How many times do we beat ourselves up because we have failed to attain the goals we have set? We are human and we suffer from a disease that renders us helpless and out of control. Is it any wonder that we fail in trying to conquer such an unforgiving beast? It is not ourselves we should be angry with, but the disease and how it affects our actions and reactions. Our inability – or unwillingness — to realize that we cannot achieve recovery alone is our only true failure. We need help. Without it we are weak and defenseless. This disease would have us believe we are failures ~ but in reality, all we have done is open the doors to our enemy. These doors can be closed again. Our disease not only manifests itself in the form of wanting to drink, but also in our negative thoughts and actions towards ourselves and towards the people around us.
It takes no more time to think positively than it does to think negatively. Our only job is to remember that we have a disease and we can take steps to relieve ourselves. We can choose to forget it, we can choose to beat ourselves up when we leave the door ajar, or we can choose to forgive ourselves and begin again.
I went to the mailbox today, to pick up the usual bills, and to my surprise THIS beautiful Thomas the Train was waiting for me!! I SMILED immediately and looked up, and thanked my Higher Power for putting some pretty AWESOME people in my life!!! CHOOOOOOOOOO CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I think I can I think I can!!!!!!
When wise men say, “Hope springs eternal,” they are reminding us that no matter how great are the obstacles, the hope of winning out in the long run still exists. Hope is our friend when all else has failed. When we have strength of character and an energetic mind, hope always flourishes.
We discover that, at the very brink of despair, we will find courage to keep trying as long as there is hope for success. After all, what have we got to lose? Without hope, we have no chance, anyway. Our chance for glory comes when we keep trying even though all seems lost. Our hearts remain strong and brave when hope reminds us that challenges last until a game is over. With the 12 steps and 12 traditions and helping others….hope stays alive in me!!!
What light of hope keeps burning within YOU today? (Doc, if you want to post a picture, it has to be emailed to this24submissions @gmail.com)
Giving back what I was so gratefully given has enabled me to come to an understanding of the Seventh Tradition. I am also happy that the decision was made early in the formation of the Fellowship to decline outside contributions. Imagine what A.A. would look like if it were “run” by business executives – it would be a very different program – one of profit, not spiritual in nature but material in the purpose. Surely it would have failed early on. I had much to learn about carrying my own weight, and how effective and purposeful a smile can be to another who is still suffering. Acceptance, inclusion, tolerance and love have been my guides in the Program. Just as there are few non-alcoholics who will understand our philosophy, it is this “connection” that we all share which enables me to “know” others in a personal way that I never experienced before. In many ways I am closer to my AA family than I am to my own family.
Kindness goes a long way in making the newcomer feel welcomed. It doesn’t take much to smile at others, and it’s not always the newcomer that could use a smile, some of us who have time also need a sincere smile, a warm hug, a pat on the back – we are all in this together. Acceptance and common courtesy can go a long way towards helping others to feel “a part of.” It’s not always about me, me, me! Focusing my attention on others helps me to get out of my own head for a while – this can be a very good thing because it allows God the time He needs to do some work in my life. I no longer have an attitude of entitlement – the world does not owe me anything. Just the opposite is true, I owe the world, I owe the Program of A.A. and I owe my Higher Power, God. God brought me to the rooms of A.A., and A.A. brought me back to God. Kindness, when given freely, always returns to bless me, that I might then share that blessing with others.
The function and purpose of the A.A. groups are to help the alcoholic who still suffers find a new way of life. They are there for the newcomer, the in-betweeners, and the old timers, as well. I know of members with well over 40 years of sobriety, who still attend a meeting every day. There are also members with much time who only attend meetings once in a while, or just on their “birthdays.” Some members recommend that the newcomer attend 90 meetings in 90 days. This is a suggestion that has been born of late – it is not to be found in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, but many find it to be helpful in their newly achieved sobriety. We each decide for ourselves how our program of recovery will look. Some get into service, many do not. Most work the Steps or some form of them. Many practice the Spiritual Principles. Most have sponsors. Many decide how to incorporate both the Steps and the Traditions into their daily life, in some form or another.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a program of recovery that serves to help the still suffering alcoholic. There is a solution, there is hope, and there are all those around the tables who have been there and know that happiness, joy and freedom are to be had in these rooms. I heard that if I wanted what others had I needed to do what others did. I heard that there was much to learn and understand which is why it is important that my recovery come first. Once my mind cleared I began to hear the wisdom of the Steps, and the necessity of the Traditions. The sole function of the Group was to keep the doors to the Fellowship hall open, to share the experience, strength, and hope of others, and to support and love the alcoholic for who they are – a fellow member with whom I share not only my disease but my solution, as well.
I am good enough for this day, this here, this now. I can and will work towards letting go of striving to be perfect, of working to be better, better, better! I am as good as I am supposed to be for right now. I can work to focus my attention on my own behaviors, not the behaviors of others. I have little to no control over anyone else. I can trust God to teach me what I will need to learn today.
I will trust in God’s plan. I will trust in the Program, and follow the wisdom of those who have gone before me. If I want what they have, I will need to do what they do. I will work to let go of all else, I am not “the boss” of anyone. I am not the commander of anything – I will work to follow the next step that God puts before me. I will work to live in this here and now, these twenty-four hours. I will Let Go and Let God “arrange” my day.
Being sober has brought me to a place of being financially responsible. And just like life, how can anyone place a “value” on sobriety. My sobriety is priceless. My program is beyond measuring it in terms of financial considerations. Today, I strive to financially support the Program, and my local Fellowship by means of both monetary contributions, and also by means of service. I have seen meetings where members from a local “program” come with fancy coffees, candy, chips, etc. – and yet when the basket is passed they do not contribute, . . although they are not hesitant to take a “birthday” chip, which the Program pays for. Whatever the situation is, AA survives, but there are times when different fellowships struggle to keep the doors open. So the contributions we make for both local Fellowships and the world-wide Program can vary greatly. The bottom line for me is that if I have it I share it, and if I don’t, I try to be of service in some fashion. There is no price tag on A.A. recovery, and as I said earlier, my sobriety and my inner peace are priceless. If I can, I do!
Listening requires my full attention – and I still miss things. I work hard to keep my mind from wandering when I am listening to others. I need to focus on who or what I am listening to; be that a sponsee, a speaker at a meeting, another member of A.A., or friends and family. . . or any variation of thereof. As a sponsor I usually try to eliminate the distractions and to focus my full attention on what my sponsees are saying to me. When we meet in my home the TV is off, my phone has been turned down, and I prepare myself to listen.
Part of my recovery has been the acceptance of “living in the now.” This also relates to listening – as it brings my mind to the here and now. I may not agree with the old-timers who tell the newcomers to take the cotton out of their ears and put in their mouths – I think that is wrong. I want to hear how they arrived at the tables, I need to hear about how bad it was “out there.” I mentally thank them for experiencing my greatest fear – that of drinking. We each serve a purpose in life, sometimes the best we can do is to serve as a bad example. I work to serve as a good example, I represent the Program of A.A., in many ways. Every time I share my story, every time I attend an A.A. function and any time I share my experience, strength and hope with others. My sobriety speaks for itself – I am sober because: I can learn, I can accept, I can grow and I can change.