November 28: Going on to the Bitter End vs Accepting Spiritual Help

Topic for the week: Going on to the Bitter End vs. Accepting Spiritual Help

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

The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves. 

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.”

The “Big Book”: Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, 

“There is a Solution” pages 25-26

My name is Emily and I’m an alcoholic sober by the grace of God and the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, one day at a time, since September 1, 2010.

Prior to that day, I was choosing “to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of [my] intolerable situation as best [I] could.”

I definitely hated myself and my everyday life, that’s reason number 1 I told myself I had to alter my brain chemistry with alcohol and other substances as often as possible. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror, my family had lost faith in me long ago, my friends were avoiding me more and more, my employment situation was shaky at best, my son showed me more and more signs everyday that my behavior was hurting him… but still I continued seeking relief in the bottle, the powders, the plants, the pills.

There came a point in my life where I’d started seeing my across the street neighbor. After we had been seeing each other a few months he decided to go sober on me. We spent most of our time together and I really liked him so I sort of went along with this. But when left to my own devices, I always went back to what I called “partying”, drinking and whatever else came with it.

Eventually I had a night out that scared me enough to truly want a life without alcohol and drugs. The morning after, sobbing my eyes out in the shower I asked God for help in putting it down with all the sincerity in my heart. I haven’t had to take a drink or drug since.

And that was a good beginning on opening the window as far as spiritual help went. As far as alcohol and drugs were concerned, September 1, 2010 is the day I accepted spiritual help. But that was it, that was the only help from God I acknowledged I needed.

I went on for about 8 years with do it myself recovery, my ego just becoming more and more fierce everyday that passes. Eventually I’m so stark raving sober, so emotionally wasted, I become willing to accept spiritual help on a much greater level.

At this point, in the fall of 2018, I joined GROW and another email AA Group, I get a sponsor, I work the steps, I am finally teachable and willing to go to any lengths to achieve sobriety. The ninth step promises begin to come true and Today I can tell you even my worst day is 100% better than my life before these 12 steps and this way of life.

I’m curious, what has your journey been? How have you crossed the river from going on to the bitter end to accepting spiritual help? What has that done for your life not just in terms of physical sobriety but in overall quality of life?

November 21: Crushed by Self-Imposed Crisis

Topic for the week:
Crushed by Self Imposed Crisis.

When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t. What was our choice to be? 

pg 53 We Agnostics

When I was active in my drinking, my self imposed crisis mostly consisted of juggling men, juggling friends, trying to cover up or control how much I drank, worrying about if my boss or my guests would find out that I was really drinking wine in my coffee cup, waking up in the middle of the night frantic about what I may have posted on facebook while drunk, being too hung over to attend family functions and work sometimes, missing car payments because I couldn’t manage my money, fearing that I was gonna get kicked out of my apartment or fired because of my conduct, etc.

When the drink was removed, I couldn’t understand why I was still behaving or feeling the way I did even though I wasn’t drinking. Minus the hangovers, I was still acting pretty shady and making bad decisions. I was sober, but I hadn’t yet transformed. I didn’t know that a real transformation was going to take place as a result of working the STEPS and continuing to apply them daily. I didn’t know this program was designed not just to get us sober, but to have transformation.

I had always perceived that all my problems came from the booze, my family, my job, and my men. It didn’t dawn on me that any of it was because of me! I would scream at God “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME!! WHY IS THIS ALWAYS HAPPENING TO ME!” Everything just kept repeating itself, different man, different job, same outcome…I couldn’t admit that the common denominator in all the scenarios-was me.

Repeated cycling over and over until I made major changes in my perceptions and conceptions.

As I grow up and mature in my sobriety, I am learning to not beat myself up over my past or current imperfections. I am learning not to beat others up for their imperfections. I am learning to respect where God has me and them currently without expectation for anything or anyone to be other than who or what they are on this day. I am learning to be courageous. I am learning to make better decisions. I am learning that fear is a reaction, and that courage is a decision.

This new mindset keeps me from much self imposed crisis. Truly seeing God in everything, good and bad, relying on Him to teach, guide and mold me into he wants me to be. I’ve been letting go of having to rebel, prove, justify, spin out, validate myself, create drama, obsesses on other people, fear sprees, thinking sprees, people pleasing so that they think I am awesome, keeping up with the Joneses, not participating in the voyeurism of facebook and other social media, breaking news aka “fear porn”…letting go of all that helps me to make better decisions today with the proper motives that keeps my life pretty stable and calm. If a real life crisis happens I am better equipped to handle it because I know the difference now.

Please share on some self imposed crisis you experienced while out there, or on any lingering self imposed crisis tendencies that you are aware of and looking to be free from.

November 14: The Power of Staying Grateful

Topic for the week: The Power of Staying Grateful

I’m Louise and I’m a grateful alcoholic. Gratitude is timely as it’s not long until Thanksgiving for you folks in the US. Here in the UK we have a sort of thanksgiving equivalent, a harvest festival celebration in early autumn where we’re grateful for the produce from our fields (or afar) and thus the food we can put on the table. Food is a basic survival need, as we all know.

I’ve been taught in these rooms though that surviving well is down to my attitude– I try daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Especially when the going gets tough.

Chuck C talks about wearing a new pair of glasses, seeing the world in a different light, a different way.

I know that my being grateful for everything in my life changes how I feel inside. It changes my perception of everything. I’m in love with my life and live with a deep peace of heart. I renew this way of seeing the world every single morning. And when self-centred thinking slips in during any day, I immediately lift my spiritual toolkit and get my gratitude glasses back on straight.

When I look at what’s ‘wrong’ with my loved ones, and focus on that, I go further down. I start to see flaws all around me. I get on my pity pot. (which is always there waiting). The ‘it’s not fair’ pot. I might know these days not to say anything, to not try to change someone, but I can still slip into the ‘it’s not fair God’ chant. I move into self-centred thinking. There’s a real shift in how I view myself and you and the world around me.

When I focus on what I don’t have in terms of material possessions– bigger house, car, income, better hair, skin, body etc– or ambitions not met, or relationships not how I’d like them to be– I’m living in the problem, not the solution. And the problem just increases. I have that magic magnifying mind that Dr Paul O speaks of in the Big Book story Acceptance Was The Answer.

My mind creates the problems. And the hole in my soul gets bigger and deeper. These days I don’t stay there for long. I know what works and I no longer have to bash my head against a brick wall before I’ll give in and surrender to the way things actually are.

And when I make the effort to turn my thoughts around to what I do have, and focus attention on being grateful for these gifts, then I’m living in the solution and the solution increases.

I do gratitude lists every single day with AA friends. I’m in the habit now of doing this and it’s a habit I value very much. It keeps me grateful and focused on what is important and central in life– maintaining a close conscious contact with a Power greater than me.

Sometimes life does bring very real and painful situations. And the power of being grateful on a daily basis is a huge antidote for me to not only travel through the painful emotions, but to navigate it all with grace, humility and daily surrender, living with unanswered questions, and somehow managing to be deeply grateful for the gifts of sobriety.

So the very power of gratitude to transform my life, mind, heart and soul, and add to the lives of those around me, is huge and life-giving. It moves my thinking onto a higher plane.

I’d love to hear you share your experience, strength and hope around this topic.

A big, big welcome to our new ladies too. Please feel free to share.

Thanks for being as part of this meeting.

Love

Louise

November 7: Step 11

This is the 11th month of the year and the first Sunday of the month therefore this meeting is on Step 11, which is :

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Before I wrote my lead on step 11 I chose to listen to a speaker video on Step 11 and re-read step 11 out of the  Big Book. Step 11 has been compared to a scaffolding. When an object falls from a construction site at a high level they put up scaffolding with netting to catch what falls through and it is done at several levels. Step 11 is the safe net that may fall through from the previous steps that we, I have worked and continue to work. This visual works for me and I am grateful that this person shared this perception.

It says in the Big Book that part of step 11 is to reflect on our day at the end of the day and determine if we, I, was resentful, selfish, dishonest, afraid, etc. It also says that we need to determine if we, I need an apology? Did we, I act in a kind and loving manner? What could we do better at? Did I look at what I could do for others, not just for me?  I do know what I have made an error and I wish I could say that nI do exactly what is written on page 85/86 of the Big Book but I do not but what I can do is make a better commitment at improving how I end my day with my Higher Power which is on of the blessing of this program/of being in recovery. 

Prayer/meditation -I have heard many people say that prayer is talking to your HP and meditation is listening to your HP.  For me I believe that there are many ways to pray and meditate. I pray by asking my HP every morning to guide me through the day as he was me to be and do. I may talk to him throughout the day depending where my head and emotions are at. As for meditating I do yoga and when I am doing my yoga my mind and body are building a connection with my HP and then there are times where I will sit quietly while others I will go for a walk or go walk by a lake. This is what I know when I do my form of prayer and meditation. I feel balanced, connected and when I don’t my world becomes chaotic and I get in my head way too much.

Thank you for listening and I look forward to hearing what step 11 means to you and you work this step in your journey of recovery. 

Hugs 

Mary O

Wisconsin

October 31: Masks We Use

 The topic I have chosen for this week is “Masks We Use”  Or, how we hide our true selves, sometimes even from ourselves. 

The topic I read from last week seemed to be “Imposter Syndrome”.  I think that Masks fits right along with that.

Still, in many ways, I feel like such an imposter.  And I often will put on a mask of being capable, of having it all together, of knowing exactly how to handle everything that comes my way, of being smarter or more serene than I actually am, and so on….. 

Some of the time, I am conscious of putting on the mask. . . I am trying to hide just how messed up I am, or how much I’m struggling at the moment.  Other times, it seems to be my way of coping or dealing with a situation at the time.  I’ll put on a smile when I feel like screaming, I’ll say: “Oh yeah, I’m okay”, when actually I just want to crawl off into a corner and cry.  I rarely use the word “FINE” because many of us know what that means. . . F****d-up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional.  Sometimes I will use it because I am really feeling messed up and don’t know how to deal with it and want to push people away.

The times I am really concerned about are when I’m trying to hide from myself.  Often because I just don’t want to face what’s going on, or face my (glaring) character defects.  I think my sponsor picks up on this, because she will “call me on my s**t”.  I have a few other people who will do the same.  I don’t like it when it’s happening, but I am definitely grateful that it does. . . it forces me to be honest with myself.

Some of the masks I use work similarly to those worn because of the pandemic. . . either to protect me, or to protect others. I just need to use masks for their necessary purpose, and not to hide from myself or others.  There are clear shields that protect but do not hide.

What masks do you use?  Do you find yourself using the figurative masks less as you grow in your program? 

I look forward to reading your shares. 

Pat S

October 24: Imposter Syndrome

Topic for the week:

When I drank, life was a blur for me because I didn’t care to stop for any thought or effort that precluded me planning to drink, drinking, or recovering from drinking. I used to have to catch up on life after each drunken diversion to hide the real me. I was always in a hurry to hide the evidence of my real life. You too? I had a hair appointment yesterday & while my stylist was shampooing me, massaging my scalp slowly, I caught myself thinking, “sheesh, come on, girl, let’s get a move on! I’ve got places to go, things to do, people to see, a life story to fake!” Then I realized that, right there, I was right where I was supposed to be, there was nothing that had to happen that couldn’t be done a bit later, & the person I was with is a friend whose company I can enjoy. The !ta-da! came as I realized that it was ok for me to relax into that moment, to savor how pleasant it was, & it was ok for me to be content, happy, relaxed. Sobriety means that I can live life on life’s terms, & sometimes, actually quite often, life is sweet. Sobriety is the end of my “imposter syndrome.” I suppose I think I don’t deserve to relax, that if I’m content or happy in sobriety, I must be doing something wrong. Do you struggle with this too? If not, what’s your secret?!

Please share on this, or on anything that’s on your mind right now. Thank you for the opportunity to share. Gratefully,

Julie Kapala <3

October 17: Perfectionism vs worthlessness

I’ve often been at one extreme or the other. I had to be perfect, or I had no value.

Now I’ve learned that we all – like for posting without a topic – are just humans. I’ve become humble enough to allow myself to make mistakes without beating myself up. Sometimes I do really well, but I don’t puff myself up for it. I’ve got a lot more balance today. Where are you? Are you being more gentle with your mistakes, and less arrogant about your successes?

October 10: Fixing Me, Not You

Topic for the week:  October 10, 2021

Good morning, ladies of GROW and congratulations to those who have celebrated a birthday since the start of this month and welcome newcomers.

