Centering Myself for Step 4 by Mark M

On June 23rd, 2017, posted in: recovery by

preying shadow with wordsOne of the many 4th Step suggestions that we learn and read about is to “center yourself” before you sit down and write on the 4th step. This can be done in many ways. Some people meditate, some people pray. My sponsor suggested that I write a prayer of my own, something that would center me and “push my (emotional) buttons” and that I could read before I sat down to work on my 4th Step.
At first it was hard to find the words, with “the committee” of voices that were still swirling around in my head. However, after some time and some meditation, I came up with these words. I still, at times, use it today when I feel the need to connect with myself and my Higher Power.

A PRAYER FOR HUMILITY

LORD,
Allow me to see the happiness
That grows inside my soul
To celebrate my life by living
For the measure of who I am
Rests in You alone

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My First 12 Step Call by Mark M

On May 25th, 2017, posted in: recovery by


kneeling manI had had about 63 days clean when my sponsor called me late one night and told me he was on his way to my house. He told me to get dressed…and to find my Basic Text. I thought 11:15 p.m. was a little too late to be doing Step work, but before I could ask my sponsor what was up, he was already beeping his car in my driveway.
He said that someone had called our local area’s hotline number and needed some help getting clean. This was my first “12-Step call” and I was so nervous. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing…and what could someone with such little clean-time have to offer this person anyway? My sponsor gave me some great advice when I asked him what I should say: “Keep your mouth shut and listen.” So I did.

We met him and the night went on. Several of us addicts sat at this little table in the back of a diner and talked to this man. We told him about our recovery and how our lives had changed for the better since we got clean. We talked about the gifts that being clean afforded us. He agreed to meet us at a meeting the next night and we all left, hugging each other.  

I never saw that man again, but many years later I found this (see below) in a box under my bed. I wrote it that night, right when I got home. That night made a big impact on my life and my recovery. I can only hope that it did, eventually, for that man.

NEVER ALONE

 I met this guy at a coffee shop
His hands were shaking. Beaten down
Said he couldn’t stop
Couldn’t keep his eyes off the clock
I used to be that man, not long ago
Hidden voices whisper but never show
Death can creep so very slow

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life on life 311 years ago I went to treatment.  11 years ago I didn’t know what the hell I was getting myself into, but what I did know was that I needed help to stop using drugs.  What has transpired over the last decade has been nothing short of a miracle.
I could write a book about the ups and downs of recovery.  I am sure we all feel that way.  No one ever said this would be easy, but a lot of people said it would be simple.  I am grateful for the people who walked this road before me.  I am grateful that I “get to” go on this journey with others.  By myself, I would still be standing at the fork, wondering which way to go.

Every year on my anniversary I reflect on the past year.  Each time the memories are different. I have put myself through some serious crap over the years, but I wouldn’t change any of it today. Everyone I have met, every decision I have made, every action I took, has led me to this place.  And it’s a pretty damn good place.

I made a decision a long time ago that using was not an option for me, no matter what.  Not if my dog died, not if I got fired, not if I couldn’t get out of debt.  I simply took using out of the equation.  I forced myself to find other ways to cope.  One day at a time I learned how to live life on life’s terms, without the use of drugs.

Today is my anniversary.  I have been clean for 4,018 days.  I have a lot to be grateful for.  But if I forget where I came from, my clean date will change.  Just for today, I think I’ll stay clean.

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New Ways to Have Fun Sober by Clearwater Girl

On February 16th, 2017, posted in: recovery by

game night

I got sober in Pinellas County. My first meeting was at the Serenity Club. My next stop was the 301 Clearwater group. I got too tied up in relationships, so I eventually migrated to Safety Harbor. I got into a great beginners group and made coffee. It is where my real recovery started. I loved that the other people were sharing the same things I was feeling, things like how to fill your time when you would usually go dancing at the bar. We went out for ice cream and coffee. We went to Village Inn for all-you-can-eat spaghetti. We had game nights playing Trivial Pursuit and charades. We all found new ways to have fun sober. It was wonderful.

Clearwater Girl

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Recently I went through an experience that brought up many emotions:  excitement, encouragement and surprise, just to name a few.  Quickly, my stinkin’ thinkin’ kicked in and I also experienced fear, resentment and grandiosity.

One of the statements that I heard from my first sponsor that has always stayed with me is, “You better get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”  I have taken that to heart throughout my recovery, shared it in meetings and also with sponsees.  I have always kept that saying in the forefront of my mind, and when faced with uncertainty (which is where I struggle the most), historically I have done a bang-up job staying sane. This time was different. Step Six
Consequently (and maybe ironically), I was also in the middle of another 6th Step.  However, writing about character defects/assets only seemed to propel me deeper into the downward spiral.  I felt like I was on a roller coaster of uncertainty (and recently I blacked out on a roller coaster), so needless to say, I was ready to get off this ride.

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**This story was inspired by the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

into the lightRecently I traveled back home to Virginia to celebrate the life of my step-mom, 97 years of life.
Before going home, I would have stated the above travel as “to bury my step-mom” or “to mourn her passing.”
Before traveling, I read my daily meditation booklet for my birthday 9/12 (I would attend the funeral on 9/13/16), and this is what it said to some degree:
Handle the old tapes with care, releasing the past, come to terms with the abuse and abandonment of childhood days, not reliving the past in a resentful, self-pity mood. This is destructive and self-centered behavior. We neither can, nor completely, erase the past but we can turn it over to our higher power, discuss it with a friend, transform the experience, practice forgiveness, and seek the knowledge  received from our experience in order to share and grow.

