The Gift of Stability

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My stability in the Program today is truly a special gift for me.  I found that I was capable of giving without expectation of return, as suggested in Step Twelve.  This “giving from the heart” started out small for me, but over time it has blossomed into something that I can truly say is not only a blessing, but has turned out to be one the best “teachers” I have had.  Giving of myself to the Program itself, in the form of service has really given me the gift of “being a part of.”  This has been important for me both because of my past, and the fact that I have moved twice in recovery.

My reasons for these moves were more than just feeling restless.  It also took some time to make sure I had considered all the many facets of such a move.  I prayed about it and placed the decision squarely in God’s hands, and then I waited until it “felt” right, until the time was right, until I believed that the move would be in my best interest.  The motive for the first move was to be close to my family, and I am glad that I made that move.  The second move was a matter of being financially practical, and taking care of myself and our family interest.  Both moves were not just selfish and self-centered, they were indicated by life and were guided by my Higher Power, God.

I am stable today.  I am grateful that I can demonstrate that trait to my grandsons, from an emotional stance, not just being physically stable.  I also believe that my personal program of recovery has grown and developed as the result of these moves.  I have had to get out there and reconnect with new people, and it has given me a boost in my recovery, along with a true sense of “service” as that is what has enabled me to reach out and establish myself as not only a member, but a new member to a new home group.  There were lessons to be learned about moving in recovery, and now I can pass on what my experience has been, which may be of some use to others, or not.  Either way, I know that I have grown, I have changed, and I am capable of giving without regard for getting something in return.  This A.A. Program, has truly been a miracle in my life – it just keeps on giving.  I just have to keep an open mind, continue to be willing to go to any length, and work towards honesty in all that I say, all that I do, and all the ways that I behave.

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I Am Grateful

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Reflection courtesy of Jaybird…and picture too….

…I did not have a drink last night or this morning

…There is a roof over my head
…It is raining ..I like the rain .
…I have a job to go to shortly
…That I have the ability to love
…and many love me
…I know I am not alone
… That I smile
…That I can help others smile too
…There is peace in my heart
…When anger does come , it is short lived
…This Christmas I can give gifts
…for on line shopping
…for friends , family and loved ones
…for AA for I know I am never alone
and always have a place to go where
they know all about me and my issues
and they will always be there for me
and I for them
LOve you , Jaybird
me

Adjectives?

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In the beginning my drinking was for pleasure , it was an adjective to an event . I did know early on that I was alcoholic . The way I drank and the way I felt about my drinking , I knew I was alcoholic . I thought that it was not such a bad thing . In the beginning it was not bad , drinking was fun . It did not get in the way of my life or affect it in really bad ways . It was an adjective to life’s event . I did not see it happen, but I did realize at some point the drugs and alcohol were not an adjective but became the main event . There were no longer places to go or things to do but just a way to drink or drug . Somehow it switched from being a second thought to all our plans to being the only thought of plans . every thing in my life revolves around alcohol . No matter a snow storm or a wedding or xmas .. the first thought was what about the alcohol??. How will I find it ,drink it and have enough . ???

Now that I am sober I can enjoy life again with a whole bunch of new adjectives.  My life is filled with many different things instead of  just the one.
Photo courtesy of Jaybird

Reflection AND Photo courtesy of Jaybird

Emotional Sobriety

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Change, forgiveness, willingness, and action – these are all part of my Eighth Step, and they result in feelings of harmony, emotional freedom, and peace within me.  It brings me closer to my Higher Power, God, and closer to an understanding of what my part in my troubles really was or is.  Working this Step was the beginning of the amends process that I now know will continue to reassert itself in my life, for the rest of my life.  Old memories surface, along with a clearer version of my actions, behaviors, and other shortcomings.