The daily reflection for October 10, 2021, is the following

FIXING ME, NOT YOU

If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 90

What a freedom I felt when this passage was pointed out to me! Suddenly I saw that I could do something about my anger, I could fix me, instead of trying to fix them. I believe that there are no exceptions to the axiom. When I am angry, my anger is always self-centered. I must keep reminding myself that I am human, that I am doing the best I can, even when that best is sometimes poor. So I ask God to remove my anger and truly set me free.

From the book Daily ReflectionsWe
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

October 10, 2021

Good morning, ladies of GROW and congratulations to those who have celebrated a birthday since the start of this month and welcome newcomers.

The daily reflection for October 10, 2021, is the following

FIXING ME, NOT YOU

If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 90

What a freedom I felt when this passage was pointed out to me! Suddenly I saw that I could do something about my anger, I could fix me, instead of trying to fix them. I believe that there are no exceptions to the axiom. When I am angry, my anger is always self-centered. I must keep reminding myself that I am human, that I am doing the best I can, even when that best is sometimes poor. So I ask God to remove my anger and truly set me free.

From the book Daily ReflectionsWe
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

I read this reflection and then even re-read several pages from the 12 by 12 ,  and this is the part that stood out for me today

“It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also. But are there no exceptions to this rule? What about “justifiable” anger? If somebody cheats us, aren’t we entitled to be mad? Can’t we be properly angry with self-righteous folk? For us of A.A. these are dangerous exceptions.

We have found that justified anger ought to be left to those better qualified to handle it. Few people have been more victimized by resentments than have we alcoholics. It mattered little whether our resentments were justified or not. A burst of temper could spoil a day, and a well-nursed grudge could make us miserably ineffective. Nor were we ever skilful in separating justified from unjustified anger.”

I have been in the program for a good chunk of time and when I feel I have been hurt by someone I must pay close attention to my feelings and reactions to the person and the given situation. My head understands that holding onto resentments, angry or hurt will lead this alcoholic into a vicious cycle of mental conversations that are non-productive and usually will awaken of my character defects. Just as it is stated in the daily reflection and the part of the 12 by 12.

However, my heart which I see as my inner child within says wait, they hurt me/us, and I am pissed off, I am anger they are wrong they should have never, they owe me, etc.  or has a tantrum which can and has blinded my spiritually connection with my HP and makes the day (or days) miserable. For example, I felt I had justified anger towards my parents for the longest time related to how I was treated and for the trauma that I experienced. The truth is that I am a survivor of sexual abuse and a child of an alcoholic home, and I have scars from the experiences, and my child was never heard, not allowed to express feelings, let only my thoughts.

At the beginning of my road to recovery I did not know when I was justified with being hurt or angry and when I was not justified. More often than not, my heart won, and I stayed in that cycle of self-righteous way of thinking. Today, I believe I have a better balance between my heart (inner child) and my head knowing that holding onto anger, resentments etc.

For me I must acknowledge if my inner child is hurting or angry or holding onto resentment. Once I acknowledge this, I can then use the tools of the program and counselling. So, when I do feel hurt or angry, today I can say I know you are angry, and we need to breathe and take a step back. By doing this I can talk with my HP about the given situation, and in time I can see the situation for what it really is. See, sometimes a situation can occur, and it is not that big of a deal while other times the situation is a big deal. From here I can ask myself how important is this? Or I can ask myself how is my emotional state working for me at this time? There are times that I can exactly have a positive conversation with myself and my HP and  my inner child and regain a healthy perspective and then there are times when I still need you, to help me use the tools of the program  or say what I need to hear in order to get my emotions in check and my mind back to a spiritual balance as I ask my HP for help to work through  my angry or resentment or hurt. Or simply help me process the anger, resentment and/or hurt which may not go away for a period of time, so I can continue to grow as a person in recovery and continue to live the life that he has planned for me.

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts about today’s daily reflection. I invite you to share your thoughts about today’s reflection and how you use the tools of the program to cope with these issues or please share what is on your heart today.

Wish you all another 24 hours of sobriety ladies. Thank you all for being on the road of recovery. Have a great week,

Mary O

Wisconsin

October 3: Surrender

Hey friends.  Karrie here, alcoholic.

Thank you Taylor for the service you provide to our group.  It is much appreciated.

I would like to talk about surrender/step 3.

Covid has impacted all of us and our world.  Many changes have happened—some good and some not so good.  Last school year was really hard on my three kids (17,14,12).  The lack of social interaction was huge.  It was particularly difficult for my daughter, who is now 14 years old.  It wasn’t just covid it was other things too—hormones….relationships…..and the anger in our home.  Last February she confessed to she had been self harming—cutting her arms.  I was really freaked out.  She’s been in counseling for more than a year.  I was crushed that she was in so much pain that she felt the need to harm herself.  Six weeks ago, she came to me about 9:00 pm and she had cut herself again and she had taken ALOT of her SSRI medication—she wanted to die and then realized that she had made a huge mistake.  It was a terrible night—my husband and I rushed her to the ER. We were placed in the ER physic ward and were on a suicide watched all night.  She begged to come home.  Reluctantly they let us leave.  Following that was more intensive counseling for her and also my husband and I started getting counseling—good things that needed to happen.

I very much like to be in control and arrange the lights.  I very much like to be in charge and do things my way.  I so want you to think I am doing a good job and everything is perfect.  I work hard to make the people in my life happy—because my faulty belief system says that you will only like me or love me if I am perfect.  I have lived a life of secrets—and yes it’s true secrets make us sick.

There has been a lot of anger and violence in our home.  Before I was sober I too was a culprit of that anger.  My husband is an angry person.  And that anger and rage has effected me and our kids and especially our young sensitive daughter.  I have fought sponsors and my counselor and my daughter’s counselor—all who have suggested that my husband and I go to counseling.  It has taken my daughter’s suicide attempt to bring me to my knees—to be willing to do whatever I need to do for my child and my family.  I have been a door mat most of my life—even though I try to present myself as strong and bold.  I am fearful little child inside.

I really think that there is more than one surrender in my life.   The first huge one was saying I was an alcoholic.  I was in so much pain—that I finally cried “uncle”.  And accepting that powerlessness over alcohol was a huge step.  I only did it because I had to.  Alcohol didn’t work for me anymore and I wanted to die and my life was a mess even though I pretended everything was ok.

Sitting in the emergency room next to my daughter was one of the most horrific events in my life.  All night I kept praying the serenity prayer over and over and over.  My child wanted to die—tried to kill herself.  Why?  Because I had failed to demand a safe home, I had failed to demand an end to anger and violence.  I had kept secrets. I had arranged everything so perfectly but obviously I hadn’t.  I had expected my kids to follow suit……. That night I surrendered again to God.  I became willing to do whatever I had to do to help my child and family.  I have gotten a voice these past few weeks.  My husband and I are going to counseling and addressing anger and other issues in the home.  It’s not exactly fun.  Imagine that.  I have done a few 4th steps.  But things are improving. Everyday I can see little miracles taking place. I am so grateful for this program—for all the things that I have learned because of it; the fact that there are people who love me; and that it has given me tools to get through this painful time.

The meeting is open.  Thank you for letting me share.

Kind regards,

Karrie

September 26: Remaining Teachable

Hi everyone.

Taylor here… yep, still a drunk.

Welcome to those of you who are new in sobriety. I hope you hear something that makes you want to be here, and if not, I hope you stay til you do. It’s all one little step at a time.

Congratulations 🎉 to all who’ve recently celebrated milestones ~ big or little ~ it’s awesome to hear and  share. Let’s us all know of the possibilities within AA and ourselves.   Gives us all hope!

Much gratitude and blessings to all of you and yay for me – y’all help me stay sober and out of my head, cause I’m tuning in to yours. I love all of your sharing.

And a massive shout-out to my God and Goddess…. without them I wouldn’t be living, literally or figuratively.  One of the best gifts of being and staying sober is the gift of really living life.

With all its bumps and bungles – I am fully present ~ every single day.

I get the little gifts by doing so – noticing the seasons changing, enjoying kitty kisses, sharing in conversation with a friend, working on all of my relationships so I honor and continue in them.

So many gifts.

My sobriety date is September 28, 2004 ~ which means I get the gift of celebration of 17 years (in a couple days) of being clean and sober ~ continuously, no matter what.  Woohoo 🥳!!

Much thankfulness on that front as well. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this on my own.

Another gift I get and choose to open every day is remaining teachable.

Keeping my ego in check, remaining right-sized.

I stay in learning mode by doing things like asking what my Gods’ will is ~ as opposed to mine,

really listening, staying in gratitude mode (and if not finding it!),

saying I don’t know, and then asking for help!,

putting others first, admitting when I’m wrong,

being of service, literally working at learning something new every day

and practicing pause and pray before doing anything else.

For I am just a cog in this great big wheel.  A small portion of we.

All of this fantastical-ness is not perfect, and comes with daily and earnest practice.

Just like in the very beginning. This girl keeps it real with the basics.

One little step at a time.

Thanks for letting me share and be of service.

Faith n Hope 💝

Taylor

September 19: God won’t do for us what we can do for ourselves

Topic for the week:  GOD WON’T DO FOR US WHAT WE CAN DO FOR OURSELVES

I listen to How It Works and the Promises at all our meetings. “God could and would if He were sought” has always caught my attention. Underscore ‘if He were sought!’   But further clarification cautions,  “God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”  Like many things I heard when I first got here, I didn’t listen all that closely, and missed the nuance in that sentence.

My getting sober came about and surely it was something I could not do for myself.  A true gift of my Higher Power. However,  for many other things in my life, it seems I just need to keep work, work, working. I am capable of doing them.  I will just have to do my part.

My sponsor used to tell me to listen very carefully to the shares of those coming back after a slip.  True, so often I’d hear, ‘Well, to be honest, I was planning that slip for a long time.’  In the same light, I’d hear from those having a hard time, “It’s a fact–once I slacked off on my daily routines, I started to think about drinking.”   My sponsor did not believe in getting ‘struck drunk’ nor getting ‘struck sober.’  We have to participate to make those things happen.

I learned God won’t do for us what we can do for ourselves.  So I can’t just slip my list of to-do’s and wishes over and get them done without raising a finger?  How will I know which are the things I can do, I am expected to do?  What are the ones I can have done for me?  You know I am an alcoholic!  The answer to that is important to me.

Once again Bill W. knew I’d ask.  It is a simple Program for complicated people.  We have the Twelve Steps!  And the Traditions. We have each other.  There you go.  Those are the aids to prepare myself to carry out the work of my Higher Power. I can get help if I need it.  And clarification is always available from my sponsor!  The rest is on my Higher Power.  Did you ever expect your Higher Power to do something He was waiting for you to do?  No?  Really? Shucks, I did!  Please feel free to share on this topic.   hgz, b. 9/21/84

Personal Postscript

In September I am a year older and gratefully, add another year of sobriety.  This year I am having a ‘do-over’ of my sober 37th year.  I never remember dates. I sense them, feel them.  In sensory overload, I may not even do that.  I recorded the wrong year I came to AA.  I just realized it.  So, I’m having a do-over.  Progress not perfection. That can’t hurt. I am a word person.  Maybe it is the number in the date that blinds me!  Love to you all!  hgz, b. 9/21/84

 

September 12: Who? Me?! What’s been your latest spiritual growth spurt?

Topic for the week: Who? Me?! What’s been your latest spiritual growth spurt?

Ok, so, I read a random article that popped up in my Google feed this past week. It’s title was something like, “How to Recognize the Seven Signs of a Narcissist.” I’ve probably read dozens of articles about that particular topic & I tapped on it out of habit, really. I was married to a narcissist for 28 years & felt so vindicated each time I assured myself that he was sabotaging our marriage, which I knew for a fact because I’d read all those articles, you see, & reacted the same way to each one: “I knew it!! Geez he’s such an a. . . umm, jerk! He’s the reason I’m so damn miserable!” Imagine my surprise, then, when this time it wasn’t him I recognized, but me. I’m a narcissist, a “covert” narcissist. That article described the me I couldn’t, that I chose, not to see.

That was the first surprise. But not the biggest. The biggest, most dazzling surprise was that this time, for the first time, ever, I was willing to sit with & examine a destructive defect in me, rather than letting my brain bounce off of it & ricochet away toward something nicer & easier the way I always had before (& almost always with a nice merlot in hand, bottle, not glass.) This time I wanted to see, I wanted to understand this about myself, I wanted to know so that I can finally grow. Wait, what?! Who? Me.

