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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you start your Monday?

You have a choice everyday.

 

Getting Monday started off right with an 830 am meeting is a great way to start the day. Now for some work, refueling with an afternoon meeting, and more work. Love having a choice and choosing to be productive and positive! How did you start your day?

 

 

Meetings are very important for my recovery and I am writing this post as I await my transportation to a meeting at noon.  I am excited to hear what others have to share and hope I can contribute my thoughts and help another if they are struggling today.

 

AA exists for a reason and the primary objective is to help ourselves and other alcoholics stay sober.  I believe somewhere in the world there is a person I have never met who will here my story of hope and choose not to give up on themselves and sobriety because I chose not to.  I will never need to know if I helped another with my actions or words and that is not why I share.  

 

I attend meetings to learn from those who have stood where I stand now, those who have experience and suggestions as to what worked for them and what did not work for them.  I share to help myself maintain honesty within my program and I share because listening to others always help me learn more about myself and my addiction.

 

AA is a program of hope for me and hope is a choice we make everyday.  If hope is the one thing greater than Fear and Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real, then I choose for hope.  Hope to me is a simple as this:  Having Optimistic Perspectives Everyday.  Hope is not something another person can give to me, it is not a treasure to find under a rock, nor is it a mythical and magical thing.  I choose to have hope today and take steps with optimism or I choose not to.  How do you define hope for yourself?  Do you live in your recovery with optimism or do you struggle with choosing hope?

How Do We Inspire Gratitude?

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”  –  Melody Beattie

 

I would like to share with you a wonderful article about gratitude.  I know for myself, in my addiction, I was not grateful for anything I had.  I was focused only on myself and could really not see past the end of my own nose and did not want to.  I now try to live my life in gratitude and at times this is difficult.  Reading this article allowed me to refocus on how I want to live my life now and to give thanks for sobriety and the opportunities it has afforded me.

If any of you feels like you have lost your focus of gratitude or is struggling with how to have a thankful mindset, please read this article.  Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” and there is really no way to explain the word than the definition.  Do I have the quality of being thankful today?  Do I have a readiness to really show others my appreciation for the things they do and say?  Finally, do I have the readiness the desire to return the kindness I receive?  

I believe gratitude is a necessary tool to carry in the Sobriety Toolbox.  How can we have success in recovery without gratitude?  I do not believe we can.  When people are grateful for what they have, they will experience a great deal of happiness in their life. When the individual is constantly lamenting their lot and living in self-pity, it will be impossible for them to find peace of mind.

Gratitude is not about what people have or do not have. There are billionaires who still do not feel satisfied and poor people who feel they have everything they need. The tendency to feel grateful is a mental attitude that can be developed. It is particularly important that people recovering from an addiction try to cultivate this positive outlook, because it can help to ensure their success in the future.

Some believe, if people are grateful to be sober, it is unlikely that they will relapse back to their addiction. This is because they will have the motivation to do what they need to in order to protect their sobriety.  A grateful attitude will mean that people can face the challenges that confront them in recovery calmly. They will tend to see problems as a chance to grow rather than some type of attitude. This positive way of dealing with things will lead them towards the ultimate goal of recovery, that is, complete serenity.

Self absorption can be a huge problem for people in recovery. When people are addicted to alcohol or drugs, they will spend most of the time only thinking about their own needs. When these individuals become sober, they may continue to be preoccupied with themselves. Self-absorption and self-pity make life difficult.  When people feel grateful, they have less reason to be so selfish. They feel satisfied that their own needs are being met so they can now focus at least some of their attention on the needs of other people.

So, if you do not know what happened with your gratitude tool, please search it out and ask others to help you find it.  If you need help knowing where to begin, check out the article by Kat Charles.  When discovered, use it.  Tools do us no good if they are not put to use.  As always I would love to hear from you and welcome your thoughts on gratitude, how to find it if it is lost, and what ways you practice to show gratitude.

 

 

 

3 Ways to Foster Gratitude in Your Home

 

Friday Film Festival – Movies featuring addiction and recovery

 

Addiction is a compelling topic for literature, art and film.  It feels like alcoholism adds layers of the story and gives a dark edge to it. Sometimes, we disgust such characters while in other instances, we pity them. Either way, they bag a lot of attention.

It’s a subject that speaks to the human condition and translates through every culture and society. Many movies have tackled the subject of addiction and obsession. Some of these movies can be hard to watch. For obvious reasons, this subject doesn’t always have the most upbeat and positive story lines. However, many of these films will leave a lasting impact on you as a human being.

