June 16: Three Choices

Topic for the week:

For this week’s topic I am borrowing a topic from a recent meeting I was not able to hear all of it. The leader read from As Bill Sees It page 327, 

“Three Choices: The immediate object of our quest is sobriety–freedom from alcohol and from all its baleful consequences. Without this freedom, we have nothing at all.

Paradoxically, though, we can achieve no liberation from the alcohol obsession until we become willing to deal with those character defects which have landed us in the helpless condition. In the freedom quest, we are always given three choices.

A rebellious refusal to work up on our glaring defects can be an almost certain ticket to destruction. Or, perhaps for a time, we can stay sober with a minimum of self-improvement and settle ourselves into a comfortable but often dangerous mediocrity. Or, finally, we can continuously try hard for those sterling qualities that can add up to fineness of spirit and action–true and lasting freedom under God.”

I remember when I was new, I wanted to find the shortest cut to achieving what I saw in others. I was always trying to find the angle, the key, the way. That unknown quality that would make me whole so that I could be good enough for the right man, the right job, the perfect friends. If only, then my world would be perfect. Coming into AA wasn’t different, I heard what they said in meetings, I worked with my sponsor, I tried working with others, but I was hardheaded, and I didn’t follow all the instructions. It took years for me to be where I thought I should be, and now that I am here, I realize it is the simple things that are important:

1.    don’t drink no matter what (call one of us first)

2.    read the big book (Alcoholics Anonymous)

3.    Find a woman sponsor to work the steps with

4.    go to as many meetings as you can

5.    watch out for 13th steppers (men will pat you on the ass, women will save your ass)

Read the big book, continuously so that “more can be revealed.” Get a sponsor, the true reality check with I get crazy. Go to as many meetings as you can, I always learn new things at meetings, meet interesting people and expand my horizons. Watch out for people with ulterior motives.

After you’ve been in AA a while, get into service: Make coffee, clean the meeting room, chair meetings, volunteer in the office or your local intergroup, attend group conscience meetings–no matter how strange they seem, remember “place principles before personalities.”

No matter how much time you have in this program, character defects do pop up, and just like everything, if you apply the principles in dealing with the problem, your life will get better. This is a spiritual program for living.

Thank you for the honor of letting me chair this meeting. The floor is now open. Have a Blessed week.

June 9: Relationships

Topic for the week:  Relationships

Hello beautiful sober woman!  After much soul searching, talking with my sponsor, prayer, inventory and seeking outside help, it is very clear that I struggle with relationships PERIOD.  One of my character defects is judgment and boy has this been rearing its ugly head.  I’m glad I’m aware of it today.  I know I can’t take it away, but I know God can.  I have spent way too much time and energy on overanalyzing what the heck is wrong with me?  Oh right, I’m human.  I try really hard to practice love and tolerance but I forget to be loving and tolerant of myself.   My sponsor reminded me this week that the steps are all about relationships:  Steps 1-3 relationship with God; Steps 4-7 relationship with self;  Steps 8-12 relationship with others.

So simple for this complicated alcoholic!  Lol

Thank you for allowing me to be of service,

Statia

June 2: Step Six

Topic for the week: Step 6

Dear GROW sisters,

My name is Teresa S. I am an alcoholic, gratefully recovering, on day at at a time.  I am grateful for this opportunity to be of service. I ask my HP to help me with this share so that the words may help others.

By the time I got to my first Step 6, I was “entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”  I was “sick and tired of being sick and tired”. My own ways did not work to relieve me from the pain and suffering I was living. I had no idea I would need to work this step over and over again…and now, I know, it is a daily step except on the days when I am perfect!   LOL.  

It was while working this step that the obsession to drink was lifted. By the Grace of God, I have not used alcohol since 12.21.1993. Little did I know, there was much, much more work to do. With no alcohol to hide behind, I had the choice to be honest and willing to look at what I had become. Working with my sponsors, some times quickly, mostly slowly, I began to change.  I recently (last 8 months) and finally realized I was placing unreasonable demands and expectations on others. My HP/God has freed me from this character defect and has created space for me to grow and help others. This is a life long program, I am still growing!

Today, this step teaches me…

1. I have to be willing to let go of thoughts, actions, and words that make me feel good, superior to you, or right….”we ask God to help us be willing.” BB pg. 76

2. I have to allow God, not me, my therapist or my best friend, to remove ALL my defects of character. 

3. I have to know and name my defects of character. Easy to find on the list in my Step 4 inventory. Some of my favorites were bitterness, resentment, self pity, selfishness, self-righteous anger, blaming, remorse, worry, self-deception, procrastination (“sloth in five syllables” 12×12 pg.67) and a fear. These fed my desire to feel better. In the past I used alcohol combined with behaviors that were damaging to myself and others, especially those I loved most.

4. I do not have to rush or hurry God; healing, repairing, recovery and progress take time. Patience, love and tolerance will/have replaced the above listed defects until they creep back into my daily life. (Remember on my non perfect days 🙂 “No matter how far we have progressed, desires will always be found which pope the Grace of God.” 12×12 pg.66.  Thus, postponement and rationalization of my alcoholic mind will not help in my recovery, as this has been a trick from my ego to not take responsibility for myself and return to blaming and more character defects.  Thus, I must not dilly dally and “take action toward their removal as quickly as I can.” 12×12 pg.69

5. The smallest changes will allow me to grow if I continue to work. Like my garden, if I pull the weeds, my vegetables and flowers have space to grow strong and beautiful, as they were created to be. Like us, we can become as we were created to be “the image and likeness” or our Creator.  

 6. Freedom means clarity and the right to choose. In Step 6 I am entirely willing to aim toward perfection.  I can still say to myself:  “This I cannot give up YET… but we should not say to ourselves, “this I will NEVER give up!” Delay is dangerous, and rebellion may be fatal. 12×12 pg. 69

Thank you for allowing me to share my experience, strength and hope as it relates to working this step.  Progress, not perfection!   

Sincerely, 

T. 12.21.1993

We are all invited to share on Step 6.  The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 6 ***
“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 6 (Into Action), starting about page 75. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

May 26: Just For Today

Topic for the week:

Just for today 
Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appal me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime. 
 
Just for today I will be happy. Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be. 
 
Just for today I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my ‘luck’ as it comes, and fit myself to it. 
 
Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration. 
 
Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do – just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it. 
 
Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, talk low, act courteously, criticise not one bit, not find fault with anything and not try to improve or regulate anybody except myself. 
 
Just for today I will have a programme. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision. 
 
Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself, and relax. During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life. 
 
Just for today I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.

 
These Just For Today statements are on the AA Just For Today card. I first saw this when I was given a “Newcomers Pack” at my very first AA meeting.
This is a link to the Just For Today card on the UK AA website;
Hi I’m Sophie and an alcoholic and leading our meeting this week.
Thank you everyone who is present this week and available to participate listening and sharing.
I can’t do this alone.
Thank you especially for those in Trusted Servant roles, past and present, we can’t continue to function effectively as an AA group without you. I know we are still seeking a co-Listkeeper to support the welcome function and helping those reaching out to join us. It’s a key role in how new ladies join us so please consider this. I was terrified of giving it a go but I grew so much from doing it and was supported every step of the way.
So, back to this week’s topic of Just for Today…
Reflecting on things that were new to me when I first got sober and began my AA life, the “little today card” as my first sponsor used to call it, is one of the tools that really helped me.
What a gift I found it, to discover I wasn’t expected to make a lifetime commitment or get perfect over night. Just to try something for one day.
I’ve used this little today card, or the Just For Today card as it’s more properly called in our AA literature stores, throughout my sobriety. It’s been just a bookmark at times but more often it’s when I’ve been hitting my head against the brick wall of self that one of the suggestions on it has been exactly the solution to my latest self imposed crisis or has stopped me falling into the pity pot.
For me the last one, about not being afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, that’s my favourite one. I can easily forget to smell the roses or enjoy the sunset, but that’s where I find the “pause” and find a deepening connection to something outside myself. My first sponsor used to ask me, where is your little today card? And she was asking me where was I practicing what’s on the card. What I know is I can’t do them all today but one will be a help and being open to the ideas on it is always a help too.
The amazing and beautiful thing is that when I look back I can see God put roses in my path all through my recovery, actual roses and metaphorical roses. My first home in sobriety, the one where I took my last drink and went to my first meeting, there were literally roses around the door and a white picket fence. And now today I do a gardening job one day in a week in the most beautiful English country garden with several stunning paths of roses.
And sunsets too. I’ve walked and walked this path of sobriety, trying my best with the program and sponsor and meetings to follow the next right step. And now my home has a huge picture window with a view of the sunset over the hills. The beauty is there, but some days I have to remember to look up long enough to notice. Just for Today, I’m grateful for my Higher Power, the God I found here in AA, and I pray to be willing to be connected and take time for the roses and the sunset.
Have you used the Just For Today card? Which one of the ideas in it is most helpful to you today?
Sending hugs to anyone who wants one today!
Sophie

May 12: Willing to go to any lengths to achieve sobriety

Topic for the week:

Willing to go to any lengths to achieve sobriety.
 
This week’s topic is about willingness, surrender and commitment. 
Back in 2017 my sponsor ~ she is also a Grow member ~ asked if l was willing to go to any lengths to achieve sobriety. It was such a relief to have found a place where l could be honest and admit that I am powerless over alcohol, drugs and others~and that my life is unmanageable when l try to control it. Of course l replied that l was willing! I remember thinking that alcohol was my problem and if l only would find a way to stop drinking all my problems would magically disappear. Little did l know, without drinking l still had a thinking problem :-)) And a big one l may add. “If you want what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done.” Inspired and motivated by it all, my sobriety journey began. It took me years to grasp the concept of what it means to be fully willing to go to any lengths. For me it meant that I had to be willing to do some pretty hard things, like walk away from my family and my boyfriend. More so, l had to accept the things l cannot change, be courageous enough to change the things l can and know the difference. Every day I have to remind myself that I am not in control. Fear holds me back and stand in the way of surrendering fully.
Doing the right next thing sounds so easy but it takes courage, patience, discipline, determination and mercy. Mercy towards myself and others. Going to any lengths just for today means that I surrender to Gods ~ of my understanding ~ will. I had cultural and social beliefs that I have identified with, it’s not easy to let go of. It’s a day-to-day practice to surrender. All this and more like, taking accountability for my actions, making amends if necessary and serve to the best of my ability to me is showing up for my life and being willing to go to any lengths to achieve sobriety. I am grateful for the opportunity to chair this meeting and looking forward reading your thoughts and experiences on this topic.
Gratefully, 
Renee 

May 5: Step Five

Topic for the week: Step 5

 We are all invited to share, at any time this month, on Step 5 and Tradition 5. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives. The traditions are what guide most AA groups. The traditions certainly inform our group conscience decisions and the original structure for GROW. We look forward to your shares.

 *** Step 5 ***

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

De, alcoholic.  The idea that I might have had something to do with how I was raised or how I was treated by others in school was difficult for me to accept.  I was the victim.  My part came down to merely breathing, existing, being in the room.  A lot of my behavior became entrenched, my reactions did not serve me well. .  Taking these behaviors into adulthood put me at a disadvantage.  As I have heard in the rooms, I did not play well with others.  

Putting words to my behavior, identifying my vulnerabilities (I wasn’t defective!) and then sharing them with another person did not give me the relief that I have had others speak about. I am not sure I ever did a traditional sit down and share step 5.  It was in bits and pieces, with separate disclosures.  Telling the truth, not embellishing, not feeling sorry for myself were behaviors I needed to practice.  

God already knew what I had done so why was I admitting anything to “him.”  There was mental anguish around my concept of a Power greater than myself that I had to work through.  

Awareness that tomorrow will mark 28 years since taking a drink and it has been awhile since I have sponsored anyone, a lot of this is hazy at best.  I am in the practice of using the Serenity Prayer to work through an emotional crisis going round and round in my head.  I still take pen to paper when spinning out of control.  I have a sponsor I check in with weekly.   I am in service to this group.  Thank you for being here.  

 This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 6, starting on p. 72. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

 *** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***

 You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

April 28: Purpose

Topic for the week: Purpose

In an advice column I read the other day, a woman was asking how to handle her upcoming empty nest – her kids were going off to college, and she wondered what her purpose would now be. It took me back to some of the bleakest days of my life. I had stopped drinking (for reasons that only later in the context of AA made sense to me) when my dad died, and at the time, my daughter was about to go to college, my son was considering boarding school, and my husband had just taken a job in a different state and would be home only on weekends. I had quit my teaching job, which had been my only source of social contact outside my family. You can probably imagine why I got so attached to the family dog…In retrospect, I’m pretty sure only an act of my higher power kept me from drinking through the next two years (not to mention having relieved me of the obsession in the first place).
 
