Oct 25: God Will Not Desert Us

“Word comes to me that you are making a magnificent stand in adversity—this adversity being the state of your health. It gives me a chance to express my gratitude for your recovery in A.A. and especially for the demonstration of its principles you are now so inspiringly giving to us all.

“You will be glad to know that A.A.’s have an almost unfailing record in this respect. This, I think, is because we are so aware that God will not desert us when the chips are down; indeed, He did not when we were drinking. And so it should be with the remainder of life.

“Certainly, He does not plan to save us from all troubles and adversity. Nor, in the end, does He save us from so-called death—since this is but an opening of a door into a new life, where we shall dwell among His many mansions. Touching these things I know you have a most confident faith.”

AA World Services Inc. As Bill Sees It [221]. A.A. World Services, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Hi, Grow Ladies, Heidi Alcoholic here. Thanks for letting me be of service. I am sober today and I grateful I don’t have a desire to drink today. I’m still here showing up, going to meetings and being of service and grateful that I am. Life can be rocky and tough at times – that is life. I look back and think how or why did I stay sober during some of my most difficult times early on in my life? It was people in the fellowship who kept telling me just don’t drink no matter what – even if your ass falls off – pick it up put it in a paper bag and take it with you to a meeting and of course they showed and told me they loved me and cared for me. They told me to pray, be of service and just stay close to the rooms. Well today I can’t do that (go to a meeting in person that is) but I have zoom meetings and online meetings like Grow. I have probably been to more meetings this year than in recent years because of Zoom. I have experienced a lot of loss the last year and now seems to be a current stream for me. Honestly, I am so sick and tired of experiencing loss right now in my life. However, I know from my experience in sobriety that one day this will pass and change is always constant. I have faith in God (my HP) and know he is working on finding the best home for me and my dog and that I won’t always be homeless. I feel really lost at times not having a home of my own at the moment compounded with being so far away from my friends and family during this pandemic but I have so much to be grateful for – a friend who has shown great generosity by letting me stay in her home in Bristol (food and shelter for today), my dog and meetings on zoom. I know from experience God will not desert me. Thanks for letting me share.

Oct 18: God Shots

Good Morning !

These past couple weeks have been challenging for me, I have had some big lessons in unmanageability at home and have found the adage about the home being the hardest place to practice these principals to be VERY true.  HOWEVER, this surrender for me has been a deep one and when I truly sought god and help everything was laid out for me in ways I cannot explain.  

When I was first sober my sponsor told me about “god shots” – little synchronicities that happen in our lives that cannot be explained. Such as certain people, situations etc being placed in our lives in the exact right time we need.  Such as people from my past returning out of the blue (one from England) for me to make amends. Or sponsors showing up for us when we were ready or situations working out that we could not have possibly done on our own power. She explained that this was God for her. 

I have had many inexplicable miraculous things happen for me in sobriety and I am so grateful for our program and sister program as well so that I don’t have to live in disease any more.  I would love to hear about all of your little “god shots”! 

Thank you for my sobriety! 

Oct 11: Experience, Strength and Hope

Hearing another alcoholics ESH has helped me so much to get out of myself, not feel alone and stay sober for another day. I was thinking about my experiences in AA or some people call them ‘God things’ others ‘magic in AA’ ( you can call it whatever you like) that helped me not drink at a moment. Little experiences or things that have opened my eyes.

Just recently I went a little insane again and thought I might want to try control drinking. The moment the thought entered my mind I accidentally hit my last wine glass in my house off the counter. My middle name may be Grace but there’s nothing graceful about me. I’m a total clutz. But it woke me up. That shattered wine glass felt like a sign. It. Woke. Me. Up! Drinking is not an option.

Another time when I first got sober I was concerned about going to dinner with my family at our favorite restaurant because I always drank there. I knew it was a trigger for me. I was very new and couldn’t bring myself to say to my family ‘can we go somewhere else because I’m afraid I’m going to drink?’ Turns out I didn’t have to because as I was driving home to pick them up , my whole wheel fell off my car. Not a flat tire but my whole wheel flew off my car. Thankfully no one was hurt and I didn’t have to go out to dinner that night because our one car was not drivable.

Finally, just this past week I’ve been struggling with a lot of pain around my daughter and letting go of things I can’t control. I had entered a zoom mtg and just texted my sponsor that I can’t stop crying and right after I said that the chairperson leads with the topic of crying and letting go.

I’ve heard others share these different but same experiences and I love them. They give me goose bumps. Crazy and out of the ordinary things. These experiences keeps my disease real to me and help me see I’m where I need to be. I’d love to hear your experiences or whatever else you would like to share this week.

This is your meeting and the floor is open to share.

Oct 04: Step 10

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

This step is discussed in the Big Book on pages 84-85, and at more length in the 12×12 starting on p. 88. This step involves – for me – a process of continuing to “look at our [my] assets and liabilities…” with “a real desire to learn and grow by this means” (12/12, p. 88)

What a challenge! To keep looking at both my strengths and what I think are my weaknesses and maintain a willingness to keep growing! Sometimes that growth process involves a lot of emotional focus that is not comfortable for me (maybe always?) And as I think about it today, it can be as uncomfortable to look at my assets with the same focus as my weaknesses. It strikes me just now that part of the reason to admit my assets is to keep in mind what I might be called to do, or add, or offer in a situation – to keep an open mind and heart to how I might be being called to contribute.

This step calls me to try and be aware of what I am doing right now and how that might affect others right now. I want to be alert to the symptoms of emotional imbalance and how I react to situations where I am emotionally disturbed right now, in this moment, so I have a chance to apologize and make the situation as right as I can… The step also recommends that I do a daily taking of an inventory to see how my day went – where was I helpful (what worked) and where did my defects pop up like weeds in my garden?

I am more adept at the “spot-check inventory,” the recognizing of where I am a mess right now – than I am at doing the day-end inventory. After talking with my sponsor about this, we have added to my daily short list of gratitudes a reflection of my day as it played out using Step 10 as a lens. I write this in my journal – I keep it to one page – and photograph it and text it to her. I find this sharing helps so much as it is one of the things I can do to make the program of AA come really alive.

One of the promises in this step is that this will help me stay emotionally sober – a state I’m coming to prize highly. It also makes an amazing claim that I have found does, indeed, come true (another promise) in the Big Book on p. 84, “And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned.” What an amazing promise – that I, Laura, can be in a place where I don’t fight anyone or anything.

I am looking forward to hearing how you use Step 10 and / or how you might find Step 10 a challenge.

Thank you for letting me chair this meeting and letting my share – my name is Laura B. and I am an alcoholic.

Sep 27: Today’s To Dos For Sobriety & Recovery

Thank you to all outgoing and incoming servicers of this meeting, we appreciate all the work you do.

Thank you for allowing me to lead, sharing my experience, strength and hope. It is both an honor and a privilege.

As I begin this writing, it is about 40 minutes until I get the gift of celebrating 16 years of continuous sobriety. 🥳

I start with this declaration not because I’m all that and chips ~ but because I am in awe of how it works, and that with lots of help, I, too, have found the solution to staying sober. My hope is that others can see it is possible for them, too.
Saying that I am grateful does not seem to do it justice, but to describe all I am because of the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous is virtually impossible.
Getting and staying sober have truly given me life.

Consistently, September has been a wonderfully, sometimes difficult~ly introspective month. I know many others experience this “time of reflection mode” before their sobriety anniversary/birthday, as well. Over the years, it’s no longer all about my head “hey, look at me!”, but instead having to do with my heart, “am I doing the next right thing?”, a testimony to a Higher Power and the Program and fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a time of looking at the progress and changes made since last year, as well as some “blast from the past” memories that reeeeeally show me progress. Golly, some of the crazy crap we do while we are out there rocking and reeling. So grateful I don’t have to live like that anymore.

In the beginning of my sobriety, the reflection was really ego deflating, because their wasn’t much progress that I could see, which led to the ego smashing required for me to see the Action that I needed to do to produce my continuing evolution ~ so that I could create and then see, the progress I desired. My “Today’s To Do’s” are in the next few paragraphs, all the things I do to stay in sobriety/recovery.

Through great sponsorship, daily conscious contact (prayer/meditation), daily readings, journaling, gazillions of gratitude lists and uncountable numbers of meetings, I have become the human, woman person I’ve always wanted to be ~ the one that used to be hidden amongst all the rubble that was my tornado 🌪 type self-created life.
September has had some great meetings so far this month, with topics that have included Step 9, the Promises, honesty, service, gratitude and it’s Recovery Month!, just to name a few.

All of these have become a part of my life and made my life better:

  • Step 9: I finally admitted I was wrong, and showed up to make it right.
  • The Promises: Every single one has come true in my life already and continue to do so.
  • Honesty: I learned to become honest with myself about myself and became able to be totally honest with others. Without being brutal.
  • Service: Whether walking another woman through the Steps, or helping a stranger with their groceries, today I love to be there for and be of service to others.
  • Gratitude: Focusing on all I do have. How truly fortunate I am.
  • Always remaining teachable.

I believe that my true purpose in life is to be of maximum service to my God, my Goddess and my fellows.  Recovery Month is such an awesome time. All of us miracles celebrating our lives, clean and sober together. Awesome stuff!!

Although I have managed to string many “one day at a time’s” together, the most important and meaningful day is the one I am in. Being present is an awesomely wonderful gift. If I stay present and do well in today’s 24, tomorrow’s 24 is likely to roll along just fine.  Couple of nuggets before I go:

  • Just for today, I will not worry.
  • Just for today, I will not be angry.
  • Just for today, I will do my work honestly.
  • Just for today, I will show love and respect for every living thing.
  • Just for today, I will live an attitude of gratitude.

I want to have a good attitude because that’s what will glorify my God. It is promised that if we will do three simple things—continue to pray, to love Him, and to want His will—that all things will work together for our good (see Romans 8:28). That’s a 100 percent, ironclad guarantee that no matter how messy life gets, God will make good out of it. If you want victory in your life, all you have to do is adopt a lifestyle of thanksgiving.