This is excerpted from my daily gratitude list on Friday:

My name is Julie, & I am an alcoholic. I’m grateful to God today for:

  1.   another twenty-four hours free of alcohol
    2.   . . .
    3.   the quantum shift taking place in me, which has been triggered by acknowledging at last the narcissism of my past
    4.   the amazing only-God-thing seeing my defect, understanding the truth of it, & really wanting to somehow hand it over was, & feeling spiritually lighter, not weighed down by it anymore, not flattened by the ugliness of it & wanting to run & hide from it, or sit & drink at it anymore . . . seeing how something so bad can be so good in God
    5.   the opportunity to share this stuff on Sunday when I get to chair our [GROW] meeting
    6.   . . .
    7.   . . .
    8.   . . .
    9.   this weird kinda Twilight Zone sensation of my spiritual sober vision coming into clear focus
    10.  this day which God has made. I rejoice & am really, really glad in it <3

What’s been your most recent or most dazzling spiritual growth spurt? Please share it, or anything that’s on your heart or mind to share with us. AA really, truly is a “we” program. We help each other because we’ve all been there, to the bottom of that pit of despair. The only way to climb out is as a team ~ that’s us, a team of the redeemed!

Gratefully,

Julie <3

September 5: Step Nine

Hello ladies of GROW. Welcome again to newcomers and/or those who are returning. This week’s meeting is focusing on Step 9.

Step 9 –“Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

The prior steps to me help get me “ready” for making amends (step 9). In my experience step 4 helped me identify the people that I caused harm to and showed me the harm or wrongs that I created in my drinking days. Step 8 helped me to become willing. I would like to share that when I first came to the rooms of AA I thought my list of amends would be very short because I thought and felt that I did not cause harm-I thought that the harm was done to me. Well, that view changed as I came to meetings, sought outside help, and talked with people in recovery. As time passed and wounds started to heal, I saw what I did, to whom I did things too and it was and sometimes is still hard to look at but a necessary task to keep growing in my recovery.

The Big Book and 12 by 12 teaches us that the purpose of Step 9 is to take action and make amends to those that we have harmed with our drinking. This step will provide us with peace of mind, relief and liberation from the chains of regret. In addition, I also learned that an amends is not an apology.  An amends is a clear and purposeful act designed to clear up a problem from the past. Finally, I learned that there are three types of amends (direct amends, indirect amends and living amends) to talk out each amends before I take action as well as decide which way the amends will be made. By talking out my amends and praying about each amends, it allows me to gain perspective on the nature of the amends as well as stay focused on what I am supposed to be doing. I have to keep that focus on what I have done, not what the other person may have done or said, which is not always easy to do. It is so easy for me to flip and say look at what he or she did or say, meaning I am pointing my finger at that person or situation. I was once told if I am pointing my finger out at someone or something else, I have three pointing in my direction which helps me slow down, take a step back and use the tools of the program to keep me in my lane and live the life in the light of my HP.

I can share that today in my recovery I am open to making amends and a few years ago I ran into my assistant principal who I did not have on my list but the moment I saw this person I knew I needed to meet so I could address my past actions. We did meet and had a positive interaction. My point in sharing this was that today I can see when the opportunity presented itself several years ago I cannot say with confidence that I would have recognized the gift my HP presented me with.

Each day I pray and want to stay open and willing to trudge the road of recovery which allows me to not regret the past, which I do not today and I have no desire to shut the door on the past because these experiences make me who I am today.

Thank you for listening to my share and please share how you work step nine in your recovery and/or share what is on your heart.

Wish you all another 24 hours of sobriety,

Hugs

Mary O

Wisconsin

August 29: Waiting

Topic for the week: Waiting

I’ve never been a particularly patient person and although I’ve gotten better over the years, I still have to remind myself that I can’t always get what I want when I want it.  When I was drinking I had no patience – definitely a case of self-will run riot! Once I got it into my head that I HAD to have something or someone, there was just no stopping me, and I never considered how my attempts to get what I wanted affected others (I lost several friends due to trying to get their boyfriends/husbands, among other things!).

When I was newly sober I read a wonderful meditation from Hazeldon about waiting and it really stuck with me. The gist of the mediation was that I could put all my effort into making something happen, and get quite stressed in the meantime, or simply wait until the the person, the thing – whatever it was – got sorted out and came to me naturally, if it was meant to be. I’d never even considered this option! Wait for what I wanted, and accept that I may not get it because it wasn’t meant for me??!! A totally alien concept then, but as I’ve grown in AA I’ve seen that yes, I will get what I’m meant to get at the time I’m meant to get it, and that using up all my energy to force an outcome usually means I end up stepping on people’s toes, making a fool of myself, causing mayhem, and making myself very unhappy.

The mediation also included these wise words – while I’m waiting, I can do more constructive things than stress out about what I don’t have or might not get. I can work on my sobriety, help another alcoholic, take a walk and clear my head, volunteer somewhere, take a class, and so much more. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted going over and over in my head, thinking how I could make that person or situation do what I wanted NOW! But these days I’m much more willing (not always, but most of the time) to let events unfold as they will rather than trying to create an outcome. That doesn’t mean I’m just an observer – I take action when I think it’s a good idea or when I must, as when I was recently bitten by my neighbor’s dog. However, I’m okay with waiting for outcomes, and if I don’t get what I thought I should or really wanted, I can usually accept fairly quickly that it just wasn’t meant for me. I’m more at peace this way, I feel more in tune with the universe, and believe I’m acting in a more sober manner when I’m willing to wait rather than forcing things.

August 22: Half Measure Sobriety

Half Measure Sobriety

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Half-either of two equal or corresponding parts into which something is or can be divided. (Not Whole)

Measures-a plan or course of action taken to achieve a particular purpose.

In AA, the equilateral triangle represents the three part answerUnity, Recovery, and Serviceto a three part diseasePhysical, Mental, and Spiritual, while the circle represents AA as a whole

I learned early on, and as it states in our preamble that Half Measures availed nothing. That if I am going to make a cake then I need to follow the instructions as laid out or else my cake will not come out right. That I need to apply that same mindset to my sobriety.

The recipe to treat my illness is the program Alcoholics Anonymous-AKA-The Big Book. I have a disease that not only affects my body, but also my mind, as well my spirit. This is all consuming-so like someone with a physical disease such as cancer, their disease is centered in the body.

The person with mental illness, their disease centers in the mind.

The person who has an immoral state of existence, just out running wild, blocked off from God, no care of consequences or how their behavior affects others, no care for people, their feelings or bodies, would be a spiritual disease…..in my opinion.

I’m all three in that when I consume alcohol I develop an mental obsession of the mind that will sicken and destroy my body, and I won’t give a crap how my behavior affects you as long as I get what I want, when and how I want it- like a spoiled brat. I will complain and throw fits like a child, but I won’t do it in front of people-because my God “what would they think”… I will do it in the car, in my house, I will nut out because the world is not how Hilarie wants it. I would bitch and complain to all that would listen but do nothing about it. I would drain my battery, and yours, because you weren’t who I wanted you to be even though I chose to be with you. I will beat people up in my head or with my words for not being perfect and then scream “how dare you!” if you called me out on my imperfections….LOL! Exhausting.

If I am half measuring in my sobriety, this selfish and self seeking disease will manifest in other ways. I may not drink, but I will start thinking too much, not caring about my health properly, justifying and not caring how my behavior affects others when life isn’t going Hilarie’s way. I may walk away from trusting in God and put my faith into things of this world.  I may sit in fear of the future, or morbidly reflect on the past. I may start trying to control and manage others. I may condemn others for just being themselves because they are not doing what I want them to do. I may not be waking up first thing in the morning asking God to show me how I may serve him and my fellows. I may have stopped sponsoring, I may have stopped participating in meetings, I may have stopped growing all together because I am paralyzed by fear of what that growth will look like.

Do I care more about how others see me as opposed to how God sees me?

Am I doing the right thing even when nobody is watching?

Am I seeking God at all or is he just an after thought when I have hit an emotional bottom from running on self will?

However this nasty 3 fold illness shows itself, there is always HOPE. I always have a program just sitting here waiting for me to come back. God didn’t leave me, I just blocked him with defects for a season. There is always someone here willing to help me get back on track. I just have to humble myself and admit that I need help, even in sobriety-especially in sobriety.

My personal half measure sobriety which keeps me from experiencing the whole delicious cake, is fellowship. I do not fellowship with others. I am aware of this, and that one part of my three fold illness isn’t getting the “vitamins” it needs. I am an introvert I suppose. I love being alone. I never feel lonely-which is good, because when I do fellowship, it’s not out of needing people to fill me, that part is filled by God-but I have been told human beings are not designed to be completely alone. I am not completely alone, but what I mean is that I do not have many people I call “friends”-So I am working on that. I have other programs to deal with that, so I won’t expand on that here. My point is that we have Three Parts of our Program to ensure that all parts of our Three fold illness is treated so that we do not slip into untreated alcoholism/dry drunk-which I have, and it sucks.

My interpretation of it follows:

Recovery-Working my program, practicing the principle in all my affairs, still looking to grow spiritually, prayer, meditation, BB study, spiritual studies, daily inventory, annual reworking of my Steps, growth-not maintenance .

Unity-Fellowshipping with others, actually caring how other people are doing, connecting to others, letting them “in”-remember names, wishing them well, sharing experience and giving love and support.

Service-Sponsoring/Working with Others, carrying the message, service commitment, finding ways to give- not just take, volunteering, etc…

Working all three sides of the AA triangle, balanced, then we are fully treating our three fold disease. Wholeness, whole, wholly, complete.

So I lack on the fellowship part right now, which I admit and am actively seeking to treat. Where are you falling short in your recovery? Are you just a meeting maker-not sponsoring anyone or being of service? Are you heavy in the fellowship with no real interest in growing spiritually? Are you too heavy in sponsoring others and not seeking guidance from anyone else because you have it all figured out? Are you busy in service distracting yourself from getting to know God better? Have you not opened the Big Book recently? I have experienced all these.

I admit to my fellows that I am flawed and that part of my recovery are untreated, These things should be, and can be discussed here in our supporting and loving environment. None of us should get stuck spiritually because somewhere down the line we started to celebrate sober time instead of the quality of our sobriety.

Setting my pride aside because I don’t want to half measure anything anymore…How can I get the most out of this divine and intelligent God given program so that I may get whole.

August 15: Do I want to be right, or happy? How important is it really?

Topic for the week: Do I want to be right, or happy? How important is it really?

“Perhaps the best thing of all for me is to remember that my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of Max and other people are, the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. But then my “rights” try to move in, and they too can force my serenity level down. I have to discard my “rights,” as well as my expectations, by asking myself, How important is it, really? How important is it compared to my serenity, my emotional sobriety? And when I place more value on my serenity and sobriety than on anything else, I can maintain them at a higher level—at least for the time being.” (p.420, Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed.)

Thank you everyone who took the time to message me for my anniversary. Yes, I turned 13 on Friday the 13th! My HP loves the irony :). I am now fully hitting teen recovery and blossoming complete with mood swings, strops, dark lipstick, and a whole new level of adulting.

Like any human, I fall into the expectations trap and for the past 3 weeks I found myself dealing with a unfair unexpected customs fee of 22 euros for an item. That’s right, 22 euros (26 USD). It escalated into over 15 emails, several calls and two companies involved (the platform and the vendor). At some point, I had an out-of-body experience and realised, this is insane! And that’s when a friend said, erm, “How important is it, really?” and then the clincher, “do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” I wanted it all, because then I would be ok. God forbid I might not win this one?!

I need to remember that my serenity is the price I pay for emotional booby-traps and when serenity goes, it starts chipping away and at some point, I lose sanity too. I am grateful I get the help I need not to be down-sized, but right-sized!

Thanks for letting me lead this week.

 

August 8: The Twelve and Twelve Promises

The Twelve and Twelve Promises

Hello GROW!

I attend a weekly literature meeting that reads The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. A few months ago someone pointed out that there is a set of promises in the Twelve and Twelve:

“Still more wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy. No many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be. Service, gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the well-understood fact that in God’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self-constructed prisons, the surety that we need no longer be square pegs in round holes but can fit and belong in God’s scheme of things—these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions of right living for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes. True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.” (12 x 12, p. 124-125)

That’s quite a paragraph! As I read it this morning I had a new appreciation for the changes I’ve experienced since coming into AA.

