Sharing by Eugene “Tree” H.

in: recovery

I used to pride myself on sharing at meetings. As soon as a topic was decided, my hand would go up as I thought of ways to share and make people laugh, be informative, and show how much I knew about the Big Book, Steps, and recovery. My sharing was sometimes long, and I thought it was okay because everyone seemed to enjoy the share, laugh out loud, and nod their head at my wit and my charisma.

Then I did an inventory on my sharing. Was I sharing to help others or impress others? I remember being in a meeting once and a female was sharing about the difficulty she was having concentrating on Steps and sobriety while going through menopause and hot flashes. The next three people who shared were men, and I thought, what did they know about what she was feeling? Then I thought of times I shared, not from my heart but from my head, a clever joke or a play-on-words to show my wit.

Then I remembered when I was a newcomer. I did not care how much you know until I knew how much you cared. I could tell when someone was sharing from their heart or from their head. Don’t get me wrong, knowledge is power, but caring, respect and love appeals to the heart, and that is where  true compassion and the ability to embrace the 12 Steps of recovery lies.

So I don’t share as much today in open meetings. Recalling my own sobriety, some of the most meaningful messages to me came in a whisper, after a meeting or before a meeting, during a phone conversation, or just listening to a person one-on-one.

When my sister passed away, I was so afraid to have to go home and make funeral arrangements; I had never done this before. I shared this in the meeting, and after the meeting a friend came to me and whispered, “Don’t worry, the funeral director will take care of everything.” I never knew, and he did.

I had once moved to a location I quickly became disgruntled with, and was worried about relocating and hurting the person’s feelings, and someone whispered after the meeting, “Be honest, say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.”

I still enjoy those who can share and make others laugh, are knowledgeable about the Steps, recovery and the Big Book. Today when I share, I try to share a message that says “I care.” I try to share in a whisper so I can reach the heart. Because I believe, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Leeway? No Way by Clara W.

in: recovery

Take my Will Scroll PaintingWhen I started working the program, I was told that there are no rules or directions, only suggestions.  Cool, I thought, that gives me a lot of leeway!  I’m a gal who loves leeway.  But my sponsor reminded me that leeway is what got me into these rooms.  I can’t handle leeway because I’m an addict.  I love pushing boundaries.  I love getting away with fill-in-the-blank.  “More” is my middle name.

Leeway means making a judgment about how far to go.  I’m an addict.  I did not come into these rooms with healthy judgment.  I have always gone too far.

So my wise sponsor, recognizing the gleam in my eye upon hearing the word “suggestions,” quickly nipped that in the bud.  She informed me that I would be taking directions, not suggestions.  She said other newcomers may be able to successfully work the program with suggestions, but she did not see that as working for me.

Today I have been in recovery for 28 years because of directions, from the Steps, from my sponsor, from old-timers, and especially from my Higher Power.  When I am unsure which way to go in a situation and I pray for direction, I always get an answer, and the answer is never leeway.

After 28 years of running everything by my sponsor and my Higher Power, I now have healthier judgment, but I’m still an addict and I still need direction.  It keeps me safe.  By the grace of God, I have been directed into a life of happiness, joy and freedom.

I Swore I Would Never Forgive by Sandra D.

in: recovery

I had two major resentments when I joined AA. I swore I would never forgive these two men for the pain they inflicted on me. I carried it around with me like a cross to bear. Through the years I have read about acceptance, forgiveness, and how others are as sick as we are and we should treat them as such. I started healing relationships in my life but still never imagined that I could forgive my stepfather or my first boyfriend for the mental, physical, and sexual abuse that I endured at their hands.

For years in AA, I heard people talk about how some of the amends we need to make will take time and that when the time is right, a person or situation will present itself for me to do a Step Nine with. The more I thought about my first boyfriend, the more I could see my part in the relationship. Taking an honest look at myself back then, I could see how my disease affected our relationship and how unstable I was. I looked for him online for a few years but never found him. Then one day I received a message from him on Facebook. The communication was very casual at first; he was not sure if he should even contact me. Then I started with the amends that I needed to make, not concerning myself with his side of the street. I explained that I was in AA now and that I had him on my Ninth Step for years. We both made our apologies to each other. I found out that he had a life-threatening accident after we broke up and that he had decided, at that point, to stop using drugs. It was a powerful and healing experience for both of us, to be able to wish each other well.

