Who Is The Problem In My Recovery From Alcoholism And The Negative, Selfish Mindset I Once Had? Me!! I Am The Problem.

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception and response to failure.”  –  John Maxwell

 

 

I didn’t choose sobriety and recovery from my alcoholism and alcoholic thinking just to be miserable.  I believe there is great power in the thoughts we have.  I believe I choose each and every day whether I am going to stay in a positive, grateful, productive perspective or a negative, selfish, self-centered one.  While the Serenity Prayer reminds me that there are the things I can change and the things I cannot change, it is still up to me to take action on the things I can change.  I must remind myself that sometimes waiting is an action I need to take and the best possible response to certain difficult times.

It is up to me to change my situation.  On one hand I accept reality and the parts of my life I do not have control over, especially other people.  Even though other people and their actions have a great and direct affect on my own life, I must try to give up the fight and stop struggling because there is little I can do to influence the decisions of others.  Each one of us has the power of choice.  Some might try and hold others accountable for what are in fact their own choices, and today I know not to allow that to bother me.  The choices others make are their responsibility, not mine.

No matter what, I am in control of my thoughts and there is power in that.  On difficult days I try to practice the 10% rule.  Attempting to accomplish 100% has been overwhelming to me in the past and has always led to negative thinking, giving up doing anything at all, and then sinking further and further into the abyss of depression.

Today I try to make sure and make 10% progress on any task, situation, or challenge I have in my life.  I take time during the day to meditate and “pray” for others.  I take time to make a real effort with my writing and with my blog.  Although I want to reach as many people as possible with getsoberbitch.com I know that if I try to take on too much I will become overwhelmed and if my goals for viewers are too high I am setting myself up to feel failure and defeat.

I am not a failure and I can only strive for progress, not perfection.  The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells me on page 85 “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.  We are not cured of alcoholism.  What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”

Keeping that mindset each day helps me to hold on to a positive outlook and to stay living in today instead of overwhelming my mind with thoughts of the future.  If I dwell on my list of “reality” too long; court dates, restraining order, supervised visits, cut off from my finances, new job, etc . . ., my thoughts will become full of negativity and self-pity.  I cannot move forward if I travel down that rabbit hole again.

“In thinking about our day we may face indecision.  We may not be able to determine which course to take.  Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision.  We relax and take it easy.  We don’t struggle.  We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a awhile.  What used to be the hunch or occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind.”  Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous Pg. 86-87

 

For now, for today, my goal is to give power to the thoughts that will lead me to greatness, whatever that greatness may be.  I have found a purpose in my alcoholism and recovery.  I have found a renewed spirit of life and desire to not only become a better person, but to encourage and support others in doing so, addicts or not.

It is this acceptance that I am the only problem standing in my way and the willingness to change that is carrying me through to the other side of these hurdles.  The sun is rising and revealing the other side of the mountain slowly but surely and I myst continue to take the hike one step at a time, one day at a time, and one moment at a time.

“There is no doubt in my mind that there is one way to be a winner, but there is really only one way to be a loser and that is to fail and not look beyond the failure.”  –  Kyle Rote Jr.

I still have a long way to go on this journey of recovery and my sobriety is not just about drinking and alcohol.  My recovery must include all parts of my life and my sobriety must be complete, including sobriety from the old ways of thinking, sobriety from toxic people and toxic relationships, recovery from judgmental people and situations.  I am aware of so much today and eternally grateful I have Alcoholics Anonymous and the support that goes along with it.  I feel sorry for those from my old life who do not see themselves as the cause of their own problems and hope one day they will.  I will always be here to help as long as I continue to give fuel to the positive and not the negative.

 

Will I Be An Alcoholic? What Leads To Alcoholism And Addiction? Can Trauma Lead To Becoming An Alcoholic?

 Does the past lead to addiction?  Will I become an alcoholic or addict?  How uncovering my past trauma helped me understand and recover from my alcoholism

 

These questions are so common and I do not believe there is anything wrong with asking them.  I can only speak for myself and my personal experience, but every story I have heard from countless alcoholics and addicts all have similarities to each other.  The substance is not important.  The length of time using is not important.  The amount used is not important.  Some people like to obsess over their “drunk-a-logs” and focus on the amounts, the situations, the arrests, the crazy happenings, and that is all well and good in the right context and with the right intention.

