Welcome Home

We are not primarily put on this earth to see through another, but to see another through. ~ Anon

One of the benefits of long term AA relationships and a home meeting is that people know my recovery process, can see the results, and they help me celebrate my progress. I am never quite alone. It used to be that I would feel alone in a crowd of 1,000 people or my own family. These days, I never feel completely alone. I pulled into the parking lot tonight and saw a few of my AA friends huddled in their many layers in their cars. We were all waiting to make the move. The door was locked. Pretty soon, along came some one who had the key.  I didn’t know we even had a key! There are many unsung heroes who do their service positions quietly and peacefully, never really seeking attention or thanks. Their reward for doing so is one more day of sobriety.

The only way to maintain sobriety is to give back freely what we were freely given. Consider the money, time, and energy you put into drinking and recovering from those drunks. All that time, money, and energy can be used more efficiently in staying sober. The rewards are too numerous to list here. Trust me, they can be had, if you simply work for them. Tomorrow is just another Monday. A whole new year awaits. This can be your first day of sobriety, if you will have it. Go to a meeting, pick up a 24 hour chip, and glue/tape 2 quarters to it. The next time you feel like booze will solve things, give us a call. You are never alone. Happy New Year and many happy returns (to AA). We will save you a chair. And, welcome home!

Refill the Soul

As we continue to grow spiritually, we begin to lose our desire for prestige in AA and in other areas of our life. ~ 12 Step literature

Being a sponsor or trusted servant in AA takes its toll. Now and then, it is important to take the time to refill the soul or that proverbial cup of energy. After all, we cannot give what we do not have. We are merely human beings trying to do spiritual work. We have needs too. It is a good time of year to close things out, much like gathering all the remnants and receipts of last year’s tax and personal issues, we need to review and resolve any old service hold overs from this past year. I know that I am letting go of a huge service position and starting a new one in January. That means making sure all the old work is completed and handed over; as well as orienting myself to the new tasks ahead. Change is never easy, but it always means growth and new things to learn.

How do we go about refilling our own spiritual cup? Take a day or two and do a retreat in your own home or go elsewhere if possible. Just review what worked and what didn’t. Ask yourself:

What did I learned this year?

What/who do I need to let go of?

How can I challenge myself going forward?

What am I willing to do to enhance my recovery program?

Am I truly benefiting those I work with, or is there more I can do?

We are never fully done in AA, nor will we ever graduate. We are living and learning. If not, we are not doing it right! Ha ha. Happy journey.

Helping AA

Each group is autonomous except in matters affecting others groups or AA as a whole. ~ AA 12 X 12

I was told once that I do not have to rescue AA or defend it, but I do need to respect it and its traditions. I admit that I am easily distracted by things I do not find right or just. I will speak up when others are mistreated or maligned. I will redirect the conversation when others want to gossip or mention other AA’s in conversations or in sharing. But, over all, I am not responsible for saving AA or defending it from outside people. AA is bigger and greater than I am. It will be here long after I am dead and gone. I am just one member among all members and a small cog in a large wonderful machine. I must believe that there is a loving and merciful HP, and it is not me. He/she has go this thing.

Check out these Tradition 12 questions: 

Have I a personal responsibility in helping an AA group fulfill its primary purpose? What is my part? Yes, and my part is to suit up, show up early, speak AA only, keep my shares brief and upbeat, be of service, respect the traditions, and extend the hand of recovery to new people and those who are struggling.

Does my personal behavior reflect the Sixth Tradition – or belie it? I do not promote any outside entities in AA. And, I discourage that in others. Business cards and sales catalogues are left outside the doors at meetings I attend. Otherwise, it becomes an “anything goes” anonymous meeting.

Do I do all I can do to support AA financially? When is the last time I anonymously gave away a Grapevine subscription? Our groups donate back copies of Grapevine. We also give out Big Books. I give to the basket, bring in supplies and make copies of flyers.

Do I complain about certain AA’s behavior – especially if they are paid to work for AA? Who made me so smart? I try to treat other trusted servants with the same respect and appreciation that I want to receive. When I run into a troublesome personality, I try to distance myself and talk it over with my sponsor. Let me know what works for you?

12th Step Within

Here we experience the great truth:

When we let go of  our control of others and simply allow HP to serve others through us, we receive an abundance of joy and strength.

~ Anon

The 12th step within is a term that is used quite frequently in another 12 step program that I am a member of. I will share it with you here. We have found that addiction is a dis-ease of isolation. We need to work with others and each other to support our joint efforts of recovery. This is a WE program. We cannot do it alone and should not have to. Many seasoned alcoholics need you as much as you need them. We cannot rest on our laurels or take for granted that being dry is ever just enough. We need to continue to be teachable and honest, open, and willing to learn more each day. The 12th step within movement encourages us to reach out to old timers who may not be able to drive anymore, or who are home bound. Also, we need to remember to reach out to people who no longer attend meetings, are struggling with life events, or who have been hospitalized for health reasons.