It wasn’t until right after 9/11 (on that day I was as alone as I could possibly be, except of course for my dear dog) that I finally allowed myself to investigate AA. When I started going to meetings, it became apparent to me that I’d never really had my very own support system before. Here was an instant support system! My life slowly began making sense – I was going to say again, but it had never made sense to me before anyway. I found that alcohol had been the common denominator in creating the chaos and misery in my life – and here were people who knew all about that. I was also handed a primary purpose – something I’d also never had before. Needless to say, those two years without a drink and without a program had brought me to a brand-new low. My purpose had been all jumbled up in the roles I played – wife, mother, sister, daughter, teacher (and a few other professions I’d sampled) – which all fought for priority. I considered myself a jack (or jill?) of all trades, but was failing at all of them, and I constantly questioned what or who I was supposed to be. I latched onto AA’s primary purpose – “all” I had to do was to stay sober and help another alcoholic – before I even fully grasped that I was an alcoholic.
 
I suppose I had been confusing purpose with identity. AA’s primary purpose shows me that it’s not what I do that makes me who I am. It’s not my purpose to be anything other than myself. My identity can be made up of all those things I mentioned – including an alcoholic – but none of those is a primary purpose. My purpose is to re-open the gift of sobriety every morning and follow the instructions. Of primary importance is staying connected with the higher power I became acquainted with, and one of the best ways to do that is by staying connected with my fellow AAs, and specifically the amazing women of GROW.
 
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject or anything else that is pressing for you right now. Thank you for letting me chair this meeting.

April 21: Unity

Topic for the week: Unity

“Above us, at the International Convention at St. Louis in 1955, floated a banner one which was inscribed the then new symbol for A.A., a circle enclosing a triangle. The circle stands for the whole world of A.A., and the triangle stands for A.A.’s Three Legacies: Recovery, Unity and Service. …

When in 1955, we oldtimers (Bill W &) turned over our Three Legacies to the whole movement, nostalgia for the old days blended with gratitude for the great day in which I was now living. No more would it be necessary for me to act for, decide for, or protect A.A.

For a moment, I dreaded the coming change. But this mood quickly passed. The conscience of A.A. as moved by the guidance of God could be depended upon to insure A.A.’s future.  Clearly my job henceforth was to let go and let God.” (From As Bill Sees it quoting A.A. Come of Age p. 139, 46, 88).

I remember being new and wanting to find out about A.A., I went to our local intergroup office and bought a bunch of books about A.A. And I learned there was a lot going on behind the scenes for there to be meetings. There were group conscience meetings which saw to the running of the meetings, clubhouses, rent, bills paid. From the group conscience meetings there were Trusted Servants () elected to make sure our meeting was represented local intergroup, which in turn elect members to the region, and then the General Service Conference [General Service Office (GSO in NYC)] who reports to the General Service Board that has sub-committees. Google: AA inverted triangle. Where corporations have the CEO at the top,

Without unity of members, the whole structure falls apart. “We are a benign anarchy and a democracy.” (As Bill Sees It, p. 50)

So, tell me about your experience with the structure of AA?

Thank you for letting me share, the meeting is now open.

April 14: Charging station for Volvo EX40

Topic for the week: Charging station for Volvo EX40.

My drinking problem turned out to be not only a drinking but mainly a thinking problem. When alcohol wasn’t my main obsession anymore, it became clear my drug of choice wasn’t alcohol or any other substance, My main drug of choice is using people to charge my battery. It is today, as it has been since I started this journey so called life.

My biggest pitfall as I look for conformation in the words of others. In place of the word of God. 

Codependency eat your heart out…

In recovery I have experienced that in all my relationships so far, in one form or another, I used people, for my own advantage, as a medicine for my dis-ease. With which I have not only robbed myself but also other people of their time and energy. 

I thereby have the tendency to suppress my true feelings in order to not acknowledge my restlessness, irritable and discontent about what’s underneath the surface. I am a con artist in disguise. Denial is my middle name. ‘

Exempel: yesterday, my ex sister in law and I crossed paths together. It was a trigger for me. Afterwards I shared my experiences with my family. Their reactions charged my battery, anxiety, fear, nervousness and resentment towards my past experiences. Setting in motion I was all over again creating chaos and chaos. 

Before I know it I am projecting my bullshit on a neighbour. “Normality” she’s more friendly. Today’s she’s more introverted. 

My sponsor tells me the world, not even of my neighbours revolves around me. I was using my neighbour as an excuse to deflect my true feelings. Wasn’t willing to dive into what I was really afraid of….!

My thoughts are misleading and inconsistent with reality. The neighbour across the street was my charging station because I did not use the program. I didn’t shared what was triggering me with my sponsor. Big mistake. 

Thank God, I have a 12 step program for living. A sponsor, prayer, meditation, a toolbox and a strong connection with all of you!

Are you encouraging “this” in recovery? 

How do you deal with feelings and thoughts that are not realistic or logical?

How do you find out it’s not rational or objective? What resource(s) are you using to recharge in recovery?

Thank you for allowing me to chair this meeting.

PS I don’t know if a Volvo EX40 is a fine car, but EX stands for all that’s in the past incl. all my exes :-)) and in my forties 40 I became sober. 

With love, 

Tanja 

April 7: Step Four

Topic for the week: Step 4

The Fourth Step is to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Another word for ‘moral’ is truth. By reviewing our lives — the people, situations, beliefs and fears we have engaged with in our past — we can begin to see the truth about ourselves and the role we’ve played in our troubles.

