The Message

Those of us who live this program do not simply live this message,

we are the message. ~ Anon 

This is a program of attraction, not promotion. We cannot go into every bar in town and drag people out of there and into AA meetings. That doesn’t work so well. That is what boxers call, “leading with your chin”. I do take up the argument, that we are not the message, but rather G.O.D. is the message, we are merely the messengers. The question is: what message do we want to convey? I have to remember what attracted me in the first place: unconditional love, compassion, humor, understanding and an open door policy.

Most folks in AA will tell you that you may be the only Big Book that someone will ever see in their lives. If that is so, then it would make sense that we crack the book open every day, and learn what it says. I admit to being a Big Book thumper, but I cannot quote chapter and verse, and I never could. There are some handy dandy Big Book reference cards that one can use. That way, when a certain issue and emotion troubles us or our sponsees, we can refer them to a chapter that addresses such a thing.  The nice thing about AA is that there have been millions who have already recovered, so all we have to do is learn from their experiences. There is no need to recreate the wheel. Just jump in and enjoy the ride. As one old timer used to say, “Just shut up and get in the bus!”

Deep down in the human spirit there is a reservoir of courage it is always available, always waiting to be discovered. ~ Pema Chodron

Just about the moment I feel discouraged or defeated and feel I just do not want to go on, someone says to me the very thing I need to hear at the very right moment. And, magically, I am willing to listen. I like to call these times God-cidences. And, isn’t it weird that it something that I have said the same thing to them at one time? This gives me chills. I do believe the people in AA are G.O.D. with skin. I am the kind of person who doubts the existence of something greater than myself from time to time, so having a physical presence helps me reconnect with this Higher Power source more readily.

I believe we are going into a period of darkness and confusion as a society. There is more talk of war, hatred, bigotry, and strife than I have seen/heard since my brief time on this planet. I think there will be uncommon heroes and extraordinary acts of bravery as a result. I could believe that all will be lost, but I choose to think much good and enlightenment will come as a result. Remember what Mr. Rogers used to implore of kids, “look for the helpers. The helpers will always be there.” You just never know who will be asked to bring you the message of recovery. It is wise to not dismiss the messenger even if they do not appear to be someone you even like or trust. God calls those to service who are the least likely to serve. Be brave. It may be you next.

 

 

 

There is no experience like telling a being who has been hurt spiritually and possibly physically that, “You are loved, this is your home, you are safe here and you matter. ~ Kathy Stevens

The word domestic comes from “domo” or home. Most of us think our homes are places of refuge and safety. But are they really? Are we living loving and productive lives, or are we angry and depressed? Step #8 gives the opportunity to evaluate just how things are going. We may be sober and have completed the first 7 steps. That is all well and good. But, there will never be a time when we can just lay back and rest. Remember, while we are in the meetings, this dis-ease is out in the hallway doing one armed push-ups. It is cunning, powerful and baffling…and very patient! We cannot stay clean on yesterday’s bath.

Step 8 is the big person step, where we put on our big girl or boy pants, suit up and show up. We take ownership of our issues, past and present, so that we do not have to go on being nonproductive and angry toward our fellow beings. A few years back, I began to incorporate my “do over G.O.D.”. Remember when we were kids and we lost the game? We would shout, “do over!”. Step 8 offers a big old do over on each and every issue, relationship, and problem. What a deal this AA program is. Embrace the change. Recovery is for all who want it.

Speaking Truth

Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: at the 1st gate, ask yourself: “Is it true?” At the 2nd gate, ask “Is it necessary?” At the 3rd gate ask “Is it kind?” ~  Sufi Saying

One of my sponsors, who eventually became a good friend says all the time, “speak your truth peacefully and quietly.” I have learned from her that most people shut out the “noise” of unwanted criticism, bossiness, judgmentalism, and harshness. It is probably to self-protect. I know when someone whispers, it is harder for me to hear, so I lean in more and pay more attention. We live in a society that loves to keep us thinking we are either too much or something or not enough of another. One can hardly get through a TV show without commercials telling us our bodies stink, we need medications to cope in life, our bank account or house is too small, and our pets need medication as well.

