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Do I Tell People Why I Stopped Drinking? – Progress Not Perfection

 

How do I handle social situations where alcohol will be there and I might be judged? – What do I say to non-alcoholics?

I will go to social gatherings where people are drinking and I am at a point where the alcohol doesn’t bother me, but what bothers me is how others treat me because I am not drinking.  I am not bothered to the point I want to drink over it, but it is annoying, really annoying.

I understand that this is everywhere across the board.  I have a niece who is a vegetarian and my in laws would always make a huge deal about it to her and put a negative cloud around the fact she did not want to eat meat.  They made a point of making ridiculous comments and asking her idiotic questions.  I felt so much sorrow for her in those situations.  Especially because this started when she was still a teenager.

“Oh, you’re a vegetarian?”, “That is just so weird.  Oh my goodness is it okay if I eat my sandwich in front of you now?”, “Do you think we are murders now?” type of comments.  It was very apparent they did not understand or approve of her choice and made it known without literally telling her they thought she was making a horrible choice.  People fear what they do not understand or that which makes them uncomfortable.

When you are not doing what is expected or is the social norm at the time, the reaction is usually unpleasant.  I have experienced this in my sobriety.  It is good to have ways to cope with that now and go into a situation expecting some of those

reactions from people who are not alcoholics and still drink socially.  I am optimistic and do not assume anyone is going to treat me differently, but I am now prepared for it if and when the situations and comments present themselves.

I now have the expectation that, yes not drinking isn’t the social norm, yes I might get some stare, yes I might be asked questions a few times.  I am not ashamed of saying I do not drink because I am an alcoholic.  If anything I feel quite the opposite.  I feel empowered and a sense of freedom when I respond to those questions with honesty about my sobriety and recovery.  

I have even had wonderful opportunities for some amazing conversations with fellow alcoholics, addicts, or those who have loved ones and friends suffering from the disease of alcoholism.

I am proud of where I have been and where I am now.  During my alcoholism I struggled with shame all of the time.  I was ashamed of the fact I couldn’t drink and even felt, in the beginning, that it was this weakness.  Now I don’t see it like that at all.  Again, I am very proud of where I am today and I can answer those questions with no hesitations.

I can look at them,the non-alcoholics, and realize they are being the asshole.  I have walked out of the shame corner.  I now have a different mindset thanks to sobriety and working my 12 Step program.  My reaction now is somewhere along the lines of this:  “Clearly you have a problem if you feel compelled to carry this conversation with me any further than what I told you.”

Prepare yourself before to receive blessings.  Look further into life for richness.  I cannot expect great things to happen in my life if I am not preparing to accept great things to happen in my life.  For me, it starts within myself.  You have probably heard “it’s an inside job” thrown out around the halls of AA a time or two or even in various addiction and alcoholism recovery programs.

It might be a cliche, but the truth is the truth and it really is an inside job.  If I just expected things to happen in my life without being open and ready to accept them, then it won’t happen.  Even if it does happen, I won’t be in a place where I would even recognize the blessing for what it is because I haven’t prepared myself and accepted that good things can and will occur in my life now.

 “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”  –   Henry Ford

 

This quote is amazing and for the person I am now, very eye opening.  It reminds me, in the past where I have failed to recognize or take advantage of opportunities that have presented themselves, I do not have to do that anymore.  I can choose to believe nothing good will happen to me and live my life unable to see opportunity or hear it knocking at my door.  Instead I choose to be open minded, believe, and accept the possibility and the reality of better situations, opportunities for success, and take action.

I believe in “progress not perfection” and continually improving my outlook and it is so worth it and my choice to believe and take action to live this way just like everyone else.

 

Can An Alcoholic Learn New Tricks? – She Has Learned To Love Life Again.

 

What Does An Alcoholic Look Like???  –  

Sarah Lynn H.

 

I am truly blessed to have spoken with a woman who has received a new life thanks to the sobriety and recovery she found at the hands of Alcoholics Anonymous and her devotion to prayer.  I am inspired by every word and I am happy she wanted to share a piece of what she has been through and learned so far on her journey of recovery.  Even an alcoholic can learn new tricks and Sarah has learned so many.  She challenges herself daily, sets goals and ways to track her achievements.  She has found new ways to celebrate her wins, big and small and to always help others through selfless acts of kindness.  Unfortunately, Sarah had to experience a great deal of pain and loss before becoming the wonderful recovering alcoholic she is today.

 

 

All my life and especially when i was drinking my emotions were all around me and all over the place.  They were bouncing off the walls of the room I isolated myself in.  I was married for 26 years and a great deal of my dependence rested on the shoulders of my husband and my children.  Always everything that was going on around me, but never me.  After I lost my husband and the children had all grown up and were out of the home, I was lost.

I had always measured my life, measured my worth on whether I had a husband who was happy, if I had happy and content children, if everyone else was doing well.  I never stopped to consider myself and that I was slowly giving away pieces of me a little at a time until I woke up and had no idea where my self worth had gone.  I had become so damaged that I could not recognize when someone was trying to help me and would lash out at them, push them away, isolate and drink.

