November 27: What Service means to me in my recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous

Being of Service and what it has meant to my sobriety.

 

Dr. Bob, one of the co-founders of AA, often said, “Love is Service in Action.”

I was fortunate to belong to an active Home Group where service commitments were strongly encouraged.

 

After I had been sober about a month, my Sponsor suggested I get two service commitments a week. One would be at my Home Group and the other would be at another meeting I regularly attended. She told me the importance of Service was for the following reasons:

·      It was an important factor in feeling a part of; and for an alcoholic whose default position is feeling apart from, this would make a profound difference in my recovery.

·      It would keep me coming back to meetings on the days when I didn’t want to come to meetings.

·      It would teach me about responsibility, about the importance of being accountable to the group- that I was never to miss my commitment and if some calamity should be-fall me and I did miss, it was up to me to contact another AA member to fulfill my commitment; I was to call the Secretary and let her know I wouldn’t be at the meeting and who was filling in for me.

·      It would help me to get to know the faces in my meetings and just as I would get to know them, they would get to know me. She told me this was important because Alcoholics tend to isolate. If I was not attending the meeting, other regular members would call to check on me. Also, she said, I was to check on them if they weren’t present.

 

Service became another tool of my sobriety. I was taught by my sponsor to ask the Secretary for a commitment and ask, “Where can I be of service to the meeting? The Secretary would tell me what commitment I would have.

 

I was in my first year of sobriety and we were rotating commitments. I asked the Secretary what commitment is available? She said, “cleaning the women’s restroom.” Oh my. I was so offended! I didn’t say anything but went directly to my sponsor and told her. My Sponsor asked why I was so offended. I said, “Cleaning the bathroom is beneath me!” She said, “I think that would be the perfect commitment for you then. Your ego will thank you later.”

 

One more story on service and then I’ll stop.

 

 I was at the same meeting a couple of years later and a friend of mine who was new to the group was called on to share. He went on a tear about the meeting, he said he didn’t feel a part of, and everyone was in cliques at the meeting. Another member was called on to share after this and said, “if you’re not feeling a part of, ask yourself if you are taking the action to be a part of.” I have never forgotten that. Whenever I feel apart from at a meeting, it is imperative I self-inventory and question myself, “Am I giving to the meeting rather than taking?”

 

TOPIC: “What Service means to me in my recovery in Alcoholic Anonymous”

 

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you my experience, strength, and hope! Great blessings to each of you.

 

Kim O’Connor

July 1, 1990

November 20: Self-medicating

Topic for the week: Self-medicating

I have learned so many things from this program, about alcoholism and about myself. I know that I am powerless over the first drink and that I must have spiritual help in order to stay sober. I need to quit trying to play God and turn to a higher power for guidance. Above all else, no matter what happens, just don’t take that first drink. “We are without defense against the first drink.” (AA Big Book, page 24)

When I was first sober, that was all I focused on. Just don’t drink–each hour, each day. As the days and hours went by, I realized the other issues I had to deal with that contributed to my drinking, such as anger against my mother, trying to be in control of everything around me, fear of failure. Once the blurriness of being drunk and hungover was out of the way, I could see these things I had to work on to heal myself.

Recently, I was diagnosed with ADD. This was a relief after 30 years of being told it was hormones, too much work, depression, etc. I have more understanding now of why I have felt and behaved in certain ways, and I can work on it. This complicates my alcoholism, because I realize that part of why I was drinking in the first place was self-medication.

For me, and maybe for some of you, it’s not so simple as just not drinking. That is key, but to know that I will actually stay sober, I need to deal with the dual diagnosis and underlying issues that could cause me to drink again. With dual diagnosis (when someone experiences a mental illness and a substance use disorder simultaneously), there is a mental or neurological disorder that may require medication or therapy, and without that, it’s possible I could turn again to self-medicating with alcohol.


That is what I’ve been dealing with and learning about the last couple months. What are your experiences with dual diagnosis, or other underlying issues that caused you to self-medicate yourself with alcohol? I look forward to hearing your shares. Thank you for letting me serve the group with this meeting.
Katie

November 13: 5th Step – Completing the housecleaning

Topic for the week: 5th Step, Completing the housecleaning. pp. 72-73, ‘Into Action’ chapter, BB

Time after time, newcomers have tried to keep to themselves shoddy facts about their lives. Trying to avoid the humbling experience of the 5th step, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably, they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness & honesty, in the sense that we find it necessary, until they told someone else their entire life story.

I remember my first 5th step. I was terrified. I felt that no one I’d ever want to talk to had done some of the things I’d done. What saved me was p. 74, where it says that we can go to clergy, a psychologist, a doctor, a close-mouthed friend, or a family member, and I’ve heard of people approaching a total stranger that felt ‘right’. On pp. 74-75, it mentions approaching the person by explaining what we are needing to do and why, which makes them receptive to listening seriously.

I used a couple of different people for different parts of my story. For one part, I had to hide my face in my hands as I spoke, my shame and fear of rejection were so strong.

There are still a few degrading things I did while drunk that I rarely discuss unless it can be helpful to someone else who is struggling with the same or similar bits of personal history.

The biggest thing I learned from the 5th step process was that I had not committed a single original sin; therefore, I was still a part of the struggling human race. For the first time, I felt ‘a part of’ something rather than ‘apart from’ everything. AA’s 5th step gave me permission to join the world I’d excluded myself from with my drunken behavior and thinking.

Please share your experience with doing a thorough, fearless & honest 5th step, or what is holding you back from doing so.

October 30: Darkness and Light

Topic for the week: Darkness and Light

Ladies – Thanks again for allowing me to host. In this part of the world, the nights are getting longer and I am seeing less and less of the Sun. Being Irish with my pale skin I yearn for the Sun to feed my vitamin D mood… In these winter months, my mood can take a turn, my motivation lessens and like hedgehogs and groundhogs (for you American folk…), I don’t want to go out…

I take comfort in warm fires, electric blankets and fluffy coats. But I also look to these emails, my nightly readings, my step 10s, my online meetings, new ways to reach out to others, my sponsor.

When my brain needs a break, I watch tv, read a good book, learn something new, put furniture together….

Bottom line, If I am not AAing, I am keeping busy…. Because I know, if I don’t… I can enter the bottle and Ill never get out…

So my question for you, as the days get colder and the nights get longer, is how do you deal?

Thanks for taking the time to read this 🙂

October 23: Patience, love and tolerance is our code

Topic for the week: Patience, love and tolerance is our code.

Last night at my home group, a woman I have seen come in and out, was obviously under the influence. She sat in her seat, mumbling, swaying, eyes half open. She would say some random words, but generally not too disruptive. I felt my heart rate speed up. I was trying to so hard to focus on the speaker.

The woman started getting louder and making comments. I repeatedly asked her to be quiet. I sat there telling myself she has every right to be here, so long as she’s not disturbing the meeting. It was awkward and uncomfortable. A minute later, she shouted out something terrible to the group and I said “Ok, that’s it, time to go.” I stood up and with the help of another woman, we got her outside.

We were trying to find out how to get in touch with her mother, to get her a ride home, she was belligerent, trying to get back into the church, screaming, she raised her fist, and grazed my jaw, trying to hit me. It was scary, sad and disturbing. One of the men came out and sat with her and calmed her down.

We ultimately called EMS. Her mother came up as she was getting into the ambulance. The look on her face was so sad. She looked defeated, scared and sad.

After they were on their way, we went back to the meeting, just in time for the Lords Prayer.

It was the first time that I experienced something like this in my sobriety. It was a reminder that I must be diligent in working on my recovery. My last drunk landed me in an ambulance and the hospital, just like this woman. I know the most I can do is pray for her.

As I drove home, I was thinking of my former sponsor (who also recently relapsed) thinking that she taught me that patience, love and tolerance is our code. While I felt selfish (annoyed) that I missed my meeting, I knew that I was responsible for helping this woman and I was grateful to grow in patience, love and tolerance. There before the grace of God, go I.

Please share on patience, tolerance, love or anything that might be on your mind.

October 16: Acceptance, getting what we need vs getting what we want

Topic for the week:

I have been thinking a lot about this quote on acceptance that can be found in Alcoholics Anonymous (commonly referred to as the Big Book), pg 417 of the Fourth Edition:

“When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, 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.”

There have been many situations I have been struggling with the last few years, particularly a sense of a lack of control over my own time. It feels like there’s not enough time to do all that’s on my plate. At the same time, I’m struggling with the sound of the clock ticking, because I am aging and so are many of the people I am closest to.

As is described in the Big Book (p 60), as alcoholics we want to be in charge, arranging the lights as we see fit, even dictating what others say and how they act.

It’s a grand illusion though. I am not in charge. And that’s probably a good thing.

Early in sobriety, I learned a powerful lesson and that’s that even though I don’t always get what I want in recovery, I always, always get what I need.

Another important lesson I was taught is that alcoholics have only one problem and that is the disease of alcoholism; everything else is just situations.

Alcoholism is a cunning, powerful and baffling illness that wants all of us dead. Eternal vigilance is the price we pay for sobriety.

It’s important whenever I’m feeling disturbed that I ask myself, “Are you getting what you need today?” I have found that the answer is always yes.

I also remind myself that when I’m not getting what I want, a power greater than myself has a better idea.

Accepting that everything is playing out exactly the way it’s supposed to, even if it doesn’t make sense at this time, is an important key to sobriety and serenity.

This week I invite you to share on acceptance, getting what we need versus getting what we want or any other topic you feel moved to share about.

Together we can do what none of us can do alone.

Thank you all for being part of this group and for letting me lead this week.

Hugs to all who need or want one.
Valerie D
DOS 2/8/88

October 9: The A B C’s

I’m Sophie, an alcoholic.

I’m aware we’ve had lots of new ladies join us in recent months. I wanted to bring a topic to the meeting to share something that helped me when I was new in AA and new to the idea of sobriety. 

I found I loved reading the AA Big Book, especially the stories in the back. Those chapters in the back, I could read by myself and they made sense. I related. It slightly scared me but I could see easily lots of similarities despite often glaring differences too. The words in those chapters soothed me. Especially at night, alone and lonely and scared and unable to sleep in those early months. 

But one of the sections in the earlier chapters is one that began to make sense in those early days and continues to be a huge help now. 

When I need to recentre or regroup myself, the a,b,c’s in Chapter Five make a huge difference to me. Re-reading these simple statements sum up the core of who I now know today I am.

In those early days I kind of felt it but the words were in my head. Then as I gave AA and the fellowship, the people, a chance to enter into my heart those words became an anchor. So I’m sharing them here today…. 

“Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.”

Is there anything in these statements that helps you today or has helped you? 

Today I apply the idea of “no human power” far beyond just my alcoholism. But in the beginning that was enough and that’s what AA exists for after all. And today I know the solution to all my problems lies with the god of my understanding, the Higher Power I found here. Anything I don’t address with my program and with the god of my understanding has the power to affect my sanity, my serenity and and my sobriety. 

I love the phrase “personal adventures” and I often wonder if the newcomers here might need a little more of our before and after stories as they settle. I know for me I got so much out of hearing how things were different for people in their sober lives. Speaker shares online are the main way I connect to hearing peoples Experience Strength and Hope shares these days. And, past the initial identification of losing the power to control how often and when or where I drank, what brings me so much is hearing the miracles of this program and of god at work in the lives of fellow alcoholics. 

The word “sought” reminds me its up to me to take the action to move towards god. And then I find the peace and serenity and sanity I need and guidance to know the next right action and courage to take it. 

How have the a,b,c’s helped you in your sobriety or in your life? Do they continue to help you? 

I’ve needed the reminder that no human power could have helped my alcoholism and that the god of my understanding is there for me. I can apply this to all aspects of my life and to my AA home group. I’m here to serve and my primary purpose is to stay sober and help another alcoholic. 

The meeting is open for sharing from anyone in GROW.

Please share on topic, the a,b,c’s or off topic related to alcoholism or sobriety as you wish.

The meeting is yours. 

In love and fellowship and with warm hugs.

Thank you for having me be of service.

Sophie 

October 2: Step 10

*** Step 10 ***

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

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 in the middle of page 84. 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/

As a Catholic, the Tenth Step can feel routine to me. Apologizing for sleights was second nature, to the point where I wondered if my amends had any meaning. But then I realized that I wasn’t going deep enough. It was easy for me to apologize and make amends for the easy stuff (i.e., sorry I didn’t respond to your email more quickly, sorry that I missed your call, sorry that dinner was late, sorry, sorry, sorry). But it took some work to make amends for the harder stuff (e.g., I am so sorry that I was not there when you needed me; I am so sorry that I treated you like an object and not my partner; I am so sorry that my choice had a negative impact on you).