I know where I was.  I know what I have done.  I also know that I cannot go back and change the past, nor would I wish to.  Without my past choices, I would not be the person I am today and I love this person more and more as time passes.  I am amazing.  I am worthy of a great life.  I have so much to offer others.  I have talents to share.  I have support and care I show to the world on a daily basis.  I am worth it.  I focus instead on the future and how I am living life in a positive and productive way today.  What I have done is simply that, events.  They are not who I am nor do those choices define who I am.   I try to focus on the cause and the solution.  The cause tells me what led me to where I was and helps me to prevent going down that path again.  The solution allows me to continue to live in sobriety and grow in my recovery.

With that being said, will someone become an alcoholic??  Are there any signs or symptoms or checklists to warn us ahead of time??  Speaking for myself and looking back to my 3-year-old self, I had an alcoholic mind before I ever knew what liquor was.  “Self will run riot” is talked about in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous many times and I absolutely had “self-will run riot” from the time I was born.  As far back as I can remember I was a liar.  I do not know why, but I was.  I was a story-teller and part of my lying was creativity and the longing to use my imagination to entertain others, but as time went on my lying became more about how it could benefit me.  It became a game.  I was challenged to see if I could convince others of anything that I decided I wanted them to believe.  I was very good at this and it gave me much pleasure, but it did not make me an alcoholic.  My inability to deal with life on life’s terms, my “self-will run riot”, and my selfish, self-centered mindset qualified me as an alcoholic.  I was restless and discontent.  I could not differentiate true from false.  I lived in my own world of obsession and spiritual malady.

I was an alcoholic long before I ever took the first drink and honestly the substance could have been anything.  Fortunately for me, I was never interested in drugs and never dabbled with them.  Each person is different and similar and when dealing with alcoholism and recovery I always try to look at the similarities in stories and not the differences.

My alcoholism took 10 years to form and it was little by little, but the drinking was a tool I used to try to heal the pain and suffering that had developed from traumatic events I suffered when I was in my childhood.  It was not until January of this year, after requesting permission and furlough from the judge to attend a treatment program, did I discover/uncover this catalyst even existed.  I had made no correlation between the sexual and psychological assault I had endured as a teen and the severe and paralyzing depression and anxiety I was using alcohol to cover.

For myself, the severe trauma of this type of daily abuse is directly related to my psychological and emotional suffering which resulted in alcoholism rearing its head in my life.  How I wish I would have known how to deal with these feelings.  How I wish anyone else, my parents, teachers, counselors would have stepped in and realized the severity of abuse and the seriousness of healing and processing that needed to take place long ago.  That was not the case and as a result I have found myself and am so thankful to know who I am.

I do believe there are events we can experience that absolutely lead to problems within ourselves and the desire or need to self medicate to find relief from those feelings.  This is part of my story for sure.  Alcohol was a small piece of the pie.  The larger problem was why I had turned to alcohol.  I used alcohol to quiet the negative thoughts in my mind that had been planted when I was 11 and then again when I was 13 and 14 years old.  

The self medication worked for a while until I could no longer drink enough to stop the negative thoughts.  Intrusive thoughts are killers.  I was convinced I was worthless and if I was worthless I should spare my family my existence.  The horrible people who haunted me in my younger years and pushed me to the brink of suicide back then had now manifested as these internal thoughts I could not get rid of.

I absolutely believe that abuse can lead to addiction problems, but it doesn’t mean it always will.  I think it is so important to put a stop to abuse as soon as possible and if it does occur, treatment and therapy should be sought to process the pain and gather the constructive tools you need to continue on through the rest of your life.  I had never developed any tools to deal with these issues and although it took some years, the trauma began to surface until it had completely taken over my body and mind.  I have finally had the opportunity to address and confront these events from my past and process them.  I have finally been in a place of willingness and open-mindedness to adapt some tools and learn how to use them effectively when coping with situations in life.  I am so happy to be an alcoholic and to have been put in a position I could finally see the forest for the trees and grab ahold of the chance to get help.  In the end it was still my choice and is always the choice each person has.

I urge anyone who has suffered any type of abuse, traumatic experience, or anything so severe to seek help in learning how to effectively accept the events, process what has happened, and develop the tools needed to move through life despite the circumstances.  I will no longer let those very sick people from my past control my life.  I will no longer let anyone in my present or my future have that kind of power over me.  I have found my worth through recovery and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and I have learned acceptance, forgiveness, patience, healing, and how to help others.

I have chosen the gift of a new life and anyone who wants to be a part of it may join, but there is no room for sick, negative, evil people anymore.  Evil people try to control others using fear and I will no longer allow anyone to have that kind of power over me.  I have found my courage again and I do not fear anymore.  My faith has grown through working the 12 Steps of this program, talking with other alcoholics and addicts, living in gratitude daily, and finding a power greater than myself I can understand.