Passing the buck, lying, and manipulation have been replaced by self-responsibility. My outsized ambitions have (mostly) been replaced by the desire to be kind and useful. I don’t work so hard trying to “figure things out;” I have a HP to guide me.

I feel amazing about myself every time I make the choice to be this new person—someone who acts according to a higher purpose, in partnership with her Higher Power.

Is there a phrase in the 12 x 12 promises that is especially meaningful to you? How do you take action in partnership with your Higher Power? Please feel free to share on topic or on whatever else is current in your program.

Thank you so much for being a part of my sobriety x

August 1: Step 8

This week the topic is Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

I have only recently been through Steps 8 and 9 for the first time, but what I learned was that from the inventory in Step 4, we already have a list of people we have harmed. With Step 8, we are preparing to go out to repair damage we have done in the past, even if some of that damage was unintentional.
“We attempt to sweep away the debris which has accumulated out of our effort to live on self-will and run the show ourselves. If we haven’t the will to do this, we ask until it comes. Remember it was agreed at the beginning we would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol.” (AA Big Book, pg. 76)

The idea of making amends to people I had harmed was a scary one.
Step 8 however is not yet actually making the amends, but being willing to make amends. Something I love about the 12 steps is that along the way, they allow you to make the decision, become ready, and prepare your heart and mind before taking action. To think about being willing to make amends before doing it ensures that you are mentally and emotionally ready to do so.

For me, actually writing down the list instead of just keeping in my mind and dwelling on it made it less scary. Something my sponsor helped me with was separating my list into categories, which made it more concrete and less overwhelming. It helped me to just start with the people in category 1 and make a plan for the rest:
1. People to make amends to now
2. People to make partial amends to so not injure them or others
3. People to make amends to later
4. People we may not be able to contact

One of my amends was to my husband and I already tell him most things, but it still took a couple weeks of me thinking about it and planning what I would say, and when would be a good time. I prayed to my Higher Power to give me strength and courage to just speak the words I needed to say. This led me to become willing to make the amends.

Please share on the topic of Step 8 or whatever else is going on in your program. I look forward to reading and learning from your experiences.

Thanks, Katie.

July 25: The Promises

Greetings to my GROW Sisters:  I am Barbara, a grateful recovering alcoholic, with the help of AA and my Higher Power.  I am your pinch-hitter lead for today.  Welcome to newcomers–you will be so happy you found AA!  Glad you are back, those returning.  Special hoorays for AA anniversary celebrants.

It took me well into sobriety to trust I would get sober.  It took even longer for me to think that the Promises applied to me.  In fact, I just ignored them.  Should have attended meetings just on the Promises!  But knowing me, I’d have been too focused on wanting to know when they would come true instead of working my Program.

When I suggest that newcomers read the Promises I always put in a disclaimer “spoiler alert” because in some many ways they are like reading the last chapter of a book first: you want to know how everything turns out.

The Steps build to the Promises, but the Promises start coming true,  in their time and season.    They even overlap the Steps and each other.    Sometimes they seem to come out of nowhere.  They even grease the way to carry out the Steps.  They show up even in bad times.

Pretty much the Promises are the exact opposite of the way I lived when I was drinking.  Bill W. is a winner again!  He just knew it.  Not that I ever take issue with Bill W’s use of language, but it helped me to read the Promises with my sponsor.  As straightforward as they are, it was hard at first for me to apply them directly to my life and see what all I had to be grateful for.  They are an amazing cheat-sheet for doing gratitude lists!  And in the event I forget how my life was before sobriety, they are an incredible in-my-face reminder!

I can’t pick out my favorite because it is like kids: who is your favorite child?  Can’t do that.

Running down the highlights, it alerts me to the fact that before I am halfway through (half of what, of course, I ask my sponsor!) I will be amazed at a new happiness and peace. (new? never had any!)   Early sobriety for me was a constant flood of amazement.  I felt it all: enraged, sad, pain, confused, etc.   But glimmers of happiness and peace were starting to sneak into my life.  It was surely better than drinking!

I won’t regret the past: I either regretted or denied it so getting that off my mind was great.  Even today I re-read that when I am down on myself.  That is further covered by learning that a terrible past can help others.  That gives me something to do with it.  My woe-is-me era passes and I start to care about those around me.  Attitude adjustment?  Oh, for sure.  Sponsors seem to be on that topic all the time.  Me, an attitude?

As a worrier, less time spent on the what-if’s of money fears and how unsocial I was,  freed up a lot of time.  And I seemed to be getting some good common sense–after all.  Why?  Because God was handling things with me.  That amazed more than just me.

Sure, I thought they were ‘just saying this’ to keep me coming.  But these things were coming true.  Of course between quickly and slowly, I always chose quickly.

And in summary, it still is all about work, work, work.  I can do that.  I do do that every day.  That is why it works if I work it.    Check it out: Page 83 of the Big Book.  No room here for all those words.  Keep on keeping on–we all will!  hgz, b.  9/21/84

July 18: Slogans

Topic for the week:  the slogans.

I thought perhaps this week we could talk about the AA slogans. Do you use them? What is your favorite?

When I first came to AA, I REALLY disliked the slogans. They sounded hokey and patronizing. I wanted “real” answers. I wanted specific instructions to help me feel better and to feel better RIGHT NOW.  Slowly over time I have come to see the wisdom in these tiny phrases.

There are so many slogans that I have heard over the years. “Let go and let God”; “turn it over”; “One day at a time”; “keep coming back”; “it works if you work it”; “do the next right thing”; “left foot right foot”; “3 miles in-3 miles out”; “we are going to love you until you can love yourself”; “don’t quit before the miracle”; “don’t drink even if your ass falls off”; “easy does it”; I am sure you can help me with some more. Lol.

The one my sponsor often says is “turn it over” and pray.  It seems kind of trite when I’m in the middle of a family crisis but really what else can she say? And that it is the best thing I do.

Sooo the floor is open. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on the slogans or on anything else you wish to share.

Thank you.

Kind Regards,

Karrie.

July 11: Living Serenely and Emotional Hangovers

Hi GROW

I’m Sophie, an alcoholic.

I’m glad to be here and to be of service.

I’ve unexpectedly been asked to step in to send out a topic for this week.

Living Serenely and Emotional Hangovers have been popping up intermittently for a while in my life.

My emotional hangovers tend to happen when I think I’m helping someone but find in fact they didn’t ask for my help! Or when I’m allowing someone to do what’s right for them even when it feels uncomfortable to me, not speaking up for my needs. The emotions afterwards are uncomfortable. My head can get into replaying scenarios over or becoming resentful or activating low self esteem.

Each time I experience an emotional hangover I take it to my sponsor, or go to a (Zoom) meeting and share it, or talk it through with a trusted AA friend. This is my “admission”. My disease of alcoholism lives in my mind so I can’t think myself better alone. I need to take action. And sometimes I’m in such a tangle I can’t see which action to take so I freeze and stay stuck in the emotions.

Thankfully I’ve learned to reach out, to trust that others will hear me. Sometimes the simple acknowledgement of myself as being human from a fellow AA melts away the feelings and I can forgive myself for being imperfect and move on.

Other times it takes more action. Such as checking in with my gratitudes, abc’ing my gratitudes, getting out of myself by being of use or of service to someone else. It might also be about revisiting something in some way, or letting it go. It might be about reviewing it in column inventory and asking myself where I was dishonest or self-led or fearful and addressing what I learn. It might be about a amends or forgiveness or acceptance. This is my “correction”.

And then there’s the part where I can put my program into practice before those emotional jags get out of balance. Not getting too Hungry Angry Lonely Tired (HALT), dialling life down to the “irreducible minimums” when I’m sick or tired. Keeping some humility – reminding myself not to think less of myself but to think of myself less.

Writing notes for my god box.

Picking up the literature and reading to find something that might help where I’m at.

Keeping in contact with my fellow AA’s regularly, especially my sponsor. This way small stuff on the horizon can be shared about before it tsunami’s.

Before AA I don’t think I had even heard the word serene or serenity. I imagined the graceful swan gliding across a still lake but paddling furiously underwater unseen. AA showed me that serenity is possible even in stormy times. If I’m right with god I can have peace in my heart. When I start to get out of balance and something is dominating my thoughts it’s a pink flashing neon sign to take notice of it, bring myself back to the principles but I can’t do it alone. I’m grateful for the mutual encouragement and support here in GROW and in AA.

If you have experience of working your program, or the actions that have helped you around emotional hangovers or living serenely, please share with us this week.

If there’s anything else you need to share on please do, using “off topic” in the subject line.

I’ve stepped in here to send a topic for this week’s meeting as it’s usual that you’d have received it by now. We may end up with two topics if the original weekly leader sends hers out too. Apologies in advance for any confusion and feel free to share as you need or want to.

Sending hugs!

Sophie

July 4: Step Seven

Topic for the week:   Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Humbly, being the operative word.

Humility has been in short supply at my house over the past few (scorching hot) weeks. I’ve been cranky with my HP, assuming that I know what is best for me and everyone who lives with me. When I’m in this place I’m not asking the god of my understanding to remove my shortcomings—because I’ve convinced myself I don’t have any. Instead, I’m demanding HP get with my program and change what I can’t—outside circumstances.

Humility, the 12 and 12 reminds me, is to approach my HP with requests, not demands. And since I love the paragraph this information is embedded in, I’ll share it:

“The chief activator of our defects has been self-centred fear—primarily the fear that we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded. Living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands we were in a state of continual disturbance and frustration. Therefore, no peace was to be had unless we could find a means of reducing these demands. The difference between a demand and a request is plain to anyone.” (12 x 12, P. 76)

Because I am imperfect, I need a higher power. Because I am not my higher power, I am imperfect–I have character defects. Step 7 reminds me that I can ask my higher power to remove them. Then it’s up to me to take the actions indicated.

For those who conflate humility and humiliation, there is a wonderful definition of humility in Step 5 of the 12 and 12.

“To those who have made progress in AA, [humility] amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.” (12 x 12, p. 58)

I wish you all a beautiful sober week. I’m looking forward to reading your shares on the topic of Step 7 or whatever else is going on in your program.

X

Kirsten

June 27: Just for Today

Topic for the week: Just for Today

Assuming I do not drink between now and next Wednesday, I will be celebrating 24 years of not drinking (not sure I have that much sobriety). As in every sober anniversary, I can’t believe it. I was not capable of going more than 36 hours without a drink for several decades. I tried AA once, and I failed. When I came back with my tail between my legs, I was sure I couldn’t do this deal. I was sure I’d fail again. But I didn’t. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, and suddenly I’m looking at 24 years. It’s a true miracle.

After a week of great shares about fear and freedom from fear, my favorite topic seems appropriate. Taking sobriety one day at a time has been golden for me. Without it, I’m pretty sure I’d be drunk right now.

I can do anything just for today. I can delay picking up a drink until tomorrow – and tomorrow never comes. I can handle any problem if all I have to do is what I can do right now. I can make plans and then laugh when they fall through. I can bear pain if it’s just for this one day. I can also do what is necessary to address that pain with a doctor.

First things first. Just do what is in front of me – as long as it’s the right thing. Pay attention to what I’m doing now rather than ignore what I’m doing so that I can think about what happened yesterday or what could happen tomorrow. Odds are what I’m doing now will be a disaster, and I’ll have made no progress on what did or could happen.

Mindfulness. Be Here Now. Stay in the moment. Keep my head where my hands are. Call it what you like. Staying in the present day is for me the greatest blessing of this program.

Living just for today is the most valuable tool in my sober toolkit. It was golden the first sober day, month, and year. But it’s gotten even more valuable every day that I haven’t picked up a drink. It helps me stay grounded. It helps me stay sober. It helps me stay sane. And it makes my relationships better. It makes life better.

How does living just for day work for you? Please share about this or anything you need to today.

June 20 – Fear and Freedom from Fear

Topic for the week: Fear and Freedom from Fear

I’ve had a quote from the 12 and 12 on my mind a lot lately. It’s from the 12th step and it says, “We found that freedom from fear is more important than freedom from want.”

Fear has been a character defect that has reared its ugly head on multiple occasions in my sobriety. When I was a newcomer, I think the thing that most terrified me was that I didn’t believe I’d be able to stay sober. I stuck close to meetings and to others in recovery, and I worked the steps. I heard some people say that fear was stopping them from doing a 4th and 5th step, but I was desperately afraid of what would happen to me if I didn’t do what I was told.