I put everything I thought I should be, my value, in the opinions of other people.  I convinced myself I was going to be “punished” for not “doing enough” so I simply came to a point where I stopped trying all together.  I had literally no idea where to even begin to answer the questions of “What did I want for my life?”, “What makes me happy?” and I was so hopeless as to how to figure that out.  When you place all of your self-esteem and will to live in everyone else’s hands they will eventually drop it like a used up tissue.  When my children no longer needed me to move through life, they unknowingly threw away my self love.

I never set out to become a drinker.  I started socially, with friends, then alcohol took over completely within a few years.  I knew the more I drank, the more depressed I felt, but somewhere the line was crossed.  I no longer had a choice in drinking, I physically couldn’t stop.  My relationship with myself, which was destructive and hurtful, began to bleed out onto everyone who would dare come around me.  Soon my children didn’t want to see me or talk to me, not to mention didn’t want me anywhere near their own children.  I had become a monster and I couldn’t even see it because of the thick fog I had allowed to set in.

 

In talking with other alcoholics and through working with a sponsor I was able to relearn how to accept compliments, allow myself to be treated to something nice, feel positive about taking time for me to just sit in peace and reflection, and be around people again in a positive and uplifting way.  I learned how to forgive myself and to quit beating myself up.  There was an older woman who gave me my first gift in AA.  

It was not something I would have ever purchased and I didn’t have the heart to tell her I thought it was the gaudiest thing I had ever seen.  She handed me a small bag and neatly coiled inside was a long, fluffy, feathery pink boa.

Then she told me to stop beating myself up with the 2 x 4 and use a feather boa instead.  I completely understood what she was getting at and was surprised anyone saw that I was still continuing to struggle with forgiveness for myself, shame, and guilt.

I am making progress today by praying first, turning to my book of Alcoholics Anonymous or the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, instead of immediately picking the phone up and calling someone for help.  I realize now that God really does have the power and is in control of my life.  I have gladly and willingly given that over to him and reaffirm that decision every morning.  I have been able to rebuild the relationships with my children a little at a time and it has been 5 years since I have taken a drink.

 

I will always be working on my sobriety and spiritual self as much as I can to keep my emotional self balanced.  I feel so wonderful now after all of the work leading up to Step 12 and wholeheartedly practice the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous in al my affairs.

I had to relearn self worth, self-esteem, and self love if I was ever going to be able to give a healthy love to anyone else ever again.  Rebuilding took a whole lot of time, but I started with little steps.  I worked on my physical needs first which was to stop drinking.  In order to have a chance at sobriety I started going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and then became involved in the program, not just around it.

I now practice positive self talk, find joy in helping others by sharing stories of my struggles, and enjoy dancing, laughing, and relaxing with my wonderful ladies of the program.  These women have always been there for me and have loved me when I could not even remember how to love myself.  I have gained a new perspective on life and am so blessed beyond anything I deserve.  God’s grace is truly doing for me, what I could not do for myself.

 

How Do I Forgive And Let Go?? – Acceptance, Patience, Forgiveness, and Tolerance in Recovery

 

I decided to forgive, because it was slowly killing me and I realized I was the one holding the knife.

 

When I got to a point in my sobriety and recovery where I was more concerned about the homeless man walking down the street and what I could do for that person, it made me feel so good.  I felt, wow, because I know that is not something that I felt on my own, that is something that came directly from a higher power.  Something greater than me was working through me.  Even years before I was heavy in my drinking and alcoholism, if you wronged me or even looked at me in a wrong way, that was it for you.  I was conniving.  I was going to seek my vengeance.  I came up with some pretty elaborate ways to get back at people and even followed through with some of them.

Some of them got me in trouble.  “Well, who did that?”  “We know who did that, Elizabeth did that.”  People began to know who I was and steered clear of pissing me off.  But, when I really took a look at myself in the mirror, I did not want to be that person.  So, I decided not to be.  Some people are always going to say and do things to hurt my feelings, make me angry or try to make life difficult for me, but to have that spirit of forgiveness and acceptance is paramount for me.  It is essential to my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual sobriety and recovery from alcoholism.  When I can forgive someone for wronging me and not respond to that with anger, this is a blessing.  When I can respond with love it makes the situation easier and makes me feel spiritually whole.

 

I hope that others can do that for me too.  Life is hard and I would like others to have a spirit of forgiveness too.  Give me a hug every once in a while or a kind word.  We are all still human beings and love and forgiveness is something that makes all of our lives happier.  I have heard a lot of people ask for help with forgiveness and patience.  I have been fortunate enough to have lived through situations, before and during my alcoholism, that have allowed me to develop patience, tolerance, and forgiveness.

Forgiveness and acceptance go hand in hand for me.  I do not believe you can have one without the other.  When you won’t forgive, you are only inflicting pain upon yourself and I had to ask myself how much pain I was willing to tolerate.  I tend to look at most situations very logically and remove the emotions from them when I am making a decision.

