I are dealing with a great loss. My cousin has been fighting cancer for almost ten months now. The doctors are now saying that there is nothing more that can be done. She has refused hospice so we are stepping up to the plate and taking care of her. The cancer has spread to basically everywhere in her body, including her brain. She is not the same person that she was before; I don’t even recognize her anymore. Her personality is distorted; it is like she isn’t even there. She stares out into space and falls asleep in the middle of things. Every time she falls asleep, I fear that she is going into a coma. My heart stops every time that happens. She needs help doing everything; as a result, taking care of her is a 24 hour job. She needs help going to the bathroom, taking a bath, and most everything else.

The other day I gave my cousin her medication; she took it again by herself. I felt so responsible because I should have been watching her better. I am very angry that she won’t get the help that she needs, but I know I have to let that go. It is her choice and this is what she wants.

It is very hard to watch someone you love slip away and know that you can’t do anything to change it. My emotions are all over the place. I am trying to stay strong for everyone and trying to take care of myself all at the same time. It is very hard to do, and I’m not good at it at all. I am dealing with it the best way I can but I feel like I am failing. I am so grateful that I can be here for her and that I am able to take care of her. My accepting of all this comes and goes. As soon as I give it to God, I take it back. However, I give it right back to God again.

My biggest fear is that after she dies and everything settles down again, I might pick up a drink. I am already so very overwhelmed with everything that is going on and I now it is going to get worse. I already don’t want to feel.

I know this is a lie that I am telling myself, and I know drinking will only make things worse, not better. It is truly a blessing to have this program and the blessings that come along with it. I am a miracle and so are all of you women. I would love to hear how you have made it through losing a loved one, a job, or anything you can think of. We are strong women and with help we can make it through anything. Thank you so much for listening and helping me through this.

Apr 20: Honesty


I have had some “growing” recently regarding honesty. I try rigorously to be honest and yet, others do not. It is very hard to accept this when their dishonesty directly affects me. “How it Works” has been helpful to me in accepting others decisions…

“Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.”

In my own life “the truth will set you free” has been proven time and time again. Once I got honest with myself, great things happened 4 years ago!!!

Please share your experience, strength and hope when it comes to being honest with oneself and others.

Apr 13: What does a sponsor do and not do?

What does a sponsor do and not do?

* A sponsor does everything possible, within the limits of personal experience and knowledge, to help the newcomer get sober and stay sober through the A.A. program.

* Shows by present example and drinking history what A.A. has meant in the sponsor’s life.

* Encourages and helps the newcomer to attend a variety of A.A. meetings — to get a number of viewpoints and interpretations of the A.A. program.

* Suggests keeping an open mind about A.A. if the newcomer isn’t sure at first whether he or she is an alcoholic.

* Introduces the newcomer to other members.

* Sees that the newcomer is aware of A.A. literature, in particular the Big Book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and Grapevine, As Bill Sees It, Living Sober, and suitable pamphlets.

* Is available to the newcomer when the latter has special problems.

* Goes over the meaning of the Twelve Steps, and emphasizes their importance.

* Urges the newcomer to join in group activities as soon as possible.

* Impresses upon the newcomer the importance of all our Traditions.

* Tries to give the newcomer some picture of the scope of A.A., beyond the group, and directs attention to A.A. literature about the history of the Fellowship, the Three Legacies, the service structure, and the worldwide availability of A.A. — wherever the newcomer may go.

* Explains the program to relatives of the alcoholic, if this appears to be useful, and tells them about Al-Anon Family Groups and Alateen.

* Quickly admits, “I don’t know” when that is the case, and helps the newcomer find a good source of information.

* The sponsor encourages the newcomer to work with other alcoholics as soon as possible, and sometimes begins by taking the newcomer along on Twelfth Step calls.

* Never takes the newcomer’s inventory except when asked.

