What Is Humility? 11 Ways Alcoholics Anonymous Has Taught Me To Be Humble And Live In Humility

 

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion. – Paolo Coelho  How can I practice and live in humility on a day to day basis?


 

Instead of asking why me, have I asked myself why not me?  Humility comes to mind.  The thing I have had to learn about humility is that I can’t just say “I’m going to be humble today” and leave it at that.  “I’m going to be humble because this program of AA says I need to be humble.”  Humility is a state of being that occurs as a result of living outside of myself.  Humility is a by product, not a product.  It is not something I can just choose to be.  It manifests itself as a result of how I choose to behave, the choices and decisions I have made and how I act on those in my day to day life.

One of the greatest places, nobody ever talks about, in reference to humility is in the Big Book.  Right there on page 63 in the third step it says “we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs.  More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life.”    This is one of the best definitions of manifesting humility I can think of.  I am so grateful for what Alcoholics Anonymous has given me, this way of life, and it all comes back to how I feel on the inside today.  Because I am okay today and okay is good enough.  It really is.

I will do what I need to do and I will be who I need to be.  Every morning when I wake up and have a morning meditation, one of the affirmations; the main affirmation i have been using is me reflecting on who am I willing to be today, what am I willing to do today in order to be the person I am committed to be today.  Because that is what this whole sobriety and program of AA is about for me.

If you want to know how to stay sober, you want to know how to get that life you love, you want to know how the promises will start manifesting in your life?  It is about learning how to show up in life and be that person.  It is living life from the inside out not from the outside in.  It is never about what is going on, it it always about who am I going to be in the face of what is going on.

 

Since coming into these rooms and turning a corner and going through the processes outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the thing I can tell you is there is nothing that has happened in my life that has overwhelmed me, nothing has occurred that has put me over the edge.  I know several people in this program who have lost children to suicide, to overdose, they have sat with their dying parents.  They have lost jobs, gone through divorce, lost their homes, they have experienced everything you can experience and they walked through it, they stayed sober, and went on living.

An older gentlemen working at a treatment center I was able to visit told me, “If I had to try not to drink today I would be out there with a big bag of cocaine and a big bottle of tequila or scotch or something.  This program, AA, is not about that.  This deal is not about trying not to drink.  This deal is about becoming a person through that process who is relieved of maladies of the spirit and is truly willing to embrace the amazing role set aside for them.

 

There is a catch we read about on page 72 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  It warns us that through that process, it is the one or two things that I hold onto, that I won’t give up, I won’t share with another human being, and there by refuse to bring God/Higher Power into the picture.  “If we skip this vital step we may not overcome drinking.  Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives.  Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to other methods.  Almost invariably they got drunk.”

You can write 18 pages of crap (during step 5) and it’s the half page you didn’t write that makes you a  bigger liar, a bigger cheat, and a bigger thief than you ever were.  The worst thing I believe someone can do is to complete a fourth step and a fifth step and omit something.  According to the way this program is laid out, when I take that third step I have just made an agreement with a higher power.

I have committed myself to this open and honest relationship and I cannot start out with dishonesty from the get go and throw it in the face of the entity.  I have seen it several times over this last half of a year and have heard others speak of the importance many times.  The results are not good, if you do not truly honor this agreement and lay everything out on the table to seek true redemption from and through that and working with and for others, humility.

Here are 11 different ways I have learned to practice and live in humility.

  1.  Avoid curiosity.
  2. Accept small irritations with good humor.
  3. Speak as little as possible about myself.
  4. Give in to the will of others.
  5. Accept insults and injuries.
  6. Keep busy with my own affairs and not those of others.
  7. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
  8. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
  9. Accept contempt, being forgotten, and disregarded.
  10. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
  11. Accept censures even if unmerited.

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.

 

Do Meeting Makers Really Make It? Are AA Meetings Really Important?

What excuses do you have for not attending AA meetings?  I was speaking with a friend about this very topic and he said “I get stuck in my head and I forget to go to meetings.   I know a lot of people who still drink and still do all of the old “stuff”, but I need to be around people who are doing something different.”