Why is it that the alcoholic is so unwilling to accept responsibility? I used to drink because of the things that other people did to me. Once I came to A.A. I was told to look at where I had been wrong. What did I have to do with all these different matters? When I simply accepted that I had a part in them, I was able to put it on paper and see it for what it was – humanness. I am not expected to be perfect! I have made errors before and I will make them again. To be honest about them allows me to accept them – and myself – and those with whom I had the differences; from there, recovery is just a short distance ahead…
 
Sometimes taking somebody else’s inventory can be most beneficial. When I was doing my Fourth Step, an old-timer suggested I list the names of those against whom I held resentments, followed by two or three sentences describing what they had done to earn my displeasure. Then, after putting the list aside for a day, I was to cross off each person’s name and replace it with my own. Grapevine; “Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall,” October 1987, Step by Step
 
The “truth” about myself?! Must I?? Going waaay back to childhood, I believed that if bad things happened anywhere in my general vicinity, I’d done something wrong, or had neglected to do something I should have known to do. By extension, at least in my brain, that meant I was wrong, bad, stupid. As an adult (ish), I’ve discovered that I’m human. Humans are flawed, every single one of us, some in obvious ways seen with the naked eye, and some of us in ways hidden and unseen, even to ourselves. I’ll continue to make mistakes, but so long as I make amends, and vigorously seek not to repeat the same ones, I can accept me in all my inglorious flawedness, I can accept you in yours — fair’s fair, after all — and we both can grow forward.
Something a sponsor taught me is that if you can name ‘it’ in someone else, then you can almost certainly claim ‘it’ in yourself; You spot it? You got it! Man, I did a lot of naming and blaming. Which means I have a lot to claim, more than enough to keep me busy on my side of the street. If I’m doing it thoroughly, I’ve got no time to supervise you filling the potholes on your side. The first name on my first Step Four, and one of the hardest to contemplate amends with, is my ex-husband of twenty-eight years, the father of our two daughters. Oooo boy did I have a list of grievances against him. I made him out to be such a baddy that the gentleman I dated for a while after my divorce refused to shake my ex’s hand because of the ugly portrait I’d painted for him.
Truth is, my ex is not an evil man. And I am not an evil woman so much as a deeply flawed one. I own that now. There are so many decisions I could have/should have made differently in my first marriage. I don’t know that the marriage could have survived in the long run, but I had to confess that I made moves that were self-serving, disrespectful, self-righteous, careless, and very, very wrong. I have gradually replaced his name with my own on the chart of grievances and resentments between us. My bad, indeed. Shockingly, it feels good and right to accept responsibility, and ultimately is so much easier than the emotional work it takes to keep on deceiving everyone, especially myself.
We are all invited to share on Step 4. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives. Thanks for attending this meeting!

*** Step 4 ***
“Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s a lot more in Chapter 5, starting on p. 64. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***

You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

March 31: To Thine Own Self Be True

Topic for the week: ‘To thine own self be true.’

AA medallions are given for lengths of sobriety and some have the saying ‘To thine own self be true’ on one side; I happen to have one. One night, after more than 20 years of sobriety, I found myself considering whether or not to start drinking with my English boyfriend. My medallion helped me to choose sobriety.

That evening, Steve and I had gone to a pub. As I sat across from him, the thought came to me that perhaps we could get “closer” if I drank with him instead of always being sober while he got drunk (we’d had many discussions about alcoholism and several times I’d told him I thought he was an alcoholic – he always disagreed). I’m not sure why I didn’t just order a pint right there and then, but instead I chose to go for a walk…perhaps that ‘think, think, think’ slogan was subconsciously at work. I took a short walk then sat down. Again, I’m not sure why I did it, but I took my medallion out of my wallet and read both sides.

I knew of the quote ‘To thine own self be true.’ and believed in its message, which I interpreted to mean be honest with myself, be accountable for my behavior, and follow through on what I say I’ll do. But that evening my sobriety was on the line, so after reading the quote my thoughts were: who was I, really – the alcoholic Michele or the sober Michele? What should I do to “be true” to myself – drink or not drink? These thoughts were swirling through my head for only about a minute before I had my answer: being true to myself meant staying sober. I didn’t want to go back – back to blacking out, being full of self-pity and angry at the world, creating problem after problem for myself, and alienating family and friends. Sobriety is difficult at times, but I wanted to keep the serenity I’d found in my years in AA, the trust I’d re-built with family and friends, and the belief that, in sobriety, I was becoming the person my Higher Power wants me to be, which was a far cry from the person I was as an active alcoholic.

Having made my decision, I got up and walked back to the pub. Steve was playing billiards with some people; I smiled at him and sat down at our table. I never told him about my thoughts, and since that time have never felt the need to reconsider my sobriety. He and I stayed together for about another year then parted ways, as friends. I often think of him at the beginning of meetings when we have a moment of silence for those alcoholics in and out of the rooms still suffering.

I believe that what pulled me through my moments of doubt and questioning include, in no particular order, my Higher Power, the many meetings I’ve attended, the numerous shares I’ve heard, AA’s slogans, service work, friendships in AA (making me feel I belonged), doing the Steps and gaining their benefits, developing a more right-sided view of myself (i.e., neither loathing myself nor having an inflated ego), and being at peace with myself knowing that I’m striving for personal and spiritual progress as I go through life.

I couldn’t be true to myself when I was drinking as I didn’t want to be honest, accountable, unselfish, and let go of resentments. In early sobriety I learned to once again listen to my conscience – I’d tuned it out as an active alcoholic – as I began to trust and believe in what my conscience was telling me…had always been telling me, i.e., tell the truth, be responsible, learn to let go of anger in an appropriate way, and so on.

I’m so grateful I had that medallion, that I thought to take it out and read it, and that I made the decision to remain sober. I’m also grateful for that moment of doubt and going through the thought process of considering who I wanted to be, what was important to me, and what I wanted in my life. In that short space of time I re-affirmed my commitment to staying sober, to being the person I believe I’m meant to be, and to giving myself the chance to be happy, joyous and free as a result of following the AA program.

The meeting is now open. Please share on what it means to you, as a sober woman, to be true to yourself, or how any of AA’s slogans/sayings have helped you stay sober. Thanks for letting me share.

March 24: Favorite tools or ESH to find poise and serenity

Topic for the week:

This reading is from a Hazelden app, I use them for guidance every day: 

Start your day with poise and serenity. If your alarm doesn’t go off, you can remain calm. If a traffic jam slows your commute, you can be at peace. If a friend cancels on you, you can be forgiving. You can do all these things when you decide “I will not allow anything to disturb my mental balance or throw my mind out of its serenity.” Facing life with inner strength means not allowing people, places, or things to destroy your harmony with the world. Facing life with peace of mind means you are in charge of your destiny and your recovery. Facing life with understanding and forgiveness means you have built a strong relationship with a Higher Power. Then you can view disruptions to your well-being and purpose as trifling, small incidents that are short-lived.