* Never tries to impose personal views on the newcomer. A good sponsor who is an atheist does not try to persuade a religious newcomer to abandon faith, nor does a religious sponsor argue theological matters with an agnostic newcomer.

* Does not pretend to know all the answers, and does not keep up a pretense of being right all the time.

* An A.A. sponsor does not offer professional services such as those provided by counselors, the legal, medical or social work comunities, but may sometimes help the newcomer to access professional help if assistance outside the scope of A.A. is needed.

*The sponsor underscores the fact that it is the A.A. recovery program — not the sponsor’s personality or position — that is important. Thus, the newcomer learns to rely on the A.A. program, not on the sponsor.


Most present members of Alcoholics Anonymous owe their sobriety to the fact that someone else took a special interest in them and was willing to share a great gift with them.

Sponsorship is merely another way of describing the continuing special interest of a seasoned member that can mean so much to a newcomer turning to A.A. for help.

Individuals and groups cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of sponsorship, the importance of taking a special interest in a confused alcoholic who wants to stop drinking. Experience shows clearly that the members getting the most out of the A.A. program, and the groups doing the best job of carrying the A.A. message to still suffering alcoholics, are those for whom sponsorship is too important to be left to chance.

By these members and groups, sponsorship responsibilities are welcomed and accepted as opportunities to enrich personal A.A. experience and to deepen the satisfactions that come from working with others.

I took several paragraphs out of the pamphlet for AA Sponsorship to discuss for our meeting this week.

I have had a bumpy road when it came to sponsorship, because I was looking for friendship and approval, and I choose someone who had common interests, and not worked all 12 steps. Other times I put too much dependence upon my sponsors and relied on them, not the AA program. In both cases, although, I became dissappointed with the results,

It wasn’t the AA program that failed me, it was choices based on self, that failed.

In each case I walked away stronger in program values, having learned valuable lessons.

Please share on what strikes a cord in your heart, or anything else you may need to share about.

Apr 06: The Spiritual Life is Not a Theory

The Spiritual Life is Not a Theory

I was listening to a CD in the car on the way to my home group this morning. The speaker has been sober for a few 24 hours and was talking about the quote from the Big Book: “The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it.” I would like to share with you how I have been doing that during this past year.

As many of you know, I’m not new to AA. I started in AA in September 2008 when I went to outpatient treatment for 5 weeks. I relapsed at about 5 1/2 months and then got a new sponsor. I worked with a great sponsor and started working on my 4th step. I was going to a lot of meetings in my home town (at night).

I had about 18 months of sobriety when I met a man in AA at one of my meetings. Long story short, I had an affair with him for 6 months, relapsed twice, didn’t listen to my sponsor and to my next sponsor. I nearly lost my husband and children. I was so spiritually sick, that even after my husband found out about the affair, and we were in therapy together, I continued to try to make contact with this man. It finally ended once and for all in 2012.

I continue to this day to go to women’s only face-to-face meetings. My husband and I are still together and are still in therapy. I was trying to fill that hole inside of me with not only alcohol, but then this relationship, and then with binge eating of sweets. I have had several more sponsors since. Unfortunately, I also have relapsed several more times after that. I went back to the outpatient treatment program in December of 2012 for 5 weeks and then relapsed again April 4, 2013.

Looking back, I realize that I only thought I was living and working a spiritual program. I certainly wasn’t working an honest program! I thought that I could do everything on my own – that I really didn’t need to listen to my sponsor; I didn’t need you women in AA; and that I certainly didn’t need to work the Steps and rely on a Higher Power.

I kept taking my will back and was not doing God’s will. I thought I knew what was best and what was right. As the Big Book mentions, self-reliance fails us, and self-knowledge is not the answer. I thought that I knew better than each of my sponsors. I lost a few sponsors because of the bad decisions that I had made. I even lost a sponsee because of my thinking and bad decision making.