We need to be around people who are staying sober.  A gentleman told me about a conversation he had with a fellow alcoholic before the start of a meeting a few weeks back.  He says, “A friend of mine bought himself a shiny, new motorcycle and now thinks he is going to be a big, bad, biker.  He asked me, ‘Wanna ride my bike?’.  No, I don’t wanna ride your bike!  I went through all of that.”  He doesn’t have anything personally against bikers, but he has already lived that phase and he wants to be someone different.  He said, “I have experienced a lot of things sober and I want to be something different today.”

“I want to feel good today without the wrong way of living.  That is what it is about for me right now.  I know where the solution is if I need or want to get better and if I don’t want to get better I know where else to go too.  Today, that is my choice and I am the only one who can change that.  There is no one to blame but me.  Meetings are my group therapy and the fellowship of AA has succeeded where the therapists and psychiatrists didn’t.”

“What is this power that AA possesses?  This curative power?” – Pg.308 BB

I have heard it said very plainly, “meetings help me get out of the selfie, self-centered way of thinking.”  I have also heard, “meeting makers make it.”  However, we can go to meetings and share with others and listen to others, but we must always listen with an open mind and act upon what we learn in these halls.  We need to work the steps, we need to work with other alcoholics.  We really need to do the simple things that we are taught from the very beginning.  This is a process that takes time, patience, surrendering, being honest with ourselves and taking our own inventory.  Those are things we must do on a day to day basis.

There are many people who want an easier, softer way, but “are you willing to go to any length” it asks in the Big Book.  If you feel that you have all the answers, you have not been paying attention and are not being honest with yourself.  Following the steps laid out in the Big Book is key and we must all keep going back to this literature over and over and over.  This literature, these points are something shared in every AA meeting I have attended.

I have heard several members of AA speak of relapses and the one thing all of them have in common is the fact that they stopped attending meetings.  Some might have had different events take place in their lives, but the common thread is the absence of Alcoholics Anonymous in their lives.  If I see or speak with someone who is struggling with their sobriety, I ask them a few questions.  First, How many meetings have you been going to?  Second, How much have you been reading?  I ask those questions to help a person really take a look at themselves and what their actions have been, not what is only on their mind.

We should always be seeking some growth in our recovery.  I do not believe 1 or 2 meetings per week promotes growth.  Simply ask yourself how many days a week did you drink?  Most of us drank 7 days a week, so we will need 7 meetings a week to find our growth.  Find an AA hall you enjoy that is helpful with your recovery, then find two, or more if you need to.  Get yourself to a meeting, and then another, and then a few more.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path” – Pg.58 BB  

Have you been failing?  Have you been failing miserably?  Do you only come to meetings when the “shit hits the fan”?  When it is getting really bad or something tragic just happened.  If we find ourselves in trouble at work, don’t we make a point to show up early, stay late.  Don’t we become the best employee and offer to do anything we can to “make up” for the misery and problems we caused?  Recovery and sobriety is the same for some.

I see people who are only at meetings to achieve something.  “I only want to get my kids back”, “I don’t want my husband to leave me”, “I have to get through with this legal stuff and make the judge happy”.  As soon as they accomplish their goal, you don’t see them anymore because they are only at AA to appease someone else.

There seems to be a pattern with relapse when it pertains to attending meetings.  We go to few meetings.  Then we stop showing up for meetings all together.  We stop talking to other alcoholics.  Finally, we drink again.  Is going to meetings all you have to do?  Hell no!  But, if we can’t do something simple like going to meetings, what makes us think that we would read the Big Book,talk with a sponsor, or work any of the steps.  If we can not come to meetings, be reminded to work the steps, and be around others in recovery we will resort to our old ways eventually.

Alcoholism and addiction is simply not something we can fix on our own.  I strongly believe the repair and relief from the pain of alcoholism starts with meetings.  I have heard many comment “Well, meetings didn’t work for me.” and they are obviously right because nothing is going to work for you if you don’t want it to.  You could go to a hundred treatment centers and they won’t work if you don’t want them to.  You could have both Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob as your sponsors from beyond the grave and if you do not want to stay sober, you are not going to stay sober.  I keep coming to meetings because in meetings I hear what I need to hear to keep me sober and it is as simple as that.  So I challenge you to attend a meeting every day this week.  Just for one week and if you feel what I feel when I go, you will keep coming back for more and more.

 

What can I read about AA and addiction? Where to start if you feel lost in recovery.

 

Big Book – A new freedom and a new happiness

Here you will find several titles including the “Big Book” and the “12 & 12”.  While these two titles are the most popular, there exist several other great guides, historical books, biographies, and supplemental guides to help you understand the program of AA better and to assist you in your own sobriety and recovery or the recovery of another.