Fear has come up in many other circumstances for me over the years, often because of financial insecurity. Certainly the pandemic has brought on a lot of fear for many of us.

I have heard that Fear stands for several things:

False Evidence Appearing Real

Forget Everything and Run

Failure Expected and Received

I was taught in early sobriety that fear is the absence of faith, and I find that the shakier my faith is, the worse my fear gets. As a single parent most of my life, my fear can grow rapidly when I give in to the illusion that I’m alone to face the challenges of my life.

An early sponsor used to say that each day she’d remind herself that nothing would come up that day that she and her higher power together couldn’t handle. Living with that faith is a great way to reduce the sting of fear.

The program encourages us to be “fearless and thorough from the very start.” I continue to work on being more fearless.

Thank you for letting me share. I invite you all to share how fear has affected your recovery and if you’ve attained freedom from fear.

Valerie D

June 13: Gratitude

Topic for the week:  Gratitude

Greetings!  My name is Nicole & I am an alcoholic.  In the past sixteen months, we have faced a shutdown, illness, disaster, loss, grief, as well as community spirit, love, grace, and gratitude.  My anniversary is next week – one day at a time, of course – and I reflect on what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now.  I remember the old-timers who faced major life problems and persevered through all of it with the help of a loving God and spiritual principles.  This year, I have faced death, cancer, trauma, pain, loss, friendship, love, and more.  Through God’s grace, my recovery is still in tact.  My sponsorship family persevered through some major issues.  Our recovery community is walking in the doors with tired eyes and gratitude to return to a sense of normalcy again.  I had to laugh about turning 21 years sober this month since my 21st birthday cost me $3600 in hospital bills for alcohol poisoning (.49 bac).  Life is a lot different today from back then.  Homeless and drunk.  I would love to hear from all of you fabulous GROW women about the topic of gratitude for where we were at, what happened and what it’s like now.  Keep trudging!

Nicole

June 06: Step Six

Topic for the week: The Sixth Step

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

Hi GROW

I’m Sophie, an alcoholic and grateful to be here with you all and to have the opportunity to be of service.

Our topic this week is Step Six, but I believe our GROW group conscience is that we can share on this Step this week or at any time during June, it being the sixth month!

I find it helpful to return to our AA literature and I love sharing our literature with other alcoholics.

Our AA website has it available, I’m sharing links to help anyone who doesn’t have access to the AA literature and would like to.

Read online:    https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_step6.pdf

Or Listen online:    https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/twelve-steps-and-twelve-traditions-audio-version#audio-player

I like these sentences, taken from p.65 Step Six in the 12 Steps & 12 Traditions book;

[God] “asks only that we try as best we know how to make progress in the building of character.”

“This does not mean that we expect all our character defects to be lifted out of us as the drive to drink was. A few of them may be, but with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement.”

“The key words “entirely ready” underline the fact that we want to aim at the very best we know or can learn.

And from As Bill Sees It – no.10; Out of The Dark

“A clear light seems to fall upon us all – when we open our eyes. Since our blindness is caused by our own defects, we must first deeply realise what they are.” (Letter, 1946)

The emphasis with italics and underlining are mine, these are the things that really resonate for me on Step Six for today.

I didn’t get much of an insight into Step Six until I was around 5 years sober and working through the Steps and a Big Book study with a new sponsor after having moved cities. Previously I’d had lots of awakenings around other areas of the program and living a sober life and using AA principles as a guide.

But it was the inventory I wrote at that time that my second sponsor then sat with me and helped me see which defects were at play. It was as if I’d been in a fog around things until then. Things my first sponsor had talked with me about finally became clearer. It was also the beginning of me getting a deeper understanding of how the questioning process of inventory taking opened me up to understanding the exact nature of my defects or my part in things. I guess I was just more ready at that point in my sobriety.

In my experience I am ready when I’m ready and all I can do is practice willingness and courage and keep moving forwards.

Last week the Serenity Prayer long version talked about being patiently ready for those changes that take time. This idea is true for me too here with my defects.

There was a slogan in my early days I used to see a lot; “Give time time”. I always feel it’s a reminder to me saying Give God time.

Step Six for me is about having those insights and understandings into how I tick, where my choices and behaviours and actions are coming from, and accepting I can’t fix myself, that I’m spiritually sick with this disease of alcoholism and that god can and will in god’s time. I find the best way to see myself is to be in regular contact with my sponsor and to use questions in my column inventories and actually put pen to paper.

Things are revealed.

Healing is possible.

Growth and change are possible.

I no longer have to stay stuck struggling and miserable or in self pity and digging myself into the quagmire even deeper.

Step Six for me is about facing myself, the me from my immediate past or longer ago, having opened up to my sponsor and being clearer about my part and the character traits that I’ve used. Uncomfortable at times. Really painful sometimes too. But always the same message; once I know what the problem is I can do something about it and move into the solution; acceptance, giving it to god, applying the principles of our beautiful program.

I can call my character traits defects or shortcomings but to me they’re part of me, they’re the behaviours or skills I developed to survive my life without god, pre AA, and in my drinking and as a child. They’re my battle armour, my Mrs Fix-It armour, my Mrs I-Know-Best/Better armour….

But now I have god and am sober I can be different. Now I have AA and all of you I am inspired to be different.

It’s all here, everyday, I get to tap into this beautiful rich resource and live sober and better and different.

Please share on whatever you need to, and around defects or being ready or entirely ready or whatever your journey is with Step Six.

I know we have over 200 women here so there’s a lot of gals listening to whoever chooses to share… I was told no one knows when the thing you share may be the thing that changes someone’s day or even saves their life. I grow because others are willing to risk sharing.  Thank you all for being here. I can’t do this alone.

AA hugs to anyone who needs one today.

Sophie

May 30: Serenity Prayer Long Version

Hello Ladies, my name is Mary O and I have the pleasure to lead this week’s meeting. I must admit that I was all worked up about finding the right topic for our discussion this week. I asked HP for guidance and picked a number from one to four hundred and 221 was the number which guided me to the daily reflection titled A Prayer for All Seasons. When I read this reflection, I thought of the long version of the serenity prayer.
I like many of us have said serenity prayer which goes like this- God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the change to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
For years I have said this prayer which correlates to the AA Fellowships. When I would say this prayer it reminded me that God was in the lead, and that if I accept life on life’s terms I would find serenity and by working the steps I gain the wisdom to know how to cope with life through working the program and staying connected to my HP.
Recently a longer version of the serenity prayer was shared and I would like to share this version with all of you ladies. It goes as follows:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting the hardships as the many pathways to peace, taking this world as it is not as I would have it.
Trusting that all things will be right if I embrace compassion, understanding and acceptance.
Grant me patience for these changes that take time. Appreciation for all that I have. Tolerance for those with different struggles and the strength to get up and try again, one day at a time.
When I heard and read this version I was, and I am moved on an emotional level and spiritual level. I see and I am reminded of the steps of the program by saying this prayer as well as many slogans that were taught to me since coming into recovery such as First Things First, One Day At A Time, Keep it Simple, and/or Easy Does It. The first paragraph I am reminded that God guides me to serenity when I stay connected to him and the people of the program.
The second paragraph tells me to live one day at a time and sometimes one second or minute at a time, which allows me to enjoy the small events, things of each day, like seeing nature watch up from winter, or seeing how my pup loves his morning walk, and/or starting the day off by talking with my life partner Pete or face the challenging situation that I may be facing at that moment. I am also reminded that life has its up and down and through these experiences I grow, and sometime growth is through painful experiences and I am not alone on this journey of life/recovery. I must remember that things are not always the way I would like them to be and that I need to make sure that the focus is on my side of the street and not someone else.
The last two parts of the prayer reminds me to trust the plan/journey that my HP has for me and that all things in life will work out and I that I have been given the tools by the program to live life on life terms and strive to be the best person by showing compassion, understanding and acceptance. Finally, I am reminded that I will fall but my HP, the tools of the program which includes each person that I am with in a meeting helps me to get up and try again- which is progress not perfection.
Thank you for listening and I invite you to share how this prayer works in your recovery or whatever is on your heart.
Mary o
(Wisconsin)
Ps. Happy Memorial Day

May 23: Navigating Relationships – Risking Emotional Intimacy

Navigating Relationships – Risking Emotional Intimacy

Two program passages I came across recently that really hit home. I like to hike and can relate to the analogy of climbing up a mountain:

“Intimacy means disclosure—full expression of ourselves to another person. Nothing held back. All bared. There are risks, of course: rejection, criticism, perhaps ridicule. But the comfort we feel within is directly proportional to the peace we’ve come to know.”

“Not letting others see or know who you really are—your thoughts, feelings, dreams, past experiences, hobbies, and your wants and needs—is like spending hours climbing up a mountain and then stopping just short of the summit. Being outdoors, feeling the physical exertion of the climb, and ascending higher with each step are all enjoyable activities, but not bringing your journey to its intended destination shuts you off from being able to fully appreciate and understand the experience.”

While I have made progress taking better care of my relationships since becoming sober and joining AA, it is still a challenge. Probably for all of the same reasons that I became an addicted, dependent person, I decided as a young girl to “hide out” and isolate both physically and socially as a coping mechanism. To this day I often struggle to reveal who I am and how I feel, and I’ll do just about anything to avoid conflict with family and friends.

I know my shield keeps an intimate relationship out of reach, but it’s high time (pun intended!) to summit the ‘risky intimacy mountain top’. I want to feel that peace of being known more often, even if it costs me the relationship (which probably means it wasn’t a healthy one for me to begin with). I fight my nature to expect instantaneous results; intimacy doesn’t happen overnight – patience is required! But I keep climbing, one step at a time, one relationship at a time. I thank God, the steps of this program, and all of you for leading me on this vulnerable part of my journey.

I would be most grateful to hear any thoughts or experiences you have to share on this topic. Thank you!
Susan P.

May 16: Expectations

When I think about all the times I’ve been in emotional turmoil, it seems like I can always trace it back to my expectations. When I was working, I expected people to be professional, smart, and respectful (of me). Needless to say, people didn’t always meet my criteria, and I’d allow my disappointment to become frustration and anger. I’d take it out on them. When I’m with family, I expect them to always be loving and gentle with me. When they aren’t, I get my feelings hurt and fall into self-pity and anger. With contractors working on a project to maintain my older home, I expect them to arrive on time, do excellent work, and clean up afterward. When they don’t, I fall into a ‘justifiable’ rage – so much so that I can’t even speak to them. There are many examples of my expectations not being met and me going on an emotional bender.

What I’ve learned is that my expectations set me up to feel unloved, disrespected, hurt, and/or angry – anything but on the beam. Of course, there is an element of acceptance here. But, for me, the expectations come before anything even happens. I get an idea of how things are supposed to be in my mind, and I judge the world – and everyone in it – based on that idea.

The fault is not in everyone else. It’s in me. Deciding I know how things are supposed to unfold or how other people are supposed to behave is my Achilles’ heel and the biggest threat to my sobriety and most certainly my serenity. For me, there’s a very long learning curve on keeping an open mind and just letting people and things be. Restraint of tongue and pen helps me avoid becoming someone I don’t want to be. Recognizing when I am working on my expectations before a social event helps me a lot with acceptance.

Do expectations set you up to fall off the beam? What do you to manage expectations and stay on the beam?

May 09: Sponsorship

Topic for the week:

Greetings Sober Ladies! Grateful for an opportunity to chair. In early sobriety, the old-timers would tell me to put recovery first by finding a sponsor to work the steps with & jumping headfirst into AA. Sponsorship is a vital tool from my sober toolbox. Grateful for the women who guided me through sponsoring women, step work, life on life’s terms, and building a relationship with a Higher Power. The ladies of GROW have a wealth of experience, strength and hope to share on a variety of topics. I do know we have women with a few days to several 24 hours in recovery & would love to read about your personal journey with sponsorship – as a sponsee &/or a sponsor.

Have a wonderful week, ladies!!! God is good, all the time. Thankful he placed some amazing women in my life who have demonstrated how to practice these spiritual principles throughout the years.

May 02: Step 5

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

My name is Heidi and I’m an alcoholic. I just read step 5 again in the 12&12 and that really helped.  I am presently working on a big step 4 in another fellowship (around my past relationships) and finding it very overwhelming.  I have done a few fourth steps and fifth steps in my sobriety over the years.

I identified with this quote from step 5:

“Even A.A. oldtimers, sober for years, often pay dearly for skimping this Step. They will tell how they tried to carry the load alone; how much they suffered of irritability, anxiety, remorse, and depression; and how, unconsciously seeking relief, they would sometimes accuse even their best friends of the very character defects they themselves were trying to conceal.” 