So what is different now? Well, I am living a spiritual life- I am living “in the solution.” I’ve been working with the same wonderful sponsor since last September. I meet with her weekly, and she reads the Big Book to me. We started from the Table of Contents, and are now reading about Step 4 in “How It Works.” I have a home group that I go to every Saturday morning. My sponsor goes to that meeting as well. I have surrendered completely to my Higher Power and have honestly and thoroughly worked and continue to work Steps 1-3 on a daily basis. I am working on my 4th Step presently – even though I balk and procrastinate, I know that I have to do it and have to get it done.

I pray every day and ask my Higher Power for help to do His will and not my will. I ask Him to help me be of service and to do the next right thing. I am now a co-chair for my Saturday women’s home group- so excited and so grateful! I’m excited to be a trusted servant here at GROW, and I also do service work at my other online women’s AA group. I try to get to one to two face-to-face meetings during the week, and I go to meetings on the weekend. Lately, since starting my new job, I’ve had trouble getting to meetings during the week.

My life is far from perfect, but it is so much better than when I was drinking. I have some great women friends in AA. I have a wonderful relationship with my two children – age 14 and 17. I’m so grateful that I can be there for them and not be drunk and hung over. I can be a good example to them. Both of them are at that age when peer pressure is so big! They both have seen me relapse multiple times – even though they were 9 and 11 when I started AA. They totally understand and remember much more than I thought. My marriage has improved so much, and we continue to re-build our marriage. I am slowly but surely getting more and more of my husband’s trust back.

I have a much stronger relationship with my Higher Power, who I call God. I know that He always has my back. I understand better that it’s not about my will, but it’s about what God wants me to do. I just need to keep doing the footwork. I am not in charge – He is – which sometimes I still have trouble with.

Part of me still wants to control the outcome. It’s especially difficult when I am feeling more anxious and overwhelmed. I just have to remember that I am not alone – I have my Higher Power who will take care of me. I also am getting better at reaching out to other alcoholics – whether it be a phone call, a text, or Skype/email. My sponsor reminds me to always reach out to the newcomer and to get her phone number.

Lastly I would like to end with the acronym H.O.W.: Honesty, Open-Mindedness, Willingness. I know that these three “essentials” have helped me so much get to where I am today. A woman at my home group told me today after I gave the lead, that she could really see how I have changed and how I have been working the Steps. Wow!! The tears started to flow! I believe so much more in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I know that it does work when I work it!

Thank you so much dear ladies for letting me share and be of service. I appreciate and love all of you! Please feel free to share on “The Spiritual Program” and how you work it in your life, and about the “essentials of recovery”. Or you can share on whatever is on your mind.

Mar 30: Trust in God’s Will

Trust in God’s Will

I played the victim of circumstance prior to my arrival in AA. You fellow Alkies taught me that much of that circumstance was of my own making. I stepped on plenty of toes and people naturally retaliated just like it says in the Big Book. I had an unhealthy dependence upon others to a great extent too. I really wanted everyone to tell me or reassure me somehow, that I was in fact, a good person on the inside. I just did not feel much of anything but fear and insecurity as a youngster and that continued on into my adult life.

I had unrealistic expectations of others and of myself. I spent a great deal of time and energy manipulating the outcome of stuff. By stuff I mean my interactions with others both in the workplace and at home. I wasted a great deal of energy on this little project, not realizing that God had a plan and, by seeking His/Her will, I would end up exactly where I was meant to be.

I frequently ask myself today: “Where is God in all of this?” That can be anything from unexpected changes in the course of my everyday life to the big stuff like unforeseen illness and injury. I spend a great deal of time seeking God’s Will today. Often that means I must remain patient and wait for the next indicated thing. In the early days of my sobriety I could easily find God in nature and in the eyes of my children. It was harder to find God in a vindictive employer or a physical calamity.

I have had plenty of hard knocks in sobriety – enough that I cannot possibly detail them in this share. But suffice it to say, I have not had to drink over any of them. For that I am eternally grateful to the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and especially the women of AA. I have been a bit of a broken record of late. It is in the seeking of God’s will that draws me ever closer to my Higher Power.