I will also be adding some great links to audio material if you are not a reader or have difficulty visually.  I encourage you to at least pick up some recovery and sobriety material.  My mother was able to email me the first 164 pages of the “Big Book” while I was in jail so I could begin to read and it brought me a hope that was otherwise unavailable in the county jail I vacationed at.

I am amazed at the number of titles that do exist and I applaud all of the authors who take the time to contribute, organize, interview, assess, and wrap everything up for us in great informational sobriety booster shots.  I have not read through every title listed here, but am working my way through one day at a time.

What is your favorite book to read about recovery?  Is there a specific author or title that provides you with hope and inspiration in your recovery?  Please comment below or email me at getsoberbiatch@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why All the Bling AA?

Why the AA Tokens and Coins

Marking the anonymous membership of so many people around the world is a humble coin. The AA Token, unassuming to most, is a most significant keepsake for the recipient. Beginning one’s sober journey in the fellowship of Alcoholics is anonymous with a silver colored aluminum 24 hour coin is a tremendous way to mark the first day of this one day at a time way of life. The twenty-four hour token is often carried for a lifetime, standing as a silent reminder of our AA way of life.

The chip system is thought to have begun in Indianapolis in 1942. The tradition is believed to have started with Doherty S., who originally brought AA to Indianapolis. Doherty himself, in a letter to Bill, seems to indicate the practice originated in Indianapolis in 1942.

Nell Wing wrote in 1962 about the history of the chip system: “…The chip system might have begun in Indianapolis….reference was made in a letter from Doherty to the start of giving out ‘chips’ and ‘tokens.’ This was in 1942. I imagine this would be about right, because most of the early groups started in 1940 and it would take about a couple of years to think of anniversaries and marking any time of sobriety. I asked Bill about this and his memory is that the system started in Indianapolis.”

Following the 24 Hour Token is typically a series of Anodized Aluminum Tokens marking monthly milestones in Recovery. These would typically follow this pattern:

  • 1 month, marked by a red anodized aluminum chip. This may also be a red plastic poker chip
  • 2 months, designated by a gold anodized aluminum medallion
  • 3 months, marked by an emerald green anodized coin
  • 6 months, often a dark blue aluminum token or a blue plastic poker chip
  • 9 months, marked by a purple aluminum chip this is usually the last aluminum token

Once a member of AA reaches the 1 Year mark of continuous sobriety, anniversary celebrations are often marked with Bronze Yearly AA Tokens. These medallions are often called “heavy metal” because of the weight of the token and the significance of having reached the yearly birthday in Alcoholics Anonymous. The yearly bronze tokens are often presented by a sponsor along with a cake and a few words about the recipient. Sometimes used to mark very significant sobriety anniversaries are the Brilliant Triplate Medallion.  The Triplate AA Token is the most fancy and costly medallion.

Some common characteristics of an AA Tokens are:

  • The length of time of sobriety prominently stamped in the center of the coin
  • The AA Circle and Triangle motif
  • The words, “To Thine Own Self be True”
  • The three pillars of service, Unity, Recovery, Service
  • The Serenity Prayer on the reverse side

Regardless of the length of time designated by the particular AA token, each coin carries with it the significance of that day of sobriety and for an alcoholic destined to die drunk, every day sober is a miracle worthy of praise and gratitude.

 

There are many other coins and here are a few of them out there.  What coins do you have that are beyond the traditional sobriety length recognition?  Any sponsor/sponsee tokens?  Any coins focusing on a specific favorite AA or NA phrase?

How do I stop isolating myself?

Isolation and Addiction Go Hand in Hand

 

“Almost without exception, alcoholics are tortured by loneliness. Even before our drinking got bad and people began to cut us off, nearly all of us suffered the feeling that we didn’t quite belong. Either we were shy, and dared not draw near others, or we were noisy good fellows constantly craving attention and companionship, but rarely getting it. There was always that mysterious barrier we could neither surmount nor understand” (A.A. Twelve and Twelve, 57).

Did we drink because we were lonely and could not form healthy relationships or were we lonely because we drank? It is hard to pinpoint which caused which and it isn’t even necessary. What we see is that alcoholism and isolation are partners in crime. As we give up alcoholism in favor of sobriety, we must also strive to give up isolation in favor of fellowship.