Today you can choose to be defeated by life’s little insensibilities, conflicts, and disappointments, or successfully handle whatever comes your way without disruption to your inner peace.   My achievements today will reflect my attitude. I will choose to face life with a serene spirit and calm poise.

Making the choice to be poised and serene sounds easy, and it is when life is going ‘my way’.  But when challenges come up in situations or relationships, emotions so easily swell while my 12 step tools (including God) are far from my consciousness.  It can take me hours or even a few days to reel in my thoughts, step back and determine how to get back to that inner peace.

These are some of the questions I’ve learned to ask myself in the past year, they are part of my toolbox now:

  • what amends do I need to make?
  • what does this emotion tell me really matters?
  • what does it suggest I need to attend to?
  • what fear do I need to face?
  • what behavior do I need to change?
  • what loss do I need to come to terms with?

If I can answer any of these questions and take appropriate action, the chances of picking up a drink to solve my problems is greatly reduced.  And that’s my goal today first and foremost, to cope with life free of alcohol (or any addictive self-sabotaging behavior).  I remind myself to talk to God about it too.  I don’t expect perfection, but I’ll take progress any day of the week! 

I would love to learn your favorite tools or ESH to find poise and serenity when life throws you a curve ball!

Grateful to lead this week,

Susan P.

March 17: My ESH (experience, strength, hope) in GROW

Topic for the week:  My ESH in GROW

I have been a member of GROW for close to 10 years. During that time there has been a lot of turn over in membership. There are a  number of women still here that were members when I first arrived and there are also some women that I looked up to that have died. GROW is an important part of my program but I’ve realized how little I know about many of the members whos shares I follow each week. Because we are an ’email group’ it is easy to hide behind our keyboards and not really get to know each other. I am guilty of not reaching out as much as I could. I chose this weeks topic in the hope that we might get to know each other on a deeper level and perhaps make the extra effort to get to know each other better. I thought we might do that by sharing how we found our way to GROW, our experience with GROW and how it has impacted our program/sobriety, and what things are like for us now as a part of GROW.

I joined GROW when I was 14 months sober. I had gotten sober in Eugene, Oregon at the ripe old age of 56. I am a slow learner. My husband and I are fulltime RVers and have been living that lifestyle since 2006. When I got sober in 2013 I went to rehab in Eugene.  We took a break from traveling for the next 12 months so I could get a solid foundation in my sobriety. I attended a number of Womens groups during that year. A woman at one of those meetings was a member of GROW and she suggested I check it out when she knew I was getting ready to start traveling again.

When we resumed our travels I continued going regularly to f2f meetings in each new location we traveled to. AA is one of the most welcoming, and loving groups of people I have ever had the privilege of being a part of. Even though I was a total stranger, each time I attended a new meeting in a new town, I was welcomed and made to feel ‘a part of’. After a few months though, I realized that almost every new meeting I went to, I was asked to share my story. It didn’t take long before I began to feel that I was missing out on hearing other peoples stories. Hearing the ESH of other AA members is a critical part of my program! It was shortly after this that I joined GROW. GROW became my Home Group. It is where a number of you know me from my shares and I have gotten to know some of you. It is the meeting where my absence would hopefully be noticed. GROW is where I do my Service Work and where I found my Sponsor. Because of the email format for sharing, GROW has been instrumental in a great deal of self discovery. Because I have days instead of minutes to think about what I want to say about our weekly topic, I have discovered things about myself that have resulted in real growth in my program. I am certainly not the confused, novice in sobriety I was when I arrived in this group. Even through the pandemic and the shift to ZOOM meetings, GROW has continued to be my meeting of choice, my home group. It suits me and my traveling schedule.

Recently I have seen a troubling change in our group. The membership numbers have decreased, the Trusted Servant positions have become difficult if not impossible to fill, and the number of women that share regularly has been spotty. I am deeply concerned about the health and future of GROW but I have turned that outcome over to my Higher Power. I know that what ever happens, my HP will direct me to the next right thing.

In the mean time, I look forward to hearing about your ESH with GROW: how each of you came to GROW, what has happened since you joined and what things are like now.

Thank you for taking the time to read and share on this weeks topic.

Yours in Service,

Cheryl B

March 10: Acceptance

Topic for the week: Acceptance

 

“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.”

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, Page 417 

 

When I first got sober back in 2015, I was spiritually, emotionally and morally bankrupt upon walking into this program. I had more wreckage than I even knew what to do with and the shame I felt ran deeper than I knew how to handle. I could barely even look at myself in the mirror. The year prior to getting sober, I unknowingly was doing a first step. I was stuck in a cycle of praying to God in my journal to help me get sober & then I would find myself blacking out from drinking on a regular basis. I felt completely helpless. I was a shell of a human that last year. I did know yet understand the power that acceptance would have in my life. It was in October 2015 that God placed on my heart that enough was enough. He told me to get help and showed me the way to an IOP & from there I found AA. Once I fully surrendered to the fact that I was an alcoholic, that’s when acceptance and healing could begin to take root. Since that time my life has had a dramatic shift. I’ve went onto be extremely successful in my professional life, made living amends to my husband and my now teenage daughter and have grown to love myself as a sober woman of dignity and grace. I’ve had the opportunity to clear the wreckage I caused while in active addiction. I am not the same woman who I was back then. 

 

In January 2023 God told me that I was going into a year of acceptance. I thought I had already fully grasped that concept, but I came to realize that acceptance of myself and others was something I genuinely lacked in my recovery program. Last year I had endless opportunities to show compassion, empathy and understanding towards many people that came in and out of my life. I was even in a car accident last March and was able to have acceptance and forgiveness towards the driver who smashed into me immediately after the accident occurred. I choose not to carry my anger with me because as an alcoholic I know this becomes a resentment, so I have to forgive immediately and have total acceptance around the circumstances. I have learned that true self acceptance is loving myself right where I am at today. Acceptance is the key to my happiness and peace of mind. It’s something I have learned that I need to practice in all my affairs. Without acceptance of people, places and things – I can not experience serenity. So I choose my peace and make acceptance an intentional practice every day. That is one of the ways that I stay in fit spiritual condition. 

