A Tale of Three

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There are no presidents in A.A., there are no managers in A.A., and there is no one person whose importance is such that the doors to the rooms would not open without them.  The Program was designed in such a way that no one person’s importance is greater than another’s.  The Program exists on its own merit, and continues because we have the Twelve Traditions. which affords us the ability, as a group, to function.  Our Highest Power is a loving God, as He may express Himself in our group conscience.  Defining ourselves as a group with what we term the “Three Legacies,” which are imprinted on our “birthday chips.” and those legacies are: Service, Recovery and Unity.

Service – that’s what keeps the doors open, and enables us each to participate in our own sobriety.  With the Twelve Steps and my Higher Power, God, I have been able to attain some time in Recovery from the disease of alcoholism.  It is through the Unity of the Fellowship that these Three Legacies have formed to be the basis for our Program, Alcoholics Anonymous.  It evolved over time, but the basics have remained the same for over 78 years.  Change within the Program takes a lengthy process, and most members do not support or encourage change easily.  It is said that the Steps are what help us achieve sobriety, but it is the Traditions that enable us to function, as a group.  The Steps are HOW is works, and the Traditions are WHY it works.

While I have been in service for much of my sobriety, I work to remain my “right size” and to remember that I am simply one among many.  When it comes down to it, I am simply, Bonnie, alcoholic.  It is vital that I step aside to let the newcomers be of service whenever that is desired.  We pass it on, one to the other.  That is truly how this wonderful Program continues to be there for so many searching for a way out of the misery that we call alcoholism.  I truly believe that there were three co-founders: Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Unseen God.

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God Grants Me……

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I believe I can say that I am a giver – most days, most of the time.  I used to be a taker, it was always about what I would get out of a situation or relationship.  Today I can truthfully say that I rarely go to my daughter’s home without something in hand, either for the family or my Glambaby.  And I can also say that I try to add to their day in some way, like a trip to the park, or some help with the homework.

Practicing the Spiritual Principles is another form of giving, like being of service to the Fellowship.  I try, on a daily basis, to work towards selflessness, which is the direct opposite of what my life used to be.  I see people who take, take, take; I used to be one of those.  I was always scheming to figure out how to get what you have.  For a very long time I was a liar, cheat and a thief – but recovery has shown me a different path, a different way; and today I work towards being honest, selfless, and giving when and where I can.  There is much to learn and much growing to be done in recovery.  For these “gifts” of the spirit I can only say thanks to A.A., and Thanks to God

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Faith-Step 3

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The spiritual principle for Step Three is faith, as it requires faith in a Higher Power, God, if I am to turn my life and my will over to the care of God, as I understood Him.  This Step puzzled me for many days, when I was new to the Program and trying to “work” the Steps.  I mean how do I turn over my life to an entity that is not a physical presence?  Of course, this Step is in order – which means that both Steps One and Step Two have been “worked.”  In Step Two I came to believe in a Higher Power, and I chose to call mine, God.  I can’t say when this occurred but I just know that I do have a God in my life today, and I believe that it is this spiritual presence that enables me to attain a modicum of sobriety, along with the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I try to do what I can – you know, the footwork, and then I work to place the rest in God’s loving hands.  I get up in the morning and I put one foot in front of the other, and I leave the rest of my life with my Higher Power, as I believe He has a plan for me, and my job is to just be present for whatever the day holds.  I can say that my life is ever so much better now than before recovery, and I believe it is the direct result of believing in a Higher Power, and the willingness I possess to work the Steps – there is a plan, and it can be found in the Big Book – after all is said and done, I simply need to be Honest, Open, and Willing –  and that’s HOW I stay sober.

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Enertia doesn’t work….

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Awareness and acceptance are both good “key” words for me, when it comes to solving problems.  But the next word is really the “key” to solving life problems – and that word is action.  I have to take action – whatever that may mean.  I can know what the problem is, but unless I take action to resolve the issue, the problem will remain.  I have a whole range of solutions, most of which can be found in the Steps, or the Big Book, itself.  It may mean making an amends, it may require a face-to-face admission of a wrong, it may mean a sincere and heartfelt prayer to my Higher Power, God, asking for his grace, blessings, and strength to change, or to grow in whatever way may help to resolve the problem.  Whatever it is, I know that I can understand and accept a problem, but until I take the action needed to correct it, the problem will remain.