Let us not forget that without Bill and Bob, none of these great movies would have happened and I would not have this topic to write about!

Let us also remember to take a moment of silence for the still suffering addict/alcoholics. Their struggle is real and the road is long. Hope to see them soon.

Please add your thoughts about these movies and any other films about addiction, sobriety, and recovery you enjoy.  Thank you.

 

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

Jack Lemmon plays Joe Clay – a PR guide who falls in love with Kirsten (a secretary played by Lee Remick). Joe introduces Kirsten to the joys of social drinking, they get married and have a daughter named Debbie. Unfortunately Joe cannot keep his drinking to social drinking. His habit escalates until he is a full blown alcoholic and gets demoted at work for shoddy performance. Kirsten similarly finds refuge in booze and nearly burns the house down. The pair are desperate to be sober and they manage sobriety for a while until the lure of alcohol makes them drink. Joe goes to rehab and joins AA. The road is not easy – he has many lapses. But he is determined to work and look after his child whilst Kirsten is totally lost to the bottle. The ending of the film shows her entering a bar. Kudos to the film for being realistic in its portrayal of alcoholism. It shows the many attempts a lot of drinkers have to go through before they achieve sobriety – it is not an easy road as Joe’s travails demonstrate. And further kudos to the film for its depiction of Kirsten’s relentless addiction – there isn’t always a happy ending with alcohol. The film does much to demystify the attraction of alcohol – showing how stupid drunk people really are when they think they are being clever and witty. The chemistry between Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick is incredible and makes the film all the more depressing as a warped love story. Probably one of the best films by director Blake Edwards.

 

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Ben is a Hollywood screen writer who has lost everything due to his affliction with alcohol. He heads to Las Vegas to drink himself to death and while he is there, he forms a relationship with Sera, a street prostitute. They come to an uneasy pact – Ben is not allowed to mention Sera’s line of work, and Sera is not allowed to get in the way of Ben’s drinking. Director Mike Figgis is careful never to make a moral judgement about his characters. They are who they are and that is their choice. The film never sinks to sentimentality. It is a graphic and honest display of alcoholism and those who have lost all hope. Nicolas Cage really deserved the Oscar for his role of Ben – he manages to convey self destruction and doom in some agonising acting. The chemistry between him and Elizabeth Shue is amazing, and she gives a fantastic performance as a woman trapped in a terrible situation, yet totally accepting of its ramifications. Bleak, realistic and depressing, but a fascinating film.

 

The Lost Weekend (1945)

Directed by Billy Wilder, this film was the first Hollywood movie to feature alcoholism as a major component of a film. Don Birman is packing to go away for the weekend with his brother Wick. He reels in a bottle hanging outside the window. Yes folks, he is a drunk. His girlfriend Helen arrives. Don loves Helen but the relationship has serious problems due to his drinking. Don is thrust into a hellish weekend trying to get money to sustain his habit. This leads to thorough degradation. After he falls down the stairs, he is taken to hospital where he sees at first hand the horrors of alcoholism. Eventually, Don decides to stop his drinking. Ray Milland gives a tremendous performance as Don. He transforms himself into a raging addict and he is not scared to show the desperation and seediness of the alcoholic’s existence. Drinking habits lead to darkness, despair and destruction. In 1945, this would have been a very shocking film, alcoholism was something that went on behind closed doors, it wasn’t discussed in the open. Billy Wilder portrayed accurately the inability of the alcoholic to pull himself together and also the problem of enabling the alcoholic through protecting him from the worst excesses of his problem (for example, paying his rent and his bills). A darker film than most of Wilder’s output, The Lost Weekend is an honest and daring movie.

 

Everything Must Go (2010)

Nick Halsey (Will Ferrell) is an example of how NOT to work a recovery program. Anyone who has been a stubborn drunk who’s unwilling to comply with family, work and society will identify with this film. I am not sure anyone other than Will Ferrell could pull this off.

Movies like this offer hope to the many who are labeled “Hopeless”. Especially, considering the many souls who walk into AA with said label, eventually finding themselves branded “Miracles”.