 

Today, I live a life I never thought possible. I attend an AA meeting every single day because it’s my medicine & I’m clear that as an alcoholic, that is what I need to stay sober one day at a time. I sponsor other women and have a sponsor who I love dearly. I have worked the steps many times over the years. I know that I will forever be a work in progress and that’s okay. I have complete and total acceptance in the fact that I am an alcoholic who needs a program of recovery to have a daily reprieve. I’m so grateful for what this program has done for my life and that I get to call myself one of the lucky ones. Thank you for letting me share. 

March 3: Step 3

Topic for the week: Step 3

We are all invited to share on Step 3. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives

*** Step 3 ***
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 5, starting on p. 60. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***
You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

Step 3 is for me the most powerful of all the Steps, particularly when I was new to sobriety. I fought it long and hard, fearing that the God of my misunderstanding wouldn’t handle whatever it was the way I wanted it done. That got easier the more I thought about my life before sobriety. Seems like the harder I pushed to get my way, the worse things went for me. After a while, I figured out that what I wanted had seldom been what I needed. Learning to give it all to God was a slow process. But the more I practiced letting go, the better things went. After a while, it became natural to give my life and my will over to a power much greater than me. I learned to trust that my Higher Power really did know better what I needed. The more I turned it over, the sooner serenity came.

The third Step prayer became a very important part of my days: “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!”

Step 3 is a powerful foundation upon which to build a sober life – and to complete the rest of the steps. For me, life got easier because I don’t have to fix anything. I can leave it to a Higher Power with a lot more insight than I have. I don’t have to make other people behave the way I want them to. I can let them be who they are and follow the will of the God of their understanding. All I have to do is continue to work the program and let my God take care of results.

How does Step 3 manifest in your life and your sobriety? Please share on your experience with this Step – or on anything you need to talk about this week.

February 25: Service

Topic for the week:

It is the last Sunday of February so this week is a service meeting. As the lIstkeeper of the Grow Chair volunteers, I am honored to serve this group so that the suffering alcoholic has a place to find recovery and hope.

Last week, I thought it was the last Sunday.  I was trying to look at my list on my phone vs getting out my computer.  I wanted the easier softer way.  What happened was I did not catch that I was actually looking at the wrong week and I caused a bit of a mess.  Luckily, I have a program and I can accept my humanness, admit my mistake and right the wrong. It was not and end of the world mistake, like my head likes to tell me.  But one that I could make amends for nonetheless.

So even service can be messy.   The great thing is that in AA, we accept the mistakes.  I was not fired for this little oversight.  Matter of fact, no one knew except me, God and one other person.  I was gently reminded that life happens and was accepted, just the way I am – perfectly imperfect.

I was a few years in AA before I actually heard the responsibility statement.  ” am responsible, when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”

This is a program of “We”.  I need to show up and be a part of so these meetings continue.  This is not just a position that I hold, this is a part of my recovery.  Talking to the new comers, asking for their number, inviting them to coffee. I do also hold service positions, and I do have to be careful to over-commit.  But I want to be the hand of AA.

I would love to hear about how you join in keeping the AA meetings alive.  How are you the” hand” of AA?  How was this hand presented to you when you first came into the meetings?

 

February 18: Which is Your Favorite AA Promise?

Topic for the week:  WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE AA PROMISE?

I have to admit I made many promises that I did not keep.  I heard many that others didn’t keep either.  It took a while for me to realize there are AA Promises. Of course I met them with my usual skepticism.  Until I read them at the suggestion of my sponsor when I was complaining that sober life was no big deal for all the work I had to put in.  

   The Promises are a collection of miracles.  Favoring one is like asking me to pick my favorite candy from a box of chocolates.  Individual Promises, to me, seem to have more special meaning at different times in sobriety.  They are listed in this share for your reference.  This is the ‘sometimes quickly’ topic and all that is asked of me is to be painstaking about my development (or, as I would say, work, work, work).

   I will know a new freedom, a new happiness before I am halfway done.  These took effect little by little, as soon as I entered the AA rooms. (I admit I used to busy myself with figuring out what ‘half way done’ was!)   

   I will not regret the past nor shut the door on it.  As I work the Steps, I see myself in a different light.  I may feel guilt or shame. These feelings start to ease up.  I accept myself, I know my Higher Power accepts me. I know you will love me until I love myself.  

  No matter how far down the scale I’ve gone, my experience can benefit others.  I am not alone.  I am not the worst nor the best. I am not a saint. When I share my story, I share the hope that sobriety is possible, no matter what. Uselessness and self-pity go away. No more pity parties for me!

   My self-centeredness lifts.  I will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in my fellows.  When in all my drinking years could I say this!  Self-seeking will slip away. I will do service and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.  My whole attitude and outlook on life will change.  For me, a shift from being an angry, lost woman began.  

   Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave me. On my personal hierarchy of fear, these two issues are at the top.  These are some of the Promises that have trickled down for me.

   For this know-it-all woman, I learned to (really) handle situations which used to baffle me. You will recall, I was in charge and knew it all when I got here. This is powerful for me!

   Back to the first three Steps, I suddenly realize that God is doing for me what I could not do for myself.  No doubt about that!  This Promise comes true and keeps on recurring.  

My fav?  The ‘no matter how far down the scale…’ one is my favorite. What is yours? When did Promises start to come true for you? Have they ever stopped? Do you believe in them?  Aren’t they miracles!  hgz, b.  9/21/83

February 4: Step Two

Topic for the week: Step 2

We are all invited to share on Step 2. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 2 ***
“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, “Alcoholics Anonymous” (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more in Chapter 4 (We Agnostics), starting about page 44. And there’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

*** Where to get the books, Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ***

You can find these books at many f2f AA meetings; you can order them online from many places. And they are available from the AA General Service office, to read online, in English, French, and Spanish. See www.aa.org/

Came to believe that a power greater than us could restore us to sanity.

I’m Sophie and an alcoholic.

What was your first experience of the Second Step? And what do you do today to keep the Second Step alive in your sobriety and in your life? Have you got a favourite reading that helps you with Step Two?

In 2013 in Auckland New Zealand I took part in an AA Women’s retreat where we participated in workshops over a weekend that took us through the 12 steps. It was an entirely new way for me to go through the steps as previously I had only gone through them with a sponsor, and then as a sponsor to others, or by reading and hearing sharing on them in a regular AA meeting.