I probably have paid for skimping in the past with irritability, remorse, depression, etc.  I am finding it painful today in writing this particular 4th step (and the fear of sharing another 5th step) but I know it’s necessary to be able to forgive others (past love relationships).  I want peace of mind. I want to be able to forgive myself for what I feel like were mistakes I made in my sober life.  I still find admitting my character defects or things I’ve done in my sobriety very difficult but I know from experience once I get these things off my chest to my sponsor or another sober member I have a chance to be free.

Apr 25: Taking Action Contrary to my Thoughts

Taking action contrary to my thoughts

About 2 weeks ago I threw out my hip and low back. I deplore being incapacitated….aka-still. I spent the first few days marinating in a whopper of a pity party but somehow justified being allowed to have it. My terminal uniqueness came upon me pretty quick even though I know better and can quickly point it out in others. I even somehow started to blame my sister in my alcoholic convoluted brain.

So after a couple of days of hell, (not the pain so much the torment of my brain) I got out of bed and started writing down names, principles and institutions, myself and God, and the causes as to why I was so pissed. You should see my handwriting when I wrote down the names and causes….It looked like demonic handwriting! I have one whole page per person/resentment so I have room to write (column inventory does not register in my brain)

Anyway, after I got that out and onto paper. I am going back each day to work on the remaining two “Columns” maybe on to two names per day as my body heals. I have already had a couple of major revelations based upon this fresh inventory.

I have been experimenting with the 10th Step in head inventory for a while now. I thought, “Well, you have 7 years, you know the deal and format, you don’t need to write so much anymore”. It also said, “You have earned to have a more fulfilling life, not to have to spend so much time working AA.” “You spent the last 6 years in this daily work…take a break…just make sure you do a nightly review in your head.”

So I listened to this cunning voice, justifying it as God telling me to let up on my spiritual program and rest on my laurels..LOL!

So God’s response to my newfound freedom is to knock me on my a** and get me still. No work, no cleaning, no gardening, no hiking, no distracting, no deflecting….write.

“Where am I at currently with you?”

“What resentments have you allowed to creep back in?”

“What outstanding amends do you still need to make?”

“Why are you thinking more about yourself then others?”

“Why are you the first thing you start thinking about upon awakening?”

“Have you become your own HP again?”

“Why do you think that you earned anything?”

“Why do you think you are owed anything?”

“Why do you think you have the right to blame anybody?”

“When and why did you allow such ego reconstruction?”

“Who do you think you are to think you don’t have to participate in all three sides of the program that I have given you?”

“What makes you so damn special?”

I think because I haven’t had too many upheavals or emotional drama that I “took a break” from certain areas of AA that weren’t “that important”. I think that probably when things settle down is when I need my entire program the most. No, I didn’t relapse, or really even emotionally relapse, but seeing ALL the anger in my writing and tension that manifested in my body is clear that God needed me to be still.

I need to write everyday, not just the first 6 years, but everyday until I’m done here. I need a structured daily program. I need to NOT forget where I come from. I need NOT put myself or anything else before my relationship with God. I must stay current with him and, if resentments and stuffed anger are blocking me from Him, then I need to take action at once, using the tools that have been laid at my feet. Time is my enemy. I can’t ever think that the spiritual life is linear. I don’t have the luxury to rest on my sober time.

Questions to group: What are some warning signs that you have experienced in your sobriety that you have been resting on your laurels? How are you currently taking action contrary to what your mind/dis-ease is trying to convince you is reality? How are you expanding on your spiritual life and staying current with your HP?

Apr 18: Carrying The Message

Thank you all for your anniversary well wishes…by God’s grace I’ve been sober for 11 years…one day at a time!

Looking back, I can remember in my first year of sobriety getting a coin each month I stayed sober. It was so exciting for me…my heart would start racing as the person at the meeting would call out months of sobriety and I would jump up eager to receive my coin. I still have most of my 1st year coins..I’ve passed some on to sponsees.

If no one opened the meeting the first time I stepped into Alcoholics Anonymous, if my sponsor did not agree to take me through the steps, if Bill Wilson decided not to get sober, if my Higher Power had a different plan for me…my story would be quite different to say the least. Currently, I open my home group, a women’s face to face on Sunday nights (we just reopened last week). I’ve been honored to serve as the corrections committee chair for our district as well as on a couple conference committees. With COVID it’s been challenging to carry the message. How do you carry the message to others and what changes have you made during the pandemic to ensure the message continues to be carried?

Thank you all for keeping me sober!

Love and gratitude,

Statia

Apr 11: Personality Changes in Sobriety

When I first came to the tables I was told that AA would not only help me to stop drinking but would improve my whole way of life. The only thing I was focused on and desperate to achieve was drinking control because it was ruining my life. I did not think these changes could be real. I had no other choice though, this was my last stop and I had to try AA or die. So I followed the winners and did what they did. I took it one day at a time, worked the steps, did service work, went to meetings, got a sponsor and stayed connected to AA every day. I white-knuckled it through my first year, keeping my head down and barely noticing anything other than my desperation to stay sober.

When using I was always trying to turn things to my advantage, playing the puppetmaster and manipulating others. I was so dishonest. I lied to my spouse and kids about my drinking, lied at work about why I was not feeling well (hungover), lied to cover up my mistakes and always blamed them on someone else, on and on. I felt victorious when I could sneak a drink and no one else knew (I thought). My life was run by fear of being found out, fired, divorced, broke, without my kids, without friends etc. I was a self centered, mean and argumentative mess. I was always constantly on high alert and anxious which was exhausting.

I am not sure when the changes within me started. I gave it some thought some time into working my program and I realized that I was slowly turning into another person entirely. I was amazed! Somehow working through the steps I learned honesty and being true to myself. When I could do something dishonest I did not because I would know what I did, others finding out was secondary. The program taught me humility for the gifts I received from it and my HP.  AA brought me to a place of second thoughts because wrong actions would have to be accounted for with amends if I were to stay sober. So much of my fear had left me and I was able to do things I had never had the courage to do before. I could go on for days about all the personality changes for the better this program and my HP have caused within me. I truly feel like a different person who shed the reactive, dishonest, arrogant bully I used to be.

This program is a blessing as I not only stopped drinking but changed from the inside out. I am proud of who I am today.

Lynn

Apr 04: Step 4

Step 4: Made a searching & fearless moral inventory of ourselves. [BB 4th Edition, Ch. 5: How It Works, pg. 59]

I have two adult daughters, one in San Diego, another in Portland OR. The eldest, in OR, gave birth to her first child, a son named Andrew, last June. I made an opportunity to visit him that July by flying into San Diego, quarantining with my younger daughter there for two weeks, she & I both got tested & received negative results, thank God, & then drove up to Portland, bringing all our own sheets, towels & food, along with barrels of disinfectant, so that the one overnight in Sacramento was made with as minimal contact with other people or things as humanly possible. Our temperatures were taken the moment we walked in my daughter’s door, both of us normal, & as soon as we’d showered & changed clothes, loved on Andy & his parents with wild & joyous abandon. I have the privilege to visit again in a couple of weeks, a little less rigorous prospect now that all of us have been fully vaccinated. I’m quite deliriously happy about this but for one detail. The girls’ dad, my husband of 28 yrs. & now ex, also lives in the Portland area. And *dun dun duuun cue ominous music here* Portland has not been big enough for the two of us since our divorce more than ten years ago.

But I’m a recovering alcoholic now. I’ve been handed the keys to the sobriety kingdom by Bill W. & Dr. Bob. I’ve worked through all the steps once, the first three several times before they finally took. I included my ex-husband on my fourth step personal inventory, I saw then & continue to uncover what my faults contributed to the unrest in our marriage & ultimately our divorce. I know I need to make amends there, & because this one’s a big one, probably the biggest, I believe it needs to be done in person. Which means my potential opportunity to do so is a couple weeks away. But can I be honest with you? I really, really want to do this only once with him if at all possible, I want to get it right with as much honesty & humility as he deserves & as is fitting. And did I mention I only want to have to do it once?! So I ask you: What have you found to be the most effective questions to ask of yourself for making a painstakingly thorough Step 4?
Please feel free to share on this topic, or on any other that’s clamoring to be explored. Thanks in advance for sharing your experience, strength & hope. It’s a privilege to be in your company.
Gratefully,
Julie

Mar 28: Clearing A Channel / Favorite Prayer

Greetings!  Pulled today’s topic from As Bill Sees It p.78: 

During the day, we can pause where situations must be met and decisions made, and renew the simple request “Thy will, not mine, be done.  If at these points our emotional disturbance happens to be great, we will more surely keep our balance provided we remember, and repeat to ourselves, a particular prayer or phrase that has appealed to us in our reading or meditation. Just saying it over and over will often enable us to clear a channel choked up with anger, fear, frustration, or misunderstanding, and permit us to return to the surest help of all—our search for God’s will, not our own, in the moment of stress.

Last month, I shared on a topic about COVID and our recovery.  I opened about the trials and tribulations of this past year.  I was in awe of everything I had to deal with once it was put on paper.  Sometimes, like the reading, my prayer is simple:  “help me”, “your will, not mine”, and serenity prayer as a mantra.  Life is still a little crazy as we transition back to in-person meetings.  Seeking His will and asking for help to navigate throughout the day is paramount.  As a newcomer, I heard a speaker share about a verse (and I paraphrase) “your name is carved into the palm of my hand and I will call you by your name”.  Picturing this huge hand with my name on the palm and finding comfort carried me throughout my first year.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as “help me”. 

What is your favorite prayer, a “go to” in seeking HP’s will for you?  Feel free to share.

Nicole

Mar 21: Seeking God’s Will

“To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek.” Pg 46 Big Book

 Thank you for the opportunity to be of service to the group this week.  My name is Alison B. and I am an alcoholic.  Welcome new members and congratulations to anyone celebrating this week.  Also thank you for all of the birthday emails too.  I first found the GROW meeting in 2012 when I was in China for a year with my husband for his employment.  It was a rough year as there was so much isolation.  What I did not know was just how well that prepared me for this past pandemic year.  Thank you all for being a part of my continued sobriety today.

I have been having this word pop up for me a lot lately.  Seek.

1.attempt to find (something).

“they came here to seek shelter from biting winter winds”

2.attempt or desire to obtain or achieve (something).

“the new regime sought his extradition”

3.ask for (something) from someone.

“she sought help from a higher power”

I heard someone share in a meeting many years ago that he had realized that his sobriety was all about the seeking of God’s will.  For me that translates to I must remain humble, and teachable.  It is difficult to teach something to a “know it all”.  So it is my job to get out of the way of my own self, lol.  This seeking stuff requires me to take some action.

(Sometimes for me a word is also defined by its opposite and in this case that looks like this:  seek. Antonyms: ignore, disregard, avoid, shun, elude, discard, abandon, relinquish, drop.)

To the newcomer, AA provides the fellowship that they seek and a safe harbor.  (You’re about to get a boat load of mariner analogies, lol) In seeking or looking for a solution to my inability to stop drinking I have found so much grace.  I did not need to understand exactly how this AA stuff worked; I just needed to listen to you gals to understand that it does indeed work wonders.  And then I needed to trust in the process.  It is up to me to be rigorously honest with myself and those around me.  I’ve been reading a little book recently called “A New Pair of Glasses” by Chuck C.  He shares about the “Golden Key” to this thing called life is rigorous self-honesty.  I was a sailor for many years; I lived aboard my sailboat in Mexico with my husband and my kids.  (That is where I sobered up)  In order for me to survive in that environment I had to pay attention to my surroundings at all times.  I developed an intuition for hazards.  Am I too close to shore?  Are those wave patterns a sign of submerged rocks?  Is the wind beginning to shift?  Do I need to adjust my sails?  Am I staying on course?  Am I holding on to something?

I find that the journey in AA is much like a journey at sea.  “Stay in the boat” you said.  “Avoid hazards and slippery places” you said.  Go into your own mind with a sponsor/guide, don’t spend too much time alone.  “Do the work”; you said.  Keep your sails in good order, keep your waterline clean.

So today I continue to seek the will of my Higher Power as I understand Him/Her.  For it is in the seeking that I find peace.  I get there by using my personal radar, lol.  I keep my Higher Power on the screen at all times.  And I let the God of my understanding plot my course and captain my ship.  It is the easier, softer way.  I pray today.  I have come to rely on my intuition once again.  I keep my side of the street clean and if I have made a mess I clean it up quickly.  My sobriety is a precious gift and I will not put it at risk.  My primary purpose is to stay sober and help other women achieve sobriety.