Thanks again for letting me share and for being an integral part of my sobriety.Topic for the week: What are your Today’s To-Do’s for maintaining your sobriety/recovery?

Sep 20: Gratitude is a Gift Too

September has a special meaning for me. It is the month of both my birthday and my AA anniversary. Today my gift is gratitude itself. It is inside me, and I want to keep feeling it. I never used to know gratitude. It is a gift that shouldn’t get dusty on a shelf. It needs to be integrated right into my attitude where it belongs. It seems to take a weight off my shoulders.

Gratitude can seem elusive, but the serenity I feel is gratitude in my life. It is one of those gifts that I might overlook. So I chart it daily.

Early in AA I felt grateful for an odd gift: the gift of desperation. Without it I would not have come to AA. My Higher Power is the best gift-giver ever! As a newcomer, I didn’t always feel good and sometimes wondered why I made the decision to get sober. I wasn’t so sure I was grateful–until I paused, or was told by my sponsor, to reflect on it. Sure enough-there it was.

The Promises are my cheat sheet in starting my gratitude list. But they are very limited. My gratitude is vast. It covers the sun, the moon, the stars, a wonderful breeze, a fragrant flower, loved ones, pets. Sobriety. You. Serenity. A higher power I call God. Just some of my favorite things. Drinking and stumbling through my life I barely noticed those things. The list grows in sobriety.

I never dreamed I would find a support system. I never dreamed I could be worthy of love and kindness. Calm was not within my reach. There are in fact other emotions on the chart besides anger! Laughter came into my life. My prayers turned to requests for blessings to others. I say prayers of thanks. I ask for direction and the will of my Higher Power. Not until I set aside my own apparent control was I open to a Higher Power. It seemed prayers were answered when I didn’t even pray! I am so grateful.

Each of us experiences gratitude in her own personal way. As unique as we are, that is how unique our gratitude list is. But when we shout out in unison at the end of a meeting, Keep coming back, it works when you work it! we express a joy and gratitude we share alike.

My gratitude in recovery seems to burst out of nowhere and float all over me like fairy dust. Sometimes I giggle at what I’m grateful for. I love the sneaky little surprises from my Higher Power too, although sometimes I don’t see them right away. My gratitude is as precious as the gifts themselves. The world looks so much better with Gratitude in My Attitude. I invite you to continue to join me in celebrating gratitude. I am able to invite each of you because, of course, your name is on my Gratitude List! hgz, b. dos 9/21/83; dob 9/01/43

Please feel free to share on this topic or any other of your choice.

Sep 13: Honesty

Before coming into the rooms of AA I was very dishonest. I lied to my boss, blaming other people for any mistakes I made like a toddler “I didn’t do it”. I lied to coworkers, once hiding important keys left on my desk because they belonged to a woman I disliked and knew she would get into trouble. I lied constantly to my spouse about my drinking and lied to my children that my drinking was normal. I lied to friends that my life was great, lied to family about my drinking, lied to get ahead, lied to get my way, lied to win …… I could take another hour and write about so many more instances that I was dishonest during my drinking career. Dishonesty was so much a part of me it became automatic. I could come up with a lie so fast while looking you in the eye it was scary.

When I finally dragged myself to the rooms of AA I was at a very low bottom. I learned very slowly because I thought it was all about drinking and how to stop. But as I was told at the tables I slowly started to change, inside and out. It was not easy and my HP was doing all the heavy lifting but I started to see a different person. Someone with a sense of honesty, both with myself and others. When I finally realized that even though no one else would see me sneak a drink (or six) I myself would know and I would care. This honesty with myself was a pivotal moment where the conscious change started and the changes stayed. I know it only happened because “I couldn’t, He could so I let Him”.

Today honesty is very important to me. I still find myself slipping sometimes but I try to use my tools and repair, start back on my program. How has dishonesty/honesty changed during your AA journey?

Sep 06: 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.

*** 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 experience with Step nine is a variety, I make living amends, to myself, and others. I ALWAYS talk to my sponsor or trusted AA friends before I make any amends. I have to be keenly aware of my motives. Amends based on reestablishing a relationship, or getting you to forgive or like me again, aren’t amends. Amends are for me, first and foremost, They give me humility and pride in my self. They actually are part of the process in giving myself, back to myself. My drinking career revolved around people pleasing and trying to fit my square peg into the round hole. I just don’t fit. But the process of amends, understanding what I did that hurt your feelings, and what you require to “fix it” is humbling and really asks me to “listen” not defend. When I am that vulnerable, and that open and the other person can receive me on that playing field magic happens. Magic didn’t happen in all my amends. Some have been flatly refused and this people refuse to have conversations with me. That hurts, and today I can let myself actually feel that hurt. It’s a whole lot better than trying to stuff it or drink at it.

This is one of the parts of growing up I missed as a kid, and thank god there’s a program out here to teach me how to do it.

The meetings yours, please share on Step 9

Aug 30: Changes in Perspective

Last week I was listening to a podcast and I heard the statement. When shame grows up into Guilt then you are able to take responsibility for your actions. WOW big AHA moment….. when shame grows up into guilt. According to me, shame and guilt were both negative destructive emotions. I came into AA with boatloads of shame and guilt. However, all I could do was feel them. I had no outlet, I had no tools, I had just a pit of self despair. AA gave me tools to use to transform shame into guilt, and then the tools to use guilt to take responsibility for my actions.

These are new words for me. I have not seen the process from this perspective. Steps 4 thru 9 took care of the majority of my past issues, Steps 10 to 12 take care of my daily maintenance.

Guilt has now moved from being a negative emotion to a trusted friend who guides me on the path.
The meeting is now open. Please share on what strikes you, or what you need to share about.
Laurie
2-99

Aug 23: Bringing the Message Home

I chose this topic from the Daily Reflections forAugust 23.

Can we bring the same spirit of love and tolerance into our sometimes deranged family lives that we bring to our A.A. group?
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pp. 111-12

My family members suffer from the effects of my disease. Loving and accepting them as they are- just as I love and accept A.A. members– fosters a return of love, tolerance and harmony to my life. Using common courtesy and respecting others’ personal boundaries are necessary practices for all areas of my life.

Throughout my drinking career I thought everything was about me, me, me, me. If it wasn’t about me then I did not really care. I had to be in control of every situation and if I wasn’t then I was done with you. I would sabotage relationships that I was in if things did not go my way. Sometimes this would lead to abuse, but at the time I did not care because it would give me an excuse to drink and I would easily forgive myself. I sabotaged my relationship with family and friends. I liked things done my way regardless if I was wrong or right.

When I first started to get sober I went the complete opposite direction and I let people walk all over me. I didn’t know how to say no or to set boundaries. My first sponsor was very thorough with me and helped and guided me in my self will. She helped me to learn how to set boundaries without compromising myself. I learned how to tell people no so I would not feel guilty about it. I did not like to tell people no, but I felt if I said no then people would not like me. I now know that I am not always right that there are other ways of doing things. I am more tolerant of people, family and most importantly myself. Self love has played a big role in my sobriety.

Aug 16: The Next Frontier: Emotional Sobriety

“If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety.” The Next Frontier: Emotional Sobriety by Bill Wilson, Copyright © AA Grapevine, Inc, January 1958

Thank you all again for my celebration last week. I picked this topic because just when I had thought I had got it all ‘figured out’ I got a lovely reminder in humility 😊.. My nephew on the same day as my anniversary got accepted into a prestigious university. He’s never seen his aunt drunk, out of control or fighting. I was delighted and of course, I made it clear I would be ready to help him at any point… and then something started bugging me. A sadness… ‘but, but, I am 12 years sober, where’s my big prize… a coin, lot of well wishes… But I want fireworks! I want more!’

2 hours later and I’m thinking ‘why am I envious?’ There it was: ‘I demand more than what I have already received. I went to a prestigious university too, but congratulate me again… I am smart, I am I am I am…’ […sigh]. You can see where this is headed… underneath it was just attention-seeking behaviour. A bit of king-baby syndrome.

Thank you, AA and all those 12 steps that help me, look within, find that self-centred fear and turn it over to my Higher Power. Bill W’s essay on Emotional Sobriety is still one of the best pieces of AA literature that right-sizes me. Within minutes I felt that freedom. I felt that the sunlight of the spirit. And I was back to enjoying those 24 hours.

Aug 09: Leaving Space for Your Higher Power

Hello Dear Women of GROW,

I am celebrating 7 years on the 9th and I am still here, working my program, daily. But lately my meditation practice has been spotty, and I’ve felt too distracted to pray.

I actually wondered if the program had stopped working. The program is still working.

What’s changed is the context I’m practicing in. There is a lot of space in my days. And what rushes into that space are uncomfortable feelings–and the scary stories I attach to them.

I’m an alcoholic. When discomfort hits I want to get busy and distract myself with whatever I can find–-because I’m triggered.

Today someone told me that space is where you meet God.

So I’m committing to making space available. I’ll start by acknowledging my feelings. When I do, they ease (my 4th and 5th steps taught me that). Then the space returns.

I can say a prayer or meditate into that space. I can express gratitude. All of this makes me feel a lot better than looking for shoes to buy online.

Where do you meet your Higher Power? How do you make space for this relationship? What gets in the way?

Thank you for being here.
x

Kirsten

Aug 02: Step 8

Topic for the week: Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all

I am and will always be so grateful for sponsorship and having women to help me with step work. I wanted to breeze through step 8 and find out how I was supposed to make amends, a step I had dreaded from the beginning.

But my sponsor explained that I could make a list using my inventory. Everyone in the first column of the inventory should be on my 8th step list and she and I would talk about each one and what amends were owed.