 

Withnail and I (1987)

The tale of two struggling actors who live in a grotty flat while they wait for their careers to take off. Withnail is a flamboyant alcoholic who is disgusted at life and its injustices. He rails and rants the entire film. Marwood (the narrator) is Withnail’s fellow actor buddy who lives with him and tries to mitigate his worst excesses. They go to stay in a cottage owned by Withnail’s eccentric homosexual uncle Monty where Marwood narrowly escapes Monty’s attentions. Withnail just keeps on drinking his uncle’s fine wine. Called back to London for Marwood’s audition, on the way back home Withnail is discovered driving while intoxicated. Marwood gets the job and Withnail gets the bottle. Withnail and I is considered to be one of the greatest British cult movies ever made. With lots of quotable dialogue and an hysterically funny turn from Richard E Grant as Withnail, the film is a terrific comic experience to watch. It is, however, due to Withnail’s alcoholism, quite a sad story too with lots of pathos – such as Marwood disappearing off into a better life and Withnail left with his wine bottle. He quotes Hamlet at the end of the movie, which makes Withnail a figure of tragedy and he knows it. Alternately funny and melancholy.

 

Candy (2006)

Drug users often times become just as addicted to each other as they do for their drugs.  There is an intoxication in love that is fueled by drug use. Candy tells this story in a deeply realistic way.  A poet falls in love with an art student who gravitates to his bohemian lifestyle, and his love of heroin. Hooked on one another as much as they are the drug, their relationship alternates between states of oblivion, ecstasy, self-destruction and despair.  Throughout all the pain and heart ache that you feel in this film, it leaves you with a sense of empowerment and gives testimony to the inner strength that addiction and pain can build. Great movie.

 

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)

What does an alcoholic look like??? – Christa L.

A huge thank you to Christa for being the first contributing writer to GetSoberBitch!  I am so thrilled you reached out to me and wanted to share your story of alcoholism.  I truly appreciate the honesty and openness you had in our conversations yesterday and look forward to having more updates as to your progress and your encouraging thoughts about sobriety and recovery.

I don’t know how to begin sharing my story…but let me start by introducing myself.  I am a “newly-turned” 31-year-old mother of a rambunctious 4 year old daughter and one adorable baby boy who is 11 months old.

Alcohol, in one form or another, has been a part of my life for the past 14 years.  At first, I didn’t realize I had a problem – and once I did, I felt like it was too late.  I have been arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct a few times and was able to pick up a few DWI charges as well.

When I was ordered to go through my first treatment program I was resistant.  “I did not have a problem with drinking”, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But as the classes went by and I spent night after night wide awake in that empty room I realized a few things about myself.  I thought I might suffer from depression, but I had never gotten medical help for it.  I used alcohol as a coping mechanism and through the therapy sessions forced upon me during my stay, I desperately wanted to get rid of my problem.

The only time I have stayed sober for an extended time was over the 9 months I was pregnant with my daughter and even then it was very hard.  I thought about alcohol throughout the whole pregnancy and I couldn’t wait to start drinking again.  As excited as I was about having my baby, it was the thoughts about finally being able to drink again that really kept me going.  I celebrated in the maternity ward the evening after my daughter was born with a bottle of champagne, meant for us to take home, and a 6 pack of Bud Light.

It is true, I had my first drink in the hospital; my ex husband brought the beer for us to celebrate and the champagne had been a take home gift.  I waited until my ex fell asleep and couldn’t hold out any longer.  Opening the bottle was a struggle, but using the various medical tools available in the room, I was able to crack it open and quench my thirst.  I was breastfeeding at the time, so I wasn’t supposed to have much.  That night I didn’t even think about my new baby, only myself.  Truth be told, I only breastfed my daughter for 3 months because I wanted to drink more often. I felt ashamed everyday, but somehow I just couldn’t put the bottle down.

Alcohol addiction has kept me separated from my family.  My isolation began while on maternity leave the first time and just continued even when I returned to work.  I came home and began drinking before I even started dinner.  When I became pregnant withe my son I hid the pregnancy for months so I could keep drinking and then pretend I had no idea I saw the positive pregnancy tests months before and had already heard the heartbeat of my second baby.

I drank off and on throughout the rest of my pregnancy and this led to many fights with my now ex husband.  I just didn’t care enough to try and save my marriage or care for my daughter.  This eventually led to our divorce.  I felt like I had lost my

worth as a human being – and as a wife mother – due to alcohol.  Everyday was painful, knowing that my little ones would never grow up living with a mom and dad who were together but this still wasn’t enough hurt to stop my alcoholism.

I sometimes thought about ending my life, but the leaving my children motherless was too much.  Everyone outside of my marriage believed I was an amazing mother just doing the best I could after my ex left.  The “shit hit the fan” when I was arrested for a second DWI and I had to call my parents this time, not my husband, to pick me up from jail.  I remember the shame I felt when I saw them and the fact that children’s service was now involved was the tipping point for me.