Most of the time I only need be in the present moment to find God, and subsequently God’s Will. It is pretty simple, but there are some things in my life that do require some “foot work.” Take for example this employment opportunity in Florida. I have no idea what my husband I are to do about it. So we do nothing.

I continue to pray and offer the decision making process up to my Higher Power, trusting that He will give me discernment in His time. Oh Gosh. Patience is something that has come with practice. As I mentioned earlier, the old me prior to sobriety and in the early years of recovery worked very hard to figure out and sometimes manipulate the outcome. I am much more trusting of the process today. It is not so important for me to have all the answers today.

It is far more important for me to stay in today and let life reveal the outcome! With big life stuff, like moving, jobs, illness, injuries, etc. I take the easier, softer way. I don’t drink and I go to meetings and my Higher Power speaks to me through others. So my listening skills have gotten better over time.

If I can quiet all that goes on between my two ears, I have a better chance of hearing the cues from a God of my understanding. If I am in turmoil, not paying attention or otherwise preoccupied it takes me a whole lot longer to get to where it is that my Higher Power has me going! In other words, let God drive the bus. I always come back to that. It is a matter of trust really.

My primary goal is to live in trust you see. And this is not just a blind trust. After many years of trying my own way and running into walls, and coming back to surrender and testing God’s Will over and over again, I can take measure.

His way is infinitely better than anything I could conjure up on my own. I feel so blessed today to have been able to internalize that as fact. To finally be at peace and rest in the awareness of His Grace is something I sought for as a frightened child and as a frightened adult.

To finally arrive at a place of serenity is quite amazing. Thank you for your participation in my sobriety. I thank each and every one of you. Life is not always “easy peasy”. It is full of challenges and ups and downs. Trust in God’s Will and all will be well as we trudge the road of happy destiny. Relax and take it easy as you bask in the sunlight of the Spirit. Just for today. I’d love to hear what you have to share on the topic of Trust.

Mar 23: From Non-Believer to Faith

From Non-Believer to Faith

Today, I have chosen the few paragraphs on page 36 of the 12 and 12 describing our journey from non-believer to one with a strong faith in a higher power.

Respecting alcohol, I have to be dependent upon Alcoholics Anonymous. But in other matters, I must still maintain my independence; nothing is going to turn me into a nonentity. If I keep turning my will and my life over to the care of Something, I will remain a nonentity. I will be like the hole in the doughnut.

This is the process by which instinct and logic seem to bolster egotism and frustrate spiritual development. This kind of thinking takes no real account of the facts, and the facts tend to be these: the more we achieve reliance on a higher power, the more dependent we are on God, the more independent we actually are.

We compare our lives with electricity: we know that when we flick a switch, power will start to flow and electricity will operate lights and appliances automatically, making our lives more stable and secure. We are more comfortable and secure as power flows just where it is needed.

This passage on page 36 of the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions reflects AA’s influence on those of us who have chosen this path and a blueprint for living without alcohol or drugs – living life on life’s terms with our own capabilities and ideas. All the while we know more and more each day that a loving God protects and guides us every step of the way. AA says: “I can’t, He can, I think I’ll let Him.”

Please share with us your thoughts on this integral part of Step 3, our step for the month of March. Tell us how you went from reluctant to believing in God to maybe there really is a God to Yes, of course, a Higher Power runs the show and I am his faithful servant. He is the father and I am the child. Share with us your own personal experiences. Ladies, the floor is open for sharing.

Mar 09: God Consciousness

God Consciousness

“Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense.”
-Alcoholic Anonymous p. 85

This year has been amazing. I have gone from a withdrawn, sick, and suffering woman to one that is free and sober. Little did I know that becoming sober was only the beginning of a new way of living, and that I would begin a journey of spiritual awakening. Each day brings new awareness of my Higher Power.