“When I am willing to do the right thing, I am rewarded with an inner peace no amount of liquor could ever provide.  When I am unwilling to do the right thing, I become restless, irritable, and discontent.  It is always my choice.  Through the Twelve Steps, I have been granted the gift of choice.  I am no longer at the mercy of a disease that tells me the only answer is to drink.  If willingness is the key to unlock the gates of hell, it is action that opens those doors so that we may walk freely among the living.”  Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Pg. 317

 

What Are Character Defects And Where To Find Them??

 

How To Tell What Your Flaws Of Character Are and Why It Is Important To Remove Them To Stay Sober

 

 

“Because alcohol is encouraged by our culture, we get the idea that it isn’t dangerous. However, alcohol is the most potent and most toxic of the legal psychoactive drugs.” – Beverly A. Potter and Sebastian Orfali

 

We are as sick as our secrets. This is 100% true in all aspects of life for each and everyone of us – alcoholic or not. If allowed, ego will take control over our thoughts, our actions, our lives, of everything. When this does occur we become very sick; mentally sick. The ego driven mind overrides all other thought patterns and changes the main goal from helping others to hurting and causing pain and anguish to others.

The uncontrolled ego will always convince us our actions are on point. Ego lies to us and causes our mind to find justification for the hurtful and selfish actions.

Now, being in this secretive state of mind, we are living without spirituality in our lives and have instead allowed our character defects to nest again. I have always related my character defects with my fears. My stubbornness manifested as a result of my feelings and fear of new situations and change. My greed and envy were a result of a fear I had developed of not having enough. My arrogance from my fear of vulnerability, my impatience from my fears of missed opportunity and self-destructive and self-deprecating due to a fear of losing control.

It is good to become aware of your defects of character because without awareness there can be no acceptance and without accepting these truths of who I am and what my flaws are, I have no hope for any type of change or desire to improve myself and in turn my life.

Our defects of character don’t require our attention too awful long though. We must move to rid ourselves of them by Step 6 from the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, asking our Higher Power to remove all the defects of character. Then we may begin to move in freedom. You see, if the defects of character are like the bars of a cage, then we are not meant to stay imprisoned to study the bars, but to free ourselves from the cage by removing them one by one.

 

“We repeat what we don’t repair: – Christine Langley-Obaugh

 

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions tells us on page 63 “This is the step that separates the men from the boys.” And that is correct as long as a true willingness and honesty is there.

Choosing the attitude and approach of “No Reservations Whatsoever”, the obsession to drink along with a readiness to have character flaws stricken and removed has occurred and been testified to by many an alcoholic.

The character flaws can be tricky though. When I first set out to identify my character defects I was not sure where to begin. How did I know what they could be? How could I tell if I had any? I was more than confused. I have since been able to pose a single question to myself that has been very helpful in identifying my defects of character.

Is this thought, feeling, attitude something I would teach my children to think, feel, or believe? If the answer is NO – then I have discovered a character defect.

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions instructs me that I am “born with an abundance of natural desires” and “it isn’t strange that we often let these far exceed their intended purpose.” Pg.65. According to Alcoholics Anonymous, the fine line exists between the degree of perfection “God” wants and allowing those desires to “drive us blindly” to demanding more pleasure than we are due.

 

Once again, as with everything else I have discovered on my recovery journey thus far, Step 6 is a journey not an event. I may hope and strive to have all my defects of character removed but maintain a realistic expectation that this will take require the passing of time, patience on my end, willingness and faith, and above all – honesty.

I have always felt that I am supposed to be something more than what I have been up to this moment. There is a greater purpose for my existence beyond anything I could possibly imagine. The best I can do today is to “try” to have the readiness and willingness to go to any lengths to have the flaws removed.

For today I inquire of myself as to what flaws and defects I do have and to find those I can usually look back on my actions. If I focus on my actions and behaviors I know to be wrong, less than desirable, self-serving, those selfish or hurtful behaviors; I can then see the connection to my fears. My fears reveal my defects of character.

 

“Delay is dangerous, and rebellion may be fatal.” If I am truly ready to walk in the direction of reshaping my life, I must always maintain an open mind and the brutal honesty required to see my true self, good and bad.

 

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.

Does Alcoholics Anonymous Really Work For Long Term? Can I Recover After A Relapse With Alcoholism Or Addiction?