I knew that I was really working my Tenth Step when the people to whom I was trying to make amends either needed some time to process my amends or still have not offered them. Some of the things I did in my drinking days (and even more recently) have really hurt people and as a result, people have drawn boundaries. In the past, those boundaries would have really hurt me and I would have done anything for someone to forgive me. But now I realize that the purpose of the Tenth Step is for me to have an awareness for how my actions impact others and if they have a negative impact, I need to be accountable. For me, the gift of the Tenth Step is that accountability, not whether someone forgives me. I cannot make anyone forgive me -(that’s up to them and their higher power) — but I can strive to be the best person I can be.

I went to confession yesterday and at the end, the priest told me to keep coming back, that the purpose of going to confession on a regular basis was not to achieve perfection but rather to keep on trying to be a better person. There’s a lot of similarities between what he said and the Tenth Step — as recovering alcoholics, we don’t strive for perfection — we try to be better people, one day at a time.

If you are looking for a tool to help you on your Tenth Step journey, check out the “My Spiritual Toolkit” app. I am grateful to my sponsor for introducing this app to me, as it includes nightly and spot check inventories. And yes, these tools have helped me go deep. 🙂

September 25: Self-confidence, before and after sobriety

Topic for the week: Self confidence before and after sobriety

When I was using I had no self confidence at all, not one speck unless I was loaded. Everyday was a merry-go-round of what-ifs and how things were always my fault. I was always trying to fix things, trying for other outcomes. I was absolutely paralyzed with devastation if someone didn’t like me or blamed me for something. The self recrimination and self abuse was round the clock if I was not drinking. Alcohol has me so beat down I did not feel I deserved better, I was a worthless excuse for a person. Everyone was going to see what a fake I truly was. So pour on more alcohol to numb that feeling which always came back even stronger when I sobered up.

I do not feel that way today. Working the steps in sobriety, I have slowly gained self respect leading to self confidence and self love. Each worked step not only put the thought of a drink farther and farther away, it also brought about a spiritual and mental change. The many gifts of this program permeate into every aspect of my life, attitude and personality. I no longer grovel and beg you to love me. I do the right things which lead me to be proud of myself. I don’t need others and alcohol to validate me today, I am whole. I have self confidence in my life now. If I don’t have the answer to a problem I can go to my HP or others in the program for direction and advice. Even after that, if something does not go well, I know that day is still a success because I did not drink and stayed close to my program.

I celebrate an anniversary soon and upon reflection I realize that more miracles come to me each day.

Please share about your journey to healthy self confidence in the program or anything else you need to talk about today. Thanks for letting me lead.

Lynn

September 18: What It Was Like (My Early Days in A.A.)

Topic for the week:  WHAT IT WAS LIKE (My Early Days in A.A.)

I’d vowed I’d never drink.  Surely I wouldn’t be an alcoholic.  I was afraid of drinkers and they made me mad.  However…well, you know.  Celebrating a sober anniversary, I try to explain.

I was a late starter but soon realized I was proficient at this thing called drinking.  Perhaps not even getting drunk, I thought.  LOL!  Early on, I’d perfected my character defects. They did yield to some inhibitions.  When I drank they were full blown.

There came a time when the frequency and progression of my drinking sped up.  One day I couldn’t stop at all.  I was scared.  I called an ex who was in the Program who took me to counseling. I was sent to AA.  I thought it was a mistake but what else could I do?  When I got to that church basement I was bewildered but felt at home.  I am an inveterate people watcher.  I watched and listened to everyone.  I  really couldn’t make sense of what was happening.

Nothing seemed like it would stop my drinking.

I had to agree, I was powerless over alcohol.  My life surely was unmanageable.  But I stopped drinking on the spot. The obsession was lifted. I have no idea why.  For sure I didn’t make it happen.  Without alcohol I couldn’t stand the emotional pain and thought I’d die.  I was losing my mind!  This one was beyond me.  Now what?  I had long dropped the ‘god’ of my childhood for non-performance!  I tried to make that work but it just didn’t.  I didn’t know where to turn.  I couldn’t deny there was ‘something’ out there. If I coulda, I woulda!

I came to the rooms with a smattering of spirituality.  I think that for a long time the group was a power greater than myself.  All these people doing what I couldn’t.  So many of them found a god they liked.  I considered trying one of theirs.  A most amazing chapter of  ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, our Big Book, We Agnostics, Chapter 4 explains it all. I’d have to stay in this limbo for a while first.

I was a poster child for the first 3 Steps.  I saw them as one chunk of a step.  I was there for a good while.  Slowly the message began to seep in.  I was in wild emotional pain but I didn’t even want to drink.  I just wanted to get better from the hurt and rage that drinking alcohol powered. I found out that I’d had one of those nice Higher Powers who looked after me all along, but who was just waiting til I settled somewhere in life to finish the job.  I understood that.  I continued to marvel at the meetings and how others managed their lives without drinking and not giving up.  And every meeting gave me more hints.  It started to work.

Sometimes I still read How It Works again to find out just how indeed it did work.  You know, like the details. I know it was a MIracle-but what in particular helped me stop drinking at that meeting. Right there.  I only just arrived.

I am forever grateful, a day at a time.  I guess newcomers look at me and wonder too.  That’s okay.  It’s part of the process.  Maybe my experience, strength and hope will help.  September makes me think about things: the month I was born, the month I got sober. That’s what it was like.  I would never have imagined. So glad I’m here.  What were your early days like?   What a gift to join with all of you today!  hgz, b.  9/21/84

September 11: Joy of Sobriety

Topic for the week:

Last week, Hilarie L’s share on AA’s history included Dr. Paul’s Interview, excerpted from the July 1995, issue of Grapevine. Here’s a quote from Dr. Paul’s interview:

*I got a couple of friends together and we started a “joy of sobriety” meeting. It’s a one-hour topic discussion meeting and it has to be a topic out of the Big Book and it has to be on the program and how you enjoy living the program.*

I’d like to suggest that this week’s meeting be a “joy of sobriety” meeting! We often discuss working the Program in order to continue living a sane, sober life. Sometimes that work can feel like drudgery, like with that mythological guy Sisyphus forced to roll a humongous rock uphill for all eternity (or is that just me?!) There were no rewards in store for Sisyphus, but there are huge payoffs for us when we do the work. Joy is just one of them.

Here are some of my deepest joys, courtesy of AA & working the Program:

– knowing that I know that God’s got me right where I need to be…sometimes I may not feel it, but I know it

– when I know my place, I’m right-sized…rather than thinking less of myself anymore, I think of myself less – in a good way

– learning to know when I need to make amends to re-right myself, because I own my life…I’m no longer a victim or a saint

– I accept & respect that you own your life, so my focus stays where it should, on my own business & not yours

– it’s not my job to fix or rescue everything or anyone…what a relief!

– I can respect the woman in the mirror, remembering where she was, where she is today, & where she has the potential to be tomorrow…I even like her

– my daughters know these things, too…& they love me

– I’m a living example for them of what is possible…the good, the bad, the ugly, the insane, the restored, & the hopeful

– the joy of hope…Andy, a character from The Shawshank Redemption said, “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, & no good thing ever dies.” Turns out my hope wasn’t dead after all 🙂

What are your joys of sobriety? Please share them with us! Thank you for the opportunity to chair today’s meeting. It’s been my privilege & pleasure.

Gratefully,

Julie <3

September 4: Step 9

Topic for the week: Step 9

We are all invited to share on Step 9. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 9 ***

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

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 much more in Chapter 6 (Into Action), starting in the middle of page 76. There’s even more about it in the book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

Making amends….not something I was familiar with while an active alcoholic! It’s a good thing I went through the Steps starting at Step 1 as I surely couldn’t have done Step 9 if I hadn’t done the other Steps in the order in which they’re written – there’s just no way. I wouldn’t have had an understanding of what it means to make amends, I wouldn’t have known who I needed to make amends to, and I wouldn’t have had the calmness of spirit to understand that making amends to those I’ve hurt is for their benefit and also mine. For me, it’s the step that allows me to begin being of service to others by cleaning my side of the street, trying to mend broken relationships and therefore finally making an attempt to connect with others in a meaningful way (i.e., not just to get something from them), and starting the process of forgiving myself for what I’d done while an active alcoholic.

I don’t know that I consciously made the decision to do this – it may just have been that they were the ones I was in contact with most often – but most of my initial amends were made to family members. It wasn’t easy; I found myself getting choked up due to nerves, wondering how the person I was making amends to would react, if they’d be angry, and so on. But every time after making the amends – every time! – I felt SO much better…truly, it felt like a weight had been lifted from me. In making my amends I tried to remain focused only on myself and my part, which wasn’t easy when it came to my parents. In all honesty I don’t think I did a good job when it came to my mother; she was a single parent for much of my childhood, raising my older sister, brother and me. However, it’s not too late to “update” my amends as she’s still alive and well, and I’ve certainly made a conscious effort to live my amends to her by being a helpful, honest, loving daughter, none of which I was when I was actively drinking.

One of the first amends I made was to a former employer; as an undergraduate I worked part-time in a convenience store. While at work I’d occasionally take a soda or an iced tea, I’d eat a sandwich (I worked in the deli area sometimes) and I’d often take the Sunday newspaper insert that had the comics, TV guide, grocery store coupons, etc. I didn’t pay for any of these things. Because the company is a large one with many locations I didn’t feel that making amends to the manager of my store was appropriate, after all, he didn’t own the store. I discussed it with my sponsor and we came to the decision that I’d write to the office of the company’s president and, along with my written amends, I’d include a check for the estimated amount of money I owed for all the items I stole. I sent the amends and check, and about two or three weeks later I came home from work, listened to my phone messages (this was long ago, in the days before cell phones) and there was a message from the secretary of the company’s president asking me to call her. I thought, shit – they’re going to press charges! I shouldn’t have sent the letter!

Once I’d calmed down and remembered that we make amends in order to stay sober and leave the outcome up to our HP – I have no control over how my amends will be taken. I called the secretary, and with numerous fearful scenarios swirling around in my head, I told her who I was and that I’d received her message. She then told me the most wonderful thing; her boss had read my letter and was overcome with gratitude because his wife had just begun in AA and he was so happy to see what AA might do, could do, for her. The secretary couldn’t thank me enough for sending the letter, and it was I who was saying “You’re welcome.” several times throughout the conversation!  Now granted, not all of my amends have been like that, but this one is such a great reminder to me that I never know how my honesty and willingness to work the program will affect others.

I know this is a long share but I’d like to mention one other amends. I happened to be in Paris a number of years ago and was in a park when I turned around and thought I recognized a man as someone I owed amends to. I wasn’t sure so I hid behind a tree and tried to get a better look at him. I was pretty sure it was him so I started to think about what my amends were as I really hadn’t expected to ever see this guy again – I didn’t even remember his last name even though I’d shared an apt. with him (and another friend) in San Francisco for about six months in the mid-’80s

As I was trying to recall what I’d written on my 4th step, it looked as though he was leaving the park. I started to debate in my head whether or not to go after him…I wasn’t exactly thrilled to have the opportunity to make amends, and while on vacation in Paris! I kept hiding behind the tree and debating until it was clear he was definitely leaving. I thought, Michele, you made a promise to yourself to go to any lengths to stay sober and here is your chance to make amends to Scott – you may never get this chance again! So, I made the split-second decision to go after him and after walking up to him (he was waiting at a bus stop) I excused myself and asked him if his name was Scott; it had been about 20 years since I’d seen him so I wanted to be sure I had the right guy before making my amends. He smiled and said, “No.” I said, “Oh, okay.”, and walked away, laughing at myself for being so nervous when I didn’t even have the right person! I never confirmed this, but I think the guy I spoke to was an English actor as a few months after this incident I saw a program about British spies in France during WWII and one of the male actors looked just like the guy I talked to, and this actor looked a lot like Scott.

For me, making amends for the things I did, or didn’t do and should have, while an active alcoholic has released me from much of the self-hate, guilt, and overall negative feelings about myself I carried around for many, many years. And as I mentioned earlier, it has allowed me to start connecting with others in meaningful ways, ways I’d never been able to before due to my selfishness and dishonesty. Making amends is still somewhat difficult for me, but knowing the benefits of making them is what keeps me willing when the opportunity arises. As for Scott, our paths have yet to cross, but I remain willing 🙂

Thanks for letting me share. Please share on your experience with Step 9.

August 28: Service

Topic for the week: Service

When I first joined the program, I had this lofty vision of what service was — being a sponsor, chairing a meeting — all things I could not imagine doing in my early days of recovery. Working the program to keep myself sober one day at a time already took up so much time and effort — how on earth could I find the bandwidth to do more? As I did my 90 meetings in 90 days (over Zoom during the pandemic), I heard old-timers talking about what service looked like in in-person meetings: making coffee, setting up chairs, cleaning up.

