I could certainly relate to the feelings of chaos and despair – my life was out of control, and it took me a long time to understand that those feelings were based on my behaviors when I drank. I am a strong-willed woman, and that has not always worked well for me, it has worked to my disadvantage more often than not. It enabled me to discount my drinking, and focus, instead, on the behavior of others around me. It was always someone else’s fault, someone else’s issue – and beside I didn’t drink like some others that I saw in the bars. It was always so much easier to blame others, rather than look at my own behavior. But there came a day when I found myself totally alone – there I was face to face with my disease, and it scared the hell out of me.
This thing called life has been an amazing journey for me. My search for peace has led me down many paths, and ultimately led me to the tables of A.A. Today I have peace, today I have a sense of contentment, and today I am blessed to be able to say that my Higher Power, God, has brought me to a place of acceptance and love. The love I am blessed with today is a totally unselfish love – it is a love that teaches me to give to others, to love others without expectation of love in return. I am learning to love unselfishly, to love others as I would be loved. I pray for the serenity to love others in peace, I pray for the courage to love honestly, and I pray for the wisdom to love all equally.
I am grateful for the simplicity of the Program, the ease of the Third Tradition. . . it enabled me to keep my seat until such time as I began to understand what being an alcoholic can mean. It’s not about how much I drank, what I drank, when or where I drank – it was what happened to me mentally, spiritually and physically when I took that first drink. Being made to feel welcomed played a big part in my recovery. No one told me to leave, no one suggested that I was in the wrong meeting, no one gave me a set of rules that I had to follow. . . and no one told me that I was not an alcoholic – they let me decide that for myself.
I made many “promises” to others, those I loved and those who loved me. Today, the only “promises” I concern myself with are the “Promises” in the Big Book, which can be found on pages 83-84. There are twelve promises, just as there are twelve Steps and twelve Traditions. The first promise is that “We will be amazed before we are half way through.” I interpret that to mean “halfway” through working the Steps for the first time, that would bring me to the beginning of Step Seven where we “Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.” One of my shortcomings is not being true to my word, and where does that put me, right back at Step One where I find the Spiritual Principle of Honesty. These Steps, Spiritual Principles, and the Traditions all form to create a place of peace and harmony where I can go to find solace, hope, faith, willingness, and above all – love. Love for our fellow sufferers, love for all who search for the answers to their malady, and love for myself, that I might come to recognize myself as a valid, loving and caring human being. Happy Holiday Weekend fellow trudgers!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.