How one man was able to recommit to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous after a relapse and find a new recovery and life of sobriety again.

 

 

One day I was sitting on the patio and man I was really, really feeling bad. I remembered that I was just starting to feel good in my recovery before I let the outside world get the better of me and went back out. I stayed out for a few weeks and just realized I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole again and I came back through the doors of AA. That was the most productive thing I ever did in my life.

It was the first day of a new life for me. It is never too late. This program really teaches you that you are somebody. This program is a we program and that is why everyone shows up at these tables, at these halls, at these churches or shacks, or wherever you can hold a meeting.

Some of us have short periods of time and some of us have long periods of time, but if we keep coming back and helping the new people it helps us with some sober time too. After we find that we are somebody, it is a feeling, a self-confidence that can carry us through from one day to another, to the next day, to the next week. Before you know it has been years and you’re still going.

I remember when I came back in. I had been coming around since before 2006 and it was good for a while, but after some time I realized there was not a connection in my recovery somewhere. I wish I could have figured myself out then and figured out what it was that was missing, but I just couldn’t. I had so much resentment I was still carrying from years before and now I was piling on new resentment everyday.

 

I am grateful today that I understand those defects of character, those faults that kept me out. I forgot how to listen. I spent all my time talking and talking and talking about something I didn’t really have. I have heard many other people say “you can’t give away what you don’t have” and they are so right on the money with that phrase. I had some sober time and it really wasn’t quality. I had quit drinking, but I had not really looked at myself in the mirror honestly and done any changing whatsoever.

All of the reasons I started drinking n the first place, the resentments, the anger, the self-pity, were still there and now they had grown into something monstrous inside me I couldn’t ignore or control anymore. I had been so quick to rush through the first few steps and really just skipped right on down to the last few without doing the work I needed to do in the middle.

I found out, after having a relapse, that the middle part was where I missed the entire point of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. I had not really looked at what part I had played in all of my misery and misfortunes. I had really just blamed everyone else for my sorrows and my failures. Where was I in all of it? What part did I play? What joy and time had I stolen from my wife, my children, my family and friends?

I am so grateful I did make it back through the doors of AA. So many others I have known over the years have not. I do not take my sobriety or this program of recovery lightly in any way. I might laugh and joke from time to time about alcoholism and being a drunk and the silly, stupid, insane things I did and still do, but it is a matter of life and death for me when you get right down to it.

 

This program saved my life and I am beyond blessed to be a member of this worldwide organization where I have a friend no matter how far from Chicago I travel. I would never be this far and my sobriety date, my renewed sobriety date is coming up on June 30th, 2014. I make sure to connect with my sponsor almost every day and I come to a meeting almost every day too. I realize now that when I stopped coming to meetings often and stopped calling and talking with my sponsor, I eventually stopped worrying about not drinking and then as soon as something in my life went haywire – there I was completely drunk again.

 

I had stayed sober for 8 years and then let my own cockiness and an argument with a few other people in an AA hall about outside issues get me riled up so much that I used it as an excuse to stop coming to meetings. I was sober, I had been sober, I forgot that I really needed

the hand of Alcoholics Anonymous and talking things through and hearing from other alcoholics and addicts how to stay sober.

I never lost anything that I had learned in and out of the halls and I always had my Big Book and some other materials like As Bill Sees It to read at home, but I didn’t. I was so angry with other people over something so unrelated and then I was angry at myself and too embarrassed to show my face around those people and admit that I had lost my temper.

I was a fool. I could have gone to any number of halls in the area, but I chose to sit and stew, alone, until I finally did go right back to my selfish, self-centered ways and once I picked up that first drink it was off to the races again for this old drunk.

My advice to anyone who is just starting out in recovery and alcoholism and those that have a lot of sober time is this, don’t get too confident in the years you have under your belt because that date can change in an instant if you don’t stay vigilant and remember how close we all are to falling off of the sober mountain. I slid right back down further than I had been before. It is true. It does not get better; it only gets tougher and harder to climb back up.

 

I was fortunate that I hadn’t run anyone off and when I came back into my home group, I was embarrassed and nervous, but welcomed with open arms and have been ever since.

 

 

How Can I Change My Life ? How Do I Have The Psychic Change ?

Where is the Hope?  –  A Psychic Change is Truly Required in Order to Have a New Outlook and A New Hope for Life to be Different for an Addict or an Alcoholic.