Forgiveness, in my opinion, is just that.  It is literally a decision, no justification or cause needs to happen.  Forgiving has nothing to do with accepting the other person’s behavior, approving of it, justifying, rationalizing, or understanding it.  It is a simple decision I make whether or not to accept what is, forgive, and move on with freedom.

 

“Life will mean something at last.  The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead.”  –  Pg. 152 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous

 

Today I have a lot of patience and tolerance but it took living through some very upsetting and difficult situations to gain these qualities.  I wish I knew how to give these qualities or gifts away to others, but I can’t.  There is no book or manual or simple phrase I can share with anyone that will all of a sudden, allow them to be forgiving, patient, accepting, or tolerant.  For me, it had to come with experience.  One situation that was very difficult for me was many years ago when my two oldest children were very little.  I filed for divorce when my youngest, at the time, was less than a year old.  During the 3 years or so the divorce proceedings took, their father decided to keep them hidden from me for weeks and sometimes months at a time.

This occurred on several different occasions and every time I got them back I always let them go to their visitation time with their father, knowing full well I didn’t know when I would see them again.  During these years, there was nothing legally I could do because we both had equal rights and permanent custody and visitation was not decided until we finally went to trial.  After trial was over and I was awarded custody I still held on to that for a long time.  I felt that I was owed and could do whatever I wanted because he had practiced parental alienation and had played all of these games refusing to let me see my children or know where they were.

All this did was eat away at me, little by little.  It took a long time to realize that, but forgiveness is for me not for the other person.  I had to forgive to move on because I didn’t want this stranglehold any longer.  Holding on to what he did, to my resentment, was trapping me in t

he past and I had to decide if I was going to continue to let him have that power over me.  I needed to let go and accept what happened and forgive to move on and have peace and happiness.

Sometimes forgiveness is accepting an apology you are never going to receive.  In that situation I have never apologized to him directly, but I paid my attorney a whole lot of money not to have to talk to him anymore.  He is a great dad and he is a great person but we would never be friends, would have never been friends.  I’ve forgiven him for doing those things and supporting him now with decisions with the children and things like that is my way of practicing that forgiveness.  I realized, by holding on to my anger and hurt, I was robbing my kids of time they could have had, experiences they could have had because I was still resentful of him taking the children and taking that time away from me.

Again, forgiveness was a decision I had to make.  By the grace of God, there go I.  Do you want to be stuck here or do you want to forgive this person?  And, whether they know it or not doesn’t matter, because the acceptance and forgiveness is for me, so I can move on without all of this baggage I’m trying to drag with me.  I realized what I was doing.  I realized I was hurting myself and my children and in a greater sense all of the other people around me.  Kids are like dogs . . . they can smell fear and can feel tension in uncomfortable situations.  I began to see that my children were always uncomfortable if an event required their father and I to be in close proximity.  They knew that I had such dislike for their father even though I was careful never to say anything negative around them.

My step father told me a long time ago that when it comes to children of dissolved relationships, you should never say anything bad about the other parent in front of the children because the children are always an equal part of the mother and the father.  So, if you are bad mouthing the other parent, at some point in time the child is going to feel if they are half of dad and dad is an “asshole”, maybe I am half an “asshole” too.  Or if my grandma thinks my mom is a “bitch” then she must think that I am a “bitch” too, or half a “bad person”, a “drunk”, “worthless, etc . . .  I have 5 children now and I know with my experience raising my own children, they hear things you don’t think they hear.  They feel things, you don’t think they could ever pick up on.

It took some time and for me to become aware of what was beyond the tip of my own nose to see that I was being selfish and I was acting like an asshole and ultimately penalizing my children because I wouldn’t forgive.  One day, I just woke up and I saw the reality and as soon as I did let those resentments go and find acceptance and forgiveness I began to feel better.  The weight was lifted.  Some people will be blessings and some people will be lessons and unfortunately you don’t know until later.  My experience was both a blessing and a lesson.  I feel it is much easier for me to live now that I understand patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance.  I hope anyone who is struggling with any of these today finds some sort of comfort from my story.

 

What Else Does Alcoholics Anonymous Offer? – There Is So Much More Than Meetings in A.A.

 

I get drunk, WE stay sober.  Alcoholics Anonymous offers so much more beyond the meetings inside the halls.

 

 

“The meetings gave me what my sponsor likes to call one of the most important words in the Big Book:  A.A. put a “we” in my life.  “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol. . . .”  I no longer had to be alone.  Fellowship and activity kept me coming back long enough to work the Twelve Steps.  The more I did, the better I felt.  I started hanging out with my sponsor and some active people at the meetings.  They showed me how gratitude is something that is demonstrated, not talked about-gratitude is action.”  –  Pg. 510 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous

I was one of those drunks that isolated.  Most of the last year I spent drinking, I was pretty much at home by myself, and so sad and miserable.  I was baffled at why I could not leave the alcohol alone.  When I came into the halls I was told this was a “we” program.  “I get drunk, and We stay sober”.  Everyone reached out their hands and offered me phone numbers, told me to keep coming back, and that meant a lot to me.  It really meant the world, because I had isolated for so long and didn’t feel I was worthy of having anyone care about me at all.


