Compulsivity and obsessive behaviors seem to be standards for me – before recovery. In recovery I am learning to control my behaviors – and therefore control my obsessive/compulsive behaviors. I have no doubt in my mind that I can succeed with the help of the Program and my Higher Power, God. It is much easier to do that with the help of friends in the Program, than it is to attempt by myself. I recognize my shortcomings and defects of character, and know that I will never be “perfect” when it comes to my “addictions.” I knew from a very early age that I was “addictive,” and therefore stayed away from drugs that I knew were addictive, as I seemed to know that it would be a losing battle. It helps when others talk about their issues relative to addiction, I can usually relate to their experiences and I learn much from them when it comes to the idea of “control.” I can recover from my addictions – all of them -by working the Steps, having faith in God, and believing that “in recovery, all things are possible.”
Acceptance tells me that the problems I have are truly my own. Acceptance tells me that change is not only possible but it is probable when combined with a desire for growth, and the will to surrender to my Higher Power. Acceptance is part of the “plan” I have for living a life of recovery. It means that I no longer hold others responsible for my problems, that I recognize my “part” in my life. When it comes right down to it there is just me – and God. Coming to an acceptance of myself as an alcoholic took a long time – the disease of alcoholism has a stronghold called denial. No, I couldn’t be alcoholic, I didn’t drink daily. No, I couldn’t be an alcoholic, I didn’t get DUI’s. Denial is the opposite of acceptance – and it kept me out there for many, many years.
I am no longer a failure – through the process of awareness, acceptance and action I have been able to make the needed changes in my life that allow me to live a life of recovery; rather than a life of grief, sadness, and complete demoralization. Whenever life challenges me today, I try to stop and take a good, hard look at myself. What actions have I committed that caused me to doubt myself? What old behaviors have reared their ugly heads? What is needed to correct this misstep? Is there something I need to do, is there some action I need to take? When problems arise it always seems to backtrack to me, my behavior, my actions, my attitude. Getting into some acceptance of the fact that my problems relate to me – is the first step to change and growth. The bottom line is my life problems relate to my behaviors in some fashion……….. and acceptance of that- is key.
I’ve heard others in the Program talk about the “thousand forms of fear,” and still others who talk about the “unknown fears.” I believe I have experienced both of these, and I think it comes from deep within me where my biggest fear lives, the fear of failing A.A. I believe that as an alcoholic, should I choose to drink again, I have four choices: jails, institutions and death – that’s only three but there is a fourth that does not get mentioned, and it should be, that fourth choice is recovery. “The achievement of freedom from fear is a lifetime undertaking, one that can never be wholly completed. . . Only the self-deceived will claim perfect freedom from fear.” (Grapevine, January 1962) I had to learn to overcome my fears, or at the very least put them into a proper perspective.
I came to the rooms an unbeliever, it was simply “the last house on the block.” I came looking for something, I didn’t even know what I was looking for, I just wanted out of the pain that had become my life. I found so much more than I anticipated, and have truly come full circle from being an unbeliever to being “a child of God.” I am one of God’s chosen ones, I am someone who continues to grow and change with the help of my God and the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have faith today, I believe in God today, and I believe in the Program of A.A. – I pray that I will always remain in “God’s everlasting arms.”
On another note…may the BEST team win!! GO GIANTS!!!
“The most spiritual thing you can do is to help someone.”
(REFLECTION COURTESY of PAUL D-GRIN)
One of the most important things I’ve learned in the program is that whenever two alcoholics get together, God is present. I feel the energy of God flow through me as I talk with, listen to and help another person. It often takes contrary action for me to reach out, but I am always rewarded with a sense of peace and serenity as I connect with and help another.
It wasn’t always like this. Selfish and self-centered in the extreme, I crawled into the rooms emotionally bankrupt and in a state of perdition. I damned God’s energy up inside me, and it almost destroyed me. Even today I have to guard against my tendency to isolate and self obsess.
Indeed, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned (and seemingly have to re-learn!) is that God’s purpose, and so my purpose, is to be of service. It is the way out of the prison of self, and it always sets both our spirits free.
It is amazing to even think of A.A. as being “all around the globe,” but it is. I read/heard recently that A.A. is active somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 Countries, that’s pretty amazing considering that we started out with just two guys. When we share our experience, strength and hope with others we are sharing the Three Legacies of A.A.: Recovery, Service and Unity.
Recovery, Service and Unity, they serve to ensure the continuation of the Program. But it all began with two guys – and it continues in that same fashion, one alcoholic helping another. I can never give back all that I have been given, but I can spend a few minutes after a meeting, talking to a newcomer, making sure they have phone numbers, and meeting schedules. I can walk over to a new face at the tables and stick my hand out and say “Hi, my name is Bonnie, I’m an alcoholic. How are you doing today?” It can be the beginning of a conversation that can serve to help another still suffering alcoholic. I need to do the footwork, the results are in the hands of the Master.
The diversity of the membership of AA is one of those things that I love about the Program. This is very evident in the area where I live. What unites us is both our disease of alcoholism and our search for the solution to recovery. As I was told early in recovery, to look for the similarities, not the differences. This also relates back to the “anonymity” of the Program. I am nothing more nor less that “Bonnie, alcoholic,” when I introduce myself at meeting level. My ethnic background does not matter, my marital status does not matter, what job I work does not matter, nor does my lack of working, it does not matter what kind of car I drive or if I use public transportation, none of these things define me when I am in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I have been in meetings where 99% of the membership is white, I make an attempt to welcome those who are in the minority, however that is defined. I spent enough time trying to fit in with other groups, where I usually ended up feeling “different.” I have been asked to leave a few choice places – and have been asked not to return to others. This relates to my behavior, most often. My behavior changes when alcohol is in the mix – I believe this is true for many of us. The changes I have made in the Program are positive ones, and no one has ever asked me to leave a meeting . . . although suggestions about changes continue to be made – and accepted, as I know that continued growth will occur in my life. AA is “inclusive” not “exclusive” which means that we work towards accepting all who come in search of sobriety, after all Tradition Three states “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.” Thanks, Bill W
“It cannot be your duty to do anything you do not have time to do.” – Emmett Fox
Running around trying to do everything for everyone can bring on an emotional collapse. When we act like a merry-go-round that never stops, we will finally run out of gas and beak down, exhausted and worn out. Energy is a barometer we can use to measure balance in our lives. We get tired when we give to others without also nourishing ourselves. Frantic giving to others can numb us to our own pain and deafen us to our own cries for help. We tell ourselves, “I can put off resting a few more hours,” “I’ll take time for myself later,” or, “I can’t possibly take a vacation now.” We are the only ones who can choose to get off the merry-go-round and take a closer look at our living patterns. Pushing ourselves to the limit isn’t doing ourselves or those we love any favors. We must relax and take the time to recharge and when we do, life is a much smoother and more satisfying ride. One way to avoid exhaustion is to pray each day, stopping everything else and holding our lives up to our Higher Power. If we are out of balance, we will be shown. Often merely stopping to pray gives us the rest and refueling we need.
Whether it’s living alone or with a family, balance is something that requires the attention of those of us in recovery. I am a part of a Fellowship, I am in service to others in recovery, I am one who chooses to be active in my life of sobriety, I am a member of a community where I live, I am a mother and a grandmother, a sponsor, a Secretary of a meeting, a trusted servant at the Fellowship, a sponsee and a Woman In Recovery Every Day. I also need to find the time to rest and relax and to refuel so that I may continue to be there for not only the “others” in my life, but for myself, as well. Prayer helps, prayer heals, and prayer affords me the opportunity to reiterate, Thanks God!!!