I am fortunate to say that I have many friends in the Program.  For this I am always grateful.  I continue to work towards better relationships with others, and have learned to honor both myself and others in those friendships.  Working the Steps with my sponsees has been a real blessing, and has allowed me to get to know others in my current home group, and continues to allow me to grow and change in the Program.  I rarely isolate, and if I do it is only for a brief period.  Emotional sobriety,…… I think I have attained a modicum of that desired trait.  I keep working on me, and leave others to do the same.  Being of service to others has become one of my “staples” in the Program, and has served me well.  Service enables me the opportunity to meet new friends and become closer to those who have been kind enough to reach out their hand to me in friendship and fellowship.  Being “a part of” helps me to fight off any feelings of isolation that may creep in from time to time.  Living in harmony with others and myself continues to be one of the goals in my life.

http://youtu.be/6Q3Lna5ePnw

Photo courtesy of Jaybird

Opposites Attract

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Healing thoughts mean positive thoughts.  Back some time ago there was a book, which I believe is still in publication today; whose title was “The Power of Positive Thinking.”  It was very popular at the time it was first published, and has remained a “staple” for many who are seeking change in their lives.  I believe in that “power.”  I believe that the process we call recovery incorporates many of the same philosophies.  “Act as if” many have heard that phrase around the tables. What it means, and this is my interpretation, is that we practice a behavior, which we may not believe in, until such time as we believe it to be true.  Like faith in God – pray, accept, remain open and willing – talk to God, accept the possibility of a Higher Power – until such time as you believe it to be true for you.  I try to remember my “please” and “thank you” when I’m working on the Spiritual Principle of humility, reminding myself that God has gifted me with unearned grace in the form of any “talents” I may have.  I view these small courtesies to be a reminder of remaining my “right size.”  I am but a child of God, no better and no worse than others who are searching for answers on this Road to a Happy Destiny.

For every negative thought, there is an opposite positive one.  For every bad feeling, there is a good feeling.  Having a positive attitude helps to dispel the negative thoughts that can come unbidden from time to time.  I don’t have to wallow in these negative thoughts, I can remember the opposite positive thought and “act as if” that feeling were real to me, until such time as it is.  When pride presents itself, I can work towards humility.  When envy shows up, generosity is there.  Where there is resentment, I work towards forgiveness.  Where there is hate – I work towards love.  And so it goes – replacing the negative with the positive takes action on my part.  But from such work I am blessed to find those healing thoughts, they bring me peace, serenity, contentment, and the knowledge that this process of recovery works in spite of my doubts and fears.  That is truly a blessing directly from my Higher Power, God.

Finally Honest

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At times working the Steps seems so simple, but the reality for me and others is that what may appear simple, initially, is not always as simple as first thought.  There seems to be more to the Steps than first understood.  Take the word ‘harmed,’ for example, exactly how that is defined can bring about many more (or less) names to be added to my list.  Does that refer to physical harm, emotional harm, spiritual harm, financial harm, or does it really incorporate all of these “harms?”

I had a penchant for discounting the harm I did others, which when I really looked at that meant that I was being very definitive about the term “harm.”  So back to the dictionary I went – harm: physical hurt, mental damage, injury, mischief.  So in that vein I took another look and found more names to add to my list.  Just because I did not physically harm my parents does not mean I did not owe an amends to them.  I lied to them, I cheated them, I stole from them.  I never revealed my true self to them, which constitutes lying.  I cheated them by not allowing them to fully understand that I did not hold them responsible for my life.  I stole both time and money from them in various ways.  They ended up paying for my misbehavior, on occasion.  I told them lies about how much money I had and took more money than I needed.  I caused them mental anguish, and emotional strain for many years.  So, while I never physically hurt them, I did much damage mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.  I am grateful to say that I did make amends to both of them, individually, before they passed.