So that left one person on my list, my stepfather. I was only nine years old when he came into my life and started abusing me and my younger sister. He was a big, angry alcoholic and everyone in the family was afraid of him. I had talked about his abuse for years with my younger sister, counselors, and my sponsor. I started following the suggestion from my sponsor to pray for him. One day, while looking through photos with my mother, we ran across pictures of him. Mom asked if she should throw them away. Realizing that her relationship with him was very different than mine, I said that they were her pictures and she could keep them if she wanted to.  I really can’t explain it, but somehow my resentment was gone. For the first time in my life, I was able to talk about him without feeling upset, angry or resentful. I believe that my higher power took this burden from me. I feel so much lighter and happier these days. Nowadays my experience benefits others when I am sharing at meetings or working with a sponsee. What a freedom to have released all that negative baggage! I will forever be grateful to AA and my sponsor for helping me work through this.

Sandra D

Thank You, by Clara W.

in: recovery

My life depends on not taking that first bite.  Why?  Because I am a food addict.  I lost my job, my husband, my friends, my self-worth, and my sanity to this disease.  I almost lost my life to it.  Today, everything in my life depends on not taking that first bite.

I also have other addictions (hey, I’m an addict; I can addict to anything that makes me feel good or takes away the not-feeling-good), but food has always been my drug of choice.  At first I hated being an addict, but now I am very grateful for my disease.  Why?  Because what my disease did give me was the opportunity to work a 12-Step program, and I have found that by following the 12-Steps of AA, not only do they help me avoid that first bite, but they also give me guidance and sanity in every other aspect of my life.  I found my Higher Power through working the Steps.  I found the self I want to be through working the Steps.  I have peace and joy today through working the Steps.  My life is a miracle today because of two men.

Thank you, Bill W. and Dr. Bob.

Poison by Katie F.

in: recovery

DSC_3532

 

Why did this disease choose me?

The devil in disguise tries to ruin me

They say it’s not my fault

My life is a wound covered in salt

We make mistakes to learn from

With poison on my lips what have I become?

You’ve taught me lessons and the truth is now found

But I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d be better off in the ground

I’ve hurt myself and those around me

I thought I got rid of him, how did he find me?

This poison helped me to escape for awhile

But when I return, lost is my smile

You love to depress me, you pretend to be fun

No longer will you fool me, for I am done

You turn me into a different person

I’m banishing you before the situation worsens

I’m so tired of not being happy inside

You turn me into Jekyll and Hyde

Why me? Why am I the black sheep?

DSC_3532Too many nights I’ve cried myself to sleep

I want to get better, I want to start anew

Starting right now, I’m getting rid of you

You’ve poisoned me for too long

It’s time that I get headstrong

I’m taking charge of my life

No more flirting with this knife

I’m going to be okay by myself

I’m taking that dusty Big Book off my shelf

Life is a journey and my brain needs to unpack

Without the devil on my back

I’m better without you poisoning me

It took me forever to realize sobriety is the key

Trust the Process by Craig C.

in: recovery

When I first got clean, the consequences of my using forced me to move back in with my parents. Being that I was 43years old, and me and my father did not get along, this was something I did not want to do. Every time I tried to talk about it to other recovering addicts, I was pretty much told the same thing every time. Just trust the process, God has a plan. So I moved in and started working with my sponsor and working the Steps. Life started to get better. My relationship with my father even started to improve.

After a couple of years, things were starting to get so good that I felt ready to move out and be on my own again. Well, everyone in my sponsorship tree kept telling me I should stay put. They told me I didn’t realize how good I had it, living with my parents, and I was only paying half the rent that I would pay if I were on my own. I was, WHY WHY WHY? They were saying again, trust the process, God has a plan. I didn’t know what that plan was, but I stayed.

A few more years went by and things with my father kept getting better, not great, but better. Well, my mom ended up in the hospital and got very sick after having a gallbladder operation. She ended up getting an infection and passed away in the hospital. I realized what God’s plan was when me and Dad cut Mom’s life support. It was for me to have done enough work on me so I could be there to support my father when he needed me the most. I still live with him and our relationship just keeps getting better and better. He’s 80 now and it’s my turn to take care of him.

Think Ahead – Anonymous

in: recovery

2DSC_1880Before I got into recovery, immediate gratification was how I lived.  When I wanted something, I wanted it now.  As a recovering food addict, in order to take care of my food needs and to protect my abstinence, planning and thinking ahead is a necessary component of my everyday life.

The holiday season can be a vulnerable time of year for addicts of any stripe.  Being a food addict has its own particular challenges.  Non-abstinent food is everywhere.  It’s a central part of the holiday season.  I’m surrounded by it, seeing it, smelling it, even fixing it for others.  I go to work, it’s there.  I go to a friend’s house, it’s there (where usually it isn’t).  I visit family, it’s there.  I go see my doctor/dentist/lawyer (fill in the blank), it’s there.  Gifts of food (and usually not abstinent varieties) are everywhere I look.  It’s visually appealing, it smells yummy, and it will kill me.