Step 8 really slowed me down. I was told to pray and thoughtfully consider the harm done to each person on the inventory. Then, I was to make 3 lists. The 1st was the amends that would be easy, I understood my harm and was willing to approach these people. The 2nd was a list of people I felt I owed an amends to, but I had reservations about making them. The 3rd list I either didn’t see the harm or was terrified of ever making a direct amend.

We started with the 1st list and she had me pray, then write a SHORT amend stating the harm I thought I caused. I started each one with the fact that I was alcoholic and trying to set right wrongs I had done. Then the facts, i.e. I was unkind, I lied, I was afraid, whatever had shown up on the inventory. Leaving out lengthy details and explanations, just the actions I took that were harmful. I had a lot of amends to make for gossiping and some of those were tricky. Do I make amends to the person I gossiped about or just to the person I gossiped to/with? We looked at each one, trying not to cause more harm.

It was such a helpful process to get prepared for each amend I owed with facts and what I was going to say. It took away some of the fear about direct aments. To this day, I run amends by someone first, often I’m wrong about the harm caused or what I am willing to change. It is so helpful to talk it out first and feel really prepared before I approach the person I resented.

As I worked through the first list, I experienced some of the freedom that comes and eventually I was willing to look at lists 2 and 3 and finish the whole process.

I’m looking forward to hearing your experiences with this step.

Jul 26: The 1-2-3 Waltz

When I was new to sobriety, everything was overwhelming. I looked at the Steps on the wall, and it seemed impossible to me. Not so much Step 1. I knew I was an alcoholic, and my life had definitely become unmanageable. It was the next two steps that threw me. Step 2 told me that I would come to believe that a Power greater than me could restore me to sanity. I didn’t believe it. First, I didn’t think I was insane. Second, the God of my understanding at the time did not get involved in individual lives. He’d created us with Free Will and depended on us to solve our own problems. Step 3 said I would give my life and my Will over to this Higher Power. The more I listened to what people said about it, the more skeptical I became. They kept talking about surrender! That was not my style.

But I was in trouble. I needed help. I couldn’t get or stay sober on my own. I’d tried AA before and failed at it. This time, I was truly desperate to quit, and I was finally willing to do what was suggested. So, I swallowed my pride and tried to do those first three steps with my sponsor. It was a long battle. The same thing played out at least once a month – over and over again.

Something would happen that upset me. I’d stew about it and try to figure out how to “fix” it. I’d try this and then that. Nothing solved the problem. I stayed upset. Talking to my sponsor about it every day, she’d finally ask what I was getting out of being upset. She was speaking Greek. She suggested I try the steps. How would that fix anything? So, on my own, I’d keep fighting for my way. I’d be angry at everyone. No one understood me or how unique I was. They couldn’t understand how complex my problem was. I knew I could figure it out.

I didn’t figure it out. I just kept being upset. I starting thinking maybe I was insane after all. The people at AA weren’t upset all the time. They had a way to solve their problems. They let go of them. They gave them to their Higher Power and went about their business. They didn’t stay upset. They were content and happy.

So, after about two weeks of trying to swim upstream, I’d finally get on my knees and give the problem to a God I didn’t really trust. I’d try hard to stop thinking about it. I tried to go about my business. At first, giving my problem to God would last a few minutes at best. In no time, I was obsessing about it again and getting upset. But I’d gotten some relief, so I got down on my knees and let go of it again. Maybe a few more minutes of relief. Every time I gave my Higher Power my problem, the relief lasted longer. I could focus on being sober rather than being upset.

It took months for me to begin to trust that letting go of my problem would solve it. For all those months, I was doing the 1-2-3 Waltz. I was going through the first three steps over and over again. (I can’t. He can. I’ll let Him.) Over time, it got easier. Over an even longer time, it started getting automatic. I’d learned that letting go of my problem, giving it to God, actually worked. Over time, I went from suffering for a couple of weeks before I’d let go to suffering for minutes and letting go.

I’d finally learned that my way isn’t the best way. It’s certainly not the easiest. What is easy is trusting my Higher Power to lead me where I need to be. When I surrender, things turn out so much better than they ever have. I can stop worrying and obsessing. I can just live my life, knowing that there is a better way – knowing that if I just trust and go on with my day, the problem will cease to be a problem. I don’t have to fix anything. I don’t have to have my way. In fact, getting my way is usually the worst thing for me in the long run.

So, this week, I’d like to hear your experience with the first three steps. Did you or do you do the 1-2-3 Waltz like I did? What did you or are you learning about living sober? Of course, please share on anything you need to this week.

Jul 19: The two faces of alcoholism/coin

“When I try to reconstruct what my life was like “before”, I see a coin with two faces.

One, the side I turned to myself and the world, was respectable – even, in some ways, distinguished. I was father, husband, tax payer, home owner. I was club-man, athlete, artist, musician, author, editor, aircraft pilot, and world traveller. I was listed in Who’s Who in America as an American who, by distinguished achievement has arrived.

The other side of the coin was sinister, baffling. I was inwardly unhappy most of the time. There would be times when the life of respectability and achievement seemed insufferably dull – I had to break out. This I would do by going completely “bohemian” for a night, getting drunk, and rolling home with the dawn. Next day, remorse would be on me like a tiger.

I’d claw my way back to respectability and stay there – untill the inevitable next time”.

Extract from BB page 382

When I started drinking it was all low key and modest, I was in control. Then I found I loved the taste of alcohol, it made me into friendly bubbly person who could converse with anyone, compared to the shy awkward introvert I am, I was always “in the background”.

My love of alcohol was almost like a love affair, I did not need anyone or anything, as long as I went to work every day and proved what an exceptional (in my mind) worker I was, then how could I be an alcoholic?

Many times in my drinking career when at a pub and obviously had to much to drink, and not steady on my feet would knock a glass over or some inappropriate comment made, I always joked ” I would pick up my name later”‘, that never happened, and thinking on it today I would be permanently on my knees “picking up my name”.

In the beginning it was easy to have a ready made excuse, especially as did not always go with same friends out, at work I was hard working and went the extra mile (even today I go the extra mile- just not with drinking anymore), then come knock off time I would plan most nights to party.

Eventually I was drinking more and became a solitary drinker, it was easier than having to make excuses to anyone, and my love affair with the bottle “got intense”‘.

It would be nice to hear “your two sides of the coin”

Rene

Jul 12: Keys to the Kingdom: Relationships in AA

“I have a wealth of friends and, with my A.A. friends, an unusual quality of fellowship. For, to these people, I am truly related. First, through mutual pain and despair, and later through mutual objectives and newfound faith and hope. And, as the years go by, working together, sharing our experiences with one another, and also sharing a mutual trust, understanding, and love—without strings, without obligation—we acquire relationships that are unique and priceless.”

There is no more aloneness, with that awful ache, so deep in the heart of every alcoholic that nothing, before, could ever reach it. That ache is gone and never need return again.

Now there is a sense of belonging, of being wanted and needed and loved. In return for a bottle and a hangover, we have been given the Keys of the Kingdom.” From “Keys to the Kingdom” page 276 of the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous 4th Edition

I’ve recently been reflecting on my time in and out of AA. I’ve shared before that I was off booze for eight years give or take before making it to AA. Once I was here I was desperate and also really firmly believed you had the solution to actually living without drinking. Prior to AA I wasn’t drinking, but what I was doing wasn’t exactly living either, more of an isolated survival.

Since joining the AA Fellowship and slowly but surely growing my network of sober sisters, I do feel as if I’ve been granted the Keys of the Kingdom. I’ve found a place where I actually feel as if I belong. I have found a tribe of women that I can really be honest with, really grow alongside, and a spiritual way of life and community unlike anywhere on Earth.

Please share on anything this passage brings to mind for you or anything else you need to share on! Thank you for the honor of chairing this meeting and for being here with me living in the solution.

Love,
Emily M.
9/1/2010

Jul 05: Step 7

Good morning Ladies of Grow, thank you for allowing me to lead this weeks meeting and be of service. Today’s share is on step 7.

“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings”

At the beginning of my recovery I didn’t understand step 7 at all. Being humble wasnt something that came naturally to me at all. I was an ego driven maniac for most of my life, so when this step spoke of being humble it was a strange concept to me.

I had never heard of the word humility which is what this step is all about. The great fact is that unless I was able to gain some sense of humility I wouldn’t stay sober. Humility for me is knowing my place and staying in. It means I have to remain humble enough to know who is in charge, and that is God.

“My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which is standing in the way of my usefulness to you and to my fellows. Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding. Amen”

I am in the world to fulfil a roll that God assigned to me. I have to keep my channel clear to enable God to work through me. At first ai struggled with giving the good away, I only wanted to be free of the bad. I didn’t realize and understand that God needs all of me, so he can honor his end of the deal that was made in Step 3. God knows me better than i know myself. In giving him all of me, good and bad, he has been able to work his magic into my life and change it beyond my wildest dreams.

Through the step 7 prayer I have been able to make Love, tolerance and honesty a daily part of my life. I have been able to be rid of gut wrenching fear that stops me being able to do anything. I have been able to be patient in very testing times. I have been given qualities I never knew I had. I have found that I am not just a walking defect, I posses many good qualities. I am able to live in this world that used to be such an alien place for me. I am given strength and courage on a daily basis to tackle things head on.

Asking for God to remove my shortcomings is a very humbling process indeed.

Thank you for letting me chair and share today.

Claire H

Jun 28: Maladjustment’s Management

Hi everyone. I am an incredibly grateful alcoholic, and my name is Taylor D.
The first thing I’d like to do is thank the group for allowing me the opportunity to serve as this week’s chair, and i thank you once again for the opportunity to be of service, by allowing me to offer my willingness to sponsor the in need members here. It is both a blessing and an honor to get to work with others as they (we) go through the Steps.

Service is also a huge part of my recovery: helping to keep me sober and involved, as well as giving back ~ making payments on a debt I’ll never be able to fully repay. I am so blessed and grateful to this Program.

For the newcomers and the come-backers: I hope you hear something that makes you want to stay, and if not, I hope you’ll keep coming back until you do.