I try to stay very close to him/her as I know I cannot do this alone. Reading the Big Book each day, praying, and meditating, listening to all of you who share your own journey through your shares here each day, and sticking close to my sponsor, has been my “school of sober spirituality”.

The quote above says that we will receive strength, inspiration, and direction from our Higher Power. We will become God conscious. So, my question for you this week is:

How do you sense that God consciousness in your life? What does it mean to you to have developed that “vital sixth sense”? What does this look like in your everyday lives?

Mar 02: Acceptance


In the beginning of my program, I often asked myself why did it take me so long to find AA? I’d become a bit envious and in awe when I’d hear that members were celebrating their 5, 10, 20, 30, 38. and more years of sobriety. I soon realized that because of my stubbornness and self-centeredness, it took me longer than others to accept that I had a problem.

When I came to AA, I learned about acceptance through the Serenity Prayer. Acceptance is key for me. I accepted that I was an alcoholic and could not manage my own life. I tried to control my drinking for at least 25 years, and I tried to control my kids, husband, and anyone else that appeared interested in what I had to say.

My sponsor told me that first I had to put the drink down – that was hard – but I was desperate and was willing to accept anything in order to stop. At this point, I was scared that I would not be able to stop. I shared this in my second meeting, and I heard you say. One day at a time. I thought One day? I don’t know if I can go one hour.

I accepted that there was no other way, and if I wanted what you had, I needed to try. As the fog began to lift and I began to work my program, I understood that acceptance was key for my sobriety. You are teaching me to accept the fact that I don’t have control over anyone or anything. Only God has all the power and control.

I apply acceptance on whatever comes my way on a daily basis. The Serenity Prayer, my daily mass, and The Third and Seventh Step Prayers get me through those difficult moments and to live life on life’s terms.

Being accepting helps me keep peace of mind; my relationships have improved; and I am more positive and try to keep my side of the street clean. I claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Sisters in GROW, I feel blessed to have found you, Share this week on how you apply acceptance to your daily life, and you are free to share on any other topic of your choice.

Feb 23: Carrying the Message

Carrying the Message

Over the last week or so, I’ve been thinking a lot about this last week’s topic, “Listening”, and relating to how important it is to accept and bring in the messages that are provided to us in this program. I’ve also heard and read a lot about some of us who are still suffering, and thinking about how my own personal story includes a strong inclusion of self-created chaos and feeling like a victim for most of my life.

I drank in part because I thought “I deserved it” for all the bad things that had happened. I used alcohol as an escape, and justified that because I had a victim mentality. AA and the steps have taught me that I do not need to be a victim anymore.

Through working this program and carrying the message to others, I empower myself and can let go of the victim mindset. I can stop feeling sorry for myself. Yes, bad things do happen in our lives, but alcohol does not happen to me, and I have the tools through this program and all of you to be strong and shift the focus from “poor me” to empathy for others who are still suffering.

This is Step 12 work, but in reality, I think the sooner we can work through the inventory of our faults and our past sufferings and shift to focus outside of ourselves, the sooner we can start to really live and stop suffering. We don’t have to identify or label ourselves based on things we did or that happened to us in the past, and if we carry that message of hope to others, we can be free ourselves.

I have been in and out of these rooms for 16 years, but two years ago on February 24th, I found GROW and really committed myself to this program. While I still had to go back out for a few more minor lessons after that, so this is not my formal 2-year “AA Birthday” (that shifted to January last year), it was the time that I really opened my eyes, started listening, and started to get this program. I now work daily on my steps, and carrying this message forward to other alcoholics and, through that work, feel a peace I never dreamed possible.

My question/suggested topic this week, is how are you hearing the messages, and more importantly how are you shifting (or have shifted) to losing the shame, victim mentality, and sorrow that we enter these rooms with, to carrying the wonderful message of hope and promises forward to other alcoholics?