It’s a time of year when I am particularly vulnerable to having cravings and dangerous thoughts.  Early in my recovery I learned to think ahead when I have a craving:  What will it be like if I act on that craving?  What will I feel like after the binge?  What will my life be like then?  When I do that, the old feelings of shame, self-loathing, and disgust come right back up and I usually end up feeling immense gratitude for my abstinence, and the craving/dangerous thought disappears. I can carry the “thinking ahead” even farther, if necessary.  I know that I will lose everything if I pick up.  I will lose my relationship with my Higher Power because food will once again be the Power I serve.  I will return to a life of isolation, hiding, sneaking, lying, living in fear, hurting others.  This would be the result of the immediate gratification of a craving or dangerous thought.  So I think ahead.

At this time of year, I am especially grateful to be abstinent because I no longer have to dread New Year’s Day when I was always starting my diet after eating non-stop from Halloween to the end of the year.  By the grace of my Higher Power and the 12-Step program of recovery, I wake up most days happy, joyous and free, but I wake up every day FREE!2DSC_1880

The Gift of Sponsorship by Nicole M.

in: recovery

I remember the day I got out of detox like it was yesterday.  My boyfriend and mother dropped a bombshell that I was not allowed home, wasn’t allowed to see my kids, no cell phone, no car.  All those “yets” were about to happen.  The insane part about it is that I actually considered being homeless and pictured what my life would be like living under the bridge.  I pondered on that thought for the next couple of days and decided to go to impatient treatment.  That was the turning point in my life.

One of the things that was drilled in my head since the first day, and still is, is how important sponsorship is.  I wanted what my sponsor had.  She was happy, joyous and free.  I needed someone to call me out on my behaviors and hold me accountable for my actions.  I have had the same sponsor since the day I came into the rooms.  It is now my turn to give away what was so freely given to me.  I sponsor women and take them through the 12 Steps, and to be able to see the “psychic change” is one of the greatest gifts this program has given me.

 

My Abstinence, My Freedom by Clara W.

in: recovery

 

I have changed many things in my life, including myself, since I began my 12-Step journey in 1987, but one thing has never changed.  What best defines my recovery is still this:  abstinence is the most important thing in my life without exception because it is the doorway to my Higher Power.

Although my abstinence today looks very much like it did 28 years ago (sugar/flour-free, weighed and measured), my food plan has undergone some changes over the years.  I don’t make changes to my food plan without first talking to my sponsor and often my nutritionist.

The first few years of my recovery, I was very rigid with my abstinence and I needed to be.  I found something that was working for me and I was holding on tight.  I’ll never forget visiting my brother and sister-in-law during the first year of my abstinence.  We were fixing dinner and I was standing at the counter measuring green peas into a cup.  Fran, my sister-in-law, was standing beside me at the sink.  As I was pouring the peas out of the cup measure onto my plate, a couple of them fell onto the counter and Fran moved her hand to swipe them into the disposal.  Well, I yelled and grabbed her wrist as if she were going to throw away a priceless heirloom or something.  Those peas were part of my portion and I wanted them.  They WERE priceless to me.  Of course, she looked at me as if I were crazy!

I’m happy to report that I’ve loosened up some since then.  Over the years I’ve been able to safely add more flexibility.  I’m still sugar/flour-free and l still need clear boundaries with my food.  I weigh and measure when I’m home and I usually weigh and measure my protein and starch in restaurants.  I no longer call in my food to my sponsor but I still write it down daily, and if I make any changes during the day, I make note of it.

At the beginning of my abstinence I needed to fit my lifestyle around my food plan.  Now I can fit my food plan into my lifestyle pretty easily most of the time.  But if it’s ever a choice between the two, my abstinence will always win.

I love my abstinence.  I love the freedom I feel by surrendering to my food plan.  I love the Steps and this program.  They have given me life, a wonderful life.  They have given me my relationship with my Higher Power.  I existed before recovery but I didn’t start living until I admitted my powerlessness, came to believe, and made a decision, a decision that opened heaven to me.

Not a Care in the World – Anonymous

in: recovery

It was probably about 18 months into sobriety.  It was a beautiful day.  I was writing in my notebook outside the coffee shop; a light breeze, hot, but not too hot.  I breathed in and was compelled to stop for a second and look around.  Friends, each sober, each absorbed in an activity of relaxed importance.  These beautiful people, and at this moment all of us, not a care in the world.  Peaceful.  Grateful.  Productive.  Happy.  When was the last time I wanted to get drunk or high?  I couldn’t remember.  I couldn’t remember the last time I wanted to get drunk or high.  And everything was fine.

Menu