For many years I felt and believed that trick that my head always told me.  “It was going to be different this time”.  “I’m going to be able to drink like a normal person”.  Once I put that crap in my body I always, always, went on some sort of spree coming out on the other side with nothing but disaster and more problems.  Not everyone’s stories are the same, some will be similar and I always look for the similarities when relating to other alcoholics.

Another alcoholic shared a bit of his story with me recently and although his experiences are different from my own, the mental obsession, the thoughts, ideas, the feelings, the turmoil is very much the same.  He too felt the trick his mind tried to play on him.  He came out on the other side usually with felonies when he drank and used drugs.

Over time, after 5 DUI’s, a few years in prison, then another trip was how it went for him.  He couldn’t hold a job, couldn’t support his family, lost everything worthwhile in his life over and over and over again, because he kept thinking he could drink and drug like a normal person.

“It was so incredibly elusive.  It would simply sneak up me every time”.  The program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Big Book tells us the only way we can recover is through experiencing a “psychic change” and the only way to get that is to work in the 12 steps.  When he finally chose to do that, his life changed more than he could describe.  Today he is successful, married, a father, but he had to fix the problem in his psyche, in his mind, in his heart.

The way he thought and felt about himself had plagued him for so many years and was truly his demise.  “I was full of resentment, anger, grief, shame, and guilt.  I had to get it out, so God could come in”.

I can truly relate to those feelings of worthlessness, of shame, of resentment.  My low self-esteem had bottomed out to the point it didn’t exist anymore.  I had no coping skills to speak of and my “toolbox” was full of the wrong tools I needed to

work on this “machine” that was my mind, body, and soul.  The struggle was so exhausting because while I had lost all care for myself and carried no self-worth, my ego and pride had grown to enormous proportions.  I could not ask for help, because that would be admitting I had failed and could not solve my problems – problems I still fully could not admit I had.  I was aware of these ideas and how ludicrous they were, but simply could not figure out how to remove the wet blanket from around me.

I believe all of us have these similarities to our stories and because of the other alcoholics who have shared with me around the rooms and tables of A.A., I no longer feel alone.  Someone once gave me an empty box of darkness and I have come to understand and treasure that gift.  I needed it to be empty so I could fill it with me, my truth, my good qualities, my contributions, the goodness of my heart.  It contains my sobriety and the pieces and tools I need for my lifelong recovery.

The chaos in my life and my unnerving domestic situation just did not allow for any type of growth or recovery or sobriety of any kind.  Changes, big changes, had to occur for my story to turn around and for me to experience all of the blessings I am truly grateful for everyday.  The chaos had been nothing more than a distraction for myself and others so the real, true problems could not be seen.  Finding yourself alone and in jail can have a great humbling effect if you choose it to.  It was only through removing, giving everything in my life away, and experiencing some truly horrific events, that I was able to experience a psychic change and choose life.

Now I am hope.  I feel hope in all those around me.  I choose hope very morning when I wake and carry it with me throughout the day.  If I feel the need to refuel, I know I can go to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, call my sponsor, speak with another alcoholic and find it in their words, their comfort, their compassion and understanding.  I fill my internal jar of hope by staying out of my selfish, self-centeredness ways and doing for others.  Gratitude reminds me to be humble and that I offer so much help just by sharing my story and putting others first instead of myself.

My sobriety has a price tag just like every other person living.  All lessons have a cost.  I am grateful my recovery did not cost my life, but it did require vast sacrifices and still might in the future.  The unknown will always be to “what lengths” I will have to be willing to go to in order to stay recovered from the grips of alcoholism.  I am forever grateful to be the person I am today and to stand on my feet so proud to know I am an alcoholic and committed to my recovery and helping others to recover.  I could have never imagined my life would be so full of joy and happiness.  I embrace everyday and have received nothing but wonder and serenity in return.

How Do I Help Other Alcoholics Without Enabling Them? – Having Compassion In My Recovery From Alcoholism?

 

Are You Carrying the Message or Carrying the Drunk??? – Helping others by allowing them to find their rock bottom.

 

“When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.”  –  Pg. 64 Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous  

 

“It was very difficult for me to come to terms with my spiritual illness because of my great pride, disguised by my material success and my intellectual power.  Intelligence is not incompatible with humility, provided I always place humility first.  To seek prestige and wealth is the ultimate goal for many in the modern world.  To be fashionable and to seem better than I really am is a spiritual sickness.  To recognize and to admit my weakness is the beginning of a good spiritual health.  It is a sign of spiritual health to be able to ask God everyday to enlighten me, to recognize his will for me, and to have the strength to execute it.  My spiritual health is excellent when I realize that the better I get the more I discover how much help I need from others.”  –  Daily Reflections, May 23rd

I used to live always telling others I was fine, no problems here, and keep on going with my life.  All the while I was full of suffering and the spiritual malady it talks about in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Every person has to have something to believe in and if it is not something spiritual, it will be something else.  For a long time mine was alcohol.  Alcohol stopped the rapid negative thoughts, numbed the feelings of depression, and quieted the anxiety I was suffering from.