At the workshops I saw many things about the program in new and inspiring ways. I learned I could meditate by reading one word of a phrase or in this case a step and allowing a few moments to pause and allow each word to sink in slowly. When I do this with Step Two I am reminded of Came….. Came to….. Came to believe… and how this was very much my journey into Step Two. I came along to AA meetings, slowly I “came to”, I began to wake up from the alcoholic fog and blindness and I came to believe. I came to believe that perhaps AA might work for me too, that perhaps I didn’t just have a bit of a problem and need to stop alcohol for a few months, that I was actually bodily and mentally different, I came to believe that there was something at work in AA meetings that I needed and didn’t find anywhere else in my life, that something spiritual happened when a Group of Drunks met or when one alcoholic talks (or writes!) to another. Slowly I began to have more spiritual awakenings and came to believe in a power greater than. I met that power in nature, in the voices and stories of others like me, in reading AA literature.

I began being sponsored in earnest at 5 months sober. That sponsor saved my life by guiding me through the AA literature and bringing it to life with her example. I learned that I was insane as far as the first drink was concerned. I may have had and still can have other kinds of insanity in other areas of my life but here in Step Two it was about me recognising and accepting and allowing that God could restore my sanity around alcohol so I was no longer seeking alcohol as an answer to how to do life.

Today I have been practicing that part of the AA Just for Today card, the part where it says to study something. I have read something new or revisited something from AA literature each day for the past month. It feels as if part of my brain is like a sponge but one that just needs a little moisture each day, something to direct my thoughts away from negative or self centred spiralling and outwards towards god’s will for me and towards others. I have been reading the AA book “Language of the Heart”, just a page or essay/chapter and also the AA book “Came To Believe”. I don’t think I have the answers, I just know I want to keep learning and growing in my sobriety and in life. Both of these books are filled with reflections and light bulb moments from a variety of alcoholics writing for our international magazine The Grapevine. I am in awe of the fact that in this tiny slim book “Came To Believe” there are 75 different stories about alcoholics’ spiritual experiences. I am filled up each time I read a page.

Step Two for me is the opening of something incredible. I can’t necessarily see it or put a flag in it but it’s there, that thing which I turn to. Every day I thank God for AA and thank AA for God. I thank God for being restored to sanity around the first drink and being able to be sober today and live a life beyond my dreams.

Please come back and share with us on Step Two or anything pertaining to your sobriety. All are welcome! If you’re new or shy please feel welcome to simply say hello to the meeting and identify as an alcoholic here in this safe space.

In love and service

Sophie F, Somerset UK

January 28: There is a Solution

Topic for the week: There is a Solution……

Solution

  • an action or process of solving a problem
  • an answer to a problem : EXPLANATION
  • specifically : a set of values of the variables that satisfies an equation
  • a bringing or coming to an end or into a state of discontinuity

“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.
Pg 25 BB

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was wonderful to find out that there was an actual solution to the insanity that I had been living in my entire life. My mind, even before I found relief in drinking, was always “on me”. I was like I was literally being “thought at ” My mind started lying to me disguised as me, from the get go. I didn’t know there was a difference. I thought these were my thoughts-I thought I was those thoughts. I thought you were those thoughts. But in reality it was the noise of the dis-ease that even today, wants me dead but will settle for me drunk.

I’ve heard it said that we also have a thinking problem-in fact, if you have been here a while and the obsession to drink has been removed, then I suggest going through the book again and replacing the word drinking with thinking-it’s eye opening. That’s why when the alcohol gets removed and we are sober, we must continue to grow and strengthen our spiritual connection. More so now, then back then.

My ego wants to tell me that because I have some sober “time” that I’m good. I don’t really need to pray today-I prayed yesterday. I don’t really need to read that meeting, I read something yesterday. I don’t really need to correspond with my sponsee, or ask God where he needs me today-I asked yesterday.

I never got drunk on yesterday’s booze. I didn’t get fed on yesterday’s dinner. I made sure I put on makeup and checked in to let all my “friends” know how cute I look or how my family is doing. I may have even worked out. I never rested on yesterday’s feeding of body, feeding the disease or feeding the ego, so why do I think for one second that I can rest on yesterday’s solution to a disease that will kill me? .

Having an allergy to alcohol (abnormal reaction), is just like a peanut allergy. Except, the person with the allergy to peanuts does not continuously seek to ingest peanuts. He is consciously aware and sane enough to know what will happen if he eats them. I, on the other hand, will obsess about it, try to find loopholes, bargain, think it through and then go to great lengths to find ways to destroy myself and end my state of sobriety. I can be stone cold sober physically, but drunk on drama and unmanageability.

We as alcoholics have a 3 fold disease. This was VERY significant for me to absorb so I could fully embrace the entire solution. When I was new, I didn’t have the capacity to comprehend the magnitude of what I was up against, I just didn’t want to drink anymore. I honestly thought I would hit a few meetings, not drink, do this step stuff and live happily ever after. That’s fine, because I couldn’t have handled much else at the time, but if I stayed there, in AA kindergarten, then I would be dead.

Mind-Obsession, incessant thoughts about other people, replaying the past, reliving past senorios, rehearsing conversations, manipulation, scheming, lying-sober or not:

“I’m gonna say this, so they will do that”, 

“I need to get this because if I don’t have it then….” 

“what will they think if I get this car” 

“did they see me do that? OMG, what if I get fired! What will I do?”

“I wonder if he will be there, OMG, what if she is with him” 

“If they ask me to do….then how do I tell them no, I know, I will tell them I’m sick”

“Why aren’t my neighbors aren’t moving their car, I think I will tell them how it makes me feel” 

“I need to tell her this so maybe she will….” 

“Remember when you did that at that party…I’m disgusting, I hate myself-I hate everyone.” 

“I hope I see him so he sees what I look like now and wants me back” 

“That bitch thinks she can do that to me?!?”

I MEAN…how in the hell could God/truth/good/beauty/gratitude get in through all that noise??? It’s exhausting juggling all that! That frequency/channel allows nothing in but static nonsense! I need to change the channel! But how do you change something you think is completely normal?? I learned I could change the channel from hearing the ESH of honest, spirit filled, recovered alcoholics who had no problem sharing the dark reality of what I was living in daily. It was gross. It was heavy, and it is NOT normal. And then offering me a way out. Normalizing the abnormal kept me sick.