But what does service look like in a virtual world? Responding privately to someone who posted to provide words of encouragement. Sharing reflections in response to the weekly topic. Volunteering to be a greeter to respond to prospective new members. Volunteering to lead a meeting. I wasn’t ready to do any of this until I reached the 12th step. And what I found was that I was indeed ready — I just needed time to work the steps and let the miracle unfold so that things would happen in my Higher Power’s time, not mine.

What does service in AA look like to you? What are some of the challenges you face in your service? What are miracles you have seen unfold as a result of your service? The floor is open to your thoughts and reflections.

August 21: Fear or faith, which is it to be?

Topic for the week:  Fear or faith, which is it to be?

“This short word (fear) touches about every aspect of our lives. It was an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us great misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling? Sometimes we think fear ought to be classed with stealing. It seems to cause more trouble.

Perhaps there is a better way–we think so. For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns, Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity.” (p.67-8)

Hello all, TheresaB alcoholic here. This has been the most common thread for me this year, I keep hearing “which is it? He either is or He isn’t, the choice is mine. Do I allow the fear to overtake and pervade my life, or do I act on faith even when I am not feeling it?

For me the solution is to pray, incessantly until the fear leaves me. Some nights I fall asleep saying God, God, God ad infinium. It is very unsettling to have all these days of sobriety and still question the basic premise of our program. Intellectually I have faith but every so often doubts overwhelm me and I am faced with the basic question, which is it to be? I know the answer even when the path is unclear.

How do you face your fears and how do you overcome them? Thanks for letting me chair, the meeting is now open and I look forward to your responses

August 14: Integrity

Topic for the week: Integrity

Integrity, noun.

  1. The quality of being honest and having moral principles; moral uprightness.
  2. The state of being whole and undivided.

(From: Oxford Languages online dictionary)

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to be of service! I got sober in this meeting nine years ago Tuesday. And this week I realized that the greatest gift of sobriety has been learning to act with integrity.

I had a growth opportunity last week–standing up for myself. I was scared to do it, and I did it anyhow, because that is what you taught me to do.

The response I got surprised me. The person thanked me for being so clear and honest. And I realized that it was very difficult to be clear and honest when I was drinking and trying to hide my behavior and my real self from everyone because I felt ashamed and/or entitled!

Before I got sober I lied in order to manipulate outcomes, even when I had nothing to hide. I felt entitled to act without considering others. I stole from my employers and the government, and refused to take care of myself. I farmed that out to partners, boyfriends, my parents.

Integrity is what I feel every time I act despite fear in order to take care of myself, every time I take action in a way that reflects my values and my sobriety. When I see myself giving to a sponsee or someone I’ve never met without thinking “now you owe me something,” I feel as though I have won the lottery. Who is this person!? She’s me. And I’m so grateful.

What does integrity feel like for you? What is the greatest gift sobriety has given you? I’m looking forward to reading your shares!

The meeting is open. Have a beautiful day!

X

Kirsten

August 7: Step 8

Topic for the week: Step 8

We are all invited to share on Step 8. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 8 ***
“Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all”

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 at the top of page 76.

I have experienced this step once myself, and I appreciated that it didn’t just leap right into making the amends. I love how the 12 steps in AA take each part of what is being done and focus on just that – become willing, make a decision – before acting. It ended up feeling less overwhelming than I had imagined (I guess most things are).

Step 8 came after the action of asking my Higher Power to remove my shortcomings (listed during step 4). So next would be making things right with the humans in my life. The list of all persons I had harmed was included in that step 4 inventory list, so I already had the starting ground.

I had to take a look at my list of people, and become willing to make amends. What would that look like? The Big Book says, “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.”

For me, having a plan helps with anxiety and at the suggestion of my sponsor, I took each person one-by-one and figured out the best course. Just planning it out – Who could I make amends to without harming them, who could I not make amends to because they were dead or no longer in my life and not willing to contact? (For them, I decided the plan would be to write a letter and then throw it away.) Who could I start with first, and who would come later? Having a plan helped me to be less afraid of the action to come in step 9 and it helped me to become willing. And able to complete step 8.

Please share any thoughts or experience you’ve had with this step, how it has helped you, and any challenges you’ve gone through. I look forward to reading your shares. Thank you for letting me serve the group.

Katie S.

July 31: 4 horsemen and bedevilments

Topic for the week: 4 Horsemen and Bedevilment

July 30, 2022

Hello ladies, Welcome everyone to this week’s meeting. Also. Congratulations to those who have celebrated an anniversary in the month of July.

I can not take credit for this week’s topic. Last week Hilaire sent out an email about the four horsemen and the 8 bedevilments. Being honest my first thought was where did she read this in the Big Book because I don’t remember this. Then I felt embarrassed having all this time in the rooms of AA and not knowing about the terms four horsemen and the bedevilments. Yep, so I spent a short period of time in my head (which is not a good choice to make putting myself down). After talking to another person, I was able to take a step back and re-read the book and did some additional reading.

It was said that they used the 8 bedevilments are yardstick as to whether the person was going on a spiritual level. Will here is a short summary of the four horsemen

Four horsemen

Four Horsemen are said to be terror, bewilderment, frustration, and despair which describes the alcoholic at the end of his/her drinking “career”. Boy, I can relate to being at this stage the despair for me was so consuming.

 

8 bedevilments of AA

The AA Bedevilments

1 We were having trouble with personal relationships

2 we couldn’t control our emotional natures

3 we were prey to misery and depression

4 we couldn’t make a living

5 we had a feeling of uselessness

6 we were full of fear

7 we were unhappy

8 we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people.

 

Now I looked at the 8 bedevilments of AA and it was said that alcoholics would use this as a yardstick about how well the person was living the spiritual principle of the program. It is also said which I agree with that the four horsemen and 8 bedevilments can describe the state of any member who does not practice a life of rigorous honesty and practice this principle in all our affairs.

I have taken time to look at the four horsemen and can say that since I have put down the drink these behavior patterns are quiet, far in the distance but if I step away from the program they will return with force.

As for the 8 bedevilments, coming into recovery I would have had yes to all but making a living. For some reason I was able to do this. As a matter of fact, my career gave me a purpose in life to live for a very long time.  I still struggle with developing personal connections, being happy, and feeling useful. To be fully honest at this moment, I feel like I am in time square (in NYC, I grew up on Staten Island) and I have no idea which way to go, a sense of emptiness. This state will be worked out in time. I have the tools at my feet, I connect with my HP and I have to accept that life is filled with ups, downs and everything in between.

Where are you at with the four horsemen and 8 bedevilments? What do the four horsemen and bedevilments mean to you? How do you keep your spiritual growth of the program progressing whether you have a little time in or a lot of time in? or please share what is on your heart.

I wish you all another 24 hours of sobriety

Hugs

July 24: Instincts

Topic for the week:

“CREATION gave us instincts for a purpose. . . . these desires— for the sex relation, for material and emotional security, and for companionship — are perfectly necessary and right. . . . Yet these instincts, so necessary for our existence, often far exceed their proper function. . . . Nearly every serious emotional problem can be seen as a case of misdirected instinct.” pp 42 Alcoholics Anonymous

My greatest challenge in sobriety is not not picking up a drink. That desire has been taken away, thank God. But understanding where my instincts/needs/rights end and yours begin does not come easily to me. Finding a healthy balance, setting appropriate boundaries, is a slippery slope, tricky sticky stuff. I know that I can never drink alcohol, but I don’t have the right to tell my husband that he can’t, even though he’s had his own battles with the bottle and I’d feel better if he’d abstain. I know that my most important job is staying sober, that I need to do what I need to do and invest the time and effort to continue to grow and serve to remain sober, but not to the exclusion of meeting my other responsibilities in my home and community. I know I need your companionship to walk this sober road with me so that we can help each other stay between the white lines, but not to the point of neglecting my God, my spouse, my family and my other friends, or even myself. What is a healthy margin and what is encroachment? What is sufficient, when is enough, enough? What is compromise and what is caving in? What is sober, and what is selfish? I am learning, thanks to our Steps, to feel/sense/identify when I’m stumbling into the emotional/instinctual danger zone, but I don’t always know, honestly still often don’t know, where the actual border is, or where to set the fence.

Do you have similar challenges in learning about and maintaining healthy margins of integrity with your instincts? Please share them with us. Or share how your own sober journey is challenging, or rewarding!, you right now.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve our group. Thank you!

July 17: I am enough

Topic for the week:      I am enough.

Hello my Ladies of GROW

I have chosen this for my Topic today for many reasons, particularly as it has become a daily affirmation and a truth I now believe.

When out there rockin and reelin, I never felt like I was good in any way, let alone enough.

Today, because of the program of AA, and the fellowship of wonderful people like you, I get to be enough each and every day, and gratefully sober on top of it.

Gone are the days and feelings of “only”  ~  right/wrong    good/bad    enough/or not     on top/at the bottom  black/white      and are replaced by greys and lavenders and middles of the road. Stability, consistency, accountability, responsibility and kindness have taken their place.

I am so fortunate and in gratitude. Thank you for letting me be of service. Taylor D.

Please share on your “enoughs” in your life and recovery today.

July 10: How To Handle Sobriety

Topic for the week:

 “To Handle Sobriety” (Story on page 553) –

“But above all, it [AA] taught me how to handle sobriety” (p. 558)

”How do we do it? By learning—through practicing the Twelve Steps and through sharing at meetings—how to cope with the problems that we looked to booze to solve, back in our drinking days.  For example we are told in A.A. that we cannot afford resentments and self-pity, so we learn to avoid these festering mental attitudes.  Similarly, we rid ourselves of guild and remorse as we “clean out the garbage” from our minds through the Fourth and Fifth Steps of our recovery program.  We learn how to level out the emotional swings that got us into trouble both when we were up and when we were down.

We are taught to differentiate between our wants (which are never satisfied) and our needs (which are always provided for).  We cast off the burdens of the past and the anxieties of the future, as we begin to live in the present, one day at a time.  We are granted “the serenity to accept the things we cannot change”—and thus lose our quickness to anger and our sensitivity to criticism.

Above all, we reject fantasizing and accept reality.  The more I drank, the more I fantasized everything.  I imagined getting even for hurts and rejections.  In my mind’s eye I played and replayed scenes in which I was plucked magically from the bar where I stood nursing a drink and was instantly exalted to some position of power and prestige.  I lived in a dream world.  A.A. led me gently from fantasizing to embrace reality with open arms.  And I found it beautiful!  For at last, I was at peace with myself.  And with others.  And with God.” (p. 559).

July 3: Step Seven

Topic for the week: Step 7

We are all invited to share on Step 7. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives.

*** Step 7 ***
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

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 at the top of page 76. 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/

 

My personal take on this Step is evolving as I grow in this program.

In my home f2f group this morning, we read and discussed this step from the 12 & 12.  So much of what is written refers to humility, and quite a bit of what was discussed around the room was related to humility.  One person reflected that “Humility does not mean to think less of yourself, it means to thinks of yourself less.”

The reading of the chapter ended with the person before me, and I was on the spot to start the discussion portion of the meeting.  I admitted that I often “demand” rather than “humbly ask” God to remove these shortcomings.  However, over time, this has changed somewhat and as I ask, I also ask to be shown how to make the changes necessary to replace the shortcomings with positive characteristics.

I consulted a therapist for a period of time several years ago, and she started me on the tool of journaling.  I hated it at the beginning, but it has become a very useful tool that is definitely part of my recovery.  I sometimes find that as I write down my thoughts and thought processes, my HP is showing me where I need to make changes, and some of the ways I can actually make the changes.  I often squirm under this guidance, but I know that it is for my betterment.  I am finding that I am truly learning from these moments.

Many of the changes that are taking place happen as a result of my HP showing me a change in my attitude.  The key of willingness is definitely involved here.  I have to be willing to co-operate with my HP in changing my attitude.  I cannot do it on my own.

How are things changing for you as you work this Step?  I look forward to reading your shares.

Pat S  DOS:  06 July 2012

June 26: The Gift of Desperation

In just a few days, I will have been sober for 26 years. This is for me a miracle and beyond my understanding. I drank for more than three decades before I made my first attempt at quitting. But even then, I wasn’t ready. I wanted to drink more than I wanted to stay sober. It was as simple as that. I loved being drunk or high more than anything else in life. I wasn’t ready to give it up. My first go-round in AA lasted 15 months. I always knew I’d drink again, but I acted “as if.” I got a sponsor and did the Steps through Step 5. But Step 6 was a step too far. I wouldn’t admit to character defects. With my low self-esteem, I thought I was just one big character defect, and there wouldn’t be anything left if a Higher Power removed it. So, I walked away from AA, vowing never to return again.

