May 22: New happiness

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

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

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

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

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

Susan P.

May 8: Waiting for the miracle

Topic for the week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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