Complacency will happen, it then magnifies the problem.  It adds to it, and instead of becoming part of the solution, it becomes part of the problem.  The problems I face in life do not solve themselves, it is up to me through the process of recovery found in the 12 Steps, to take whatever action is called for.  My life problems are only resolved through my own action.  I cannot pray them away, I cannot wish them away, and I cannot sit idly by hoping they will disappear.  Action is needed – time and again, if I am to change, to grow, to become a child of God who lives this life one day at a time.  Awareness, acceptance and action – my Three A’s to living life on life’s terms.

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We Each Represent

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7758golden_frameI serve as an example of recovery – every day to others, both the new and the not-so-new members.  I particularly have to be aware of this truth when I am representing A.A. in some community event.  Even driving, as I have a small A.A. emblem on the back window of my car; and that tells others that I am associated in some fashion to A.A.  Knowing this I try to curb my first thought of flipping someone off who has just cut me off.  Instead I work to breathe, slow down, and try to behave in a way that demonstrates respect for both myself and the jerk who cut me off.  I mean, how important is it?  In view of the “bigger picture” being cut off in traffic is a small thing.

Sometimes I am approached by others who are not in the Program with questions about the disease of alcoholism, and the effect the Program has had on my own personal behavior.  I try not to lecture, instead I try to relate what my own experience has been.  That’s what being a speaker at a meeting is all about, relating what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now.  I like talking about what it’s like now, how I work my program on a daily basis, what I do to stay sober, how I relate to others – both in and out of the Program.  I frequently say that I not only love this Program, but I live it, on a daily basis. . . and this is true, for me.  I can only speak for myself, I can only tell my story, I can only relate my experience, strength, and hope.  Other people who hear my share may find it different from theirs.  We did not all take the same path to the tables, and that is one of the things I enjoy most about being a member of A.A., we each have our own story to tell – no two are alike, but the similarities can be surprising.

I believe there is a brief moment between what I hear, or what I am asked, and how I respond.  In that brief moment, I try to pray to my Higher Power, God.  I say things like, “Help me out here, God.” or “God, are you there?” or just simply “Thanks, God.”  It gives me the ability to respond to questions, instead of just reacting, which was the way I did for years and years.  Now, my response will be more in the nature of being helpful, rather than contentious.  I no longer react negatively, before I even understand what’s being said or asked of me.  Today, I can take the time to make sure that I know, precisely what the question is, and what response is expected of me.  I have the power to say “No” if that is what is in my best interest, and I also have the power to say “Yes” if that is more appropriate to the time and place.  Either way I am grateful to have learned that I have choice, and that my choices are as valid for me, as they are for others.

The Similarities

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I see and hear similarities in my behavior all the time, at meetings and other functions.  I hear “my story” being told by others quite often.  Maybe not exactly, but the actions are similar and the behavior is definitely alike.  I know I got loud when I drank, and the more I drank, the louder I got.  It was “the center of attention” time, and my behavior became totally outrageous.  I did not behave that way when I was sober, but I certainly did when I was drinking.

Accepting myself as an alcoholic has provided me with a solution.  The solution for me is Alcoholics Anonymous, finding my Higher Power, God; and being willing to change my behaviors.  I am no different from others around the table when it comes to my lack of power over alcohol.  That is where we are all alike, exactly alike.  I love the similarities I share with others in the Program, we understand each other, we love each other as one alcoholic loves another, and we share our lives just as we share our Program – one day at a time.

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Loving Others

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I have learned to love others without expectation, and it really feels good.  My search for love before recovery was selfish and self-centered.  I always questioned anyone who said they loved me, to the point of backing them into a corner.  I always doubted that anyone could love me, and I was sure not going to love anyone who didn’t love me.  There were so many times of thinking that my current “hostage” was going to be “the one!”, only to find out that I was being used one more time.  I got so I distrusted anyone who seemed remotely interested in me.

Here I am in A.A., and I have found a whole world of love, that has been totally unexpected.  I am in the “middle of the herd” of women, some of whom are younger, and even some that are older – at least in terms of lengths of sobriety.

There is an openness and an honesty within this group that I’ve never had before.  I love the sharing, I love the hugs, I love that we sincerely care about each other’s well-being.  I love that we can express our emotions openly and freely – without concern or worry about our truths being talked about outside of the group.  We each respect the other’s right of privacy.  We learn from each other in many ways, by sharing our experience, strength, and hope.  By our very own example of how we handle different issues in our lives.  And, lastly by our genuine concern for all that enter the rooms of A.A., the newly sobered, the desperate soul struggling to grasp that last straw, and those trying to understand their inability to have any power over alcohol.  There is much to the Program of A.A. – and to the One who loves us all.

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