Feb 16: Listening


When I came to AA 17 years ago many things amazed me. It was difficult not to be overwhelmed. One thing that stands out is listening, with the help of my sponsor and other AA friends this alcoholic learned after 47 years on this earth, to listen!

Listening is my ability to have a conversation with someone or be in a group and hear, consume, and understand what everyone is saying.

I am not saying that my listening abilities became finely tuned overnight but that my awareness of my lack of listening skills was brought to my attention as something to be worked on. One very bad habit was being so concerned what I was going to say (the great I AM!!) at a discussion meeting, that what others said went in one ear and out the other. Working on this character defect helped immensely, and it shocked me what could be learned by paying attention. My sponsor had me sit in the front row at Speaker Meetings so my mind would not be distracted, and I would listen to everything that was said.

In my home, my husband quite often is heard to say: ‘I told you that yesterday, weren’t you listening?” and I do admit that if I’m reading or at the computer and he tells me something, quite often it goes over my head – not even in one ear and out the other! Still working on that, and as we both are senior citizens, memory loss does come into play at times. But if I cannot give my life partner my undivided attention (he is not that demanding!), then I need to make an amends and work harder at truly listening.

So ladies, this week I’d love to hear your experiences with listening or whatever you feel you need and want to share!

Feb 09: Setting Priorities and Living in Today

Setting Priorities and Living in Today

I have been having a hard time keeping up with all the emails lately and haven’t been as active with GROW as I want to be. I realized yesterday that I’m actually working 3 jobs – I have a full-time day job at a bank, I work as a ghostwriter at night, and almost all the time that I’m not working, I’m babysitting my 3 grandchildren because they have a deadbeat dad, and my daughter works opposite hours from mine.

When I first got sober, some people would insist that I had to do 90 meetings in 90 days. Back then, there were no online meetings, so a newcomer had to go to f2f meetings if she wanted to learn how to live life sober. As a single parent at the time (which I am again – a single parent and single grandparent), I was definitely unable to do 90 meetings in 90 days. Yet the program was the #1 focus and priority of my life. When I couldn’t get to meetings, I read the Big Book and the 12 and 12 daily, along with several daily meditation readings, and books such as “Living Sober” and “As Bill Sees It”. I would pick up the phone and communicate with other recovering alcoholics. I would write in a notebook my fourth and tenth steps.

Lately because of all that has happened – the death of my husband in 2012, the end of my daughter’s marriage a few months after that – I think I have been having a hard time putting my priorities in the right place. I have started to isolate and become unfocused.

Believe me, even though I have gone 26 years without picking up, I haven’t forgotten where I came from, and I know that I’m only an arm’s length from a drink and complete self-destruction. And one lesson I learned years ago is that a SLIP means sobriety loses its priority.

Another hugely important lesson for me in recovery has been that life is manageable when I keep it in 24 hours. I only have to live one day at a time. I don’t have to worry about the things I have to do next week or next month. I only have to set priorities for today, this one 24 hour period.

I’d like to propose as a topic “Setting Priorities and Living in Today.” How do you make your recovery the #1 priority in your life? How do you keep your focus on just today?

Feb 02: Handling Stress in Sobriety

Handling Stress in Sobriety

Whatever traditional topic I might have picked just days ago, life has completely overwhelmed it.

A few weeks ago, my elderly mother’s room flooded and she had to be moved. Very upsetting for a woman with dementia. A few days later, she came down with bronchritis and has not recovered yet. Then I got sick and had a difficult week. Living alone while ill is not fun. Then just about the time I started feeling better, my little cat got sick again. Emergency trips to the vet and the heartache of fearing euthanasia.

This is just life, but it has been very stressful. A few years ago, my remedy would have been simple – a few beers. Then a few more. And more. I’d have forgotten all about the stress. I’d probably have forgotten to check up on mother, too. Then I’d have postponed the trips to the vet. Everyone would have suffered, but my stress levels would be down – well, until the hangover at least.