I have experienced some truly horrific and life changing events at the beginning of this year and those events ignited the flames of psychic change inside my heart and my mind.  The alcohol was a small piece of the pie in my life.  What needed to be fixed, to be worked on, was the horrible way I felt about myself in my head and in my heart.

So today I use the serenity prayer quite frequently.  I can only control myself and I have learned to accept that I have no control over others and their decisions.  I choose to do the next right thing every day, continue to attend AA meetings daily, spend time with my thoughts, and work with my sponsor through the Twelve Steps the Big Book lays out.  These help me keep on the right track of sobriety.

If I want to get out of myself, I need to help others.  But, there is a fine line between helping and enabling.  It tells me in Step Twelve of Alcoholics Anonymous to try to carry the message to other alcoholics.  There is a difference between carrying the message and carrying the drunk.  Let that one soak in for a moment.  What I have come to realize about those who are not alcoholic, is that they do not understand enabling someone, like me, is the quickest way to get me drunk.

When you give someone a dollar or two every time they are asking for it, because you feel sorry for them, that is the worst thing you could really do for an alcoholic.  Those sufferers are the people who desperately need the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and desperately need help with their selfish, self-centered, self-pity and manipulative ways.  You have to allow someone to get to their bottom.  An alcoholic must be allowed to reach the point of such desperation, such agony, a state of hopeless discomfort in order for us to have a psychic change.

As long as someone is comfortable with their situation, they will allow it to continue.  Addicts and alcoholics can withstand and endure an unimaginable amount of pain and hardship to avoid change.  In every story I have heard from both addicts and alcoholics, there was always the word yet.  “I hadn’t been arrested yet”, “My wife hadn’t left me, yet.”, “I had not been fired, yet”.

This was so true of my own life.  As much as I would love to say my rock bottom was 6 months ago, or 6 years ago, it was not.  I had to “give away” absolutely everything I had to be at a point where I could honestly ask myself if I wanted to choose to live or continue to choose to find a way to die.

I do consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate that my rock bottom did happen when it did and it was not 6 weeks, 6 months, 6 years from now.  I would have never made it that long.  I was on a mission that did not include living life in any way.  I am so grateful for the time I spent in custody and the furlough I was granted to attend a treatment program.  I am also grateful for the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and the other alcoholics that I share the table with.  I am most thankful and grateful for my husband.  I hope to repair the relationship with him and continue to live in a successful partnership and marriage, but no matter what his choices about that are, I will make certain he knows how grateful I am for his decision to let me reach my bottom.

I cannot change or fix anyone but me.  I admit I am powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable every morning.  If I hadn’t been allowed to get to my bottom, I would have stayed sick and on the short road to death.  I truly believe this to be true of all alcoholics and those suffering any kinds of addiction.  It was so true for me.

My life was too comfortable and even though I was entirely miserable and didn’t know how to change that, I was allowed to continue doing what I wanted to do.  You cannot water a dead plant and expect it to flourish.

With this being said, I do believe in compassion.  Compassion is a noun, and defined as a deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.  The wish to relieve it.  I wish to see others free from their suffering, but I am not required to take any action further than that.  I have struggled with boundaries in my life before alcohol and in my addiction.

Now, living in my recovery, I have made a few changes to better my life as a whole.  I have to set and keep boundaries.  Boundaries with family, friends, strangers, and especially in Alcoholics Anonymous and with other people recovering from addiction.

My sobriety is at the top of the list in my life today.  As long as I keep my sobriety and recovery first, I will always be in a position to make good choices and do great things for myself and others.  I am very compassionate to the plight of others, but I will not cross or tear down those boundaries.  When dealing with alcoholism and addiction specifically, I must be careful not to enable the addict or alcoholic in any way.  I am not helping them if I do.  I am not allowing them to reach their bottom, however deep it may be.  If I truly care about them and wish for them to have full recovery and quality sobriety, I have to always remember this and sometimes be willing to walk away and separate myself from the situation and the person.

 

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.

 

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.