Little did I know that alcohol would drive me back to the rooms. After five more years of heavy drinking, my disease had progressed to the point where I was truly enslaved by alcohol. I was making very unwise life decisions. I’d gone from party animal to solitary drinker. My mind was occupied with all the wrongs that had been done to me over the years. I was drowning in self-pity. I was cut off from other people and from God. I was alone and miserable. I wanted nothing more than to die, but I didn’t have the courage to do it.

Then one night, a power much greater than me showed me what I had become. I was full of anger and capable of violence. I was in a rage. An invisible mirror dropped down in front of me, and what I saw shocked and terrified me. I couldn’t be that middle-aged, raging, drunk woman another day. It was time to go back to AA. But I didn’t believe I could quit. I had no hope. But I’d run out of options. AA was the last house on the block. So, I went to a meeting. I have not had a drink since that meeting almost 26 years ago. I know now that I had been given the gift of desperation. I was desperate not to be the woman I’d seen. Never again.

Because I was desperate to change, I was willing to do what people suggested – without questioning them or their instructions. I was willing to listen with an open mind and to recognize how much I was like everyone else in the rooms rather than how different. When I listened, I learned. When I found the right sponsor and did the steps, I didn’t hesitate at Step 6. I wanted with all my heart to change, and I needed help – both from the fellowship and from the God of my misundertanding. But I did the footwork they told me was necessary. I read the literature, took on service positions, gave people rides to and from meetings, and started feeling less like one big character defect. I worked the program, and the program worked for me.

Looking back, I don’t think I’d have made it had I not been desperate to change mySelf and my life. That vision of myself as I was, rather than who I wanted to be, was what it took. I still believe there was a Higher Power who wanted me to live and had a job for me to do. For me, that job is helping other alcoholics get and stay sober. I do what I can. And I have changed. I’m now the person I want to be, although I’m still driven to be a better person than I am.

My suggestion for this week’s topic is the Gift of Desperation. Please share with us what that phrase means to you and how it has and has not worked for you. If you have anything else you need to talk about, please feel free to share it with us. 

 

June 19: living sober 24 hours a day and your daily sober routine

Topic for today:

Greetings!  Yesterday, I was sitting with my husband when the thought popped in my head that my last drink was consumed at 430am, 22 years ago, at age 23. I did not wake up on the 18th with the intention to sober up. Sick from the booze, everything tastes like cardboard, and another promise broken (to my boss) that I would show up to work.  We closed the office at 2pm.  I talked him into to a day drink with the promise that I would not miss work the next day. My first day sober, I went to work and was sent home. My boss was not happy with me again.  Annoyed, I went to my mom’s house who was scared for me. She would not stop yelling and lecturing from the other room.  Sitting with my 15-year-old sister, I said, “I’m an alcoholic and I need help.” I heard this voice say, “it’s time”.  Opened the yellow pages, ripped out a page from the rehab section, and proceeded to look for the treatment center.   22 years later, I have the freedom to wake up sober and lead an A. A. meeting through the internet.

There is a lot of life packed into 22 years of sobriety.  Both positive and challenging, painful, and exciting, serene, and stark raving sober.  AA members stressed that I could face anything sober so long as the program comes first in my life.  The members told me to keep it simple by practicing a sober routine, work the steps with a sponsor, use the telephone, follow direction, and attend meetings.  Members taught me through their sober walk how we can face anything life throws at us and stay sober.  Their actions convinced me that A. A. works so long as I put this first in my life.  What I found difficult was to live one day at a time.  Wake up with prayers, to ask Higher Power to remove the obsession from alcohol.  Kick off the day with meditation books (e.g. daily reflections, 24 hours day).  Use page 86 in my morning prayers.  Ending my day with page 86 was key in early recovery.  Communicating with my sponsor daily.  Attending meetings regularly, super active in the first two years.  When I thought about two weeks from “today” or the past, I felt an overwhelming sense of fear and dread.  To stay sober for one day was something simple.  I could see myself trusting God with my sobriety for today.  Surrender did not happen overnight.

I have learned that nothing, but God, this way of life, and time can ease the pain when everything feels like it is falling apart.   In the book “Pass It On”, a cofounder shares about his depression.  How he would lay in bed for days, feeling the overwhelming sense of despair.  He was a World War I veteran who had bouts of depression.  When he would rise out of bed, head to the local hospital to 12 step detox patients, Bill Wilson left a new man.  This gives me hope. Living this way of life, one day at a time, offers me the chance to keep things simple.  Living one day at a time has allowed for days to turn into weeks to turn into months to years.  I have not had to pick up any mood-altering substance since the last drunk.  I have learned that “tomorrow” does not exist and to place all of it into God’s hands.  Trust God, clean house, and help others.  This is my formula.  One day at a time.

Thank you, ladies, for paying a 12-step call on me.  I would love to read about your experience, strength, and hope with living sober 24 hours a day and your daily sober routine.  Have a beautiful day!

June 12: Gratitude for our Fellowship and its 87th Anniversary

Topic for the week: Gratitude for our Fellowship and its 87th anniversary

Hi friends. I’m Louise and I’m a grateful alcoholic.

Yesterday we celebrated 87 years of AA’s being in existence. I have been in touch with AA for 50 of those years, and continuously sober for the last 39. It’s made me sit back and take pause to think that the Fellowship was relatively young when I was first introduced to it– it had been going 37 years only. My next thought was to wonder what would have become of me if I hadn’t been introduced to AA.. Now that makes me shudder…

I have very good reason to believe that I would not be here today, that the disease would have taken me. Where would I have got the help that took me and transformed me when I became hopeless and helpless enough to surrender to it. Where would I be without the groups of fabulous women and men who can relate to me, and me to them, for we have all been in that dark pit of despair. I love you people for you know what it’s like to turn to the bottle again and again even though you know it’s destroying you– the big hallmark of the disease. Only someone else who has ‘been there’ knows what it’s like. I’m so very grateful for each and every one of you.

Bill and Dr Bob’s meeting when they did, the springing up of this now global fellowship, the 12-Step program which has been adopted by so many other organisations today– because it works– these are just amazing facts which save lives! And in many cases the lives of those who love us.. .

To my mind, AA’s 87 years of thriving is cause for remembering, reflecting and celebrating the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous. And one of the greatest gifts it’s given me is to realize how powerful having an attitude of gratitude is in my life. I practice this every day by writing out what I’m grateful for and sending it on to a group of other women. In return they send back to me what they’re grateful for. Often, if I’m feeling a bit low, caught up in self, and self pity or resentment has started to creep in, this gets me back on track. Writing it, yes, but also listening to the truth behind what others share with me.

I can look at the same world, same set of circumstances, on two days and see different things. One day I could be focused on what I haven’t got, and how my loved ones or friends either aren’t changing or not doing it quickly enough …I could look at my home and want things beyond my means. .. I could focus negatively on me and what I haven’t achieved. But throw a pinch of gratitude in there and everything changes, starting from the inside out…it truly is an inside job. Chuck C called it wearing ‘a new pair of glasses’. Inventorying daily is part of how I live today. I can easily see when I’m ‘off’. It doesn’t always mean I get out of it easily– some things take me longer than others…I struggle. But mostly I turn pretty quickly to my Power and ask for self to be removed.

Gratitude is an attitude that is worth cultivating, in my experience. And what underpins it is my relationship with a Power greater than me. I can turn to my God as I understand God each and every day, moment by moment. And as I’ve heard it said– the more of God, the less of me.

I’d love for you to share about gratitude in your life this week. About what the Fellowship means to you. And maybe even how it’s changed or evolved throughout the pandemic.

Thanks for being here, ladies, and for reading. I look forward to your shares this week.

Hugs

Louise

June 5: Step Six

Topic for the week: Step 6

This was not an easy step for me. I’ve always been rebellious and contrary. I wanted to be noticed. I wasn’t a popular kid, so I acted out a lot. I also wanted to feel superior to those who seemed to not want to be friendly with me. These traits led to all sorts of attention-getting behavior. A lot of the time I had to act ‘as if’ I wanted to change, but I really didn’t want to. I enjoyed people’s reactions to my behavior, positive & negative – at least they noticed me! I was afraid that I’d disappear if I wasn’t outrageous. I have taken comfort in the line (p. 65, bottom) that says, ‘How many of us have this degree of readiness? In an absolute sense practically nobody has it. The best we can do, with all the honesty we can summon, is to TRY to have it.’

But as time passed, I was surprised to discover that I was making progress. Some of my defects were less obvious, and others had lost their status as rock-hard parts of my individuality.

Now I try to remember another line (p.68, pp. 2), that only step 1 can be practiced with absolute perfection. I was a perfectionist for years, in my own way, in sobriety. I worried a lot that I’d never be good enough, spiritual enough, enough of anything truly worth being.

Not true. I’m much better than I used to be; I’m no longer a perfectionist in any way, and I’ve stopped judging myself so harshly. I am good enough, and open for growth where needed.

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 29: Altered Attitudes

Topic for the week:

Sophie, alcoholic, here to lead our topic this week; Altered Attitudes.

Welcome to everyone who’s been joining GROW recently and especially those who’ve joined or re-joined AA.

When I came to AA I found that many of the slogans and bitesize pieces of AA were the things that stuck in my mind between meetings.

I remember my mantra in my early days was part of the AA Preamble; my primary purpose is to stay sober. I found this slightly adapted line from the Preamble kicking in at all sorts of times through my week. A big difference from my pre-AA thinking which had been along the lines of “one won’t hurt” or “it’ll be different this time”.

Other new ideas that came to me in bitesize chunks was the idea of powerlessness and unmanageability. Wow, this was a totally new idea too. One I couldn’t reach on my own. That I was powerless over the first drink. That it was the first drink that set off my craving for more. That I had an obsession, an illness that centred in my mind. That one day at a time it was possible to live sober without turning to alcohol.

These ideas were seeds planted in my mind. But I needed to hear them brought to life through the sharing I heard in meetings. This was the sunshine that helped these ideas grow in my heart and become the foundations for my today. The rain was my tears. Crying, letting go, grieving the losses. And the healing and growth was this whole process, continually, a day at a time turning up for my recovery and learning to give back so others could experience sobriety too.

Today I’m finding a very simple prayer is the thing that is coming into my thoughts and altering my attitude and lessening the power of my need to be right or my need to have things my way. The words of this prayer are; “Bless them, change me”. It is coming to my mind at all sorts of times and again is a big difference to my thinking. I picked it up in a share here in GROW and it’s been invaluable. I can’t change anyone else, that much I learned early on, but it’s still taken a while to tie that up with it’s me that can change or rather me that can be changed by my Higher Power and through the power of living the steps in my life as best I can. I was shown here how praying for someone sets me free of the past and these four simple words “Bless them, Change me” bring me freedom.

I’ve heard AA can stand for Altered Attitudes. My attitude can certainly need altering at times and I love that line “some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely” from page 58 of the Big Book. That’s my reminder for when I’m banging my head against the metaphorical brick wall of Sophie knows best 😉 and a sure pink neon flashing sign that I’ll feel better if I find a way to a new perspective.

I know all this is possible with AA, with prayer, with trusting a god of my understanding has a different way for me, with the Steps, with reaching out to my sponsor or AA friends.

So I invite everyone to join us with a share on this topic – what attitude are you needing or have needed to alter and which prayer or slogan or AA tool helped? What old idea needed changing? Or please share “off topic” with whatever is affecting your sobriety or serenity today. Thank you for having me be of service. The meeting is open.

May 22: New happiness

Topic this week: The Promise… “We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.”

I have learned much about happiness in the last few years and felt inspired to pull this wonderful promise into our meeting this week.  Back in the old days (pre-12 steps, pre-sanity), I thought that happiness was the end goal to reach in this life.  The ticket to get there was the degree, the job, the husband and family, the friends, the house, the wardrobe, the gadgets and toys, the food, the drug, the drink.  You get the picture.  I believed getting everything in this list would lead to ‘true happiness’.  Yet even as I walked through those milestones and experiences, moments of happiness were generally few and far between.  This was especially the case during the years that drinking was my crutch of choice.  I just couldn’t figure out why my happiness never lasted for any length of time.

I’m ‘happy’ (pun intended) to report that my perspective is very different today.  Since I began working the 12 steps, I no longer see happiness (aka joy, peace, contentment, serenity) as ‘the goal’, yet I experience more of it.  Joy seems to be a by-product of what I give, not based on a self-centered pattern of what I get.  Helping someone when I don’t feel like doing so brings far more serenity than buying a new outfit.  Sharing and listening well in a conversation, stuffing envelopes for my women’s group, thanking my husband for working so hard – all of these small things make me feel happy.  Choosing to be grateful for the blessings in my life also brings peace and calm during dark moments.