The topic I have chosen for sharing my experience, strength and hope for this week is what I like to call my Maladjustment’s Management.

In both the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and in the 12×12, these maladjustment’s are mentioned. Bill W. sometimes called them character defects, sometimes he referred to them as shortcomings, and several times he pointed them out as chronic maladjustments.

I prefer this terminology better most of the time, I suppose because it was something I glommed right onto in the beginning ~ it made it all make a little more sense to my very askew brain.

As I’m sure you are wondering by now, ” what the hockey sticks is she talking about!?!”
When I speak of the managment of my maladjustment’s, I am speaking of how I am dealing with my current character defects. As you all are aware, some of our character defects don’t go away ~ so (my) our responsibility becomes dutiful management of them so they don’t go to extremes again, and so we don’t hurt ourselves or others with them.

Every year, right prior to my AA birthday, (usually 2-3 months) I hit a reflection period. I find that old memories come up, mostly good: childhood memories, relationships of all different types, a lot of good times and of course those good ole growth opportunities! Because of working this Program to the best of my ability, what began as morbid reflection the first year I did the reflection/review, is now an opportunity to measure my progress; from last year, as well as the progress I’ve made since the beginnng of my sobriety, which was September 28, 2004.

And therefore the questions: have i learned from them? have i changed my behaviors for the better? have i become kinder? am i closer to being the woman I’ve always wanted to be?

What I am seeing this year is pretty good in my maladjustment’s management, I’m not finding any that make me say gees louise, not that again!! (like the whack-a-mole it used to be). My intolerance of others is almost not existent, because of God and the Program, today I am truly able to accept others just exactly where they are! Yay!! I see in reviewing my interactions with others that my compassiion and empathy have grown by leaps and bounds. I also see that my impatience and judgmentalism have improved, though there is definitely a lot of room for improvement on those fronts! These 5 items are my list of maladjustments that i deal with in my life right now and continue to strive daily to make them better. I do this by doing Step 6 and 7 over and over again, studying the books, by working with my sponsor, meetings, sponsorship, service and of course a very strong faith in God; but the thing I find that helps the most is the willingness to acknowledge, admit, remain teachable and change.

And please: don’t take this as me inferring that I’m just so wonderful and such a spiritual guru, as I surely am not. I act like an ass and make mistakes now and again, just like every other human being.

How I’d like you to take it is with your eyes on the awesome power of the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous. As it has taken a hopeless, helpless, terrified and desperate drunk like me and with a lot of work and willingness for patient progress, has turned me into a hopeful, positive, grateful, helpful and considerate adult, who’s almost completely free of fear and the bondage of self: a woman truly full of happiness and joy.

Thanks again for letting me share.
Faith n Hope
Taylor

Jun 21: Out of the dark

Topic for the week: Out of the dark

As Bill sees it (page 10)

Self searching is the means by which we bring new vision, action and grace to bear upon the dark and negative side of our natures. With it comes the development of that kind of humility that makes it possible for us to receive God’s help.

Yes it is only a step we will want to go further

We will want the good that is in us all, even in the worst of us, to flower and to grow. But first of all we shall want sunlight, nothing much can grow in the dark. Meditation is our step into the sun.

It has been said that each person has the capacity “to be evil”, not many act upon that impulse.

As an alcoholic I could say I did “evil things”, the lives of friends and family destroyed through my drinking, as nothing was more important than the next drink. As I did not do well in relationships, I avoided been with anyone and could be selfish and only think of myself. Yet also the yearning to be accepted was what I wanted and I thought alcohol would do that.

I would look in the mirror after a “heavy night” out and hate myself, I would vow to stop but after work would again go to nearest bottle store.

Alcohol produces “the evil”, and as humans we want to also do good, be “normal”.

As “Bill said”, nothing can grow in the dark.
Think of flowers when they grow, they grow in sunlight “and turn towards the sun”.
Are we reaching towards the sun?

Would love to hear what everyone thinks of the dark and the light.

Rene

Jun 14: Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it

“Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.”
from the long version of the serenity prayer

“God, grant me the Serenity to accept the [people and] things I cannot change
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 hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Amen”

When I first came into the rooms of AA I learned the long version of the serenity prayer. I clung to it every day as I focused on not taking a drink. This one prayer got me through the roughest moments of the first year, and 5+ years down the road of recovery it still helps to soothe my weary soul far beyond any temptation to drink alcohol.

I have been extremely challenged this year to stay positive in spite of all the negative people and events that I cannot control. If I fail to remain positive most of the time, I suffer the consequences physically, emotionally and spiritually. This bleeds outward and can easily damage the relationships with those that I love. A couple of months ago I was reciting my morning prayers, struggling to make sense of events in our country. I noticed and digested this one line of the prayer that I had barely noticed previously: “Taking, as he did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it”. It’s funny how you can see the same words every day for literally years but not spend any time pondering what it means to you. Well, on that day and every day since I focus on it, as it truly helps me understand that a portion of what I must accept just might be what I inherently deem completely, utterly unacceptable. The ‘learning opportunities’ just keep on coming…

With all of the times I have wrestled with acceptance, these past few months have me stretching farther than ever to do just that. This one sentence gives me the strength and courage I need. I am able to react differently to that which bothers me as I literally speak it out loud (fortunately my husband humors me as I do!). I feel the stress caged up in my body relax as I take this pause to ‘check in’ with God. It breaks the tension, I find something to laugh about and move on.

Maybe I haven’t been here long enough, but I’ve not heard others talk about this specific part of the serenity prayer. I am curious to know if or how this sentence has meaning for you. Please feel free to share on this or any other topic.

Grateful to be of service this week,
Susan P.

Jun 07: Step 6

Hello all ladies of GROW.

My name Rene and am an alcoholic.

Step 6 (Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character).

Step 6 is necessary for spiritual growth. The beginning of a lifetime job. Being ready is all important and delay is dangerous. The point at which we abandon limited objectives and move towards God’s will for us (paraphrased from 12×12 pages 65-67).

I still have many character defects, impatience a big one for me, and I find sitting at home (due to the pandemic) that my mind wanders a lot more to things that have happened in the past and I build up a resentment again (note that all in my mind-how fickle I am)’

Guilt is another character defect, I remember when doing step 4 the all consuming guilt I felt “like I was something unpleasant stuck under a shoe, I felt like I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me. That been said having a measure of guilt is good to remind me of what I was to help me develop into a better person.

I was a happy drunk most of the time, would go with anyone to the next watering hole.

Fear another character defect (fear of what I done and what will happen to me, fear can be replaced with courage, the courage to change within myself (still at times fight against it), not an overnight process and takes time. That why I like what been said many times, this is not a programme we graduate from, I am still a work in progress.

Once when I was in my early 30’s I went club hopping with a friend (that time friends were a dime a dozen), we ended up at a club early hours in the morning and I went to get us drinks, I even accused the owner of not giving me the correct change, whereby she told us that the last drink (much grumbling from me)’

When we left the owner came around the corner with bouncers to question me about the change, luckily it only ended up in a shouting match and the cops were called and we were hauled off to jail for disturbing the peace, to me then it was like a badge of honour, now sober am still horrified at what I did, and the irrational fear of going to jail again still creeps up, even though I have done nothing wrong.

At the moment time is all I got, it just a matter of how well I use it. My job is to practice the principles to the best of my ability, in my case it slow plodding along.

To me step 6&3 are similar (my distorted thinking), step 3 we made the decision to turn our lives and will over to the care of God (as we understood him), with continuous effort on our parts to progress to step 6 asking for the defects of character to be removed.

I like the June 6 daily reflections (can he now take them a-every one?

(Paraphrasing – All that step six asks of me is to become willing to name my defects, claim them as my own, and be willing to discard the ones I can, just for today.

Thank you for letting me share.
Rene

May 31: Powerlessness/Unmanageability

When I volunteered to chair a May meeting, I was looking forward to celebrating my 20-year AA birthday. However, around the first week in May, I abruptly stopped going to my home group’s Zoom meetings. Since then I’ve been struggling with finding a topic that sounds like “good AA,” one that won’t sound like I have a problem with AA at 20 years of sobriety. I don’t want to scare any newcomers, for one thing. But then it occurred to me that I wouldn’t be honest if I don’t tell you, my trusted friends, what is going on with me.

What has been bothering me most is that all I’ve been able to hear in meetings and see in the literature is negativity. I see only the should’s and ought-to’s and commands, as if the literature itself is yelling at me. My old “pal” shame has come back, telling me as it always does that I’m not a real alcoholic, my drinking didn’t take me to places it would have if I were a real alcoholic like you, my story isn’t bad enough for you to relate to. I feel like I’m rebelling against what has been the single most positive thing in my life. What is that about??

Perhaps this is alcoholism — my dis-ease poisoning my thought process, pushing me towards differences and negativity and isolation…and, probably at some point, a drink. Pair that with my other dis-ease, codependence, and you have a recipe for self-destruction that for me is just as cunning, baffling and powerful.

I suspect my mother’s death and the year I spent caring for her have something to do with this. I’m just beginning to recognize how I turned myself inside out trying to please her and keep her happy and how impossible that was (powerlessness and unmanageability, anyone?). Years ago when my dad died, I realized that his voice had become my own voice of negativity; I now see that it also has come from my mom, whose criticism was much more subtle. Both of those voices are gone, and what is left? The voice, my voice, in my head that has always told me I’m not enough, I don’t do enough — the voice I tried to silence with alcohol (and that came roaring back at me when I stopped drinking but had not yet found AA). But it’s not my parents or the literature or the program that’s yelling at me, it’s my own inner voice. It’s the one that always resurfaces when I want to escape the truth: I spent over a year trying to fix, manage and control my mom (thinking I was doing the “right thing”) and when I couldn’t, I turned on myself. Apparently, when I forget that I’m powerless, my life becomes unmanageable — imagine that! I suspect, too, that my complete exhaustion after my experience with my mom contributed to my inability to remember the basic principles of the program.