By staying in the program and becoming involved I was able to begin to see value in myself.  Happy faces were greeting me at the door, they knew what car my mom drove and were welcoming to her.  I have always felt so much care and encouragement from my fellow alcoholics.  I have a very difficult time asking people for help and am still working through that.  But, I was never turned down if I asked someone for a ride up to the hall or home.  In fact, the little 5 minute conversations from the hall to my house allowed me to get to know more about others and for them to know a little more about me.

I am definitely a proponent of the meetings before the meetings and the meetings after the meetings.  The “extra” activities are there waiting for people to take advantage of them.  Picnics, seminars, business meetings, breakfasts, pot lucks, and even dances.

I remember going to my first Alcoholics Anonymous dance.  My mother drove me there, and as we passed by the front of the building I was overwhelmed with the large crowd I saw standing outside.  Crowds have made me nervous for the last several years and I could feel the anxiety begin to bubble up within me.

 

I am so glad my mother was there.  I smoked a cigarette, took a few minutes and walked in.  One of the tables was filled with familiar faces from my home group of A.A. and everyone was so happy to see both of us and so very inviting.  My mind was set at ease and I felt the anxiety melt away.  I didn’t do any dancing that night, but I sure felt accomplished for attending such an event and knew that I would jump at the next opportunity.

The fellowship is very important to me and I was advised to “hang around with the winners”, to hang around with the people who are really “in” Alcoholics Anonymous and not just “around” it.  I stay around the people who are actually staying sober and working a program.  I was so willing, as desperate as the dying could be, and I did not want to go back to that hell I had been living in.  By working the steps, attending meetings, going to different fellowship events, I have begun to see the wonders of this program in my life.  I am so very grateful to be an alcoholic and to finally have a real sense of purpose in my life and so many others who absolutely support me 100%.

I have been fortunate enough to find a wonderful hall early on in my sobriety.  Others might have to try a few different ones before they find the “family” that they fit into and feel at home with.  A good friend was a dry drunk for the better part of 7 years and went to several different meetings at various A.A. halls around our area.  He had stopped drinking, but nothing else had changed.

 

He still had anger, resentment, was unsociable.  He did what he had to do to stay sober for awhile and then got out of the program.  He went out for quite a few years but when he came back in Alcoholics Anonymous he found the hall I belong to.  He says “there was something here that made a hell of a lot more sense to me than he had felt in the other halls.”

He has nothing bad to say about any of the other halls, but by the time he walked through the door of our hall he had realized he needed somebody else to help him stay sober and get through this.  He watched and waited and finally asked the man who is now his sponsor for help and was able to be honest with himself and with everyone else.

He worked his program the way he needed to work it, he was able to socialize, and genuinely tried to help others where he could.  He is more grateful today than anything because he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t take any other substances, he tries to do the right things if possible and if he doesn’t – he knows we will hold him to his word and have the mirror ready for him to see his truth.

 

The halls have taught me to be more teachable and open-minded.  I always pick up something from at least one speaker.  Even if there is a meeting that I don’t feel I associated with anything shared, I always know that I am surrounded with those who share the same struggle and sickness that I do.

The other members of A.A. remind me “never say never”.  The meetings remind me of that on a daily basis and I need to open my ears and really listen with the hope that I hear enough of what I need to so I can avoid falling back into that isolation, depression, and self-pity which will cause me to drink.

 

“So today, I’m much more comfortable with life, as Alcoholics Anonymous has promised, and I know they’re right when they say it keeps getting better.  My circumstances have steadily improved as my spiritual life grows and matures.  Words cannot begin to describe the feelings in my heart as I sometimes ponder how much my life has changed, how far I’ve come, and how much there is yet to discover.  And though I’m not sure where my journey may take me next, I know I’ll owe it to the grace of God and to three words of the Twelve Steps:  continue, improve, and practice.  Oh, and one more thing they told me:  Humility is the key.”  –  Pg. 511 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous

How Do You Stay Sober For Over 30 Years? – An Inspiring Story of Hope From a Recovering Alcoholic

What Does An Alcoholic Look Like???   –   Danny M. 

 

Danny M. is now the second fellow alcoholic who will be sharing part of his experience, strength, and hope on getsoberbitch.com and I am truly grateful for his honesty and enthusiasm.  It has been a pleasure getting to know him and he is truly an inspiration to me and reminds me that some bridges can be rebuilt stronger and better than they were before, through living life in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Danny has decades of sobriety under his belt and he still comes to at least one meeting everyday.  He reminds me that is a process not an event and my journey of recovery will have hills and valleys, but one thing remains and that is the open door of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I worked at a large company and was paid very well.  After working there for 10 years, I realized I had nothing to show for it.  I had nothing because I was always out shooting pool, drinking, and hanging around bars.  It got so bad that my wife had to go out and get a job and I went to work for my dad at his shop.  Even then, we still couldn’t make it and I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t make it.  When I sobered up I found out why we were struggling.