I had a lot of people fooled.  My daughter was the happiest child you have ever come across and my son was a beautiful newborn.  I wanted to be able to lead a normal life, keep my children, and find relief from my isolating, crippling depression.  With the help of my parents, I went into a treatment program again and this time my attitude was different.  I had to do it to keep my children and my sanity.  I was really ready to deal with my depression and find help for my alcoholism.

To be honest, I wish I would have waited to have my children until after I overcame my problem.  The hard part was that I did not recognize I had a problem at all.  I wish my ex husband would have held a mirror up to my face when I could not and drug me to counseling, but he didn’t.  My family deserved my undivided attention and I just could not distract myself from the bottle long enough to see that I was the one who abandoned them first.

I’m a recovering alcoholic single mother of two children now. My hope for the future is to make it to 1 year of sobriety and keep going from there.  The other day, my social worker said I could have a career in being a social worker because I understand children’s needs. If she only knew everything that really happened.  Her thoughts do give me encouragement and hope for the future though.  If other women in my situation can learn from my mistakes and struggles, that is who I want to help.  I am 8 months sober today and taking classes part time in social work.  I never thought I would live with my parents again, but they are a strong support system for me and their patience is amazing.

I’m sharing my story to figure out how I can offer help to others.

I want to be free. I will not give up on myself.

Workout Wednesday!!

 

Working out my mind and body today.  Here are some encouraging messages to get your mind right and start off your Wednesday with recovery and the sober future in mind and as your priority.

 

I hope you enjoy these messages as much as I do and please comment with your favorite ways to workout your mind with recovery geared messages.  Good luck with your Wednesday and please visit my other posts and check back later today for some great ways to workout physically with sobriety in mind.

 

 

 

What is a grief letter and why should I write one?

“Yet why not say what happened?”  –  Robert Lowell

Grief has many forms we do may have not considered yet.  We can grieve a death, a relationship, a lost job, lost time, even objects like a car or a home.  Grief has no limits and is personal to each one of us.  Grief is defined as “deep sorrow especially that caused by someone’s death.  It is a noun which means grief itself is at the root a person, place, or thing.  When I think about grief as a noun I am reminded of the many forms and applications this word has.

AA17.4.24.2018

In my addiction, I went through much grief.  I did not realize it at the time, but I was grieving the loss of control, loss of myself, loss of friends and family I was pushing away and hurting.  I was grieving the life I had lived, the life I wanted so badly to live, and the joy I once had.  My grief was not limited to those people and objects around me, it was bigger than those things.

In a brilliant article “Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later,” John James and Russell Friedman compare the heart to an auto engine. It’s an imperfect world, despite the fantasies of perfectionists, so loss and hurt often start at an early age.  “You might recognize the title from an advertising slogan for an automotive product several years ago,” they write. The idea was that if you spend a little money on maintenance now, you might save a tremendous amount replacing an entire engine later.”

“In the auto commercial it was failure to change the oil filter which led to a build up of crud, which clogged and eventually destroyed the motor. Thus, buy an inexpensive filter now or buy a whole new engine later.”

As we go through life, they say, stuffing when we’re hurt instead of grieving, this “crud” builds up around our hearts and thickens year on year. “Grief is negative, and cumulatively negative,” they say, in a key insight.

Then a serious tragedy hits, like a death or divorce, and we don’t realize it, but it triggers all those past hurts we never grieved. Our hearts are breaking inside – but our heart is so hard outside, due to the thick crud, that we can’t see out, so we go into a tailspin.

Now we’re in big trouble and with decades of crud around our hearts.  I have heard, seen, and felt the pain of others while they were sharing their own grief letters and 100% of the time, afterwards, they all felt a sense of relief and healing.

AA2.4.24.2018While writing my first grief letter during treatment I joked that I would be writing a “grief book”.  This is so true for me and I am sure it is true for many of us in recovery.  As we move forward and continuously revisit some of the 12 steps, we can also find it helpful to continuously put pen to paper and add to our “grief book”.  Some write a letter to their addiction, to alcohol, or to their parents and other loved ones.  While some write an autobiographical story about their past traumas or hardships and what led them into the entangling web of alcoholism and addiction.

Each one of us have a different experience with life and the triumphs and challenges.  I believe grief letters are extremely important to flush out these emotions and finally find freedom from the weight we carry.  We must admit, with brutal honesty, those decisions and choices we have made and the painful outcomes resulting from them in order to grieve, accept, and release.

I have included my first grief letter, on a separate page, written in treatment earlier this year.  I hope you find some inspiration for your own.  Please share any thoughts with me in the comments section.  I look forward to hearing from all of you.