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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

What Does An Alcoholic Look Like???  –  

Sarah Lynn H.

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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


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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

What 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.