On Being A Woman

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I recently watched a movie whereby it was assumed that because a woman has a baby that she automatically becomes a mother, and knows what to do with said baby.  This is not always true.  There have been instances whereby women have had a hard time adjusting to the demands of motherhood, and there have also been times when the assumed bond between baby and mother does not happen. I remember a time when the discussion of family and children were part of the job interviewing process.  It no longer is, but the topic of pregnancy was brought up. . . and men were paid more, for the same job, because “they were supporting a family.”  Even when it comes to loans, quite often the income of the wife is not considered as it is deemed to be secondary to that of the husbands income.  There have been changes in the “roles” we play in life, but the old standards are still there.  That used to bug me when I was drinking, as I drank in bars . . . and it was assumed that I was looking for a guy just by the mere fact of my presence there.  It was not assumed that men were looking for a woman, but the opposite was true for me, as a woman in a bar alone.
I used to think that it was what I was born for; to grow up, get married and have children.  I don’t live my life based on the assumptions of others.  My definition of myself is based more in the spiritual than it is the expectations of others – be they male or female.  I do not live my life according to what others think of as “acceptable.”  Acceptable, to me, means that I am living by the Spiritual Principles and that I practice the Twelve Steps of A.A.  God guides me, God helps me and God gives me the right and privilege of being exactly who I am.
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Personal Inventory

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Daily inventory, or what is otherwise known as Step 10, tells me to deal with today’s issues, today – not tomorrow, not sometime in the future, not next week, or next month – but now, today.  If I do not take action today for wrongs committed, or deeds done in haste and discomfort – I will not have the peace and serenity that are mine to claim, through this action.  Perseverance is the Spiritual Principle here – and that means that I keep trying to change, again and again and again.  Some days I awaken with a task which needs to be completed, or with the thought of a person that I need to make amends to.
I am grateful for Step Ten, it helps to keep my honesty in check, and it reminds me that I am only one drink away from disaster, regardless of how much time in sobriety I have.  Cleaning up issues and problems on a daily basis, allows me to deal with those self-same issues and to keep my “side of the street clean.”  If I do this action, I will ultimately come to the realization that recovery is a gift from my Higher Power, God  – and that gifts are to be treasured.  I pray for the strength to do the right thing, to search out the answer that will lead me to the right path, the path to recovery and to my Higher Power, God.  I am but a human being with all my frailties and faults.  I am grateful for the “power” the Program has blessed me with, the power to right my wrongs, for this day, this now.  I pray that I will continue to grow and learn the lessons of sobriety and recovery.
Photo Courtesy of Soto

Photo Courtesy of Soto

Kind Acts

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I have become kinder in my recovery than I ever was when my disease was going full-bore.  Back “then” I was defensive, angry, rude, envious, prideful, impatient and so full of dishonesty that I could not distinguish between the truth and the many lies I told others . . . and myself.  Sobriety has afforded me the opportunity to practice kindness through the Spiritual Principles.  To begin with, any kind act I perform or kindnesses to others needs to be done in an honest fashion – I therefore need to check my motives.  Am I being kind because I want something in return?  Or is my intentions simply one of wanting to be of service to others, or to be helpful in a kindly way?
Kindness is pretty much like an amends, I put it out there, what others do with it is not my business.  I do not expect kindness from others simply because I have acted in a kind manner towards them.  I only have control over my part, my behavior – not the response or reaction from others.  Some may even respond with a degree of doubt as to my motives for being kind.  I just know that when I am kind, I feel better about me.  I am grateful that my recovery has enabled me to work towards positive behaviors, and that I no longer have to wake up every morning with regret and remorse as the first “feelings” I have.  Today, I wake up with positive expectations for a good day, because God is in charge, and I am not.

Photo courtesy of AINV

Mending Fences

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I have made amends in various forms, from direct person to person apologies, to writing letters, phone calls, and then there are those “living amends” which means changing my behaviors, and let me not forget the “general amends.”  My amends for past behaviors have been pretty generic as specific acts have been forgotten, in many instances.  These amends have been accepted, rejected, scoffed at, and ignored.  The responses I have gotten are not within my control, nor are they the purpose or intention of the amends.  Taking responsibility for my own behavior with others affords me the opportunity to “clear the air” in many relationships, and it also enables me to “check” my own actions with others.
Making amends requires that I judge the time when it feels right to act.  There were some amends that I will never be able to accomplish and I therefore make general amends by remaining sober and helping others in and out of the Program.  Each amends has its own uniqueness, its own reality.  What works for one amends may not work for the next one.  So I take them one at a time, and I strive to keep working on those amends that I have yet to make.  Like many things in the Program, making amends is a learning process, one that teaches me about the impact my behavior can have on others – both good and bad.  Just saying “I’m sorry” is not enough – today I work towards truly being sorry and changing my behaviors so that I do not repeat past harmful behaviors.  I am sober, I am responsible, and I am sincerely sorry for all my past misdeeds and misbehavior towards others.  I am thankful for the process of making amends in the Program, it is a means of facing others, claiming responsibility for my behaviors, and becoming willing, open and honest in this process.
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Time in Bondage