So, share a little about how you seek the will of your Higher Power today.  Or anything else that might have resonated for you.

Blessings,

Alison B.

Mar 14: A World of the Spirit

We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. — ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 84

The word “entered” . . . and the phrase “entered into the world of the Spirit” are very significant. They imply action, a beginning, getting into, a prerequisite to maintaining my spiritual growth, the “Spirit” being the immaterial part of me. Barriers to my spiritual growth are self-centeredness and a materialistic focus on worldly things. Spirituality means devotion to spiritual instead of worldly things, it means obedience to God’s will for me. I understand spiritual things to be: unconditional love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control and humility. Any time I allow selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear to be a part of me, I block out spiritual things. As I maintain my sobriety, growing spiritually becomes a lifelong process. My goal is spiritual growth, accepting that I’ll never have spiritual perfection.  — DAILY REFLECTIONS; MARCH 13, p 81

My spiritual condition today is dependent on how I start my day. I suffer from a huge ego which can blind me with false pride. I’m prone to self pity and self obsession. But I forget that.

So as soon as I wake up I have to do something specific to help me remember. So I start my day with a  prayer.

The Seventh Step Prayer is as follows: “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.” –ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 76

I add:

I need help to stay out of my own way. Help remember to put other people first. Help me remember I’m not better or worse I’m just one of many. Help me remember that everything is not about me. Help me be kind, loving, forgiving, compassionate and gently with my thoughts, actions and words.

Just for today, help me to remember that my life is a gift,

that my health is a blessing, that this new day is filled with awesome potential, that I have the capacity to bring something wholly new and unique and good into this world.

Just for today, help me to remember that I am a kind, patient, tolerant, forgiving and loving woman and help me show those parts to the people who love me, and to those who work with me too.

Help me to remember to see all the beauty in myself and in others that I so often ignore, and to listen to the silent longing of my own soul.

Just for today, help me to remember You and that “Spiritual awakening … begins with knowledge and acceptance of the truth about myself”.

Please share on how you “enter the world of the spirit” or maintain your spiritual condition or anything else that has to do with your sobriety.

And then thanks to the gift of zoom I almost always get to a morning meeting.

Hugs

Banal

Mar 07: Step 3

The topic for the week is about Step Three “Made a decision to turn our will and life over to the care of God as we understood him”.

 First, I wold like to say thank you for having me lead this meeting for this week. When I knew the topic would be the third step, I did some reading from the 12 by 12, looked online and read a pamphlet from Hazelden about step three.

After I read this step, I was reminded step three is broken down into three parts.

1)      Our decision

2)      Turning our will and lives over

3)      God as we understand him

When I look at our decision, I am often remembered of the story of the three frogs sitting on a rock and one of the frogs made the decision to jump to the Lilly pad, how many frogs are left. When I first heard this story, I immediately said two and was told no there are three because the one frog just made the decision, he has not acted on his decision.

When I read the words turning our will over, I am reminded that we, I am turning over my will or you can say that I am getting out of my own way which I often do, but I am getting better I am realizing when I am getting in my own way, and that my mind and soul is being restored to a balance and peace is entering my life in many ways.  In short, I realize and keep needing to be reminded  that I am not in control that my HP is in control and I need to stay in the wheelbarrow and let my HP guide me, not me tell my HP to let me drive the wheelbarrow which I have tried to do and still try and life gets every chaotic but with time in recovery and the healing of my past trauma I am more quick to see when I am trying to , crawl out of or standing up in  the wheelbarrow and I have tools to be reminded where my place is and who is really in control.

God as we, I understand him, I did not have to struggle with the concept of God. I was raised Catholic and I did not question his exitance however what I had to work through was my feeling and views that he hated me and had it out for me. I want have conversations with my HP and make deals that went something like God if you do this or allows this to happen then I will do —_. Or I would turn my back on God because of the pain and hurt that I went through and thought why talk to him he created this mess and wants me to suffer.  As time passed my relationship with my HP changed and today the conversations are much different. I am often reminded of the third step prayer.

The Third Step Prayer from page 63 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

(From the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous)

“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!”

LET IT GO!

For me when I made and keep making the decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God as we, I, understand my life becomes more settled or more balance and my wheelbarrow stays on the path that my HP has created for me even during the turbulent times which happens in life. I understand today that life is not living on the extremes it is living in the gray area, my HP is in control and has a path for me to live which includes all of you ladies who have graced me with your shares. Thank you.

Thank you and with this I look forward to everyone shares on the third step.

I wish you ladies another 24 hours of sobriety.

Mary O

Wisconsin

 

Feb 28: Service as a Tool for Growth

When I first came into AA my focus was solely on staying sober and trying to stay that way.  All I really knew was to go to as many meetings as possible, read my Big Book, pray, get a sponsor, and work the steps.

That was good.  I started to grow, I listened at meetings, shared when it was my turn, and started learning about the steps and traditions.

I was encouraged to participate, and to share in service with smaller tasks:  setting up the room, chairs, tables, books, snacks, coffee, and clearing/cleaning after the meeting.  During those times, I sometimes had someone to share the duty and talk to.

I was encouraged to greet people as they came into the room.  “Hi!  I’m Pat!  It’s good to see you!”  With a smile and an out-stretched hand.

After a few months I was encouraged to chair meetings, and participate in business meetings.

Once I had the required length of sobriety, I was encouraged to accept a service position.

Each of these steps have taught me to look outside myself, to think of others, and how to work the principles of the program.

I know there are more ways of doing service.  I have grown as I have participated, and want to continue to learn more.

How have you learned and grown through service?

Feb 21: AA during Covid-19

Good Afternoon all dear GROW members, my name is Nancy C & I am an alcoholic. We are currently in the midst of a snow storm so I’m sending this early in case my power goes off!!

 The past year has been unlike any we have ever experienced before. AA Meetings postponed when we needed them the most. Many losing jobs & homes and having friends & family sick and dying has been such a terrible experience.

 I got sober 24 years ago on another AA Women’s email group & wow, I’m so glad that I have always had online AA , especially now! I have attended some AA Zoom Meetings and connect with my AA friends by phone, text, email & zoom. We are fortunate to have these connections.

 I live alone and have turned into pretty much a hermit, but….a safe hermit, who uses the connections I have to keep in touch & check on others safely.

 I would like to hear how you have made out this year, do you use zoom, do you use online email groups more, do you miss hugs (I sure do!!) It should be interesting to see how we are all coping with COVID-19

 Or share on what may be bothering you at this time.

 Thank you for letting me Chair this week,

Tight AA Hugs

Nancy C

Feb 14: Saying Goodbye

I’m writing tonight on my second sobriety birthday, on the eve of a big move to make the United States my home for the first time in 5 years. This is the first time I’m saying goodbyes, fully feeling the grief and hope that come with them.

I’m making this move because I realized this past year that I need to start standing on my own two feet. For the first time though, I’m not just doing a cut and run, hiding from people and consequences. I slowly considered possibilities and outcomes. I moved towards what felt honest and right, decisions that felt like they flowed instead of fought my life river.

Then it took a lot of conversations with my sponsor, chats with other sober women/close friends/family members, prayer and meditation to finally make the decisions to end my relationship of 6 years, leave a career and lifestyle I’ve been pursuing and move home to get grounded. With this move I’m also having to say goodbye to my beloved dogs.

The grief is real. Closing the door on all of this is heartbreaking. However, the hope I feel for a stable and safe life is substantial. I can feel that I’m making the right decisions even through this pain. I can only describe this feeling as a warm confidence which grows with the fact that things are falling into place as I lean into the move. It feels like I’m finally cleaning up chaotic, drunk Sarah’s life and am learning to be an adult. A lot of painful goodbyes as I step into stability.

I’m doing my best to be present with people as I say these goodbyes. To laugh and play and enjoy the time we have left. To allow myself to share the pain I feel and cry when I need it. To really listen to the feelings of others. To be sincere in saying I love you or I’ll miss you.

It’s hard and different for this selfish alcoholic, but good and necessary.

So with that, I would love to hear from you all with much more experience than I on how you have moved gracefully through your own goodbyes.

Thank you for letting me share and the meeting is now open!

Big hugs,

Sarah M

Feb 07: Step 2

“As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. ” (Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 87)

This paragraph in our Big Book goes on to say that if we do this we are in less danger of becoming fearful, angry, worried or making foolish decisions. We won’t burn up energy needlessly.

There are times in my life when making decisions, big or small, is a hard thing to do.  Right now, it’s whether to respond to my older son about something that’s happening (he’s an active alcoholic) or just leave it alone. This time seems different– like it does require a response, when usually I do nothing and leave it in God’s hands. BUT– I’m not sure I trust my own head with what seems right just now! So I am doing nothing for this one day.

I’m finding the third lockdown here in the UK hard going. I live alone. For almost a year it’s been isolation, and not doing normal things like swimming, meeting a friend for coffee or lunch in town or visiting someone. I’m tired emotionally right now. I’ve just had a tooth extracted and so had spent a week in pain, which wears you down. I recently began to use a cpap mask at nights and although it’s bringing great results it’s left my sinuses blocked and lips chapped and sore. I’m in a bit of a sorry state physically right now. Emotionally, I know I’m fine, that fundamentally all is well.  Feelings are not facts. Often when I’m growing the most I’m feeling like s***!!

You know, as I sit here writing this, I feel peace in my heart. I’m not blocked with resentment or self pity. I attend some great Zoom meetings. Fear, yes, can come in, insecurity about the future. I have to bring it back right to the here and now. And to realise  my powerlessness over people, places and things. I either give all to God or I give nothing. There are no half measures.

I invite you to share on this topic of powerlessness in your lives, ladies.

Love

Louise

Jan 31: Praying and Listening for God’s Will

Our Higher Power gives us the beacon light of abstinence, and with it He gives guidance out of our perplexities. Patiently waiting until we clearly see His will keeps us from getting lost in the darkness of self-will.”  Quoted from the Hazelden app “Food for Thought”

Being raised in an agnostic environment, daily conversations with God (let alone trusting a Higher Power to help me manage my life) was a foreign concept.  As an adult, I relied solely on willpower (i.e., self-will) to navigate every challenge I faced.  While I appeared successful from the outside looking in, I always ended up in the same place internally, repeating the self-destructive patterns of behavior.  I looked for solace, security, love and comfort in all the wrong places – an abundance of drugs, booze, sex, food… you get the idea. 

Not anymore… I’m grateful to say that for the past 6 years up until today, this program has me on a different journey.  After 64 years on earth I am capable of significant change, who would have guessed?  Today, I rely on God for abstinence of several ‘addictions’ – to help me not pick up that drink, not shove that gigantic piece of cake down the pie hole, not behave like the emotional mess I used to be.  Yet the notion of surrendering these desires to Him instead of relying on self-will is still an uncomfortable reach at times.  Lately I find myself asking, am I praying right?  Am I truly open and listening for His will?  Will I recognize His ‘signal’ when it’s staring me in the face, or be selfishly oblivious to it all, preoccupied and distracted with the minutia of life? 

I recognize that these are personal questions that only I can answer for myself.  Yet I wanted to present this topic to all of you famously articulate sisters for any insights you might like to share about this aspect of your journeys.  I am so grateful to have the 12 steps and all of you in my life!

Please feel free to share about this topic or any other that is on your mind.

Susan P.

Jan 24: The Problem With Self

Recently I have been finding myself quite irritable, restless and discontent about my romantic relationship, life situation and day to day life. I feel like I work a pretty good program so even though this kept being the case, I was basically lying to myself saying I was ok and that other people around me just had issues. After all, I write a gratitude list everyday, I participate in meetings, I sponsor others, I have a sponsor, I go on Zoom, I listen to speaker meetings and step workshops, I pray, I meditate, I mean I am good right?

But that inner me was still all huffy and puffy… and at home the outer me’s body language was standoffish and attitudinal, my tone of voice had become sarcastic and apathetic…literally any time I “had to be” around other humans I would find myself acting like this. I even got in a few fights with my boyfriend where I really did not act recovered whatsoever. I cried like a baby, I stomped my feet like a toddler having a tantrum, I was accusatory and rude and took another persons inventory…more than once. The queen and the baby of my ego were in full effect in my romantic relationship.

