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

Recently 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).

read more

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.



read more

Joke from AA Message Board

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

A 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.”



read more

I 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.

read more

Sober Fun by Whitley C.

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

One 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.

read more

When I first got sober, I did not understand how working with others could keep me sober. After all, I had enough problems with three teenagers, my mom and my job to keep track of. I really didn’t have the energy to listen to someone else’s problems. It was suggested, however, that I start working with other women and get out of myself. So I did.
My sponsor assured me, “If someone wants to stay sober, you can’t say anything wrong, and if someone wants to drink, you can’t say anything right.” In other words, their sobriety was in their hands and not mine.

In the beginning, I did not know what to do except read through the AA Big Book and the Twelve And Twelve to help them learn about the Steps. I have found, through the years, many resources to help with sponsoring. AA has several great publications, such as, Drop the Rock, The Little Red Book, and even some that are not AA approved books, like A Women’s Way Through The 12 Steps. I find that in going through the Steps again with another woman, I am always working on my character defects and finding other new ways to improve my relationships with others.

Through the years, I have sponsored many women. Some have stayed sober and some have not. I have enjoyed this experience immensely. Getting to know other women and watching them grow has been one of the greatest gifts in my sobriety. They remind me of how things used to be and can be again if I pick up, but even more importantly, they remind me to be grateful each and every day.

read more

Usually when I think of happiness, I think of “Self” primarily. What can I do to make my life more fulfilling, happier, and more peaceful?
When I think of serenity, peace of mind, and joy, I think of obtaining these spiritual gifts for “Self.”
Recently I had the opportunity to reflect about times when I felt the most happiness, when I laughed out loud and felt at peace with myself or experienced joy, and I discovered that it was during times when I was providing service, giving of myself, my time, my energy, my love, my compassion, to others.

The kind of service that brings joy and happiness to others is the key, like when I concentrate on helping others to find peace of mind, I find peace of mind, or when I help others to laugh, I laugh; when I find ways to bring love, I get love.

As I reflect, when I am able to concentrate on bringing happiness to others, those are the times I am most happy; the same for all spiritual gifts.

It is giving that fulfills me the most.  So, when I take “Self” out of the picture and look at what I can do for others, I laugh the most; when I bring joy to others, my heart feels the gratitude, when I ask what can I do or how can I be of service, and when I am able to make others smile, I smile the most.

True happiness is the result of how we make others happy, “what a concept,” 12-Step recovery.

read more

Like most alcoholics, I was angry all the time before I came to AA. I blamed everyone for everything that was wrong in my life.   AA taught me that I needed to work through these emotions or I could never give up the drink and have true serenity. I had no idea how to go about doing this. As I read the Big Book, I found my answers. I worked on my fourth and fifth steps and I felt a bit better. I worked on six and seven, asking for humility, and I felt even happier. I worked on eight and nine, and while asking for forgiveness, I could also forgive.

I think my biggest change came when I reread a section on Pages 66 and 67 of the Big Book. “We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick…We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, ‘This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.’ ” Wow! This really blew my mind. Here it was, step by step and a little prayer to go with it, all laid out for us in the Big Book of AA.

Today, when I start to get a resentment, I turn to this page and read it again. I remind myself that we are all just human beings having a human experience and trying to get through life the only way we know how. I can receive the promise of peace and serenity now. This frees me up to appreciate all the little blessings in life.

read more

AA MeetingThe very last plan I wanted to use to solve my drinking problem was to go to Alcoholics Anonymous. I mean, really… I couldn’t have sunk that low. I wasn’t as bad as my brother who ended up in a treatment center, or my uncle who committed suicide at the age of forty.

It didn’t matter that I woke up every morning hating myself for drinking the night before, and that every night I’d pour out anything left in the bottle because I wasn’t going to drink again. Of course, then I had to stop on the way home from work the next day to buy more, with my very limited income.

I was forty-seven, divorced with three teenagers, when I reached the end of my long, torturous road to sobriety. I’d managed to keep us all clothed and fed, but I was not a responsible mother. That is still my biggest regret.