All my checks were going to bars.  $20 here, $50 there, all of the “high-class” places I was spending my time.  I found out real soon that the company I worked for didn’t appreciate my drinking.  I was laid off many times because of my drinking and they fired me twice because of my disease of alcoholism.

 

When I walked in the company I thought this is the job for me.  The other guys all had bottles in their back pockets and I thought I was in the right place.  The problem was that I didn’t know how to quit.  When I started drinking I would always drink to the extent, to the extreme.  I was mean and shit.  When I sobered up they told me I was real lucky.  I got to my bottom pretty young.  I was living with a woman who was much older than me.  She owned a bar and I was selling all sorts of hot stuff out of there.  The boosters around town would all come to me with anything and I would sell it off.

After coming into the program I learned what to do with all that money I had been carrying around in my pocket.  I bought my first house, my first car, and that was great.  This was very different than the life I had been living before when I was in my addiction to alcohol.  I hung out at bars and lied so much to all the other guys in there that I didn’t know what was what anymore.

We would be sitting around talking about going to Vegas and I’d lie my ass off.  I would chime in, “Oh Yeah, I’ve been to Vegas.”  “Which one d’ya go to?” they would ask.  “Oh, I went to the downtown strip and went here and did this and that.”  Hell, I had never been to Vegas in my life.  But I lied so much I got to believing all of the lies.  Today is different.  I’ve been coast to coast and to Vegas.  My house is paid for, all of my cars, and other toys are all paid for, but I wouldn’t have any of it if I hadn’t quit drinking.

I was married to this gal and after she let me hit bottom, she divorced me because of this disease called alcoholism.  I didn’t know I had it when I showed up at my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting near me 3 years later.  I remarried this woman 12 years later and we have now been married for 24 years and she says “I’m the nicest woman and always have been, he’s the one that’s changed.”

 

I am very grateful for the program and it has given me so much more than I ever thought could have been possible.  I’m not bragging about what I have or trying to boast, the point is that if I can do it, then you can too.  One day at a time for me and it will always be that way.

If all of these things would have happened overnight and it would have come easy I probably would have gone out in 6 months and said screw it.  Gone out and got drunk because it would have been too easy.  But I had to get to my bottom and I had to realize that I was a drunk and could not handle alcohol on my own.

So I showed up at AA without knowing anything about the 12 steps or the program.  I had never even heard of Alcoholics Anonymous or any type of addiction recovery program or alcoholism treatment.  I realize I never went as low as a lot of people and I have heard many stories about living on the street, losing houses, getting arrested, serving time in jail and prison but I just got as low as I wanted to go.

I feel very fortunate that I cried out to God and got on my knees and he showed up.  Three guys showed up over 30 years ago now and I realized I was an alcoholic after having some long conversations with them and I haven’t had a drink since.  I’m not bragging on that again, the idea of it is, if I can do it you can do it too.  I don’t care how far your gone or how much trouble you feel you’ve put yourself in it’s about where your headed.

 

For me, it was about finally seeing where I was headed and I was afraid of going to the penitentiary and I was doing all the wrong things.  The cops were starting to show up and ask people if they knew who I was and where I was.  I was still involved in selling drugs and everything else and I got to the point where I wanted to change my life and I did.

I made a commitment to God and to myself and I came into AA and paid attention, wrote things down, took it seriously.  But it took time and you have to be careful not to rush it.  I think it is important for newcomers to ask questions and to work the steps in order, because I went from Step 1 admitting I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable to Step 9 trying to make amends to everyone.  It doesn’t work that way.  I was just trying to feel better about myself, but you have to do the steps in the order listed and there is reason behind it.

This program of Alcoholics Anonymous has worked really well for me over the years and I still go to several meetings throughout the week and share my story of experience, strength, and hope.  I have gained a wonderful life and so much I can never repay back because of this program.

 

 

How Can I Accept The Things I Cannot Change? – Serenity Prayer at Work

 

Acceptance is Difficult and Painstaking but Provides a Freedom I Must Have to Live Today.

 

 

The topic of acceptance is definitely a popular one.  I have struggled with acceptance and realizing that I can not control the outcome of situations long before I ever took my first drink.  Control was always a big deal for me from a very young age.  I did not like being told what to do and if you really wanted me to do something, you simply had to tell me I couldn’t or I shouldn’t.  It am so thankful for the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous and truly grateful the chairs around the tables of the AA halls are there because through this program I have learned acceptance.  I have been able to solve problems that had nothing to do with my alcoholism by simply learning how to accept the things and situations in my life.

In a conversation a few weeks ago an AA friend of mine was sharing some thoughts on acceptance and peace with me and he said, “I can be an asshole, even with 5 years of sobriety, but it makes my day miserable.  When I’m at not at peace, don’t have peace of mind, I feel miserable.  After all the years in Catholic school and all the years in Catholic church, the Serenity Prayer has been the most helpful to me and it was something I never heard in either of those places.  The Serenity Prayer made the most sense to me and it was something shared with my mother in Alanon and she shared with us when my father was dealing with his alcoholism.”