So, how is it different today when there’s no six-pack to resort to? I’m still stressed, and the relief is neither simple nor quick. I talk about it with other recovering alcoholics. I go to more meetings. I pray a lot. I take one step at a time one day at a time. I do the right thing first and forget about the results of my actions. I leave the results to my Higher Power, and I go on with my day. I don’t get all wrapped up in what might happen tomorrow or what I could have done better yesterday.

These actions do not make the stress go away, but they make it much easier to deal with. I keep living day-to-day without the drama and extreme emotion of the old days. I don’t have to handle hangovers or regrets. I can keep doing what I need to do one day at a time.

In stressful times like these, applying the 12 steps becomes critical to my serenity and my ability to cope with life on life’s terms. Having practiced for a long time now at practicing these principles in all my affairs gives me a strength and resilience that did not exist when I was drinking. Having the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous gives me a source of strength to deal with the stresses of the day and much more healthy than a few six-packs.

How do you deal with stress in sobriety? What are your remedies? How do you deal with stress in your life today?

Jan 26: 11th Step Prayer

11th Step Prayer

For this week, I have chosen the topic of the 11th Step Prayer. I say the Third, Seventh and Eleventh Step prayers every morning before I get out of bed. Doing something daily runs the risk of becoming rote for me. A few weeks ago I was thinking about the word “principles” in How It Works, and the thought came that actions that show our program principles are described in this Eleventh Step Prayer.

This prayer is, of course, also known as the St. Francis of Assisi prayer. In our AA literature, it is on page 99 of the 12 & 12.

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace — 
that where there is hatred, I may bring love — 
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness — 
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony — 
that where there is error, I may bring truth — 
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith — 
that where there is despair, I may bring hope — 
that where there are shadows, I may bring light — 
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather 
to comfort, than to be comforted — 
to understand, than to be understood — 
to love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. 
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. 
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. 

I have heard it said that this step may be worked by everyone, newcomers. We may pray and meditate at every point in our recovery; there is no need to wait until we get to Step 11! Thinking about the meaning of this prayer is a form of meditation. Breathe deeply and think about each phrase. . .

I would like to know how you have put this prayer into practice and what were your results. Is there a way that you have found to bring love where there is hatred? forgiveness where there is wrong? harmony where there is discord? truth where there is error? faith where there is doubt? hope where there is despair? light where there are shadows? joy where there is sadness?

How has it worked when you have tried comforting someone rather than seeking your own comfort? understanding someone else before seeking to be understood? loving another rather than seeking love from someone else?

I do find myself — my truest self, the way my Creator creates me to be every day of my life — in self-forgetting. Forgiveness works in this paradoxical way of forgiving myself and working to forgiving others; in forgiving them I’m better able to accept, tolerate, and forgive my own humanness. I don’t know about Eternal Life — I’m not there yet!

From the bottom of page 101 of the 12 & 12: And let’s always remember that meditation is in reality intensely practical. One of its first fruits is emotional balance. With it we can broaden and deepen the channel between ourselves and God as we understand God.

Jan 12: Rapt Attention

Rapt Attention

I am still an alcoholic, one who celebrated 26 years (9,497 days) of sobriety on January 9, 2014. I had to drink every day for 23 years so it is astonishing to be able to NOT drink for an even longer time.

I attended a meeting yesterday morning specifically to be able to announce my anniversary and demonstrate to newcomers that this program really does work. While there, I heard enough good stuff to generate topics for a whole week.

That meeting uses the “24 Hour a Day” book as the basis for the discussion and the top paragraph was about the transformation we go through in sobriety from the selfish, where’s-my-next-drink person, to the I-must-give-it-to-others-in-order-to-keep-my-sobriety person of today.

One person shared that often he finds that the best thing he can do for another alcoholic is to listen. He remarked that he knows he is not the sponsee’s banker or mechanic, and he doesn’t know the solution to the present difficulty for the other person. But the program has taught him to listen, really listen to another person. He has found that is the only thing really needed to allow the other person to figure out his own best solution.