Most importantly, I know that I alone am responsible for my happiness, there is no legitimate reason to blame others for my moods or state of mind.  I can decide to be happy at any given moment.  Today I’m very grateful for this program and understanding how to live this promise.

Please feel free to share your experience, strength and hope in regards to the promise of knowing a new happiness.

Susan P.

May 15: Resentments

May 15

It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. . . . But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 66

Know God;
Know peace.
No God;
No peace.

The topic of resentments being a block to progress has surfaced in many meetings that I have attended in the last couple of weeks. Prior to recovery and even throughout my journey of recovery I have taken the view and still fall into the pattern that I was/am entitled to my resentments. For example, I had and still have resentments towards my parents, and others who have caused me pain especially the persons who sexually abused me as a child.  What I could not see is that my pain of the past trauma, pain that I created at work, or in personal situations because I would give the person the silent treatment was connected to my wall of protection. And who was this really hurting them-I think not

Where am I today, well  I have been able to let go of resentments better today because I have learned and continue to be reminded of the difference between being angry or hurt vs holding onto the resentment and beating myself up.  I need to hear my little girl and acknowledge how and what she is feeling. Then I must ask if my reaction, feelings and views of the situation are accurate and I do not do this by myself, this is where others in the program/rooms of AA, and a connection with my HP helps me see what the truth is. Once I can see and talk about the situation as it really is then I can work to let it go and give it to the universe/HP. Sometimes it is quick and other times it is slow, and I choose to pick it back up and let it go again until I hit that wall that is not working for me and really let go. By letting go of resentments I can and have experienced progress, growth, and a deeper connection with my HP.

Thank you for letting me lead this week’s meeting and I invite you to share about the daily share for May 15 or whatever is on your heart.

Take Care with hugs

Mary O

Wisconsin

May 8: Waiting for the miracle

Topic for the week:

I have been in survival mode my entire life.  The state of hypervigilance is still just under the surface, living in constant fear, waiting for all hell to break loose and something terrible to happen.  The years of pain, grief and perceived failures are a heavy load to bear.  I turned to lying in hopes of avoiding punishment.  Lies were found out, more punishment. Respect was something I never got growing up.  I was supposed to have it for others, yet I never seemed to get any for myself.

I needed to read, practice and pray to find change in my life.  I still have feelings and fears totally out of proportion to the situation.  In my own thoughts, no matter how hard I try, I am still in the wrong, subject to criticism.  The shame can be unbearable. I want to crawl out of my own skin.   Today I can let go, trust that all is well. Right here right now. I live with the faith I found as a result of the 12 steps. I have confidence in things unseen, a fundamental goodness in the universe, living each day in Good Orderly Direction, with willingness, gratitude, love, humility, honesty, and compassion.

By attending meetings, finding a sponsor and working the steps, I learned that I had to look at my survival skills, the places I was vulnerable. Through the steps I found what no longer serves me.  Here is where I found HOPE, hearing other peoples experiences.  Today the steps still serve as a way to live my life, work through the unmanageability of life on life’s terms.

There have been many times that “God was doing for me what I could not do for myself.”  Finding answers, putting one foot in front of the other. In the last 26 years, 24 hours at a time, I have completed tasks I would never have accomplished had I been drinking.  At the age of 55 I went back to finish my Bachelors Degree.  I completed it the same time the bottom fell out of the economy. I was unable to go on to the Masters program.  Instead I had to get a real job.   I would not have been able to work for that employer had we followed through on our plans to declare bankruptcy. I held that job for 8 years. That is the longest I ever stayed with one employer.

Today I seek help outside the rooms when I need it, taking suggestions and still finding my way.

Gratitude is important to me, recognizing the small things and saying Thank You for the efforts made on my behalf by my DH.

All that I say and do related to the program and fellowship is not unique to me.  I am simply passing on what has been so freely given to me by others in the rooms over the years.

Today, I can’t bring myself to attend F2F meetings, online meetings creep me out.  These email meetings are sustaining me and helping me stay sober. Thank you for being here.

What part of my story reflects your story?  The meeting is now open.

May 1: Step Five

Topic for the week: Step 5

 

We are all invited to share on Step 5.

 

This Step is described on pages 72 – 75. The directions for taking Steps 5 are on page 75:1, the first sentence of 75:2, and 75:3. The results of taking Step 5 are on page 75:2 after the first sentence.

 

*** Step 5 ***

 

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

 

I was raised a catholic. My parents, did the needful for me to graduate in this, so I was like everyone else…. But it was a graduation of attendance and not study. For example my first confession, it was by rote. Perhaps all confessions afterwards. I am not a sinner, but I don’t know if I ever admitted my wrongs.

 

Go to mass, stand up, sit down, kneel at the right bits… Go less and less…. Forget to go…..

 

I became accountable to know one and found a better God….. BOOZE 🙂

 

Booze never expected me to pray and I was always right.  My pedestal was high and mighty.

 

Fast forward to the sleepless nights when I wrote my step 4. For the first time in my life, I wanted to scream my sins. Firstly I registered that they were bad,,, Some my bad, some others… Then I wanted to admit…. Just to talk about it for the first time ever…. I realised…. The days of bullshite were over…. 

 

The relief was immediate…… I was like a teenager again. The heaviness of the adult life left me… My first true confession. And like all good confessions (And hers something they don’t teach too often), but once your done it big… You will want and need to do it again and again 🙂

 

So ladies…. Do you remember your first confession? Looking forward to hearing from you xxxx

 

Carmel

April 24: Courage and Prudence

Topic for the week:

Courage and Prudence.  When fear persisted, we knew it for what it was, and we became able to handle it. We began to see each adversity as a God-given opportunity to develop the kind of courage, which is born of humility, rather than of bravado.  

Prudence is a workable middle ground, a channel of clear sailing between the obstacles of fear on the one side and of recklessness on the other. Prudence in practice creates a definite climate, the only climate in which harmony, effectiveness, and consistent spiritual progress can be achieved. “Prudence is rational concern without worry.” 

AA World Services Inc. As Bill Sees It .  

I love finding readings in As Bill Sees.  I always seem to find readings that need to talk to me.  This reading jumped out to me as I found out my mom has cancer and it’s not good news.  It was hard hearing the news from my sister last Monday and I know this year is not going to be easy.  I live in London and my family are in So Cal.  I used to always say that having 6000 miles between me and my crazy family was a good thing.  It doesn’t feel like that today.  I have been through a lot of things in my sobriety.  Life is life and it’s on life’s terms, not mine.  I have learned to accept and ask for help and prayers when needed.  I am so grateful that there are sober ladies available to offer me support by email, message or phone call – some of who have already been through what I’m going through.  Prudence is rational concern without worry – I so need to hear that today.  I can’t worry myself sick (which I can so easily do) but it’s okay for me to have rational concerns and acknowledge my fears.  I am going back to California 8th May for about 2 ½ weeks.  I’ll be there for Mother’s Day and then for my mom’s birthday.  Grateful that my sister was able to help me with my plane ticket. It’s one day at a time.   Please share your experience of courage and prudence.

April 17: Forgiveness

Topic for the week: Forgiveness

I was recently in a situation where one of my character defects reared its

ugly head: Impatience, in a situation where I could not understand why the other person was not grasping what was said, to me it was simple, and voiced my opinion much to soon of course. I was gently reminded of my ego, was I also not once there before? Do I know the whole situation before speaking?

It was a humbling experience.

Page 78 Big Book:

“”These obstacles however are very real. The first one and one of the most difficult, has to do with forgiveness. The moment we ponder a twisted or broken relationship with another person, our emotions are on the defensive””

“”Furthermore who am I call the kettle black.””

April 10: Practicing these principles in all our affairs

Topic for the week:  Practicing these principles in all our affairs

Good morning/evening beautiful ladies!  As I reflect on my sobriety… it seems like yesterday I walked into my first AA meeting shaking and quaking not even knowing what you all could do for ME!  Lol  Now it’s about what can I do for others.  This program continues to teach me I am one among many.  Believe me, I still have my days when I’m pointing fingers and quick to anger, but when I PAUSE and look at my part or what I could do differently… my EGO is deflated.  I’ll never get it perfect, but I’m willing to keep practicing.

Thank you for the opportunity to be of service,

Statia

DOS 4/15/2010

April 3: Step Four

Topic for the week: Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

When I came into the rooms of AA in Miami Beach in the early ’90s I kept hearing that if you don’t do a Step 4 you’ll go out again; I didn’t want to drink again so I thought I should do a 4th Step – makes sense, right? However, there was a little problem – I hadn’t formally done Steps 1, 2, and 3 with a sponsor, so jumping ahead to do a 4th Step proved to be just about impossible. I even had a sponsor, but as with most things I didn’t bother mentioning my plans to her and instead just took it upon myself to do a 4th Step on my own.

While I’d accepted Step 1 and wasn’t totally opposed to Step 2, I definitely hadn’t turned my will and my life over to the care of a Higher Power. I didn’t trust most people and wasn’t comfortable putting my trust in a nebulous entity that had let me down time and time again, or at least that’s how I saw God/a Higher Power at that point in my life. After struggling with the 4th Step for a few weeks I finally told my sponsor what I was up to and she suggested we start from the beginning – what a novel idea! – so I went back to Step 1 with her and progressed to where I was ready to begin Step 4.

I’d never looked too hard at my behavior while drinking other than being vaguely aware that a lot of it wasn’t acceptable, or even legal. I excused a lot of my behavior because I felt I was owed BIG time for all the difficulties I’d experienced growing up; I had a huge chip on my shoulder that fueled my drinking and much of my regrettable behavior. So, when I was finally ready to take a look at my behavior and how it had affected others, I found it difficult not to rationalize what I’d done. But fortunately my sponsor got me to put aside that huge chip on my shoulder and focus specifically on what I had done to others, excluding what I felt/believed others had done to me. This was a great help, and started me in the right direction as far as making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.

It certainly wasn’t easy to look at my behavior so scrupulously; at times I felt like I must be the worst person on the planet to have done what I’d done and lived the way I had. But my sponsor pointed out that she believed the 4th Step isn’t only about the “bad” stuff; it’s a 360-degree view of an individual – the bad, the good, the useful, the non-useful, and so on. The outline provided in the Big Book focuses on resentments, fears, sex conduct, and harm done to others, and digging into each of those categories was illuminating as far as allowing me to uncover motives, the patterns of my behavior, and why I react to situations or people in a certain way. Eventually, the more I wrote the more I wanted to find out about myself because I came to understand that this would enable me to break the cycle of destructive behavior and mature emotionally, both of which I desperately wanted.

Along with the resentments, fears, sex conduct, and harm done to others, I also had a column stating what I felt was worth keeping, e.g., my sense of humor, my organizational skills, my love of nature, and so on. This column gave me something to build on, while the other columns gave me direction by showing me what needed to change. In the end, I found Step 4 to be liberating and yes, quite useful as far as helping me stay sober. Doing the 4th Step with a sponsor was a turning point in my sobriety, and although it was difficult facing up to some aspects of myself, I had to look at the active-alcoholic me in order to change into the sober me…I had to go through the mess that was my active-alcoholic life in order to see what I was, what I no longer wanted to be, and who I could be as a sober woman.

We are all invited to share on Step 4. The steps are our blueprint for living sober lives

*** 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 27: Keep it Simple, Out of the weeds

Meeting topic for the week:  Keep it Simple, Out of the weeds

About 25 years ago, I worked as a waitress and a term we used was “in the weeds” when we would get extremely busy and behind/overwhelmed.

I don’t work in restaurants anymore, but sometimes I still get that overwhelmed feeling, when I overthink things and get lost in the details or complexities of life.

When there are many things going on, so much on the to-do list, kids activities and school, work assignments and meetings, my sobriety, my relationships, etc., it can be hard for me to quiet my mind. It races from one thing to another and each thing feels like a mountain to climb.

Lately I’ve been working on ways that I can soberly keep myself out of the weeds.

When I was looking into this idea, I read that “Keep it Simple” was the last thing Dr. Bob Smith, co-founder of A.A., said to Bill Wilson. It is a catch-phrase in A.A. because we tend to make things more difficult than they need to be.

In the A.A. Big Book (page 62), I found, “This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.”

This reminds me that overthinking and over-analyzing everything will get me nowhere. And I usually struggle because I’m trying to be in control.

To keep it simple, I can listen to my Higher Power everyday, to let go of control and ask my HP for help. To guide me in dealing with one thing at a time and keeping it simple.