I use the Serenity Prayer quite often when I find something in my life unacceptable and at times there are several things I find unacceptable, and it is perfectly okay for me to find some things unacceptable.  I can change my reaction to the thing.  I can change my response to the thing.  I can change my connection to the thing, but I can not change the thing.

However, there are actions I can take.  I can choose to go sit in the corner and do nothing or take steps to see that I do not place myself in that uncomfortable and unwanted situation again.  I can take steps to make sure the pattern does not continue where I am finding myself dealing with unnerving things.

 

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.  When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, or situation – some fact of my life  – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.”  –  Pg. 417 BB Alcoholics Anonymous

 

 

When I drank I didn’t have any set of standards or boundaries and I found myself in places that were unwanted.  It still amazes me to this day, I survived certain experiences.  I do not live like that today and have no desire to ever go back to anything remotely close.  I have standards and boundaries because of the things I have learned living in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and I know I have choices.

Other people, if they wish, can do that as long as they don’t have their hand on my leg dragging me down.  These are gifts, of knowledge, I have received from the AA halls and other alcoholics like me.  I share my experiences and the lessons I have learned with the hope they will not fall on deaf ears and truly be the tipping point for someone else who might be in the same horrible place I once was.

 

“Before A.A. I judged myself by my intentions, while the world was judging me by my actions.”  –  Pg. 418 BB Alcoholics Anonymous

 

 

On my own, I could fuck things up so bad, there wasn’t anything left do but drink.  I wasn’t practicing any program.  My loved ones are packing their “bags” and getting ready to leave.  My kids don’t want to be around me.  The story went on and on because I created my own problems until I finally put my foot down and gained some acceptance.  It was helpful for me to then realize that sometimes by not doing anything, things come out a lot better.  Keeping my mouth shut was a difficult task for me to learn how to do.  I put it in to practice daily now, and it amazes me how calming, peaceful, and better I feel when unwanted or uncomfortable situations are hard for me to accept at first.

 

I had to chill my attitude out a little bit at a time until my head was cleared of all the shady characters that used to live there.  It was a bad neighborhood I didn’t even want to walk around in.  Acceptance has been the key for me in clearing out those nasty characters and sweeping out the clutter and trash.  AA meetings and hanging out with other alcoholics has been a key to unlocking these lessons for me.  I have been really reading and studying the Big Book and the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions material over the last several months and they too are a necessary part of my recovery from alcoholism and maintaining my sobriety.

 

“It helped me a great deal to become convinced that alcoholism was a disease, not a moral issue; that I had been drinking as a result of a compulsion, even though I had not been aware of the compulsion at the time.” . . . “At last, acceptance proved to be the key the my drinking problem.”  –  Pg. 416 BB Alcoholics Anonymous

 

 

Are You Living In The Solution Or The Problem? Does Relapse Have To Be Part Of Recovery?

 

“When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away.  From that moment on, I have not had a single compulsion to drink.” – BB Pg. 417

 

If I lose my focus on why I am here, in recovery, and what I am about, the insanity returns and then I will drink.  I have to do everything in my power to change this before the insanity returns and I destroy myself.

Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of your recovery and I work hard everyday to do my best so as to prevent that.  Others are not so fortunate.  Some have the experience of being in and out of the program for years until they realized they could not have “just one” and decided to do whatever it took.  I have seen alcoholics take the very courageous step of walking back through the doors of the AA hall and honestly admit they allowed their mind to Others become overconfident with their decades of sobriety and develop  ideas that “they are cured, don’t ya know”.

I have listened to many of these tales and the one thing in common is they stopped attending AA meetings, stopped talking to other alcoholics, and put down the Big Book.  In that case, you can not afford to beat yourself up.  You never lose what you learned, the knowledge you gained during the length of sobriety you had.  You simply lose the time, the date, your pride, and also your arrogance.

They still know what they have to do to stay sober and the most important thing they remembered was they had to walk back through the door.  They might have tried to stay sober at home and found out that they eventually spread themselves too thin doing for everyone else and forgetting to put their recovery first.  They forgot how much they needed the program to stay sober.

 

How do I find the solution?  There are a lot of alcoholics who need the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, but you really have to want the program.  It must be more important than anything else in your life.  If I am not sober, I have nothing to offer anyone else.  If I am sober, I can go to work.  If I am sober, I can be a mother.  If I am sober, I can be a wife.

If I am sober I can do a lot of things the right way, but it takes whatever it takes.  It took every single drink I took to get me into sobriety and if I would have stopped one short, I wouldn’t have walked through those doors of AA and would not be sober today.  I had to run out of good ideas.  Sharing the pain with other alcoholics helps us to find a solution to our problems.  Attending meetings allows us to learn things about ourselves and can help us to work an honest program.

If you give an alcoholic a fork in the road, he will always take the wrong choice.