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I used to watch “Cheers” and wish that I could drink like that.  After the first few drinks I would loosen up and then I got very social with just about everyone and anyone in whatever bar I was in for the night.  But I could never last the whole night, I drank so fast and hard that I burned out early – and then God took over because I certainly was not in a state of taking care of myself – and somehow I would awaken the next morning. . . somewhere, not always intact but for the most part alive and unhurt.  After I woke, then remorse and regret took over, once again.  It was a pattern that has been present for most of my life.  I didn’t stop, once I started – over and over, again and again.
Did I bond with anyone, well that answer is pretty much NO.  So loneliness had become my companion, and it stayed that way for most of my drinking “career.” (Funny term isn’t it?)  My intentions would be good, but all it took to waylay those intentions was King Alcohol. I was in a constant state of desperation, and drinking only made that larger. Who knew that relieving me from the bondage of  “self” would result in me being in a better place to turn my will and my life over to the care of my Higher power, God.  That is my bond today – I am bonded to my Higher Power, I am bonded with the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous, and many of its members, both new and old.  My bond is strong, my bond is true, and my bond is honestly felt, truly experienced and it grows deeper with each passing day.  I am eternally grateful.
Photo Courtesy of Soto

Photo Courtesy of Soto

Finding Faith

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I don’t recall a definitive time when I felt that I knew and accepted the idea of a Higher Power.  In looking back it seems as though my spirituality, my belief in a power greater than myself, happened over time.  There was no “white light,” or “burning bush” that I recall.  Today, I believe that I have been headed towards where I am, all my life.  I was open to new ideas, I was willing to do the footwork, and I was ready – bottom line. . . I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
A mere smidgen of faith was needed and for some reason unknown to me, that faith was still within me.  When I stopped drinking, that faith began to grow and come forth from deep within.  My trials and tests served a purpose, my life has been a series of lessons and teachings that required a trust in “someone or something” greater than myself.  It became obvious to me that there was a power greater than the disease of alcoholism, and that others were benefiting from this belief.  If there was a power greater than this disease, surely there was a power greater than me, a mere mortal. I could see God’s handiwork in the stories of others around the table, and there was nothing that told me that I could not have what they had, if I did what they were doing.
It was not about religion, as I had first thought.  It was about living by the Spiritual Principles, it was about turning my will and my life over to the care of the God of my understanding.  It was about honesty, hope, faith, courage, trust, integrity, willingness and humility unlike anything I ever experienced before.  These were not new concepts for me, but in my search for knowledge, I have come to know a much deeper level of understanding when it comes to these behaviors in my life today.  Now they are so much more than mere words.  They encompass my behaviors, my beliefs, and my daily actions.  They now serve as my guides to living, one day at a time, one moment at a time.  I may never know the why of “things” that’s God’s business, my business is just to put one foot in front of the other and leave the rest to God.  I trust in God, and I trust in the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous. And Believe me….this week was a DOOSEY. I am human and I proved it-but I still put my trust in my Higher Power, who knows exactly why I am where I am today. ♥
Photo Courtesy of M.K.

Photo Courtesy of M.K.

It’s ALL about me…or is it?

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I am grateful for service work.  Service to the Fellowship, and to other alcoholics, has been and continues to be, a saving grace for me.  I am in a position whereby service work no longer means a struggle for balance in my life – now, for me, it is a means of getting through the days with my sobriety intact.  Service work gives me feelings of being useful, and provides me with purpose and direction.  As most of you know, I am on disability and can’t go back to work due to an injury at this time until they figure out what to do with me, so I have a LOT of free time.
Getting out of myself requires action – as my mind will just keep going around and around with my own thoughts until I do something.  It is said in the Program that an “alcoholic alone is in poor company.”  The Program teaches me that getting out of “self” is sometimes the very best action I can take.  I like the fact that there always seems to be something to do relative to the Program.  Giving back by helping others is one way of honoring one of our Three Legacies, that being Service.
So if I feel lonely it’s usually because I am bored from sitting around doing nothing.  It’s when I am busy that I feel good.  Helping others makes me feel good.  Helping others means simply sharing my experience, strength and hope.  I don’t have to be a “trusted servant” to be of use to others, sometimes just a one-on-one talk with a newcomer does the job.  That’s the action our Program was built on – one alcoholic helping another.  It’s so simple – but not always easy.
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