I want you all to know that, in spite of my distaste for AA Zoom meetings, at no time have I lost my connection with my higher power. I just kind of forgot to turn everything over. I have not lost the knowledge that I am an alcoholic, and I have not lost all the gratitude I hold for how much AA and everyone I’ve met along the way have done to change my life for better and better. Best of all, I have not stopped coming to GROW every day, and I think you all are what has kept me from going off the deep end.

I’m coming to see that this is another opportunity to love and be gentle with myself as never before. I don’t need to punish myself with AA. It’s time for me to let go of that negative, imaginary voice and be open to hearing only the loving voices of my higher power and my fellow AAs. Though it has taken 20 years for me to arrive at this point, that 20 years could only have started because of putting down the drink and coming to AA.

Thank you for letting me chair, and share (at length!).

May 24: Hi, my name is….

Hi GROW!
I’m Sophie, alcoholic.

“Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready to take certain steps.”
BB Chapter 5 How It Works

I love hearing examples of how the program, the tools, the literature, Higher Power/God work for others.
I also love getting to know other alcoholics, hearing their stories – what it was like and what it’s like now. That’s why I pulled out those few sentences from Chapter 5.

We’ve had so many women join us recently, we always have a steady flow of joiners usually but there’s lots more since we’re in the current global pandemic situation. I’m glad our newest members have found us.

I wondered this week if our topic could be an opportunity to get to know each other a little more, using the frame of “what it was like, and what it’s like now….”
I had a favourite game show growing up and the contestants had to answer “what’s your name and where do you come from?”
So it’s a bit like that.
A chance for some fellowship and maybe to share some hope at the changes that are possible with AA….

So here’s mine;

Hi, my name is Sophie.
I’m an alcoholic.
GROW is my AA home group, and has been for over 3 years. I have my AA sponsor online and I do most of my AA service online.
I just celebrated my sober-verserary.
A day at a time I’m celebrating my Twenty Years.
I live in the U.K. I lived overseas in New Zealand for a few years but I’m back home now.
I got sober going to AA meetings in London.

My life had totally fallen apart, then miraculously had been repaired on the outside.
But I was left still broken and shattered on the inside, not knowing what my problem was or what to do about it.

I was 23. Life was over. I had lost the power to choose when and if or how much I drank. I was 6 months out of University.
In those 6 months I’d lived at 5 different addresses, was on my 3rd job and was a victim of every life event. Everything I turned into a dramatic event, a story to be told for sympathy or for entertainment.

Then came AA. May 24th 2000. A moment of clarity. A window of opportunity that I fell through. A friend introduced me. I could hear her saying, if you’ve got a problem stopping AA can help.

I came (to meetings), I came to (woke up from my alcohol induced stumbling) and came to believe that if AA could work for all these guys and girls of all ages, all backgrounds, all nationalities, then it could work for me too.
I learned through listening and identifying with others that my drinking was alcoholic, that I was powerless over alcohol. Once I took that first drink the off switch was gone. What a relief to know what I was and that in AA I could begin doing something about it.

And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past twenty years. Finding my way through my past and learning to live well and sober today using the steps, the meetings, amazing sponsors, and beautiful sober friends and acquaintances.

Sometimes, oftentimes, it’s been one step forwards and a few back. Sometimes I’ve howled in emotional pain. But more often I’ve learned I have what it takes to cope, to survive, to thrive, and to be of use to others.

I have a god in my life today, a god I work at having a relationship with, a god who’s there for better and worse times.
And I’ve learned to laugh and enjoy life. Even in these strange and uncertain times I look for joy and laughter. I still have so much to be grateful for. And I have the program of AA as a guide each day.

Today I’m a Mum, I became a parent in sobriety. I’m with my long term partner, we live and parent together. I met him at 10 years sober after I had finally surrendered to the suggestion to be friends with someone first, get to know them. He is in every way my equal, I don’t fear him or want to change him. I’m learning healthier ways of communicating my needs and applying the program. And I try to take my own inventory and not his.

I look forward to getting to know more about more of you as I open the meeting for shares on this week’s topic “Hi, my name is…”.
As always, anyone needing to is welcome to share “off topic” too.

I always welcome one to one correspondence, and I know many others here do too. I’ve made lovely friends & recovery acquaintances here in GROW by doing that. I’m never alone – and as I shared recently “if in doubt, reach out”.

Thank you for having me be of service. The meeting is open.

Sophie

May 17: Spirituality, Love and Tolerance

Topic for the week: Spirituality, love and tolerance from pg. 83-84 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the big book and these two sentences jumped out at me for a topic this week.

“The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it.”

“Love and tolerance of others is our code.”

The pandemic has brought with it a lot of ups and downs. Some of you may be looking at your community starting to open up. That may be accompanied with positive or negative emotions. Here in Indonesia, we just found out that it seems we will be closed for a lot longer. As an owner of two brand new small businesses, I’m experiencing a lot of fear and intolerance.

So, my questions are:
How do you live your spirituality and how has it changed during the pandemic? What do you do to build tolerance so that you can move towards serenity in the midst of difficult situations?

  • For me, I am doing my best with my spiritual practice. It’s not pretty sometimes. I’m conversing with my higher power. Sometimes I talk, sometimes I listen, sometimes I write, sometimes I cry, sometimes I yell. One of my character defects is to turn my back and ignore my higher power (take control) so I’m paying attention to that.
  • I’ve been loving AA zoom meetings and the amazing amount of free meditations and podcasts that are out right now
  • I remind myself that I’m not the only small business owner who is suffering.
  • I remind myself that feeling grief right now is natural and just because others around me are not showing grief, I’m not alone
  • I am studying the Indonesian language even as I grapple with not wanting to live here
  • I am being of service to other alcoholics in and out of the rooms

I look forward to hearing your experience, strength and hope.

May 10: 11th Step Prayer – Prayer and Meditation

‘Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us. We no longer live in a completely hostile world. We are no longer lost and frightened and purposeless. The moment we catch even a glimpse of God’s will, the moment we begin to see truth, justice, and love as the real and eternal things in life, we are no longer deeply disturbed by all the seeming evidence to the contrary that surrounds us in purely human affairs. We know that God lovingly watches over us. We know that when we turn to Him, all will be well with us, here and hereafter.’ From AA World Services Inc. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (p. 105)

Hi, Grow Ladies, Heidi Alcoholic here. Thanks for letting me be of service and lead this week’s meeting. I had re-read Step 11 in the 12&12 this week and this step really resonated with me. I am powerless over people, places, and things and I’m also powerless of this current pandemic. I have no clue in life what is going to happen next week, next month or next year. What has been helping me this week is prayer and meditation. I will admit that I’m not perfect at doing prayer and meditation every single day however this week I have been making an effort to do more and it has helped. Mostly I talk to my HP (God) when I’m out in nature while walking my dog. I find when I’m in nature I feel closest to God and I’m reminded of the good things that I have at this very moment – like my dog, beautiful place to walk (I’ve been staying in Bristol since early March at my friend’s house), my health and a warm home that I’m welcome in and where I feel safe. Reading this step reminded me that when I do a bit more prayer and meditation, I do get an extra sense of belonging to AA, this fellowship, and people around me. The 11th step prayer (prayer of St Francis) is one of my favourite prayers as I have always loved the story of St Francis – his humility, willingness, and especially his love of animals and nature.

“Lord, make me a channel of thy peace—that where there is hatred, I may bring love—that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness—that where there is discord, I may bring harmony—that where there is error, I may bring truth—that where there is doubt, I may bring faith—that where there is despair, I may bring hope—that where there are shadows, I may bring light—that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted—to understand, than to be understood—to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.” From AA World Services Inc. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (p. 99)

I would like to hear about your experience with step 11 or just what you consider as your prayer and/or meditation that helps you today.

May 03: Step 5

Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

For more on Step Five, see: The AA Big Book, beginning with Chapter 6, Into Action (p. 72); The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (pp. 55-62).

“This feeling of being at one with God and man, this emerging from isolation through the open and honest sharing of our terrible burden of guilt, brings us to a resting place where we may prepare ourselves for the following Steps towards a full and meaningful Sobriety.” 12 and 12, p. 62

Hello GROW, welcome newcomers, and congratulations to all celebrating a sobriety milestone!

When I first came to AA I had the gift of desperation. I was done. And so, for the first time in my life, I followed directions. I worked the Steps in order of appearance, as my sponsor suggested, and I have no memory of ever looking ahead to Step 5.

And when I got to Step Five, I was ready to share all the secrets and shame that I hid and drank over.

Each time I complete a Step 5, I gain more compassion for myself, and other people. This Step, shared with a safe person, reminds me I’m no better and no worse than anyone else.

“Even AA oldtimers, sober for years, often pay dearly for skimping this Step. They will tell how they tried to carry the load alone; how much they suffered of irritability, anxiety, remorse and depression; and how, unconsciously seeking relief, they would sometimes accuse even their best friends of the very character defects they were trying to conceal.” 12 and 12, p. 56

The shame that had me pointing my finger at other people is being lifted. I no longer have to make someone worse than me in order to feel good about myself. Step Five is where I began to trade the shame I felt about who I am, for humility.

The Twelve and Twelve defines humility as “… a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.” p. 58

I really love that. I have assets and liabilities, and I can work towards filling in any gaps with these in mind–instead of dusting off the fantasy that I will one day be elected princess of the universe!

I’m looking forward to reading your shares on Step Five or whatever is current in your program this week.

Thank you for being here!
X
Kirsten

Apr 26: Coping with Change

I’m Louise and I’m an alcoholic and very, very grateful to be sober and to have a spiritual toolkit to apply in my living each day.

Change is something I don’t particularly like! If things are ticking along nicely, well, I’d rather they stayed like that.

But change has come, hasn’t it, big time, on a global scale, one that affects all of us, no matter what part of the globe we’re in.