 

 

I depend upon other alcoholics to show me what they did to stay sober 24 hours at a time.  I pay attention to the people who have had success and try and follow in their footsteps, but I also pay attention to the alcoholics who walk in an out and around the program and try not to do what they do.  I have to use everything the program offers to my benefit.  I must use m

y successes and my failures if I am to stay on the path of recovery for the rest of my life.  This is a process, a journey, not an event.  Liv

ing as a recovering alcoholic and maintaining my sobriety through Alcoholics Anonymous and following the guide laid out before me in the Big Book is what I must do if I am to survive and today I want more than anything to be alive.

I feel extremely fortunate to have joined AA at 34 years old because I have many years left and those aremore summers I can spend sober.  There will be many more Christmas’s and Birthday’s I can celebrate and remember.  I look forward to the days, months, and years ahead of me, but I must always attend meetings and surround myself with other alcoholics to keep from slipping back into the paralyzing depression I suffered for so many years.  I don’t want that pain again.  I don’t ever want to have those regrets from my addiction.  I refuse to go back to the lie I once had and strive everyday for something greater, something more than I could ever imagine.  Let go of the show, stop being the boss, quit trying to manage everything and keep coming back.

 

What If This? What If That? What If, What If, What If? – Worry Is A Cancer

How do I stop the constant worries from clouding my mind?  Is there anything I can do?

Worry – Do you have a problem?

  • No.  Then, don’t worry.
  • Yes.  Can you do something about it?
  • No.  Then don’t worry.
  • No.  Then don’t worry.

Worry grows like a cancer inside our heart and mind and will slowly consume you bit by bit.  These worrisome thoughts that grow inside us will never ever change the outcome of a situation, make something happen, or change some else’s mind.  Worry will not solve any problems, but will only take a peaceful mind and twist and twist until it is broken.  Anxiety can become the result of too much time spent in worry and anxiety occurred for me when I thought I had to figure out everything all at once.  My anxiety had a tight grip and control over my actions and my being that I was paralyzed.  I could not leave my home to go to the grocery store most days.  I was solely focused on what could go wrong, what others were thinking about me in their mind, what questions I might be asked by others, etc . . .

Over thinking, anxiety, and worry ruined life for me.  It twisted reality around so much that it ruined the way I saw life and made it impossible to see and think clearly.  Did I enjoy those feelings?  No.  Did I want and need some change?  Absolutely.  Living in the present and doing things for others helps me keep the anxiety and worry at bay.  Exercise has been very helpful as a way to distract my mind from worrisome thoughts and now I attend many AA meetings that pull everything back into a great perspective and remind me to meditate and read if I find my mind wandering down that particular road.

Do something for somebody else without being found out.  Don’t even let them know that you did it.  I remember a story a friend shared with me a while back about doing things for strangers.  Her grandmother grew up with nothing in her childhood and was also

a very giving woman.  She could never pass up a hitchhiker.  My friend never understood why she would do those things and was afraid her grandmother was going to be hurt or robbed by one of these strangers.  Eventually she became concerned enough and asked “why do you keep picking these people up Grandma?”.  Her grandmother couldn’t have put it better and simply replied, “Because someday darlin’, it might be me.” and left it at that.

I couldn’t stand myself when I drank.  I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without feelings of hatred, shame, grief, and others.  Giving to people, and I mean giving without any expectations at all, fuels me with peace.  You can give material possessions, time, money, several other options exist.  Remember, once you let it out of your hands and give it to somebody else, it is theirs.  It is not yours anymore.  I had to learn that I had no control over the gifts I gave also.  I would have expectations for the gifts I gave.    The recipient might waste it, throw it away, leave it on the floor.

“I have had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” – Mark Twain.  Worry jars can be helpful tools as well.  You simply write down any situations you are worried about as they come and then fold up the paper and place it into an empty coffee container, mason jar, or any other type of vessel you have to hold them.  Then, at a predetermined time in the future, maybe a few months, maybe a year, you open the jar and read back through what you wrote down.I have used a “worry jar” in the past and I will tell you honestly, most of the worries I wrote down never came to pass or fixed themselves.  I had even forgotten some of them.  If you are struggling with worry you might even give this a try also.  Write down what you believe your life will be like a year from now.  After one year, pull out what you have written and see how it measures up.  If you have been current with your sobriety and working your program of recovery, I would be willing to bet you will cut yourself short.  Try it again for another year and I am positive you will sell yourself short again.  We live a life better than we ever could imagine.

Are you boastful in your recovery? Are you waiting for acknowledgment? – Serving without selfish motives is a freedom.

Are you a “Coin Collector”?  – Are you boastful and only acting to receive compliments on your sobriety?

If one side of a boat gets too far out of the water, it is likely to tip over.  I must always be careful not to build myself up too much and expose myself to falling and failing.  I have to be careful of having too much success so I do not allow for any over confidence in my abilities to remain sober and never to measure my recovery in lengths of time instead of the quality of the sobriety.

