shout outSeptember is National Recovery Month and our staff would like to share their experience, strength and hope.

“Don’t Drink or use no matter WHAT!”

I remember someone saying that to me in a meeting 34 years ago. I couldn’t have imaged “WHAT” the journey was going to be like.  Well, in short, it has been incredible.  As I remember, in that same meeting another wise member also mentioned to “strap on your seat belt for sobriety; it’s a hell of a ride.” Now that was some truth.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been some difficult moments, hours and days. But there have been some sweet, sweet times also. Working here at Turning Point of Tampa for the past 24 years has been one of the sweet ones.  I have met and worked with some of the most dedicated people to recovery, clients and staff.  I am grateful for where the journey has taken me.  So in essence, Alumni, don’t drink or use no matter what, make sure your seat belt is secure, be of service, and trust in your Higher Power, for the ride of your life!  — Joan B.

At the end of my drinking my cynicism about life and the world was only exceeded by the shame I felt about being Jim Dwyer. I remember clearly the realization I had about two weeks into rehab that if I was going to stay sober I’d have to start caring again…about myself, this life, this world…and let me just admit that caring again scared me more than trying to live without drinking….but here’s what I saw when I started to attend AA…beautiful, fallible, mixed up shook up, brave and crazy people trying to stay sober and care about each other, trying to accept life on life’s terms, trying to do some good despite their own shortcomings, despite the often inexplicable pain of this life…I was inspired to follow their lead and I’m grateful that I did…it’s a messy world and I am a bit of a mess myself, but because of sobriety I’ve been able to make a small contribution at times to decreasing the amount of pain in the world…it’s a decent and honorable way of life…addiction is slavery…recovery is the chance to be free.  — Jim D.

“Don’t leave 5 minutes before the miracle,” “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable” and “a grateful addict will not use” were all things that I heard early on in the rooms that really stuck with me.  After 11 years of “One Day at a Time” I could not be more grateful for the life that recovery has afforded me. Today I have a life beyond my wildest dreams.  — Ashley N.

People used to tell me-“Don’t give up before the miracle happens”.  Well, I haven’t given up and the miracles keep on happening. Thank God, thank AA, and thank God for other recovering people. — Hans L.

Turning Point of Tampa truly saved my life. While I was here I was defiant, unwilling and totally detached from my Higher Power. I didn’t see the point in working a program or being in treatment. I thought the only thing I had to do was to stop drinking and using. This thought process led me straight to a relapse. I simply wasn’t ready. After many failed attempts at getting sober, I finally reached my bottom and spent over a year in jail. During that time, the only hope I had at preparing myself for staying stopped was to use the tools I gained from Turning Point. I had to stop being the center of chaos.  I had to stop glorifying my use. And I had to get honest that I can’t do this by myself. I am not responsible for my disease but I am responsible for my recovery. Today I work a program of recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous. I have a sponsor who has a sponsor and I sponsor other women. I practice the 12 steps to the best of my ability and thanks to my Higher Power, AA and Turning Point,  I live a life I am grateful for and continue to progress spiritually, mentally and emotionally. One Day at A Time.  — Molly S.

To all alumni and friends of Turning Point of Tampa, I hope this writing finds you happy, healthy and sober. Although this is recovery month, we in the rooms know our program is a recovery day, a recovery hour and sometimes a recovery minute that we rely upon. I know for me I don’t always see my recovery program working in the moment. It can take some time passing, some perspective from my sponsor and network or some awareness from my higher power to see. What always reminds me of recovery working is when I see and hear the success stories of our alumni at Turning Point. I wish everyone continued happiness, joy and freedom on your journey! — Logan C.

Early recovery for me was about learning to do what I didn’t want to do. I realized that I did what I wanted to my entire life and all sorts of bad things happened. When I first came to AA I hated myself, but I allowed the women in the program to love me when I thought that I was unlovable. Through their love and the love of my Higher Power I began to see my worth. When I began to take direction from my sponsor and women with long term sobriety my life began to change. I learned I can’t do this alone and that together we really can recover! My life got better and everything around me got better. Today all the promises have all come true for me. Today I love myself, I’ve realized that I am worthy, capable and strong and that I have something good to offer this world. Through recovery I get to experience total freedom from my addiction Through recovery I get to experience total freedom from my addiction and no matter what comes my way, life is good. Really good!!  — Beverly W.

“Recovery is my parachute, it is my safety net….the umbrella I open above me, every morning.”  — Mark M.

“Nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels!”  I’m coming up on 30 years of abstinence, and when I first heard that quote 3 decades ago (OMG, THREE DECADES!!), food still tasted much better than anything I was feeling.  But now, thousands of meals down the road, my abstinent food now tastes great AND I get to feel happy, joyous and free much of the time.  I may not always feel happy and joyous, but I always feel FREE.  Living in recovery is as good as it gets!  — Clara W.

“An addict alone is in bad company!” Call your sponsor and your support network. ”  — Steve M.

I found the peace in my life on the day I stopped keeping score. I learned how to stop keeping score by working the 12 steps! — Mike H.

Turning Point of Tampa gave me hope when I absolutely believed there was no hope. How grateful I am and what a gift it is to be able to share that hope one day at a time with others.  — Ellen S.

 

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love-letter1To My Dearest Love, Recovery

This month is your Birthday and although we have shared many of my Anniversaries together, this month is yours. Happy Birthday to YOU (for a change).

We have known each other for so long, it is amazing the things I keep discovering about you every day. I have learned so much about me, through you, and that is a relationship I have with no one except you…and I love you for that.

I love you for always being there for me, even when I was angry with you and didn’t talk to you for a while. You were there waiting. I love you for always believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself and argued again and again with you. You still believed in me. I love you for seeing the beauty in me that I could not see in myself, the beauty that has shone and been shown, with your gentle love and guidance.

I know that this is YOUR birthday, but this is a celebration for both of us. For the ups and the downs and the break-ups and the make-ups…We’ve made it through, together. This is a celebration of everything that is good and pure in my life. You are a constant celebration of love and to fellowship and to the power of both. YOU HAVE GIVEN ME THAT, despite everything I have tried to do to undermine you. YOU are the gift AND the celebration of life.

My darling love, I would not be here, writing this letter to you, if it were not for you.

Love Eternal,

Anonymous

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easy_buttonAt a discussion meeting the other day, the topic was emotional sobriety.  “Oh, great!” I thought, “Here’s another topic that has absolutely nothing to do with ME!”

Also, I don’t usually hear this subject talked about very often in meetings, for some reason.  And now I know why.  What self-respecting (?) sensitive, childish and grandiose alcoholic wants to talk about THAT CRAP?  Not me, thank you very much.

Also, on that particular day and at that particular time, in that particular place, I was not feeling very emotionally sober.   Mr. Restless, irritable and discontented.  That’s me, at your service.

I realized almost at once that I wouldn’t have much to add to the conversation. In fact, it turned out that I had absolutely nothing to add.  Luckily for me, that didn’t matter because almost everyone that shared did.

After the initial shock that we would be speaking about something so unrelated to ME wore off, it quickly became apparent that I possibly, maybe, could be a little guilty of this very thing!  What are the odds?  Good, apparently.

After some reflection, I admitted that yes, I had indeed fallen into a pattern of almost continuous emotional binging for the past while.  This realization, in turn, explained my initial inability and unwillingness to hear what was being said.  Suddenly, a light bulb went on over my head.  No, I mean, literally, the light bulb in the ceiling came on.  Weird.

You would think that my frequent temper tantrums and constant need for attention should have tipped me off, but no.  One of my favorite quotes is from the movie “Inherit The Wind” where the character Henry Drummond says, “I don’t think about things I don’t think about!”  Great movie, great line.

Yes, I sat through it all, listened attentively and thought, “Ok, just MAYBE possibly I have this issue.  I’ll talk to my sponsor about it tomorrow!”

However, before I could speak to him, I saw someone the next day that I knew.  He said something to me in passing and, to tell the truth, I am not even positive what he said, but I got the gist of it.  It was a remark that was left over from a previous conversation I had had with him.  And it was a put-down, a put-down that had been concocted with another person, which meant that they had been talking about me behind my back!  Oh my.

Soon after the exchange, it hit me; awareness, then the shame spiral.  It felt like I had been punched in the gut, hard.   His joke with another person at my expense was the result of MY need to be the center of attention.  Up until that point, I had always felt that someone, anyone that happened to be around me, should know every joke or thought or humorous observation that came into my brain.  Pay attention to ME!

It made me sad to realize how much I depended on others for my own self-esteem.  Apparently, I was only OK if I thought that YOU thought that I was OK.  I know!  Complicated.

I was, and still am, completely unable to generate self-esteem on my own.

And here’s the real sucky part.  Turns out, if I want self-esteem, I have to do esteem-able things!  No one told me about THIS!

Either that, or I am just too damn sensitive.

Yeah, THAT’S it.

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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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