When I listen, my Higher Power shows me that I can help myself by taking action to stay out of my head, where the weeds try to drag me down – read the Big Book, participate in meetings, exercise, deep breathing, take opportunities to help others, spend time outside, clean and do chores.

Mostly surrender and let go, focus on love and service, keep things simple, and trust that everything will happen as it should. Thy will, not mine, be done.

Please share any challenges or successes you’ve had with trying to keep things simple during your sober journey.

Thank you for letting me lead this meeting,

Katie

12/23/20

March 20: The Fellowship of AA & Lemonade

Topic for the week:  The Fellowship of AA & Lemonade

My name is Alison B and I am an alcoholic.  Welcome new members and congratulations to those who are celebrating a milestone.  I for one, am so very grateful to the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.  It goes without saying that I am also very grateful to be a sober woman today.  I celebrate………wait for it……..drumroll, lol.  29 years today March 20th.

So naturally I am reflecting back on who I was March 20th, 1993.  It seems like that time was someone else’s life not mine.  I can see myself, the 37 year old woman with two young children ages 4 & 7, unhappily married, living far from my family, on a sailboat, in a foreign country.  (I had also given much of my power to my husband at the time & that’s my part.)  I was a chameleon in my own life, trying to blend in, make you happy and be whomever I thought you wanted me to be.  Mostly because I had no idea who I was.  I never really made choices of my own, I pretty much went where the wind took me.  (Pardon the sailing metaphor, lol)  I had been to AA in 1985, but I did not stay.  I was not as bad as you guys, I had never been arrested, I had not lost everything, I had never been to jail, etc. etc.  I was comparing my outside to yours, and it just didn’t match up.  I decided to go out and do some of that “controlled drinking”…………..

for 7 ½ very long years.

Then along comes my personal bottom……again.  It was after yet another fight with my husband.  I snuck onto a friends boat and drank Sally’s gin when she was not home.  (I don’t even like gin)  I had an out of body experience in that moment.  And I was able to see the insanity of what I was doing.   I was deep in self pity and thought about ending my life.  I couldn’t figure out how to do it and be 100% successful, so I canned that idea.  I did not want to leave my kids.  So I got down on my knees that evening in the cockpit of my boat anchored in the Bay of La Paz, Mexico and looked to the heavens.  I asked the sky to help me.  If there was a God in this world, I needed help to learn to live happily.

I had a sense that if there was a God, He/She/It, wouldn’t want me to leave these two beautiful kids.  So, I scooped myself up, told my husband I needed to go to AA meetings.  (He was newly sober a few months, so we picked the meetings each of us could attend as we had these two little kids to take care of.)  And thus began my sober journey.  I was given the gift of desperation.  I did not want to go back to that intense feeling of despair I felt that lonely night I dropped to my knees.  I got a sponsor, worked the steps with her and was of service to my tiny English speaking AA group in La Paz.

Lots of stuff has transpired in my sober life.  Some tragedy, pain, fear, loss and love, happiness, feeling worthy & joy just to name a few.  Lots of joy.  It is up to me to make lemonade out of the lemons.  And believe me when I say, I have made lots of lemonade.  At about 10 years sober I was camping in my own yard with my two kids while litigating with my homeowners insurance about a water damage claim that made our house uninhabitable.  I was going to lots and lots of meetings when my kids were at school.  One lady brought a box of lemons from her tree to give away.  After me sharing a little during the meeting about the crap on my plate (living in tents in my own yard for a year), she gave me the whole box of lemons and told me to go home and make lemonade for my kids.  And I did just that!!!  I did it with a smile on my face.

With the help of the AA Fellowship and especially the women, I have navigated through some really tough stuff.  I have always come out stronger on the other side.  You have given me lemons, held my had, helped me move multiple times, sat with me in the ER, prayed for me, helped me through a divorce etc. etc.  You have seen my children graduate, celebrated a second marriage, watch my kids have kids.  You have taught me just how to find joy in my journey.  I am here to help you find joy in yours today.

The 12 Steps are a gift.  They are the tools to help me turn my life around, One Day At A Time.  I use them.  I do my best to practice these principals in all of my affairs.  I am kinder to people that cross paths with me.  I have been blessed to have friendships that last a lifetime.  I stay connected to the women of AA, for they have shown me the way out of my misery.  I have beautiful relationships with my children and my expanding family.  For that I am eternally grateful.

I thank my Higher Power for the lemons of life today.  Those lemons have brought me to lean on you.  The Fellowship of AA has taught me how to build a life worth living.  I do not have to do this alone.  Thank you.

How do you lean into the Fellowship and how do you make your own lemonade?

Blessings,

Alison B.

March 13: Love without strings

Topic for the week: Love without strings:

September 28 Daily reflections:

“Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics” (BB Pg 89)

I love this passage, thinking back and reflecting when I first came into these rooms, I am a loner by nature, yet the love and acceptance I received without any questions asked despite all my drinking escapades. I am accepted for who I am not what I was, to me that is a GIFT, the love transcends all boundaries, all starting with the first step, “Admitting we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable”, that to me was a no brainer I knew I was beaten. The steps that follow are a preclude on how to accept and practice what we have learnt. I would never have that compassion and love shown to me any other way.

My family was/is dysfunctional, I can count on 1 hand how many times my Mom gave me a hug or told me she loved me, she herself had a tough life growing up, that has changed dramatically in the following years.

To me anyone who had more sobriety than me was awesome, yet with this program it is a joy to learn (I am still learning), we can only pass on what we have been taught, and ensuring sobriety is continous work, working the steps and working with others, attending meetings to me is the safety net.

Rene

March 6: Step Three

Hi,

My name is Julie, & I’m an alcoholic. I’m honored by this opportunity to serve GROW by getting our meeting started!

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 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.

*** Step 3 ***

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

I pulled the following quote referring to Step 3 from 12 Steps & 12 Traditions, p. 35:

. . . a beginning, even the smallest, is all that is needed. Once we have placed the key of willingness in the lock & have the door ever so slightly open, we find that we can always open it some more. Though self-will may slam it shut again, as it frequently does, it will always respond the moment we again pick up the key of willingness.

I’m struggling to put regular exercise back into my schedule. I read something today that suggested starting out with small, easily achievable goals & building from there. For example, the article suggested the first step in my new exercise regimen might be sleeping in my work out clothes so when I wake up, I’m ready to go. Genius, right? Then the next achievable mini goal might be setting my alarm half an hour earlier so that I’ll be dressed & have allowed the time for exercise before starting the rest of my day. Another step might be picking an audio book (or aa speaker recording) to listen to while I exercise, & so on.

I was thinking that applying this strategy to Step 3 could be really effective. “Picking up the key of willingness” is the preparatory step, like sleeping in my workout garb. Setting my alarm for half an hour earlier in the morning is like placing the key in the lock of the door of decision that leads to God. Taking the first step out of my front door to start my walk would equate to stepping through that decision & toward God. Once those things are happening, the rest unfolds before me ~ not without potholes or some crappy weather, but I’m on my way.

For me, Step 3 at first read like, “Made-a-decision-to-turn-our-will-&-our-lives-over-to-the-care-of-God-as-we-understood-God.”  Lofty, awesome, & totally intimidating!  For me, breaking Step 3 into small, bite-sized, more easily digested pieces works better & is far less overwhelming. I can turn my will & my life over to God every morning when I think of it like that. How did you/do you take Step 3? Please share about this, or about anything along your sober journey that you’d like to share.

Gratefully,

Julie <3

[“Today, my short version of the Third Step is this: Keep taking care of me, Lord, because I appreciate it now.”

“Dear God: Keep Coming Back,” Berrien Springs, Michigan, April 1991, AA Grapevine]

February 27: Service/Gifts of Service Work

Topic for the week: Service/Gifts of Service Work

Service in Recovery

Hello Ladies of GROW this week’s topic is the importance of service in recovery. Before writing my share I did a little reading about service from the Daily Reflection book and reflected on my own service in and out of AA.

I read December 4th from the Daily Reflection and this is what it said:

INTO ACTION

A.A. is more than a set of principles; it is a society of alcoholics in action. We must carry the message, else we ourselves can wither and those who haven’t been given the truth may die.

AS BILL SEES IT, p. 13

I desperately wanted to live, but if I was to succeed, I had to become active in our God-given program. I joined what became my group, where I opened the hall, made coffee, and cleaned up. I had been sober about three months when an old-timer told me I was doing Twelfth-Step work. What a satisfying realization that was! I felt I was really accomplishing something. God had given me a second chance, A.A. had shown me the way, and these gifts were not only free—they were also priceless! Now the joy of seeing newcomers grow reminds me of where I have come from, where I am now, and the limitless possibilities that lie ahead. I need to attend meetings because they recharge my batteries so that I have light when it’s needed. I’m still a beginner in service work, but already I am receiving more than I’m giving. I can’t keep it unless I give it away. I am responsible when another reaches out for help. I want to be there—sober.

When I read this reflection about service work the word wither stood out to me. If I do not give to others, do the right thing each day, help when I am able to help then I will be in a static state of growth on an emotional, spiritual, and mental level and my connection with my HP would be broken to say the least. To be frank this state of being static scares me.

When I first came to the rooms of AA service work was very difficult for me.  I had little self-esteem and had such a low sense of worth. I often felt like, and some days still feel like I am on the outside of the circle trying to break in, but I often feel like I do not know to break in the circle, or my feet feel like they are/were frozen to the ground. So have at times, stood in the frozen spot feeling stuck or I have kept walking around the circle. At first the only way I could do service was to attend meetings, share when I could, and help clean up after the meeting. I would do this as much as I could.

Time has passed, healing has taken place and today in recovery I look for ways to do service in and outside of AA. With some much needed nudging from the people in the rooms of AA I can find my way into the circle and/or my feet do not feel like they are frozen to the earth.  Today I know that by attending meetings my batteries are recharged as well as doing other self care tasks which help give back the gifts that I have received by being in the rooms of AA which have included unconditional support, understanding, a place to belong, people who loved me until I could love myself and would say keep coming back!

There are times, I still feel like a beginner in my service work but today I know I MUST be involved. Why because it is how AA continues to exist. Our forefathers gave us, gave me, a solution on how to live a life of sobriety and the truth is if this program was not here, I would still be in my despair, and life of misery. I want to share the solution with others which means I must do my part, so AA is here now as well as for the future. Plus, by doing service work, I have and continue to learn how to build connections with others, see how others grow in their recovery, and I continue to grow in my own recovery.  Finally, I want my hand to be there for the person who needs support/help as it was when I came in the rooms of AA.

Please share how you have gotten involved in service work and what lessons and/or gifts have you received by doing service work?

Thank you for listening to me and I look forward to your shares.

Be well and have an awesome week,

Mary O

(Wisconsin)

February 20: Big Book Study

Topic for the week:

Big Book Study

When I was new, my sponsor at the time, bless her-I am forever grateful for her, but we didn’t go through the book together. I was given very little, just told to go to a lot of meetings. Only until I started listening to spiritual fit big book thumpers, not big book lawyers, but people in the program who genuinely get that the program is the book Alcoholics Anonymous-that fellowship is asset, but the textbook contains the Steps that brings me into a relationship with the only Power that will keep me sober and growing. That power is God, may you find Him now…as it states!

I do my sponsoring online and so we do not meet in person and I do not go through the book with them as they did back in the day. But, as I grow in my own spirit and sobriety, I am learning more and more about studying the book. Transmitting what I am learning in my own book study now, what was not transmitted to me from the fellowship in the beginning. This format has truly helped me to understand the Steps in correlation with the chapters in the Big Book. As I learn this way I am able to teach this way and become a more effective sponsor in the process.

Step 1 in the Big Book is:

  1. Doctors Opinion
  2. Bill’s Story
  3. There is a Solution
  4. More about Alcoholism

So essentially they took 4 Chapters to make sure I understood the allergy of alcoholism and identified with Bill’ Story so that I could properly diagnose myself. If based upon what I have read in these 4 chapters I conclude that I am in fact an alcoholic, then I can proceed to Step 2.

I couldn’t move into Step 2 if I didn’t fully concede that I am powerless over alcohol, that my life is unmanageable because of it.

Step 2:

We the Agnostics

Step 3:

How it Works (Pages 58-Bottom of 63

Step 4:

How it Works (Bottom of 63-71)

Step 5:

Into Action (Pages 72-Top 76)

Step 6 & 7:

Into Action (Top of 76-middle of 76)

Steps 8 & 9:

Into Action (middle of 76-middle of page 84)

Step 10:

Into Action (Middle of page 84-bottom of 85)

Step 11:

Into Action (Bottom of page 85-88)

Step 12

Working With Others (Entire Chapter)

I study our text daily. Not for inspiration per say, but as a structured daily outline. This works for me and how I learn and grow.  How do you actively study our text? Do you do a big book study online or with your home group? Do you take you sponsees through the book? Has your sponsor taken you through the book? How do you personally grow in effectiveness in your 12th Step?

