It is so important for me to pay attention to changes in my attitude. If I don’t identify and address downward trends, I become used to them and they start to feel normal. From there, further decline is the natural progression. The greatest evidence that I will never be cured of my alcoholism is the fact that my thoughts do not stay healthy without continual reminders from AA. There is something just wrong in the way my mind grabs hold of certain ideas and hangs on to them. I can get very worked up if I feel that someone has been thoughtless toward me. As simple as the principles of AA are, and as many times as I have read, heard and spoken them, they refuse to take permanent root in my mind. A fresh supply is always needed. I do depend on a consistent long-term program of recovery. It is the safety net that ultimately keeps me from dropping into a chasm of unknowable pain.
Quote is from “The Language of Letting Go”
Have some fun. Loosen up a bit. Enjoy life! We do not have to be so somber and serious. we do not have to be so reflective, so critical, so bound up with ourselves and the rigid parameters others, and often ourselves, have placed around us. This is life, not a funeral service. Have some fun with it. Enter into it. Participate. Experiment. Take a risk. Be spontaneous. Do not always be so concerned about doing it right, doing the appropriate thing.
Do not always be so concerned about what others will think or say. What they think and say are their issues not ours. Do not be so afraid of making a mistake. Do not be so fearful and proper. Do not inhibit yourself so much. So many rules. So much shame we’ve lived with. It simply isn’t necessary. We have been brainwashed. It is time now to free ourselves, let ourselves go, and enter fully human into a full life. Have some fun. Loosen up a bit. Break a few rules. We won’t be punished by God. We do not have to allow people to punish us. And we can stop punishing ourselves. As long as we’re here and alive, let’s begin to live.
Today, I will let myself have some fun with life. I will loosen up a bit, knowing I won’t crack and break. God, help me let go of my need to be so inhibited, proper, and repressed. Help me inject a big dose of life into myself by letting myself be fully alive and human.
For many years I tried to hide from life, shame and doubt were my companions. But I’ve always had this notion in the back of my mind that I was meant to live large. And here I am in the “latter” years of my life, and I am just now beginning to live big. I no longer live in shame and regret. It feels good to be exactly who I am, where I am and when I am. I don’t try to live by the standards of others, now I work to live by the spiritual principles of the Program, and my own standards. I never had any standards before recovery, I was always trying to emulate others; how they dressed, behaved and looked. I have grown up in the Program, in many ways.But I am still human. If I don’t stay VIGILANT, old behaviours creep back in….and I make mistakes and must make amends. I still hurt the people I love most in the world…IF…I don’t practice the principles in ALL my affairs. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it feels like a death. I am a sober member of AA. First and foremost, that is the most important thing. The rest comes with practice, and for THAT I am grateful!
Giving freely came to me slowly, I had always extracted a “price” for anything I gave, so giving without return was a new concept for me, and it was one that I was skeptical of. But over time I have come to understand that giving can be done in a wide variety of ways, not just monetarily. Giving of myself; my time, my energy, or my knowledge of recovery – this was also “giving freely.” When I look back to my beginning in the Program, I can see where the idea of “giving” to others began to grow right along side of my growth in recovery. I was told early on to give without any expectancy of getting something back – and I tried it and found that I did receive something back. That something was feeling good about my behavior towards others. There was a “payoff” – but the trick was not to expect it – to just give because I could, because I wanted to, or because it was the next right thing to do. Anonymous giving was encouraged – but if I told someone, or was “found out” in some way – then it did not count. Giving means total selflessness – without motive or expectation – and especially without anticipation of a return.
In coming to terms with expressing my gratitude to the Program, I found that service work helped, as did dropping a dollar or two in the basket. Being present when a newcomer was in the room was, yet another way of giving back. If I could relate my experience as a newcomer to the Program, it might serve to help the newcomer come back to reclaim their seat at the tables. Keep Coming Back, are the three most important words a newcomer can hear in a meeting. Dear Higher Power, I ask for your wisdom and knowledge that I might be given the blessing of selflessness and learn the blessing of willingness to do whatever I can, whenever I can. Take away my selfishness that I might do your will and not mine. Amen!!
I need serenity in my life. Before recovery my life was defined by chaos and confusion. Most of my actions were based in some form of negativity – peace and calmness were not in my life. I just know that I never thought of myself as “normal” but it was something I was constantly trying to achieve.
Coming to an understanding of what it means to have a Higher Power in my life meant the beginning of experiencing moments of calmness and peace in my life. There was a steadiness and a real sense of “sameness” that caused in me feelings of hope that change was possible, that my life did not have to continue on the same downward path that it had been on for as long as I could remember. I got into some acceptance and found all the love and support I needed at that time, in the people around the tables, and in my Higher Power. I found that I could actually sit still, that I did not have to run off somewhere, nor did I have to find another someone to fill the void in my life. I could use the Program, I could use the blessings of my Higher Power, and I could use the members – all those who were living the Program, a day at a time. The opposite of peace and calmness is fear and chaos – I much prefer the former, rather than the latter!!
Steps 1-3: Give Up
Steps 4 & 5: Own Up
Steps 6-9: Clean Up
Steps 10-12: Grow Up
Lately, as I’ve been “officially” finishing up the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, with my sponsor, I’ve found the need to go back to certain steps and really delve into them. The most striking difficulty I’ve found is the difference between how the BB of AA defines them versus the book, “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”. The only claim to authorship of the “12 x 12″, is on the front cover where it says,”A co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous tells how members recover and how the society functions.”
The problem I’ve encountered is that in the “12 x 12”, many paragraphs are filled with “isms”, the majority being sexism! Back in the 40’s, society was very sexist. The majority of self proclaimed alcoholics were men and male/female equality was fairly nonexistent! Long story short, I found the most insight of the steps from the BB. As two of our sayings goes, “keep it simple” and “take what you need and leave the rest”!
So, if you are confused or overwhelmed by doing the steps using the “12 x 12”, go back to where it began, the first 164 pages of the big book of “Alcoholics Anonymous ” and more specifically, Chapters 5 & 6, “How it Works” and “Into Action”, respectively.
A departure from my usual reflections except that it’s how I’m staying sober today and it’s how I’m working the steps today. Have a wonderful Monday! I hope everyone is well and a shoutout to Tom S, who is recovering from surgery, brilliantly!
I’m Maggie, a recovering alcoholic who’s very grateful we have such an amazing book as a spiritual guideline to a lifetime of recovery from alcoholism!
When I see the phrase “recovery behaviors” I immediately think of the Spiritual Principles. Behaviors like honesty, integrity, faith, willingness, courage, humility, etc. I had to “act as if” for a period of time, when I first came into the Program. I was not sure about the “God thing” but I continued to pray, anyway. I continued to have hope that there is some “power greater than me” out there somewhere in the Universe. It was more than I could comprehend, when I was new and fully confused, so instead I focused on attending meetings, on finding a sponsor, on beginning the process of “working” the Steps. What I know now is that what I was doing was turning that confusion over to my Higher Power – without even knowing that I was doing just that. . . I was “acting as if.”
Every day, I am in-tune with the Program, and that starts off by being in tune with my Higher Power. My job in recovery is to work the Program, to be of service to others, and to make myself available to whoever God presents me with. I “Keep at It” day after day, after day. That’s the good news – while there is much to learn, there is also enough time to learn what I need to know for this day, this now. I am grateful for the Program. I have a life of purpose and direction and all I have to do is put one foot in front of the other. Dedication, perseverance, and love are my new behaviors today – they far out weigh the old behaviors of selfishness, dishonesty and resentments!