Your job now is to be be in a place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others. ~ Big Book, Page 102
Have you noticed the meetings are packed since the holidays are over? I have. Everyone is swearing off or swearing on for the new year. I hope they all find recovery. I hope they find what they are looking for. I remember many a new year came and went, and I never changed a thing. Thus, I would get to late January, and then I’d go on a tear to make up for wasted time. I had the best of intentions, but I never was willing to make the necessary changes to secure any length of sobriety. Tonight’s topic was about going into places where alcohol is served if we are in fit spiritual condition and have a good reason for being there. I could always come up with great reasons and rationalizations for being around people and place where drinking was happening. The Big Book refers to that as “enjoying vicariously.” I could get high off the fumes. No problems.
What I heard tonight resonated with me: that we are judgmental toward those who are drinking to excess. I do not judge those who drink as bad or evil, but I do care that they are destroying their lives and health, especially if I am close to that person. I do not want them to have pain in their lives. Call me co-dependent. I am. I think it is pretty human for us to care. The big difference these days, is that I don’t interfere with their actions. I do leave when it gets too uncomfortable. In my family, it is usually the next morning when they go for the 3rd beer/cigarette run. Nothing good happens after that. At any rate, I am glad that we have so many new people seeking recovery. I hope they find what they are looking for. Be there to welcome them.
The sponsor without weaknesses has not shown up, so far as we know. ~ Living Sober
Coming down off the high of the holidays will take awhile. Just bear that in mind .Be gentle with yourself. You may feel especially lonely and let down. You may have cravings for junk food and caffeine to “pep” yourself up. This will last a few days or up to two weeks. Just relax and go with the flow. Treat yourself to something that you don;t normally have in your life; such as a massage, pedicure or manicure, a good juicy novel, etc. Indulge and repair your heart. Watch some silly comedy. I keep some comedy movies on store. A good laugh will produce those feel good hormones and take you away from ruminating over the Xmas that oughtta, couldda, or shouldda been.
We all hope for sane and happy holidays. I know for many years I yearned for just one happy holiday season, until I realized that that happiness started with me. Being overly happy is just as difficult for alcoholics as being very sad is. What goes up, must come down. I try to shoot for just the middle of the road and peaceful days. That way, I do not come down from the crash. That works for me. I also appreciate days that are a balance between serious, neutral and silly moments and events. Try this: make a list each day with 3 columns: I want to…I need to…I have to. Put 3 things under each column head. If you get one of these things from each column completed in a day’s time, you are doing things right! Have a good day.You deserve it.
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.
We now needed a more reliable way of relating to HP. At this point, we can “act as if.” ~ 12 Step Literature
I must tell you, I only came into AA, so that I could prove to the therapist that it would not work. I spent my first 3 years of sobriety being miserable, angry, and more and more isolated. I would not give out my number. I would not take numbers, and when I did go to meetings, I would hide out in the back to the room. I would drive to towns an hour away, so as not to be recognized. I would come late and leave early to avoid you guys. The last thing I wanted to be was an alcoholic like you! I thought it was a personal failure and weakness to ask for help. I hated the hugs and warmth you showed. They hurt too much. I listened, but I did not apply what I heard. All I could heard was that I was just like you, I was not as unique as I thought I was, and that I was doing it all wrong. Man alive, I hated that.
Then, someone suggested that if I did not believe in an HP, that all I had to do is act as if. I do believe it takes what it takes. I do believe we all have our own journeys and time frames. Some of us have greater pain tolerances. There is no one right way to work the 12 steps & traditions of AA. The only wrong way to recover is to not do it at all. My worse days in AA have certainly been better than my best days before I got here. The fact that I am an alcoholic may have been the worst possible thing to have happened in my life; but it certainly has also been the best thing in my life. I do not know that what I found here is what I wanted, but I am sure what I found here is what I needed: unconditional love, support, a sense of belonging, peace, purpose and acceptance. I sure hope you find these things too.
Intuition is supposed to be God’s line into our minds and hearts, but our problems and our self-will have interfered with this connection.
~ 12 Step Literature
I often tell new people I work with that the good news is we were given free will, and the bad new was we were given free will. People have choices. Whether or not they always make the right choices is a whole other matter. This week, in our small community of AA 3 young people died as a direct result of this disease. One was a son of my friend. There are simply no word of condolence that one can use when someone’s kid od’s, and medical science cannot revive them. I was surprised and delighted to see my friend choose to come to meetings and get support. It is likely that he won’t go back to the booze. Perhaps his son did not die in vain.
So, the topic last night was about choice and perception. Every day, we are given that day only. We start making decisions from the get go: Do I wake up or stay in bed? Do I have coffee, or do I have juice? All day and night, we choose. The choice of whether or not to drink is among the myriad of choices we get to make each day. It is a choice. We may be addicts, but we alone pull the trigger to activate the disease. A wise woman once said, “I may die with this disease, but I do not have to die of it”. Follow your own intuition, stop and listen to what seems to be right, and then do the next best thing. Let the deaths of those among us not be in vain. Choose sobriety.
By trying tho control others through manipulation and direct force, we have hurt loved ones. When we tried to control ourselves, we wound up demoralized. Even when we succeeded, it wasn’t enough to make us happy. ~ 12 Step Literature
If we have accepted in Step #1, that we are powerless over our own lives and behaviors; then this Step #10 stuff should be a no-brainer. Step #10 encourages us to keep our own side of the street clean. I don’t know about you, but I have no time for other people’s responsibilities, lives, actions and attitudes. I have a full time job just dealing with my own. It is none of my business what others think of me, and conversely, it is none of their business what I think of them.
One of my old time drinking buddies told me recently of some complete stranger totally flipping her off and upsetting her over some minor traffic snafu. I had to chuckle. I did not respond, as she really does not want the solution. She prefers a life as a drunk and a grump. Life is all full trouble and not pleasant under the best of situations. Being a victim is her choice. I know all this because I used to feel the same way. Everyone I ran into and everywhere I went, life caused me pain. Life was unfair. And, I was the victim of a myriad of circumstances. I thank goodness, AA hauled me out of that black hole of depression. For today, I have a solution to most of what life has to offer. Here is to another day just like to today: sane and sober. I hope the same for you.
LEST WE BECOME COMPLACENT. It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe.
~ AA BigBook
The key word for Step #10 is Perserverance which is the steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. Step #10 is a daily 4th step. Daily being the key word in that phrase. I like to do mine first thing in the morning. That is when I have more energy, I have had a chance to sleep on it, and I have given things a few hours to allow for a better perspective. I call this my G.O.D. time. Others do theirs at night. Still others do this mentally and throughout the day. I have to write it down. It is more tangible and real for me when it is in black and white. I don’t care when it is done, but I do encourage that it be done daily. I know when I have not done this, plus the steps 11 and 12 first thing in the morning, I get to about 10 AM, and I cannot think straight, and I lash out at others for no reason.
Step #10 offers us the Freedom from complacency. I believe that it is imperative to remain active, alert and on top of this dis-ease to maintain sobriety. Sobriety is a whole lot more than just putting the plug in the jug. It is about spiritual, mental and physical health and balance. The minute we start thinking that we have this thing licked, that we are just F.I.N.E., or we know how to do this without all that reading, writing, etc.; we are flirting with the dis-ease. I have seen my share of old timers who abuse food, gambling, spending, coffee, cigarettes, pills, relationships, etc. This dis-ease is dead serious. It will take many forms. It will wait for a weak moment and then attack. There is so much more to learn. There is so much out there to experience. Stay active. Heads up. Embrace action.