Body-When I ingest alcohol I want more. It’s like a switch is turned on. A normal drinker will start to feel the warm and fuzzy feelings, get a little tired and call it a night. NOT ME. I’m off to the races! I instantly want more. I will go to any lengths to recapture the first time my body recorded that feeling of ease and comfort and I want more. I do not process alcohol normally so I can’t drink it. I can never drink it. But I need to further my growth so I never again seek to fill myself with poison of any form for ease and comfort.

Spirit-My spirit suffers when it disconnects from me when I am on a spree. The disease can manifest in sex sprees, shopping sprees, fear sprees, food sprees, drama spress, thinking sprees, anger sprees, politics sprees, news sprees, emotionally charged social cause sprees -all symptoms of obsession to consume or get more of something because my spirit is malnourished and without purpose. I can so easily go to extremes-so the solution brings me back to center.

If one or all parts of self are out of balance, we suffer. We can always get back on track-no matter how far down the scale I have gone-again, sober or not. I don’t care if you have 100 years sober time- if you are suffering because of a wicked case of untreated alcoholism-please ask for help. We have all been there!! The solution is in having a new experience with the Steps that paves the way back to the source that nourishes us. The things we may be seeking relief in are temporary/temporal-God is infinite, merciful, sustainable, safe and stable.

Asking the group to share one of your favorite passages from chapter 2 “There is a Solution”  and your personal experience with the Solution.

I pray you are all well wherever you are!!

Hilarie

4.8.14

 

January 21: Finding a Power Greater than Myself

Topic for the week:

‘Most emphatically, we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial.’

From Appendix 2, Spiritual Experience, p. 568 ed. 4

Due to some early life trauma that triggered my first drunk at age 11, I became both intolerant and belligerent about anything spiritual. Though not atheist, I was strongly agnostic and convinced it was impossible to prove God existed, so why bother with any of it? A loving God was out of the question. I stubbornly stuck to this through many years. I’m still not sure about a ‘loving’ God, but I became able to explore and accept spiritual concepts purely to save my sanity and my life. Finding a power greater than myself evolved with Creative Intelligence (p. 46) and electricity (p. 48). I haven’t really gone to religion, though I’ve studied several of them. But I have gained access to a Power greater than me (p. 50) that has brought about the miracle of my survival. I have fortunately had a few profound spiritual experiences. PLUS I can now say that I’m happy, joyous and free most of the time! The AA booklet, ‘Came To Believe’, has been very helpful in offering many different ways of approaching spiritual growth and fulfillment. I am mostly free of all the ‘bedevilments’ (p. 52), and can no longer state that there may be no meaning to any of existence – who am I to say . There is a Power greater than myself, certainly, and today I’m able to call that Great Reality ‘God’.

January 14: The good we do for others (and ourselves)

Topic for the week: The good we do for others (and ourselves)

Hi again, I’m Mari Ann and I’m still an alcoholic.

There are four of us at my home group who celebrate anniversaries in January and this year they all landed in the past week.  So we four, and our sponsors or a sponsee, went to dinner last night to celebrate the occasion for the first time together.

It turned out that the sponsor of one of the women was an old-timer known to most of us but whom we haven’t seen in years due to living in different towns some distance apart. I recognized Mary from a women-only conference where hundreds of sober women met for a day of workshops and where there was a sobriety countdown.  As each tier of time-sober women sat down, she was usually the last woman standing with a number of years sober that seemed impossible.

My own sponsor never attended those conferences and mentioned that she hadn’t seen Mary in 35 years – at least.

The group exchanged stories of experiences shared over the years, but the one that caused goosebumps to pop out all over me was when my sponsor reminded Mary that “You took me to treatment over 40 years ago.”

That simple acknowledgement of a single action that saved one more life took my breath away. How one woman, doing what was best for her own sobriety by doing service in bringing a teenage girl to treatment, had ultimately informed the lives of most of us sitting around the table.

Mary didn’t remember doing that particular good deed. Probably because over the course of her 49 years in the program she has done too many to recall.  Every time we share at a meeting, every time we give someone a ride, every time we do coffee, take a phone call, check on another person in the program we sprinkle the life-saving good in ways we can’t see, probably won’t remember, but do more good than we think possible.

I celebrated 36 years sober last Tuesday and every year believe more firmly that I am a conduit for this program. It passes through me to whomever needs it as long as I do my best to live it.

To borrow from the old Nike Ad “Just do it!” It saves others as well as ourselves.

Thanks for letting me lead this week.  Be assured whatever you choose to share will turn out to be needed by someone.

Mari Ann

January 7: Step One

Topic for the week: Step 1

We are all invited to share on Step 1. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 1 ***

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

This step is listed in Chapter 5, How it Works, from the book, Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as the Big Book) (see p. 59). There’s more – the Big Book opens with Bill’s Story (which details how one of the A.A. founders found that he was powerless over alcohol and that his life was unmanageable) and I think Chapter 3, “More About Alcoholism” talks about this in detail. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

I didn’t think I was powerless when I was drinking. I was in control and you weren’t like me. Then I found I’d feel like crying if I couldn’t drink. I am sure that is a normal thing, isnt it? Then I just felt I needed a drink, to get out the door (To get more drink)… Still couldn’t admit it was a problem…. I’d embarrass myself, in towns where no one knew me…. Still not a problem. I even embarrassed myself at my sisters 60th birthday in October 2018 ((She’s 65 now… That’s A positive hint))… Caus then they told me, I had a problem… And slowly slowly catchy this monkey, I finally caved and for the first time on day 2 of sobriety ((For the final time – I hope to HP) I learnt that first step and started to say it in public, to my sister and anyone else including myself who knew how to listen and what to hear…

It had a powerful spell on me and I couldn’t get out from under it. It took and took and left me with nothing but my virtual knobbly knees.

It was Jan 02, when I rang the facility. I was there for assessment on the third and I had a room on the 6th. I had my last hangover on the 01st of Jan and my last ever drink on the 05th Jan.

So on the 05 Jan 2024 – I will be 5 years sober. 5 years, since I realised the spell – and the only way to dismiss a spell, is to call it out. YES – I WAS powerless and YES – My life was unmanageable….

Not any more….. 🙂 True Story – LOL

So ladies, what’s your story? What or who whispered that you were stronger than that storm? How did you rise from your knees? Looking forward to hearing from you all xxxxx