Before reading this, I did not wish to travel back home. I was full of guilt, shame, remorse, remembering the things I did, the behavior, incarceration, over 13 years of imprisonment, and another three to four years of rehab (alcohol, heroin, and crack addict, over 25 years of addiction).

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Cartoon Man Holding Sign Question Mark Drawing

What does being in recovery really mean?  For me it means complete abstinence from ALL drugs (including alcohol) and finding a new way to live.  But in order for me to find recovery, I had to reflect on the life that I had lived before I heard the message.  Here goes.

Addiction for me wasn’t full of the degradation people think of when they think of a “junkie,” but it was degrading nonetheless.  Addiction took me to places where no spirituality existed and doing the next right thing was not an option.  The people who loved me and the hopes and dreams they had for me were a distant memory.  I lived each day in a whirlwind, always waking up already late for work and unable to focus until I figured out where and how I was going to get my next high.  I neglected my body by pumping it full of drugs when it was crying out for actual nutrition. I worked a lot, got high all day, barely slept and was unable to show up for my friends.  I think you get the picture.

Recovery, for me, has been starkly different than addiction.  Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been easy, but it has definitely been worth it.  I think back to my active addiction and I almost cannot even believe that was my life.  When I compare my life today to my life 10 years ago it solidifies my intention to never use again.  Why would I give up a life beyond my wildest dreams for a life of nightmares?

Recovery, for me today, is about doing the next right thing.  Admitting my wrongs.  Accepting my faults.  Changing my behaviors.  Being loyal.  Loving hard.  Being a contributing member of society.  Growing up.  Letting go.  Moving on.

My hope is that everyone who wants recovery finds it.  I hope they don’t leave 5 minutes before the miracle.  Too many people have died and today I know they didn’t have to. Today I know there is a better way.

–Anonymous

 

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Joke from AA Message Board

On July 11th, 2016, posted in: recovery by

aameetingA man died and went to heaven.  St. Peter asked, “What denomination are you?”  The man replied, “I don’t belong here, I don’t go to church.”  St. Peter said, “Well, we don’t make mistakes, you belong here.  Let’s just walk around and you can see where you’d like to stay.”
So they walked down the hall, and St. Peter opened a door and there were all these pews with people kneeling and praying and crossing themselves.  “Who are they?” asked the man.  “Those are the Catholics,” answered St. Peter.  “Well, I don’t want to stay here,” said the man, and they walked on down the hall.

St. Peter opened the next door.  Inside were all these pews with people sitting straight up, staring ahead.  “Who are they?” asked the man.  “Those are the Protestants,” answered St. Peter.  “Well, I don’t want to stay here,” said the man, and they walked down the hall.

The next room they came to, St. Peter opened the door and the man smelled coffee.  The man looked inside and there were all these people laughing and hugging and they got in a big group hug and said the Serenity Prayer.  The man said, “I like these people, who are they?”

St. Peter said, “I don’t know.  They won’t tell us.”

 

 

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Fake It Till You Make ItI began my recovery 28 years ago without a belief in a Higher Power.  I called myself an agnostic.  I wanted to believe, but I required some proof first, a small burning bush or a token miracle of some kind, if not an actual voice that assured me, “I am God.”  Needless to say, I wasn’t optimistic.
When I first learned about the concept of “act as if,” I had no faith that it would work, but I was told to start praying as if I did believe in a Higher Power.  I was so miserable and desperate at that time that I would have done almost anything anyone in recovery told me to do.  So I started praying daily and that action, while it did not give me any belief at first, it did begin to give me hope that at some point I might come to believe.

I kept at it.  I realized that I wanted and needed a loving relationship with a Higher Power.  I wanted a Higher Power who would be there for me at all times, whose presence and love would comfort me at all times, who I trusted to walk me through whatever was on my path, who I could talk to like a friend.  It occurred to me that when I want to become friends with another person, it requires time and effort to develop that relationship.  So that’s what I did.  I acted as if I were getting to know a new friend.  I talked to God a lot, every day, praying, making conscious contact, and often feeling silly because I still didn’t believe, but I just kept acting as if.

I can’t tell you at what point I was no longer acting.  I don’t think it took long.  All I know is that one day I realized that I had the faith I’d always wanted.  That was many years and miracles ago.  You see, that small burning bush and those miracles I had hoped for had been there all along.  I just couldn’t see them until I came to believe.

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Sober Fun by Whitley C.

On June 6th, 2016, posted in: recovery by

Im Sober Not BoringOne of my fears of getting sober at age 22 was that my life was going to be boring. I remember crying while I was in outpatient because I thought my years of fun were over and done. I could not imagine having fun without drugs or alcohol. I was scared to make new friends and, most of all, petrified of what people would think of me. I went to a halfway house after treatment and got plugged in with a good group of women who had fun and laughed. We would go to meetings and hang out afterwards. I was awkward and very fearful, but I kept showing up to events because I wanted to feel better, and my sponsor told me to. I started finding new hobbies because my addiction had taken all of those away from me.

I’m having the most fun of my entire life, all while being sober. I go to concerts and go camping, which were things I thought were gone for good. I do things with other people that are sober and have never laughed harder than I do now. Every day is a blessing, and I am grateful to be sober and having fun.

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