It’s a bit like the disease of alcoholism, and a bit like recovery from the disease. We have meetings all over the world too. But only those of us who have suffered from alcoholism know what it is like. Like having been shipwrecked together and now so joyous to be free from the grip of alcoholism and to have discovered a new way of living that allows us to be happy, joyous and free.

Today, all the world is suffering, and, if we’re fortunate enough to have escaped so far, or survived, the clutches of this particular disease, we’re all beginning the slow recovery from it.

I was reading today from a writer on 20th century disasters. I’m including some of her insights. Saying that we have reached a crossroads, she says that our main task now is to understand this moment and what it might require of us:

“A disaster changes the world and our view of it. Our focus shifts, and what matters shifts. What is weak breaks under new pressure, what is strong holds, and what was hidden emerges. Change is not only possible, we are swept away by it. We ourselves change as our priorities shift, as intensified awareness of mortality makes us wake up to our own lives and the preciousness of life. Even our definition of “we” might change as we are separated from schoolmates or co-workers, sharing this new reality with strangers. Our sense of self generally comes from the world around us, and right now, we are finding another version of who we are”.

Right now we are finding another version of who we are. I’d love for you to share your experiences on any of the words above. I know I’m changing when I wake up one day feeling nervous, anxious and panicky, and another waking with a depth of peace. I’m feeling a little fragmented at times. Now, I know from past experience that that is a good sign for it means I haven’t got the answers, that I’m teachable. And I need to always remain teachable.

I start each day with my 3rd Step Prayer, followed by the 7th Step one. I ask what I can do for others. I ask my Higher Power to shape me into what He would have me be. I ask for freedom from fear when I’m scared and I at once commence to outgrow fear, as our book tells me.

I’m not sure yet about another version of who I am …Perhaps for me that simply means deepening what I have already found within myself, working this program. I do think we in this Fellowship have a head start on others as we/I have been forced to look at myself through the Steps! For that I am grateful.

I’ve discovered that I’m more of an organizer than I gave myself credit for. I’d bought masks in January when it became clear that what was happening in China was going to travel outside China! I began then to sort out freezer supplies etc. I began to think ahead and try to envisage what obstacles might come up for me in my daily routine, and plan as best I could for it. (I live alone so had to do this.)

I’ve concerns for my family, particularly a son who has been locked down on an island off Venezuela (he’d gone on what should have been a short business strip). There are now food shortages where he is, no veg or fruit, bread, meat, and power is likely to go off. I ask God as I understand him to take my powerlessness to do anything here and translate it away from catastrophising (what I very easily do) and into faith, hope and love.

What I find difficult too is that I can’t be out there helping more. I’d like to think that if I was younger and healthier that I would be but, even then, I might have been too scared. I don’t really know.

My sense of self is a little shaky at times. And I have a strong sense of self, one that’s developed over years of living sober, of being on this journey, of being a work in progress. But the ground has shifted under my feet. It’s more important than ever that I maintain contact with other alcoholics. I was at a Big Book Study meeting this morning on Zoom, and thank heavens for these meetings. A newer more enlarged self will emerge, if past sober experience is anything to go by, but the process can be scary.

Being grounded for me amounts to having faith that I am being looked after, and trusting in that. All is well when I get there.

I’m home alone, older, a bit more vulnerable healthwise today. Some of you might be out there on the front line– what’s it like for you? A nurse, doctor, cleaner, care assistant, paramedic, shop worker… how are you coping with change these days?

Welcome to all our newcomers of late! We’d love to hear you share, whatever it is on 🙂

Hugs and love
Louise

Apr 19: The Big Book

Topic for the week: THE “BIG BOOK” OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

The Big Book is my personal book of instructions on how to live the spiritual life and how to take life as it is presented to me on a daily basis, without stress!  This Book and all its’ wisdom has saved my life!

I particularly enjoy the part which says:  “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.”

Even though I know how precious is the present, I sometimes weave the threads of unhealthy thinking into my life by the insistent habit of spending more time living in the past and future than in the present.

I know the futility of anxiety about the future or regret for the unchanging past – – – -and when I work this Program, with vigilance, as suggested, I am more and more able to stay right where I am!!!  Right here! Right now!  Unfortunately I must make plans, but I must remember not to plan the outcome!  Just do my very best – – – -and only I know when I am doing my best!  I  MUST be honest with myself!

I used to whine a lot about the “wants” that no one was providing me!  In this program I have learned that simplicity leads me to serenity —and thereby eliminating most of these unnecessary, temporary wants.  I have everything I need and want today —-and that is sometimes too much!!!

Enjoy this day, today . . .and tomorrow, tomorrow.
=========================

Another favorite of mine in the Big Book is on page 58, first sentence, where it states:  Rarely have we seen a person fail who has THOROUGHLY followed our path…”  (capitalization mine for emphasis)!   It took me a few years to get this, because I was just great at those “half measures” (which, incidentally, didn’t work)!   That is why today, I often am heard saying:  IT WORKS WHEN I WORK IT, and it doesn’t when I don’t!!!  Today my life is SENSATIONAL (irregardless of what is going on around me in this new weird world of ours) —-and it’s all due to this way  of living that I have learned in our program with the suggestions (instructions) in the Big Book!

Annnnnnnnnd,  a *very special* paragraph for me, is on page 164, and basically sums up the entire program for me:

“Abandon yourself to God as you understand God.  Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past.  Give freely of what you find and join us.  We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.  May God bless you and keep you – –until then.”
===================

I invite you to share your favorite parts in the Big Book that have helped you in your lives.
Thank you for living this day with me!!!

Susanne L.
Murphys, CA
8.17.91

Apr 12: Gifts of Sobriety aka The Promises

Topic for the week: Gifts of Sobriety aka The Promises

Next week by the Grace of God I will celebrate 10 years of sobriety one day at a time!  Where has the time gone?  
Today is the one year anniversary of the death of my Dad.  I remember when I told him I was going to AA, he broke down and cried.  When I did my amends with him, we both cried.  I was blessed to have had a wonderful father.  Because I was sober, I was able to show up and care for him in his final years/hours of life. As God would have it, my sponsor was with me when my father took his last breathe…and we both cried.  Thank you God!
Today I am a sober mother, daughter, sister, friend and my granddaughter never has to see me drunk!
I could not have done this without God and the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous!
I am truly grateful to know a new freedom and a new happiness!
Please feel free to share on this topic or anything that may pertain to alcohol.
Love to you all,
Statia 4/15/10
Upstate NY

Apr 05: Step 4

STEP FOUR: Made a fearless and searching moral inventory of ourselves.

The AA literature on the fourth step can be found in the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions pages 42-54 as well as in The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous 4th edition, starting on the bottom of page 63 with “Next we launched…” and ending on page 71. I encourage everyone to read at least one of these sections in our Literature for a monthly refresher on this step.

I have chosen the following excerpt from the Big Book:

     “If we have been thorough about our personal inventory, we have written down a lot. We have listed and analyzed our resentments. We have begun to comprehend their futility and their fatality. We have commenced to see their terrible destructiveness. We have begun to learn tolerance, patience and good will toward all men, even our enemies, for we look on them as sick people. We have listed the people we have hurt by our conduct, and are willing to straighten out the past if we can.

     In this book you read again and again that faith did for us what we could not do for ourselves. We hope you are convinced now that God can remove whatever self-will has blocked you off from Him. If you have already made a decision, and an inventory of your grosser handicaps, you have made a good beginning. That being so you have swallowed and digested some big chunks of truth about yourself.”

From “The Big Book”, Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th edition, from the chapter How It Works pages 70-71.

Hi sisters, my name is Emily M. and this is the monthly step meeting, April being the 4th month, we are on step 4.

Personally, this whole business of taking a searching, fearless, moral inventory, of putting to paper my resentments, fears, sex conduct, and harms done to other people — especially knowing what followed (telling another human, admitting I was fatally flawed, saying sorry)  is what made me freaking terrified of being a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was a big reason I stayed out of the rooms as long as I did.

And by the time I got here, holy mother of God did it show. I was 8 years dry, stark raving sober. I was so filled with fear, guilt and shame my life was more unmanagable than it was when I was drinking and using hard drugs. I was mean to my kids, I was addicted to chaos, anger, sadness, depression, desperation, I was so full to the brim of self pity. I was so so so freaking lost and broken. I was the textbook definition of extreme self will run riot, though she usually did not think so.

Somehow I was divinely guided here to AA, somehow God connected me with the exact sponsor I needed who happened to live across the country. I tried to fight her in the beginning but then I completely surrendered to the program of AA and Higher Power of my understanding.

And before long there I was, face to face with the dreaded step four. My sponsor had sent me the worksheets, the four column inventory BB fourth step worksheets. I printed off the worksheets. I started writing with a fury and then would crumple it up and throw it in the trash. Again and again I would do this. Finally, I could see I was being ridiculous and overcomplicating the dang thing. I did a quick prayer and I wrote. It all came out. From young childhood to where I was that day it came out on paper. And as I did it, oh boy, wow, could I see as I have never seen before.

Suddenly, there I was, staring back at myself. In ways I had never, ever seen myself. I had always thought myself victim, but once they were all sitting there next to each other — wow did I sure have a “my part”. I had never thought I was controlling or egocentric — until I completed my fears and resentment inventory. And the “harms done”, wow I was so naieve I thought there were going to be just one or two people on that list and then it turned out I just kept writing and writing. I also found myself on that list over and over again.

Even before sharing my first fourth step with my sponsor, it was really like the Big Book says: I had swallowed and digested some big chunks of truth about myself. And for the first time in my life, within the program of AA, I wasn’t terrified, it actually felt good and hopeful. What had I been waiting for? As much as I had previously dread it, I could not wait till have this “long talk” with my sponsor that followed this step…which is a story for a different day.

What was your fourth step experience like? If you haven’t taken it yet, what’s holding you back? If you’re feeling a little off…how can you share using this step to get back on the beam?