The A.A. founders clearly saw the need for a program that would help the alcoholic reconfigure his or her entire life—including relationships. Many of us have never known how to have healthy relationships. We have used others or sought to control them but we haven’t known how to love and have equal partnerships with the people around us. Recovery teaches us a new way.

The following suggestions drawn from the 12-step program and the insights of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous give direction to the newly recovering addict seeking fellowship and friendship in this new world of sobriety and recovery.

Go to meetings. Here you will find the people who are like you, the people who have lived what you have lived, and who are learning to live a new life in sobriety. The newcomer may feel reluctant to trust this new gang. Who are these seemingly happy sober people? Did they ever really battle addiction? Have they ever struggled? Don’t let their cheeriness and sense of contentment fool you. They have been where you are now but hey have discovered a new life and a new way of living, better than anything they knew in addiction. The addict who desires recovery will continue to attend meetings with an open mind. In time, he or she will see miracles occur.

“Life takes on new meaning in A.A. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends—this is an experience you must not miss” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 89).

Take phone numbers and call. While the meeting is a great place to begin connecting with friends in recovery, the phone allows for the more in-depth conversations that lead to relationships. Afraid you don’t have anything to say? Ask a question. Tell the person on the other end of the line that you are new to the program and would love to hear their recovery story. Do they have a few minutes to chat? Then let the conversation flow naturally. Ask if you may call again sometime or invite him or her to call you in the future.

Find a sponsor. A sponsor will walk through recovery with you on a daily basis. You no longer need to handle life’s ups and downs on your own. Responding to life in a way that enhances and enriches your recovery does not come naturally, thus it is highly recommended that addicts at all stages of recovery seek out and maintain a relationship with a sponsor.

Confess. It is often said, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” Our guilt and shame keeps us isolated from others. We fear that if people really knew us they could not love us nor welcome us into fellowship. So we continue to live behind a mask and deprive ourselves of real fellowship.

This is where the confession and honesty required by the Fifth Step become our most important weapons in the fight against isolation.

“When we reached A.A., and for the first time in our lives, stood among people who seemed to understand, the sense of belonging was tremendously exciting. We thought the isolation problem had been solved.

But we soon discovered that, while we weren’t alone anymore in a social sense, we still suffered many of the old pangs of anxious apartness. Until we had talked with complete candor of our conflicts, and had listened to someone else do the same thing, we still didn’t belong.

Step Five was the answer. It was the beginning of true kinship with man and God” (A.A. Twelve and Twelve, 57).

Living honestly before the world allows us to connect to that world in new and authentic ways.  Coming out of isolation and establishing the sort of community you desire will take time and effort, but it is well worth it. A strong fellowship around you strengthens your recovery and makes life in sobriety more enjoyable. Many of us have never known the joys of healthy relationships and partnerships. But it is never too late to start.

 

Explore your identity. Get to know who you really are and let others know you as well. Many addicts, having spent so many years tethered to the bottle or some other fix, have failed to develop as people, and thus have very little understanding of their own identities. Now that you are sober, it is time to start forming a relationship with yourself. Who are you? What do you like to do? What makes you happy?

And as you get to know yourself, you can allow others to do the same. Begin to open up and experiment with a little vulnerability. When asked a question, give a full response. Allow yourself to be engaged in conversation. Don’t be afraid to let people in for fear of what they may think of you and your past. You have many gifts to offer and recovery allows you to begin exploring, developing, and sharing them.

Attend recovery-based social events. Most addicts are used to structuring their leisure time around alcohol, drugs, or the other activities from which they are now sober. Does this mean there is no more fun to be had in this life? Not at all! In recovery you will find a fellowship of people who, like yourself, have also had to find a new way to enjoy life. Most groups arrange periodic social events. Ask program friends what they do for fun now that they are sober.

Know God and develop a relationship with Him. The truest form of fellowship is that which we have with God Himself. Regardless of the number of friends you have or the busyness of your social life, if you do not know fellowship with God, the old loneliness and sense of isolation will persist. Through prayer, meditation, and the reading of the Bible, you can begin to know the God who has rescued you from the disease that sought to kill you. He is a personal God eager to have a relationship with you.

