Relationships

The only Big Book some will ever see

I confess that I pull these topics off the top of my head most days. Sometimes, I am able to tie them to other topics I have shared on, usually, it is just random thoughts. This is another one of those random thoughts.

I heard, when I first came to AA that I needed to behave as I could be truly the only Big Book that someone would ever see. I’m still confused by this, especially since most people do not know that I am an alcoholic, let alone in recovery. Yes, close family and friends know, as does my medical team. Yet the broad public does not know and does not need to know.

So breaking down this phrase a little bit more, I take it as if I am supposed to behave as if God is my new Employer. I am to behave as if God is my director. I am to be helpful to others if I am able, and to pray for those that I am not able to help.

If I am requested, on those rare occasions that it happens, to help another alcoholic outside of the rooms, I am to give the information and to share my experience strength and hope with others, especially alcoholics.

I try, when working with strangers, to keep my alcoholism off the topic list, and yet to act with the best manners I can. This is a huge change from years ago. I was an entitled brat. The world owed me, or so I thought, and I was to be catered to.

Ironically, as the daughter of a hard-working man and woman, I was owed nothing. I had contributed nothing to society, and yet…

By working the steps, especially step 3, and changing my will and life, I don’t believe that anymore.

Today, I am just grateful to be alive.

That’s all I have for now, may God be with you in the fellowship of the Spirit.

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Going solo without a sponsor

Considering what I have been writing lately, it is time to discuss whether or not it is possible to go without a sponsor in recovery.

I do not recommend this, on any level. The few times I have done it, I have had more problems than I ever had before.

Is it possible? Absolutely. I know several members who have considerable experience and time who have survived the death or drinking of a sponsor and stayed sober. I also know one or two people who have never had a sponsor, who survived sobriety. They eventually fell away from meetings, and I have not seen them since.

Now, how to go about it?

I would recommend hitting both the books and meetings as hard as you can. 90 meetings in 90 days is not a joke. In other words, averaging at least one meeting per day when you do not have a sponsor is ideal.  If for example there are only two meetings per week in your area, then supplemental meetings will be necessary. If nothing else is available, I would hit online meetings as hard as I could in addition to face to face meetings.

Hit the books, work the steps, and live the program. By hitting the books, I mean studying every aspect of the program. I mean putting everything you can on paper, and learning as much as you can. Study meetings can fill in some of the blanks of your education.

I will repeat, it is possible to survive without a sponsor. It is possible to stay sober without a sponsor. Yet, again, it is so difficult to do so, that I cannot suggest any other means of staying sober.

Why can I say this? I have survived without a sponsor at times in the last 20 years. It was pure unmitigated torture. I did not grow, and I did not thrive. However, it is what it is. That’s all I have for you, may God be with you in the fellowship of the spirit.

 

Respect, far will get you.

Finding loopholes.

I’m working the loopholes more than ever. I decided to post my study notes to the blog, and I hope they will be useful to others. However, I’ve also been working on other loopholes. I have learned that being angry does not work. I have also learned that self-righteousness is a waste of time. I have learned that respect goes a long way.

Here is an example. 

When something happens, and there is a problem, I have to deal with the situation. I have to focus on the solution, not the problem. In recent days, I have had a device that was getting overheated without provocation. I called tech support with the provider of the device. I followed directions, and the solution I was given did not work. When the device overheated again, I called tech support again, and was told that there was nothing that they could do.

So, I waited. I thought, and I hit the google machine. I also gathered evidence. I tested the temperatures that the device was reaching. I took notes. I went to the manufacturer of the device instead of the provider of the device. The manufacturer is being quite good to me. I have hopes of a resolution to my problem.

What is different here? I did not blow up at the provider. I did give a feedback survey, in writing to my provider. I was upset, I was angry, but I did not act on my anger. That is a huge difference in the way I used to handle things.

I do not want to be terrified to use a device that I am paying for. I do not deserve better treatment than anyone else, I do, however, want to be treated with respect. In recovery, painfully, I have learned to treat others with respect and dignity. I am not an expert at it, and there are times I fall quite short of the mark. However, I do the best I can.

That’s all for now. I am grateful for your time.

Giving credit where credit is due.

I did not get sober in a nutshell. I was not hidden from the universe when I put the plug in the jug. To be honest, as hard as sobriety was to achieve, the rest of society barely noticed. I like it that way. I was just another sick person who stopped being as mentally and spiritually sick as I had done before.

My sponsorship line includes many many names on the level directly above me. I.E., I have had many many sponsors. To name them here would not be proper, due to anonymity. However, I have tried to faithfully reproduce their lessons here. Yet, here, on this blog, I would like to officially recognize them. 