Thank you for letting me be a service!

Hilarie

4/8/14

February 13: Alternate topic – Principles before Personalities/Practice these Principles in All of Our Affairs 

Topic for the Week

Principles before Personalities/Practice these Principles in All of Our Affairs

This last week I have been doing a lot of reflection, meditation and writing on this topic.

I guess for me its really easy to get caught up in all the gossip and rumours that goes on in the place where I live. For those of you who don’t know me, I have MS, and when I developed a very rare symptom of MS, because I have a particularly large lesion of MS on my brain stem, although I was still a very much functioning person, because of this symptom I ended up in a Care Facility, and have been here since Dec 2007.

As a consequence of this I have a revolving staff every day through a 24 hour period. Hence the source of gossip and rumours, although the same is true of AA whether its  f2f, email, Zoom, FB, Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, phone in etc meetings. Gossip and rumours run riot through these meetings, secret backchat can be easier to arrange and so on it goes. The worst part of all this is ease of which it can be to become involved.

The reasons are very easy to justify, “I just want to be informed” or “I should be able to make an informed decision” etc, and so I can become involved.

Recently we got a new Manager and she began the week of Xmas and had to then get her head around a complicated AIN/DSW roster as well as a resident calendar, since she, Karen, a lovely Irish woman, working in an Australian world, mixed with many different nationalities, each with their own version of the Australian work effort of “she’ll be right, mate”, a certain kind of Australian way of saying “easy does it, mate”. Which is a basic principle of we’ll get it done eventually in the “never-ending-tomorrow syndrome”.

In this climate it’s easy for gossip and rumours to get carried and to become involved with, as this is the stuff I need to make informed decisions about or I need to know about etc.

So I duly got involved in this gossip etc, because I needed to make an “informed” decision about Karen our new Manager, but then I found other thing became interlaced, which of course became a “priority” too, just as what happens when I begin with this activity.

Then it was pointed out to me what was happening and I listened to some old time recovery on Podcast and these two principles began to be discussed in general and in particular.

I’ve since changed my attitude but I learned a hard lesson through this process, most of all the need to talk to other  members of this program sober or not, new, first day sober or old-timers.

Life as a sober alcoholic no mater how long you’ve been here is about talking to another sober alcoholic, speaking it out, getting rid of my self-centredness, selfishness, self-seeking and dishonest ways. I haven’t had a Sponsor for a number of years and I haven’t been in regular contact with GROW, AA or any individuals for the same length of time. I’ve been a drifter, firstly because I’m not such a great fan of social media and, secondly, because I’ve been very unwell physically for over 5 years.

I’m returning now to GROW, regular Zoom meetings, and finally picking up that 10kg phone again. This helps me enormously. I’m coming back. And I’m getting back in the saddle with interpersonal contact before and after the meetings, however I attend them. Getting back to f2f meetings is a little more tricky but I’m hoping all will work out by the end of March.

Thank you for allowing me the honour to lead the topic this week.

Please share on your experience with this topic and I look forward to reading your Experience, Strength and Hope with being on either side of Principles before Personalities/Practice these Principles in All of Our Affairs.

Yours in sobriety, hugs to all

Bobby

February 13: We can’t think our way sober

Topic for the week:

WE CAN’T THINK OUR WAY SOBER

To the intellectually self-sufficient man or woman, many A.A.’s can say, “Yes, we were like you — far too smart for our own good. . . . Secretly, we felt we could float above the rest of the folks on our brain power alone.”

AS BILL SEES IT, p. 60

Even the most brilliant mind is no defense against the disease of alcoholism. I can’t think my way sober. I try to remember that intelligence is a Godgiven attribute that I may use, a joy—like having a talent for dancing or drawing or carpentry. It does not make me better than anyone else, and it is not a particularly reliable tool for recovery, for it is a power greater than myself who will restore me to sanity—not a high IQ or a college degree.

(Daily Reflections, February 13)

Hi ladies, Emily here, alcoholic and your weekly topic listkeeper here at GROW. I’m not sure what has happened to our originally planned meeting, so I chose the Daily Reflections for todays topic to get a conversation going for us. If the original meeting poster brings us another topic, all the better and we will have 2 items as good for thought and conversation this week.

My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all saying I was too smart for my own good as far back as I can remember. I know for me my “intelligence” often gets in the way of my spiritual growth and progress. It prevents me from asking for help, from being open to suggestions, and to admitting I could be wrong. Todays Daily Reflections is a reminder to me to humble myself and remain teachable. What is it bringing up for you?

The floor is open for sharing.

February 6: 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.”

My share is this – Step 2 was really hard for me. I’m agnostic and still don’t believe in a personal god who looks over me. Fortunately, I have had good sponsors and have known many other agnostics and some atheists in AA. I learned I was free to develop any concept of a power greater than myself, and it has evolved many times since I first joined AA in 1981. The example of electricity being a greater power helped me get started. I knew a guy who used door knobs – can’t get through that door without a doorknob, right?? I used AA as my greater power, and also the people of AA as a group. I used many forces of nature – wind, sun, tides. The longer I searched, the easier it became to see that almost anything was a power greater than myself. Fuel sources, vehicles of transport, the laws of the universe and physics were all greater than me. Eventually, I relaxed about religion and was willing to admit that it helped people cope with life, and has since the dawn of time. I even studied many religions and joined a religious body for a few years, though it wasn’t a good fit for me. 

My sanity was returning. I calmed down. I didn’t have to have an absolute answer, I just had to admit that I wasn’t a higher power, and have faith in all those things that were. My ego got smaller. My humility and acceptance of things I can’t change grew, and continues to grow. I can now accept the mystery of it all. With that, my inner capacity for intuitive thought grew. I had powerful ideas and solutions come to me in flashes that furthered my growth. They seemed to simply appear, and I stopped trying to explain them. Yes, I pray in my own way, to the universe rather than a deity. I pray for wisdom, understanding, another day of sobriety, opportunities to serve others and our planet. I’ve stopped fighting and just accept the mystery. One day at a time, I have been restored to sanity. And usually I can stay there, LOL!

January 30: How were we convinced that we were a real alcoholic?

For this week’s topic I would like to suggest how were we convinced that we were a real alcoholic?

But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker, but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink (AA p.21).

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed. … We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control (AA, p.30).

For me it took time, sure I was able to joke with my friends that when I drank I did so alcoholically, but to actually come to terms with being an alcoholic full time, all the time, it took much longer. I was lucky, the spiritual aspect of the program appealed to me so much that I was willing to stick around to learn how that came about and eventually even I had to admit I was an alcoholic.

As a counselor in my outpatient treatment center said, “if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.” I have NEVER heard of a non-alcoholic having blackouts, getting DWIs or driving drunk. Normal drinkers can take it or leave it, their whole life does not resolve around drinking and getting drunk. They don’t have to worry about what they said or to whom they said something. They don’t wake up in strange places, with people they don’t know.

When I came to AA I found what I had been searching for my whole life. I was one of those who came to scoff but remained to pray (AA p. xxxii). The serenity I found amongst giants in this program gave me hope, that if I did what they did and worked the steps in all my affairs, I might become the person I was meant to be. I would be able to hold my head up and mingle with anyone without worrying that I might do something wrong.

As time passed, I got to chuckle when AA principles were explained to non-alcoholics, or seeds were planted in potential alcoholics. But most of all I was proud of the person I became and the life I led. I stopped having to lie to anyone about anything, I never had to wonder which story I told to whom.

I am eternally grateful to AA for the fellowship, concepts and principles by which I live my life today. I wish all of you another 24 hours sober.

Thanks for letting me chair this meeting,

Theresa B (TX)

5/10/91

January 23: Contempt prior to investigation

Topic for the week:  Contempt Prior to Investigation

One of the character defects that I struggle with often is ‘contempt prior to investigation’.  While my daily drinking fix was my highest priority in life, this behavior had become especially prevalent in my family and marital relationships.  So, it came up in a big way as I did my fourth step inventory. I was the queen of judging others negatively before I understood them and/or the facts.

While I have made some progress since working the steps, last week I was slapped in the face with it again!  A dear longtime friend of mine for many years had not communicated with me for the last 2 months.  With each passing week I repeatedly decided I knew the reason she had disappeared, and I became convinced that our friendship was over.  “Well fine!” I told myself, I will accept it and move on.  So in my mind I did just that.  I was angry with her, disappointed and hurt.

Then last week I received an email invitation to a party at her house next month, all of our close friends on the list.  Within a few minutes of sending it she began a text conversation with me explaining that this normally busy season at work (which coincidentally began 2 months ago) was worse than ever this year.  It was like a punch in the gut.  While I literally cried tears of joy that I had not lost my friend after all, I was also filled with shame and guilt.  I engaged in yet another self-inflicted dalliance with ‘contempt prior to investigation’.  I completely judged her without ‘investigating’ the situation.  I could have saved myself a lot of anguish by asking her directly about her absence, and she likely would have appreciated a supportive check-in.  But instead I let emotions, pride and self-will rule the day.

This episode was a blunt reminder and lesson that I must pay better attention to this ever challenging defect.  Thanks to all I have learned by studying and working the 12 steps, I can seek God’s will instead of relying on mine.  (Progress, not perfection…!)

Grateful to hear your experience, strength and hope regarding this topic, or anything else you need to share.  Thank you!

Susan P.

January 16: Rewards as a result of this program

Topic for the week: Rewards as a result of this program

Before AA I had many losses in my life and very few rewards as a direct result of my drinking. I had also lost any self respect I had for myself by the end of my drinking career. As a mother I put alcohol before the well being of my children, who could respect themselves after that? I lost the respect and love of my husband after many, many drunken episodes with violence. I had been demoted at work after coming in many times hungover and declining work performance. I was the talk of the neighborhood after many drunken, public episodes. Even my dentist knew I was a drunk when I came in for appts. There was nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice in order to get and stay drunk. Who could have any self respect after these events? I was a burden to my family and the subject of ridicule and condemnation. What I lost in respect for myself I gained in soul shattering remorse. I wanted to end my life.

When I walked into my first AA meeting, as mentioned in the Big Book, I was amazed to see smiling happy people. Everyone looked together, happy and confident. I didn’t know that this was one of many rewards of the AA program. I began my AA journey fraught with relapse and back sliding even though I had nowhere else to turn. But I kept coming back and did what was suggested (there may have been some grumbling). I got a sponsor and started work on the steps. Those days weren’t easy but I kept my head down and kept doing the work. Slowly I started to see glimmers of psychic change along with abstinence from drinking. My big aha moment was when I had the means and the opportunity to drink and stopped myself. No one else would have known (this would have been a huge moment of glee in my drinking days) but I would know if I drank. Somehow working this program started to restore my self respect. I slowly started to lift my head up and regain a feeling of worthiness. I was now at the point where I had awareness of the danger and damage drinking could do to me and I cared about that now, what a reward of this program! I could hide a relapse from others but could not hide from myself and I actually cared about that!

The longer I stayed on this road with you I became more aware of the changes within myself. The rewards that followed were many. New relationships with my children that have blossomed into a closeness I cherish. Being allowed access to my grandchildren which would not have happened if I was still actively drinking. I became a good employee who was appreciated and valued. I would not have bet money on it but my husband stayed and we evolved into a better relationship than ever. I have free time now and substitute volunteering with animals instead of drinking. Hundreds of little things I was always afraid to do while drinking I have the confidence to do now. I have been told I am nothing like that old me. Not only the non drinking part but a different personality that is more caring and considerate of others. The rewards of this program for me are in the hundreds, some small and some monumental. AA is not just a means to stop drinking but a program that brought about a large change in me which is the biggest reward and blessing.

Thanks for letting me share on topic this week.

Lynn

DOS 9/30/96

January 9: Courage

Topic for the week: Courage

I’m Mari Ann and I’m an alcoholic.

Thirty four years ago this morning I entered the Institute of Living in Hartford CT to get sober. I had been drinking daily for 23 years and was 100% certain I would be dead within 6 months if I didn’t stop drinking and about 99.99% sure that stopping drinking would also kill me. Only that .01% was hope I might get to live a sober life.

What is striking me this year, especially after all the gut-wrenching shares on Step One, is how much courage it takes to come into this program and give up everything familiar to us – including the only selves we know. Everyone who shared on Step One deeply touched me last week.

Each share reminded me of exactly how I felt when I entered the IOL.