I know today that there were many others I harmed.  There were those from whom I stole, there were many I lied to, there were some I physically hurt, and there was usually some form of financial harm done to those who crossed my path.  Employers invested time and effort in me, only to have me skip town, or just not show up ever again.  When I did work I quite often “stole” time from my employer by means of claiming time that I did not work; taking sick days when I was not sick, just hung-over, once again.  Bars – I was a bar drinker – and that would mean extra work for employees who would have to clean up after me when the booze came back up from my “sick” stomach.  I ran into parked cars and “left the scene of the accident” without so much as a “sorry I hit your car.”  I stole bar glasses, ashtrays, or anything else that was not nailed to the floor.  I had no conscious about this behavior – I just figured that I paid for it when I bought the drinks.

I did damage to the communities I lived in.  I put others in jeopardy when I drove drunk.  I used others emotionally and physically when I would sleep with the husbands and lovers of others.  I caused spiritual damage when I tried to pass myself off as being someone who was “owed” for the bad life I had.  I used people in whatever way I needed – without regard for them or their feelings.  I was unwilling to accept my part in any problem that arose from my drinking, always blaming others and “life.”

Thank God – and I mean that literally, that I no longer live like that.  I am grateful to the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous and my Higher Power for the changes that have occurred in my life today.  I don’t have to hang my head in shame, and I can look others in the eye today.  My behavior has changed in so many different ways, and continues to change to this day.  I spent the first 53 years of my life lying to myself and everyone around me.  Today, I am grateful to say I no longer behave as I once did.  I am still in the throes of change, and will continue to change everyday – that is my hope and my prayer.

Harm Done?

Harm Done?

Action/Emotion

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Action is the answer for me, many times and in many ways.  I can “feel”, but the key is to use my feelings as teachers.  Using my feelings as guides to my behavior benefits both me and others.  I feel good, when I behave in a good fashion.  I can also feel bad when I behave in ways that are harmful, or simply not nice.  The key for me is to take whatever ACTION my feelings call for.  I have to take action in some way – by means of amends, by reaching out to others, by changing my focus, by getting out of self – in whatever way that may mean.

There are times when I feel bad, when I feel lonely or angry and I “take the action” suggested, whatever form that takes – getting my mind to focus on someone else, other than me, me, me!  It’s hard to do at times because my emotions are so strong and they just “feel” so hurtful.  But when I can muster the strength (through God) to get out of my own head, out of my own problems, and out of my own hurt – I come away from that feeling better.  Better about me, better about my behavior, and better about my recovery.

Prayer is a strong tool here.  I pray for the strength to take the action, I pray for the willingness to do as suggested by my sponsors, or others.  I pray the Serenity Prayer, as a reminder that God is in charge here, I am not.  My purpose in life is to stay sober and try to be of some use to others by means of the Program.  There are days when I simply need to remember that.  I need to remind myself that taking action is the cure to being on the pity pot.  I have to get up off my but, reach out in whatever form that may mean, and simply get out of my own head for a while.

It may not feel comfortable, at first.  I mean, what do you say after you say “Hello”?  That’s where my gratitude returns, it’s just so much easier to talk with others in recovery, than with those around us who are “normal.”  It’s okay to say “I’m having a bad day, and reaching out to others in an attempt at getting out of my own head . . . so how the heck are YOU?”  I know I will get a response, or not, but I can keep going down my list of people in the Program, and chances are I will find another who is also having a bad day.  It will make them feel better that I have called them, and, it will help me to feel better, also.

The good news for me is that I only have to live this life, one day at a time.  So focusing on the here and now helps me to “rein in” my problems.  Just how “big” are they when compared to life challenges, such as a severe illness, or having a bad car accident – when I view my problems that way it helps me to put them into perspective.  My feelings and emotions are just that – feelings.  Rather than bemoan them, I try to use them to teach me lessons about life, about relationships, about recovery, and about how to stay sober and help others.   Through this process I will begin to feel better – better about me, my life, and about all these negative emotions that pop-up from time to time.  After all, they are just feelings, and as I have learned feelings change, all the time.

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