So, today is all about speaking the truth peacefully and quietly. The AA program teaches us to be honest in all of our affairs. It does not teach us to judge, harm, criticize, or push people around. My own business ends at the tip of my nose. There on outward is the responsibility of others. Thank goodness, there is a loving a merciful G.O.D., and it isn’t me. I do not have to fix anyone else but me. What a relief that is for me today. What a blessing that no one, no thing, and no event can knock me off my serenity boat but me. What a deal we have in AA.

All too often, we seem as a culture to be at war with life’s transitions, viewing death as a failure to live, and aging as a failure to remain young. We do something grievous to ourselves when we buy into this cultural ideology.

~ John Robbins, Healthy at 100

One of the benefits of the 12 Step program for me is that I was able to unlearn much of what I was taught about life, religion, health, and culture. It is funny how what I thought was fact was actually learned behavior. What a joy to be able to reframe things to meet my own unique belief system and lifestyle. For too many years, I felt apart from and not equal to, and I was either too much of something or not enough of another. I always felt as if I came up short of others’ expectations of myself. What a relief to know that in the rooms of AA, I am not alone, and I never have to feel alone again. Such a deal.

This goes back to what I wrote about a few days ago: low self-esteem is the opposite end of of the spectrum from egomania. We addicts tend to think less of ourselves even when we are doing okay in life. Humility is thinking of oneself less; not thinking less of oneself.  So, it is a matter of turning our thinking around. Consider this: write down things you always say to yourself when you get upset, for instance: “I am such a dummy.” or “I am such a screw up.” Now, spend some time with your HP, and ask he or she or it to tell you the truth (clue: this is the first thing that pops into your head or what a loving parent would say). Now, I challenge you to make these into affirmations, such as “I am absolutely smart enough.” Put these on the fridge. Each time you catch yourself saying junk to yourself, say these instead. You are a precious child of the universe. Embrace this.

Letting Go and Moving On

Whenever you see darkness, there is an extraordinary opportunity

for the light to burn brighter. ~ Bono

Today was a hard one. I said goodbye to a fur friend named Sophie. Each time I lose a friend through death, it brings me back to HP, the universe, and what I came to believe through this program. I was proud card carrying agnostic when I came through the doors of AA. I had a great deal of anger toward religion, authority, and what I had been taught to fear, not love and trust. It took a loving and very patient sponsor to guide me into what I know and love today. We must remain teachable and flexible. We just do not know until we know.

What I know today, is there is a kitty heaven. I say the word know, because my conviction is there is a hereafter; not because it has ever been proven. Whatever works for each of us, is what works. I believe animals go into a hereafter where their jobs are to teach new ones how to handle their humans here on earth. This gives me peace. It makes sense to me and comforts me to feel as if death is not so much an ending, but a beginning. That AA says, “take what you like, and leave the rest” http://www.12step.org/references/ at the end of the meeting comes in very handy. AA and the program of recovery is as diverse as its members. I am glad Sophie could go out as peacefully as she lived. She taught me grace and dignity even in death. Let go and move on.

That word “G.O.D.”

I have been thinking about what it was like, what happened and what is it like now for me as I approach year #31. First of all, I must say I am surprised I lived long enough to see 31. There is no rhyme or reason for that, other than I survived and now thrive thanks to AA, sponsorship, and sobriety. When I first arrived, I was a card carrying, prideful agnostic who had tossed out God out of anger. So, it was suggested that the group be my HP. Thus, my first G.O.D. in program was Group of Drunks. That helped me through the first few years. I did not have to believe in anything but AA.

About 5 years sober, I ran into a sponsor who suggested that I write a want ad for a god that I could believe in, trust, and feel safe with. So, as  result of that, my next G.O.D. became: Good Orderly Direction. My sponsor taught me that I had to eat breakfast, exercise, take actions (like service, calls, meetings, etc.) That helped me to be more accountable as well as more organized. It seems I never had time to meet with her or do assignments, etc. So, good orderly direction was needed in my life. Several years back due to a sense of contentment and ease, it was suggested that I reexamine G.O.D. and become more serous about staying sober, so then I adopted the G.O.D. = Gift of Desperation. When I hear myself say, “I never served time in jail’, or “I never got picked up for DUI”, etc. I need to remember that where but for the grace of G.O.D., there go I. I need to complete my sentences with the word “yet”.  Try writing a want ad for a G.O.D. that works for you. Let me know how that helps.