My goal can not be measured in achieving one year, five years, ten years and so on of sobriety, because as soon as that is accomplished, where do I go from there?  What do I do then?  Overconfidence is a very dangerous beast.  It has fooled me into believing I am capable of things I am not.  I am very good at convincing others I am someone different, and worn many masks to hide my true self and intentions.  With much gratitude and a hard look in the mirror, I have stopped hiding in my own head and lying to myself about who I am.

Oscar Wilde said, “confidence is good, but overconfidence always sinks the ship” and Norain went on to add that “overconfidence will drown you in the sea of reality”.  They are both so right.

Am I doing things because it is the right thing to do or are my intentions selfish?  Does the question, what is in it for me, occur in my mind?  I need to have the desire to be a part of something, not because it helps me, not because it only makes me feel better, but more importantly, because it needs to be done and it is the right thing to do.  I do not live my life with the thought of receiving recognition.  I speak with the hope it will help others and help AA as a whole.  When I apply this mindset in all of my affairs, I feel better, and great things happen in my life.

I do not feel it is boastful or braggadocios to say my sobriety date.  I am proud of my recovery date because there was a long time, many years in fact, I could not get one day together.  I could not comprehend the understanding of 24 hours as a start for the longest because I was always thinking about what had happened and what was going to happen.  What about my court date?  What about my kids?  What about my husband?  What about, what about, what about?  I was always in the future or I was always in the past, never in the present.  Never in the 24 hours.  I am better about that today and it is because of the Alcoholics Anonymous program and the other recovering addicts and alcoholics that I share a table with.

I need my AA hall to keep my changed way of thinking.  When I was drinking I was selfish.  I was constantly trying to figure out what I was going to take from someone, what I was going to get out of it. Doing something for nothing carries so much freedom with it.  I need AA to survive with a selfless way of thinking and I find that through service work and offering anything I can without the thought of how it will benefit me.

This perspective includes not expecting anyone to say thank you either.  I serve to serve.  I serve because it is the right thing to do for my heart.  I needed to learn how to choose my thoughts in the same way I was picking out what to wear everyday or what to eat for lunch.  If I want to have control over the things in my life, I must first start with my mind and my attitude.  Those are truly the only things I can control and should be trying to better.

You can lead a horse to water . . . How do I help my children or friends with addiction?

How do we help others we love who are struggling with addiction or sobriety without harming our own recovery?

Do you have a family member or friend you love that refuses to get help with their addiction?  “Change your playground, change your playmates” is often said in Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery programs, but sometimes it is easier said than done.  What if you are a recovering addict and you have a teenage child or adult child that is struggling with their own demons of addiction?  How do you separate when they are a close family member who might even be living with you?

There is an entire chapter in the Big Book about working with others, a chapter to wives, a chapter about the family afterwards.  One thing I have learned is that sometimes changing playgrounds and changing playmates only works for a while.  You can always move, but guess what, if they want to find the wrong playground and playmates they will seek them out no matter what you do.  You can try, try, try and it is so easy for a loved one, especially a parent, to become an enabler.  I have heard prayer talked about often.  Prayer for another person is truly one of the greatest gifts you can give because it takes you away from selfish thinking and putting yourself first and genuinely caring for another and their strife.

Alanon is a great place to start.  There is also Alateen.  These programs are geared specifically to the family members and friends of those who are suffering from an addiction or in their recovery.  Surrounding yourself with those in similar situations can be helpful and also offer you a support system where one might not exist.  When you are so close to someone it is very hard to see and think clearly without allowing emotions to become involved.

Unfortunately for most, sobriety and the desire for recovery takes a traumatic event.  I do not wish that upon anyone, but the reality I have seen in my own life proves it to be true.  Be careful when involving yourself in the life of someone who just doesn’t want to have a change in their lives.  Offer numbers and point them in the right direction, but be aware of how much you expose of yourself and your own fragility.  Sometimes we must stay away from certain people during certain times.  Do not allow yourself to let another drag you down after you have already sacrificed so much to gain sobriety.

It took a burning desire for recovery and every drink I took to get me inside the walls of the AA meetings that now are the foundation of my sober life.  We simply can not force that change upon anyone.  I can relate to other families with alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, etc . . .  But, I can not get anybody drunk and I can not get anybody sober.  When someone is ready, they are ready, regardless of how much we want it for them.  I have known several people in the program and they will all admit they never made anybody sober.  Each person chooses addiction or chooses freedom from addiction on their own and in their own time and in their own way.

Sometimes I have to love someone from way over here in order to keep my sobriety and recovery possible in my own life.  I know there are some people I love dearly that I just can not involve myself with and be around right now in my recovery.  In my addiction, my triggers were my most loved.  They were my children, my stress inside the house, my family home, and my husband.  I will be in a place one day when my favorite loved ones will not be triggers any longer and I will have enough of a psychic change and a firmly built foundation that I will be able to return to those relationships, but for now, my recovery must come first if I am ever to have any hope.

In closing, I have learned I have to be the best me, the best citizen I can be, giving and caring for others, working the steps and so on, in hope that they will see the change in me and follow along.  Do not stress, just stay the course and you will be fine, and they will be fine if it is meant to be.