Several years before I joined AA, I’d been to a meeting with my brother, right after he got out of treatment. When the chairperson asked visitors to raise their hands, we both did, but I was careful to make it clear that he was the alcoholic; I was just there to support him.

Some years later, when the time finally came for me to go to a meeting for myself, I went back to that same place – and they were still holding meetings there! I clearly remember how hard it was to force myself to push open that incredibly heavy door and walk into that enormous room of strangers milling around. I went straight to the back row of chairs and sat down, speaking to no one. When the chairperson asked if anyone was there for their first meeting, I looked at the floor and kept my hands firmly gripped on my purse. No way was I going to call attention to myself. The minute the meeting closed, I was out the door and on my way home.

I decided to go to back later that week, but as I drove into the parking lot, I saw two of my neighbors pulling up on their bikes before going inside. Naturally, I kept on going, trying to look as if I’d innocently turned in there by mistake. It was three years before I was ready to try it again… three more years of hating myself and being a lousy mother to my children.

I finally returned on a Saturday night, after dropping my son off in Orlando to see relatives. We visited and took some pictures before I raced back for the AA meeting. Again, I didn’t raise my hand when they asked for newcomers. After all, I reasoned, it wasn’t my first meeting now, was it? Tied in knots, I sat through both speakers’ stories, not hearing a word they said, just thinking they’d never finish. When they finally asked if anyone wanted a white chip, I took a deep breath, braced myself against the ten-foot thick, steel-and-concrete wall of resistance I’d been hiding behind for a quarter of a century, and picked up that chip. Today it resides in my jewelry box on my dresser, and because of the photos we took in Orlando, I know what blouse I was wearing on that momentous day and I still wear it every year when I pick up my medallion.

That night was my turning point. When I left the meeting, it was as if gravity had shifted. I felt lighter, I could breathe, and my view of myself started changing from that of a coward, hiding from and denying problems, to a woman who was ready to learn to take responsibility for her past behavior and, basically, at the age of forty-seven, to start acting like a grownup.

I believe one of the reasons AA has worked for me, and for others all over the world, is the program’s ability to accept people from a wide range of backgrounds, beliefs, and attitudes, and the fact that it gives suggestions, not rules. After twenty-six years in the program, I still attend two meetings every week. I have a sponsor, and I sponsor other women. I try my best to do what I believe is the right thing and let go of the outcome of every situation (even though I don’t always manage to pull that off). For me, this also means recognizing that the only thing I have any control over is myself.

I drank because I thought somehow it would make me feel whole. But the only way I was able to really feel whole, was to stop drinking.

Coming to AA was the hardest and the most responsible thing I’ve ever done in my life.

read more

Which Way to Go, Anonymous

On March 14th, 2016, posted in: recovery by

I started thinking about why there are times when it is so difficult for me to figure out God’s will for me in situations where I’m not sure what the right action is.  I’m always pretty clear what My will is for me.  It’s easy to figure out My will because it’s usually an action, or non-action, that will please me, keep me comfortable, get me what I want.  In other words, I WANT to take that action.  God’s will, on the other hand, is usually something different, pretty much the opposite of what I want to do.  It probably won’t please me, will make me uncomfortable, and I might not get what I want.  So why is it so hard to “figure out” God’s will?  Because I don’t want to figure it out.  As long as I’m trying to figure it out, I can still be doing my will.  If I can just drag out this “figuring out” process, I can keep putting off doing God’s will.

You see, once I’m clear about what God’s direction is for me, I now become uncomfortable  and no longer pleased with myself until I follow that direction.  Now here is where irony comes into play.  In the past 2 decades of my recovery, every single time I have figured out God’s will for me and followed that direction, I have ended up feeling pleased, comfortable and getting what I wanted (even if it wasn’t what I thought I wanted at the time I was still “figuring it out”).

So maybe next time I’m in a situation where I need to ask God which way to go, I’ll stop “figuring” and just go there.

read more