I was shaking, sick to my stomach, and full of fear. I had no idea what to expect from treatment beyond being pretty sure I was doomed to AA meetings for the rest of my life.

I dug out my journal for 1988 and read the entries from January 1 to the top of January 9th last night to remind myself of the beginning. That Mari Ann surprises me with her courage and determination. I had been given the “gift of desperation” days before I put down the drink and came into the program.  I hope it never leaves me. Courage was the by-product of that gift. It gives us the guts to do what we think we cannot do.

I’m lucky in getting sober in January when all my meetings focus on Step One because it allows me to see the grace and mercy given me during all the years since which let me come to an acceptance of who I am today.

Today I am a woman I genuinely like. I’ve filled my life with people whom I genuinely like and who fill my world with love and friendship. All of it made possible by simply living this magical journey of recovery in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous to the best of my ability every single day.

The pandemic has pushed all my f2f meetings to zoom and even there the courage of newcomers is strikingly visible. Daring to announce themselves to a screen of little windows full of women they don’t know. And then they come back and do it the next week, and the next.  I’ve been privileged to witness one woman celebrate 2 years sober on zoom, a couple of others have passed the 18 month milestone, and another local woman announced she had 11 months on January 1st.  They have no idea how important they are to all of us in the meeting but I do. I may not be able to hug them, but I can send them a card and a medallion. I’m not sure if that’s helpful to them but it sure is helpful to me.

SIS has been part of my sober journey since July of 1997 and some of you have been part of my world ever since. I added GROW to my recovery aids when it started and I read every share in both groups. I consider online AA an important feature of my recovery, one Bill Wilson could never have foreseen, yet it is always there if I want a quick reminder that I am not alone.

So thank you for your courage in getting and staying sober. Thank you for sharing your experience with me during all these years. Thank you for the gasp of recognition your shares produce at times. Thank you for daring to be sober-you.

This is your meeting so please feel free to share on topic, or on anything impacting your sobriety today.

January 2: Step One

Topic for the week: Step One ‘ We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable ‘

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to share in this space with you ladies.

I was rescued by a loving God on 05/01/2021 who led me here. The support , warmth and wisdom I received as a newcomer made me feel loved. God was/is working through you all, I feel it.

Over the past week, I have had moments of… this time last year. This time last year I was sleeping with a couple of men. None of them cared about me, one I obsessed about, one gave me attention when I was at home drinking, one had alcohol in his house so when the booze had run out and the phenomena called craving kicked in, he was who I rang. My ‘dating’ life evolved around men who I knew would supply it or men that would heighten my warped sense of self and low esteem so I could go deeper into the moral abyss I had created with my alcoholic mind and behaviour.

I would wake up in blackout, not remembering what had happened apart from the last thought being, I want more alcohol.

The allergy would be on me and I never knew what could occur.

To live in a constant state of fear, of everything. Alcohol was my best friend, never letting me down, giving me the comfort I desperately sought.

Until it did start letting me down, my behaviour , relationships. The unpredictable nature of my actions, the guilt, shame and as I became isolated with it, loneliness , because I didn’t want to share what I had at home and I had stopped going to social events.

Over the years my alcoholism had peaked and dipped, only dipped as much as a maintenance daily drinker I would describe it as.  As long as there was at least one bottle of wine but where the alcoholism centred, in my mind was hyper active from being in my teens.

Not fitting in, not understanding how abuse manifests, desperate to be loved. Discovering alcohol, a few of cans of extra strong lager could knock me out till the morning when I lived in a sort of homeless unit. Loneliness and self pity were companions to my bottles.

Pride, self, self, self . When I had my first child, I mellowed a bit drinking but my alcoholic mind gave me a chip on my shoulder , I provided for my children, I worked hard, I did everything , which I did including hurting, manipulating that sometimes good quality into a weapon if I didn’t get what I wanted. I was very controlling & still can want to control everything, but I AM powerless and on awakening, I ask God to direct my thinking.

As we are when we arrive at Step one, the dis- ease has spread and I was v.spiritually unwell.

I had started working with alcohol services after a couple of trips to the doctor. When I was first assessed he asked who I had as a support network and my younger sister who bless her put up with years of my drinking was and that was pretty much it . A few v.dear friends did but lived many miles away and I suppose didn’t think I seriously could get sober. Did I? I didn’t know but the key was I was willing.

I had previously dated someone who was in the fellowship locally and once told that I wasn’t to show my face at any meetings if we broke up.

We did and it was with that and lockdown that I looked online for women only meetings. I found GROW. I didn’t know whether the group would still be active and it saved my life.

One lady that welcomed me, I asked her straight away to sponsor me which she did and I wouldn’t know her to walk past her in the street but with her guidance, her love and God centred AA sponsorship she got me through the first week, the first ten days, the first 3 months … the acceptance & my foundation, Step 1.

What a gift.

The most important Step. The chink of light, it wasn’t lack of willpower and I wasn’t a bad person , I have an illness and there is a solution.

Please share your experience strength and hope on Step one. Thank you for this space to be honest.

In sobriety,

Becky

December 26: Having and keeping an attitude of Gratitude

Topic for the week:

Having and Keeping An Attitude of Gratitude

Hello everyone!

I hope all of your Christmas’ have been merry and bright….

Happiest of sobriety birthdays to all who are celebrating, welcome aboard to anyone new and/or returning.  Thanks be to God & Goddess for my sobriety today and yours, too.

Thank you for the opportunity to lead/share this day of Christmas. And the day & week after…. Lol.

Or any day for that matter.

I am honored to share my experience, strength and hope with the intent that perhaps something I say or do can help someone else hear the message they need to in order to get the gifts of sobriety and recovery I’ve been so fortunate to receive.

The Promises ~ continuing to come true, one day at a time.

Particularly –

We will not regret the past nor wish to the door on it.

I’ve had a lot of behavior unbecoming to a human and because of Alcoholics Anonymous, I’ve been able to forgive myself and move into using it to benefit others.

The Gifts ~ self-respect, worth and value, belief in myself, treating both you and I rightly.

The Knowledge ~ that as long as I keep doing the basics of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the next right thing, I’ll get the gift of continuing to stay sober, as well as all the other gifts there are here in the Land of Recovery.

The Ability ~ to deal with life on life’s terms without falling apart or flipping out, holding my head high and myself accountable.

The Decisions ~ Not taking a drink no matter what.  And so many other well informed , solid and sensible decisions I get to make today.  I can trust myself to make good choices.

Sometimes I get carried away and get too many plates in the air at one time…. but I have the tools to put the pieces back together and carry on.

The Accountability ~

“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.” (pg. 417)

To take on this sometimes challenging paragraph and get it to work for me instead of against me in my life, is another awesome gift of AA.

Looking within and dealing with me sooo aids me in dealing with you ~ like the woman I was born to be…. the woman I’ve always wanted to be.

The Gratitude ~ And I firmly believe all of this centers around the necessity of having and keeping an attitude of gratitude.

I mean seriously!?! who could have all this and NOT be grateful.

Today, and every day ~ it’s all about focusing on my haves

and not my have nots.

Thank you all for helping me stay sober one day at a time. I’m lucky to have you all in my life.

I appreciate you letting me share.

Faith n Hope 💝

Taylor

December 19: Expectations vs Acceptance

Topic for the week: Expectations vs. acceptance

Something I’ve been struggling with lately (probably always) is my level of expectations of people and situations. I have been trying to lay aside my expectations and pray for acceptance of things as they are today, but I have found myself continuing to get angry at my family members when things are not done as I would hope they would be.

I have heard that expectations are premeditated resentments, and I know that my goal of serenity can’t happen if I don’t find a way to let them go.
From the AA Big Book, “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.” (pg. 417)

As I went through this cycle repeatedly where I would pray for acceptance, then be around my family and get angry, over and over, I was feeling so frustrated. How could I not expect anything from anyone? It seemed to go against my nature. Why should those people get away without having to do anything they should do? Why do I keep feeling like I know what the best thing is, when I know in my mind that God is really the only one who does?

I think all humans expect to be treated with respect and be heard. I run into trouble when my expectations become demands. People let me down because they don’t live up to what I’m expecting, so I am trying to stop expecting them to change. I understand now that I get angry because of what I am doing, not because of them. Just knowing that I am expecting too much is half the battle. At least I am getting better at realizing what I’m doing and when. I can keep asking my Higher Power to help me because I can’t do it alone.

What I can do is set healthy relationship boundaries for myself, and lay out expectations for what I need in a relationship. Not telling them who or what they need to be, but expressing who and what I want to be. When those lines are crossed, I can disengage without feeling guilty because those are my boundaries. This is different from having expectations and trying to control their behavior, which can only lead to disappointment.

I also need to work on not expecting too much from myself. One of the shares from you wonderful women a couple months ago really stuck with me so I saved it, “Either I had to be the straight ‘A’ student, high achiever, or I would be a drunk or act out in some way because I could not keep up with my impossibly high standards.” Expecting too much from others or from myself will only get me into trouble.

How have you struggled with or made progress on letting go of expectations?

Thank you for letting me lead the meeting, I look forward to hearing about your experiences.

December 12: We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it

Topic for the week:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the third promise – we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. For me, there would be no AA if we chose to shut the door on our past, active alcoholic lives. It’s through sharing our experiences of what it was like while drinking that someone who’s trying to get sober will perhaps think, ‘Well, they drank like I do and if they got sober, maybe I can too’. And for those who are sober, hearing another alcoholic’s story often helps to reinforce the belief that they are an alcoholic, they don’t want to go back to the living hell that’s active alcoholism, and that Alcoholics Anonymous provides a viable program for living without alcohol.

I haven’t had a drink for many years and believe one of the reasons for this is that occasionally I get a flashback of one of the many horrendous, embarrassing, and sad episodes in my active alcoholism. I inevitably shake my head and wonder HOW did that happen? No one in their right mind would do what I did, yet I did, and these days I’m grateful I remember because it brings to the forefront of my mind the power alcohol had over me…as it states in the Big Book, ‘cunning, baffling, powerful’ – without a doubt!

While I certainly wish a lot of the things I went through in my active alcoholism didn’t happen, there’s nothing I can do about changing those things. Putting a positive spin on things I can say that everything I went through got me to the point where I was willing to accept my alcoholism, which saved my life. I actually don’t want to shut the door on my past alcoholic experiences as they are such powerful reminders of what I can expect if I choose to pick up a drink…they scare me, they warn me, and they protect me in a way. But I choose to remain sober not only because of what I DON’T want to have happen to me. I remain sober and follow the program of AA because it gives me the chance to live a full life, to experience the other promises, and to connect with people in a way I never could while drinking as I was so wrapped up in myself.

Openly and honestly sharing my past experiences helps to remind me of what it was like in my active alcoholic hell, what I don’t want to go through again, and how much I’ve changed in sobriety. And just as importantly, it can help other alcoholics understand their own active alcoholic experiences, relate to being an alcoholic, and find strength in knowing they can live life – a good life, maybe even a happy, content one! – without alcohol.

December 05: Step Twelve

Topic for the week: Step 12

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

Thanks for joining in this week. Step 12 is a special, 3 part step.

  1. Spiritual awakening AS THE RESULT of these steps
  2. Carry this message to alcoholics
  3. Practice these principles in all our affairs

The nice thing is that when we find ourselves in these rooms, people with more sobriety help us to start service right away. Since I was fully online when I came into the ‘rooms’ I’ve never had the opportunity to be a part of coffee preparation or to be the greeter, but I learned early on that I can be a part of this group by checking in on people, sharing in meetings, chairing when I had enough sobriety time and eventually by holding service positions. As I moved through the steps and experienced the awakening, the service work has played a key role in keeping me connected to my fellows and I do my best to practice these principles in all my affairs.

I’m not perfect. However, I have gotten to a place in my sobriety where I’m finding balance. I used to have a habit of pushing myself too hard and being an overachiever. I have always pushed myself to be the ‘best.’ With this program I have learned how to not overcommit myself in order to ‘prove’ something to someone (or myself) but still be ‘a part of’ and show up in service. I absolutely love AA.

Practicing the principles has given me self esteem. I actually like myself today. And that says a lot when I think back to my teen years when the voice in my head was literally screaming at me all the time, telling me how much of a garbage human being I was. It’s crazy to remember those times.

The other thing that stuck out for me when reading Step 12 in the 12&12 were these lines:

“When a [person] has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of it is that he has now become able to do, feel, and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resources alone. He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being. He has been set on a path which tells him he is really going somewhere, that life is not a dead end, not something to be endured or mastered.”

That last bit was me. Life was something to endure or master. I’m now finally learning how to be in it – how to enjoy it immensely.

Super grateful. The meeting is open 🙂

Sarah M.

Dec 1, 2019

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?