Thank you for the honor of chairing this meeting. The floor is now open for sharing.

Love,

Emily M.

9/1/2010

Mar 29: Powerlessness

With everything going on in the world today, powerlessness comes to mind. Our program tells us that are we powerless over alcohol but people, places and things as well. We have learned that we are not adrift if we don’t control things, our HP is charge. We may not understand this and sometimes it is hard to believe when things are as bad as they are right now perhaps. But we are told that God did not bring us this far to drop us now.

I have not met anyone that has been able to achieve and maintain a quality sobriety without His help. I myself tried many things to get sober and none of them worked because I was thoroughly and totally powerless over alcohol. I gave it all my power, I made it my governing power for so long I became powerless to regain control over my life. I could not get sober on my own. Once I totally surrendered to the God of my understanding and became entire willing to accept my powerlessness did I begin to feel my HP’s power enter and begin to change me. AA has taught me that I have no power over anything but myself and my attitude. This is a full time job right now with my anxiety, trying to just stay in the day and hand over my fears to God.

These times are scary for sure and it is easy for me to slip into panic. But we alcoholics have a program which can uphold us and restore our serenity in these uncertain times. Thank you all for being here with me and virtually holding my hand when I am frightened and need support.

Thank you for letting me share.
Lynn H

Mar 22: Connection

Good morning Growing Women! My name is Alison B and I am still an alcoholic. I have chosen the topic of connection this week. I was asked earlier this week by my very kind son-in-law; how my husband and I were holding up living such an isolated life? I explained that I am prepared, or have been prepared by my disease of alcoholism and also by my year spent in a China dormitory room back in 2012, when my bathroom morphed into my “Bitchen”. My husband was often sick by the gluten used in so much of the cooking in the dormitory that I found a way to cook food for us. My bathroom was where I washed and prepped most food, then I would run downstairs and cook in the dorm kitchen during “off hours” so as not to interrupt the Chinese cook during her working hours. Lol Now I have an entire 3 bedroom house with my own kitchen, two bathrooms, deep freezer, etc. I am far advanced in my needs and wants where I am isolated today than I was way back in 2012 when I first found GROW. So, I can do this. We can do this!

As for my alcoholism I explained that if I can survive the disease of alcoholism, I can “shelter in place” for a time, no problem. Do I have my ups and downs? Of course I do. I also have online meetings to attend. I can stay connected to the outside world through the internet and through the Grace of my Higher Power whom I choose to call God. It all requires some effort/action on my part. Oh, and I have a phone list too! If I can survive a year pretty much isolated in a dormitory room in the countryside of China (my husband and I lived in a boat factory as he was an engineer working for a boat building company.) I can certainly survive in my 3 bedroom home in Bend Oregon. Do I miss my kids? Sure I do, but we facetime quite a bit. My goal is to attend 90 online meetings in 90 days.

This brings me to my topic of connection, lol.

Page 17 BB “We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. We are like the passengers of a great liner the moment after rescue from the shipwreck, when camaraderie, joyousness and democracy pervade the vessel from steerage to Captain’s table……….The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us.”

I remain connected, through thick and thin. I am a survivor. I have discovered a common solution. I have a way out. In order to stay connected to my AA peeps and my Higher Power I must participate. So here I am, celebrating 27 years sober this week. I am a miracle as are you.

Thank you for being a part of my sobriety today and thank you all for the wonderful birthday wishes.

Blessings,
Alison B.

Mar 15: One Day at a Time

This was very difficult for me when I came to AA. It was also a new concept for me. For as long as I can remember I have been daydreaming of the future and reliving the past. I don’t remember ever staying in the now. I didn’t even know people did that. Talk about irritability. I wanted control of things that weren’t mine to have.

The idea of staying sober 24 hours at a time was also very foreign to me. I would hear people say how long they had been sober and it seemed so unattainable for me. I would make these great goals and never be able to achieve them because they were to hard. I couldn’t imagine making it through a day without a drink never mind a year or a lifetime.

I had to be taught how to stay present and in the now. At first I had this “whatever” attitude about it. I didn’t think it was that important. After several relapses I got that gift of desperation and decided it was worth a shot. I was surprised how hard it was. I had to actually train my brain. I remember thinking about some future conversations and stop a say ‘ I am putting on my eyeliner. I am putting on my mascara’ . My mind would drift back to my future conversation and I would have to immediately pull back again to the now.

This staying in the now has been such a gift. It helps me in so many different ways. It has helped me turn my will over to my God. It has helped me get over resentments. Most importantly it has kept me sober minute by minute and day by day. It has given me my life back.

What is your experience in staying in the now and how has it helped you in recovery?

Please feel free to share on this topic or whatever you may be going through or wish to share. The meeting is open and I look forward to your shares.
Thank you for allowing me to chair.

Amy
July 1, 2019

Mar 08: Conceding to our Inner Most Self that we are Alcoholics

Hey good Morning friends. Karrie here alcoholic. One of my “go to” readings is the chapter “More About Alcoholism” in the Big Book. If you haven’t read it in awhile I would encourage you to do so. I go to this chapter often, specially when those little nagging thoughts come—you know those thoughts that say …. “maybe I am not a real alcoholic“ OR “maybe I could take one drink and be ok” OR “maybe this time will be different”. Those are all lies that my disease whispers to me from time to time. Daily working my program helps me stay sober. It is the solution.

The sentences that are so important to me are—- “ 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.” I have to smash that delusion over and over. People say that we have to get step one completely. I agree but I have to remind myself that daily that I am an alcoholic. Conceding to my inner most self over and over that I am an alcoholic.

The topic for this week is “Have you conceded to your innermost self that you are an alcoholic?”

Please feel free to share to share on this or anything that you need to that will help you stay sober today.

Mar 01: Step 3

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

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

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

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

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

I initially had a hard time with this step because of conflicting feelings about religion. However, this step isn’t meant to be a religious obligation; it’s meant to help alcoholics rely on something other than themselves to help them abstain from drinking alcohol. There are several ways I have used this step to make changes in my life.

I began to distinguish between what is in my control and what isn’t. I often covered up feelings of being out of control by attempting to control everything in my life. Including my own drinking ( how’d that work – NOT) Sometimes I drank to forget painful things in my life that were beyond my control. One way I have learned to use step three is to ask myself “ Do I have control over what is upsetting me ?” Learning to let go of things that are beyond my control has helped me to reduce the desire to drink.

I learned to cultivate a positive attitude. The feelings behind my alcoholic addiction are painful; frustrating or angry. I often drank to not feel them, By learning to turn my feelings over to some sort of higher power, (for me it started as the rooms and the fellowship) I began to feel more capable of dealing with life’s challenges. This step helped me to learn to be more open to guidance. Listening to other AAs share solutions helped open my closed mind and become more willing. Learning to share my “issues” with other alcoholics and then the larger world and listen to the suggestions given have proven themselves time and time again. The more I practice this the easier it gets.

Step 3 suggests that the alcoholic should be open to help from whatever source it comes from, because whatever higher power (including my own best vision of myself) I am working with, might be directing me towards better behavior. A friend once shared with something with me that I would like to share with you. She used to have resentments towards people she thought she was supposed to be counting on, until she realized that she always received the help she needed, just not from the source she thought it should come from. Once she realized that it became easier to be grateful and receive the care of ….her higher power. It’s true for me as well. Many times the person I thought would be there to help, can’t – but there has always been someone else to step up. It’s simply amazing when I look back over events. Try it sometime when you’re not feeling grateful. (LOL)

The meeting is now open, and as always if you have a burning desire to share something, this is the place to bring it.
Thank you for all the birthday wishes, 21 years is an amazing gift, ONE DAY AT A TIME.
Laurie C

Feb 23: Putting Sobriety First

Hello all ladies of GROW.

My name is Rene and am an alcoholic.

In recovery it is often said that you risk losing anything you put in front of sobriety. If you place your family, friends, job, ahead of sobriety, you risk losing all these things and slide back into alcoholism.

Taking it one day at a time and focus on the now, worrying about what will happen only slows my recovery, that includes not dwelling on the past as it happened, can’t change that (my sponsor repeatedly told me this- also avoid negatives, change it into a positive – she a very wise woman).

If I devote as much time to recovery as I did with alcohol, all the hours spent drinking and feeling sorry for myself. I can now put my sobriety first, attend meetings, reading the literature, sharing on topic and service work (no matter how small).

I am unfortunately one of those people who speak before I think, my sister politely says I only open my mouth to change feet, naturally this lands me in trouble at times, it the learning from it (am still learning), putting principles first.

My first f2f meeting is 22 April, day I land in Jhb, they asked and I agreed to share at my first meeting (15min), at first the thought terrified me as been an introvert I prefer to stay in the background, now this is something I can say “have done”, as who knows what might happen, my circumstances can change and in a place with access to f2f meetings.

The Oxford dictionary says of perseverance :(persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success)

I have said it before AA (including this group and my online meetings, it is my safety net or cocoon). Their is times I would prefer not to “deal with the world”, but then that would be counter productive.

Someone said to me once:
Today is the beginning of the rest of your life.
May we treat, each day like that.

Thank you for letting me share, would love to hear other thoughts and shares.

Feb 16: Acceptance

Hello all dear GROW Members, my name is Nancy C. and I am an alcoholic. It hardly seems possible that almost 23 years ago this alcoholic stumbled into another online email group and I am so grateful to God and AA !!

This short quote about acceptance is one of my favorite recovery messages. It’s from the 3rd Edition, page 449 and 4th Edition, page 417 of “Alcoholics Anonymous”,The Big Book: The chapter was written by Dr. Paul Ohliger, who died Friday, May 19, 2000, in Mission Viejo, California at the age of 83.

“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. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

If I had not accepted my alcoholism, my road to recovery would have been very short and I would not be about to celebrate 23 years of sobriety. When my dear husband and best friend died suddenly 3 ½ years ago, accepting his death was major in my grieving process. Going on with my life and not doing the “if only” questions and “what if “ questions. It has not been easy but by accepting and not fighting the process life has become better.