My first sponsor was a strong and wonderful person. She had sobriety. We also lived in the age where long distance calling was expensive. I was broke, as many of us were and still are. I could not afford to call, and yet she still supported me the best she could.

Sponsor number two gave me two cats, and gave me another lesson. She taught me that we all make mistakes. She taught me some of the bones of the program. She also taught me to walk away from a sponsor when their life goes back to unmanageability.

Sponsor three was a challenge. I was directly asked why “X” was my sponsor. I was a quick mouth, and said, “She shows me what not to do in meetings.” She was socially inappropriate, and would grope men in the meetings. Yet she knew the program frontwards and backwards. She may have not worked the program to everyone else’s liking but she taught me quite a bit.

Sponsor four, stalked me.

Sponsor five, I almost went back out drinking over.

Sponsor six, I still am with today for the most part. I ask questions, life questions occasionally, but we are not as tight as we used to be.

Sponsor seven asked me to sponsor her when she went back out drinking. She passed away a couple of years ago. 

Another sponsor was a wonderful, kind, loving and sweet person. She taught me to not give up no matter what. She also taught me to keep coming back, even after her death. I still miss her everyday. Another sweet woman was as strong as nails. She taught me that I was too.

Lastly, the last two sponsors, the best two were a husband and wife team. Working the program is hard, and they taught me how to survive sober.

Then there were the jackleg sponsors, those who answered questions after a meeting. There was the spiritual advisor, who challenged me the most.

I am grateful to them all, for all of the lessons, and the work. Thank you for my recovery today.

I am grateful to them all. 

Family problems and recovery

As I have stated before, I am an alcoholic and have been attending meetings for almost 20 years now. It has been an interesting ride. My family accepts my sobriety as it is, since I am much more pleasant to be around as a sober alcoholic versus a rabid drunk.

It was not always the case though. I have had many reactions to my sobriety over the years. Before AA, I was asked many times by a step mother, “Are you sure you are not an alcoholic?” “You’ve got to be an alcoholic, both your biological mother and your father are.” I am paraphrasing to remove profanity here. Once I arrived at AA, and began working the program, I moved in with my parents for awhile. My step mother decided that I needed more drugs and went to my psychiatrist for samples. I ended up flushing them down the toilet. In a house with young teenage men, she accused me of drinking out of Dad’s bottle. 

Once I moved out though, I got a different song and dance from her. According to her, I was not an alcoholic. I backed away from my family completely at that time, simply because I needed to focus on my sobriety. My relationship with that person has drastically changed over the years, and she is no longer married into the family. Thank God.

My brother was estranged from the family from 1984 to 2004. At one point I had moved in with him. I had about 6 years sober at the time. He told me that I did not need meetings and was using them as a crutch. When that household became too much for me, I wanted to leave. I was told that I was running away. Yes, actually I was, I had placed my sobriety ahead of living with my family. 

These situations were difficult and I did the best I could with what I had. By putting my welfare first, I was going against a lifetime of training and alcoholism. My choices are not the popular ones.

Other family members are and were awesome when faced with my recovery. When my birth mother died, I had been estranged from her since I was four years old due to my step mothers influence. I did not know her well, and had only gotten to know her during the last week of her life. I met some of her siblings, and many of my cousins that week and at her funeral. Of my Dad’s 7 children, 3 of us are hers. 

I was told to speak at her funeral, and I had no clue what to say. So, I introduced myself to my family there this way. I said, “My name is ——, and I am an alcoholic.” I gave a short talk about my Mom, some of my memories, and what my relationship with Mom was. I had been speaking publicly for years by that point, and that was the most comfortable way I knew to share anything with a church filled with a couple hundred people. The whole family said, “Hi ——” when I introduced myself. I felt love and support from most of my family at that moment.

One of my aunts, who I miss with all my heart, said to me privately, “You have a cousin in sobriety as well. I am proud of both of you. I know how hard it is for you to stay sober.”

Memories flood back, while I write this post. Another aunt had tears in her eyes when I gave her the only thing I treasured on the last time I saw her alive. I gave her my ten year medallion. She said, “I know how hard you worked to get this. I will make sure it gets back to you after I am gone.” We hugged, and held each other for as long as we could. 

It is life that stymies us alcoholics. Yes, I go to meetings, and they can be a crutch. I have made many mistakes in life and recovery. Yet I do not have to internalize the worst things that family members do or say about me or my sobriety. I am fully aware that I would not have any family at all without my sobriety. 

Some other time, I will discuss romantic relationships and sobriety, I just do not think that it is possible today.

Thank you for reading, feel free to leave a comment below.