It reminded me of my first couple of years in sobriety where I had to learn HOW to listen. There was such a roar in my head in the early days that any noise from outside had a hard time penetrating. I went to a meeting every day for months and begged TWIMC (To Whom It May Concern) to “Help me hear what I need to hear in order to stay sober today.”

It obviously worked. But the learning part of it was such exhausting work that I would come home and go to bed immediately.

One of the readings in a meditation book used by my home group specifically mentions “rapt attention” to one another at meetings. Especially at women’s meetings the thoughtfulness we give each other in listening to what each woman shares is a gift we give each other. The whole rest of the world, bosses, co-workers, spouses, partners, and kids may talk over us during all the other hours of the day, but the blessed quiet listening of others at a meeting demonstrates that we are important and worthy of being heard.

Had I not trained myself to listen in those early years, I would have missed valuable insights gained from careful attendance to what others say at meetings. The training has been invaluable for caring and guiding others coming up the path of sobriety behind me. Mostly, I listen to them. And mostly, each one uses that accepting attention as the platform for finding the solutions that will work for them. They use it as a safe place to gain insight into their own thought patterns and behaviors invisible all the years they drank.

Friends of much longer sobriety assure me that I can continue to learn and grow, that life will become better for me because “more will be revealed” if I am open to seeing its relevance to my life.

How well (and 360 degree embracing) is the fact that it is by giving others “rapt attention” that I have heard exactly what I needed to hear to improve my sobriety for a day. It is the primary method by which I “give it away in order to keep” my sobriety. Listening is an exercise in humility by demonstrating that I know you are capable of finding your solutions instead of advising or pontificating them to you.

Each time I thoughtfully listen to another women, my action tells her that she is important and worthy of being heard, that what she says is valuable. What a wondrous gift we give each other at every meeting we attend, or every online post we read! Somehow, lurking or sharing, we put goodness into the Universe each time we attend to another’s existence.

So I thank you for attending to mine. I thank Serendipity for bringing me to online AA because it has been a life-changing event for me.

Please feel free to share on whatever affects your sobriety today, whether or not it is on topic.

Jan 05: Self-Will vs. God’s Will

Self-Will vs. God’s Will

I came into AA without a notion of God or a Higher Power. I can accept that the HP is not me, and I’m definitely willing to believe.

And I felt this viscerally when I went to my first f2f meeting last month. Holding hands with six strangers during the serenity prayer made me cry. They were there for me when I needed them, and they don’t even know me. Just like every single person here at GROW.

Something was happening. Grace? My HP?

I’m not sure how to intercept messages from my HP.

My sponsor has me reading these words from the Big Book each morning:

“In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy, we don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for awhile.” 
-BB p86.

Over time I came to focus on two things:

1. The HP can speak to us through intuition. I imagine my HP is that twinge in the pit of my stomach. Unfortunately I have never paid attention to that feeling when it was telling me things I didn’t want to hear. I ignored it. Is it still there?

2. The idea of struggle. This is more concrete. How I understand the passage: When I am in self-will (not HP will), I will struggle. But I also struggle when trying to undo old poisonous habits such as lying to avoid discomfort. Surely my HP wants me to fix this, and yet I feel incredible tension and discomfort.

I love Step Three. When I learned that I cannot control people, places and things I was so relieved. I’m ready to learn how to make decisions without trying to finesse a certain outcome.

But when I found out that I was going to be asking my HP for help, I came up against this: How can I know what my HP wills?

My life was entirely run according to self-will. It’s all I know. How do I understand when I’m simply manipulating a situation and claiming act according to my HP?

How do you understand the difference between self-will and your HP? I would love to hear about how you learned to hear your HP. How was it for you?

I have learned so much from the daily GROW shares. Reading them is a gift and a privilege.

Thank you for giving me the chance to do service this week and I look forward to learning from all of you! Happy New Year!