“When I was driven to my knees by alcohol, I was made ready to ask for the gift of faith. And all was changed. Never again, my pains and problems notwithstanding, would I experience my former desolation. I saw the universe to be lighted by God’s love; I was alone no more” (Bill W., letter, 1966)

The beginning steps of faith bring us into partnership with God. You can never be alone if you allow God’s presence to surround you.

Join a church and become involved. In addition to the fellowship you will find among program friends, joining a church can provide the opportunity for friendships with like-minded individuals and a host of activities and events that can help you to deepen your sense of community and belonging, as well as your faith. Rather than simply attending services and then slipping out the door unnoticed, linger and try to strike up conversation with other attendees. Is there a welcoming committee? Try to connect with them to find out how you may become involved.

Take on a service position. If you want to know people, help people. Does your meeting have any open service positions? Is your church looking for volunteers? Working side by side with others helps you to form relationships and partnerships around shared goals, purposes, and interests. As you work together, ask the occasional personal question. Take an interest in people and their stories, and friendships will soon develop.

When the service is Twelve Step based, the addict is further strengthening his recovery by sharing the solution with others. This is some of the most important service we do and the means by which our most important relationships and our lasting sobriety may be forged.

“‘Faith without works is dead.’ How appallingly true for the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic fails to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he cannot survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he does not work, he will surely drink again, and if he drinks, he will surely die. Then faith will be dead indeed” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 14-15)

When You Love An Addict

(This wonderful poem was shared with me when I was in a treatment program.  I believe the poetry originated from one of the inmates in a Women’s Prison in Missouri.  I along with my fellow “clients” in treatment really enjoyed the words and I hope this is something I can share to give a perspective that might not have been considered before.)

I am not an alcoholic or addict, but try and love one, and then see if you can look me square in the eyes and tell me that you didn’t get addicted to trying to fix them.

If you’re lucky, they recover.  If you’re lucky, you recover too.

Loving an alcoholic can and will make you the most tired insomniac alive.  You will stand in the doorway of their bedroom and pled with them that you “just want them back”.  If you watch the person you love disappear right in front of your eyes long enough, you will start to dissolve too.  Those not directly affected won’t be able to understand why you are so focused on your loved one’s well-being, especially since, during the times of your family member’s active addiction, they won’t seem so concerned with their own.

Don’t become angry with these people.  They do not understand.  They are lucky to not understand.  You’ll catch yourself wishing that you didn’t understand either.

What if you had to wake up every day and wonder “if today was the day your family member was going to die?” will become a popular, not so rhetorical question.  Drug and alcohol addiction has the largest ripple effect that I have ever witnessed firsthand.

It causes parents to outlive their children.  It causes jail time and homelessness.  It causes sisters to mourn their siblings and nieces to never meet their aunts.  It causes an absence before the exit.  You will see your loved one walking and talking, but the truth is, you will lose them far before they actually succumb to their demons; which if they don’t find recovery, is inevitable.

Addiction causes families to come to fear a ringing phone or a knock on the door.  It causes vague obituaries.  I read the papers and I follow the news; and it is scary.  “Died suddenly” has officially become obituary speak for “another young person found dead from a drug overdose or an alcohol related death”.

Drug and alcohol addiction causes bedrooms and social media pages to become memorials.  It causes things to break, like the law, trust, and the “tomorrows”.  It causes statistics to rise and knees to fall.  Now, praying seems like the only thing left to do sometimes.

People have a way of pigeonholing those who suffer from addiction.  They call them “trash”, “junkies”, or “criminals”, which is hardly ever the truth.  Addiction is an illness.  Addicts have families and aspirations.

You will learn that addiction doesn’t discriminate.  It doesn’t care if the addict came from a loving home or a broken family.  Addiction doesn’t care if you are religious.  Addiction doesn’t care if you are a straight A student or a drop out.  Addiction doesn’t care what ethnicity you are.

Addiction will show you that one bad decision and one lapse in judgement can alter the course of an entire life.  Addiction doesn’t care.  Period.  But you care.

You will learn to hate the drug but love the addict, hate the drink but love the alcoholic.  You will begin to accept that you need to separate who the person once was with who they are now.

It is not the person who drinks, but the alcoholic.  It is not the person who steals to support their habit, but the addict.  It is not the person who spews obscenities at their family, but the addict.  It is not the person who lies, but the alcoholic.

And yet, sadly, it is not the addict who dies, but the person.