January 23: Contempt prior to investigation

Topic for the week:  Contempt Prior to Investigation

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

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

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

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

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

Susan P.

January 16: Rewards as a result of this program

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

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

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

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

Thanks for letting me share on topic this week.

Lynn

DOS 9/30/96

January 9: Courage

Topic for the week: Courage

I’m Mari Ann and I’m an alcoholic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 2: Step One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a gift.

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

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

In sobriety,

Becky