The 12th step is not just about working with newcomers. We all need support and compassion. Life is not all sugar plums and sweets. Over the last 31 years, I have experienced many tough situations to deal with: disability, job loss, housing problems, chronic pain, deaths in my family, etc. It has not been a bed of roses. But, nothing...absolutely nothing is worth drinking over. The love and compassion of people in AA, etc. kept me alive and involved in life when all I wanted to do is jump off the face of this earth. They were 12 Stepping me. Those things I may have done for them in the past, came back to me 10 fold when I needed them the most. 12th Step within is like a big old group insurance policy. We pay in our fair share for many years. When a catastrophe happens, that person involved can draw from it what he/she needs. No one is left wanting. We just trust that it will be there for us when we are hurting. Be a part of the solution. Call someone who needs your support. It will mean the whole world to them and you.

Sponsorship Needed

Fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff,

and nudge me when I have said enough!

~ A Sponsor’s  Prayer

None of us woke up one day and said, “gees, I think I will become an alcoholic!” I don’t suppose it was childhood dream for anyone of us either. I am pretty sure we got here because we happened to be born with this dis-ease. And, at some point in life, we pulled the trigger. We chose to pick up the alcohol which ignited in us this dis-ease. For whatever reason, we drank, we over did it, and that got us into AA: sick, defeated, and out of control. Only by the grace of HP, sponsorship and AA did we get sober. In order to keep sober, we must work with others. We must work these steps, and we must follow the traditions that keep us together. There is no half-way measure that will work. Things are smoother on the inside of AA. Riding the edges of AA is harsh and lonely. So, going forward, here are some sponsorship questions for you and your sponsees:

How do you know that you have had a spiritual awakening?

I know I have had a spiritual awakening because I no longer find alcohol to be my answer to any life problem that has come along in over 31 years. The obsession was taken from me. I was told, “don’t you think you have had enough?” by a voice that sounded like my brother; who swears he said nothing. I know these things to be true for me.

What evidence do you have that there is an HP working in your life and through you?

I know there is an HP working in my life because there are many times that I do and say things that I had no plan on doing and no notion that I was going to do. Things just fall out of my mouth. One friend calls it being a conduit to HP. I don’t think I am that pure. But, I do know that what seemed impossible in the past; is possible today. I can count on that.

What are the principles you have learned from taking all 12 Steps?

The 12 principles of the 12 steps are in order: honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, self-discipline, and service. Do I do these perfectly and daily? I try. Progress; not perfection. I am a work in progress. That is all for today. Take care. Be kind. Be the Big Book in action.

More on 12th Step

Where ever I go; there I am. ~ Anon

It is said that we are the common denominator to all of our life’s problems. Now, that is a no brainer! Much of what happens in my life is a direct or indirect result of what I decided to do or not do beforehand. That reaction could be negative, positive or just plain old neutral. But, there will be karma, baby. I used to be afraid of karma. But, that was when I had a reason to be afraid. We do get back what we give out. How we act and react is certainly our choice. I just offer this: be careful of what you choose and what you pray for. Here is a few more questions on Step #12:

  • How do you usually handle conflict? Do you know of any way to be more effective in conflict resolution? If so, how would you become more effective?
  • What would be the steps?How much time do you want to and are able to allow for working with others on their program?
  • How will you go about setting that time aside?What outside resources can you call on when you need help as a sponsor?

I still do not like conflict, but I have learned to wait 24 hours in response to someone else’s anger or conflict with me. Meantime, I pray, write, read, and then ask my sponsor for direction. It usually isn’t about me. People get stressed out in service, and it spills over onto co-service providers. I devote a lot more time for service work these days, but then, I am retired. I still wonder how people can fit 40+ hours into a week for work. Ha ha. Just remember balance: work, play, and rest equally. I suggest you involve your sponsees in service work right away. Busy hands and mouths have no time to dwell on the obsession and the negatives. Outside sources may include professionals and treatment centers. There is no harm in knowing when things are over your head and outside your limits. In fact, that makes you a better sponsor. Of course, the best outside source is HP. He’s got this, you know.

 

Service = Rent to Live

Service is the rent we pay to be on this earth. ~ Anon

My first experience with the notion of service happened on my first day in another 12 step program. I had been sober (dry drunk) for 3 + years, angry, and completely defeated. My disease had taken another direction. So, in desperation, I called the number listed. The lady who answered the phone had convinced me that if I came to the meeting at 9 AM the next day, “we can talk more.”  I thought, “cool, free therapy!” So, I showed up. That in and of itself was a miracle. I never got out of bed before 1-2 PM on Saturdays! But, something awoke me and there I was, my three year old in tow. The lady was nice enough. She said, “let’s put out these chairs and this literature.” So, I helped with that. Pretty soon others came into the room, so she said, “we can talk after the meeting.”  My thought was at least I could still be listened to for free (after all, she had promised). Well, the meeting ended, and everyone greeted each other and me (no hugs, please. They hurt!) As people filed out, I positioned myself next to her, so she could hear my “story”. She turned to me and said, “let’s put these chairs and that literature away.”  That was it. She said to call her the next day, and thanked me for helping out.

I learned from that, that service is a major part of this deal. If I wanted to feel worthwhile and be a part of something that would bring me joy; service would be a part of that belonging. It is a give and a take. This month we will be working on Step #12 and Tradition #12. Both of these have to do with working with others and being of service. Service will keep your hands and mouth busy. Addicts like us need to keep our mouths and hands busy and out of trouble. Most days, I am too busy helping others and doing service, that I have no time to dwell on my own “issues”. I no longer have to have others listen to my “story”. May you find more sobriety in service.