This week I would love to hear your stories of acceptance in your sober journeys. Thank you for the honor of leading this week’s meeting.

Feb 09: Self Centeredness

I’m Valerie and I’m an alcoholic. I’m so grateful to be part of this group. Thank you so much to everyone who reached out yesterday for my 32nd anniversary. There’s no chance I would have been able to attain days, months or years of continuous sobriety without the support of others who truly understand the nature of this illness. In particular, in the past several years it has become increasingly difficult to get to f2f meetings. So many of you here at this meeting have helped me at various times to hang on for one more day.

I remember when I was newly sober and I heard a speaker with over 30 years of sobriety. I was so in awe of her. In fact, I was very much in awe of anyone who had been able to be sober for more than a year. I had been a daily drinker for 10 years. For some, that doesn’t sound very long, but in those 10 years I gave up everyone and everything that competed with my compulsion to drink. I quit college, quit playing competitive tennis, walked away from friends, boyfriends, jobs and anyone who questioned my drinking. I was unable to do the smallest of tasks without drinking first, and by the end I had to go home on my lunch hour and drink just to get through a day of work. Once, when there was a rare hurricane in Massachusetts where I lived at the time, others were out stocking their homes with food before the storm hit, but I was running from one liquor store to the next to make sure I didn’t run out of alcohol. Without AA, I have no doubt I would have drunk myself to death

For any newcomers that are here, we’ve all been where you are, and we all know we’re just one drink away from our next drunk. Years ago at a large speaker meeting, I heard a speaker say, “I have a disease that wants to kill everyone in this room.” It’s a cunning, powerful and insidious disease that’s lying in wait hoping we become complacent or forget where we came from, or that we forget we need each other to remain sober. Together we can do what none of us can do alone.

For this week, I’d like to suggest the topic of self-centeredness. In the Big Book on page 62, it says

“Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt. So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making.”

I remember reading that when I was new and feeling confused. I didn’t think that I was a self-centered person at all.

Boy was I wrong. I have come to recognize that I did make many decisions based on self that hurt me and other people. Self-centered fear affected many of my decisions personally and professionally. For me, self-centeredness tends to manifest most often as self-pity, and I have to be vigilant about my tendency to wallow in the “poor me’s”. Self-pity is driven by a tendency to think only of myself, my problems, my pain.

What a gift that the Steps give us the tools to recognize and work on defects of character, such as self-centeredness.

How has self-centeredness manifested in your life, in the past or in the present? I invite you all to share on this topic or any other topic that you’d like to share on this week.

Thank you all for letting me lead this week, and for letting me be part of this wonderful group.

Hugs to all who need or want one,

Valerie D
DOS 2/8/88

Feb 02: Step 2

Step 2

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

I used to believe I was in control of everything. I spent decades making poor choices and decisions about how to cope with the challenges of life. As a young teenager I turned to overeating, then it was drugs, then boys/men. Eventually king alcohol joined the party – all to avoid emotional pain or anything uncomfortable. Of course any relief was only temporary, which kept this vicious cycle going in my head, in my heart and my life. The high price I paid not only impacted me, but those I was close to.

It wasn’t until I began to truly practice my faith through this program called AA (and eventually OA) that I began to realize there is another path. I started this journey 5 years ago today and so far so good.

My faith in steps 2 and 3 specifically are definitely being tested as we speak. I’m in what feels like an unusually challenging marriage, sometimes I am overwhelmed with loneliness, hurt, sadness and fear about the future. I’m also planning to retire later this year after full time work for 40+ years, lots of emotions swirling in my head about that. Lately I’ve been praying more, counting on my belief that God will help restore my sanity. And when I *pause* long enough to *listen*, it is such a tremendous relief to believe, it gives me hope to know that I’m not alone in this journey.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and experience surrounding step 2.

Thank you for being her ladies!
Susan P.

Jan 26: God Consciousness

God Consciousness

Hi! I’m still Julie and I’m an alcoholic. Last night I had a few friends over to my house. We did an at home meeting since my husband is out of town (and I have two small kids.)

We read the chapter into action and this jumped out at me… from page 85 of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous:
“Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power. If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us. To some extent we have become God-conscious. We have begun to develop this vital sixth sense. But we must go further and that means more action.“

The idea of becoming God-conscious really resonated with me. My life is very full, as a married, working full time, mom of two. I used to be so selfish, self centered and insecure. Self conscious. But now after a few 24 hours of working this program of recovery, I feel as if I’m becoming more God-conscious. I try to align my will that to the God of my understanding. I ask for help in the morning, thank my God at night. All throughout the day I am given several opportunities to make conscious contact.

I am just so relieved that I no longer have to feel the feelings that consumed me. That took me away from everyone and everything, and drove me inward. There is a God, I believe that today. l trust and have faith today. I am aware that their is a plan for my life and yours. That it may not make sense to me or I may never understand it. But I accept it because this is the easier, softer way. My God didn’t put me on this planet to numb out and go inward. I am living my life and trying like heck to enjoy the moments… Because this is the only life I’ll ever get to live.

Today I feel strong, inspired and that I’m heading in the right direction. How about you? Please feel free to share on this topic or anything that may be on your mind.

Julie K
5/17/12

Jan 19: Replacing Old Ideas

Replacing Old Ideas

My favorite thing to do when I am to take the lead in any meeting, general topic, is to take my Big Book off the shelf and open it to a page. Read a little bit and come up with a topic. I have to laugh … I opened to page 414 and that could be because it’s my favorite story and part of the book I read often.

The first paragraph on the page …
“I was locked up. One has to be pretty sick to do that, and perhaps one has to be even sicker to come back every day for a new list, as she did. (Today we don’t have to live that way. Max still works with me in the office, but we have turned our wills and our lives and our work over to the care of God. Each with the other as a witness, we took the Third Step out loud-just as it says in the Big Book. And life keeps getting simpler and easier as we try to reverse my old idea, by taking care of the internal environment via the Twelve steps, and letting the external environment take care of itself.)”

Yep … A great reminder for this alcoholic. Today my life seems simple and easy when I remember that I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to my higher power. The problem isn’t the outside world but from within me. Life may present its challenges, but I have a choice in how I view them. Are they problems? No. They are challenges for a moment, but thanks to this program, my mind goes from “challenge” to “opportunity for growth.” (Someone in one of online meetings mentioned “challenges” the other day and I just loved it. Kind of like a middle ground between problems and opportunities for growth.)

When I “reverse my old idea” and draw upon all that I have learned via the program, the steps, and the fellowship. When I remember to take action to deal with me and my thinking … When I don’t know what action to take and turn it ALL over, life is EASIER.

So ladies, please feel take what you want from this lead and share your ESH. Or whatever may be on your mind.

Jan 12: Trusting the Process

Trusting the Process

Hello again, I’m Mari Ann and I am an alcoholic who celebrated 32 years of continuous sobriety on January 9, 2020. I relish the chance to chair the meeting immediately following my anniversary. It reminds me that only by taking action, grateful action, will I continue to remain sober. No laurel-resting is safe for me.

This past year has been stuffed full of interpersonal exchanges with people I didn’t know, or don’t get to see in years; but all of whom are important to friends who are important to me. It was an unusual year involving my being able to help in capacities I couldn’t have guessed in advance but was grateful to be sober and able to provide.

For much of it, I realized I no longer worried about how any of my help might be received – as I worried myself sick in early recovery. I didn’t worry about “looking stupid” as I did in early recovery. For once, none of what was happening was “about” me. “I” didn’t come to mind, only what could I do or offer to do came to mind.

The other sensation was recognizing I was in the midst of some process much bigger than me. I was being guided to be present, to witness and/or assist in things beyond my comfort zone. It’s what people assured me about in early recovery, that as long as I was willing to work a program of recovery, the process would keep me sober as it has kept millions of others sober before me.

In early recovery, it felt as though there were times I was somehow flowing along with the current down the middle of the river like you do in a dream. Lights turned green, doors opened, and my next indicated task got accomplished. Other times it felt like I was rowing as hard as I could, slamming into the shore or banging into boulders in mid-stream and all I could do was return to focusing solely on my own spiritual growth in this program and trust my course would straighten out again.

It always has. Learning to “trust the process” is a continuing lesson for me. I am still in a little bit of awe when I sense I’m in the middle of some process-bigger-than-me because I was never part of such a process all the years I drank. Then, I was in a whirlwind of my own making and completely closed off to wanting to be part of anything bigger.

I have no idea what the universe is preparing me for, but I sense She is preparing me. And today, I am grateful to be sober and able to participate to the best of my ability.

Thank you, dear GROWing sisters, for being part of my sobriety since GROW began in 1998. One of my f2f groups has a prayer I like. “God, my Higher Power, look after the members of my 12 step group. Keep them safe and sober for they have helped keep me safe and sober.”

As always, please feel free to share whatever impacts your sobriety or recovery with us. It always helps someone who needs to hear it.

 

Jan 05: Step 1

Step 1

Step 1 has several topics for me as a result of being a member of AA and attending meetings for years. It seemed really simple at first, I admitted I could not stop drinking and that was enough of a start.

In meetings I started to learn about the disease of alcoholism. One drink is too many and 100 is not enough. I am mentally and bodily different and I had to learn to stay sober one day at a time.

What was missing for quite a while was that the first word in the step is “We”. In my head when I heard the step I was thinking ”I’m powerless over alcohol and my life is unmanageable”. That is true, but the solution has been to be powerless with all of the alcoholics I share recovery with. Staying sober without all of you is not possible.

I relate to other alcoholics at a level I have not experienced anywhere else. I learned honesty from you and I learned principals from you and I learned how to not pick up a drink from you. The “We” of AA has allowed me to rejoin the human race and become a part of rather than the solo warrior ready to fight everything to calm the fears. I now take the fears to God and trust.

Please share on Step 1, however you relate to it today.