But, I told myself, it’s just with him. Everyone else in my life I get along with great, everyone else in my life I’m loving, tolerant and kind to. So obviously I tell myself he’s the problem and I’m just gonna go along my merry way.

And for a while I’d been sweeping it under the rug with the exterior world of sponsor, friends, program fellows…just pretending life was a-ok, but behind the scenes really not being a very fun person to actually live around for my boyfriend, stepson, pets, or myself.

So one day, I decided to tell the truth about this newfound bitchiness of mine to my sponsor and some program friends. I received much experience, strength and hope and also um, my program friends helped set me straight. This in turn got me doing a lot of self examination and also re-reading the Twelve and Twelve and the first 164 pages of my Big Book. It’s astounding how much I forget even though I’ve read both these volumes so many times there are sections I have truly memorized.

As always, the readings are hitting home and certain passages have been turning points in thinking of myself less, and thinking of others more. Of admitting I am really just so powerless without Gods help, and that life sure does get unmanageable when I once again try to control the show. It constantly blows my mind how sneaky this disease is, how my ego or self-seeking behaviors can subtly get to work again. I swear there are moments in sobriety where I’m just as clueless as to this disease working inside me as when I was drinking. It’s like the Twelve and Twelve says in Step Two:

Few indeed are the practicing alcoholics who have any idea how irrational they are, or seeing their irrationality, can bear to face it. Some will be willing to term themselves “problem drinkers,” but cannot endure the suggestion that they are in fact mentally ill. They are abetted in this blindness by a world which does not understand the difference between sane drinking and alcoholism. “Sanity” is defined as “soundness of mind.” Yet no alcoholic, soberly analyzing his destructive behavior, whether the destruction fell on the dining-room furniture or his own moral fiber, can claim “soundness of mind” for himself. From Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions “Step Two” page 31-32

It has been a long time since I have had a drink or even romanced the thought of one. Over ten years I have in this journey of sobriety. But this disease of alcoholism still gets me, it still will make it very difficult to bear facing my irrationality.
My ego loves to try and convince me that I’m perfectly ok without Gods help. That if I just listen to my “self” and try and “run the show” based on “self propulsion” things will actually be just fine, thank you very much. Like if I’m irritated by my boyfriend that’s just my business, that’s nothing I have to concern God about, plus wouldn’t God of course just agree with me that he’s being an ass and tell him to stop?! Because wouldn’t God see what this man is doing to poor little me?

So following that line of distorted thinking…of course I have the right to roll my eyes, give short responses, stomp around the house, make rude comments, act passive aggressive, that’s all just fine for me to do because he deserves it, because poor me, this would really be how it would go in my head and I would really accept this as sane thinking and acting. Because if he would just act right, I wouldn’t even do any of this type of behavior, it’s his fault, he’s making me act this way.

Yikes!

See, the thing is, as an alcoholic, this almost always turns out badly. Like in my home, all my discontent with how things are and how we function, it was a big game of trying to control a person other than myself so that basically I could ignore myself and my problems, thus allowing my ego to reconstruct, distorted thinking to take hold, character defects to ooze out my pores. And that really is a huge problem because if left untreated….these unchecked distorted thinking patterns quickly turn to distorted drinking (and for me drugging and other self-sabotaging) patterns. So I really can’t live this way! My ego would always rather have drama and division than sanity and serenity and will somehow convince me that being a control freak and lashing out on others is actually helpful and kind. The Big Book gives my favorite example ever of this dilemma in “How it Works”:

…any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he is more likely to have varied traits.

What usually happens? The show doesn’t come off very well. He begins to think life doesn’t treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic ¬trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?

Over and over and over again these passages from the 12 and 12 and the Big Book produce humility and honesty from me after those episodes of life on life’s terms that get my ego roaring all over again. Indeed, I am irrational. Indeed, I am selfish and self centered. Indeed, this disease of alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful.

But each and every time I find myself in a conundrum, in some sort of situation I really messed all up…The hand of AA is waiting for me, my sponsor will guide me, the fellowship will love me, the steps will save me from myself and the traditions will save us from each other. And for that, holy cow, am I grateful beyond words to take inventory, share it with my sponsor, recognize character defects, be willing and ask to have them removed and make amends to those I’ve harmed. Because it saves my life and keeps me from having to die an alcoholic death.

Thank you so much for allowing me to keep coming back, to keep growing, to keep learning with you one day at a time.

Please share on anything this sharing and these two passages from the Twelve and Twelve and Big Book bring up for you in your journey of recovery. For me, they have been two of the most powerful pieces of literature I have experienced. They lead me back to the solution, remind me that yes, it actually is ME that’s the problem or at least the thing I can work on for today.

Thank you for the honor of chairing this meeting.

Jan 17: Moment of Clarity

Carolyn, Alcoholic and grateful to be here today – grateful to be anywhere.

Thinking about a topic for today I started to think about the day – today is my son’s 26th birthday. He came into this world while I was still out there. I didn’t drink much while pregnant with him and I tried not to smoke… today I think about that and cringe at the selfishness. With my second child, the same. I chose not to nurse so that I could get back to my drinking and drugs. I was so excited and proud that my daughter chose to nurse her daughter.

I got to my first meeting when they were 7 and 8 years old – of course I would have liked to have gotten here a bit sooner but I know now that I wasn’t ready.

The topic for today could be knowing, and believing that we are ready to end that way of life. There were so many times when I knew how I was living was not good for my family but I couldn’t stop – I prayed for the willingness to want to stop – for THEM. I felt so selfish but just couldn’t wait to get messed up and forget who I was and what I was and who I had become. The exact moment that I knew it was enough is when I found a strength I had no idea I had. I put the drink down – I put the drug down and I started the process. Started making the phone calls that changed my life.

I look back on that night then the next morning and it was as if I was being led and all the pieces came together ‘magically’. There was nothing else different about that night. It was like every night for the past 20 years…

I get to this program, get a sponsor and work the steps. I was willing to go to any length to get what I saw you all had. God – it was not easy but it was worth it. I look back and think about it all. Seems like yesterday but then seems like a lifetime – it was both actually. I need to keep that feeling of knowing I was given a true Moment of Clarity on the night of April 30th, 2004 and began my sober journey the next day.

Today I am a different person but the same… I am REAL and have PURPOSE. I am not lost 🙂

Please share on what you may get from this share – or on anything you may need to

Thank you so much for the opportunity to chair this meeting.

Jan 10: Complacency v Willingness

Not every year sober is note-worthy, but this past one certainly has been. Yesterday I celebrated 33 years in recovery. Since I was an every-day drinker, I think of it as being sober 12,053 contiguous days. I could not not-drink under my own power and will. It wasn’t until I finally surrendered, went to treatment and joined Alcoholics Anonymous that I could get through a whole day without drinking. It still awes me that this program works, and works so well.

In early sobriety I had the gift of desperation to open my ears and shut my mouth to learn how to do this. It was from people in the room sharing their experience-in-the-raw that taught me how to tackle anything without having to drink. No Matter What.

I didn’t have a Higher Power in those early days but knew I was not staying sober on my own so each morning I would ask TWIMC (To Whom It May Concern) for help to stay sober this day, and every night I would thank It for another day sober.

Once I had a few years in the program I feared picking up a drink less, and learned to fear complacency more. I’ve known people relapse who die before they make it back in. I know people who decided AA was not their chosen path and dropped the program. One of whom had 30 years. All of whom stopped attending meetings long before they relapsed. And then COVID-19 hit and all the meeting places closed.

I believe “meeting makers make it” so what happens when we can’t meet? On-line AA has been part of my recovery since 1997. Through it my program was enriched by all the women who share their experience-in-the-raw in emails to the group who show me how we do this thing one day at a time. I’ve been blessed by being able to meet some of you in person; become friends with some of you through the 20+ years since. I often hope that women who are just discovering our group manage to develop long-lasting friendships with other women in the group like we early-timers did.

But what about local newcomers who are given that gift of desperation in a pandemic? Where do they go to find a welcoming group in an AA meeting room? At a time when it would have been so easy to feel complacent about staying sober after all this time, COVID-19 sparked a resurgence of 12 step work instead. Within 2 days, people had set up zoom equivalents of many of our local face-to-face meetings. The state AA website was updated with zoom credentials as fast as meetings were set up. Those of us who had lots of email addresses sent out notices of zoom meetings to everyone we could, and asked others to pass them along to their contacts.

As a result, we have some newbies who have never been to a face-to-face meeting but are staying sober and learning how to work a program of recovery via virtual meetings. In my local meetings we have three women, one had 8 months, one who had 10 months and another who celebrated a year sober all in December. Bearing witness to their willingness to do what it takes to learn how to live a sober, joyful life is a privilege. It knocks complacency out of my attitude like brushing snow off my shoulders.

I think complacency and willingness-to-learn are flip sides of the coin of sobriety. These youngsters struggling to understand our program, the steps, daring to pick up the phone and establish connections with others, and not drinking for one more day really are the most important people in the room. They keep it Kelly green for me and remind me that I don’t ever want to have to repeat one moment of early sobriety ever again. And to do that, all I need to do is pay attention and be willing to learn from others.

As always, feel free to share on topic or whatever is impacting your sobriety right now. This is your meeting.

Thank you for letting me chair the meeting this week. Thank you for helping keep me safe and sober. Thanks to all our Trusted Servants who make this meeting possible.

Mari Ann

Jan 03: Step 1

I was in total denial of my alcoholism for most of my drinking. There was a lot of evidence confirming how unmanageable my life was due to alcohol, but I would not – could not – accept that I was an alcoholic. I felt justified in the amount of alcohol I consumed because if you’d been through what I’d experienced while growing up you’d also drink the way I drank! And of course, hanging out with people who also drank alcoholically allowed me to pretend I drank normally, even though the non-alcoholics in my life knew otherwise and occasionally tried to tell me. The fact that I was never an everyday drinker, I’d never lost a job due to alcohol, and I never drank in the morning fuelled my denial, helping me to refuse to believe I was an alcoholic.

However, after drinking alcoholically for about ten years I started blacking out almost every time I drank. I also got behind the wheel of a car more frequently when drunk. But even the horrors I went through after coming to from a blackout, e.g., not knowing how I ended up wherever I was, not knowing what I’d done with the person sleeping next to me, being so physically ill that I couldn’t even keep down water (I believe I came close to poisoning myself one time with the amount of alcohol I’d drunk), couldn’t penetrate my denial. I wasn’t an alcoholic, and there was no way I was going to give up a substance that allowed me to be “the real me” – hah!

 And then I came to one morning in mid-August 1989 in an apartment in South Philadelphia; I had no idea how I’d got there. As I was stumbling around trying to get dressed I heard a voice in my head which said in a measured tone, “That’s it.”, and I thought, “What does that mean??” Once more the voice said, “That’s it”, and instantaneously I knew I was an alcoholic and that if I continued drinking I’d end up in jail (I’d already been in jail briefly in CA), an asylum, or a morgue. I left that apartment and called George, a guy I believe my HP had put in my life in order to help me but in the guise of being my mother’s boyfriend (he’d been sober six years when she started dating him). And while I’ve never had a drink since that day, I continued taking mind and mood-altering substances until April 1991 so I changed my sobriety date to the first day I was alcohol and drug-free, which is April 8, 1991.

 I feel fortunate that I’ve never wanted to do more “research” regarding my inability to control my drinking. The veil of denial was lifted completely that day in August 1989, for which I’m extremely grateful. And even though the thought of taking a drink (or two, or three…) has entered my mind a few times over the years, I’ve been able to think it through and see that the problem, person, etc. that’s making me want to escape into alcoholic oblivion is not going to disappear after I take a drink, and the situation will surely only get worse. Do I want that? NO! That’s the difference between now and when I was in denial; I never thought it through, never questioned what the end result would be once I started drinking. Thank God the result is very clear to me these days, due in part to memories of the excruciatingly embarrassing, physically dangerous, and at times criminal acts I committed while drinking. The person who did those things is not the person I want to be, and the only way I can continue to move toward the person I want to be is by continuing to go to meetings, practicing the steps/principles in all my affairs, doing service, and following my conscience, which is something I rarely did before getting sober.

 I’ve heard many stories of how people came to accept Step 1, each one different from the other. But no matter how we come to embrace it (and perhaps have to go back to it), I know from my experience that I had to fully accept my powerlessness over alcohol before I could continue with the other Steps and gain an understanding of all that AA offers.

 Thanks for letting me be of service. The meeting is now open to those who would like to share on the topic of Step 1.