What is my duty in recovery?

The newcomer is the most important person in any meeting, as we can only keep what we have by giving it away.

That said, what is my duty as an AA member?

I am to learn the program, and to be able to break it down for others to understand. I work hard to do so here in these simple essays for others. I also try my best to keep studying the program, because every time I read the book, I learn something new.

I am to attend meetings, and when I can not make it to a face to face meeting, I am to attend online meetings.  When I attend, I am to arrive early, stay late, and be available and of service to the others in the rooms.

I am to work the program myself, and to share what I learn with others. I do this here on this website, and in sharing with other alcoholics.

I am to share my story, which I do at a treatment center a about an hour away down the road.

I do the best I can with this website, and with the program itself. I hope that others do the same with you as you work the program, and work with still others.

May God be with you in the fellowship of the spirit.


Why to keep trying

I cannot emphasize enough the value of keep on going. Life in recovery is the hardest thing I have ever done. It is harder than giving my only child up for adoption. It means that I have to trust that God knows what is best for me, and I have to trust in God’s love. 

In this case, I am talking about my own higher power. Please, for your own uses, choose whatever higher power that can keep you sober as is needed.

Giving in, and giving up on sobriety slams the door in the face of everyone who has ever loved me. It also slams the door on all of the effort put into my own recovery. I know, I know, this sucks. It is rough. There are emotions, and thoughts rolling through your head at Mach 80. I know that life is hard. I know that working the program, and going to meetings on top of life’s other challenges is just too much.

Yet you are worth it. The reason I know this? I felt the exact same way. There were days when I screamed out loud, “Why the F*** am I still sober!?!” There are times when I have cried and laid in bed, terrified of what I was capable of.. Yet, I know, I know, that this is the best solution for me. I know full well what waits for me if I go back out there. I choose to fight and to keep fighting this disease. I know you can get through the dark times too.

Just keep on trying, keep on moving, and keep on doing.

Huge hugs, may God be with you today on your journey.

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.

Time Out

Sometimes in the game of life, and especially in recovery, a timeout is needed for sanity’s sake. As is my usual, here are a few examples.

It is a hot summer day, I am dressed conservatively, due to illness and preference. I am sitting in front of the fan, and my frustration levels are high. I feel sweat trickling down my back as I try to explain for the fifteenth time the situation over the telephone to someone. I am not being heard.

It is time to take a time out. I hang up the phone, and power it off. I get up and grab an iced coffee or tea, walk around, and maybe even go out and sit in the shade. Then after I have calmed down and perhaps even cooled off, I can return to the phone call.

Group conscience meeting, the group is trying to decide the color of napkins to use at an upcoming event. Actually, it is not necessarily a group conscience decision, however one of the members is quite anal about trifles. I am not a position holding member of the group, as I am not GSR, Treasurer, Secretary or any of the other positions available.

I get up and go to the bathroom. I grab another cup of coffee. If they are not done discussing the ephemera of B.S. I go outside and grab a smoke. I am not a part of this problem, I do not need to be a part of this decision. Who cares whether the napkins are white or big book blue anyways?

For weeks, I have had migraines, and I am called repeatedly by someone who is “just checking up on me.” The sound of my own voice hurts, the sound of my own breathing hurts. I am in a darkened room, and I have all the windows shut and curtained to block out the light.

I silence my phone. Seriously? I don’t need to be checked up on 15 times in a 12 hour period. I will call you back when I feel more human.

The AA meeting is running 45 minutes past close time. I have been trying to be respectful, but the cross talk is getting to be a bit over the top. I need to get my Dad from the church and dinner made.

I quietly gather my things, head quietly for the door, and try not to squeal my tires on the way out of there.

Sometimes, just sometimes enough is enough. A short break, a pause, when agitated or doubtful, where I ask God for direction is much better than raising my voice and losing my cool.

That’s all I have for today. Take care, may God be with you in the fellowship of the spirit.

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. 

Drinking dreams and using dreams

It has been a long time since I have woken up from a dead sleep in a cold sweat, terrified that I had gotten drunk yet again. The dreams were vivid and blood curdling. I used to search through the garbage, terrified. I would check everywhere. Yet I was innocent.

These punishing reminders are rare for me now. Yet the time comes that I wake up confused, thinking that I had totaled the vehicle of my serenity. Today, I am okay. I realize that my sick brain wants me drunk, wasted and dead.

I realize that my life is a gift. So, what can a person do about drinking dreams? I experience gratitude that I don’t have to live that way anymore. If I am disturbed enough, I will mention it in a meeting or with my sponsor. I recognize these as nightmares, and I recognize that the “little devil” on my should just wants to kill me.

Drinking dreams are not a prophecy, as long as I don’t pick up. They are simply dreams. As long as I am keeping in fit spiritual condition, I do not have to experience them to the garbage can searching level.

Short topic today, will have more tomorrow. May God be with you on your recovery journey.

Taking notes in a meeting

This topic can be controversial, especially in a tradition orientated meeting. There are some members who may try to stop you taking notes in a meeting. It has been mentioned to me, however, I try to protect the anonymity of those meetings.

Here is what I do:

I never use a keyboard to take notes. I always, if I am using an electronic tablet use a stylus. The clicking of keys can be disruptive to others. If using an electronic device, especially as my Big Book, Twelve by Twelve and other literature are found there, I make sure before the meeting starts to disable notifications and sounds on the device. I also make sure that the software I need is open and ready to go. I work hard to not be distracting or disruptive in a meeting.

On paper, the same rules apply. I try to be unobtrusive. I usually set out my pens and hilighters prior to meeting start, and I make sure that my notebook is small enough that I am not physically bothering others while I take notes.

The amount of notes I take depends on the meeting as well. In a standard meeting, maybe a page or two of notes will do. In a study meeting, I’ve sometimes walked out with pages of notes.

What do I write down?

Meeting date and time. I write down the topic of the meeting. I also write down any pages referred to by the members as the meeting progresses. I will write down a small quote during the sharing as well. Another thing I write down are my thoughts on the topic, as the meeting goes on.

For example: The topic is Hope in Recovery. The meeting Date is (today’s date) at (this time)

-> Pages 417 to 420 were read

–> What does this have to do with hope? (my thought)

*The chair person relates the reading to hope, and I paraphrase what the chair person said.

That’s what I do. Sometimes, I will write down the name of the members by what I wrote down, usually I do not unless I am trying to remember the member’s names.

Who reads this notebook? ONLY ME After a notebook is filled up, I will usually re-read my notes, look back at the topics and write about it for a little bit. However, unless it is something I need to question my sponsor about or add to my own daily homework, I usually burn these notebooks.

In the case of electonic tablets, I delete those notebooks.

That’s all I have for now, take care, may your Higher Power be with you in your recovery today.